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Category Archives: Iraq

The oligarchs are hosting an election.

The oligarchs and corporatocracy are hosting an election in the United States this year.  They have chosen the candidates, the issues to be discussed, the methods of voting, the perimeters of the voting districts, and dictated what the media will say about the event.  You, as a member of the “voting public”, are invited to attend the event or just watch from a distance.  It hardly matters, since it is unlikely the outcome depends upon your participation.

This week-end, the media is exclusively talking about, in exhausting and tedious interviews with “the experts”, the potential results of the Iowa caucuses; the first in our series of caucuses or primary elections (depending on the state) that will decide the nominees for the Democrat and Republican parties.  I wasn’t sure how a caucus worked as Maryland is a primary state, so I dug up some information on the subject.  Turns out it is a fairly useless procedure which actually goes on for months in caucus states, although the pundits only pay attention to the first round of the affair.  The fact that the way the public votes during this first of the series of caucuses may not be proportionally represented once the Dem. and Rep. delegates make it to the National Conventions to cast their vote for the nominee goes completely unremarked.  Everyone eligible to vote during the general election can go to the caucuses, which are held in school auditoriums, churches, or even private homes.  Well, assuming there is not a blizzard in Iowa that night, that you have a babysitter – these things take hours – that you aren’t sick and that you don’t have to work that evening. There are close to 1700 precincts in this first round of caucuses.  Usually only about 20% of the voters show up, and Iowa is not one of our more populous states in any case; these facts do not deter the “experts” from declaring that the Iowa caucuses are really, really, really important.

So how do caucuses work?  Here’s the quick and dirty.  To start with, at the initial caucus, a delegate is chosen to represent the voting outcome at the next level of caucuses/conventions.  After the precinct caucus, there are the county conventions, the district conventions, the state convention and then the DNC or RNC national convention.  Are you beginning to get how silly it is to consider the first in this series of caucuses to be the most important?  The national committees of each of the two major parties decide the caucus rules, so how they are run differs.  The Republicans have a simple process.  First they say the Pledge of Allegiance.  Because, duh, they’re Republicans, and wherever two or more Republicans are gathered, there will be a flag and everyone will pledge to it.  Close scrutiny is given as to whether all those present appear sincere during the Holy Recitation.  [Aside: I always wondered about the idea of pledging to a flag rather than just the country, but that’s just me.  It appears that we are the only country that routinely uses a pledge like this, and certainly the only country which has schoolchildren doing a pledge of any sort, with the exception of North Korea, where the kids start their day pledging allegiance to their Dear Leader.  Originally, when Americans recited the pledge, people were expected to raise their right hands toward the sky while speaking, but after Hitler rose to prominence in Germany, that started to look, rather obviously, like the Heil Hitler salute, so the gesture was changed.]  Anyway, after reciting the pledge, the caucus-goers are treated to some speeches from someone or another.  Then they have a secret ballot where everyone writes down his/her choice for the nominee.  Some places use ballots, some just scraps of paper.  The votes are tallied and reported to the RNC.  Everyone goes home, except for the chosen delegate of that precinct and some party leaders, who shoot the shit a while longer.

The Democrats have a much more complicated system.  The voters arrive and are separated into groups depending on whom they support.  Then the various factions scream campaign slogans at each other, trying to convince anyone who doesn’t support their candidate to switch sides.  They throw water balloons at each other until a gong sounds, at which point, everyone scrambles for the limited number of seats available in the middle of the room.  Well, okay, I made up the part about the water balloons and the musical chairs, but the rest is pretty much correct.  After a designated time, people have to sort themselves out according to how they have decided to vote and a count is taken.  If the guy your side supports has less than 15% of the votes, he’s out.

If your guy has been tagged out for the rest of the game, you will then be harangued to join someone else’s group.  Eventually, someone calls a welcome end to this part of the process and a final tally is taken.  There is no secret ballot here: all your neighbors can see which group you are standing with.  The number of delegates to represent each candidate are chosen in proportion to the number of voters who chose him, and the delegates go on to the next round of caucuses at the county level, etc.   The delegates can switch their votes around to some other candidate at the later levels of caucus, and some delegates to the Democratic national convention are simply assigned by the DNC, so it would appear that there is absolutely no meaning in any of this.  For all I know, bags of money are left on doorsteps to convince the delegates to switch their votes later.

At both the Dem and the Rep caucuses, ties are sometimes settled by tossing a coin.  Maybe they should just start with the coin toss from the get-go.  If you want to read more about this stuff, you can go here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iowa_caucuses

For the rest of us, there are primary elections where people go into their polling place and cast a ballot.  A number of states don’t allow Independents to vote in the primaries, since they are used to vote for the Dem and Rep nominees.  Delegates to the Rep and Dem national conventions, where they will vote for the final candidate of each party, are supposed to be chosen in proportion with the voter’s choices, but here you run into the issue of the strange “electoral college” system we use.  No-one knows how it works.  It has appeared in past elections that the delegates can vote randomly or that their votes can be over-ridden by the national committees.  In any case, after all that hoopla, everyone goes on to the national elections to vote for a president.  At that point, you can vote for whomever you want, although there will be names on the ballot you don’t recognize because the media has never mentioned them.  You can hope the voting machines aren’t rigged at either the primary or the general election level, but chances are about equal that they are.

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34607-will-the-2016-primaries-be-electronically-rigged

I mentioned that the caucuses use paper ballots or simply a head count, so you might think that those votes can’t be rigged; however, this year both parties have been given a free app from Microsoft so that party leaders can calculate the totals instantly and send them in to the press.  Thank you, Bill Fucking Gates!  You just never sleep, do ya?  Bernie Sanders, no dummy, is a mite suspicious about the motivation behind this free Gates swag offered to the process, and his team has built its own reporting system to verify the results.

The 2016 election, no matter who “wins”, will have the intended effect of shooting the hostages.  Those hostages would be us; the workers slaving away to the rules written by the oligarchs and corporate cartels and never able to catch up, the people unlucky enough to be living in  oil- and resource-rich countries (including the US – we just haven’t glommed onto the fact yet that our resources are vastly more important to the elites than we are; a truth that we will only dimly perceive and that, way too late), and those who try to protest the alarming rise of Monsanto, Exxon, Goldman Sachs, et al, and protest their enablers in the various houses of governments around the planet.  The protesters will be silenced by any means the cartels deem necessary.  These huge corporations and the bankers are in control of not only our human activities, but the natural world as well, and whomever wins the presidential election is unlikely to stand up for us.  At the congressional level, it is certain that a mere handful of “our elected representatives” gives a damn about the “voters”.  They will sell us down the river, as they have done for a long time now.  No matter which nominal candidate wins, the cartels and warmongers will be the actual winners.  This is the final Great Taking, and they will have it all – the money, the assets, the lands, the resources – and we are expendable.

The situation is far simpler than the media pundits and self-proclaimed experts would have you believe.  We are in the middle of a class war.  The rich versus all.  There is a secondary class war; that of the middle class versus the poor, which has been strategically engineered by the elites for decades.  The middle classes are narrowing and are, on the one hand, being taught to believe that the poor are the enemy and are to be despised as lazy and useless; and on the other hand, convinced that one day, they too will make it to financial success.  Liberals want to pretend the class war between the middle class and the poor doesn’t exist, or that it all about race.  Conservatives push the narrative that there is no class war at all, that we can all be rich if we just work hard enough.  We could have had a national discussion about our poverty crisis, but Obama was probably the last chance we had at seeing that happen.  And he doesn’t seem to notice, much less care about the issue.  The Democrats in Congress have agreed to all the austerity measures put to a vote, and finished off 2015 by nodding to the virtual end the food stamps for the elderly and the disabled and lowering these benefits drastically for the poor; the Republicans never wanted anyone to have food stamps or such in the first place.

The statistics on food poverty in the US are really staggering.  We currently have the highest level of food insecurity since the 1970s.  We had almost entirely eradicated hunger in our country back then.  Right now, one in six Americans is going hungry every day, while 30% of Americans are described as “food insecure” – meaning they can’t guarantee they have a way to put food on the table.

The low interest rates imposed by our economic policies (decided by a bunch of former big bank executives in cooperation with the private Fed) has resulted in zero interest income for Americans who try to save some money, and the same zero interest is realized on the skimpy retirement funds older people may have set aside.  Congress has basically done away with the annual cost of living increases given to those living on social security by using fake numbers for the rate of inflation.

Only two of the candidates, Sanders and strangely, Trump, talk about unemployment.  The real unemployment rate, if it were to be accounted for accurately, would be around 25%, not the 5% currently claimed by the Labor Department.  Wages have been stagnant for decades, and according to the last Oxfam report, “the 62 richest billionaires now own as much wealth as the poorer half of the world’s population.”  Just wait until the TPP trade agreement and the wonders of automation, technology, and robotics strips what’s left of the jobs right out from under our feet.  As economist Michael Whitney said:

[…] Obama and the Republican-led Congress have done everything in their power to keep things just the way they are by slashing government spending to make sure the economy stays weak as possible, so inflation is suppressed, the Fed isn’t forced to raise rates, and the cheap money continues to flow to Wall Street. That’s the whole scam in a nutshell: Starve the workerbees while providing more welfare to the slobs at the big investment banks and brokerage houses.  It’s a system that policymakers have nearly perfected as a new Oxfam report shows. […]

Wealth like that, “ain’t no accident”, brother. It’s the policy.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article44014.htm

Want to know how much the average person in the US earns?  The candidates won’t talk about it, but I will.

The Social Security Administration has released its data for 2014. Their chart shows actual W-2 earnings in the US as given by the IRS records based on tax returns for 2014.

The numbers are pretty abysmal. The median wage was under $29,000, meaning that half of American workers earned under that amount. The “average wage” is higher than that at $44,569, but is so skewed by the few on the highest income bracket that it is not a really meaningful number, in my opinion.  (The 134 people who earned over $50 mm last year can really alter that average; even taking that into account, 67% earned under the $44,569 “average wage” in 2014.)  In 2014:

-38 % of all American workers made less than $20,000
-51 % of all American workers made less than $30,000
-62 % of all American workers made less than $40,000
-71 % of all American workers made less than $50,000

Since the SSA and the IRS reports are based on each “wage-earner’s” tax-return total earnings rather than counting each and every W-2 turned in to the IRS as a discrete “wage”, this means that the data does not give any information on what the average job might pay and one should not make the mistake of coming to any conclusions about that. In other words, a “wage-earner” may have earned $30,000 in 2014, but might have had to work two or three jobs to earn that amount.  The SSA charts are easy to read, and there is a tool you can click on to look at charts from previous years.

https://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/netcomp.cgi?year=2014

This time around, the oligarchy has trotted out some of the most repugnant, bizarre, and downright ignorant candidates to which we have ever been treated.  Their motto for 2016 is: “2016 – the year we won’t give you any lesser evils to choose from.”  But this is the end result of the capitalist system on display, and we are a capitalist country on its down trajectory; at this point, Americans will buy dog shit if it is packaged properly and advertised heavily.

None of the candidates will cut any of the Pentagon’s budget, nor will any of them consider the possibility that we ought to end the crusades against foreign nations, none of which actually threaten us and with none of whom we are legally at war.  Last year, we dropped an estimated total of over 23,000 bombs in six countries.  This breeds terrorism, for the obvious reasons.  ISIS was a creation of the US; of our policies and actions, if not a direct creation of the CIA and secret ops in conjunction with mercenaries.  Yet according to the people running for president, what we need is more bombs, more American forces killing people abroad, and more help in the fight from “allies” like Saudi Arabia and Turkey.  There could be another way to fight terrorism, as one might note that in socially balanced societies, terrorism does not thrive, but we seem incapable of considering an alternative to bloodshed.  We are addicted to it now.

This has resulted in a flood of refugees and/or terrorists to the EU which did not exist prior to the destruction of law and order in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or Syria – before the “strong men” who ruled and did not tolerate bombings and mayhem by religious zealots were murdered by the US.  Now we are bent on some ridiculous quest to further “contain the Middle East” and kill those who are determined to avenge their loved ones. As always, the innocent on both sides get fried, while the war machine enjoys the profits.

Even Sanders thinks the [illegal] drone-bombing should continue; I wonder if he will feel okay about carrying out the “Terror Tuesday” duties should he become president?  Will he be surprised to find that he is just as adept and casual at ordering the murders of strangers across the planet as Obama has been?

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said Sunday that if elected president he would not end the U.S.’s controversial drone program in the Middle East.

