RSS

Category Archives: Syria

Stunning US hypocrisy over slain Saudi journalist.

The relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia should trouble Americans.

We, along with the UAE and UK, are currently supporting the horrendous and illegal Saudi Arabian attacks on Yemen, offering logistics and weaponry in what can only be described as a terror campaign launched to interfere in Yemen’s internal politics.  Because of this Saudi/US war on one of the poorest nations on earth, a child in Yemen starves to death every ten minutes.  Tens of thousands of Yemenis have died, and millions more are likely to before this is over.  The Saudis have recently renewed their attacks on Hodeida, the major port city in Yemen, to deliberately keep food from entering the country.  Cholera, a preventable disease, is rampant.  The price of food and gas has doubled.  Yet we are making commitments to sell the Saudis even more weapons and both Obama, while he was in office, and now Trump tout the jobs that will be created by the sales of US-made weaponry, as though what these weapons will be used for is an utterly irrelevant bit of marginalia.

The personal ties of US politicians to Saudi Arabia were most obvious under the Bush regime, for the Bush family has had oil business ties to the Saudis going back generations.  [One may want to read “House of Bush, House of Saud”, by Craig Unger for information on that.]  Trump and his son-in-law have extensive business dealings with Saudi Arabia, as well, which no doubt contributes to Trump’s reluctance to take the still-evolving story about the Saudi murder of the US-based (but Saudi-born citizen), Jamal Khashoggi, very seriously. See:

Trump’s deep business ties with Saudi Arabia under scrutiny as tensions rise

We remember that Bush allowed wealthy Saudi Arabians to fly out of the US after the 9/11 attacks, while no-one else, American or foreign, was allowed to board a plane.

15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi Arabian.  There is a new book about the Saudi involvement in 9/11 which came out in August of this year.  In “The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark: The CIA, NSA, and the Crimes of the War on Terror”,  authors John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski dismiss the official story of  9/11.  The book shows that the CIA covered up Saudi complicity in the event.  See:

https://www.newsweek.com/cia-and-saudi-arabia-conspired-keep-911-details-secret-new-book-says-1091935

I think perhaps the above mentioned book has serious merit, as clearly Saudi Arabia was involved in 9/11, but am of the same opinion as Dr. Kevin Barrett, who has been studying 9/11 since 2003:

[…] US officials assert that the attacks were carried out by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists – 15 of them were Saudi citizens — but many experts have raised questions about the official account.

“It’s a welcome development that we are getting some skeptical reportage in the mainstream about 9/11 during the run-up to the holy, sacred anniversary. The 9/11 human sacrifice event has been turned into a sort of religious myth here in the United States—and that has been done so that they can demonize the people who question the official story as heretics. And that way they can prevent any rational scrutiny of the story, because the official story falls apart instantly. It crumbles to dust under the most superficial scrutiny,” Dr. Barrett said.

[…] “They were CIA assets from Saudi Arabia who were brought to the United States. And the FBI saw that they were actually sheep-dipped in al-Qaeda, that is that they were made to look like they had some kind of relationship with al-Qaeda, and the FBI wanted to investigate them, and they were told by higher-ups not to, hands off,” the analyst noted.

[…] “The reason they are giving is that, well, perhaps the CIA was interested in recruiting these guys, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi among them, and therefore the FBI would be getting in the way of their recruitment. But that is a baby-step towards the actual truth, which is of course that the people who ordered the FBI not to investigate these patsies, did so precisely because these guys were being set up as proxies to be blamed for the September 11 events that they really had nothing to do with other than playing the role as patsies,” he stated.

“So this information does lead to the destruction of the official story of 9/11. And it leads towards the full truth that this was a false flag event, that the World Trade Center was blown up with explosives. It just did not fall down because of the minor office fire kindled by kerosene,” Dr. Barrett argued.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/09/01/572838/911-hijackers-were-brought-to-US-from-Saudi-Arabia-by-CIA

The events of 9/11 aside, it is simply a mystery as to why the US, which holds itself up as the bastion of democracy and equality, would consider this repressive country with its horrific human rights record a staunch ally worthy of support.  Saudi Arabia is a sharia nation which shares the fundamentalist Wahhabism values of ISIS and is known to support ISIS.  Crimes such as witchcraft, sorcery, repeated drug use, armed robbery, and adultery carry sentences of beheading (the last known execution for sorcery was carried out in 2014).  Other physical and/or capital punishments for various crimes include stoning to death, amputation, crucifixion, and whipping.   Some crimes lack harsh sentences; notably the crimes of rape or wife-beating.

Public gathering places are segregated by gender and this is enforced by law.  This is true even under the “reforms” that the new crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, has ushered in.  Just last month, a man who was dining with a woman co-worker was arrested after a video surfaced of him engaged in this “crime”.  Of course, most of the reforms promised by the crown prince, known chummily as MbS by the media, Hollywood stars, Silicon Valley moguls, and American politicians who enjoy kissing the ass of royalty, have turned out to be so much bullshit; in fact, arrests and persecution of human rights activists have risen under his rule. The reform most praised by Western press, that of allowing women the right to drive, has resulted in women activists who fought for this right suddenly disappearing or going into exile.

https://theintercept.com/2018/10/06/saudi-arabia-women-driving-activists-exile/

Now, apparently the House of Saud has murdered one of their own, a journalist named Jamal Khashoggi, who has been a legal resident of the US since last year and who worked for the Washington Post, while he was inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey to get wedding papers.  Now to be clear, Khashoggi did not have too many objections to the basic policies of the Saudi government.  Prior to his relocation to the US, he worked for the Saudi government as a media editor and media advisor.  He did not like the aforementioned MbS, whom he felt did not support the Saudi principles fully or properly enough.  He wrote some relatively mild articles criticizing MbS while at the WaPo, and felt (correctly, as it has turned out) that he would be targeted with reprisal for those articles.

All across the US, the media and some of our politicians are calling for justice in this case, demanding that Saudi Arabia be held to account.  The WaPo took out a full page ad regarding the matter and one of the editors, Karen Attiah, said in an interview with Reuters, “We’re not going to let this go….Attacking or detaining or murdering a US resident…is unacceptable. If whoever did this can get away with silencing him, just imagine all the other journalists who they could go after without consequences.”

This is the correct and laudable position to take, obviously.  The silencing of journalists is inexcusable.  The murder of anyone based solely on his/her opinions is inexcusable.  It is egregiously wrong, and Trump’s persistent habit of calling the media the “enemies of the people” and urging his crowds of cultish followers to mindlessly chant nasty slogans about reporters (or anyone else, for that matter), does not alter that fact.  Before you start muttering about the Fake News and the Lamestream Media, let me say that I understand the sentiment.  A whole lot of media outlets are doing terrible jobs at covering any real news, and some of them – hell, a lot of them, especially in the US – are little more than propaganda outlets.  On the other hand, if you don’t have any reporters, if you reject them all, you are left with only the lies put forward by politicians, and those suckers lie for a living.  Discernment, people.  Find some reliable sources.  Read with your bullshit detector tuned to high.  The internet is huge and there are some honest reporters affiliated with news organizations, and a vast number of independent journalists and writers around the world trying desperately to get the truth out into the public realm.

While the Saudis do need to be accountable for the death of Khashoggi, the hypocrisy being displayed by the US is astounding.  It’s unfuckingbelievable, in fact. The Washington Post itself, in May of this year, ran an article about two journalists who are currently facing death every day.  One is an American journalist and one is a journalist who holds dual citizenship with Pakistan and Syria.

They are threatened with death every day.  By the United States of America.

They are on the president’s remarkable, extra-constitutional “kill list”, officially dubbed the “Disposition Matrix”.  This is a list of names compiled by a secret cabal of CIA operatives, certain unknown governmental officials, and the president, which designates the intended target as a “capture”, an “interrogate”, an “assassination” (carried out by drone bombing), or as “extraordinary rendition” (yes, we still do that; ask our new CIA director, Gina Torture Queen Haspel, about it).  The targets are usually picked by a computer algorithm that finds people suspected of terrorism mainly through their associations, phone calls and computer activity.  In the case of a war correspondent, such as these two journalists are, it should be clear that during their daily activities, where they may be carrying out interviews or reporting on various rebel groups in places like Syria or Afghanistan, what may look like “nefarious connections” to “terrorist groups” might actually be simply the gathering of pertinent material for an article.

I first read about this case in the WaPo, as a matter of fact, whose editorial board seems to have forgotten their own article about it in their furor over Khashoggi and his alleged murder.  Or perhaps they just don’t think that our own government needs to be “held to account”.

I will summarize the case in brief, and then give some quotes from an article on it written by Matt Taibbi in July and published in the Rolling Stone.

This is a current legal case working its way through the US court system brought by two journalists.  It was presented to the court last year and the first hearing was held in May of this year.  Bilal Abdul Kareem is an American freelance journalist and photographer.  Ahmad Zaidan is a Pakistani who was formerly an Al Jazeera bureau chief.  Both say they have been mistaken as terrorists, or “national security threats”, because they have contact with members of al Qaeda or other such groups, which they frequently report on.  Zaidan is mostly working out of Qatar these days, and Kareem reports from Syria.  The US is not legally at war with either of these countries; Syria is in the midst of a US-instigated civil war but not a threat to or at war with the US, and Qatar is not at war with anyone.

