Leaked Internal CIA Document Admits US Drone Program “Counterproductive” … Obama Did It ANYWAY

http://40.media.tumblr.com/e4f4d465366765b47cc8685ca4c40ea5/tumblr_mxq8nzHxRr1st9by8o1_1280.jpgPainting by Anthony Freda.

Obama Knew Drone Strikes Were Counter-Productive, But Did It Anyway

Previously-leaked documents showed that the CIA warned Obama that funding rebels doesn’t work … but Obama decided to fund the Syrian rebels anyway for cynical political gain.

Top CIA officers say that drone strikes increase terrorism (and see this). Indeed, virtually all aspects of the American “war on terror” strategy creates more terrorists and weakens our national security. And see this.

Now, a leaked internal CIA memo shows that the Agency told Obama that drone strikes might be counter-productive.  The Sydney Morning Herald reports today:

According to a leaked document by the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence, “high value targeting” (HVT) involving air strikes and special forces operations against insurgent leaders can be effective, but can also have negative effects including increasing violence and greater popular support for extremist groups.

The leaked document is classified secret and “NoForn” (meaning not to be distributed to non-US nationals) and reviews attacks by the United States and other countries engaged in counter-insurgency operations over the past 50 years.

***

The 2009 CIA study lends support to critics of US drone strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen by warning that such operations “may increase support for the insurgents, particularly if these strikes enhance insurgent leaders’ lore, if non-combatants are killed in the attacks, if legitimate or semi-legitimate politicians aligned with the insurgents are targeted, or if the government is already seen as overly repressive or violent”.

***

The CIA also warns that targeting insurgent leaders “may, by eroding the rules of the game between the government and insurgents, escalate the level of violence in a conflict, which may or may not be in a government’s interest.”

“Israeli HVT efforts from 2000 to 2002 strengthened solidarity between terrorist groups and bolstered popular support for hard-line militant leaders, according to US Embassy officials in Jerusalem and clandestine reporting,” the study says.

Common Dreams notes:

Here’s a link to the document, titled Best Practices in Counterinsurgency: Making High-Value Targeting Operations an Effective Counterinsurgency Toolocument (pdf).

***

Wikileaks points out that this internal prediction “has been proven right” in the years since the internal review was conducted near the outset of President Obama’s first term. And despite those internal warnings—which have been loudly shared by human rights and foreign policy experts critical of the CIA’s drone and assassination programs—Wikileaks also notes that after the internal review was prepared, “US drone strike killings rose to an all-time high.”

***

According to a statement released by Wikileaks:

The report discusses assassination operations (by various states) against the Taliban, al-Qa’ida, the FARC, Hizbullah, the PLO, HAMAS, Peru’s Shining Path, the Tamil’s LTTE, the IRA and Algeria’s FLN. Case studies are drawn from Chechnya, Libya, Pakistan and Thailand.

The assessment was prepared by the CIA’s Office of Transnational Issues (OTI). Its role is to provide “the most senior US policymakers, military planners, and law enforcement with analysis, warning, and crisis support”. The report is dated 7 July 2009, six months into Leon Panetta’s term as CIA chief ….

Posted in Politics / World News | 2 Comments

No More Khirbet Khizehs

“Fields that would never be harvested, plantations that would never be irrigated, paths that would become desolate. A sense of destruction and worthlessness. An image of thistles and brambles everywhere, a desolate tawniness, a braying wilderness. And already from those fields accusing eyes peered out at you, that silent accusatory look as of a reproachful animal, staring and following you so there was no refuge.” — Yizhar Smilansky, Khirbet Khizeh

On the day in 2014 that I read the new English translation of Khirbet Khizeh, Tom Engelhardt published a blog post rewriting recent news articles on the U.S. Senate’s torture report as a 2019 Senate report on drone murders. The 2019 “news” media in Tom’s believable account is shocked — shocked, I tell you — by the rampant murder discovered to have been committed using missiles from drones of all things.

The point is that most of what’s been discussed as news from the recent torture report, and certainly all of the fundamental moral points — has been known — or, more accurately, knowable for years. For the past several years, the U.S. establishment has been repeatedly “banning” torture. It has also been repeatedly discovering the same evidence of torture, over and over again. Leading torturers have gone on television to swear they’d do it all again, while radical activist groups have demanded “investigations.”

The point is that at some point “truth and reconciliation” is lies and reconciliation — the lies of pretending that the truth needed to be unearthed, that it was hidden for a time, that the crimes weren’t committed in the broad daylight of television spotlights on a sweaty old man assuring us he was about to start working on the dark side.

Illustrated at right, from the iNakba app, are villages that were destroyed in 1948 to create Israel. Generations of Israelis have grown up not knowing, not wanting to know, pretending not to know, and knowing without confronting the Catastrophe. Israelis are discovering what happened, unburying the hidden truth, filming aging participants’ distorted confessions, and hunting out the outlines of disappeared villages on GoogleEarth.

But what if the truth was always marching naked down the street with trumpets sounding?

In May 1949, Yizhar Smilansky published Khirbet Khizeh, a fictional account of the destruction of a fictional village much like many real ones. Smilansky knew or hoped that he was ahead of his time, so much so that he began the tale by framing it as a recollection from the distant future. The narrator, like the reader, was known by the author to be unable to see for years to come.

What would keep the book alive until that distant day?

Poetry.

It’s not a Senate report. Khirbet Khizeh is a work of masterful insight and storytelling that grips you and compels you to enter the experience of its narrator and his companions, as they do what the author had done, as they imitate Nazis before all the ashes had fallen from the skies above the ovens in Europe.

This book was planted and grew. It’s been taught in Israeli schools. It was a movie on Israeli television in 1978. And now, with a sense that perhaps sleepy eyes are stretching open at long last, the book has had itself translated into the language of the imperial homeland, English.

But how could poetry keep heresy alive?

Several ways, I think. Absolute failure to pay attention, for one. Think about how literature is taught in many U.S. schools, for example. The ability of people to hear the poetry without the meaning, for another. Think about people singing John Lennon’s Imagine without having the slightest idea they’ve just proposed to abolish religions, nations, and private property, or how people throw around the phrase “peace on earth” in December. Perverse but predictable and perhaps predicted misinterpretation, for another. Think about how viewers of the propaganda film Zero Dark Thirty read accounts of torture, for example — as a dirty job that needed doing for a greater cause.

It’s a strain, to me at least, to read Khirbet Khizeh as a celebration of genocide or mass-eviction. And the book not only suffered but also benefitted from being ahead of its time. It pre-existed the mythologies and rhetorical defenses that grew up around the Catastrophe in the decades that followed. When the narrator makes a slight resistance to what he is engaged in, no reader can find anything but humanitarian motivation in his resistance. The idea that this soldier, questioning his fellow soldiers, is engaged in anti-Semitism would literally make no sense. He’s revolted by the cruelty, no more no less — cruelty that every adult and child has to have always known was part of any mass settlement of ancient lands in 1948.