Sanders said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos ” that he would continue with the targeted killing campaign but suggested he would somehow reform the program so that drones don’t kill innocent people abroad.

“I think we have to use drones very, very selectively and effectively. That has not always been the case,” Sanders said. […]

http://www.hngn.com/articles/124393/20150830/bernie-sanders-will-end-drone-program-elected-president.htm

We are going back in to Libya, as if we hadn’t already destroyed that once thriving country and created a failed state.  See “Pentagon prepares another war in Libya”:

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/01/29/pers-j29.html

We have never left Afghanistan and have re-entered Iraq.  We are the main drivers behind the destabilization and bloodshed in Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Ukraine.  We are aiming for Russia, Iran, and China.  Oh, Jesus, forget it; I can’t even begin to list all the countries we are bombing, invading, attempting to destabilize, ruin economically, or instigate coups in now.

Why do Americans approve of drone-bombing, ignore the CIA-instigated terrorism around the globe, seemingly enjoy being at war against countries that don’t threaten us, see the warrior class as superior and deserving of accolades and perqs despite the fact that they are engaged in killing people while we are legally at war with no nation, and scream with approval when some political demagogue talks about “keeping us safe” and nuking the rest of the world into submission?  Why is the public satisfied with the selection offered us in presidential candidates in which even the nominally Democratic “front-runner” is a woman who wants to invade yet another country and do away with their elected leader and who constantly threatens a multitude of other countries?   Why do none of the “candidates” talk about reducing the Pentagon’s budget, getting rid of the Fed, overturning the Patriot Act, or – at the least, for God’s sake – dislodging the most egregiously unconstitutional clauses in the NDAA?  Why do our “Christian” ministers approve of the “war on terror”?  Why do the pundits and the politicians promote violence against everyone and why does the public apparently agree with this as though it were reasonable and of some necessity?

Because in this country we have been taught that greed and theft are virtues, that bullying is the sum total of diplomacy, that other cultures are inherently dangerous and to even examine and consider their viewpoints is subversive. We have been taught that every country on the planet is inferior to our own.  The corporate oligarchs and their courtiers in Congress love ignorance, racism, and herd mentality and have worked very hard to see that Americans are poorly educated and even more poorly informed.

But we sure got Iraq’s gold. And Libya’s. And Ukraine’s. Wanted their oil, too, but it is proving to be a little more difficult to wrest complete control over the oil fields, because we created ISIS (in the case of Iraq and Libya), who are interfering in the process (which may be on purpose to hurt the Dread Russians, under the rather abstruse economic theory that harming Russia’s economy is worth the cost of harming ours) and because we created Nuland’s Nazis Civil War (in the case of Ukraine), which has so far blocked completion of the Biden Bid for Oil Takeover of Eastern Ukraine.

Even so-called “liberal” writers add their voices to the propaganda in support of more war, although they do it a little more subtly than the conservative pundits.  This is from the “liberal media” at Salon, reprinted by the “liberal media” compiler at Alternet, in an article ostensibly about the one of the GOP debates:

 […] Oh, the candidates know that Bashar al-Assad is on one side and ISIS is on the other and that Vladimir Putin is being a dick, all of which is probably more understanding than the typical Republican voter has regarding the whole thing. But memorizing these little factoids is hardly relevant when you still think the solution to an intricate civil war that mostly isn’t about us at all is to stand around declaring how tough you are. […]

http://www.alternet.org/comments/news-amp-politics/gop-debate-scorecard-big-winner-wasnt-anyone-stage-it-was-democrats#disqus_thread

Uh-huh. Those aren’t “factoids”; they’re bullshit.  While the rest of the article about the GOP debate that night is probably true and is certainly funny, this bit is typical blase media propaganda stupidity and why I quit reading Salon, which supposedly offers the liberal viewpoint of things.  Facts:  al-Assad is on one side.  ISIS, the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the CIA, and the weapons’ manufacturers are on the other. Putin is not being a dick; Russia is the only country that is helping the legitimate government in Syria legally right now. Let’s say that again: Russia is there legally. The rest of the countries currently bombing Syria to hell and gone are not. Russia and al-Assad are trying to get the US-created and US-armed terrorists out of there.

Apparently, Sanders and O’Malley are the only two amongst the candidates who think that we should uphold the nuclear deal with Iran (which was not trying to develop nuclear weapons anyway), while even our former Sec. of State is of the opinion that we ought to show the Iranians just what dickhead liars we are and sanction them again; retroactively, mind you, since the ballistic missile test that has caused the uproar was carried out prior to our agreement with them.  The missiles tested by Iran were incapable of carrying a nuclear payload and so wouldn’t have broken the agreement no matter when it was signed at any rate.  Nonetheless, as soon as Clinton called for further sanctions, Obama signed an executive order to do just that.

US Treasury imposes new ballistic missile sanctions on Iran:

https://www.rt.com/usa/329240-us-sanctions-iran-ballistic/

Once again we have shown that we cannot keep our “agreements”, “treaties”, or “deals” for more than one second after the ink dries.  The only reason any country even “negotiates” with us any more is that they are aware that if they don’t, we will invade their country and bomb the fuck out of it.  As a nation, we have no morals, no rigorous intellect, and no diplomatic abilities.  As a nation, we are liars, thieves, and murderers, completely bereft of the normal human empathy, the ability to compromise, and the honest self-assessment required to interact in a mutually beneficial way with other societies.

How long before some other nation says, “basta!” and drops a Fat Man on our asses?

All the candidates swear undying support for Israel, none more vociferously than Clinton, as though this were some purity test they have to undergo, and sadly, many Americans see it just that way.  America is exceptional in this way: its politicians place allegiance to a foreign country above loyalty to their own, and the only promises they keep are the ones they make to that foreign country.  And sometimes that oath to serve the interests of the other country above their own nation is the tipping point to get them elected.

What this says about the political system, the politicians, and the electorate in the US is appalling and embarrassing.

So we are being offered for our viewing pleasure an assortment of motley con men and corporate stooges.  Sanders may be the exception to some extent and the fact that the media and the other candidates are busy red-baiting him and regularly try to dismiss his positions out of hand bolsters my belief in his sincerity in some measure.  As I said, however, he isn’t going to dismantle the war machine, and that is a large part of all the other problems this country has.

Then you have the narcissistic Trump, billionaire and game-show host, who has picked up on the unrest out in the flyover zones and plays to it with gusto.  It’s hard to tell what he would do if elected, since he can barely keep his proposals and ideas straight in his own head.  His speeches frequently contradict things he has said before, but it is hard for people to get through all his verbiage to pick up on that.  He’s so loquacious you’d think he was being paid by the word.  He was recently endorsed by our other great orator, Sarah Palin, who left off tending her miscreant brood to offer up this bit of gloss: “Where, in the private sector, you actually have to balance budgets in order to prioritize, to keep the main thing, the main thing, and he knows the main thing: a president is to keep us safe economically and militarily. He knows the main thing, and he knows how to lead the charge.”  You just know the two of them spent their time while waiting in the green room before the great endorsement speech fighting over who was hogging the mirror.  But Trump himself is one of the rich elite who has made his jack off the capitalist system; he isn’t going to gore that ox.  On the other hand, he probably wouldn’t start a hot war with Russia, so there’s that.

There is the skeevy and very creepy Ted Cruz, who was doubtless the Grand Inquisitor in Spain during his last incarnation on this earth.  He is in a fight with the establishment Republicans and neocons, or so we are told to believe, although his ideas about carpet-bombing the Middle East and “lifting the rules of engagement” in the fight with ISIS suggest he fits right in with the PNAC crowd.  He is talking here about illegal methods of warfare and getting rid of the Geneva Conventions, but that doesn’t bother too many of the people in charge, most of whom supported the same ideas when offered by George W. Bush.  Cruz is like some crazed fundamentalist faith-healer who wants to pray the gays away and damn it all, get his chance to nuke some shit for Jesus.  He responded to the Flint, Michigan water crisis by donating bottled water… teaming up with the anti-abortion group Flint Right to Life, with instructions that the water go exclusively to crisis pregnancy centers.  These centers are anti-abortion organizations that try to manipulate women into keeping their pregnancies.  Tough shit about those already-born children and adults who have been drinking toxins in Flint for the last few years.  He, like all the Republicans, wants to cut taxes for corporations, get rid of all bank regulations, privatize everything that could possibly turn a profit for the corporate world, doesn’t support any minimum-wage increases, and has a tax plan that completely decimates the poor and middle class while ass-kissing the wealthy.  He sort of forgot to report his Goldman Sachs campaign contributions to the FEC, and his wife works there; we have yet to see if anyone cares.  Cruz appeals to a certain evangelical, but hawkish, subset of the American public.   Despite their professed “Christian” faith, if Cruz and his base were given the choice between Jesus and that other guy, they’d be screaming, “Free Barabbas!” at the top of their lungs.

Marco Rubio sometimes rattles off sound-bytes like he’s on amphetamines, but he is not saying anything we haven’t heard from the farthest right of the right-wing; he’s just saying it hysterically.  Lots of people think he is cute and endearing, but the dude is one rabid neocon.  He loves the spy programs, Homeland Security, the Pentagon, and torture, and hates the needy, the LGBT community, and Muslims.  That’s his platform.

Chris Christie ruined his own home state and now wants to have a go at the rest of the country. He calls himself the “disaster governor” with pride (I put a different twist on the title than he does, I gather) while at the same time refusing to help the victims of the two disasters that have hit New Jersey since he’s been in office.  We just had a huge blizzard here on the East Coast, and parts of NJ were inundated with flood waters along with the snow.  He happily chirped that there was no “residual damage” because the flood had receded, although it’s quite obvious that buildings that have had 5 feet of water and icebergs wash through them are going to be left with damage, if not have to be outright condemned and torn down.  Not to mention the other stuff that got majorly fucked up in the flood.  We can guess what kind of relief he’s going to offer the affected cities.  He’s said some other things on the campaign trail.  I couldn’t say for sure what, though.

Carly Fiorina is just vicious as a wolverine with rabies, and Ben Carson thinks it would be okay to bomb children on general principles.  When asked if he would order airstrikes that might kill innocent children by the thousands, he mentioned operating on kids with brain tumors and how they hated it but later on loved him, and finished his comments by saying,”and by the same token, you have to be able to look at the big picture and understand that it’s actually merciful if you go ahead and finish the job, rather than death by 1,000 pricks.”   So in other words, Ben Carson thinks bombing civilians and children is somehow merciful because it finishes the job quickly.  The crowd applauded the twisted fuck for his bedside manner.

Jeb Bush is running and may end up being the Republican nominee if the oligarchy can finesse the situation properly.  This might not make him very happy, actually, as he seems most intent on making himself invisible.  He’s like the chubby kid who tried out for the soccer team because his daddy made him.

O’Malley has some fine ideas about the economy and doesn’t seem to be too enthusiastic about continuing the efforts to take over the world, so he will be quickly taken off the scene.  Poor guy barely made in on the scene, so eager are the Democrats to waylay one of their own.

I wrote an entire post about the war-pig Hillary Clinton, who is currently busy trying to paint Sanders as a Commie, so I’ll try not to repeat all the same stuff here.  She is so sure she will be the Democratic nominee, as are the pundits and mainstream media, that she hasn’t bothered to reciprocate to Sanders’ pledge to back the eventual nominee.  I think the media and the talking heads totally fail to understand the rancor and pure loathing felt for her at the street level.  If one reads the comment section on any article about the candidates, even articles supporting Mad Hillary, one sees the same thing over and over: people hate her.  People do not trust her.  People do not intend to vote for her even as “the lesser of two evils”; she is not seen as the lesser evil in any line-up.  To the public, she is defective and never should have made it through quality control.  Clinton is the least sincere candidate we have ever had running for office, and the people sense that.  She will sign the TPP into law given the chance, and you can be sure that she would reneg on all her promises, except the ones where she promises to bomb other countries, as quick as shit through a goose should she be elected.  She has a neocon’s view point toward the use of military power, which she and the media insist on referring to as “foreign affairs”, thus mistaking military policy with diplomacy and foreign policy, a viewpoint that made her such a bad and dangerous Sec. of State.  She felt her job in the State Dept. was to threaten other countries and to work arms deals instead of promoting civil discourse between nations.  She, in fact, gets “foreign policy guidance” from the same firm that advises Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.  (Which may help explain why all the ideas Clinton and the Republicans have for dealing with terrorist issues are similar in that they are illegal by US law, in violation of international laws, and break numerous treaties and agreements.)  The media that promotes her jabbers on about the “commander-in-chief” part of the president’s job because even they recognize in some part of their reptilian brains that Bernie Sanders’ domestic policies appeal to the voters more than hers do.  They – and she – hope that by presenting her as a hard and tough predator, she will gain some popularity with the fearful.  The constant talk about terrorism and terrorists, from all the candidates, serves to keep most of us focused away from the neglected and dismal state of things in our own country.