They have joined as co-plaintiffs, represented by the legal group Reprieve, and have brought forward a case pleading to have their names removed from the kill list.  They say their inclusion on the list is erroneous, and ask that they be given a chance to show that they are not, in fact, terrorists, preferably before a drone blows them into pieces.  It now appears that at the initial hearing, the judge pretty much decided that Zaidan, the Pakistani journalist, is shit out of luck and has “no standing”, since he couldn’t sufficiently prove he was on the list.  (He had found his name listed as a “highest scoring target” on one of Edward Snowden’s leaked NSA documents, but that was apparently not enough proof for the judge.)  Both these men were originally targeted under the Obama administration, but their names remain on the list under Trump.  Both wrote, separately, to Trump asking for mercy before being summarily killed, but neither received an answer. Trump, who endorses drone bombings and targeted killings just as much as Bush and Obama before him, has loosened the rules (if one can claim such egregious activities can even have exist under what might be called “rules”) about where these drone killings can take place and who can be targeted.  On the campaign trail, he said he would “take out their families, as well” as the targets; we may never know if he has made good on that promise. Obama increased the assassination program ten fold over Bush’ numbers, and Trump has increased the numbers some four to five times over Obama’s, according the best estimates that reporter Matt Taibbi could find.

While the list was originally designed to go after suspected al Qaeda terrorists specifically in Pakistan, the Disposition Matrix database now includes operations in Afghanistan, Yemen, Algeria, Egypt, Mali, Libya, Iran, Somalia, and parts of east Africa.  US officials state that the kill lists will expand for at least another decade, if not indefinitely.

US drone “warfare” has killed 10,858 individuals since 2004, when Bush first initiated the practice.  We are left uncertain as to how many of these people were “targets”, and how many were simply bystanders.  We do not know if the ones deemed terrorists really were; they are executed without charges being brought, without any hearings in any court being held, without any witnesses or evidence being presented.  We don’t know how many people are on the kill list or why they are on it.  But once a drone drops a bomb on your head, you can be pretty sure your name is not on the list any more.

Excerpts from Matt Taibbi’s July article on this case; the original is a long article and well worth reading in full:

[…] Kareem appealed for help to Clive Stafford Smith, an Anglo-American attorney he’d met in his travels, who’d founded a London-based human rights organization called Reprieve.

With Reprieve’s help, Kareem did what the system asks a law-abiding American citizen with a grievance to do. He sued, filing a complaint in district court in Washington, D.C., on March 30th, 2017, asking the U.S. government to take him off the Kill List, at least until he had a chance to challenge the evidence against him.

The case, still unresolved more than a year later, has awesome implications not just for Kareem but for all Americans – all people everywhere, for that matter.
It’s not a stretch to say that it’s one of the most important lawsuits to ever cross the desk of a federal judge. The core of the Bill of Rights is in play, and a wrong result could formalize a slide into authoritarianism that began long ago, but accelerated after 9/11.

Since that day, we have given presidents enormous power – to make war, to torture, to detain indefinitely – and our entire legal system has been transformed on a variety of fronts, placing huge questions about illegal searches, warrantless arrest, indefinite detention, torture and other matters behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy, outside the reach of courts.

And yet, nobody is paying attention. While America obsesses over Russia, Stormy Daniels and Kim Jong-Un, almost no one is covering Kareem’s trial. His race-against-time effort to escape the American killing machine is too surreal, even in the Trump era. But it’s also a potentially devastating last-straw moment in the history of America’s recent dystopian slide, with the executive branch asking for the ultimate in dictatorial powers: the right to kill even its own citizens without having to explain itself.

[…] In the week after 9/11, the House and Senate passed a joint resolution called the AUMF (Authorization to Use Military Force) that gave the president license to use “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons” who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the 9/11 attacks.

Robotized killings began almost immediately. The first known drone assassination took place in Afghanistan in 2001. By 2012, we were flying at least 16 drone missions per day, mostly for reconnaissance but some for more deadly reasons, and we had committed lethal drone attacks in six countries…

[…] A crucial Rubicon was crossed in 2011, when the Obama administration decided to drone-bomb New Mexico-born Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and suspected Al Qaeda terrorist.

There was some outcry about the president now having authority to kill even Americans without due process – “I think it’s sad,” said U.S. Congressman Ron Paul – but the uproar soon faded, and America’s assassination program accelerated still more. By late 2011, we’d killed more than 2,000 “militants.”

[…] Is the case against Kareem based upon a mistake, or is it based on something more substantive? The answer to that question represents the difference between killing a terrorist, and creating one.
We need to know if we’ve become the very thing we ostensibly created the drone program to combat: a secret authoritarian sect that confuses murder and justice.

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/how-to-survive-americas-kill-list-699334/

We have wasted enough time avoiding a discussion about our national sins, which we surely have committed, just as all countries and all governments make mistakes.  We need to face them and strive to correct them, as all we are doing is creating terrorists and destroying the lives of millions of people for no reason other than to use up the weapons we spend all our tax money on.  And then we spend more money to make more weapons and name more “enemies” so we can use those up in a viciously pointless cycle.  Our resources and our youth are being squandered on endless wars that aren’t even really wars, as they are illegal, undeclared police actions taken against countries that were never a threat to us, had nothing to do with 9/11, and do not threaten us now. And this is the main reason why we won’t do a thing about Saudi Arabia for killing a journalist, abusing their own people, bombing Yemen, or sending terrorists here to perpetrate 9/11; they buy a huge amount of arms from the US.  And unlike Israel, they actually pay for them.  We have allowed ourselves to be misinformed and uninformed on everything.

We are ignoring issues that we should be working on together along with all other nations:  the threat of nuclear war, climate change, new “super-bugs” that are resistant to antibiotics, genetically altered foods whose effects to the human genome are unknown, the degradation of the environment, the rampant abuse of human labor across the planet.  We are being driven by politicians, here and abroad, into not only hating other societies – about whom we do not care to inform ourselves – but into hating each other.   I get it: human beings are a hot mess.  People kill each other every day in every country and always have.  But I’ll tell you straight up that if we can’t figure out a better way to travel the hard road ahead of us than by creating more exotic and lethal weapons to kill each other off and looking for more excuses to use them on some “others”, we deserve to die off as a species.  The earth will go on without us.

Further reading on the Kareem/Zaidan case:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/in-kill-list-case-judge-questions-governments-unilateral-authority-to-kill-us-citizens-abroad/2018/05/01/ee4077e8-4d5c-11e8-b725-92c89fe3ca4c_story.html?utm_term=.d88246939d8d

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180501-journalists-challenge-their-inclusion-on-a-us-drone-kill-list/

On the ad taken out by the WaPo, and statements from their editor regarding the murder of Khashoggi:

https://www.rt.com/usa/441128-washington-post-confronts-saudis-khashoggi/

ACLU blog post regarding  Trump’s expanding use of targeted killings”

https://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/targeted-killing/trump-administration-looking-make-it-easier-kill-more-people

Over 5 million children face starvation as US-backed forces attack Yemeni aid port

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/09/20/yeme-s20.html

—————
Sometimes we can stop the wars.  Sometimes we can work together and make the war pigs listen to us.  Sometimes, we can reject the vile creatures who would have us tearing each other apart, who want to separate us by race, or ethnicity, or gender.  Sometimes, we do heed the calls of the angels of peace. Sometimes. We did it back then, when this song was written, and we can do it again.  We, us, together, have to create a new and better system that spurns personal greed and the learned, useless hatred of those different from ourselves that is fed to us daily by the masters of war.  We must reject, with prejudice, their grotesque ways and their savage methods.  It starts with one person at a time, one individual making the choice to think for himself, and then another joins him and another, and then we become an “us” that has a voice to be reckoned with.

For What It Is Worth

Buffalo Springfield, 1967

There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind

It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side

It’s s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away

We better stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Stop, now, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

Songwriter: Stephen Stills

For What It Is Worth lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Advertisements
 
 

Bombing Syria.

I have a few questions regarding the choice made by the US, the UK, and France to bomb Syria on Friday night.

Why would al Assad gas his own people a mere couple of days after Trump announced he wanted to pull all US troops out of Syria?  It makes no sense, unless Assad has a death wish and wanted more bombs raining down on his country.

Syria joined the Chemical Warfare Convention and gave up its chemical weapons in 2013.  It has since been inspected numerous times by the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons), which has verified Syria’s compliance.  Why are we so sure that Syria has reneged on its participation in the Convention?  Which is not to say it is impossible that Assad has entered into chemical weapons production again and has simply evaded the inspectors, but it seems unlikely.

