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Category Archives: mercenaries

The government that sold itself out.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

http://on.rt.com/yx2kvs
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The Freedom of Information lawsuit that brought the training manual to light was filed by an organization called EPIC and you can read a summary of their lawsuit here:  http://epic.org/foia/epic-v-dhs-media-monitoring/  While the list of suspect words is peculiar (you can see the list by linking to the rt.com link in the above excerpted article), I am more appalled by the fact that our government now finds it acceptable to monitor everyone who writes or says anything that “reflects adversely” on itself or its agencies.  This is not the first step, but more like one of the mid-points, in creating a Stasi force, USA version.
[see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stasi ]

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justice Elena Kagan did not take part in the case.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The PFUTS plan.

Okay.  After a couple of centuries of working on it, we pretty much have a perfect plan now.  It’s called PFUTS.  Preemptively Fuck Up Their Shit.  It simply means going after The Enemy before they have done anything to us.  Just in case.  Because we want their stuff, or because we want them to have enough sense to choose a different form of government than what they have, or because we need to justify the gross amount of cash we spend on Weapons and Warriors.  Or because we are having an election and aside from taking away birth control, the minimum wage, or social security, the only thing our politicians know how to talk about is war – so they have to create one to talk about.  Or just because we feel like fucking someone up.

The “Their” can be filled in with whomever we choose as the enemy of the day.  Today it’s Iran, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, and Syria.  Yesterday, Libya.  The day before, Iraq and Afghanistan.  In Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya, we are currently following up the PFUTS operations with the sub-plan, CFUTS, or Continue to Fuck Up Their Shit.  The only reason to follow PFUTS with CFUTS is because we can.  We want to.  We like doing it.  There can be no other explanation.  As we can see in Iraq, for example, we totally decimated the country.  Somewhere around one million of their people were killed, four to six million were displaced and had to flee their own country, their water and soil is poisoned with our depleted uranium, electricity is still not available many hours of the day, schools and hospitals remain closed, and tens of thousands of Iraqi women have turned to prostitution in an effort to feed their children because there are no jobs.  Yet we haven’t quite left yet; our State Department remains with thousands of mercenaries and drones, while we demand war reparations from the country.  We invaded them for no reason, but they have to pay us back for the expenses we incurred on ourselves in the invasion and war.  In Libya, we have sent around 6000 US troops to guard the oil fields while the government we foisted upon them, the NTC, grabs black Africans and former Ghaddafi supporters off the streets, imprisoning and torturing them.  There again, we are demanding that Libya pay for their “liberation” by forfeiting the funds we illegally seized right before we started bombing the crap out of their cities.  In Afghanistan, we have US troops guarding gold mines for JPMorgan, while we continue to drop bombs and engage in “warcraft” with the Taliban.  For some reason (and it is probably just as simple as wanting to give Raytheon and Lockheed a chance to make a few more bucks while we figure out how to get that damn pipeline built) we seem to be arming the Taliban at the same time we are trying to kill them.

Some countries never escape our CFUTS sub-plan.  See, for example, Haiti.  The Philippines.  Japan.  (See, for that matter, Native Americans.)  Although our CFUTS is a little more subtle in those instances than in Libya or Iraq.  It’s a work in progress, only now nearing perfection; and now that the American public seems to really be on board with the whole PFUTS thing, really behind it, the guys in charge of fucking up people’s shit can be a little more obvious.  Obama openly talks about projecting power and the right of the US to exert dominance wherever we feel it is necessary in order to secure our advantage economically.  [See my previous article: http://teri.nicedriving.org/2012/02/the-2012-defense-strategic-guidance/ ]

They are so obvious about it that we now have a sitting US president bragging about assassinating foreigners (living in countries with which we are not at war), and US citizens at his whim.  Without any charges brought against them, without any legal evidence of their alleged wrong-doing, without trial or sentence.  Our top diplomat can now boldly state that the leader of a sovereign nation should do as we direct and step down because “his days are numbered”. [http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/18/us-syria-usa-clinton-idUSTRE7AH2LQ20111118]

This is different than what NATO did in Libya, Clinton is quick to point out, and she is technically correct.  In Libya, we posted a 2 million dollar on Ghaddafi’s head, directed the “rebels” on where to find him, and then laughed as he was tortured and assassinated.  Assad does not yet have a bounty on his head.

Our PFUTS plan for Iran involves accusing them of doing things they are not doing, sending in the CIA to mess with their people, assassinating their scientists and then imposing sanctions on them, which is an act of aggressive, preemptive economic war.  We have also invaded their air space, sending drones over, one of which crashed onto Iranian soil.  (Somehow that prompted a threat of what we would do if they didn’t return it.)  Now we have them surrounded by land and sea and wonder why in the hell those Persians are not meekly submitting to our “power projections”.  How dare they deny that they are not doing what they are not doing?  How dare they patrol the waters along their own shores, with clever little patrol boats, no less – that is right where we have our warships, damnit.  As you read these passages, notice the discrepancy between our military hardware and that of the Iranian forces.

Nerves were strained as an Iranian patrol boat approached the USS Abraham Lincoln at speed.

A helicopter escort hovered above the vessel in a warning not to get any closer, and the grey boat, tiny compared to the massive U.S. aircraft carrier, eventually turned around.

The encounter involving U.S. and Iranian boats, common in recent weeks, underscores rising tensions in the Gulf region between rival powers since Tehran threatened to close the Hormuz Strait, the world’s most important oil shipping waterway, over Western moves to ban Iranian crude exports….

The fleet, known as “Carrier Strike Group Nine” has been making forays through Hormuz despite the Iranian threats….

With four helicopters circling overhead and two destroyers leading, the carrier entered Hormuz while up in the watch tower, some seven Navy commanding officers, intelligence chiefs and legal experts were gathered in a small but busy control room…

The head of the fleet, Rear Admiral Troy Shoemaker, spotted two small boats, thought to be of smugglers, being battered by the high waves.

“It is going very well, relatively quiet. We have had a couple of surveillance aircraft, a helicopter and UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) but nothing in the way of surface activity,” Shoemaker said, referring to activity from Iranian side…

The Iranians make their presence felt every time U.S. forces cross the strait, by almost escorting the fleet either by air or using patrol boats. The U.S. in return reassesses the threat from Iran on regular basis by studying Iranian activity…

Military experts say the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet patrolling the Gulf – which always has at least one giant super carrier accompanied by scores of jets and a fleet of frigates and destroyers – is overwhelmingly more powerful than Iran’s navy.

But it is the small boats that worry the U.S. Navy most. Vice Admiral Fox said last week that Iran had built up its naval forces in the Gulf and prepared boats that could be used in suicide attacks…
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/17/usa-iran-hormuz-idUSL5E8DH38U20120217

In the same article, we see that some of our “warriors” get at least the gist of PFUTS, if not the entire picture.

For many of the sailors, Iran’s threats were not always something they paid attention to. They often saw their mission in simpler terms.

We want that oil to go where it needs to go in this world. We want people in this region to be able to get the products they can buy from Europe, from America, other regions of the world,” said Naval Aviator Matt Driskill, 33, who recently flew fighter planes over Libya and over Iraq in 2004. [from same Reuters article cited above.]

Now see, I really like this young man.  He has thoroughly accepted and internalized the indoctrination that the US has the right to all the oil in Iran and that we are there for the Good of the Whole Entire Earth.  I see stars and shiny things dangling from his lapels in his future.  He hasn’t seemed to grasp that the oil isn’t flowing from Iran because, well, uh, we sanctioned and embargoed them, thus preventing them from trading their oil.  However, he is sanguine in his belief that this is their fault, too, and so he watches for suicide patrol boats and stands prepared to loose the dogs of war.  He is a good soldier.