When I was a child, in elementary school, I wrote a story about an eviction of a family from its house, complete with plenty of tear-jerking details. As a good American I wrote about British redcoats evicting patriotic U.S. revolutionaries. My teacher suggested to me that I had a talent for writing. But that wasn’t writing. Had I written of the Native Americans, the Hawaiians, the Filipinos, the Vietnamese, of Diego Garcia or Vieques or the Marshall Islands or Thule or Okinawa or any of the many places about which silence was expected, that might have been writing.

Let us wish no more Khirbet Khizehs on the people of Palestine and many more Khirbet Khizehs on the world.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Leaked Emails: Obama Exerted Influence over “The Interview”

Antiwar.com’s Dan Sanchez has just reported on leaked emails that reveal that the Obama regime exerted influence over the movie The Interview “to encourage assassination and regime change in North Korea”.

Regarding the threats of bombings of theaters if the film was shown, Obama has been personally encouraging people to “go the movies” anyway, while hardliners like Mitt Romney have specifically encouraged people to go see The Interview.

This is not the first time strongman Obama has been closely involved with promoting or influencing Hollywood movies spouting negative propaganda about countries Obama and the US want to invade and conquer.  Michelle Obama personally presented the Academy award for “best picture” for the film Argo.

Argo whitewashed the history of US aggression and genocide against Iran.  Since 1953, the US has been an accomplice in the torture and killing of over a million Iranian citizens, thousands with chemical weapons.

The Interview almost certainly whitewashes the history of US genocide against Korea, and apparently depicts US forces causing the North Korean leader’s head to explode.

In its aggressive attacks against North Korea in the early 1950s, the US intentionally targeted civilians and flattened entire villages and cities, including Pyongyang.  The attacks killed up to 4 million people, mostly civilians, most of whom were killed by the US, many through direct and intentional targeting, such as the machine-gunning of women and children by US soldiers at No Gun Ri.

Scholar Chalmers Johnson finds the North Korea of today a proud, struggling nation that, unlike the US public, is very aware of what was done to it by the US, and sees the aggressive, threatening stance the US has since maintained towards that country.

Johnson also notes that the worst act committed against Koreans by a “Korean” government was the bayoneting of thousands of students by the US-backed South Korean dictatorship in the late ’80s.

The Interview would almost certainly be another exercise in genocide denial for the US, a country that has gotten away with all of the crimes, including multiple genocides, it has thus far committed.

However, though we may be happy when Holocaust deniers and the like decide to hold their tongues, it is extremely unfortunate that Sony’s decision not to release such a film was brought about not by free will but threats of violence from unknown sources, which are to be condemned as threats against speech itself.

According to the leaked emails, Sony was hesitant about depicting the assassination of the North Korean leader, but was “encouraged” by the Obama regime to go forward with it.

It may be useful to imagine how we would feel about the reverse: a slapstick buddy comedy about the infiltration of the country considered the most dangerous in the world – the USA, not North Korea – and the “comedic” assassination of Obama by having his head catch on fire and explode.

It is also relevant to note that North Korea’s official complaint about the film, that it incites terrorism against North Korea (which is what the Obama regime apparently intended), is the same reason the US government has given countless times over the course of its existence to justify brutally crushing free speech and protest – facts all but fully ignored or suppressed in dominant US discourse.

And, as Antiwar.com and Wired report, “North Korea almost certainly did not hack Sony”.

Robert Barsocchini focuses on global force dynamics and writes professionally for the film industry.  He is a regular contributor to  Washington’s Blog, and is published in Counter Currents, Global Research, State of Globe, Blacklisted News, LewRockwell.com, DanSanchez.me, Information Clearing House, Press TV, and other outlets.  Also see: Hillary Clinton’s Record of Support for War and other Depravities.  Follow Robert and UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.

Posted in General, Politics / World News | Leave a comment

Bloomberg News Blames Putin for Russia’s Economic Problems

Eric Zuesse

On December 17th, Bloomberg News bannered “Putin’s Secret Gamble on Reserves Backfires Into Currency Crisis” and reported that, “As President Putin exulted at the Winter Olympics in Sochi 10 months ago, aides assured him Russia was rich enough to withstand the financial repercussions from a possible incursion into Ukraine, according to two officials involved in the talks. That conclusion now looks like a grave miscalculation. Russia has driven interest rates to punishing levels and spent at least $87 billion, or 17 percent, of its foreign-exchange reserves trying to prevent a collapse in the ruble from spiraling into a panic. So far, nothing has worked.”

The team of three Bloomberg news reporters write there that, “Putin now confronts the nation’s most serious economic crisis since 1998,” and that the reason is “Putin’s pride.” They say that, “When rising crude prices were firing the economy, Russia’s swelling reserves became a symbol of economic might and a point of pride for Putin.”

This pride by Putin, they assert, came to the fore when he discussed in February with his advisors the following question: “Could Russia afford the economic blowback from taking over Crimea?”

Bloomberg reports that Putin then “was told Russia had enough foreign currency reserves to annex Crimea and withstand any sanctions that might follow.” This, they say, was the “grave miscalculation” that “emboldened Putin to annex Crimea,” and that in “Russia has driven interest rates to punishing levels.”

Their news report does not say anything about the United States coup d’etat in Ukraine that was occurring at the same time as that, when Crimeans, who had voted overwhelmingly for the Ukrainian President whom the U.S. was now overthrowing, were publicly demonstrating against the overthrow, and were pleading for Crimea, which Nikita Krushchev had donated from Russia to Ukraine in 1954, to be taken back into the Russian fold by Russia and no longer associated with Ukraine. Also, nothing is said in this Bloomberg news report about two Gallup polls which were taken in Crimea, one in 2013 before the coup, and the other in 2014 after the coup, with Crimeans both times overwhelmingly self-identifying as being “Russians” and neither “Crimeans” nor “Ukrainians,” and in which they overwhelmingly approved of Russia, and disapproved of the United States. Also, nothing is said there about Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which the U.S-installed coup-government wanted to kick out, but which had been based in Crimea ever since 1783, and which has always been crucial to Russia’s military defense and strategy. This Bloomberg news report deals strictly with Putin’s “pride” and his “miscalculation,” which caused him to decide for an “incursion into Ukraine” whose aim was “taking over Crimea.”