The “proof” that Assad gassed his own people is based entirely on video evidence provided by the White Helmets.  This group is funded by the UK and is affiliated with al Qaeda, al Nusra Front and ISIS.  Just like the CIA weaponry, funds, and training offered to these terrorist groups, the idea is to strengthen the anti-Assad “rebels” in an effort to get rid of Assad (who was elected, one might remember) and partition Syria.  Given that we know who the White Helmets are, and given that some of their videos have been proven to be completely staged events – i.e., false flags – why does the media continue to use them as a source of supposedly reliable information?  The US generals admit that their assessment of the situation was based on the White Helmet video and on “social media”.  This would be the same social media that is supposedly infected with Russian trolls spewing fake news in an effort to ruin our democracy, but which has apparently turned the corner as of last week and redeemed itself.

The OPCW was scheduled to inspect the area of Assad’s reported chemical weapons attack against civilians in Douma on Saturday, the day after Trump, et al dropped the bombs.  Why would the US, UK, and France decide to blow things up before the investigation took place?  They didn’t even wait for the inspection, much less any report on the findings.  That is peculiar.

We bombed and obliterated some military areas, a science research center and two alleged chemical weapons storage facilities, all near the environs of Damascus.  Damascus is one of the largest cities in Syria and is a heavily populated area, with over a million civilians living there.  If we believed that these facilities were used to store and/or create chemical weapons, why on earth would we drop bombs and risk dispersing the chemicals into the surrounding area?  The fumes and explosions of the burning chemicals would have outright killed or seriously harmed tens of thousands of people. Why would we do that?  Either we knew there were no chemicals in those buildings, or we didn’t care if we gassed all those people during the bombing.  Since reporters were allowed to go into the buildings immediately after the bombs were dropped and walk around to film the results, without protective gear and without any physical harm to themselves, I suspect we knew all along that there were no weapons, chemical or otherwise, present.

Which all raises the final question: what the hell are we doing and why the hell are we doing it?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 15, 2018 in Syria

 

The final steps in the Great Taking.

You might not have noticed, especially in light of the relentless drivel put out by the mainstream media in an effort to distract you, but the oligarchs have entered the final stages in their efforts to own and control everything and leave the rest of us living like serfs in some bleak rerun of the feudal ages.  Trump, it turns out, is the perfect vehicle for this purpose and is all too willing to aid the wealthy – of every country, not just the US – to strip the commons bare and set us against each other.  The man is inherently stupid, barely literate, easily manipulated, venal to a remarkable degree, and extraordinarily greedy.  He is also a vicious shit – never discount that part of his makeup.  He and his family are daily making personal profit from his position and it would be laughably simple to show that he is running afoul of the emoluments clause of the Constitution.  In fact, the photogenic new ruling prince of Saudi Arabia is currently making the rounds of American glitterati, boasting that Jared Kushner gave him classified information in exchange for promises of loans, information which let the prince know who his enemies were in the old regime so he could imprison them and snatch leadership for himself.  [See Note 1.]  Now, anyone who thinks the Trump/Kushner family would never use their security clearances for personal gain must not have taken even a passing gander at the members of this grifting lot.  However, neither party in Congress will ever broach the topic of emoluments, as they share the same basic goals as Trump; and these goals happen to be the ones that the oligarchs, the wealthy, and the corporate cartels demand be fulfilled.  Trump is getting them there, hence Trump will not be escorted off stage.  Congress will not stand up for the people because they simply do not see the public as their employers.  They will not serve the best interests of the people, whom they loathe and largely view as a nuisance.  I cannot understand writers who propose the notion that Trump is “being used against his will” (by the military industrial complex/the CIA/the powers behind the curtain who have threatened him and are making him do these things) or that he is not to be blamed because he is “no different” than the last couple of presidents.  While it’s true that he is a continuation of the trajectory, he cannot be held innocent of the results of his actions, which he takes voluntarily.  It is irrational to suggest that he has some fundamental disagreement with his own policies.

All that being said, we must remember that the choice offered to the US in 2016 was between the uncouth imbecile named Trump and the neoliberal, bloodthirsty Hillary Clinton.  The Clinton Foundation, which was allowed to rake in international donations while she was Secretary of State, would no doubt have continued operations had she won the presidency.  Clinton made it clear that she had no interest in public spending, calling reduced college tuition and universal healthcare ‘unreasonable dreams’.  She also constantly beat the war drums, and has long called for direct aggression against Russia, China and Iran.  She was the architect for the invasion and destruction of Libya, a crime that should have taken her and Obama straight to the Hague.  Everything I write about Trump, his family, and his administration could just as easily pertain to a Clinton regime; just swap out a few names.  In rough figures, 25% of the eligible voters chose Trump and 25% chose Clinton.  Half the eligible voters did not vote at all.  I think the 50% who stayed home took the best position.  There was no point in endorsing the electoral farce that was imposed on the public in the last election.

Trump will be the face of the empire for awhile.  It is important to both hold him accountable for his time in office and at the same moment understand that he is just the latest iteration spewed out from the maw of a plutocratic power structure that has no national borders. And so I when I write using particular names, remember that the names are easily interchangeable with others.

We are told by Trump, the media and Congress that we need to bomb Syria even more often, using bigger weapons, because al Assad has supposedly just gassed some of his own people again.  We are expected to believe that immediately after Trump announced he wants the US out of Syria, the cagey Assad staged an assault on civilians in Syrian order to lure us into the perpetual bombing of his country and that what he most desires is eternal US interference with his domestic affairs. The whole story makes no sense.  No investigation has taken place, no proof of blame has been offered, but just as in the lead-up to the Iraq war, we are given a tale where the ending is already assumed.  The media must bear much of the blame for this.  The “reporters” who refuse to investigate the truth, who make a deliberate choice to air whatever bullshit line is fed to them by the oligarchic warmongers, are collaborating with powers that will end up killing us all.  There is no excuse for this – none.  We have communication networks such as the internet and phone systems that allow information to travel globally and that are easily accessed.  It is only the desire for personal gain that prods media personalities to repeat prepared lines rather than ferreting out the truth.

We are told by Trump, the media, and Congress that we should bomb North Korea because they might have nuclear weapons.  No-one can say how it is that the US gets to decide who has nukes or how it happens that the US can arbitrarily take military action against the other countries that are developing them.  Those precepts are just taken as a given.  Trump is going to a) have Kim Jong-un assassinated, b) preemptively nuke North Korea, c) negotiate with North Korea, d) let South Korea negotiate with North Korea, e) let South Korea engage in talks but then scuttle any resulting agreements, or f) do nothing, and hope Kim keeps his fat mouth shut for awhile until we decide which country to bomb next and that may or may not be North Korea.  Most likely answer is f, because Syria, Iran and the dread Russia also need to be taken out and it is unclear at this point in which order we will proceed.  Economic demands require a new blood infusion, however, so some country or another is going to get it.  And any provocation, no matter how obvious a false flag it is, will be used to wag that dog.

In the meantime, our own country is being stripped bare.  Trump and both houses of Congress are racing as swiftly as possible to ruin the environment, pollute the water and air, give tax cuts to the wealthy, use almost all tax monies to bloat the Pentagon while any spending on the actual population is wiped out.  We are told by Trump, the media, and Congress that this is a good thing, a necessary thing.  Barack Obama, we are told, was not pro-military enough and “decimated” our military forces.  Yet Obama shut not a one of those 900+ bases we have around the world, he sent the military into even more countries than we were already interfering with when he took office, he greatly intensified the drone-bombing of multiple other countries, and he consistently increased the Pentagon’s budget year over year.  It was Obama who signed into law the first NDAA that authorized a president to assassinate even American citizens at his personal discretion, and he signed all subsequent NDAAs, each of which included that same clause.  That anyone on the planet believes the crap that Obama was not militant enough is proof that propaganda works and that the cheese has totally slid off our crackers.

Congress managed to pass a tax cut scam that so blatently engorges the coffers of the already wealthy and the biggest corporations that the fact that it didn’t, by itself, lead to a revolt is astonishing.  Those fuckers just openly passed a bill that adds to the “deficit” (a deficit which only exists because the US created the Federal Reserve and dropped the gold standard, choosing to let private banks create money that is loaned to the government at interest).  The same tax bill brazenly doubles down on the now-proven nonsensical trope of trickle-down supply-side economics.  They are already telling us that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will have to be slashed in order to pay for this nasty piece of lobbyist-written work, despite the fact that the bill itself already cuts half a trillion dollars from Medicare over the next ten years.

But the Democrats were too busy talking about the DACA kids at that juncture to spend much time talking about the goodies in the tax scam.  It was a peculiar choice of sticking points, given that the Democrats had ample opportunity to address that issue when they were in the majority under Obama and they had exactly zero interest in addressing it then.  Bringing up the topic of DACA was a ruse to obfuscate the fact that the Democrats really had few objections to the tax bill; in fact, the Democrats enthusiastically supported cutting corporate taxes, as they were quick to point out.  Few details of the tax bill were were discussed publicly by either party.  There can be no doubt that this was done intentionally with bipartisan cooperation; let us not forget that it was under Obama’s first term that he and the Democrats brought into being the “cat food commission”, whose job it was to look into ways to cut the so-called “entitlement” programs.  The commission was disbanded because the public wasn’t quite ripe enough to pluck yet, but the thinking never went away.  Now is the propitious time, obviously; they have managed to brainwash the public into believing, with the sure conviction of the new convert, that any money spent on themselves is money spent foolishly.