We all are, now.  We obediently line up to be scanned at the airports, we laugh at videos of people who are tasered unto death by the local police and make jokes about it.  At least 500 people have been killed by tasers to date. [ http://rt.com/usa/news/500-taser-law-enforcement-503/ ]

We listen blandly as our leaders suggest that we should use more weapons, more secret forces, more drones dropping bombs in more countries, drones over our own skies, as they boast of militarized local police forces, and plan the use of the military in our cities and towns.  [See for instance:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/13/us/admiral-pushes-for-freer-hand-in-special-forces.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1 and this: http://wsws.org/articles/2012/feb2012/pers-f14.shtml ]

We have accepted the indoctrination; the words no longer sound strange to us.  “Homeland”, “warriors”, “warrior class”, “special ops”, “black site”, “targeted assassination”, “rendition”, “Patriot Act”, “see something, say something”….

I just saw an ad for a movie, coming soon to a theater near you.  It is entitled, “Act of Valor” and stars real-io, trul-io, live-io Navy SEALs, who, I assume, must remain anonymous in their starring roles.

An unprecedented blend of real-life heroism and original filmmaking, Act of Valor stars a group of active-duty U.S. Navy SEALs in a film like no other in Hollywood’s history. A fictionalized account of real life Navy SEAL operations, Act of Valor features a gripping story that takes audiences on an adrenaline-fueled, edge-of-their-seat journey. When a mission to recover a kidnapped CIA operative unexpectedly results in the discovery of an imminent, terrifying global threat, an elite team of highly trained Navy SEALs must immediately embark on a heart-stopping secret operation, the outcome of which will determine the fate of us all. Act of Valor combines stunning combat sequences, up-to-the-minute battlefield technology, and heart-pumping emotion for the ultimate action adventure film-showcasing the skills, training and tenacity of the greatest action heroes of them all: real Navy SEALs. — movie synopsis.

Now, this is open propaganda and indoctrination.  The definition of “valor” is: “exceptional or heroic courage when facing danger (especially in battle)”.  This movie is based on an actual event, the killing of Osama bin Laden.  We sneaked into a sovereign nation after a man who was alleged to be the mastermind of 9/11, although the evidence was so nonexistent that we never even brought charges against him and the tapes purportedly made by him after 9/11 have been proven to be fakes.  It is likely he actually died a decade ago.  But once there in Pakistan, we shot his unarmed wife, shot and killed him as he stood, also unarmed, and dumped his body in the ocean.  There was no battle.  Whomever they shot was some old guy without a weapon of any sort.  What is valorous about that?

Maybe we are just stupid, but we have not seemed to glom onto the fact that the psychopaths running things are also targeting us.  And let me assure you that these people are seriously deranged.  How can anyone not see this?  They are using their PFUOS (Preemptively Fuck Up Our Shit) plan right here at home.  Perhaps we can’t grasp it because our brains have been permanently damaged by the fluoride they put in the water.  [http://www.infowars.com/story-on-mystery-substance-distracts-from-fact-fluoride-is-a-deadly-killer/ ]  Or because our food has lost most of its nutritional value and our brains are starved of vitamins and minerals.  [http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=soil-depletion-and-nutrition-loss]

Whatever it is, we fail to recognize that the oligarchy is ruining our lives right along with all those foreigners we think we need to hate.  They keep coming up with plans that should ring alarms – yet no-one notices.  The mortgage settlement that Obama announced the other day will cost the taxpayers roughly 20 bb out of the 25 bb.  And, by the way, not one single home will be returned to anyone who was foreclosed on fraudulently.
[See: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/02/09-5 ]

They are giving all of Greece to the big banks, and I have to ask frankly, has it occurred to anyone that we are paying a boat-load of interest on the national debt to the same banks that we just gave 14.7 trillion in bail-outs to?  They want all of the US, too, see, but nowadays, they have you pretty well convinced that the whole economic downturn thing was the fault of poor people trying to own houses.  All it took was a few politicians and newspapers saying or writing complete blathering nonsense for a year or so, and you have totally forgotten how we got into this mess.

If Obama and Congress suggested that the way out of our troubles was to sacrifice virgins to the great god Moloch, I suspect the only argument we would be having would be over which serves the purpose better: “pure” American virgins or the children of immigrants, as a way to solve the “illegal alien problem”.  (Hate to tell you, but Obama is disallowing the LIFO – Last In, First Out – method of accounting in his new budget.)  Anyone who objected to throwing children off the dome of the Capitol on moral grounds would be jeered at as pansy, socialist, bleeding hearts by most of the population.

They got the EPA to approve a pesticide which is probably the cause of the bee colony collapse using fraudulent research; but we mustn’t interfere with Monsanto’s part in the PFUOS.  [  http://grist.org/politics/food-2010-12-10-leaked-documents-show-epa-allowed-bee-toxic-pesticide/ ]  And now, they’ve come up with a plan to sequester carbon – by turning it into liquid and burying it in giant pits a mile underground.  This should sound utterly insane, but we are talking about the same people who poison our water with fracking, tell us Gulf seafood is safe to eat, allow new nuclear facilities to be built with outdated standards, allow new oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico, overfish the oceans until we are are nearing complete collapse of the fish stock, use massive amounts of antibiotics on feed animals; and we don’t seem to have sense enough to wonder about those either. [http://www.alternet.org/environment/154106]

Go watch “Act of Valor”.  Have some popcorn.  Might as well have some good old-fashioned fun watching guys shoot and maim other guys while the people in charge fuck up your shit.

Bonus thought.  From wikipedia;  “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible, called the ‘Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ to Saint John the Evangelist’ at 6:1-8. The chapter tells of a ‘ ‘book’/’scroll’ in God’s right hand that is sealed with seven seals’. The Lamb of God/Lion of Judah (Jesus Christ) opens the first four of the seven seals, which summons forth four beings that ride out on white, red, black, and pale horses. Although some interpretations differ, the four riders are commonly seen as symbolizing Conquest, War, Famine and Death, respectively. The Christian apocalyptic vision is that the four horsemen are to set a divine apocalypse upon the world as harbingers of the Last Judgment.”

People in other countries, being closer to the state of sanity than we are, might tremble at the sight of the four horses.  The American response, however, would be, “Oooo-ooo, I’ll take the red horse for 200, Alex!”

 

Outsourcing the “war on drugs”.

The BBC’s Spanish language edition reports this week that the Pentagon wants to outsource more of its drug war duties to private security firms such as Blackwater, now called Academi… as well as Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.

The “no bid” contracts are issued through the Pentagon’s Counter-Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office a murky government shop, started back in 1995, that outsources global counternarcotics and counterterrorism duties to private firms.

In 2009, Blackwater received a $1 billion contract to train Afghanistan’s police, which had been formerly handled by the U.S. State Department. This was the same year Caldwell started training Afghan security forces for NATO. According to Spencer Ackerman at Wired magazine, “CNTPO received the funding and chose Blackwater for the contract, even though Blackwater guards in Afghanistan on a different contract stole hundreds of guns intended for those very Afghan cops.”

So perhaps Army North’s duties are going to be increasingly parceled out to private firms. In order for the United States to police the world it takes a lot of cash and a lot of boots on the ground. Sometimes those boots aren’t military issued. So, as we’ve seen since the days of President George W., the U.S. military force has increasingly become a murky, opaque mixture of mercenaries, trained military and private contractors.

Outsourcing allows the Pentagon to move its growing drug war expenses off its books and in to the nether regions of private contracting. “They surreptitiously want to reduce the anti-drug budget by transferring it to private agencies,” says Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, in the BBC report. “The drug war is unpopular and has no political weight except in an election year like this, so the Department of Defense wants to remove that spending from their accounts.”

Bruce Bagley, head of International Studies at the University of Miami, warns in the BBC report that the whole outsourcing idea is really a bad idea. A lesson the U.S. government has had ample time to learn over the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan.  “Here we enter a vague area where the rules of engagement are not clear and there is almost zero accountability to the public or the electorate,” he says. Not to mention a violation of national sovereignty that could “generate a nationalist backlash if the public realizes what is happening.”