Other news headlines on December 17th from Bloomberg News included these:

“Putin’s Economic System Frays Further”

“Stunned Russians Stock Up on Goods Awaiting Putin Fix for Ruble”

“Putin Paints a Beseiged Russia, Says U.S. Wants to ‘Rip Out Its Teeth and Claws’”

“Russia Seen Spending Further $70 Billion to Fight Ruble Rout”

“Russian Tourists Get Stuck Holding Rubles From Berlin to London”

“Obama’s Unambiguous Message to Putin About Cuba: We Win and You Lose.”

You’ll find the latest headlines from Bloomberg News here.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity

 

Posted in Business / Economics, Energy / Environment, General, Politics / World News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Is the Gold-Oil Ratio Telling Us?

Based on historical gold-oil ratios, oil appears extraordinarily cheap right now.

One way to establish if a commodity or asset is relatively expensive or inexpensive is to price it in something other than a fiat currency–for example, gold. Gold goes up and down in value relative to other commodities and fiat currencies, so it is itself a volatile yardstick. Nonetheless, it provides a useful measure of the relative value of gold and whatever is being measured in gold–in this case, oil.

The prices listed are approximate, i.e. rounded to averages in the time frame listed. Of the various measures of oil, I am using WTIC.

According to SRSrocco REPORT, the average gold-oil ratio in the period 2000-2014 is 12. That is, on average, one ounce of gold bought about 12 barrels of oil.

For historical context, in 1976, following the first oil-shock in 1973, oil was $12.80/barrel and gold was around $124, for a ratio of 9.7.

In 1986, the average price of gold was around $368 while oil fell to $14/barrel, for a ratio of 26.3.

At gold’s peak above $1,800/ounce in 2011, oil was around $90/brl, for a ratio of 20.

At oil’s peak above $140/barrel in 2008, gold was around $950/ounce, for a ratio of 6.8.

As a rule of thumb, oil is relatively expensive (and gold is relatively inexpensive) when the ratio is below 9, and oil is relatively inexpensive (and gold is relatively expensive) when the ratio is above 20.

When oil fell below $55/barrel a few days ago, the ratio reached 22. By historical standards, oil is cheap.

Here is a listing of various highs and lows in gold and oil:

Oil priced in gold: how many barrels of oil can be purchased with one ounce of gold?

2000: Oil $30/brl, gold $275
Ratio: 9.2

2006: Oil $70/brl, gold $600
Ratio: 8.6

2008: Oil $140/brl (at the peak), gold $950
Ratio: 6.8

2011: Oil $90/brl, gold $1,800 (at the peak)
(note that oil traded above $100/brl earlier in 2011, but at gold’s peak was around $90/brl)
Ratio: 20.0

2014 (1st quarter): Oil $105/brl, gold $1,300
Ratio: 12.3

2014 (current): Oil $55/brl, gold $1,200
Ratio: 21.8

Here is a chart of gold from 2012 to the present:

Here is a chart of oil (WTIC) from 2012 to the present:

And here is a chart of the gold-oil ratio from 2012 to the present:

While the gold-oil ratio exceeded 25 three decades ago, in the era of rising demand from the emerging markets of China, India and other nations, the ratio has only touched 20 when gold was trading above $1,800/ounce.

Based on historical gold-oil ratios, oil appears extraordinarily cheap right now. Could oil fall further? Of course. Could gold go up or down? Of course. There are a great many factors that influence the ratio, which is simply a short-hand method of measuring the relative value of two important commodities.


How to forge a career in a dysfunctional economy:
Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy
,
a mere $9.95 for the Kindle ebook edition and $15.47 for the print edition.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Putin Shot Down a Plane! Putin Shot Down a … What? Never Mind

Search for “Malaysian Airlines Flight 17″ on the New York Times website and you’ll find a page promoting three articles from July, two hyping the idea that Russia did it and one just focused on the horror of it.

Below that you’ll find 109 articles arranged from newest to oldest. The newest is from December 10th and consists of 4 sentences that convey little. The next is from November and all about an inappropriate tweet. The next half dozen take us back through September and we’re little the wiser for it.

Yet the world outside of the U.S. media is full of evidence suggesting that Russia did not do it.

The silence is deafening. Dutch plans to produce a dubious report by next summer are being outpaced by steps toward war.

Here’s a petition that concerned people are signing:

Call For Independent Inquiry of the Airplane Crash in Ukraine and its Catastrophic Aftermath

To: All the heads of states of NATO countries, and of Russia and the Ukraine, to Ban-ki Moon and the heads of states of countries on the UN Security Council

With the U.S. and Russia in possession of over 15,000 of the world’s 16,400 nuclear weapons, humanity can ill-afford to stand by and permit these conflicting views of history and opposing assessments of the facts on the ground to lead to a 21st Century military confrontation between the great powers and their allies.  While sadly acknowledging the trauma suffered by the countries of Eastern Europe from years of Soviet occupation, and understanding their desire for the protection of the NATO military alliance, we the signers of this global call to action also note that the Russian people lost 20 million people during WWII to the Nazi onslaught and are understandably wary of NATO expansion to their borders in a hostile environment.   Russia has lost the protection of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which the US abandoned in 2001, and warily observes missile bases metastasizing ever closer to its borders in new NATO member states, while the US rejects repeated Russian efforts for negotiations on a treaty to ban weapons in space, or Russia’s prior application for membership in NATO. 

For these reasons, we the peoples, as members of Civil Society, Non-Governmental Organizations, and global citizens, committed to peace and nuclear disarmament, demand that an independent international inquiry be commissioned to review events in Ukraine leading up to the Malaysian jet crash and of the procedures being used to review the catastrophic aftermath.  The inquiry should factually determine the cause of the accident and hold responsible parties accountable to the families of the victims and the citizens of the world who fervently desire peace and a peaceful settlement of any existing conflicts.  It should include a fair and balanced presentation of what led to the deterioration of U.S. –Russian relations and the new hostile and polarized posture that the U.S. and Russia with their allies find themselves in today.

The UN Security Council, with US and Russian agreement, has already passed Resolution 2166 addressing the Malaysian jet crash, demanding accountability, full access to the site and a halt to military activity which has been painfully disregarded at various times since the incident.   One of the provisions of SC Res 2166 notes that the Council “[s]upports efforts to establish a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines.”  Further, the 1909 revised Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes adopted at the 1899 Hague International Peace Conference has been used successfully to resolve issues between states so that war was avoided in the past.  Both Russia and Ukraine are parties to the Convention. 

Regardless of the forum where the evidence is gathered and fairly evaluated, we the undersigned urge that the facts be known as to how we got to this unfortunate state of affairs on our planet today and what might be the solutions.  We urge Russia and Ukraine as well as their allies and partners to engage in diplomacy and negotiations, not war and hostile alienating actions.   The world can little afford the trillions of dollars in military spending and trillions and trillions of brain cells wasted on war when our very Earth is under stress and needs the critical attention of our best minds and thinking and the abundance of resources mindlessly diverted to war to be made available for the challenge confronting us to create a livable future for life on earth.