One of the overlooked details is this (and this is the only detail I am going to get into right now): there is a clause in the tax bill that switches the way inflation is measured from the current Consumer Price Index (CPI) to a “chained” CPI. The measure of inflation is used as a determinant for figuring tax rates, social security payments to retirees, funding for programs such as Medicaid, Headstart, food stamps, etc. Right now, the government uses a variety of indices in its CPI figures and the official inflation rate is kind of a mixed bag of several of them. By switching to a “chained” CPI, inflation is artificially held to a lower number; for instance, the “chained” CPI carries an assumption that if the price of beef goes up, people might buy chicken instead.  That might be a reasonable assumption, although eventually one runs out of substitutes. I mean, if the price of chicken goes up next, they assume people will buy oatmeal instead. Eventually, they are assuming we are all eating grass. You see how that works. The “chained” CPI even goes so far as to offer this substitution model for dissimilar items: if the price of food goes up, the assumption is that people will cut back on buying heating oil. Presto-change-o, the consumer has not suffered from an increase in inflation!

The government publishes both the traditional and the “chained” CPI numbers every month now, and one can see that the “chained” CPI numbers suspiciously do not include some common household expenses, such as housing costs. I can only assume this is because the price of renting or buying a home has grown so preposterous since ’08 that it would completely wipe out the official mantra that there is no inflation.

By using the “chained” CPI, Congress is already chipping away at retiree income, social programs, and raising the tax rate on lower-income workers. They don’t have to openly attack SS, for example; simply by switching how they measure inflation, they are using a back-door method to reduce benefits.  Not one single Democrat issued any statement, much less any objection, to this clause in the Republican’s tax plan.  Slowing those SS benefit increases would save around $125 billion over a decade, without the political pain of cutting benefits directly or raising the access age.  The Republicans didn’t have to specify they want to cut Social Security or Medicare. They just did so, and with a tool the Democrats won’t ever repeal.  It’s brilliant, if you admire that sort of cynical maneuver.  These misanthropes are ruthless.

The omnibus spending bill that was passed most recently is equally odious, although no objections were raised by anyone except the strange occupants of the farthest right fringe, who are repulsed by having to share even the oxygen in the room with what they consider the underachieving.  The Democrats helped to pass that bill, giving as their excuses the military, which has to be supported at all costs and thank God this bill does that plus some, and that a few little coins were kept in there for some public programs.  Never fear, however; Trump and the Republicans are working on a plan to get rid of some of the ruinous public spending that accidentally got included, and I am sure the Democrats are breathing a sigh of relief that they don’t have to do anything to fight it, as it doesn’t depend on their involvement at all.  Their civic affectations are not bearing up well under scrutiny, anyway; best to lay low for awhile.  And forget any minor Republican insurgency that might serve as opposition against this latest plan – Republicans have no pretense of community responsibility to maintain.

Let’s go back to a month ago when Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic advisor, announced his resignation after Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel, a trade war measure that Cohn opposed.  (By the way, in another example of misuse of office, Ivanka Trump’s clothing line is exempt from the latest batch of tariffs, imposed on China.  The White House explains that this is simply a happy accident of the algorithm they used to decide what items to include or exempt from the tariffs . That right there is what you might call a “lie”. [See Note 2.])   Cohn had gotten what he came for: the tax cuts for the wealthy and big business. Of course, that tax bill will end up ruining the economy and decimating the working class, but what’s that matter to someone like Cohn?  It was interesting to see one of the really big confidence men bailing out at this juncture; one might speculate that Cohn knows there is going to be some bad economic news headed our way and wants to be well out before the stink sticks to him (too late, Goldman Sachs dude).  Cohn was replaced by Larry Kudlow, a CNBC talking head, who is best known as a reformed coke-head and a fool who has the amazing ability to be wrong on everything remotely related to money, yet still manages to find a job in front of a camera opining on economic matters.  Being a blithering idiot, he was the most obvious choice to advise the current administration on financial policies, and has actually been doing so behind the scenes since Trump announced his candidacy.  He hates the “giveaways” to the mere commoners in the budget bill (as does Trump, who almost didn’t sign the thing because of them) and has begun touting a little-known method to weed these repugnant items out of the law post ipso facto.   The Republicans can use something called the Impoundment Act, which was written and passed in 1974.  This Act allows the president to rescind (i.e., retroactively erase) funds that have already been approved by Congress.  I had never heard of this before, although it was used under Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush a couple of times.  Amazing to find out about the voluminous ways Congress has gone about side-stepping the Constitution over the years.  In any case, Trump can target up to $117 billion – the difference between his request for domestic non-defense spending and the level that was actually included in it.  If he chooses to employ it, he would propose the items and amounts he wants cut, and Congress has 45 days after his proposal to approve the package.  The vote would be a simple majority vote, meaning the Republicans don’t need any Democratic support to alter federal spending more to their liking.

Non-defense spending is a relatively small portion of overall spending; the non-defense discretionary budget only accounted for roughly 15% of all federal spending in 2017.  However, this portion of the budget is the part that Trump has the ability to cut through impoundment.  He has suggested many of the programs he would like to eliminate before now, so his list will not surprise anyone if and when he comes out with it.  Since he has objected to the following items before, and has already stated he wants to save money (that was given away with the tax bill, one might note) by cutting them from the 2019 budget, the proposed programs to be rescinded might look something like this, just for starters:

• The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or LIHEAP ($3.4 billion in one-year savings)
• International financial assistance for global climate change initiatives ($160 million)
• Funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting ($480 million)
• Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grants ($3 billion)
He also proposed cutting:
• Amtrak grants by $757 million
• HUD rental Assistance Programs by $4.2 billion
• The Federal Work Study program by $790 million
• State Department Educational and Cultural Exchange programs $475

The above details about the CPI and the Impoundment Act are but small samples of the general trend against the best interests of the people who live here in the US that has been ongoing for a generation now.  Of much wider import are the greatly accelerated attacks on the environment and food systems.  The choices made by the Trump administration are disastrous, but let’s not pretend that the previous administrations were exactly safeguarding the health of the planet, much less that of the people who live on her.  These are issues where the media and Congress again refuse to speak up, and yet, like the relentless drive to more war, will end up killing us.  We are letting the oil companies frack the entire country and the surrounding bodies of water, which is causing oil spills, earthquakes, and a constant infiltration of fracking chemicals into our water.  A four thousand square mile area of Texas is heaving and sinking due to oil extraction activity, and this is in an area of the country where our government decided it would be a good idea to bury nuclear waste.  The Pentagon is working on a plan to genetically alter some forms of sea life so as to use them for military purposes.  One third of all American wildlife species are headed for extinction.  The mega corporations Bayer and Monsanto are seeking to merge into one company, which will make them for all intents and purposes the owner of almost all the seed stock and much of the cropland on the planet.  The EU has already approved the merger, and the Trump administration is expected to do the same.  These two companies have worked in tandem for several decades now and have been allowed to poison the world with pesticides and chemicals, destroy native seed stocks in order to replace them with genetically modified “food” crops, and drive farmers across the globe out of business.  Monsanto, in particular, has been the recipient of financial backing and unceasing efforts to make it the primary food source in every country from people like the Clintons, Bill Gates, and Pierre Omidyar.  [For links to articles on all these topics, see Note 3.]

We have to do better than this.  We have to learn how to turn off the constant propaganda that incites us to hate one another and keeps us cheering for the slaughter of some group or another of strangers across the planet.  We have to take care of this planet and of each other.  It doesn’t matter what name you call it, what “ism” it goes by, but there is a societal system that works better for us all than capitalism.  And there are better people around than the oligarchy that wants to control our every move, spy on our every communication, and drive us to some final dismal destruction of ourselves.  We really are all stardust, and we need to regard each other and our fellow creatures with the respect and admiration that our common origin deserves.  For despite the humble beginnings of life on earth which arose accidentally from the dust of the cosmos, that dust formed a myriad of life-forms, all intrinsically related and yet each wonderfully different.

About two weeks ago, I was thinking about this turning point in our history and realized that it is somewhat comparative to that of Louis XVI of France in a couple of ways.  He (Louis XVI) announced he wanted to do away with serfdom as a “populist” reform measure, an idea which pissed off the nobles; in the end he listened to the wealthy and gave up the notion, thus abandoning the lower classes who had thought he would usher in a new era.  Then he deregulated the grain market, sending bread prices soaring (turns out deregulation has a very long history of being bad for the working class).  Then he decided to support the colonists (in what would become the US) in their fight against Great Britain and this took France into debt and dire financial straits (turns out getting involved in other people’s wars has a very long history of being a bad fiscal idea and bad for the working class).  His indecisiveness and waffling, which always seemed to end up with him supporting the nobility, erased all the popularity he had once enjoyed.  In an effort to bolster support for himself, he considered starting some new invasive wars, but as it happened, the public didn’t particularly find this a compelling sales pitch when they found out about the scheme.