Outsourcing the drug war. What could go wrong? I am reminded again of the oft quoted line from Albert Einstein about the definition of insanity: repeating the same thing over and over again yet expecting different results.

http://www.texasobserver.org/lalinea/will-former-afghan-security-forces-trainer-ramp-up-efforts-in-mexico

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

Since the drug war has become so unpopular with the electorate, instead of politicians actually changing the drug laws, the Department of Defense seeks to reduce and conceal the real costs by transferring the “dirty work” to private contractors to do what “U.S. military forces are not allowed or not encouraged to do.”...

”Here we go into a vague area where the rules of engagement are not clear and there is almost zero accountability to the public or the electorate,” said Bagley.
..

There are concerns that contractors acting independently will threaten the sovereignty of the “key countries” in which they will operate.  The Pentagon says the largest efforts will occur in Latin America including Mexico,  Central America, Caribbean, Columbia and other Andean countries.

Professor Bagley says these private armies could “generate a nationalist backlash if the public came to realize the situation” of operations in their countries.

Once again, the war on drugs creates the opportunity to place troops in countries where having American soldiers would be politically disadvantageous, or simply impossible.
Ultimately, the Pentagon claims they will save money because private contractors don’t have the bureaucracy and hierarchy involved in operations and because “if any of its employees dies, they are responsible.”… – Eric Blair, for prisonplanet

http://www.prisonplanet.com/104369.html

Who is running Blackwater/Xe/Academi now, anyway?

Spencer Ackerman introduced some of the new people at Academi in June, ’11.

Xe’s new owners, USTC Holdings, aren’t exactly bringing in scandal-free talent to run Xe v.2.0. On Monday, they announced Xe’s new “Chief Regulatory & Compliance Officer,” a new position for the company, will be Suzanne Folsom, most recently of insurance giant AIG.

Yes, the woman in charge of making sure the world’s most infamous private security firm is in compliance with U.S. laws and regulations is a veteran of the insurance giant that helped plunge the country into financial chaos. The public bailed out AIG to the tune of $182 billion. Folsom — then as now, regulatory compliance chief for a scandal-plagued firm — got a golden parachute reportedly worth $1 million.

Nor is Folsom the only such example. Xe’s new CEO is Ted Wright, hired June 1 to run the company after helming North American operations for military services giant KBR. Among KBR’s recent hits: kidnapping Filipinos to work for the company in Iraq; confining its Iraq workers to “windowless warehouses“; and locking a woman employee in isolation after she was gang-raped — by other KBR employees.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/06/blackwater-gets-too-big-to-fail-hires-aig-castoff/

 

On the board of directors of Academi, we find former US Attorney General John Ashcroft.   (Yes, that John Ashcroft.)  The Academi bio of Ashcroft reads, in part: “Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is an independent director of ACADEMI and the Chairman of the Ashcroft Group, and has been leading Americans for over 30 years in public and private service…

“As Attorney General, Mr. Ashcroft led the U.S. Department of Justice through the transformational period after the September 11, 2001 attacks, reorganizing the Department to focus on its number one priority: preventing terrorism. The tough antiterrorism campaign he directed helped keep America safe throughout his tenure and resulted in the dismantling of terrorist cells across America and the disruption of over 150 terrorist plots worldwide…”

The Chairman of the Board, we find, is one Billy Joe McCombs; a former car salesman and co-founder of Clear Channel Communications.  This will be a boon for Academi’s attempt to advertise itself as a new and improved, reformed group of mercenaries.

“Billy Joe “Red” McCombs is a director of ACADEMI and the founder of the Red McCombs Automotive Group, a co-founder of Clear Channel Communications, a former owner of the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets and the Minnesota Vikings, and the namesake of the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a long-standing member of Forbes Magazine’s top 400 richest Americans and has owned nearly 400 businesses during his career.

“Mr. McCombs is recognized as one of the leading automobile dealers in the United States…  McCombs Automotive ranked sixth in the U.S. in sales in 1998, exceeding $1.7 billion in revenues, with more than 100 locations.

“He is also the co-founder of Clear Channel Communications, Inc. Clear Channel is the largest radio station operator and outdoor advertising business in the world, with operations in more than 30 countries. The company was sold to private investors for an excess of $20 billion in 2008…”

Another member of the board is Retired Admiral Bobby R. Inman (USN).

“Adm. Bobby Inman is a director of ACADEMI and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1950, and from the National War College in 1972. He became an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Austin in 1987…

“Adm. Inman served in the U.S. Navy from November 1951 to July 1982, when he retired with the permanent rank of admiral. While on active duty he served as Director of the National Security Agency and Deputy Director of Central Intelligence. After retirement from the Navy, he was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC) in Austin, Texas, for four years and Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Westmark Systems, Inc., a privately owned electronics industry holding company for three years. He also served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas from 1987 through 1990…”

[All bios from:  http://academi.com/pages/about-us/board-of-directors ]

There is something repugnant about a former US Att’y General, sworn to see that the laws of the United States as written in the Constitution are upheld, and a retired Navy admiral, who once swore to protect and defend the Constitution and the people of the US, now signing on with a corporate mercenary giant which will take money to work for any country or group with enough cash.  I wonder how Ashcroft feels about Academi’s contract with Monsanto.  Will he protect and uphold Monsanto’s contract over and above the civil rights of a US citizen?  What if Academi took a contract with China against the US – would this just be “business” for Adm. Inman?

Theoretically, the hiring of mercenaries is allowed in the Constitution via the issuance of “letters of marque and reprisal”.  However, Letters of Marque and Reprisal have specific goals.   Blackwater/Xe/now Academi is employed indefinitely by the federal gov’t. for purposes that are very murky, at best.  What is the “war on drugs” or the “war on terror” and how long do they last?  Do these mercenaries have to follow the Constitution?  They certainly do not have to swear an oath to uphold and protect it, the way our armed forces and government officials do.  They simply work for the highest bidder with no fealty to any specific country.  What is the oversight system for mercenaries?  (Does Congress or the Pentagon have legal authority over them?)  Do mercenary groups have to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests?  Are they allowed to arrest people, and if so, do they issue the Miranda warning and follow the other civil rights afforded citizens?  If they are allowed to arrest, where do their “detainees” get sent?  I ask because the “war on drugs” is not limited to Latin American countries, but also takes place in the US.  And if the Latin American countries thusly invaded by Blackwater/Xe/Academi decide to rid themselves of the thugs and kill a few of them, have those countries just “declared war” on the US?

Has anyone thought about this shit?  Has Ron Paul thought about it?  He wants to privatize the entire armed forces – his great idea after 9/11 was to draft legislation that would make mercenaries the only forces being used in the “war on terror”.  Has Barack Obama thought about it?  He has consistently increased the use of mercenary forces since taking office.  In his famous way of looking forward, not back, in Aug, ’10, Blackwater paid a 42 million dollar fine for charges related to its Iraq operations and was allowed to resume its contracts with the State Dept.  The Obama administration awarded Blackwater/Xe Services a quarter of a billion dollar contract to work for the U.S. State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency in Afghanistan.  As of 2009, Obama was even using Triple Canopy, another mercenary company, in Israel.  There is no information available as to the purpose of this unit in Israel.  Jeremy Scahill reported on this here:  http://tinyurl.com/7z5lhtj

I will grant that it is a little late to be wondering about all this, but as more private companies and cities across the US start hiring mercenaries for security purposes – as they are already doing in increasing numbers – we need to ask the right questions.  This is apparently something we are not very inclined to do until it is too late.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 22, 2012 in mercenaries, MIC, security state, State Dept/diplomacy

 

On propaganda, lies, and bullshit.