She may be running into trouble now.  With any luck, and with the assumption that some agencies in the US are still willing to do their jobs, she may be facing criminal charges.  God knows, she should have been jerked up short by the DoJ long before now.  I was very interested to see that one of the major legal threats to her involves the use of her position at the State Dept. to garner donations to the Clinton Foundation, and that Haiti is specifically mentioned.  I brought these things up in my last post about her.

Hillary Clinton’s Coming Legal Crisis

by Charles Lipson
January 13, 2016

The latest release of Hillary Clinton emails entails real risks for her, churning just beneath the surface of her successful primary campaign. True, Democratic voters have shown little interest, and the mainstream media only a bit more. Their focus, when they do look, is on the number of documents now considered classified, their foreign-policy revelations, and the political damage they might cause. These are vital issues, but Clinton faces a far bigger problem. She and her closest aides could be indicted criminally.

Secretary Clinton is exposed twice over. First, she used an unsecured, home-brew server to send and store reams of classified materials. Second, in her official capacity, she worked closely with major donors to the Clinton Foundation. Each poses legal risks, with potential ramifications for the Democratic frontrunner, her party, and the Obama administration.

To understand the gravity of these issues, it is important to recognize that this is not just an “email scandal.” It is an “email + server + foundation” scandal.” Secretary Clinton didn’t just send sensitive (and now-classified) emails over open lines, she stored them on private servers that didn’t meet the government’s cyber-security standards for sensitive documents. On its face, retaining classified materials in such vulnerable settings is a criminal violation. Senior intelligence officials have been charged for less – far less. Storing some 1,300 classified documents on a personal server, and doing it for years, poses a special problem because it shows the mishandling was not inadvertent. It was Clinton’s standard operating procedure.

The State Department has done everything it can to protect its former boss. When it finally received her documents, it flatly refused to comply with long-standing Freedom of Information Act requests by releasing them. It took several court orders for the agency to begin trickling out small batches with large sections blacked out. The redactions only underscore why the documents should never have been held on private, unsecured servers in the first place.

The latest document dump shows why the State Department is so skittish. One reveals the secretary of state telling a senior department official, Jake Sullivan, to strip all the security markings off one document and send it to her on an insecure connection. We don’t yet know if Sullivan actually complied, but, if he did, both he and Clinton face serious legal jeopardy.

Beside these national-security matters, the emails reveal obvious conflict-of-interest issues pertaining to the significant overlap between Clinton’s official duties and her family foundation’s operations.

Major donors to the foundation often had business before the State Department, and they sometimes received help. After the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, for instance, Bill Clinton was named co-chairman of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, and, according to the Wall Street Journal, “the State Department began directing parties interested in competing for Haiti contracts to the Clinton Foundation.”

Not surprisingly, many contractors became foundation donors, or were already. The FBI now has to decide if any of this was a “pay to play” arrangement. Proving a quid pro quo is notoriously difficult, but Fox News reported Monday that public corruption is now a second track in the FBI investigation.

So far, Hillary has suffered only modest political damage from these scandals. Democratic primary voters are mostly indifferent; her main challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders, says he’s tired of hearing about it; and, other than Fox News, no major media outlet has done serious investigations.

But that doesn’t mean these messy issues are dead — depending on what happens inside the Justice Department. Clinton is about to face the most serious crisis of her candidacy — a set of legal decisions by the FBI and then the Department of Justice. Those will either kill the issue or kill her chances.

The FBI reportedly has assigned some 100 agents full time to the investigation and another 50 temporarily. The bureau would not commit such massive resources unless the initial investigation raised troubling questions of potential criminality. FBI Director James Comey is monitoring the case closely and coordinating with the intelligence agencies, which have to review the documents. Comey has a reputation for integrity, and it is his call whether to refer charges to the DOJ. Attorney General Loretta Lynch would then decide whether to indict.

Whatever Lynch decides, there will be a maelstrom if FBI agents found substantial evidence of criminal wrongdoing.[…]

Regardless of the attorney general’s decision, if the FBI does recommend criminal charges for Hillary Clinton or any of her associates, she will face two very pointed questions from the media, the electorate, and her Republican challenger.

“Secretary Clinton, if you are elected president, do you unequivocally promise to appoint an independent counsel to investigate these charges and, if warranted, prosecute them?”
“Do you promise you will not pardon anyone before these cases are fully adjudicated?”

She won’t be able to wave these questions off and say, “The attorney general decided all that.” It will look too much like a coverup by a Democratic administration for a Democratic Party leader.

To reach the White House, Hillary Clinton has to get past the coming legal crisis, and she will have to answer those hard questions.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2016/01/13/hillary_clintons_coming_legal_crisis_129293.html

You should really read the whole article; I left some paragraphs speculating about the potential effects this could have on the elections out of the blockquote due to space.  Another interesting article is a brief one written by Glen Ford at blackagendareport regarding the Clintons’ interference into Haiti’s elections, and gives a bit of a rundown on their unwelcome and colonial-style relationship with Haiti.  See, “The Clintons: We Came, We Stole, Haitians Died”:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article44069.htm

I fail to understand how anyone can think we still have a democracy in this country.  When you look at these candidates and take honest stock of what they are offering, how can you find any escape in some sad and outdated notion that this is a government of, by, and for the people?  Hell, the Obama trade agreements, the first of which (the TPP) is quietly coming up for a vote soon if Congress bothers to follow its own legislation, suffice to render our national sovereignty and any pretense of a government “for the people” null and void if they are passed.  I will allow some exception for Sanders in my condemnations, as I think he may actually mean at least some of what he says and is the only one who even affects to worry about how life is going for the average American.  He ought to talk more about the TPP, since it has come out that this dangerous piece of crap posing as a “trade agreement” will probably do away with the UK’s health system and could prevent universal healthcare forever in the US.  As to the rest, when any of those bought-and-paid-for bastards steps up to the podium and lies to the audience about how much he/she really, really cares about the working stiff and has our best interests at heart, I feel nothing but contempt and revulsion.  The corruption at the top of this country is so widespread and so legalized that we cannot avoid another financial catastrophe and perhaps even another world war.  These are the goals of the oligarchy so they can strip the US and the rest of the world of its remaining assets, and the dolts, criminals, grifters, and bullshit artists up there on the stage posing as “presidential material” are willing to lead us right into the pit.

No-one with enough neurons firing to keep breathing can take this election seriously.  I doubt I will bother to take a chance on the voting machines myself.  Seems pointless, unless by some weird happenstance Sanders is on the ballot.  If it comes to a race between Clinton and Trump, that might also motivate me enough to haul my ass out of the chair to go vote for Trump, just to help save us from her.

What a wretched selection we have in front of us.  Who shall we have?  Caligula or Nero?  Choices, choices.

I don’t blame those who think that perhaps it is time to join the dolphins and get the hell out of Dodge.  If only there were a way to escape to some other planet entirely.  A different country on this one may not be far enough – the Powers That Be have their clutches on all of them.

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The governmental responses to the Paris terrorist attacks.

In response to the terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday night, France has rolled out its plans, seemingly prepared in advance much like the US’ response to 9/11: France is already increasing its bombing of Syria and is imposing strict new laws on its own people at home.

Despite the fact that at least half the terrorists in this case were already known to the French law enforcement community, the intelligence services mysteriously “ceased watching” the suspects a few days before the attacks. Oddly, and also reminiscent of 9/11, the French military and police forces were conducting anti-terrorist training exercises the morning of the attacks in Paris, so Paris was packed with law enforcement, but somehow the terrorists slipped around town to multiple locations unimpeded. The police response was notably slow at each location as well.  Despite these being obvious failures of the security community in France, the first steps rolled out in response are not directed as rebuke to or reform of these agencies, but are instead measures taken against the civilian population and which are a distinct curtailing of civil rights.  

Internally, French president Hollande has ordered a 3-month State of Emergency which will be extended further “as needed”. The state of emergency law allows French authorities to impose curfews, carry out random searches of private homes at any time, collect weapons owned by private citizens, use military tribunals rather than the courts, curtail public meetings, censor the press, order the house arrest of individuals (without trial), and close public places (most public places were closed for the week-end and the law allows for future closures at any time with little or no prior notification to the public).  The French government has already begun raids of private homes searching for accomplices to the terrorists and is increasing the number of soldiers patrolling Paris and suburbs. Right now, there are 5000 French military troops in Paris; there will be another 1500 added by Wednesday and the prime minister has promised to deploy another 10,000 troops throughout the rest of the country as quickly as possible. (There were already 7000 troops deployed internally in France since the “Charlie Hebdo” thing in January of this year, in addition to the number just in Paris alone.) This pretty much puts martial law in effect.

Hollande met with leaders of all the political parties in France over the week-end and they all agree with the new “state of emergency” law and to expanding participation of war abroad.  He asked for an increase in spending on security, police, and intelligence agencies, which will breach the EU’s budget agreements, and is seeking constitutional revisions to add to the powers of the president under emergency situations.   

Marie Le Pen, who is the leader of the National Front party (they are distinctly neo-fascists) called for the complete disarming of the suburbs, and Wauquiez, the secretary of the Le Republicans party (very right-wing) said that anyone in France who has an intelligence file (i.e., people being watched for one reason or another by the authorities) should be placed in internment camps.

Interior Minister Cazeneuve stated that the state of emergency might be used for “the dissolution of mosques in which people intervene to call for or promote hatred.”   What exactly constitutes “promoting hatred” is no doubt open to debate.

On Monday, Hollande made a speech to both houses of parliament in which he suggested sweeping changes to the democratic rights inherent in the French constitution and proposed modifying the constitution itself.  His measures would give arbitrary powers to the president and transfer authority from civilian institutions to the French military; he pointed out that the several articles supporting these sweeping changes were already part of the constitution under the state of emergency he imposed, but said that they needed to be modified and strengthened.  The articles in question allow the president full and arbitrary powers “when the institutions of the Republic, the independence of the Nation, its territorial integrity, or the carrying out of its international engagements are threatened in a grave and immediate way, and the regular functioning of the constitutional public authority is interrupted…”

It’s a fairly broad read of the articles to invoke them with the claim that ISIS could threaten all the institutions of France, or its independence and territorial integrity.  Nonetheless, massive changes appear to be in the works for the good people of France, who have enjoyed a free and democratic republic until now.

Joyeux Noel et bonne annee, gens. [Merry Christmas and happy new year, people.]

Other countries are calling for more bombing throughout the Middle East, as though killing more people will somehow stop blowback of the sort that the Paris attacks might have been.  It is also possible that the Paris events were a false flag designed to have the effect of solidifying the intent of the “coalition of the willing” to come together more firmly and utterly destroy Syria in particular and the Middle East in general.  We even had the requisite magic, indestructible passports and a peculiarly belated claim from ISIS that they were, in fact, behind the attacks.  It was only after Hollande claimed that he “knew” that ISIS was behind the attacks that ISIS thought to take credit.  I wonder how easy it is for someone fleeing a war-torn country to apply for a passport and how quickly that country can process the applications when it is under full military assault.  Millions of people have fled Syria; is it even likely that all, or most, of them waited for visitor’s passports before fleeing for their very lives?   It’s a moot point anyway; we are now being told the terrorists were not Syrian refugees, but French and Belgium nationals.  And why do these terrorists only target the civilian population, rather than the politicians and neocons who are responsible for the wars in their homelands?   If this is a case of false flag, it seems to be working.

At the G20 meeting taking place now, a bunch of countries (which are, well, noticeably not Syria nor territories of Syria nor colonies of Syria nor in any way, shape, or form countries going by the name of Syria) are deciding how Syria should be governed and run. The big questions seem to be: do we simply assassinate al Assad, demand he a) step down now or b) step down later, set up an [illegal] interim government without him (like we did in Libya just before we assassinated Ghaddafi), tell the people of Syria they will have early elections but al Assad cannot run for office this time, despite his winning the last election with 80% of the vote (like we did in Haiti, where we allowed Aristide to return home, but said he couldn’t run for office even if the people wanted him to – which they overwhelmingly did), and the final big question is, of course, do you suppose anyone will notice if we just fucking bomb Syria into a landfill and kill all the civilians in the meantime? Takes care of that part of the refugee problem, anyway.