Finally, the people rose up and took his head.

And then France embarked on a decade of wars anyway, which flowed seamlessly into the Napoleonic Wars, which lasted until 1815 – all told, 23 years of continuous warfare with multiple countries on several continents after Louis XVI was beheaded (turns out humans have a very long history of stupidity and apparently a genetic defect that leads them to kill each other with abandon and glee on a constant basis).  So… vive la revolution, etc., but beware what follows?  We better chose more carefully this time.  I will repeat the sentence with which I started this blog so many years ago:  Be a good human.

(I was tickled by the synchronicity, if you will, of hearing Richard Wolff, just five days ago, mention the same bit of history in the following discussion between him and Chris Hedges regarding the coming collapse of the American capitalist system.  The following video is about half an hour long, and certainly worth the time.)

Economist Richard Wolff discusses the coming economic collapse of the United States of America with Chris Hedges.

 

Note 1:

Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman bragged of receiving classified US intelligence from Jared Kushner and using it as part of a purge of ‘corrupt’ princes and businessmen, DailyMail.com can disclose. […]

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5575395/amp/Saudi-crown-prince-brags-Jared-Kushner-handed-U-S-intelligence.html?__twitter_impression=true

Note 2: The justification for the tariffs on the grounds of national security is a fiction created by Trump in order to apply the tariffs. US law allows the President to impose tariffs unilaterally for reasons of national security, but the trade arguments going on right now certainly don’t rise to that level.  Furthermore, the areas in which we are accusing China of malfeasance are already being arbitrated in the World Trade Organization; there is no reason for other actions at this point.  Aside from the claim of dire national security issues, tariffs can only be applied by Congress and Trump knows that won’t happen. This is an abrogation of power by the President and should be opposed for that reason alone.

[…] Many of the products branded by Ivanka Trump’s fashion and clothing line are manufactured in China. And China recently approved three new trademarks for Ivanka Trump’s brand there–on the same day she dined with Chinese President Xi Jinping in her official capacity as White House advisor.
Exempting clothing from the new round of U.S. tariffs therefore stands to immensely benefit the value of Ivanka Trump’s personal brand. Meanwhile, domestic clothing manufacturers have cried foul.
In a statement reacting to the tariffs and Trump’s noteworthy exemption for Chinese-produced clothing, Rick Helfenbein, chief executive of industry group the American Apparel & Footwear Association said, “This would directly raise costs on domestic manufacturers and impact our ability to grow Made in USA.”
Law&Crime reached out to Ivanka Trump’s press office for comment, but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.

https://lawandcrime.com/awkward/ivanka-trumps-chinese-produced-clothing-not-subject-new-tariffs/
——————
And see:

The American Apparel & Footwear Association welcomed the decision by the Trump administration to avoid taxing American consumers by excluding new tariffs on apparel, footwear, travel goods, and related products imported from China.
The association’s President and CEO Rick Helfenbein released the following statement:
“We are pleased with the administration’s decision to avoid adding tariffs to U.S. imports of apparel, footwear, and travel goods from China. Tariffs are a hidden, regressive tax on Americans and such a decision would have had a disastrous impact on American consumers,” said Helfenbein.
“At the same time, we are concerned that the list includes tariffs on machinery used in our domestic manufacturing process. This would directly raise costs on domestic manufacturers and impact our ability to grow Made in USA. We will express these concerns with the administration in the coming days, and look forward to working with them on the core concerns of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer in China.”[…]

https://www.aafaglobal.org/AAFA/AAFA_News/2018_Press_Releases/Apparel_and_Footwear_Industry_Association_Reacts_To_Trump_Administration_Tariff_List.aspx

 

Note 3:  Various articles of interest on the environment, Monsanto, and stardust.

The Pentagon’s Scary Plan to Militarize Ocean Life:

http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/the_pentagons_scary_plan_to_militarize_ocean_life/

****

America’s wildlife crisis; one-third of species are vulnerable to extinction, a crisis ravaging swaths of creatures, conservationists say in call to fund recovery plans:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/29/us-wildlife-extinction-species-report

****

Radar images show large swath of West Texas oil patch is heaving and sinking at alarming rates:

http://blog.smu.edu/research/2018/03/20/radar-images-show-large-swath-of-texas-oil-patch-is-heaving-and-sinking-at-alarming-rates/

****

Bayer and Monsanto have a long history of collusion to poison the ecosystem for profit. The Trump administration should veto their merger not just to protect competitors but to ensure human and planetary survival:

The Bayer-Monsanto Merger Is Bad News for the Planet

****

Joni Mitchell was right, we really are all stardust:

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/01/150128-big-bang-universe-supernova-astrophysics-health-space-ngbooktalk/

 

White House statement on the terrorist attacks in Iran.

Updated at bottom: Sunday, 11 June, 2017

Yesterday, Iran suffered two terrorist attacks.  The coordinated attacks targeted the Parliament complex in Tehran and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini, 15 miles to the south.   Nineteen people were killed and 43 wounded.

ISIS has claimed responsibility, although the attack bears the hallmarks of MEK, a cultish group of Iranian exiles formed with the purpose of bringing down the Iranian government through violence and terrorist activities.  More than 16,000 people are known to have been killed by MEK’s attacks since 1979. MEK, also known by the acronym MKO, is the officially titled as the “People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran” or the “Mojahedin-e Khalq”.   Saudi Arabia, one of the US’ foremost allies in the Middle East, and itself a sponsor of extremist Islamic groups such as ISIS, recently said it would “take the fight against Iran into Iran itself” and has sponsored MEK since its inception in the late 1970’s; either terrorist organization, MEK or ISIS, would suit this purpose.   MEK was labeled a terrorist organization by all Western governments until fairly recently; the US removed them from that list in 2012, under the direction of then-Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who lauded their public statements that they were “renouncing violence”.  In fact, MEK simply spent a lot of money lobbying US officials, and have not renounced violence at all, but in the US, money will always top honesty.  Always.  MEK makes its money the old-fashioned way: through fraud and money laundering and from support from Israel, which has donated money to them so they could assassinate Iranian scientists and educators, and from Saudi Arabia, which considers Iran its most prominent enemy.   In the US, MEK simply paid high-profile US officials upwards of $50,000 for each appearance they made giving speeches favorable to the removal of MEK from the terrorist organization list.  This sort of thing used to be known as bribery; now it is called “lobbying”.  The US officials, both retired and active, who prompted the removal of MEK from terrorist designation made no bones about their reasoning: they said they supported MEK on the grounds that they “acted as opposition to the Iranian government”.

Iran has long been a target of the US, partly at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Israel, but mostly due to our own desire to control the entirety of the oil producing areas of the world.  We are constantly told by the media that Iran is the “biggest sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East”, although no-one has yet offered any proof backing this statement, and the evidence is all to the contrary – the biggest supporters of terrorism in the ME would have to be considered the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel, in no particular order.  Iran has not invaded any country in over 200 years.  They are currently involved in Syria, at the invitation of the Syrian government, which asked them to help oust ISIS and al Qaeda from that country.  One might think that would place Iran on the list of US allies in the “fight against terrorism” (aren’t ISIS and al Qaeda the enemies?), but apparently the media doesn’t notice that the reasoning gets somewhat muddled and illogical when American politicians supply the information.  Iran is still “our enemy” despite their fight against ISIS, while Saudi Arabia, whose Wahhabi belief system mirrors that of ISIS and whose money supports ISIS is “our ally”.  The US Congress is working on new sanctions against Iran, which unbelievably and inexplicably revolve around the concept that although Iran is following to the letter the non-nuclear agreement worked out between them and the US under Obama, they need further crippling sanctions levied against them in order to induce them to follow the agreement better.  One cannot even conjecture what they could possibly do to improve upholding their end of the bargain better than perfectly, but the US doesn’t feel the need to explain the nonsensical.  Congress has already passed a resolution that states the president may unilaterally bomb Iran at his whim, without notification beforehand to Congress or the American people, should he feel the need to do so.  This is, obviously, not only a preemptive declaration of war against a foreign country with no reason offered, but an abdication of Congressional power (for whatever that is worth – Congress ceded their powers way back in the Bush era).

We are also assured that the Iranians want nuclear weapons, even though their religious beliefs preclude the use of nuclear bombs.  This alleged “fact” of Iranian desire for nuclear capability has long been proven false by the IAEA itself, the group that monitors the development and stockpiling of nuclear weapons and performs inspections internationally.  They have been allowed unlimited, free access to all Iranian facilities for years.  [By the way, you know who told the US that the Iranian government was trying to develop nuclear weapons in the first place?  Yeah, MEK, the anti-Iranian-government terrorist group that we no longer call terrorists.]  Fact is, the Pentagon and both parties in Congress view Iran as an obstacle, an intolerable one, to completely unbridled US hegemony in the area.  The Trump administration has gone further than even the Bush and Obama administrations in its stepped-up vitriol and programs against Iran.  They have created a new CIA “mission center” targeting Iran in the hopes that we can use American spies to help overthrow the Iranian government (a recycling of that successful coup we did in Iran so long ago).  Our forces in Syria have been told to change the rules of engagement so as to allow them to target the Iranian forces who are there assisting Assad in the fight against ISIS.  Our airstrikes are allowed to be carried out rather indiscriminately now, without consideration of collateral damage; i.e., without concern about civilian deaths or the accidental hitting of another government’s troops.