We read propaganda every day in America.  We may not recognize it as such because we are so grossly ignorant about other countries and other societies.  Our ignorance is the bliss of the big banks, mega-corporations and the Pentagon.  They can count on the reliable American public to never fact-check an article published in one of the major media outlets – in fact, we seem to have been numbed (dumbed?) into believing it is somehow unAmerican to question the mouthpieces in the mainstream media.  Take, for instance, this little article from the AP a few days ago.

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — More than 1 million Libyan students returned to school Saturday to start the first year in which the whims, politics and wacky philosophies of Moammar Gadhafi will not drive the curriculum.

Gone are the days when history books lauded Gadhafi’s accomplishments while blasting “Fascist” Italy, the “Zionist” United States and the “devilish” West, Libyan officials said.

Revamping the curriculum was only one of the tasks the new Education Ministry faced in preparing for the first school year following the eight-month civil war that killed thousands and left parts of some of Libya’s biggest cities in ruins.

Education Minister Suleiman al-Sahli told reporters in Tripoli Saturday that many schools were damaged in the fighting and more than a dozen were completely destroyed. Elsewhere, crews had to clear land mines from school yards to make them safe for students, he said.

Gadhafi dominated the education system throughout his 42-year rule, which ended when armed rebels stormed into Tripoli in August. Gadhafi was killed in October during his capture by rebels.

The former leader’s prominence in teaching materials meant that they had to be thrown out, al-Sahli said… All political materials were taken from Gadhafi’s largely incomprehensible governmental guide, the “Green Book.”

The new materials will give students a more complete education…

But creating the new materials has been difficult.

Al-Sahli said Libya ordered 35 million new textbooks to be printed in neighboring Tunisia but had only distributed 1 million so far. Border closures and strikes by truck drivers and port workers hampered their transport to Libya, he said. In the meantime, students will receive printed worksheets….

http://tinyurl.com/77yyafr

Ah, you can assume (because the article says so, right there in print!) that all the schools in Libya were teaching “the whims, politics and wacky philosophies of Moammar Gadhafi”.  How do you know what the schools were teaching?  Well, you don’t.  You have no idea what schools in Libya taught, nor do you know whether or not Ghaddafi’s ideas were wacky.  Does the AP reporter know what was taught in Libya?  Probably not.  But he has been told to use the words “despot”, “strange” or “wacky” each time he refers to Ghaddafi.

The “first school year following the eight-month civil war that killed thousands and left parts of some of Libya’s biggest cities in ruins” – this is an outright fabrication.  There was no civil war in Libya.  Although, thanks to the valiant efforts of the US/NATO countries, there may yet be one.  A few hundred CIA assets, some reported al Qaeda members, and some former ministers of Ghaddafi’s government who wanted to jump to the head of the line began an “uprising” and the UN imposed a no-fly zone, which NATO quickly turned into the decimation of the entire country.  It was the NATO countries who killed thousands and left Libya’s cities in ruins.  It was irrefutably NATO planes that bombed and destroyed schools, leaving land mines to be cleared up.  (NATO also bombed tv stations, orphanages, hospitals, food depots and the water supply.)  But like all good propagandists, the AP writer simply states the preposterous as fact and forges ahead, with the blithe assumption it will catch on.

“Gadhafi was killed in October during his capture by rebels….”  Such is war, eh?  Yet, the truth is that Ghaddafi had a bounty placed on his head (illegal) by the US, the “rebel” forces – the NTC – were named as the “legitimate and recognized government of Libya” (illegal) by the US, the rebels were led to Ghaddafi by NATO (they did not just happen upon him), and he was not “killed”.  He was tortured and assassinated (illegal).

You have not read Ghaddafi’s “Green Book”; the AP writer knows this, has not read it himself, knows that you won’t go read it now, and so feels safe in calling it “largely incomprehensible”.  I have read it.  It is not “largely incomprehensible”, although some parts are tedious and some poorly written.  It does call for nationalized oil profits and a central bank and outlines universal medical care and education for all Libyans; and all these policies were gradually put into place by Ghaddafi.  The Great Manmade River plans are described in detail and actually worked once Libya built it.

But this is a fairly run of the mill piece of propaganda.  Here is an example of really breath-taking, double-flip, tell a lie and then tell the truth without admitting you started the lie, bit of bullshit.  It involves the NGO Amnesty International, much to my dismay.  Until the destruction of Libya, I trusted these guys and thought of them as a “good” group.

The NGO Amnesty International France started false rumors about Ghaddafi using mercenaries in Libya against civilians.  They and several other NGO groups took these rumors to the UN Human Rights Council, which used the “news” to authorize a no-fly zone and begin the NATO “humanitarian intervention”.  The Amnesty France spokeswoman who presented the information to the UN was Genevieve Garrigos.  After 5 months of Amnesty International doing an “investigation” into the mercenary story, the same spokeswoman talks about how the Libyan intervention was started by rumors.  (She is shocked, of course.)  The mainstream news media never reports that the original stories were just rumors, much less that they have proven to be unfounded.  In an interview after the Amnesty “investigation”, Garrigos acknowledges that the rumors were untrue, but never acknowledges that she herself was the one who started these rumors.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fAl2oombx4

And now we get to Iran and Syria.  What lies will be used to attack and destroy these “enemies”?  More importantly, why?  How did all these countries turn into enemies?  Leon Panetta, in his speech regarding the Pentagon “budget cuts” (the cuts being a decrease in the scheduled increase, if you can stand that bit of twisted euphemistic bullshit) said:

“Our strategy review concluded that the United States must have the capability to fight several conflicts at the same time. We are not confronting obviously the threats of the past. We are confronting the threats of the 21st century, and that demands greater flexibility to shift and deploy forces to be able to fight and defeat any enemy anywhere.

“How we defeat the enemy may very well vary across conflicts. But make no mistake, we will have the capability to confront and defeat more than one adversary at a time.”

More than one adversary at a time, any enemy anywhere, several conflicts at the same time….who are all these imagined enemies?

If you look at the list of past and potential enemies, you start to notice a couple of things.  It seems our enemies are mostly made up of countries that defy the Goldman, Sachs/IMF model of taking over the globe economically and of countries that have oil.  The two lists overlap, interestingly enough.  It is “undemocratic” for a country to have nationalized banks or oil profits (i.e., we need to invade them, kill millions of their peoples, and destroy their country).  One might almost think we invaded countries at the behest of Goldman, Sachs and Exxon.

Countries with state-owned central banks:

Iraq’s and Afghanistan’s central banks were state-owned before we invaded them.  They are both now privatized.

Libya’s central bank was state-owned.  The NATO countries simply announced they were going to privatize the oil and banking industries before they invaded.  Now both the banking and oil sectors are privatized.

Iran’s central bank is state-owned.  (Here we are going for the subtle tell the truth method of propaganda, in the hopes that Americans will think that this sort of thing is normal and acceptable.  It is not.  The sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank are economic warfare.  “The latest round of American sanctions are aimed at shutting down Iran’s central bank, a senior US official said Thursday, spelling out that intention directly for the first time.” – http://tinyurl.com/74r96hu)

Syria’s central bank is state-owned.

Venezuela’s central bank is state-owned.

Now let’s look at oil resources.  Here is the 2010 OPEC chart on oil reserves:

unexp graphshot23 llt1 2012   THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY
We count Saudi Arabia as great friends; lucky for them, or they’d be on the scheduled invasions list as well.  Such great buddies that we have forgiven them for the 9/11 hijackers (most of whom apparently came from there) and will not allow that country to be named in any 9/11 survivor lawsuits.  Iran, believe it or not, has been named as a responsible party by the latest lawsuit in their stead.

On a final note, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney claims that Obama has 12,000 troops in Malta, ready to send to Libya to assist the NTC.  I do not know who her sources are (she never names exact sources), and have found no independent reports of this.  However, if this proves to be true, what propaganda will come out of the White House to justify boots on the ground and a continuation of this particular illegal invasion?

It is with great disappointment that I receive the news from foreign media publications and Libyan sources that our President now has 12,000 U.S. troops stationed in Malta and they are about to make their descent into Libya.”