The US now kind of wants Russia to take part in the bombing of Syria to get rid of our manufactured enemy ISIS (who, let’s face it, are getting a tad out of control), but don’t want Russia to bomb the “moderate” terrorists, who just happen to be aiming their sights on al Assad, whom we really want to get rid of.  I have to ask here, what the fuck is a “moderate” terrorist?  Is that a terrorist who will cut your head off but not eat your liver afterwards?  What we really want, of course, is that damn pipeline that al Assad won’t give us, and we hope Russia will ignore that losing the pipeline will hurt the Russian economy and can be convinced to not only help us get rid of ISIS, but along the way, also help us take down the only guy who is protecting Russia’s interests in that pipeline matter.  (“Real shame about your airplane there, Mr. Putin.  Shitty things happen when you don’t play by our rules.”)

Not one leader, and this is notably true in the US, which favors sanctions and other such assorted illegal actions in lieu of diplomacy, has suggested sanctions or investigations into who is buying all that black-market oil from ISIS which profits the group enormously.  Turkey and Iraq are among the known purchasers, and reports have been leaked that suggest at least two EU countries buy ISIS oil.  Somehow the US can sanction individuals and/or entire countries for any matter under the sun that affects “our interests”, but is completely nonchalant about the ISIS oil buyers or the methods of money transfers they utilize.  Remarkable.

France has placed itself in the absurd situation of seeking help from Russia against ISIS in Syria while at the very same time committed to the NATO buildup against Russia in Ukraine and eastern Europe.  The US and other NATO countries are doing the same thing, although few seem to have noticed the spectacular oddness of it all.  John Kerry, while in Paris a day ago, put the burden for intelligence-sharing on Russia and Iran (“…So the faster Russia and Iran give life to this process, the faster the violence can taper down, and we can isolate [IS] and Al Nusra and begin to do what our strategy has always set out to do”), despite the fact that we have been condemning both those countries for participating in military activity in the Syria up until this very moment, and have been making threats against both countries for decades.   We can only hope these idiots don’t start bombing each other (and us) in a mad melee while they are busy “coalescing” and bombing ISIS.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced he is adding financing to the military budget and doubling the drone fleet.  Countries all over the place are suddenly stating they are under “credible terrorist threats” and have begun canceling events, adding to their internal police forces and closing borders to refugees.  Roughly half the state governors in America have said they will not accept Syrian refugees – not that very many have come here in any case – despite the fact that it is not legal for them to bar refugees from their communities.

As for the larger US, we are suddenly bombing Libya again, in addition to Syria.  (Along with the seven or so other nations we are bombing.)  No authorization for any of the bombing we are doing anywhere, of course, and particularly egregious to be bombing a country we already ruined beyond repair a couple of years ago, but no-one in the media seems disturbed. Matter of fact, it is so humdrum that I’ve only seen one or two articles on the incident.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-officials-leader-of-islamic-state-in-libya-believed-killed-in-us-airstrike/2015/11/14/b42cb714-8af0-11e5-be39-0034bb576eee_story.html

The final paragraph in the above article sums up the media’s insouciance for facts and displays its ability to re-write even recent history, replacing truth with bullshit.

The Islamic State has been able to thrive in Libya in large part because of the country’s political instability four years after its revolution. Since last year, Libya has had two governments vying for resources and legitimacy. But neither is able to impose security across the vast desert nation or curb a sprawling array of militias, militant cells, smugglers and criminal groups.

It was not a revolution, those were CIA-funded, al Qaeda-affiliated “rebels” brought into the country of Libya to overthrow the then-current government.  Then an unbelievable amount of bombs were dropped under the lead of the US, ruining damn near everything, and then we assassinated the leader of this sovereign nation.  The country had been working pretty well up until that point, with Ghaddafi having over a 90% approval rating from the Libyans themselves.  And, by the way, the “sprawling array” of militias, militant cells, smugglers and criminal groups weren’t a problem until we wrecked the country.

In response to the events in Paris, I guess the PTB have decided their course of action: more of the same of what they’ve been doing.  Yeah, because that’s been working so well up to now.  We managed to create and fund al Qaeda and ISIS through our activities in the Middle East for all these long years, and we supply weapons to our “ally” Saudi Arabia, which in turn follows much the same set of Wahhabi beliefs that ISIS and the other Islamist militant groups do and which actively provides material and financial backing for terrorist groups worldwide.  The House of Saud is loathe to bomb ISIS, but has been savagely willing to use those weapons to bring hell on earth to Yemen and Pakistan.  Yesterday, it was announced that the US State Dept. has approved a new $1.3 bb sale of smart bombs to Saudi Arabia, which the Pentagon says will be used in the Saudis’ military campaigns in Syria and Yemen.  We consider Turkey an ally even as they purchase black-market oil from ISIS and back the “moderate terrorist” groups [al Qaeda and ISIS allies] and ignore the reports that our ally Israel is giving medical aid to ISIS wounded.  One thing that no-one will consider is to let the Arab nations figure out if they really want the kind of life ISIS is selling and let them sort it out for themselves.  

To underscore that our desire to spread weaponry, mayhem and misery is equal opportunity for the entire globe, the US Senate just cleared the revised Defense Authorization legislation for vote, legislation that will provide $715 mm to Iraqi forces fighting ISIS, $406 mm for the Syrian opposition forces (the so-called moderate terrorist groups), and $300 mm for lethal weapons for the neo-Nazis we put in power in Ukraine.

Obama has promised a quarter of a billion dollars to sponsor “maritime security” in the South China Sea.  The money will fund gunboat patrols and surveillance for Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia as the US tries to gin up the territorial disputes with China in that area.  (Wait’ll he finds out that China, Japan and South Korea are holding meetings to work out some trade questions and the sea-lane disputes without him.  See note at bottom.)  Escalation of war threats all over the globe.

Sounds like a plan, if a dismal one.

Note: Looks like China and Japan are starting to figure out they need each other more than either needs the stupid war-mongering US. and its manufactured dispute over some sand bars:

Nov 2015 – S Korea, Japan, and China agree to restore trade ties. 
Regional powers also agree to restart trilateral meetings that have not been held since 2012 due to strained relations.
 Two articles.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/11/korea-japan-china-agree-restore-trade-ties-151101130148174.html

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-01/south-korea-china-japan-vow-to-strengthen-ties-at-summit/6903686

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 16, 2015 in China, civil rights, Iran, Iraq, Libya, MIC, Russia, security state, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen

 

Two men.

Come sit with me for a moment or two.  I want to talk about two men, how US foreign policy affected their lives, and how the American media handles the stories about them.  Because I never hesitate to look for other stuff to do when I should be working and I feel better about it when I can get someone else to play hooky with me.

The first guy I want to talk about is James Foley, who was a free-lance journalist and video/photog dude.  He was beheaded by ISIS last week, leading to calls for the US to seek revenge.  Foley mostly worked for a paper called the GlobalPost.  He had embedded with the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for awhile and then felt the call to represent the viewpoints of oppressed people everywhere.  Well, okay, the US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan weren’t really oppressed, but one finds one’s calling where one can.  To that end, he later embedded with the “Libyan rebels”.  You remember those guys, the Libyan rebels, the ones who rose up against the evil dictator strongman tyrant despot Ghaddafi.  Yeah, the ones Ghaddafi said were CIA-funded operatives and later it turned out they were CIA operatives and the whole “rebel” thing was a bullshit undercover op to overthrow Ghaddafi and snatch Libya’s gold and oil resources.  Foley “embedded” with them to bring their revolution and plight to the attention of the world.  Unfortunately, he did not ever seem to discover the CIA and black-ops machinations behind the “rebel uprising” while covering the story.  I have no doubt he really meant well and was a very nice man, and surely a brave man, but the history of Libya has been forever altered in part because all kinds of well-meaning people did not see the truth, or the ones who did, did not report on it until after Libya was destroyed.  We are to refer to this period of history, the so-called rebel uprising, as “Libya’s civil war”, according to the new Truth Protocols set out by the Council on Foreign Relations and PNAC, although some of us “fact hard-liners” might decline to do so at our own risk.  Anyhow, Foley was “in country” in Libya for a mere matter of weeks before being captured by the despot’s military forces and held captive for 44 days.  His captivity, and that of the 3 other journalists with him, was said to be one of the final straws leading to the “humanitarian intervention” in Libya.  Near the end of his captivity, he could hear the NATO bombs falling and knew that help was on the way and that his suffering had not been in vain.  Mission, as they say, accomplished.

As to his ordeal while being held by the evil despot’s Torturous Torturers and Torture Brigade, Foley later recounted events for the public thusly [this is from two different articles]:

[…] Myself and two colleagues had been captured and were being held in a military detention center in Tripoli….Later we were taken to another prison where the regime kept hundreds of political prisoners. I was quickly welcomed by the other prisoners and treated well….[he was allowed a phone call to mom] “How are you, Jim?” [his Mom asked]. I told her I was being fed, that I was getting the best bed and being treated like a guest.

“Are they making you say these things, Jim?”

“No, the Libyans are beautiful people,” I told her.

[…] He said he was treated fairly well, fed regularly, and never tortured or beaten. He shared a cell with political prisoners, incarcerated for acts such as sending disparaging texts about Khadafy. Foley said he saw physical evidence that some of the other prisoners suffered electrical shock, beatings, and whippings. Foley said he became worried when the other two journalists were moved from the Tripoli prison on April 29 and he was left behind without explanation. Then, eight days later, Foley said he was blindfolded, placed in the back of a van and driven to a luxury villa. He was greeted by Gillis and Brabo, who had been staying there since their removal from the prison. Another captured journalist, Nigel Chandler, a British freelancer, was also there.

Foley said he spent his last days in custody at the villa, eating three-course meals, sleeping in a room of his own, and watching cable television, which included world news reports on the BBC. He said he was told that Khadafy’s son, Saadi, believed Western journalists should be treated well. Foley, who completed his graduate studies in 2008 at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, worked as an embedded reporter with US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan before arriving in Libya about three weeks before his capture.

http://www.prwatch.org/news/2014/08/12576/remembering-james-foley
and: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2011/05/27/after-release-james-foley-recounts-dark-secret-libya/Q0HClqVr8iat181WHO7YuL/story.html

Partly in response to the despot’s temerity at housing a journalist in a luxury villa (on a beautiful warm, white beach; I’ve seen the photos), feeding him three-course meals and letting him watch cable TV, we ruined Libya. Foley flew to Milwaukee to thank the US-ians for their prayers during his captivity. (And for the tens of thousands of dollars donated to his family to secure his release.) Being the intrepid reporter that he was, he then flew back to Libya and was there reporting on the “civil war” when Ghaddafi fell and eventually died.  Remember that?  When Ghaddafi just fell and died?  According to Foley’s own newspaper, GlobalPost, there was no bounty placed on Ghaddafi’s head by the US State Dept., there was no illegal invasion, Ghaddafi’s murder was not orchestrated by the US pointing the “rebels” to the place where Ghaddafi was hidden, the US did not condone (and perhaps instruct) Ghaddafi’s torture and assassination, nor did the US media gleefully circulate the video of his torture and murder repeatedly while Hillary giggled maniacally in orgasmic joy at the thought of a man, the leader of a sovereign nation, being tortured at her behest.  No, no, no: Ghaddafi just “fell” and “eventually died”.  The video of Foley’s death at the hands of ISIS, on the other hand, is deemed too brutal to be watched by the same media that slavered over Ghaddafi’s murder.

[…] While covering the Libyan civil war in 2011, Foley and two other journalists, American Claire Gillis and Spaniard Manu Brabo, endured a 44-day captivity in April and May of that year at the hands of then Libyan strongman Col. Muammar Gaddafi. A fourth journalist, South African Anton Hammerl, was killed when the journalists were captured by Gaddafi fighters near Benghazi in eastern Libya. Foley later returned to Libya to cover Gaddafi’s fall and eventual death. Foley and GlobalPost correspondent Tracey Shelton were at the scene of Gaddafi’s capture in October,2011[….]