A few days ago, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Yemen all cut their ties to Qatar and began an economic blockade against it.  Trump immediately hailed this as a wonderful development, which is sort of deranged, considering the unrest and conflict in the Middle East already.  Furthermore, the largest US military base in the Middle East is located in Qatar.  Maybe he thinks the US should spend a few billion bucks to move the base to Saudi Arabia, or possibly he doesn’t even know we have a base in Qatar.  (The latter is more likely, frankly.)  Iran’s president, Rouhani, on the other hand, immediately came out and offered food and economic aid to Qatar, recognizing that what these other countries are doing could bring on starvation conditions to Qatar fairly quickly.  Rouhani remarked, “We need to have peace here, not conflict,” a statement that clearly puts blame for the Middle East tensions on Saudi Arabia, which had initiated the blockade against Qatar.  It is easy to see how this situation could be twisted to frame Iran for any further escalation in the Middle East, however, especially if the other countries don’t change their tactics, and Iran has to act to fulfill its promise to not let the Qataris suffer unduly.  At that point, we can expect a US-led false flag operation against Iran to occur forthwith.

It is also easy to see how Trump could be convinced that what he really needs to bolster his popularity is a serious war, as opposed to the on-going multiple wars we started and are engaged in around the globe right now.  He wants to get attention away from the Russia investigation fiasco, one of the most remarkable bits of dumbassery and meaningless wastes of taxpayer monies ever dreamed up, all on behalf of Hillary Clinton, who can’t accept the fact that she lost the goddamn election because she was a horrible, hated candidate whom the public distrusts for good reason.  [See my note at the end of this post regarding election meddling.]   Let’s be honest here.  Clinton is toxic.  The only people who don’t want her to just go away seem to be the establishment Democrats, the Clinton wing, who take the party a foot closer to nonexistence each time they parade her in front of the cameras.  And let’s be honest about Trump: the guy is mental.  He’s got the emotional stability of a poorly raised five-year-old and he rows with only one oar in the water.  He appealed to the portion of the population whose tastes run to the louche, the garish; this represents a significant portion of Americans, to be sure.   Enough to get him elected, in any case, although half the eligible voters couldn’t be aroused enough by either Trump or Clinton to even go mark the ballot.  Since the election, the only praise this carnival barker got from the media or the Democrats was when he [illegally] bombed the shit out of the vacant Syrian airstrip and [illegally] dropped “the big one” on a hillside in Afghanistan.  He is not aware of much, but he surely marked that applause, and has noted that both major parties have long sought an excuse to take out Iran.  He sees that the politicians, the Pentagon, and most of the American population loves war, any war.  The creation of war footing and all its attendant financial accoutrements are, after all, the only economic plan Congress has, in the long term.  Of course, since Trump has already given his Pentagon generals unilateral authorization to carry out any and all missions they deem necessary without notifying him or the public first, Trump may only find out we are at war with Iran after the bombs start falling.  He will not stop, and will in fact welcome, the latest iteration of America’s War of Terror wherever it next roars to life, and whatever the given excuse; he will be quickly advised by his padrones that is is a useful distraction against not only the Russia-hacking bullshit, but also gets attention away from the Republican plan to tear up any social agreement between the US government and the US people.  The Democrats will also welcome an exciting new war to distract from the fact that they have no intention of serving the interests of the commoners either and actually agree with all the loathsome, hateful Shock Doctrine ideas the Republicans dream up.  War with Iran, war with Russia, war with Outer Mongolia – throw a dart at the map.  The only good news for the rest of the world is that the uncouth, stupid president of the United States is so rapidly burning bridges with our traditional allies that maybe this time no other country will allow itself to be dragged into whatever new monstrous adventure we Yanks cook up.  Too bad for us that we may find ourselves having to do our wilding alone in the future; but at some point, others surely must call quits to suffering fools lightly and step back to let fate and karma extract their inexorable dues.

So Iran was attacked by terrorists, and here is the official White House response:

Statement by the President on the Terrorist Attacks in Iran

We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times. We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/06/07/statement-president-terrorist-attacks-iran

That is the statement in its entirety.  Read that second sentence again.  Let it soak in, with all its appalling ugliness, ungodly falsity, and unmitigated American gall and hypocrisy on full display to the world, and be filled with wonder that no country as yet has ever dared to say such a thing to the United States, which, unlike Iran, utterly deserves such denunciations.

**  **  **

A note on the election “meddling” involving Russia:  There is a serious lack of proof that Russia did much of anything to influence the 2016 election in the US.  So far, we have one dubious report offered up by the intelligence agencies (no names of actual personnel who work for these agencies, just a generic “all agencies” is attached to the report as authorship).  The report is headed with a disclaimer that none of the “findings” contained within it represent hard evidence or conclusions, but that the report is merely a summary of suspicions, assumptions, or inferences, some of which are based on “previous assessments”.  What the previous assessments are, or if those assessments were found to be accurate, is left unsaid.  The disclaimer states that the report is provided “as is” for informational purposes only, and that “The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within.”   Well, alrighty then.  A report based on unidentified old reports, and not guaranteed to be factual; this is the report the media is hanging its hat on.  By far, the biggest section of the report (it uses up 6 out of the 14 pages, and page 14 is blank) is a fatuous commentary on the Russian media outlet, RTNews, wherein it is “discovered” that RTNews has a “pro-Russian bias”, leading to the conclusion that it is – aha! – a “propaganda outlet”.  This is akin to stating that the Wall Street Journal has a “pro-American bias”.  No doubt the Russians have some apparatchiks whose job it is to write findings like these for the Russian intelligence community.  In any case, this lengthy commentary on RTNews, added to the US intelligence summary on Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, was actually written in 2012 (the original date of this section of the report is not obscured), and its inclusion in said report is without merit.  Offered as proof that RTNews is Russian propaganda meant to infect Americans with pro-Russian sentiment is that they covered Occupy Wallstreet and were critical of the treatment of the Occupy protesters, they reported on the increased use of fracking in the US, and (this is my favorite part), “In an effort to highlight the alleged ‘lack of democracy’ in the United States, RT broadcast, hosted, and advertised third-party candidate debates and ran reporting supportive of the political agenda of these candidates.”   Need I say that only American politicians and spook agencies would consider it subversive to disseminate to US voters that there are actually more than two political parties extant in the US.

Aside from this report, we have suggestions from these same political sources that the Russians had internet “trolls” leaving comments attached to articles about Trump or Clinton.  Supposedly, these trolls – paid to leave comments that bashed Clinton – might have swayed people into disliking her and voting for Trump.  This is possible, although it seems unlikely that voters would change their votes based on such things.  Most people tend to argue more strenuously for their own positions when they encounter opposition in a comment section, not have their viewpoint entirely altered.  Speculation about supposed Russian trolls aside, we know for a fact that the Clinton campaign paid people to troll comment sections on her behalf throughout the campaign season.  The Russians did not hack into voting machines (which can’t be hacked into over the internet, anyway), nor did they physically alter anybody’s vote.  As far as one can tell from the evidence presented so far, the Russians didn’t even spend much money, if any, trying to meddle in our election.  Internet trolls aren’t known to make the big bucks.

The entire sideshow about Russian meddling leaves the country bereft of any coverage regarding the serious internal issues surrounding US elections: the results of the Supreme Court Citizen’s United decision, which allows unlimited amounts of corporate and oligarchic monies into the process, thereby vastly altering the potential of actual democratic outcomes; gerrymandered districts; voter suppression; ballot purging; reduction in the number of polling stations; lack of verifiable paper ballots; the peculiar way the primary elections are run (and the fact, disclosed in the leaked DNC and Pedestal emails themselves, that the DNC rigged the primary to assure Clinton would be the Democratic nominee); our arcane electoral college system for the general election; the utter inability of any third party candidate to find a way to be presented to the public, which is engineered deliberately by the two major parties and guaranteed to continue into the foreseeable future through the electoral college system; etc.