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28645

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2012 in corporatocracy, Iran, Libya, mercenaries, MIC, State Dept/diplomacy

 

Our legacy in Iraq.

According to the United Nations State of the World’s Cities, 2010-2011 report, the percentage of the Iraqi urban population living in slums, defined as lacking access to basic necessities such as sanitation and water, increased from below 20 percent in 2003 to 53 percent in 2010.

• Real unemployment is on the order of 50 percent and inflation is over 50 percent. There has been a mass exodus of doctors and other professionals (estimated at 40 percent of those in the country prior to the war), and the education system lies in ruins.

• Iraq has experienced a staggering growth of infant and child mortality. A 2007 report estimated that 28 percent of children suffered from chronic malnutrition. An Iraqi government agency reported that 35 percent of Iraqi children in 2007 (about 5 million children) were orphans. An entire generation has seen their parents killed or disappeared.

http://wsws.org/articles/2011/dec2011/pers-d21.shtml

 

So we come to the “end” of the Iraq war.  Like everything else said about this “war”, the word “end” is meaningless.  We are actually going to have 15,000 mercenaries protecting and serving an uncertain number of “diplomats” who will stay there indefinitely.  We are also leaving a few military bases here and there; one presumes along with military personnel living in them.  Of course, this wasn’t a “war” in the first place.  It was an invasion of a sovereign nation with whom we were most definitely not at war, a nation that had not threatened us in any way.

But Obama went to went to North Carolina last week to address the troops about the end of the war.  It was “an extraordinary achievement”, he said.  “A moment of success,” he said.  He told the soldiers they had sacrificed and suffered loss and pain, and so had their families.  He failed to mention the fact that a few months ago, his administration was pushing Iraq to allow thousands of American troops to remain – his proposed agreement fell apart because the US demanded that Americans be immune from prosecution in Iraqi courts.  He did not mention the hundreds of American flags burned in joy by Iraqis upon hearing the news that America’s soldiers were finally leaving.  His speech to the troops was full of oo-rah moments, apparently de rigour for the CiC; but more to the point, it was also full of hyperbole and outright lies.  “Now, Iraq is not a perfect place. It has many challenges ahead. But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.”  Stable and self-reliant, is it?  With a representative government nonetheless hand-picked by the Americans.

“Because of you, because you sacrificed so much for a people that you had never met, Iraqis have a chance to forge their own destiny.  That’s part of what makes us special as Americans…There can be no fuller expression of America’s support for self-determination than our leaving Iraq to its people. That says something about who we are.”  We invaded their country for no reason other than to steal their oil.  They did not ask us to come in.  We have left them a country completely decimated and ruined.  Unemployment is somewhere between 25% and 48% – the figures are hard to pin down because of black market activities and security issues.  In 2009, the mean per-hour wage was $2.10.

Another great line from the speech:  “And let us never forget the source of American leadership: our commitment to the values that are written into our founding documents and a unique willingness among nations to pay a great price for the progress of human freedom and dignity.”  This from a man who is poised to sign a bill which overturns the Constitution.  An obligatory little threat to other nations must be included – you never know who is listening:  “And make no mistake, as we go forward as a nation we are going to keep America’s armed forces the strongest fighting force the world has ever seen. That will not stop. That will not stop.”  (That is not a transcript error; he felt the need to say it twice.)

And Obama managed to utter the biggest lie ever said about Iraq since Bush claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction:  “That’s part of what makes us special as Americans. Unlike the old empires, we don’t make these sacrifices for territory or for resources. We do it because it’s right.

On 16 Dec., while in Turkey, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said that the effort in Iraq was “worth it.”   Panetta expressed hope that the people of Iraq will be able to “enjoy the freedoms and liberties and opportunities that all people ought to be able to enjoy.”   His main concern seemed to be that we learn a cost lesson “for the future”.  We are to assume, I gather, that there will always be more wars and that the lesson here is to do them efficiently.

“Panetta said the Defense Department will factor lessons learned in Iraq as well as Afghanistan as it sets budget priorities for the future.
“ ‘As we go through the process of having to achieve savings in the defense budget,’ he said,
’I think it is an opportunity for us to shape a defense system for the future based on learning the lessons of the past.’ ”

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=66515

Neither man spoke about the costs to Iraqis.  In lives, infrastructure damage, refugees.  A cost to their future as the depleted uranium continues to work its way through the soil and water, causing cancers and deaths.  Neither spoke about the fact that we relieved the Iraqis of Saddam Hussein, only to replace him with another tyrant of our choosing, al-Maliki.

A 2006 study  by researchers at Johns Hopkins University published in the Lancet medical journal found that in just over three years there were 654,965 “excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war”, with Iraq’s death rate more than doubling due to gunfire – the leading cause of mortality – as well as lack of medicine and clean water.
Then a 2008 analysis by British polling firm Opinion Research Business estimated “that over 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have died as a result of the conflict which started in 2003“…
Thirteen years of bombings and sanctions crippled the infrastructure and basic services of what was once a wealthy country.  Then came the 2003 invasion, which destroyed electrical plants, sewage systems, water treatment facilities, hospitals and more.  Eight years later, the living conditions in Iraqi are worse than under Saddam Hussein, with the country plagued by a continued lack of electricity, clean water, medical care and security

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, since 2003 “more than 4.7 million Iraqis have fled their homes, many in dire need of humanitarian care“…

The US military dropped thousands of bombs across Iraq laced with depleted uranium, the radioactive waste produced from manufacturing nuclear fuel.  Valued by the military for its density and ability to ignite upon impact, depleted uranium bombs continue to kill years after they’ve been dropped.  In Fallujah, which was bombarded more than anywhere else in Iraq, British researchers uncovered a massive increase in infant mortality and rates of cancer, with the latter exceeding “those reported by survivors of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” according to The Independent.
… Al Jazeera reports that in the central Iraq province of Babil, reported cancer cases rose from 500 in 2004 to 7,000 in 2008.  And in Basra, the last 15 years have seen childhood leukemia rate more than double, according to a  study published last year in the American Journal of Public Health….
Now, his US-backed successor, prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, is torturing and killing those who speak out against his rule…
Inspired by the mass actions that took down US-backed strongmen in Egypt and Tunisia, thousands of Iraqis have taken to the streets to protest the al-Maliki government – only to be greeted with live ammunition.  On February 27, more than 29 protesters, including a 14-year-old boy, were gunned down by the Maliki-run security forces in Iraq.

Meanwhile, four journalists in Baghdad report that they, along with hundreds of protesters, were “blindfolded, handcuffed, beaten and threatened with execution” for being insufficiently pro-regime.
The charges of abuse come after WikiLeaks revealed further evidence that Maliki has been using the power of the state – and Shia death squads – to torture and murder his political opponents…
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/03/201132173052269144.html

And neither man spoke about the widows of Iraq.  How could they?  They won’t even acknowledge that Iraqis died in huge numbers.  No deaths, no widows, no orphans.  They certainly cannot broach the subject of the way many Iraqi women and teen-aged girls are forced to support themselves now, thanks to our “liberation” of the country.

Prior to the US invasion, Iraqi widows, particularly those who lost husbands during the Iran-Iraq war, were provided with compensation and free education for their children. In some cases, they were provided with free homes. However, no such safety nets currently exist and widows have few resources at their disposal…

Although few reliable statistics are available on the total number of widows in Iraq, the ministry of women’s affairs says that there are at least 350,000 in Baghdad alone, with more than eight million throughout the country.

http://atlanticreview.org/archives/803-Prostitution-in-Iraq.html

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

Meanwhile, violence against women – including honour killings, rape and kidnapping – has increased, forcing many to remain at home and limiting employment and educational opportunities, according to a new Freedom House report.  “A deep feeling of injustice and powerlessness sometimes leads women to believe that the only escape is suicide,” the report notes.
Many Iraqi women who fled to neighbouring countries have found themselves unable to feed their children.  Just to make ends meet, tens of thousands of them – including girls 13 and under – have been forced into prostitution, particularly in Syria.  “From what I’ve seen, 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the girls working this business in Damascus today are Iraqis,” one refugee told The New York Times. “If they go back to Iraq they’ll be slaughtered, and this is the only work available.”
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/03/201132173052269144.html

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

In one harrowing experience, Rania and two other girls visited a house in Baghdad’s Al-Jihad district, where girls as young as 16 were held to cater exclusively to the U.S. military. The brothel’s owner told Rania that an Iraqi interpreter employed by the Americans served as the go-between, transporting girls to and from the U.S. airport base...