Why is this important?

It’s important because there is so much misinformation and disinformation in the media that we are careening towards a new cold war with Russia over this.

Initial Signatories for petition:
(Organizations for Identification Only)

Hon. Douglas Roche, OC, Canada
David Swanson, co-founder, World Beyond War
Bruce Gagnon,  Global Network Against Nuclear Power and Weapons in Space
Alice Slater, JD, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, NY
Professor Francis A. Boyle, University of Illinois College of Law
Natasha Mayers, Union of Maine Visual Artists
David Hartsough, co-founder, World Beyond War
Larry Dansinger, Resources for Organizing and Social Change
Ellen Judd, Project Peacemakers
Coleen Rowley, Women Against Military Madness
Medea Benjamin, Code Pink
Brian Noyes Pulling, M. Div.
Anni Cooper, Peaceworks
Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance
Leah Bolger, CDR, USN (Ret), Veterans for Peace
Raymond McGovern, former CIA analyst, VA
Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance
Gloria McMillan, Tucson Balkan Peace Support Group
Ellen E. Barfield, Veterans for Peace
Cecile Pineda, author. Devil’s Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step
Jill McManus
Steve Leeper, Visiting professor, Hiroshima Jogakuin University,Nagasaki University
Kyoto University of Art and Design
William H. Slavick, Pax Christi Maine
Helen Caldicott, Helen Caldicott Foundation
David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Brigadier Vijai K Nair, VSM [Retd] Ph.D. , Magoo Strategic Infotech Pvt Ltd
Kevin Martin,  Peace Action
Carol Reilly Urner, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Ann E. Ruthsdottir
Kay Cumbow
Steven Starr, Senior Scientist, Physicians for Social Responsibility
Tiffany Tool,  Peaceworkers
Sukla Sen, Committee for Communal Amnity, Mumbai India
Joan Russow, PhD, Coordinator, Global Compliance Research Project
Rob Mulford, Veterans for Peace, North Star Chapter, Alaska
Jacqueline Cabasso,  Western States Legal Foundation, United for Peace and Justice
Ingeborg Breines, Co-president International Peace Bureau
Judith LeBlanc, Peace Action
Felicity Ruby
Jerry  Stein,  The Peace Farm, Amarillo , Texas
Michael Andregg, professor, St. Paul, Minnesota
Elizabeth Murray,  Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council, ret.: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, Washington
Robert Shetterly, artist,  “Americans Who Tell the Truth,” Maine
Katharine Gun, United Kingdom
Dave Webb, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, UK
Amber Garland, St. Paul, Minnesota
John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus
Beverly Bailey, Richfield, Minnesota
Joseph Gerson,  Convener, Working Group for Peace & Demiitarization in Asia and the Pacific
Stephen McKeown, Richfield, Minnesota
Dominique Lalanne,  France
Bill Rood, Rochester, Minnesota
Tom Klammer, radio host, Kansas City, Missouri
Barbara Vaile, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Mali Lightfoot, Helen Caldicott Foundation
Tony Henderson, spokesperson for universal humanism, Hong Kong
Darlene M. Coffman, Rochester, Minnesota
Sister Gladys Schmitz, Mankato, Minnesota
Edward Loomis, NSA Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)
J. Kirk Wiebe, NSA Senior Analyst (ret.), MD
William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)
Jill Stein, Green Party 2012 Presidential nominee
Cheri Honkala, Green Shadow Cabinet
Ed Asner
Norman Solomon, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
Agneta Norberg, Sweden
Rick Rosoff, Stop NATO
Kathleen Sullivan, Hibakusha Stories
Michael Eisenscher, US Labor Against the War
Clare Coss, playwright
Jean-Marie Matagne, President, Action des Citoyens pour le Désarmement Nucléaire (France)
Carolyn Rusti Eisenberg, United for Peace and Justice

Add your name.

Posted in General | 2 Comments

American Public Supports Torture … Because They Don’t Know THIS

What Americans STILL Don’t Know…

New polls show that – even after the Senate torture report showed that torture is unnecessary and doesn’t work – Americans still think torture is necessary and works.

Why?

Because they still don’t know the truth … because the mainstream media has hidden it from them. Specifically, Americans still believe that torture works to produce helpful intelligence that helps keep us safe.

Americans wouldn’t support torture if they knew the following facts, proven beyond any doubt:

They have, from the beginning, been trying to prevent an investigation into war crimes.

  • The detainees held up as “poster boy” justifications for torture actually prove the opposite
Posted in Politics / World News | 5 Comments

US Targeting Hundreds of Millions of Russian Civilians

ter·ror·ism 

noun

the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.

White House officials are openly expressing happiness with their siege/war tactics that they say are throwing Russia into an economic collapse and are, as a scholar defending the siege notes, “hurting the Russian public’s ability to buy food or heat homes”.  This eagerness to starve and freeze children is particularly relevant given the recent publicity of the US’s tactics of starving and freezing innocent detainees as well as people claimed to be “suspects”.

US siege tactics against the Russian people involve coordination with close US ally Saudi Arabia to drive down the prices of oil and gas, some of Russia’s main sources of income.  This is similar to the Wal Mart tactic of lowering its prices until smaller businesses are destroyed, then re-raising prices once a stranglehold over the market is attained.

The siege adds another to the ongoing list of US sieges intended to harm civilians, such as the ones against Cuba and Iran (and here).

European siege tactics, intended to target and harm entire populations, dismayed many Native Americans, who viewed willingness to do anything to win wars, including targeting non-combatants, as cowardly and dishonorable.

Western Europe’s application of siege tactics to the few remaining unconquered territories is a continuation of its traditional mission to achieve an anti-democratic stranglehold over the globe, and contributes to its currently most virile outpost/settler colony, the US, being viewed as the greatest threat to world peace.

Siege (commonly referred to euphemistically as “sanction”) is an act of war and terrorism.

Robert Barsocchini focuses on global force dynamics and writes professionally for the film industry.  He is a regular contributor to  Washington’s Blog, and is published in Counter Currents, Global Research, State of Globe, Blacklisted News, LewRockwell.com, DanSanchez.me, Information Clearing House, Press TV, and other outlets.  Also see: Hillary Clinton’s Record of Support for War and other Depravities.  Follow Robert and UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.

Posted in Business / Economics, Energy / Environment, Politics / World News | 1 Comment

Inequality In U.S. Today Is Worse than in Apartheid South Africa or 1774 Slaveholding Colonial America … and TWICE As Bad As In Ancient Slaveholding Rome

Even Slaves Had It Better

Inequality in America today is twice as bad as in ancient Rome, worse than it was in Tsarist Russia, Gilded Age America, modern Egypt, Tunisia or Yemen, many banana republics in Latin America, and worse than experienced by slaves in 1774 colonial America.