The US itself has directly meddled in the elections of other countries over 80 times between 1946 and 2000.  The lists of countries we have fucked with this way only include mild examples of election interference; things like spending money to promote one candidate over the other, articles written in behalf of one or another candidate, US politicians speaking publicly about elections abroad, etc., and do not include the most egregious examples of interference, such as assassinations, forced regime changes, invasions, and coups – all of which the US has done to interfere with the governance and/or political structure of foreign countries.  [Not included on these lists are actions like having Patrice Lumumba, the first person elected democratically in the Congo after they achieved independence from Belgium, kidnapped and shot by firing squad in 1961, shortly after he won his election.  The US also arranged for the coup d’etats in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, and Haiti in both 1991 and 2004.  Both the coups in Haiti were directed against the elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had won his second successful election for office in 2000; and in 2004, he and his wife were kidnapped and flown to South Africa, where George W. Bush declared he had to remain “exiled from the Western hemisphere for life”.  During his exile, Aristide’s party, the Fanmi Lavalas, was not allowed to field any candidates in the 2009 Haitian election by order of US president, Barack Obama. (!! Let that one sink in.)  This was widely protested in Haiti, where Aristide and the Fanmi Lavalas party were extremely popular.  Obama finally rescinded the [grossly illegal] exile of Aristide in 2011, although he demanded that the flight returning Aristide to Haiti be delayed until after the run-off elections took place in March that year.  As a condition of his return to his native country, Aristide was forced by the US to sign an agreement that he would never seek public office again.  During the 2016 US elections, there were protests against Hillary Clinton, both in the US and in Haiti, demanding an accounting for the Help Haiti Funds; Bill Clinton and George HW Bush had been put in charge of the funds after the 2010 earthquake there, and the money never seemed to quite make it to Haiti, instead disappearing into the Clinton Foundation coffers.  Also not included as election meddling is the 1996 Russian election, wherein the US finagled an IMF loan to Russia in a blatant attempt to shore up support for the re-election of the alcoholic Boris Yeltsin, whom they then promoted as the only one who could secure financial aid for his country. We were so obvious about this meddling that Time Magazine wrote a cover story about it entitled, “Yanks to the Rescue.”  Since the lists offered in articles about US interference in other nations’ elections end at the year 2000, you also won’t see an inclusion of US direct manipulation of the election in Ukraine two years ago, our messing with Russia’s last elections, or our current manipulations in Venezuela.]

Some articles regarding US election interference in foreign countries:

http://www.npr.org/2016/12/22/506625913/database-tracks-history-of-u-s-meddling-in-foreign-elections

https://ww2.kqed.org/lowdown/2017/03/02/a-history-of-u-s-meddling-in-foreign-elections/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/10/13/the-long-history-of-the-u-s-interfering-with-elections-elsewhere/?utm_term=.9ba0bcac4dda

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/05/americans-spot-election-meddling-doing-years-vladimir-putin-donald-trump

** ** **

UPDATE: Sunday, 11 June:

Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) made comments during a Congressional discussion about the terror attacks in Iran.  He is currently serving his 13th term in Congress (astonishing, but nonetheless factual).  An interesting tidbit, given what he says in the video clip below, from the biography page on his website is this: “Rohrabacher is a most forceful spokesman for human rights and democracy around the world.”  As you will see, this most forceful spokesman for human rights and democracy praises a terrorist group, ISIS, for attacking civilians in Iran.  Whether the true perpetrators are ISIS or MEK is not germane; at this point, ISIS has claimed credit, and this is taken at face value by the US, the US Congress, and the world.  Rohrabacher not only praises ISIS, he flat out states that the US should support them in this attack on Iran.  Support for ISIS, nominally the worst terrorist organization on the planet, is officially against current US law, punishable by imprisonment, but here we have a sitting US Congressman voicing support and approval for them.

Not only that, but within the first minute (the clip is less than 2 minutes long), Rohrabacher suggests that the US is behind the attack and that the Trump administration may be taking what Rohrabacher considers necessary and praiseworthy steps to go after Iran by using ISIS as a proxy force.  This is quite remarkable coming from a US Representative, especially in light of the fact that he is speaking on camera in open session.  This man may be a total whack-job as a general rule, but still, the suggestions that the US, and Trump specifically, are behind these attacks and that the US is (or should be) using ISIS as mercenaries to further our interests ought to be ringing bells all over the place.  Shit, ISIS should be using this clip as a recruitment video.  Now, it may be true, as I think and as many people in many countries believe, that ISIS is a creation of the US and is a proxy group being used by the US and Israel to disrupt the Middle East, but this is, of course, tacitly denied by US officialdom each time they name ISIS as the “greatest threat to mankind”.  Here, Rohrabacher seems to be admitting that US backing of ISIS is either a) the truth of the matter, or b) that it ought to be.  In either case, such declarations ought to concern the US government, which goes to great pains to appear to be dead-set on destroying ISIS.

His statement reveals peculiar labyrinthian thought processes wherein he makes it clear that in his view, our involvement in the Middle East is primarily to shore up and protect the Sunni side of the Sunni-Shia religious argument (and here we’ve thought all these years that it had something to do with 9/11 and terrorism), he can’t seem to distinguish between the mullahs of Iran (whom he thinks were attacked) and the Iranian civilians (who actually were attacked), and includes a bizarre comparison between Stalin killing Nazis to ISIS killing innocent people who just happened to be visiting public areas.  Thankfully, his remarks are brief; surprisingly, they weren’t deleted from youtube already by the CIA.

 
 

The governmental responses to the Paris terrorist attacks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sounds like a plan, if a dismal one.

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

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

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

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

 
2 Comments

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

 

Two men.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A sampling of the response to Foley’s death:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How does Syria feel about all this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is part of Shaker Aamer’s story:

July, 2014:

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

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

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

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

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

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

August, 2014:

Shaker Aamer ‘Beaten’ in Latest Guantanamo Crackdown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THEY FIGHT FOR PEACE

by Shaker Abdurraheem Aamer, Guantanamo detainee.

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

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

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

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

 
Leave a comment

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

 

US policy: “You can’t say because they haven’t done something they’re not going to do it.”

When Hillary Clinton testified before a Senate committee on the Benghazi consulate shootings, she inadvertently summed up the entire foreign US policy in one pithy sentence: “You can’t say because they haven’t done something they’re not going to do it.”  She said this specifically in regards to the US helping France in its attacks on Mali, but it captures the essence of our relationship with most of the world today.

“We are in for a struggle, but it is a necessary struggle. We cannot permit northern Mali to become a safe haven,” she said.[…]

U.S. military planes have helped to ferry French soldiers and equipment to Mali after France launched air strikes and deployed some 2,150 ground forces this month to halt a surprise Islamist offensive toward the Mali capital Bamako.

The United States is also helping to train and equip African forces from the ECOWAS regional group of West African countries who are mobilizing to join the battle. U.S. officials stressed there are no plans to dispatch American combat troops.

Clinton said the security situation in northern Mali is complicated by an inflow of weapons from neighboring Libya following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. She said such weapons were used in the Algeria attack.

“There is no doubt that the Algerian terrorists had weapons from Libya. There is no doubt that the Malian remnants of AQIM have weapons from Libya,” she said, referring to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the regional affiliate of the al Qaeda network.

The United States must prepare for the possibility that groups like AQIM could threaten direct attacks on U.S. interests as they gain power, Clinton said.

You can’t say because they haven’t done something they’re not going to do it. This is not only a terrorist syndicate, it is a criminal enterprise. So make no mistake about it, we’ve got to have a better strategy.”

Clinton said she had no information to substantiate a report in the New York Times quoting an Algerian official as saying that some of the militants involved in the Algeria attack had also taken part in the Benghazi attack.

The United States was pressing officials in Libya and elsewhere in the region to keep up the hunt for the Benghazi attackers and improve overall security, she said.

“I have found the Libyan officials to be willing but without capacity. And part of our challenge is to help them build greater capacity because now it’s about them,” Clinton said.

“They are having leaders attacked and assassinated on a regular basis, so we have to do more to help them build up their security capacity.”

(Additional reporting by Tabassum Zakaria; Editing by Will Dunham and Christopher Wilson)

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-01-23/news/sns-rt-us-usa-libya-clinton-malibre90m0xl-20130123_1_mali-capital-bamako-benghazi-attack-islamic-maghreb

Although the US previously voiced support for the people in the Arab Spring countries, we now blame their quest for democracy and freedom for the lack of security in the area.  The fact that we interfered, sometimes openly, but more often covertly, in the outcomes in these countries is one of the great unmentionables.

Hillary Clinton on Benghazi: ‘Arab Spring shattered security in region’

Hillary Clinton said the Arab Spring “shattered” security in North Africa, pointing to instability in Mali and Algeria, as she was finally grilled on the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya.[…]

“Benghazi didn’t happen in a vacuum,” Mrs Clinton said at the start of the hearing. “The Arab revolutions have scrambled power dynamics and shattered security forces across the region.” […]

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9821292/Hillary-Clinton-on-Benghazi-Arab-Spring-shattered-security-in-region.html

The Senate committee was completely incurious as to how Libya’s officials came to be “without capacity” (the US took down its real government and installed a puppet government), where the weapons used in the Benghazi attack originally came from (the US and NATO passed them out to the “rebels” during the invasion of Libya), how Libya suddenly became so destabilized (the US and NATO sent the CIA and some foreign operatives in to stir up trouble and pretend to be “rebelling Libyans”, thus creating a situation specifically designed to lead to a civil war), why some Libyans might be seeking revenge on the US (we bombed schools, food depots, water supply routes, orphanages, television stations, killed Ghaddafi, whom a significant percentage of the Libyan population supported, obliterated a number of cities, and caused the deaths of over 50,000 Libyans).  No-one asked her about the rumored CIA black site in Benghazi or why our “ambassador” might be involved in the collecting of weapons which had previously been passed out to “rebels” like so much candy.