Before the Gulf War in 1991, Iraq enjoyed the highest female literacy rate across the Middle East, and more Iraqi women were employed in skilled professions, like medicine and education, than in any other country in the region. 

Twenty years later Iraqi women experience a very different reality. Sharia law increasing dominates everyday life, with issues like marriage, divorce and honour crimes implemented outside of the court system, and adherence to state law.

“Many factors combined to promote the rise of sex trafficking and prostitution in the area,” a Norwegian Church Aid report said last year. 

”The US-led war and the chaos it has generated; the growing insecurity and lawlessness; corruption of authorities; the upsurge in religious extremism; economic hardship; marriage pressures; gender based violence and recurrent discrimination suffered by women; kidnappings of girls and women; the impunity of perpetrators of crimes, especially those against women; and the development of new technologies associated with the globalisation of the sex industry…

Although the Iraqi constitution deems trafficking illegal, there are no criminal laws that effectively prosecute offenders. Perversely, it is often the victims of trafficking and prostitution that are punished…

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says the government has done little to combat the issue. “This is a phenomenon that wasn’t prevalent in 2003,” says HRW researcher, Samer Muscati. 

”We don’t have specific statistics. This is the first part to tackle the problem; we need to know how significant and widespread the problem is. This is something the government hasn’t been doing. It hasn’t monitored or cracked down on traffickers, and because of that there is this black hole in terms of information.” 

http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=104911

This is what we have given Iraq.  This is what we thought was better than what they had.  This is what we are presently giving lots of countries, some overtly and some covertly.  This is what some Americans signed up to do on purpose, offering their bodies to the war effort – afraid there would be no other job, just too stupid to figure out the lies they were being fed, or in love with the idea of blowing other human beings to shreds – who the hell knows why?  We were not asked if we thought this “war” was a good idea, we haven’t been asked if any of the current ones are,  and we certainly won’t be asked if we think the next one is a good idea.  But we need to stop volunteering to do the grunt work of murdering other humans (or being killed ourselves) so that oil companies and other big corporations can profit, banks can steal assets, and the crazed “leaders” of the “free world” can dominate the globe on their behalf.  When the call to serve comes, we need to say no.  We need to say fuck, no.

 

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Iraq, mercenaries

 

Flying Monkeys

“It’s all fun and games until the flying monkeys show up.”

This is written on a t-shirt I gave one of my kids a few years ago.  Funny, eh?  Every year when I was a kid, we would watch “The Wizard of Oz” together.  It was one of those family tradition things that I continued with my own children later.  One part of the movie that bothered me – even when I was very young – was the scene where Dorothy kills the Wicked Witch.  After Dorothy melts her with water, one of the winged monkeys claps happily over the remains of the witch and the Captain of the Guard exclaims, “Hail Dorothy!  The Wicked Witch is dead!”  Now, wait a minute, I’d say.  If they all really hated the witch, why did they obey her?  Why did they pick on the kid and the nice guys the whole movie?  Why didn’t they figure out how to kill her?  Now I know.  They were mindlessly following orders to earn their pay.  They were mercenaries.

You have to wonder if Dorothy should have trusted them afterward.  How many amongst the monkey troops and armed guards were True Believers?  How many would simply look for another Wicked Witch to obey?  Well, it’s just a childrens’ story and I won’t carry on about the symbolism further, but bear it in mind.

Here in the US, as al Qaeda dwindles as a threat overseas (there are now supposedly two al Qaeda leaders left in Afghanistan), we are being warned about the threat of homegrown terrorists more often.  Congress thinks about it a lot.  They don’t worry so much about jobs or the economy, but they spend quite a large percentage of their time fretting over threats to the Homeland, looking for threats, making laws about threats and laws about potential threats.  They positively stew over it.  The CIA and FBI help Congress by stirring up fanatics in various places and enabling or creating terrorist threats all on their own; then “foiling” the plots and saving the day.  There is even some credible evidence that al Qaeda was an invention of the CIA.

We civilians, in the meantime, are being coached in how to watch each other.  We are taught by our leaders to blame each other for our problems.  Instead of allowing the banks that caused our economic downturn to fail, our “leaders” want us to blame each other.  It was poor people trying to buy houses, poor people wanting too much in the way of assistance, women seeking abortions, drug-users; it is all the fault of someone – not you – someone a little different than you.  Poorer, blacker, of a different religion, wearing a different sort of clothing, a dirty protester stirring up trouble, those lazy unemployed people.  Certainly not the banks or the people “in charge”.

At the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008, the derivatives market (toxic assets, credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations) was roughly 200 trillion dollars.  Now, this is an impossible number, being that this value was based on less than 20 tt worth of real estate in the US.  Clearly, this is funny money – value based on nothing but bags of hot air.  Clearly, when the banks wanted Congress to bail them out (i.e., replace their bags of hot air with actual money), the answer should have been: hell, no.  Write your toxic assets down to their real value and if that means you go bankrupt, that is your problem.  You made all this shit up out of nothing, you bankers.  Instead the banks were given bailouts.  It turns out the Fed has given them over 16 tt bucks of our money.  The results of the Alan Grayson and Bernie Sanders audit of the Fed shows that “more than $16 trillion [was given to banks]. The four largest recipients, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Bank of America, received more than a trillion dollars each.”

That is what we did instead of allowing those banks to fail.  Now these banks want more – and are spreading out over the globe to collect all the assets and cash in the world.  Austerity for everyone.  Land, property, money for the banks.  Goldman, Sachs has its men now running Italy and Greece, placed into office without benefit of election, and imposing harsher austerity measures by the day.  With the help of NATO, Libya was turned over to an oilman.  In the US, governors and state legislators are cutting off funding for vital programs, slashing jobs, and selling infrastructure to private corporations while refusing to tax the wealthy or stop the fraudulent foreclosure of homes.  The derivatives market today is notionally valued at over 700 tt.  Now, just four banks hold 95.9% of U.S. derivatives, according to a recent report from the Office of the Currency Comptroller.  The four banks in question are JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs.  (As a comparison, the world’s gross domestic product [GDP] is only about $65 trillion.)

The banks want this hot air replaced with taxpayer cash and assets.  They are getting their way in every country.  They are getting away with the greatest heist in human history.  And we are being told that the problem is…us.

Monsanto is grabbing the rights to food production in every country.  Halliburton, Exxon, and other big oil/natural gas companies are strip-mining the entire world, poisoning our fresh water and our air, tearing up our land and rendering it useless and bereft of life.  They are spilling toxins in the oceans; amazingly, they are given even more drilling rights as a reward.  The Big Oil companies earned over $1 trillion in profits over the last decade.  Last quarter, ExxonMobil was the most profitable company in the history of money.  Bechtel and assorted corporations are buying up water rights all around the globe so that eventually most humans will have to buy their water from private concerns.  But we are being told the problem is…us.

Here is how we (the “us” we are supposed to blame and be alert for) are doing in America right now.  The median income for American workers in 2010 was $26,364.