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/131016/american-journalist-james-foley-remains-missin

The above summary, written in recent days as part of Foley’s biography, implies that Foley was right there when Ghaddafi was captured and that he witnessed Ghaddafi’s murder. In fact, he did not witness the event.  He went to the scene after the fact to do on-the-ground interviews and to describe the event and the place.  The wording is ambiguous, perhaps intentionally so. All kinds of media outlets are linking to the above to baldly claim Foley was present when Ghaddafi was killed as though this [false] story somehow adds to Foley’s luster.  Even Truthdig made the claim, without doing any research, when they named Foley as their “Truthdigger of the Week”: “[…] Foley returned to Libya after a short time spent in the U.S. after his release. He wanted to speak with some of the people he had met in prison with the aim of telling their stories, and he ended up witnessing Gadhafi’s capture.[…]”

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/truthdigger_of_the_week_james_foley_20140824

The true story of Foley’s involvement in Ghaddafi’s death was published by the same paper (the paper Foley freelanced for), GlobalPost, which wrote that so-misunderstood remark in the first place.

[…] “Jim couldn’t bear to watch from afar as the rebel tide finally turned against Gaddafi,” recalls Solana Pyne, his video editor at GlobalPost. On that last day in Libya, “rebels claimed Gaddafi had been killed in a firefight, but Jim found eyewitnesses who confirmed the despot had in fact died at the hands of his former subjects.”

That scoop would change the narrative of Gaddafi’s demise, and prompt United Nations officials to call for a war crimes investigation. It would also win the prestigious Overseas Press Club award for Foley and for colleague Tracey Shelton, who obtained the video of Gaddafi’s final moments [….]

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/140827/what-james-foley-meant-to-us

To his credit, and this is what should actually be used from his reporting to burnish his biography, Foley and Shelton exposed the brutal assassination of Ghaddafi and did not sit on the story out of fear that it would make Foley’s rebels look bad. It’s odd that Truthdig, et al, are not reporting the event in this light:

(Reuters) – “The death of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was captured and killed by rebels in October, may have been a war crime”, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said on Thursday.  The U.N. Security Council referred Gaddafi’s crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators to the ICC in February and authorized military intervention to protect civilians in March. The ICC indicted Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and the former intelligence chief for war crimes.

Saif al-Islam is now in the custody of the Libyan authorities who have said they plan to try in him in Libya instead of handing him over to The Hague-based ICC.   Moreno-Ocampo has said this was possible.

Moreno-Ocampo has also said he was investigating allegations that the anti-Gaddafi forces and NATO were also guilty of war crimes during the civil war.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/16/us-libya-icc-idUSTRE7BF08820111216

As a side note, if Foley had been there at the exact moment, one would have to wonder how he knew where to be and when to be there. It would be odd, to say the least.  You may think about that for one second.  Okay, moving along.

Foley then went to Syria.  To report on the repressed and oppressed Syrians who were rebelling against the evil tyrant Assad.  He wanted to tell the story of the “rebels” belonging to such groups as al Nusra Front and the Free Syrian Army.  Bring their plight to the world and support their cause of overthrowing the Assad government.  You know the drill.  We will ignore, as did Foley, that these “rebels” were funded by the US, the CIA, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, trained by the CIA and given arms and cash (oops, I mean “non-lethal aid”) by the US and Sauds.  We will also pay no attention to the fact that these groups, along with parts of al Qaeda in Iraq, later morphed into the Dread Terrorists now known as ISIS. (We will also ignore, as we have for 11 years now, that there was no al Qaeda in Iraq before we invaded.)  We will ignore the coincidence that Foley happened to embed with rebels who later turned out to be CIA front groups in two different countries and that both these countries happen to be on the neocon list of countries to destroy.  It is vitally important that you ignore these facts, as you will see while we go through the narrative here.

We were originally told that Foley was kidnapped in Nov, ’12 by one of Assad’s militias, the Shabiha militia.  He was held, the story went, by the Assad government in a Syrian Air Force complex, although the translator kidnapped with him was released.  This brought us undeniable proof of the horrible horribleness of the Assad regime.  The US State Dept. insisted that Assad had Foley, as well as numerous other reporters, and repeatedly said through their spokesmen that “of course the Assad regime denies it.  What else are they going to do?” and words to that effect.  Foley’s family and the GlobalPost stated it as fact, as well.

BOSTON — The family of a New Hampshire journalist abducted in Syria on Thanksgiving last year says they believe they now know where he is. James Foley’s family on Friday claimed the Syrian government is holding him in a military detention center. […]

http://www.wbur.org/2013/05/03/foley-family-syrian-prison

However, we now know, because they told us so, that Foley was beheaded by ISIS. Now how on earth did they get ahold of him?  A new “The Wire” article [See: http://www.thewire.com/global/2014/08/timeline-of-james-foleys-captivity/378898/] with a (partially theoretical) timeline that suggests al Nusra Front had Foley by March ’13, although no explanation is given as to why they would want to hold him (he reported favorably on the “moderate rebels”, remember), or where he was before the al Nusra Front had him (he disappeared in Nov ’12 and the timeline simply remarks that from Nov ’12 to March ’13 his whereabouts were “unknown”.  Nor does the article suggest who captured him in the first place.)   The Wire article offers that he was transferred to an ISIS training camp around Sept ’13.  In Nov., the US gov’t was given Foley’s location by a former fellow ISIS camp prisoner who had “left the camp”.  Escaped?  Just walked away?  Who knows?  The article does not say.  It was in May of 2013 that GlobalPost and the Foley family reported that they were confident that the Syrian government had him in a detention center, yet, according to The Wire, he was held by al Nusra well before that.  If, by November, the US knew that he was being held by ISIS, nothing was ever done to correct the erroneous reports that he was being detained by Assad’s government.

So how did ISIS or al Nusra Front get Foley from Assad?  I’m glad you asked. American media has provided us with the answer. And their answer is not that the “rebels” kidnapped him in the first place. Conveniently, the answer reveals further proof of the god-awfullness of the Assad regime, who perversely collaborated with the same guys who originally banded together to take down his government. He is obviously the worst of the worst, worse even than ISIS, since he not only hates his own people and the misunderstood repressed rebels, he hates his own self enough to want to take himself and his regime out. He is secretly working with the very group that wanted him gone!  (You have to say this breathlessly, hence the exclamation point.)

[…] What is unclear is if previous investigations into Foley’s whereabouts were inaccurate, if ISIS militants somehow captured Foley from some of the regime’s most elite security, or if the Assad regime provided Foley to ISIS.

“Until recently, James Foley was thought to be in hands of pro-Assad forces. If Assad is handing over Westerners to ISIS to be killed, it indicates Assad feels cornered, looking for leverage,” BBC’s Kim Ghattas tweeted, adding that the assessment jibes with what her sources in Damascus have told her recently.

Ghattas added that Assad providing Foley to ISIS “would confirm Assad tacitly working [with] ISIS and silence any suggestions Assad is the better alternative. “[…]

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-did-isis-kidnap-james-foley-2014-8]

I am not sure what “leverage” Assad would gain by kidnapping an American citizen and then turning him over to Assad’s own enemies to be killed, nor do I understand how it is possible for a rational person to think that Assad is “tacitly working with ISIS”, but then I can’t figure out why the fuck the press writes any of the crap they do nowadays.  But now you know why not only must ISIS be destroyed, but forcing Assad out must happen as well (preferably by bombing Syria to the same place we bombed Libya to: hell).  Any idea that Syria might be an ally in taking out ISIS is flat off the table.  And you surely see what a fine president Hillary would make; she is verily a prophet.  Did she not say shortly after the despot Ghaddafi’s murder – I mean, his fall and eventual death – that the tyrant Assad’s days were numbered as well?  We’ll go into Syria to get whatever part of ISIS remains there, and we don’t need to inform Assad of this decision.  If a few bombs take out some other stuff, like Assad’s air force, well, shit happens.  The beauty part of all this is that with one atrocity blamed on two different entities, the US might get to bomb both of them.  Now, if only we could find a way to blame Russia for ISIS as well…

If some of the stories are beginning make no sense to you, I can only remind you that bullshit, propaganda, and obfuscation are the prime purposes of the US media.  To make matters even more confusing, GlobalPost is now saying they knew for some time, although not immediately, that Foley was not held by Assad’s military.

But on Thanksgiving day in 2012, near the Turkish border after reporting from the war zones near Aleppo, he was captured by armed militants, a fact that remained under media blackout, to improve his chances of release. […]

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/140827/what-james-foley-meant-to-us

By Nov. of last year, the GlobalPost knew he had originally been taken by the rebels and was still in their custody, and that information had been given to the US, but the paper continued to let the US government publicly blame Assad.  I see.  Furthermore, Syria has given information to the United Nations that Foley was actually killed a year ago, with the video and photos only now released by ISIS. They also repeat that Foley was originally captured by the very rebels he embedded with. We will never know the absolute truth on the matter here in the US.

August 26 (RIA Novosti) – American journalist James Foley may have been murdered by Islamic State militants a year ago, The Daily Mail reported, citing Syrian President Bashar Assad’s official spokesperson, Bouthaina Shaaban.

“James Foley was first arrested by the Free Syrian Army and he was sold to ISIS [an earlier name for the IS]. You can check with the UN…James Foley was killed a year ago, not now, they only released the pictures now, but he was killed a year ago. We have definite information, the UN has the information,” Shaaban said as cited by The Daily Mail.[…]

http://en.ria.ru/world/20140826/192348464/US-Journalist-Foley-Murdered-by-IS-Militants-1-Year-Ago–Assad.html

A sampling of the response to Foley’s death:

Senior Republicans on Sunday called for expanded air strikes against Islamic State (Isis) militants in Iraq and for the first time in Syria, in order to destroy their terrorist network in the wake of the killing of the American journalist James Foley and to protect against an attack on American soil. […]

The White House has been reported to be considering strikes in Syria, after Foley’s murder was classified as a terror attack. […]

Senator Lindsey Graham, from South Carolina, told CNN he did not believe the US needed to signal its intent to the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, before carrying out air strikes within Syria.
“The purpose of going into Syria is to deal with the threat to the homeland, the goal is to hit Isis and you cannot deal with the threat in Iraq without also hitting them in Syria,” he said.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/24/republicans-isis-militants-us-air-strikes

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Numerous Senate Democrats oppose bringing military operations in Iraq and Syria to a vote before Congress because they think going on the record as for or against will be harmful to their bids for office during an election season, The Hill reported Wednesday. Critics slammed this reluctance to take a position as a sign that cowardice and self gain—not principle—rule the legislature.

Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) has been vocally pushing for President Obama to put the expanding U.S. military attacks on ISIS in Iraq and Syria to a vote before Congress, as required by the War Powers Resolution.[…]

Kaine’s position is not new. He had previously worked with Senator John McCain to “reform the War Powers Resolution in a way that lays out a clear consultative process between Congress and the President on whether and when to engage in military action,” according to a statement released from Kaine’s office. However, The Hill notes that McCain has held back on demanding congressional authorization of military strikes on ISIS because, according to a Democratic aide, this could get in the way of U.S. bombings.[…]

Since August 8, the U.S. has carried out nearly 100 air strikes across Iraq and currently has nearly 1,000 U.S. military service members deployed to the country. Public information about the attacks—including the military branches carrying them out, the civilians and combatants killed, and the role of private contractors—remains scarce. Furthermore, President Obama’s stated aims for the strikes have shifted throughout the month—from assisting refugees to protecting U.S. personnel to “eradicating” the “cancer” of ISIS. Meanwhile, U.S. drones are currently conducting surveillance flights over Syria, in what many warn is a sign of U.S. air strikes in that country as well.[…]

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/08/27/when-it-comes-war-iraq-and-syria-senate-dems-prefer-no-congressional-vote

**********          **********          **********

(Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama expressed revulsion on Wednesday at the beheading of an American journalist by Islamist militants and vowed the United States would do what it must to protect its citizens as international condemnation of the insurgents grew.[…]

France said it wanted the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and regional countries, including Arab states and Iran, to coordinate action against Islamic State. President Francois Hollande called for an international conference to discuss how to tackle the group.[…]

Germany and Italy said they were ready to send arms to bolster the military capabilities of Iraqi Kurds fighting Islamic State in northern Iraq.[…]

U.S. Senator John McCain, a Republican, said Foley’s death should serve as a turning point for Obama in his deliberations over how to deal with Islamic State. “First of all, you’ve got to dramatically increase the air strikes. And those air strikes have to be devoted to Syria as well,” McCain said in a telephone interview.[…]

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/20/us-iraq-security-idUSKBN0GH0JL20140820

How does Syria feel about all this?

The United States, one of the biggest supporters of the extremist-marked insurgency in Syria says it doesn’t need Syrian government’s permission to carry out military strikes in the Syrian soil.

The United States has started sending spy planes into Syria to track the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) radicals, but said it would seek no permission to do so.