Nicholas Kristof notes at the New York Times that inequality in the U.S. is worse than it was in apartheid South Africa:

The net worth of the average black household in the United States is $6,314, compared with $110,500 for the average white household, according to 2011 census data. The gap has worsened in the last decade, and the United States now has a greater wealth gap by race than South Africa did during apartheid. (Whites in America on average own almost 18 times as much as blacks; in South Africa in 1970, the ratio was about 15 times.)

And see this:

Indeed, economist and inequality expert Thomas Piketty notes that – according to an important measure – inequality in America today is the worst in world history:

For those who work for a living, the level of inequality in the U.S. – writes Piketty – is “… probably higher than in any other society at any time in the past, anywhere in the world …”

In other words, there might have been some squalid country in the distant past where the disparity between people without any job and the king was higher than between a jobless American and the top fatcat in the U.S.  But the spread between the American worker and the American oligarch is the greatest in world history.

Indeed, inequality in America has become so extreme that the “99% versus the 1%” meme is grossly inaccurate … because it’s really the .01% versus the 99.99%.

The cause of America’s runaway inequality?

The Wall Street Journal notes:

Many aspects of the recovery, and the Federal Reserve’s stimulus policies, have benefited the rich over others.

Indeed, bad government policy is primarily responsible.

Posted in Business / Economics, Politics / World News | 3 Comments

New Poll Finds 59% Of Americans Support Post-9/11 Torture – Propaganda, Cultural Sickness, Or Both?

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog

Ever since the torture report was released last week, U.S. television outlets have endlessly featured American torturers and torture proponents. But there was one group that was almost never heard from: the victims of their torture, not even the ones recognized by the U.S. Government itself as innocent, not even the family members of the ones they tortured to death. Whether by design (most likely) or effect, this inexcusable omission radically distorts coverage.

Whenever America is forced to confront its heinous acts, the central strategy is to disappear the victims, render them invisible. That’s what robs them of their humanity: it’s the process of dehumanization. That, in turns, is what enables American elites first to support atrocities, and then, when forced to reckon with them, tell themselves that – despite some isolated and well-intentioned bad acts – they are still really good, elevated, noble, admirable people. It’s hardly surprising, then, that a Washington Post/ABC News poll released this morning found that a large majority of Americans believe torture is justified even when you call it “torture.” Not having to think about actual human victims makes it easy to justify any sort of crime.

– From Glenn Greenwald’s latest piece: U.S. TV Provides Ample Platform for American Torturers, but None to Their Victims

After reading about a new poll that shows 59% of Americans support post 9/11 torture, I’ve spent the entire morning thinking about what it means. Does this confirm the total degeneration of American culture into a collective of chicken-hawk, unthinking, statist war-mongering automatons? Alternatively, does it merely reflect the effectiveness of corporate-government propaganda? Is it a combination of both? How does the poll spilt by age group?

These are all important questions to which I do not have definitive answers, but I have some thoughts I’d like to share. First, here are some of the observations from the Washington Post:

A majority of Americans believe that the harsh interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were justified, even as about half the public says the treatment amounted to torture, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

By an almost 2-1 margin, or 59-to-31 percent, those interviewed support the CIA’s brutal methods, with the vast majority of supporters saying they produced valuable intelligence.

In general, 58 percent say the torture of suspected terrorists can be justified “often” or “sometimes.”

The new poll comes on the heels of a scathing Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, which President Obama ended in 2009. The report concluded that controversial interrogation techniques — including waterboarding detainees, placing them in stress positions and keeping them inside confinement boxes — were not an effective means of acquiring intelligence.

This is important, because despite the Senate Report showing torture was not effective in acquiring intelligence (see: Revelations from the Torture Report – CIA Lies, Nazi Methods and the $81 Million No-Bid Torture Contract), the American public thinks it was. This is the power of mainstream media spin and propaganda.

Fifty-three percent of Americans say the CIA’s harsh interrogation of suspected terrorists produced important information that could not have been obtained any other way, while 31 percent say it did not. 

In a CBS poll released Monday, nearly seven in 10 considered waterboarding torture, but about half said the technique and others are, at times, justified. Fifty-seven percent said harsh interrogation techniques can provide information that can prevent terrorist attacks.

While the above is disturbing, if I felt that the culture is lost beyond hope and that my fellow American is akin to a zombified sociopath with no hope of awakening, I wouldn’t be writing on this website. I would have renounced my citizenship long ago and moved somewhere else. In contrast, I think there’s a lot to fight for in these United States and I think the war for freedom, civil rights and the rule of law can and will prevail. After all, I was admittedly more or less a zombie during the years immediately following 9/11 and for most of my time on Wall Street. If I was able to make such a profound transition (and countless of my friends have as well ), then there is always hope.

I continue to think that the vast majority of human beings are not particularly ethical or unethical. They are basically somewhere in the middle and thus very easily molded by propaganda. History pretty much proves this to be the case. My sentiments on the subject can be best summarized by something I wrote back in 2012 in the post: Humanity is Rising.

I have always felt that human disposition lies on a bell curve.  So let’s say for the sake of argument that 1% is just extraordinarily wicked, selfish, mentally deranged so along the lines of a Stalin like character.  Then let’s say the 1% on the other side is gentle, enlightened, and moral almost to a fault so a Gandhi like character.  Then the masses in the middle are not of any extreme disposition in either way, but are easily malleable and generally just “go along to get along.”  Well as far as recorded human history is concerned, the 1% of nasty, immoral parasites have dominated humanity through the various playbooks strategies that I and many others have outlined.  The 1% on the other side have generally been silenced or ostracized systematically by the control freak “leaders” and if that fails to work, they are simply murdered.  I mean even up until the 20th Century think about the kinds of guys that have been murdered.  Gandhi.  Martin Luther King Jr.  John Lennon.  Oh and if we want to go back a couple thousand years there was Jesus.  The list is endless.  Guys that talk about a higher level of consciousness and love and actually make inroads in society are murdered.  Yet no one ever seems to take a shot at the genocidal, sociopaths that run our lives through politics and banking (nor would I ever want that as I do not condone violence as a solution to a violent system).  Interesting isn’t it?  I think it is pretty obvious why this is the case.  The 1% on the decent side of the bell curve aren’t murderers.  The guys on the other side of it are.  