“A new measurement of poverty by the Census Bureau, which takes regional cost of living, medical payments and other expenses that do not intrude on the official poverty count, found a third of Americans are either in poverty or desperately close to it.”  – Gary Younge [http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/09-2]

Headstart has to compete with private schools for funds. [http://wsws.org/articles/2011/nov2011/head-n11.shtml]

Public school teachers are being laid off.  Class sizes are increasing.  One city after another is bringing in “city managers” who end public education, replacing it with charter or voucher systems.

WIC and heating assistance programs are being starved of funds.  Congress may let the unemployment insurance benefits lapse at the end of this month.  45 million Americans need food stamps to feed themselves – and the food stamp program keeps having its benefits reduced by Congress.  Almost 50 million people have no health insurance.  The unemployment rate is officially 8.9 – this will vary depending on the day of the week and the methods used to count the unemployed – but the actual rate of under- and unemployed is hovering at 20%.  There are 5 applicants for every job.

Both parties have plans in the works to end Social Security and Medicare.

What is Congress doing about all this?  They know this will end badly, that austerity measures will hit in ever harder punches in the coming year as they prop up the banks (their never-ending source of bribe revenue) and continue refusing to re-regulate them.  They know this will lead to more and more civil unrest.  So they are focusing like lasers on “terrorism in the Homeland and abroad” and getting us to despise each other.  They spend time calling Iran a “money-laundering scheme” and writing up sanctions.  (This serves multiple purposes: it gives us someone to focus our hatred on aside from the real criminals, creates a threat, makes legislation about the threat, and guarantees a continuing threat.  Awesome stuff.)  They write legislation to detain indefinitely “suspect” Americans.   If you think Obama will veto the latest legislation on the National Defense Authorization Act, you would be wrong.  Short clip from CSPAN explaining this (h/t Terry5135):

They allow the Pentagon to arm our local police forces with surplus military machinery, doing an end run around the Posse Comitatus Act. The 2011 Dept. of Defense (Pentagon) gave over 500 mm worth of surplus military machinery to local police departments.  Joint Terrorism Task Forces have been set up to mingle the FBI, the CIA, the military, and local police departments.  Local police officers have been sent to Israel to train in anti-terrorism tactics.  Here is Max Blumenthal of the Nation Institute laying it out in an 8 minute RT interview:

They spend time trying to figure out how to take more property from us and give it to the military or to private companies.  See my earlier post, http://teri.nicedriving.org/2011/12/eminent-domain-2/

And the Obama White House is very worried about all the potential threats out there, too.  The administration just released its Strategic Implementation Plan.

WASHINGTON — The White House on Thursday laid out a plan to implement a government strategy to combat homegrown domestic terrorism and any attempts by Al-Qaeda to seek to radicalize American Muslims…
“Protecting our nation’s communities from violent extremist recruitment and radicalization is a top national security priority,” said the document, known as the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP)…
The strategy was released a day after US officials warned that the US military was under threat as homegrown Islamic extremists, including “radicalized troops,” pose a risk to military installations…
The plan is a spin-off of a new National Counterterrorism Strategy released in June which warned the government must be vigilant for new efforts by Al-Qaeda to infiltrate US communities and inspire homegrown terrorism…
The document also calls for new efforts to analyze the impact of the Internet and social networks on radicalizing Americans from outside the country…
“Because of the importance of the digital environment, we will develop a separate, more comprehensive strategy for countering and preventing violent extremist online radicalization.”
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/12/08/white-house-targets-domestic-extremism/

 

…Initial reaction came from the co-chairs of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Independent Democrat Joseph Lieberman and Republican Susan Collins.
In a statement, they said the plan takes positive steps, but that “much more needs to be done and at a far faster pace, given the threat.”
http://www.voanews.com/english/news/usa/White-House-Outlines-Plan-Against-Homegrown-Extremist-Threats-135294113.html

The Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) is available here in html form:
http://tinyurl.com/7pwrbhp

I read the full 20-page report.  (You are welcome.)  One of the opening lines reads, “The Obama Administration continues to prioritize and stress the critical importance of CVE [CVE = Countering Violent Extremism] in the Homeland.”  May I once again say how creepy I find the use of the word “Homeland”?

Does the Obama Administration really think we are likely to see a return to economic good times?  Well, no.  The SIP mentions that “While preventing violent extremism is an issue of national importance, it is one of many safety and security challenges facing our Nation. As we enter an era of increased fiscal constraints, we must ensure our approach is tailored to take advantage of current programs and leverages existing resources.”

The SIP reveals an inordinate, in my opinion, fear of the internet and repeatedly includes reminders to itself to work within the framework of the right to free speech amendments.  A secondary report specifically detailing what to do about the dreaded internet will be forthcoming at some future date.  By that time, Congress will no doubt have done away with the pesky free speech issues.  It also shows an extreme level of concentration on potential terrorists in the prison system.  That’s not surprising, given the likely increase in prison populations once any American citizen can be detained indefinitely without charges.

From the SIP, departments within the government involved in the Plan:

“The following departments and agencies were involved in the deliberations and approval process: the Departments of State (State), the Treasury, Defense (DOD), Justice (DOJ), Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education (EDU), Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security (DHS), as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).”

Now that is a lot of agencies.  I wonder what the Treasury, Health and Human Services, Labor, Education, and Commerce departments have to do with terrorism.

Page 4 outlines a “whole government” approach (bolding mine):

1. Whole-of-Government Coordination
Leveraging the wide range of tools, capabilities, and resources of the United States Government in a coordinated manner is essential for success. Traditional national security or law enforcement agencies such as DHS, DOJ, and the FBI will execute many of the programs and activities outlined in the SIP. However, as the National Strategy for Empowering Local Partners states, we must also use a broader set of good governance programs, “including those that promote immigrant integration and civic engagement, protect civil rights, and provide social services, which may also help prevent radicalization that leads to violence.”To this end, agencies such as EDU and HHS, which have substantial expertise in engaging communities and delivering services, also play a role. This does not mean the missions and priorities of these partners will change or that their efforts will become narrowly focused on national security. Their inclusion stems from our recognition that radicalization to violence depends on a variety of factors, which in some instances may be most effectively addressed by departments and agencies that historically have not been responsible for national security or law enforcement. These non-security partners, including specific components within DOJ and DHS, have an array of tools that can contribute to this effort by providing indirect but meaningful impact on CVE, including after school programs, networks of community-based organizations that provide assistance to new immigrants, and violence prevention programs. We will coordinate activities, where appropriate, to support the CVE effort while ensuring we do not change the core missions and functions of these departments and agencies.

So our department of education, responsible for the teaching of our children, and the department of human services, which works on welfare, housing and social needs, will now spend some of their time and resources looking for terrorists and teaching our communities how to spot and report on the same.  Get the kiddies scared shitless while they are young.  And watch out for those food stamp people.

While we are all busy looking for terrorists amongst our numbers, we are ignoring the flying monkeys swooping down and carrying some of us off.  The problem is not us.  The problem is the wicked witch and the armies of mindless flying monkeys who service her.  Focus, people – look up.  It’s all fun and games until the flying monkeys show up.  And they are here now.

 

Diplomacy and other strong-arm tactics.

What passes for “diplomacy” in this new world we are creating is a strange and cruel misuse of the word.  This shift away from the dictionary definition began some time ago; now it is difficult to determine what would not be accepted as “diplomacy”.   Our State Department intends to use over 16,000 “contractors” in Iraq as the military pulls out.  Is it odd to anyone that our diplomats are hiring mercenaries?

It was fifteen years ago that the words of the former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, went largely unremarked by the mainstream press after this 60 Minutes interview with her.

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it. –60 Minutes (5/12/96)

Then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s quote, calmly asserting that U.S. policy objectives were worth the sacrifice of half a million Arab children, has been much quoted in the Arabic press. It’s also been cited in the United States in alternative commentary on the September 11 attacks (e.g., Alexander Cockburn, New York Press, 9/26/01).