A US official confirmed the plans after Syria said on Monday it was willing to work with the international community, including Washington, to tackle extremist militants, whose advances have sparked international concern and American air strikes in neighboring Iraq.

American officials said they did not plan to ask Damascus for permission for the attacks, a move that openly undermines Syria’s sovereignty.[…]

On Monday, Damascus said for the first time that it was willing to work with the international community, including the United States and Britain, to tackle terrorists including ISIL and Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Al-Nusra Front.

But Foreign Minister Walid Muallem also made it clear that Syria would not accept unilateral military strikes by the United States or any other country.

“Any violation of Syria’s sovereignty would be an act of aggression,” he said.  There would be “no justification” for strikes on Syrian territory “except in coordination with us to fight terrorism”.

Muallem said Syria was seeking cooperation within an international or regional coalition, or at the bilateral level within the framework of a recent UN Security Council resolution targeting ISIL and Al-Nusra.

Syria has been gripped with a deadly unrest since 2011. The insurgency that is marked with extremist acts of violence and has al-Qaeda at its core, has received broad political and military support from Washington and its allies since it started.

http://en.alalam.ir/news/1626584

The US armed and supported the jihadist militias in Libya and in Syria. The US promoted the civil war in Syria and did not say a word as ISIS emerged from the various factions to rampage throughout Syria; at that time, they were doing us a favor by opposing Assad.  Libya is in complete collapse, with rival groups (one led by a Libyan who spent 20 years living in the US near CIA headquarters before returning to Libya in 2011) fighting over ascendancy and forcing Libyans to flee the country.  Now ISIS is in Iraq and has taken the credit for murdering an American journalist. Iraq, being ruined by the US invasion and occupation, is unable or unwilling to deal with them. (We might remember that Saddam Hussein and Ghaddafi were, and Assad is, all secular opponents of al Qaeda, and that ISIS is a spinoff of that group and the other fundamentalist Islamic militias.)   Buried deep underneath the sweltering blankets of conflicting stories is one basic truth.  If the US had not invaded Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya [and, and, and] under false pretenses, if the US had not decided to go all in and destroy entire nations in order to steal their resources, if the US had not claimed the self-declared right to take out leaders and governments in foreign countries rather than deal with these other sovereignties with dignity and diplomacy and honesty, James Foley would doubtless still be alive.  At the least, he would not have died the way he did.  The US is ultimately responsible for Foley’s death.

As a postscript to Foley’s story, Obama and just about everybody who is anybody calls Foley a hero, which perhaps he was. I have no doubt he is dead, and despite my disbelief and anger at the appalling, flagrant propaganda being whipped out over his death, I do feel sympathy for his family. I would also like to make it clear that I think Foley was probably as fine a person as all the stories about him indicate. Perhaps a little misguided in whom he placed his trust and rather naive about the lengths the US is willing to go to in an effort to mess with other countries and interfere with their sovereignty, but a decent man, nonetheless.

This shit (below), however, is too much, and it doesn’t even come from some media mouthpiece. This is just the mind-blowing, idiotic, weirdness of the American public responding to the MIC propaganda.  Even the Pope, for God’s sake, has joined in, as a sign of solidarity with the US, I suppose.  We spent the past 13 years mocking and condemning the fundamentalist jihadis for their “willingness to die as martyrs”; yet now, without any irony, we are swept by patriotic fervor and want some of our own martyrs.  We have gone so far as to use that very word, and to furthermore compare Foley with Jesus Christ. Can we stop this crap?  Just stop it.  It is ridiculous, okay?  It is for these simple-minded people that the media stories are written the way they are, and why they work.  No disrespect to the Foley family, but they ought not to encourage this sort of over-the-top religious rhetoric.

[…] Many who entered Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, the church of Foley’s parents, said they didn’t know the reporter but felt compelled to be near his family.

“I feel my soul is united to them,” said Sandra Harrington, who made the hourlong drive from her home in Manchester. She had followed news reports for months, stories of how he ventured into some of the world’s most dangerous regions to cover conflicts and the suffering of those affected.

James Foley was like Christ,” said Harrington said. “He wanted to bring truth, and he suffered greatly.” […]

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/08/24/friends-and-family-gather-rochester-honor-slain-journalist-jame-foley/MtZ7YCpQJN4W9cWwwM0bhM/story.html

**********          **********          **********

Many people – including Pope Francis – are now arguing that slain American journalist James Foley is a martyr, and some believe he should be considered for sainthood….

[Jim] reminds us of Jesus. Jesus was goodness, love — and Jim was becoming more and more that,’ his grieving mother Diane Foley told reporters gathered outside her New Hampshire home, according to the National Catholic Reporter.

James Foley’s younger brother, Michael Foley, told Katie Couric in a recent interview that Pope Francis “referred to Jim’s act as, really, martyrdom” in an unprecedented phone call to the family.

Many cable news pundits and religious bloggers agree with the Pope.[…]

http://www.aol.com/article/2014/08/27/is-slain-us-journalist-james-foley-a-martyr/20953187/

At the beginning of this post, I promised you stories about two men, didn’t I?  The second story I want to tell you is about a man named Shaker Aamer.  He is being held without charges or trial in Guantanamo Bay by the US government and has been there for close to 13 years now.   That would be the same prison that Obama pledged to shut down when he took office.  You will not hear much about Shaker Aamer in the US press.  As a matter of fact, unless you read a few of the really fringe-y “far left” media sites, you won’t ever read his name.  He is one of the invisible men, one of our embarrassments.  Or he would be, if we found such things embarrassing any longer. He has been cleared for release by both the Bush and the Obama administrations, as there is no evidence against him, but the US won’t actually set him free.  It may simply be the case that we are afraid the guy might tell everyone what we have been doing to him, although he has agreed to keep silent as part of his release.  The US insists that if he is released, he only be allowed to go to Saudi Arabia, where he would certainly be killed.  His family lives in the UK, where he used to live.  While Aamer is certainly not a terrorist or a member of al Qaeda, the very existence of Guantanamo Bay is an incentive that fuels the anger of groups like ISIS.  ISIS seemed to be making a point of that when they dressed James Foley in an orange jumpsuit like that worn by the Guantanamo detainees.

Here is part of Shaker Aamer’s story:

July, 2014:

Shaker’s British wife and his four British children live in Battersea, where they lived with Shaker before he was seized after the 9/11 attacks in Afghanistan. He had travelled to Afghanistan with his family to provide humanitarian aid, but while his wife and children safely returned to the UK, he was caught by bounty hunters, and was eventually sold to US forces.

Shaker was first cleared for release from Guantánamo under the Bush administration, in 2007, and he was cleared for release again in January 2010 by the high-level, inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force that President Obama appointed to review the cases of all the prisoners after he took office in 2009. His release has also been requested by successive UK governments since 2007. And yet, although all the other British citizens and residents held in Guantánamo have been freed, he is still imprisoned, perhaps because he is a charismatic and eloquent man, who has always stood up for the prisoners’ rights, and both the US and the UK governments fear what he will say on his release.

Sadly, although Shaker would agree to a life of silence if it ensured that he could be reunited with his family, he remains held, and is suffering physically and mentally, as Dr. Emily A. Keram, an independent psychiatrist, explained in a submission to a US court after being allowed to meet with him for three days in December. That submission also included shocking details, in Shaker’s own words, of how he was treated in US custody in Afghanistan as well as his treatment in Guantánamo.

Unfortunately, on June 24, District Judge Rosemary Collyer rejected Shaker’s request for her to order his release on that grounds that, as the New York Times decribed it, “he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental and physical ailments.”

Judge Collyer gave her rejection in what the Times described as “a terse one-page order.” An accompanying memorandum opinion, which explained her ruling, was sealed, as was the submission of the Justice Department. Judge Collyer ordered the DoJ “to file a public version of her order and its documents by July 9,” but that date has come and gone, with no sign of any release of documents. […]
http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2014/07/22/photos-free-shaker-aamer-from-guantanamo-parliamentary-vigil-july-16-2014/

**********          **********          **********

August, 2014:

Shaker Aamer ‘Beaten’ in Latest Guantanamo Crackdown

LONDON – British resident Shaker Aamer has reportedly been beaten at Guantánamo Bay, in evidence of a new crackdown on prisoners protesting their detention without charge.

In new letters received by legal charity Reprieve, detainees reveal what one calls a new “standard procedure” of abuses at the prison. Emad Hassan, a Yemeni detained without charge since 2002, wrote that “an FCE [Forcible Cell Extraction] team has been brought in to beat the detainees […] On Sunday, Shaker ISN 239 was beaten when the medical people wanted to draw blood.” Mr Hassan adds that guards had beaten another detainee for nearly 2 hours.

‘Forcible Cell Extraction’ or ‘FCEing’ is the process by which a detainee is forced out of his cell by a group of armed guards, often before being taken to the force-feeding chair. Mr Aamer has previously described being beaten by the FCE team up to eight times a day.[…]

In June, former Foreign Secretary William Hague told Reprieve that UK officials were confident Mr Aamer had access to a “detainee welfare package” and that his health “remain[ed] stable.” In a letter sent this week, Reprieve director Clive Stafford Smith urged Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond to raise urgent questions with the US Government about these latest reports of mistreatment.

Cori Crider, Strategic Director at Reprieve and a lawyer for Mr Aamer, said: “Just weeks ago, the UK Government dismissed our concerns about Shaker Aamer’s wellbeing, relying on US assurances about a so-called Guantanamo ‘welfare package.’ Now we hear that Shaker, already a seriously ill man, has been beaten. Phillip Hammond should seek answers from the US without delay about why, instead of simply releasing Shaker, it prefers to detain and abuse him.”

http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2014/08/27/shaker-aamer-beaten-latest-guantanamo-crackdown

You may also read about him here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaker_Aamer

I will close with a poem Shaker Aamer wrote, published as part of a book of poems written by Guantanamo detainees in 2007.

THEY FIGHT FOR PEACE

by Shaker Abdurraheem Aamer, Guantanamo detainee.

Peace they say.
Peace of mind?
Peace of earth?
Peace of what kind?

I see them talking arguing, fighting –
What kind of peace are they looking for?
Why do they kill? What are they planning?

Is it just talk? Why do they argue?
Is it so simple to kill? Is this their plan?

Yes, of course!
They talk, they argue, they kill –
They fight for peace.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2014 in Iraq, Libya, MIC, Syria

 

John Kerry's magical mystery tour.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington is “not responsible” for either the crisis in Libya, or violence in Iraq, where militants of the Al-Qaeda offshoot group ISIS are capturing cities one by one.

“The United States of America is not responsible for what happened in Libya, nor is it responsible for what is happening in Iraq today,” said Kerry at a press conference in Cairo after a short visit to Egypt for talks with its newly elected President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as part of his Middle East tour. […]

http://rt.com/usa/167708-us-kerry-iraq-libya/

I can only guess we are supposed to believe that, like Bill Clinton, John Kerry does not inhale whatever it is he smokes.

Our leaders may deny and bluster all they want, but I doubt there is another country on the planet that buys this horse-shit.  The US is the direct cause of the ongoing violence in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan,…

There are about 5000 more words I could have written here, but then I thought to myself, why bother?  When our Secretary of State tours the Middle East (just one area of the globe aflame with the civil strife we inflicted upon it) making such buffoonish remarks, there is nothing to do but gawp like a rube at the county fair taking his first gander at the two-headed boy and hope no-one recognizes you as an American.

[…] The Magical Mystery Tour

Is hoping to take you away

Hoping to take you away […]

The Magical Mystery Tour

Is coming to take you away

Coming to take you away

The Magical Mystery Tour

Is dying to take you away

Dying to take you away

Take you today

[“Magical Mystery Tour” is track #11 on the album The Beatles 1967-1970 (The Blue Album). It was written by Lennon, John Winston / Mccartney, Paul James]

Our foreign policy encapsulated in another Beatles’ song:

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Iraq, Libya, MIC, State Dept/diplomacy

 

So this is Christmas.

This is what we traditionally think of as Christmas here in the US – a lovely video set to Josh Groban’s compelling rendition of “O, Holy Night”:

After two days of self-imposed news exile, I returned to the land of the interwebs to find that the US government officially celebrated Christmas in a distinctly different fashion than I had.

Obama took a break from the heavy lifting of doing Christmas in Hawai’i to sign into law the budget bill and the 2014 NDAA.  Signing the following year’s National Defense Authorization Act during the Christmas holiday is becoming an Obama tradition.  The NDAA is the vehicle in which Obama was given the power to assassinate anyone anywhere upon his whimsy.  (“Happy holidays from the White House – to you, your family and your spouse.  In signing this law it has come to pass that I now have the power to kill your ass.  Season’s Greetings, Barack Obama.”)