While certainly not giving the middle of the bell curve a pass for its unquestioned apathy and ignorance, I am convinced that the key variable here is information, which is why it is so imperative to conduct alternative narratives, and is why I spend most of my time working on this site. Glenn Greenwald’s recent piece in the Intercept helped to reinforce the impact of media propaganda in shaping public perceptions. Here are some excerpts:

Ever since the torture report was released last week, U.S. television outlets have endlessly featured American torturers and torture proponents. But there was one group that was almost never heard from: the victims of their torture, not even the ones recognized by the U.S. Government itself as innocent, not even the family members of the ones they tortured to death. Whether by design (most likely) or effect, this inexcusable omission radically distorts coverage.

Whenever America is forced to confront its heinous acts, the central strategy is to disappear the victims, render them invisible. That’s what robs them of their humanity: it’s the process of dehumanization. That, in turns, is what enables American elites first to support atrocities, and then, when forced to reckon with them, tell themselves that – despite some isolated and well-intentioned bad acts – they are still really good, elevated, noble, admirable people. It’s hardly surprising, then, that a Washington Post/ABC News poll released this morning found that a large majority of Americans believe torture is justified even when you call it “torture.” Not having to think about actual human victims makes it easy to justify any sort of crime.

This self-glorifying ritual can be sustained only by completely suppressing America’s victims. If you don’t hear from the human beings who are tortured, it’s easy to pretend nothing truly terrible happened. That’s how the War on Terror generally has been “reported” for 13 years and counting: by completely silencing those whose lives are destroyed or ended by U.S. crimes. That’s how the illusion gets sustained.

Thus, we sometimes hear about drones (usually to celebrate the Great Kills) but almost never hear from their victims: the surviving family members of innocents whom the U.S. kills or those forced to live under the traumatizing regime of permanently circling death robots. We periodically hear about the vile regimes the U.S. props up for decades, but almost never from the dissidents and activists imprisoned, tortured and killed by those allied tyrants. Most Americans have heard the words “rendition” and “Guantanamo” but could not name a single person victimized by them, let alone recount what happened to them, because they almost never appear on American television.

It would be incredibly easy, and incredibly effective, for U.S. television outlets to interview America’s torture victims. There is certainly no shortage of them. Groups such as the ACLUCenter for Constitutional RightsReprieve, and CAGE UK represent many of them. Many are incredibly smart and eloquent, and have spent years contemplating what happened to them and navigating the aftermath on their lives.

I’ve written previously about the transformative experience of meeting and hearing directly from the victims of the abuses by your own government. That human interaction converts an injustice from an abstraction into a deeply felt rage and disgust. That’s precisely why the U.S. media doesn’t air those stories directly from the victims themselves: because it would make it impossible to maintain the pleasing fairy tales about “who we really are.”

When I was in Canada in October, I met Maher Arar (pictured above) for the second time, went to his home, had breakfast with his wife (also pictured above) and two children. In 2002, Maher, a Canadian citizen of Syrian descent who worked as an engineer, was traveling back home to Ottawa when he was abducted by the U.S. Government at JFK Airport, heldincommunicado and interrogated for weeks, then “rendered” to Syria where the U.S. arranged to have him brutally tortured by Assad’s regime. He was kept in a coffin-like cell for 10 months and savagely tortured until even his Syrian captors were convinced that he was completely innocent. He was then uncermoniously released back to his life in Canada as though nothing had happened.

When he sued the U.S. government, subservient U.S. courts refused even to hear his case, accepting the Obama DOJ’s claim that it was too secret to safely adjudicate. 

There are hundreds if not thousands of Maher Arars the U.S. media could easily and powerfully interview. McClatchy this week detailed the story of Khalid al Masri, a German citizen whom the U.S. Government abducted in Macedonia, tortured, and then dumped on a road when they decided he wasn’t guilty of anything (US courts also refused to hear his case on secrecy grounds). The detainees held without charges, tortured, and then unceremoniously released from Guantanamo and Bagram are rarely if ever heard from on U.S. television, even when the U.S. Government is forced to admit that they were guilty of nothing.

This is not to say that merely putting these victims on television would fundamentally change how these issues are perceived. Many Americans would look at the largely non-white and foreign faces recounting their abuses, or take note of their demonized religion and ethnicity, and react for that reason with indifference or even support for what was done to them.

I’m not so sure this is the case, and in any event, we can’t know unless we try.

Keeping those victims silenced and invisible is the biggest favor the U.S. television media could do for the government over which they claim to act as watchdogs. So that’s what they do: dutifully, eagerly and with very rare exception.

Watching television is easy and addicting, particularly if you came of age before the internet. Television news is simply horrifying. On those rare instances when I catch a glimpse of it at the gym, I feel as if I have entered a bizarro world of idiocy and shamelessness.

Nevertheless, it remains true that a lot of the pre-internet generation still receives intellectual marching orders from the idiot-box. This is why I’m so curious to see how the Washington Post poll splits by age bracket. Either way, hope is never lost and the torch of liberty must remain lit and carried forward by those who care. That’s precisely what I try to do here at Liberty Blitzkrieg, and I ask you to do the same in whatever capacity you can.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

Posted in Politics / World News | 3 Comments

Here’s What’s Wrong with Corporate America–and the U.S. Economy

Will we ever tire of navigating the multiple layers of intermediaries between the customer and the provider, while corporate profits soar to unprecedented heights?

If we had to summarize what’s wrong with Corporate America and the entire U.S. economy, we can start with all the intermediaries between the provider and the customer. There are a number of examples we’re all familiar with.

One is healthcare, where a veritable phalanx of intermediaries filters the interactions between doctors and patients so heavily that the traditional practice of medicine has been nullified.

By traditional I mean the arrangement that was conventional a few short decades ago: you went to the doctor of your choice (typically, the same doctor your family used), he/she treated you, and you paid the doctor’s bill in cash. Only hospitalization was covered by the minimal (and minimally limiting) healthcare insurance plans of the time.

The second example is home appliances purchased at a Big Box retailer. Here’s the list of interactions between Corporate America and the customer:

1. Customer enters Big Box Store and is sold a high-margin appliance, unless customer insists on the sale item. Either way, the appliance was assembled in China for a few hundred bucks and shipped to the U.S. for a few more bucks. The difference between the low cost and the price the customer pays is gross profit for Corporate America.

2. Customer and salesperson both know the reliability of the appliance, regardless of brand or price, is low, so anextended warranty is an easy sale. The manufacturer’s warranty is typically one year, and the extended warranty tacks on a couple years to the minimal manufacturer’s warranty.

(Recall that not too long ago in America, any major appliance was expected to last a few decades, not a few years.)

3. Customer shells out $1,000 for the appliance and another $300 for the extended warranty, and a few more bucks for delivery.

4. Corporate America to customer: we’re done with you, bucko. The delivery is subcontracted to another company, the extended warranty is handled by another company, and should the appliance fail during the manufacturer’s warranty, the customer has to contact the manufacturer directly.