But a Dow Jones search of mainstream news sources since September 11 turns up only one reference to the quote–in an op-ed in the Orange Country Register (9/16/01). This omission is striking, given the major role that Iraq sanctions play in the ideology of archenemy Osama bin Laden; his recruitment video features pictures of Iraqi babies wasting away from malnutrition and lack of medicine (New York Daily News, 9/28/01).  http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=1084

Obama likes this sort of diplomacy.  It’s right up his alley.  Obama, on the latest sanctions imposed on Iran for its alleged attempts to build nuclear weapons:  “The sanctions have enormous bite and enormous scope, and we’re building off the platform that has already been established. The question is, are there additional measures that we can take? And we’re going to explore every avenue to see if we can solve this issue diplomatically. I have said repeatedly, and I will say today, we are not taking any options off the table.”

We are so insane that we are sanctioning (diplomatizing, I guess we could call it) Iran until they stop doing what they are not doing.  [For the truth about the “plans” Iran has to build nukes, see this article:  http://goo.gl/mJG2E]

What?  Sanctions are “diplomacy”?  Diplomacy is talking to people, having a tete-a-tete, going back and forth, you give some, I give some, we talk politely and reason with one another.  But in this crazy backassward world, sanctions that will cripple a country, have an extremely deleterious affect on the civilians of that country – those are our first diplomatic moves?  And what else might we consider “diplomacy”?  Breaking their collective legs?  Leaving a horse’s head in the beds of all the higher-ups in Iran’s government?  Assassinating Ahmadinejad?  (“Even our Diplomatic Sniper has had no effect on the intransigent Iranians.”)

Why do I even ask?  For Iraq, in our second (or continuing, depending on how you look at it) war against them, in 2003, our “diplomacy” was telling them we were going to bomb the fuck out of their country right before we did it.

The National Defense Authorization Act (S 1867) – yes, the one that seems to authorize the indefinite detention of American citizens – had an amendment added to it by Senator Levin, called Amendment 1414.  The title of this amendment is “The Imposition of Sanctions with Respect to the Financial Sector of Iran, Including the Central Bank of Iran”.  This amendment finds that the Secretary of Treasury (Timmeh) has “identified Iran as a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern.”  Swear to God, that is the exact wording of the amendment.  It finds that “Treasury is calling out the entire Iranian banking sector, including the Central Bank of Iran, as posing terrorist financing, proliferation financing, and money laundering risks for the global financial system.”  (Sounds a bit like what the Fed, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and those guys are doing, eh?)  The amendment freezes assets, property, and transactions of Iranian financial institutions that come in contact with the US.  It occurred to someone that we buy a lot (like, a LOT) of oil from Iran and that refusing to touch the stuff just because it came from Iran might be problematic, so the amendment asks for a report within 60 days and every 60 days thereafter on the availability and price of petroleum produced in countries other than Iran.  Guess if crude gets too expensive elsewhere, we’ll amend the amendment so that we sanction everything but oil.  On Dec. 1, this amendment was agreed to in the Senate by a yea-nay vote of 100-0.  All our senators are diplomatizing now.  We will keep this up until Iran stops doing what they are not doing.

I guess the audacity of Iran trading their oil on their oil market, the bourse, using currency other than the US dollar, makes them “money launderers” and “financial terrorists”.   [See my post, “Live Free and/or Die”, of 13 Oct. for details on the Tehran oil bourse.]

Our current Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton – the topdog “diplomat” who sets the tone for our entire State Department and leads our “diplomatic outreach” to all other nations – is so demented as to actually laugh after we illegally, and with extreme prejudice, forced the change in government in a sovereign nation and instigated the murder of its leader.  I speak, of course, of Libya and Ghaddafi.  I know I have posted this short video clip before, but it is astounding to me that this moment was so completely overlooked by the media and that Clinton’s reaction upon learning of Ghaddafi’s death was not cause for her immediate dismissal.  “We came, we saw, he died,” was her remark before she turned away from the camera, cackling like one of the mad witches in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”.  It must be seen to be believed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DXDU48RHLU

I am not sure who is teaching whom in diplomatic circles – us teaching Israel or the other way around – but Israel has recently decided to join us in punishing other countries beyond all reason for imagined slights.  Palestine had the temerity to ask the UN if it could be recognized as a country; as a start, they asked for and received membership in UNESCO.  We reacted by punishing the entire set of UNESCO member countries by stopping all US funding promised to UNESCO.

Palestine became a full member of UNESCO overnight in a historic vote that could cost the agency a fifth of its budget and that the US and other opponents say could harm renewed Mideast peace efforts.

The decision is a grand symbolic victory for the Palestinians, but it alone won’t make Palestine into a state…

Meanwhile, the US government cut off tens of millions of dollars in annual funding to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) after it voted to admit Palestine as a full member.

Victoria Nuland, US state department spokeswoman, said payments to the Paris-based organisation would be stopped immediately. She said Washington would refrain from making a $60m payment it planned to deliver in November…

In an address to Parliament, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu harshly criticised the Palestinian move and warned his government would “not sit quietly”. [Note: as we shall see, they did not.]…

Huge cheers went up in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization after delegates approved the membership in a vote of 107-14 with 52 abstentions…

Even if the vote’s impact isn’t felt right away in the Mideast, it will be quickly felt at UNESCO, which protects historic heritage sites and works to improve world literacy, access to schooling for girls and cultural understanding, but it also has in the past been a forum for anti-Israel sentiment.

Existing US law can bar Washington from funding any UN body that accepts members that do not have the “internationally recognized attributes of statehood.” That requirement is generally interpreted to mean UN membership. But it remains unclear whether the US State Department will try to find legal wiggle room.

UNESCO depends heavily on US funding. Washington provides 22 per cent of its budget …UNESCO, like other UN agencies, is a part of the world body but has separate membership procedures and can make its own decisions about which countries belong. Full UN membership is not required for membership in many of the UN agencies…

http://currentnews.in/2011/11/01/palestines-unesco-entry-angers-israel-us-stops-annual-funding/

Not to be outdone, Israel immediately reneged on its monthly payments to Palestine.  These payments are tax monies collected by Israel on behalf of Palestine; in other words, this money is not a gift, it is simply collected by Israel, but actually belongs to Palestine.  What strange mindset finds this acceptable?  Israel obviously thought this would be greeted with a wink and a nod, especially after seeing how we went after the UNESCO countries collectively.

Israeli Cabinet ministers have decided to keep withholding around $100m in monthly tax revenues owed to the Palestinian Authority, in what is being seen as retaliation for its bid for membership to the United Nations.

The revenues, used to pay tens of thousands of Palestinian salaries, have been withheld since the Palestinian Authority was granted full membership of heritage body Unesco on 3 November. Israel has also suspended funding for Unesco itself.

Ministers decided on Monday they would continue to withhold the funds, against the clear advice of the Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak…

The monthly payments from Israel are mainly customs and income taxes collected on their behalf under an interim arrangement.

The payments are needed by the Palestinian Authority to pay employees, including security forces, and there have been warnings from the defence ministry that the whole stability of the Palestinian government in the West Bank could be put in peril.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/15/israel-withholds-100m-dollars_n_1094857.html

It turns out this was a bit too blatant even for the US and the UK to accept and pressure has been put on Israel to release the money it owes to Palestine.

Israel announced Wednesday [30 Nov.] that it would release tens of millions of dollars of tax funds owed to the Palestinians, ending a standoff that the Palestinians say has caused grave damage to their fragile economy.

The move followed heavy pressure from the United States, United Nations and Europe on Israel to free the money. Israel collects the tax funds for the Palestinians and transfers the money each month, in accordance with partial peace agreements from the 1990s…

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said he decided to release the money because the Palestinians appear to have suspended their “unilateral moves.” It said the decision would be “reassessed” if the Palestinians resume these steps…

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9RB5AUO0.htm

Note, however, that Netanyahu warns that he might stop the monthly transfers again if the Palestinians continue to seek UN recognition as a state.  This apparently is how “diplomacy” is done now.