Never in our history have we been less inclined toward introspection, ethics, or logic; rather, facile and dogmatic rhetoric hold sway over not only our leaders, but the entire media and public domain.  There is no such thing as “blowback” or “imperial overreach” as far as we are concerned.  We are entitled to whatever we set our sights on, no matter where it is or how we have to go about obtaining it, and any who question this droit du seigneur or the methods we employ are considered foolish or childish and are scorned.

No-one asked Hillary why she thought the torture and assassination of Ghaddafi was so funny or questioned her mental capacity.    Nor did anyone ask her why the State Dept. posted a bounty on his head – “wanted: dead or alive, large reward”.

Not one senator queried her regarding the statements she and Leon Panetta made admitting that the US was backing al Qaeda in Libya and Syria.  [See: http://teri.nicedriving.org/2012/08/is-you-is-or-is-you-aint-aiding-a-terrorist/ ]

No-one asked why we had invaded and ruined Libya in the first place.  The truth is that our senators all know why we did it: because it was there and it looked to have some good stuff that we wanted.  It’s just what we do.

Obama, in his inaugural speech, said this:

Obama: […] We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.

Our brave men and women in uniform tempered by the flames of battle are unmatched in skill and courage.

Our citizens seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace, and not just the war. Who turn sworn enemies into the surest of friends. And we must carry those lessons into this time as well. We will defend our people, and uphold our values through strength of arms, and the rule of law.

We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully. Not because we are naive about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.

America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe. And we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad. For no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice.[…]
http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/president-obamas-second-inaugural-address-transcript/2013/01/21/f148d234-63d6-11e2-85f5-a8a9228e55e7_story_3.html

“We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.”  This comes from a guy who is currently running clandestine shadow wars and directing drone killings in a dozen or so different countries.  He drops a bomb on someone somewhere once every hour and a half or so. [See: http://www.alternet.org/world/bomber-chief-20000-airstrikes-presidents-first-term-cause-death-and-destruction-iraq-somalia  ]  Despite the rhetoric about Lasting Peace, his very next sentence is an homage to the Warriors.  The remark on “uphold[ing] our values through strength of arms, and the rule of law” is simply laughable coming from him.  Perhaps the rule of law bit was added as an afterthought to the original speech.  Take that phrase out, as it is a blatant untruth at this point, and what’s left is the crux of matter.

In our quest for Lasting Peace, we are undertaking plans to place our military in 35 African nations [see: http://rt.com/usa/news/us-deploying-troops-order-749/ ] and are seeking to build a spy drone base in northern Africa; the drones can be militarized rapidly if need be.

U.S. Weighs Base for Spy Drones in North Africa
By ERIC SCHMITT
WASHINGTON — The United States military is preparing to establish a drone base in northwest Africa so that it can increase surveillance missions on the local affiliate of Al Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups that American and other Western officials say pose a growing menace to the region.

For now, officials say they envision flying only unarmed surveillance drones from the base, though they have not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point if the threat worsens.

The move is an indication of the priority Africa has become in American antiterrorism efforts. The United States military has a limited presence in Africa, with only one permanent base, in the country of Djibouti, more than 3,000 miles from Mali, where French and Malian troops are now battling Qaeda-backed fighters who control the northern part of Mali.

A new drone base in northwest Africa would join a constellation of small airstrips in recent years on the continent, including in Ethiopia, for surveillance missions flown by drones or turboprop planes designed to look like civilian aircraft.[…]

The immediate impetus for a drone base in the region is to provide surveillance assistance to the French-led operation in Mali. “This is directly related to the Mali mission, but it could also give Africom a more enduring presence for I.S.R.,” one American military official said Sunday, referring to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

A handful of unarmed Predator drones would carry out surveillance missions in the region and fill a desperate need for more detailed information on a range of regional threats, including militants in Mali and the unabated flow of fighters and weapons from Libya. American military commanders and intelligence analysts complain that such information has been sorely lacking.[…]

American military officials said that they were still working out some details, and that no final decision had been made. But in Niger on Monday, the two countries reached a status-of-forces agreement that clears the way for greater American military involvement in the country and provides legal protection to American troops there, including any who might deploy to a new drone base. […]

Some Africa specialists expressed concern that setting up a drone base in Niger or in a neighboring country, even if only to fly surveillance missions, could alienate local people who may associate the distinctive aircraft with deadly attacks in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. […]

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/29/us/us-plans-base-for-surveillance-drones-in-northwest-africa.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

Obama is now considering intervening in Syria as well, with or without Congressional approval.  Not that Congress disapproves of any sort of warfare at this point in our history, so this is a hypothetical argument Obama need not waste too much time preparing for:

[…] Now, Obama is reportedly debating whether to intervene in yet another civil war — undeterred by the now superfluous constitutional limits on his war-making authority. Israel has also publicly stated that it is considering a preemptive strike on Syria and reserves the right to make such an attack if it feels threatened by events in that civil war.[…]

President Barack Obama said he has been struggling with the decision whether to enter into another war as the 22-month civil war in Syria drags on. Here is what he considers to be the operative question:
“In a situation like Syria, I have to ask: can we make a difference in that situation?”

That is a bit different from the question that the Framers wanted him to ask: “Do I have authority from Congress to engage in a war?” That question is now just a quaint concern for a president who has acquired unprecedented unchecked powers. Once again, the Democrats are silent because it is Obama not Bush who is speaking of war. It is the type of hypocrisy that is not just laughable. It is lethal.[…]

 We have taken a balanced and well-reasoned system and turned it on its head. The result is precisely what the Framers anticipated: continued foreign wars carried out on a unilateral basis.

http://jonathanturley.org/2013/01/28/obama-reportedly-considering-intervention-into-syrian-civil-war/#more-60022

As an update to Turley’s article above, it appears that Israel has indeed taken preemptive action against Syria.  See this: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/01/31-0 and this: http://www.rferl.org/content/syria-israel-/24888752.html

Barack is not alone; Hillary has been hankering to do away with Assad, Syria’s president, for a long time:

“[…] Late last week, [note: this article was written in Aug. ’12] during a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Turkey, Ankara and Washington agreed that ‘a unified task force with intelligence, military and political leaders from both countries would be formed immediately to track Syria’s present and plan for its future.’

“After meeting with her Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoðlu, Secretary Clinton said that the United States and Turkey are discussing various options for supporting opposition forces working to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad, including the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone over rebel-held territory in Syria.[…]” – http://consortiumnews.com/2012/08/15/would-us-intervention-help-syria/

Remember that she also gave forth with the opinion that “Assad’s days are numbered”; this is our Secretary of State speaking here.  And yesterday, Chuck Hagel stepped up to the plate and proved that, rumors to the contrary, he was no damn hippie liberal – he could monger war with the best of them.  He bared his teeth – no, not at Congress, silly, God forbid he not fit in with that crowd – at Iran and imaginary enemies everywhere.

Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense told Congress he will ensure the US can strike Iran, if necessary. Former Senator Chuck Hagel, who was criticized for his dovish stance on Iran, has made an apparent U-turn by saber-rattling towards Tehran.

Hagel addressed Congress ahead of his confirmation hearing on Thursday, stressing that although there is “time and space” for negotiation with Iran, “the window is closing” on a diplomatic solution.

If confirmed, I will focus intently on ensuring that [the] US military is in fact prepared for any contingency,” Hagel said in a write-up of questions and answers for the confirmation hearing obtained by Reuters. […]

Hagel also outlined his “unshakable” commitment to maintaining the longstanding US alliance with Israel. […]

­Defending his record, Hagel said he’s always believed in the need for a strong American military presence in the world and the use of “all tools of American power” for protecting US interests.[…]

The defense secretary nominee assured he always supported multilateral sanctions, and believed that Iran was a state sponsor of terrorism.[…]

RT’s Gayane Chichakyan suggested that the nomination of Hagel might be a way of toning down the war rhetoric in Washington. However, the possibility of a less aggressive strategy has angered some in Washington.

“Since the beginning of the attack campaign against Chuck Hagel over these two months or so, many of the attackers have withdrawn their objections,” said Chichakyan, suggesting that maybe they received confirmation behind closed doors that Hagel would not do anything drastic upon assuming the post of secretary of defense.

http://rt.com/usa/news/chuck-hagel-iran-prepared-142/

Any talk smacking of peace is now considered “drastic” and unacceptable to our Congress, whose outlook on the rest of the inhabitants of this planet is, “You can’t say because they haven’t done something they’re not going to do it”.  This is also the Congressional point of view on Americans, but that’s a post for a different day.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 1, 2013 in Congress, Iran, Libya, MIC, State Dept/diplomacy, Syria