The only interaction retail Corporate America has with the customer is the initial sale. Everything after that is handled by other companies. So Corporate America has no interest in customer satisfaction or happiness after the sales experience.

5. Calls made to Corporate America–the Big Box retailer or the manufacturer–will be directed to somebody else. The job of taking care of the customer has been shunted to intermediaries that the customer cannot contact directly.

Compare this with the traditional arrangement between the retailer and the customer: whatever the problem, the retailer took care of the customer. If the appliance broke down, the retailer’s repair crew would go out and fix it. The retailer was accountable to the customer all the way down the line; if there was a warranty covering the repair, the retailer handled that bureaucratic layer as part of their service.

6. The appliance fails two days after the manufacturer’s warranty expires, i.e. one year after purchase. (True story.)

7. Customer calls Corporate America retailer. Response: we’re done with you, bucko. Call the manufacturer or the extended warranty company.

8. Customer calls Corporate America manufacturer (or the U.S. office of a global appliance manufacturer). Response: Since your appliance is off warranty, the service call will be (insert outrageous fee): $99.99 (that’s our special price for good customers, pal.) Parts will also be marked up triple from what you could buy them for on the Internet, and our labor charges are so high that the repair, even if it is modest in scope, will cost a third to a half of the original price of the appliance.

If the repair is serious, the cost might exceed the original purchase price a year earlier.

Stripped of phony solicitude, the manufacturer’s response: we’re done with you, bucko. You bought our appliance, but we’re under no obligation to make you happy beyond the 365-day warranty period–and well, to be honest, we don’t really care if you’re happy with our service under warranty, either. Our repair people will get to you when they get to you, and there are plenty of loopholes in the warranty.

Here’s the view from Corporate America: we can get these appliances assembled in Robotic Factory #2 (yes, the appliance was stamped with this phrase) in China for an absurdly low cost for an order of thousands of units, and if 10% of those fail within a year due to defective parts, that’s just the cost of doing business.

We can grind the customer down with lousy service to the point that many will give up and not even pursue repair or replacement under warranty.

Since Americans have been trained to buy the lowest price, a.k.a. The Tyranny of Price, or the currently fad (over-hyped, overpriced) model, we don’t care if they’re happy or not. They’ll buy the lowest cost appliance or the over-hyped brand next time anyway.

9. Customer calls the extended warranty provider. The extended warranty provider is in a distant state and contracts with a local firm to handle the repair. The customer cannot contact the repair outfit or person directly; everything must be handled through the extended warranty provider.

10. Two weeks later, the repairperson shows up, takes apart the appliance and presents the customer with a bill for $900 which must be paid before he can order parts. But I’m under the extended warranty, the customer says, and the repairperson shrugs. “That’s not what the paperwork says.” (True story.)

11. Customer calls back extended warranty provider and gets the paperwork straightened out. Boxes of parts start arriving shortly thereafter.

12. A different repairperson comes back in two more weeks, takes a look at the disassembled appliance and the parts that had arrived, and declares the repair will cost more than a new replacement appliance, so the customer should contact the extended warranty provider for a voucher to buy a new appliance.

13. The repairperson leaves the disassembled appliance and the parts. The customer has to call the extended warranty provider again to demand the broken appliance and the new parts be hauled off. Three weeks later, somebody shows up to haul off the useless appliance and the new parts.

14. Customer reads that corporate profits for the Big Box retailer and manufacturer just hit record highs, and has a seizure. Corporate America doesn’t make money making the customer happy, beyond the few moments needed to collect $1,300 from him/her. That’s how you reap record profits: make the sale and you’re done with the customer.

Nobody is tasked with making the customer happy–that’s some other intermediary’s job. The customer is denied contact with the actual person who ends up with the job of making the customer happy–all communications must go through multiple corporate intermediaries, guaranteeing frustration and wasted time and money.

Will we ever tire of navigating the multiple layers of intermediaries between the customer and the provider, while corporate profits soar to unprecedented heights? The two dynamics are intimately linked: once we book the sale, we’re done with customers.


How to forge a career in a dysfunctional economy:
Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy
,
a mere $9.95 for the Kindle ebook edition and $15.47 for the print edition.

Posted in General | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

How U.S. Torture Led to the Rise of ISIS

Nice Job Creating Terrorists, You Morons …

We’ve previously noted that many members of ISIS were members of Saddam Hussein’s secular Baath Party who converted to radical Islam in American prisons.

And we’ve documented that torture creates more terrorists.   Indeed, Salon notes:

Among the most notable victims of torture was Sayeed Qutb, the founding father of modern political jihadism. His 1964 book, “Milestones,” describes a journey towards radicalization that included rape and torture, sometimes with dogs, in an Egyptian prison. He left jail burning with the determination to wage transnational jihad to destroy these regimes and their backers, calling for war against all those who used these methods against Muslims

***

“Milestones” remains one of the Arab world’s most influential books. Indeed, it was the lodestar of Al Qaeda leaders like Ayman Al-Zawahiri (who was also tortured in Egyptian jails) and the late Osama Bin Laden.

In other words, it was torture which drove the founder of modern jihad to terrorism in the first place.

ISIS … Created By Torture

The head of ISIS (al-Baghdadi) spent 4 years as a prisoner at the U.S. Bucca Camp in Iraq.  As the Washington Post reports:

But the narrative solidifies in 2005, when [al-Baghdadi] was captured by American forces and spent the next four years a prisoner in the Bucca Camp in southern Iraq. It was from his time there that the first known picture of Baghdadi emerged.

Kathy Kelly wrote in September:

In January of 2004 I visited “Bucca Camp,” a U.S.-run POW camp … located near the isolated port city of Umm Qasr,  in southern Iraq ….

***

These men at Bucca had been marched naked in front of women soldiers.  They’d been told to say “I love George Bush” before they could receive their food rations.  They’d slept on the open ground in punishingly cold weather with no mat beneath them and only one blanket.   The guards had taunted them and they had had no way of telling their friends they were still alive.

***

It’s widely acknowledged that the 2003 invasion of Iraq radicalized Al-Baghdadi, with his humiliation at Camp Bucca further hardening him.

Mother Jones noted in July:

According to the Telegraph, members of his local mosque in Tobchi (a neighborhood in Baghdad) who knew him from around 1989 until 2004 (when he was between the ages of 18 and 33) considered Baghdadi a quiet, studious fellow and a talented soccer player. When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Baghdadi was earning a degree in Islamic studies in Baghdad.

But within a couple years of the US invasion, Baghdadi was a prisoner in Camp Bucca, the US-run detainment facility in Umm Qasr, Iraq. And a US compound commander stationed at that prison—and other military officials—have in recent weeks wondered whether Baghdadi’s stint there radicalized him and put him on the path to taking over ISIS in 2010 and guiding the movement to its recent military victories.