We are going to continue spending vast sums of money on the war efforts.  What war? Why, any war, all war, those past, those current and those yet to come wars.

“[…] The [NDAA] bill assures $552.1 billion in military spending, as well as $80.7 billion for overseas contingency operations, namely the war in Afghanistan. […]”

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/26/obama-signs-bipartisan-budget-deal-and-guantanamo-transfer-bills-into-law/

By the way, I really enjoy how the media feels compelled to place the word “bipartisan” in front of the words “budget deal” every goddamned time they mention it.  And note is taken of their reluctance to put “NDAA” or “Defense Authorization Act” in any headline.  It is always called “a defense bill” or, as Rawstory does above, the headline totally obscures the nature of the bill altogether.  The 2014 NDAA does not transfer Guantanamo detainees anywhere.

Pentagon spending, the gift that keeps on giving.

“[…] Because of its persistent inability to tally its accounts, the Pentagon is the only federal agency that has not complied with a law that requires annual audits of all government departments. That means that the $8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996, the first year it was supposed to be audited, has never been accounted for. That sum exceeds the value of China’s economic output last year. […]”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/18/us-usa-pentagon-waste-specialreport-idUSBRE9AH0LQ20131118

To promote festive feelings globally on this special day, the US took action to spread the Christmas message abroad.

For instance, we killed four people via drone-strike in Pakistan.  On Christmas Day.

http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/12/26/while-americans-were-celebrating-christmas-obama-administration-launched-drone-strike-in-pakistan/

We sent troops into South Sudan.  Sudan/South Sudan has oil.  It also has civil strife, partly because we arranged it for them a couple of years ago.  Anywhere in the world where there is the even the potential for civil unrest, the US exploits the situation to the best of its abilities.  If the world were a comic book, the US would be Exacerbation Man, swooping in to make all bad situations worse.

[…] RT: A small contingency of US troops are already in Sudan and marines are on stand-by, is a larger American military involvement possible?

Abayomi Azikiwe: It could very well lead to a larger US and UN presence in the Republic of South Sudan. It’s a very volatile situation, we are right now analyzing reports about the possibility of the discovery of two mass graves, one in the capital Juba and the other in Bor, in the capital of Jonglei state, there also has been fighting in Unity state which are all the producing area. The US has a lot invested politically in the Republic of South Sudan and they were the main forces behind encouraging the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement to break away from the Republic of Sudan in the north of the country. Therefore, they have a lot to say about developments that are going on right now in this troubled nation.

RT: Washington was one of the main champions of South Sudan’s secession. Could it have foreseen these problems that it faced just a couple of years around?

AA: I think they were more interested in weakening the Republic of Sudan. Prior to the partition Sudan was the largest geographic nation-state in Africa, it was also an emerging oil-producing state, it was producing over 500,000 oil barrels per day. 80 per cent of the oil concessions with the Republic of Sudan in Khartoum were held by the People’s Republic of China, who state-owned oil farms there. So it was a concerted move on the part of US to weaken the government in Khartoum and also to lessen the influence of the People’s Republic of China in Sudan.

RT: When it was one country Sudan was under American sanctions, so US oil giants couldn’t do business there. Has this changed?

AA: Yes, in the south the US is trying to develop mechanisms for exploring the oil. The problem is the US doesn’t have a lot of resources to invest in the oil industry inside the country. President Salva Kiir of the Republic of South Sudan went to China several months ago to try to get them to assist in a building of a pipeline where they could circumvent the flow of oil from the south into the north. However, the Chinese refused to finance such a project, although they did pledge to provide some aid. It’s a very difficult situation as far as the US is concerned because the country deteriorates into a civil war between the followers of Riek Machar, the ousted Vice President, and President Salva Kiir. This of course will damage US interest in region, and it can also spread to other countries throughout Central and East Africa. […]

http://rt.com/op-edge/foreign-involvement-in-south-sudan-782/

We are back in Iraq, baby.  Once we glom onto a country, we hang around like a fucking germ.

Two years after President Barack Obama declared that his administration had ended the catastrophic US war in Iraq “responsibly… leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant” government, the US has rushed emergency shipments of Hellfire missiles to Baghdad and appears to be preparing for a possible renewal of direct military intervention in the form of drone missile attacks. […]

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/12/27/iraq-d27.html

And we are going under the sea – no, not to study ocean acidification or to find out why there are peculiar events occurring with the sea life all over the planet, but to weaponize the waters with drones.

http://rt.com/usa/navy’s-ocean-powered-drone-843/

We need to stop this shit.  We need to.  Our government won’t stop it until we, the people, demand an end to the killing.  The montage that accompanies this song is what the US actually does at Christmas instead of quietly celebrating the birth of the pacifist Jesus, depicted in the video with which I opened this post.  Dismally, more than four decades after they wrote this song, we still have yet to realize the hopeful and pointed message Lennon and Ono expressed in the lyrics.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)”, 1971:

“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” lyrics:

(Happy Xmas Kyoko

Happy Xmas Julian)

So this is Xmas

And what have you done

Another year over

And a new one just begun

And so this is Xmas

I hope you have fun

The near and the dear one

The old and the young

A very Merry Xmas

And a happy New Year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

And so this is Xmas (war is over)

For weak and for strong (if you want it)

For rich and the poor ones (war is over)

The world is so wrong (if you want it)

And so happy Xmas (war is over)

For black and for white (if you want it)

For yellow and red ones (war is over)

Let’s stop all the fight (now)

A very Merry Xmas

And a happy New Year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

And so this is Xmas (war is over)

And what have we done (if you want it)

Another year over (war is over)

A new one just begun (if you want it)

And so happy Xmas (war is over)

We hope you have fun (if you want it)

The near and the dear one (war is over)

The old and the young (now)

A very Merry Xmas

And a happy New Year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

War is over, if you want it

War is over now

Happy Xmas

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2013 in drones, Iraq, Pakistan

 

Iraq then, Iran now.

Remember how we got into Iraq?  All those lies about weapons of mass destruction, which some of us at the time knew were lies, to ruin a country that had nothing to do with 9/11…

We illegally invaded and destroyed a country which had not threatened us, much less mounted an attack against us.  Now that the ten-year anniversary of the Iraq invasion has arrived, there are plenty of articles and op-eds pointing out what was obvious then and is irrefutable to us all now – the war was based on pure fabrication.  Too late for Iraq, however, whose people live in a ruined country with millions displaced and somewhere over 100,000 dead (some estimates are much higher and run up to half a million or more) due to the “war”.  Although I don’t think you can call it a “war” if there is only one side – this was an invasion, pure and simple.

Back in ’02, we read this sort of opinion piece in the papers; this was fairly typical of the war-mongering of the time.

Sept. 11 alerted most Americans to the grave dangers that are now facing our world. Most Americans understand that had al Qaeda possessed an atomic device last September, the city of New York would not exist today. They realize that last week we could have grieved not for thousands of dead, but for millions.

But for others around the world, the power of imagination is apparently not so acute. It appears that these people will have to once again see the unimaginable materialize in front of their eyes before they are willing to do what must be done. For how else can one explain opposition to President Bush’s plan to dismantle Saddam Hussein’s regime?

I do not mean to suggest that there are not legitimate questions about a potential operation against Iraq. Indeed, there are. But the question of whether removing Saddam’s regime is itself legitimate is not one of them. Equally immaterial is the argument that America cannot oust Saddam without prior approval of the international community.

This is a dictator who is rapidly expanding his arsenal of biological and chemical weapons, who has used these weapons of mass destruction against his subjects and his neighbors, and who is feverishly trying to acquire nuclear weapons.

The dangers posed by a nuclear-armed Saddam were understood […] two decades ago[…]

Two decades ago it was possible to thwart Saddam’s nuclear ambitions by bombing a single installation. Today nothing less than dismantling his regime will do. For Saddam’s nuclear program has changed. He no longer needs one large reactor to produce the deadly material necessary for atomic bombs. He can produce it in centrifuges the size of washing machines that can be hidden throughout the country — and Iraq is a very big country. Even free and unfettered inspections will not uncover these portable manufacturing sites of mass death.

[…] For in the last gasps of his dying regime, Saddam may well attempt to launch his remaining missiles, with their biological and chemical warheads, at the Jewish state.

[…] For if action is not taken now, we will all be threatened by a much greater peril.[…]

But no gas mask and no vaccine can protect against nuclear weapons. That is why regimes that have no compunction about using weapons of mass destruction, and that will not hesitate to give them to their terror proxies, must never be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. These regimes must be brought down before they possess the power to bring us all down.

If a pre-emptive action will be supported by a broad coalition of free countries and the U.N., all the better. But if such support is not forthcoming, then the U.S. must be prepared to act without it. This will require courage, and I see it abundantly present in President Bush’s bold leadership and in the millions of Americans who have rallied behind him.

[…] Today the terrorists have the will to destroy us but not the power. Today we have the power to destroy them. Now we must summon the will to do so.

Pretty breathless and excited rhetoric, isn’t it?  All of it a tissue of lies, of course, as history has proven.  Who wrote this piece, which was published by the Wall Street Journal in September, 2002?  The fellow sounds like a whackaloon at this late juncture.

It was titled “The Case for Toppling Saddam”, and the author was Benjamin Netanyahu. http://www.potomac-airfield.com/netanyahu.htm

Now he is the main cheerleader behind the calls to invade Iran.  (And here you thought Ahmadinejad was a tad touched.)

Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, addressing his minions at AIPAC via video chat on March 4, spent a bunch of his time saying supposedly scary things about “Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons” and dismissing negotiations.

“I have to tell you the truth,” he told the fawning crowd. “Diplomacy has not worked. Iran ignores all these offers. It is running out the clock.” He continued:  “Iran enriches more and more uranium. It installs faster and faster centrifuges. It’s still not crossed the red line I drew at the United Nations last September. But Iran is getting closer to that line, and it’s putting itself in a position to cross that line very quickly once it decides to do so.”

Netanyahu deliberately ignored the fact that Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium remains far from weapons-grade and that Iran has, for over a year now, been systematically converting much of its 19.75% enriched stock to fuel plates that precludes the possibility of being diverted to military purposes.[…]

Netanyahu once again demonstrated his complete disregard for the tenets of the United Nations Charter by calling for Iran to be explicitly threatened with a military attack if it doesn’t comply with absurd Israeli demands. He insisted “with the clarity of my brain” (whatever that means) that “words alone will not stop Iran. Sanctions alone will not stop Iran. Sanctions must be coupled with a clear and credible military threat if diplomacy and sanctions fail.”

Addressing the same audience, Vice President Joe Biden also spoke at length about “Iran’s dangerous nuclear weapons program,” which the U.S. intelligence community and its allies, including Israel, have long assessed doesn’t exist. The consensus view of all 16 American intelligence agencies has maintained since 2007 that Iran ceased whatever research into nuclear weaponization it may have conducted by 2003, and has never resumed that work. The NIE has been consistently reaffirmed ever since (in 2009, 2010, and again in 2011). […]

Moreover, the IAEA itself continually confirms that Iran has no active nuclear weapons program and has stated it has “no concrete proof that Iran has or has ever had a nuclear weapons program.”

http://www.wideasleepinamerica.com/2013/03/biden-time-on-iran-at-aipac.html

The Israeli military and the US military do not believe that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons.  The IAEA finds no such program.  Hans Blix, the UN inspector who told us repeatedly ten years ago that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction is warning us today that the same is true of Iran. See: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/03/06-9

The invasion of Iraq was about oil, for the most part.  Not only getting Iraq’s oil, but keeping it off the market to drive up prices.

[…] And that’s how George Bush won the war in Iraq. The invasion was not about “blood for oil”, but something far more sinister: blood for no oil. War to keep supply tight and send prices skyward.

Oil men, whether James Baker or George Bush or Dick Cheney, are not in the business of producing oil. They are in the business of producing profits.

And they’ve succeeded. Iraq, capable of producing six to 12 million barrels of oil a day, still exports well under its old OPEC quota of three million barrels.

The result: As we mark the tenth anniversary of the invasion this month, we also mark the fifth year of crude at $100 a barrel.

As George Bush could proudly say to James Baker: Mission Accomplished!

http://www.gregpalast.com/how-george-bush-won-the-war-in-iraq-really/#more-7963

The same can be said of our destruction of Libya and the same is true of Iran now.  It’s always about the control of the oil.  The US has imposed numerous life-threatening sanctions on Iran, each new set increasing in severity.  One might think that we could have figured out by now that the increase in gas prices here and abroad can partly be blamed on the restrictions of Iranian oil exports these sanctions demand, but we are not very good at adding two and two.  (To be sure, the bulk of the price increases in the US is due to speculation on the market, as we do not purchase that much Iranian oil.  However, the speculators work on the global market, so the decrease in availability of Iran’s oil is partly driving the speculators as well.)  The situation sits well with the US Congress, which would like to see every inch of US soil dug up to get at the oil and natural gas underneath it, rather than investing in renewable energies or doing the hard work – and it will be hard work – of getting the US to understand that we cannot count on fossil fuels and ever-increasing GDP forever.  Even renewables will not fully sustain the way we live, but they would certainly be a better investment than our current game, which will otherwise come to an abrupt halt one day, and sooner rather than later.  We are furthermore at the end of always expanding economic growth; that truth is too hard to face and so we let our country be torn to shreds in a farcical attempt to continue the prosperity (of the few) for a couple of more years.  It’ll only work for a short time and then nature will play its winning hand.  We will have polluted all our water and land beyond repair by then, but I guess the assumption is that we will be dead and unaccountable by that time – it’ll be the next generation’s problem.

At this point, however, we would like to have Iran’s oil and this involves some very strange and twisted imaginings from the brains of various Important People in Charge.  This, for example, is simply one of the weirdest decisions ever handed down by a federal judge: we are now trying to blame Iran for 9/11.

“A federal judge has signed a default judgment finding Iran, the Taliban and al-Qaida liable in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.” – from news article on the decision. (See: http://teri.nicedriving.org/2011/12/how-many-countries-attacked-us-on-911/ )

9/11 brought us the invasion of Iraq, the Authorized Use of Military Force, Homeland Security, the Patriot Act, the TSA, the continuous State of Emergency, the Continuity of Government Plans, the continued war in Afghanistan (we seem to have forgotten that the Taliban had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, although Congress blames the Taliban for it with greater frequency all the time), the expenditure of between $4 and 6 tt for two unnecessary wars (consider what invading Iran will do to the US financially), Guantanamo Bay, torture, the drone-bombing of more than a dozen countries that we are not at war with, and the police state we live under here at home.  Etc., etc.  Now we are not only talking about starting a war in Iran and “intervention” in Syria, Obama is threatening to sanction Pakistan over their commitment to the IP pipeline. [See: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/03/15/paki-m15.html ]  I have written about the TAPI and IPI pipelines before; it used to be termed the Iran/Pakistan/India (or IPI) pipeline, but we managed to convince India to drop out.

If Netanyahu, AIPAC, and the current crop of feeble-minded members of Congress have their way and we invade Iran or help Israel do so, imagine the joys that await us.  Change we can believe in, my ass.

Further reading:

Pentagon requests additional $49 mm to “improve” Guantanamo:
http://www.infowars.com/pentagon-requests-49-million-to-build-new-gitmo-prison/

Hunger strike at Guantanamo (” A Yemeni prisoner filed complaints that they are being denied access to clean drinking water and are being kept in freezing temperatures.”):
http://warisacrime.org/content/guantanamo-hunger-strike-gets-attentionand-more-dangerous

On the cost of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars:
http://rt.com/usa/us-wars-most-expensive-109/

On Bagram prison being handed over to Afghanistan control – well, except for 50 of the prisoners and hundreds arrested and held since the agreement was signed in March ’12.  If you hand over the prison, but not the prisoners, does it still count as the same deal? (“[…] But about 50 foreign inmates, which the US considers too dangerous to hand over, will remain under US control, as well as hundreds of Afghans who were arrested since the initial transfer deal was signed in March 2012. […]Although US officials have proudly announced the ‘full transfer’ of the Bagram prison, 50 foreigners not covered by the agreement will continue to remain in US hands — which would again be a violation of last year’s deal.[…]”):
http://rt.com/usa/us-afghanistan-bagram-prison-808/

Obama talks about “peace” in Israel, while threatening war on two countries:
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/03/22/isra-m22.html

‘Falluja Babies’ and Depleted Uranium — America’s Toxic Legacy in Iraq:
http://www.alternet.org/world/falluja-babies-and-depleted-uranium-americas-toxic-legacy-iraq

Plans for military surveillance of Americans’ financial records:
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/03/19/surv-m19.html

Pakistan begins construction of Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline:
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/03/15/paki-m15.html

US threatens Pakistan with sanctions over the IP pipeline:
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/03/11/u-s-officials-warn-pakistan-risks-sanctions-over-iran-pipeline/

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2013 in Afghanistan, fossil fuels, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan

 

Because you can never kill too many.

Afraid that support for the [illegal] [stupefyingly costly] war [for resources and a pipeline] in Afghanistan might be waning, our top “diplomat” to Kabul took time to warn us that al Qaeda might be – tell me if you have heard this one already – secretly building up forces in Afghanistan and could launch an attack on the US Homeland.

Ryan Crocker [the US ambassador to Kabul, Afghanistan] told The Daily Telegraph that if the West was to leave Afghanistan too early, al-Qaeda would be able to increase its presence.

With the US preparing to withdraw the majority of its combat forces from Afghanistan next year, Mr Crocker warned: “If we decide we’re tired, they’ll be back.

“Al-Qaeda is still present in Afghanistan. If the West decides that 10 years in Afghanistan is too long then they will be back, and the next time it will not be New York or Washington, it will be another big Western city.”

Mr Crocker, 62, who previously served as ambassador to Iraq, said that while progress had been made, Afghanistan would need Western support for years to come.

Nato officials believe that up to 100 al-Qaeda fighters have returned to the country, based mainly in the Kunar and Nuristan provinces near the border with Pakistan. Hundreds more are based in Pakistan and could return if circumstances were to change…

Mr Crocker, who took up his post in Kabul last year, said al-Qaeda remained a potent threat despite suffering setbacks. “We have killed all the slow and stupid ones. But that means the ones that are left are totally dedicated,” he said.

“We think we’ve won a campaign before our adversaries have even started to fight. They have patience, and they know that we are short on that.”

http://soc.li/ivBOxHF

 

Ten years is not long enough; after all, it took us these ten years to find just the one guy, Osama bin Laden.  Okay, never mind that he was already dead, by all reliable reports, and forget about the continuing suggestions that “al Qaeda” is actually a CIA group formatted to give us an “enemy” to fight so that the Pentagon can have an excuse to suck up all the taxpayer money and the favored war profiteers can get no-bid contracts to destroy and then rebuild country after country.  Mr. Crocker wants more time to kill more people.  At the rate of one every ten years, one might begin to get a picture of just how long getting all the top al Qaeda leaders will take and some idea of how many civilians will be accidentally killed in the meantime.  By the way, his statement makes our military look really inept – 100,000 troops, ten years, a trillion or so bucks, and yet our adversaries haven’t even started to fight – but he didn’t mean it that way, I’m sure.

The “slow and stupid ones”…would that be the the ones like the little boys we killed while they were out gathering firewood?  The wedding parties?  The funeral processions?  Maybe he means the slow and stupid women and infants that were killed in the massacre just a few weeks ago – they must have been terribly stupid to try and sleep in their own homes while anywhere near a US base.  No, Mr. Crocker clearly only means al Qaeda members; he is not referring to the civilians killed as slow and/or stupid.  He doesn’t mention the accidental killing of civilians at all.  Not important enough to bring up.  Yet his statement seems so poorly worded and repugnant somehow, coming less than a month after the rampage that left 17 innocent Afghans dead.  This is our idea of “diplomacy” now.  All our diplomats sound like gung-ho military jingoists out to threaten the world.

And Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, various other African nations, Pakistan, Yemen, etc., are not enough to sate the blood-lust of our diplomats and military.  They want to be able to invade any country in search of anyone they deem worthy of death, whether they be terrorists or simply criminals.  It is simply not acceptable that other countries are sovereign and want to handle their own problems internally; we need to be unleashed to deal with their scofflaws ourselves.  And, it goes without saying, we want to kill them all, borders and sovereignty be damned.

As the Pentagon begins to wind down the war in Afghanistan, the smaller conflicts elite U.S. forces are fighting around the world are heating up.

But DoD needs more than just men and materiel to meet these challenges. It needs additional authority from Congress to do so.

“Most of the authorities that we have right now are narrowly construed to counterterrorism …  [but] I think for some countries we may need a little bit more flexibility to go in there,” Michael Sheehan, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, told lawmakers on Tuesday.

The majority of counterterrorism missions by U.S. special forces have been focused on al Qaeda and Taliban cells in Afghanistan and the Middle East region.

But growing numbers and types of threats, particularly in Africa and South America, require a new approach to U.S. counterterrorism operations, Sheehan told members of the Senate Armed Services’ subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities.

If we have a broader range of authorities, we can respond with more agility to each country with a different set of programs,” Sheehan said. “I think that’s the direction we’re thinking.”   Subcommittee chairwoman Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and subpanel member Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) pressed Sheehan on what exactly DoD was looking for, in terms of legislative authorities.

While not going into too much detail, Sheehan said the lines between terrorism and crime have become increasingly blurry and current U.S. statutes to address either have not kept up.

Under current federal authorities, counterterrorism is strictly a military operation conducted by DoD. Pursuing transnational criminal groups falls to law enforcement and is done by the Department of Justice.

“Some of these threats are not pure terrorism,” Sheehan explained. DoD needs to be able to go after groups that straddle the line between terrorism and organized crime

“We are looking for some legislative authority … that might be able to give us some broader authorities, legislative authorities and multiyear funding for some of the types of activities that I’d like to do in terms of building coalitions to take on these complex threats,” Sheehan said.  DoD will hand over a slate of potential legislative options being drafted by Sheehan’s office to lawmakers “in the weeks and months ahead,” he added.

However, the Pentagon is already beginning to move ahead with its plans for both continents

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced in February that U.S. special forces and counterinsurgency specialists returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will be redeployed to a number of global hot spots, specifically those in Africa and South America. The move was included in the White House’s new national security strategy unveiled that month.

These small bands of special forces and COIN experts will lean upon “innovative methods” learned in Southwest Asia to support local militaries and expand American influence in those two continents, Panetta said at the time.

The U.S. military is pushing more troops into Colombia to assist in that country’s war with insurgent groups and narco-traffickers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said Friday.

U.S. forces plan to set up a number of joint task forces inside the country to train and assist the Colombian military. The Pentagon has similar task forces in the Horn of Africa, the Trans-Sahara, Southern Philippines and elsewhere around the world…

http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/operations/219343-defense-dept-seeks-new-authorities-for-counterterrorism-fight

 

Here at home, our Dept. of Homeland Security and the Immigration Enforcement people are stocking up on bullets.  Not just any bullets – bullets that will do the maximum damage and lead to the highest “kill ratio”.  These are presumably for use here in the US, since both these departments are internal.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office is getting an “indefinite delivery” of an “indefinite quantity” of .40 caliber ammunition from defense contractor ATK.

U.S. agents will receive a maximum of 450 million rounds over five years, according to a press release on the deal.

The high performance HST bullets are designed for law enforcement and ATK says they offer “optimum penetration for terminal performance.”

This refers to the the bullet’s hollow-point tip that passes through barriers and expands for a bigger impact without the rest of the bullet getting warped out of shape: “this bullet holds its jacket in the toughest conditions.”

We’ve also learned that the Department has an open bid for a stockpile of rifle ammo. Listed on the federal business opportunities network, they’re looking for up to 175 million rounds of .223 caliber ammo to be exact. The .223 is almost exactly the same round used by NATO forces, the 5.56 x 45mm.

The deadline for earlier this month was extended because the right contractor just hadn’t come along.

http://www.businessinsider.com/us-immigration-agents-are-loading-up-on-as-many-as-450-million-new-rounds-of-ammo-2012-3#ixzz1qbWir69B

This is what we have to offer the world.  Police actions, death from bullets, bombs, and drones, all delivered via our very special military forces.  Of course, when we have a president who declares he can, and will, kill or indefinitely detain even Americans as he wishes and a Congress which finds no issue with this circumstance, it should come as no surprise that our military finds people in other lands eminently disposable.  We choose not to spend our money on human life or the sustainability of the planet or searching for paths to peace in a world of increasingly dwindling resources – we choose to spend it on human death.  This is who we have allowed ourselves to become.