***

The reason why he was apprehended is not publicly known; he could have been arrested on a specific charge or as part of a large sweep of insurgents or insurgent supporters. (A confidential Red Cross report leaked in May 2004 suggested than around 90 percent of detainees of Iraqi origin were arrestedby mistake.”) Army Colonel Kenneth King, the commanding US officer at Camp Bucca in 2009, recently told the Daily Beast that he distinctly remembered a man resembling Baghdadi: “He was a bad dude, but he wasn’t the worst of the worst.” King noted he was “not surprised” that such a radical figure emerged from the facility.

***

James Skylar Gerrond, a former US Air Force security forces officer and a compound commander at Camp Bucca in 2006 and 2007, says that he believes Baghdadi’s stay at the prison contributed to his radicalization—or at least bolstered his extremism. After Baghdadi proclaimed the Islamic State a new nation and himself its leader, Gerrond tweeted, “Many of us at Camp Bucca were concerned that instead of just holding detainees, we had created a pressure cooker for extremism.” Gerrond is now a civilian working for the Department of Defense.

The Guardian reported in 2009

Critics of the facility say it had in effect become a terror training institute, run by resentful inmates under a strict interpretation of Islamic law.”It is al-Qa’ida central down there,” said Sheikh Ali Hatem Suleiman, a tribal leader from Anbar province. “What better way to teach everyone how to become fanatical than put them all together for scant reason, then deprive them?

Indeed, many of the top ISIS commanders – including Abu Ayman al-Iraqi and Abu Abdulrahman al-Bilawi – were high-level Iraqi officers under Saddam Hussein who were imprisoned at Camp Bucca by American forces.

There was unquestionably widespread torture at Camp Bucca …

Allen Keller M.D. – Assistant Professor of Medicine at the NYU School of Medicine, attending Physician in the Bellevue Hospital Primary Care Medical Clinic, and a recognized expert on torture – documents in the journal Perspectives in Biology and Medicine various forms of torture at Camp Bucca … including surgeries without anaesthetic, rape and various types of beatings (search for the word “Bucca”).

The Red Cross and 60 Minutes reported that prisoners were shot at Camp Bucca.

The Seattle Times reported in 2004:

A U.S. resident who was held prisoner by the United States in another detention center in Iraq last year says prisoners there were also beaten and sexually humiliated.

Hossam Shaltout said widespread mistreatment by soldiers in Camp Bucca detention center in southern Iraq was as inhumane as that depicted in recent photos from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

He described Camp Bucca as a “torture camp,” where soldiers beat and humiliated prisoners. He said he saw soldiers tie groups of naked prisoners together. He said they hogtied his hands and legs and placed scorpions on his body.

American soldiers love scorpions,” Shaltout said in an interview arranged by his U.S. lawyer.

The Washington Post reported in 2004:

On May 12, four soldiers from the 320th Military Police Battalion, based in Ashley, Pa., were charged with beating prisoners after transporting them to Camp Bucca. MPs from a different unit reported the incident, saying the legs of prisoners were held apart while soldiers kicked them in the groin.

The rise of ISIS confirms what we’ve been saying for years … torture reduces our national security:

  • A 30-year veteran of CIA’s operations directorate who rose to the most senior managerial ranks, says:

Torture creates more terrorists and fosters more acts of terror than it could possibly neutralize.

Torture puts our troops in danger, torture makes our troops less safe, torture creates terrorists. It’s used so widely as a propaganda tool now in Afghanistan. All too often, detainees have pamphlets on them, depicting what happened at Guantanamo.

“The administration’s policies concerning [torture] and the resulting controversies … strengthened the hand of our enemies.”

  • General Petraeus said that torture hurts our national security
  • The head of all U.S. intelligence said:

“The bottom line is these techniques have hurt our image around the world,” [Director of National Intelligence Dennis] Blair said in the statement. “The damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security.”

  • A top counter-terrorism expert says torture increases the risk of terrorism (and see this)
  • One of the top military interrogators said that torture by Americans of innocent Iraqis is the main reason that foreign fighters started fighting against Americans in Iraq in the first place (and see this).
  • Former counter-terrorism czar Richard A. Clarke says that America’s indefinite detention without trial and abuse of prisoners is a leading Al Qaeda recruiting tool
Posted in Politics / World News | 12 Comments

The Case Against Re-Banning Torture Yet Again

Senator Ron Wyden has a petition up at MoveOn.org that reads “Right now, torture is banned because of President Obama’s executive order. It’s time for Congress to pass a law banning torture, by all agencies, so that a future president can never revoke the ban.” It goes on to explain:

“We live in a dangerous world. But when CIA operatives and contractors torture terrorist suspects, it doesn’t make us safer — and it doesn’t work. The recent CIA torture report made that abundantly clear. Right now, the federal law that bans torture only applies to the U.S. military — not our intelligence agencies. President Obama’s executive order barring all agencies from using torture could be reversed, even in secret, by a future president. That’s why it’s critical that Congress act swiftly to pass a law barring all agencies of the U.S. government, and contractors acting on our behalf, from engaging in torture. Without legislation, the door on torture is still open. It’s time for Congress to slam that door shut once and for all.”

Why in the world would anybody object to this unless they supported torture? Well, let me explain.

Torture and complicity in torture were felonies under U.S. law before George W. Bush moved into the White House, under both the torture statute and the war crimes statute. Nothing has fundamentally changed about that, other than the blatant lack of enforcement for several years running. Nothing in those two sections of the U.S. code limits the law to members of the U.S. military or excludes employees or contractors or subcontractors of so-called intelligence agencies. I emailed a dozen legal experts about that claim in the above petition. Michael Ratner replied “I don’t see where they get that from.” Kevin Zeese said simply “They’re wrong.” If anyone replies to me with any explanation, I’ll post it as an update at the top of this article on davidswanson.org — where I can be contacted if you have an explanation.

For the past several years, the U.S. Congress, White House, Justice Department, and media have gone out of their way to ignore the existence of U.S. laws banning torture. When silence hasn’t worked, the primary technique has been proposing over and over and over again to ban torture, as if it were not already banned. In fact, Congress has followed through and banned it a number of times, and done so with new exceptions that by some interpretations have in fact weakened the war crimes statute. This is my best guess where the nonsense about applying only to “intelligence agencies” comes from: laws like the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that claimed to pick and choose which types of torture to ban for whom.

When President Obama took President Bush’s place he produced an executive order purporting to ban torture (again), even while publicly telling the Justice Department not to enforce any existing laws. But an executive order, as Wyden seems to recognize, is not a law. Neither can it ban torture, nor can it give legal weight to the pretense that torture wasn’t already banned. In fact the order itself states: “Nothing in this order shall be construed to affect the obligations of officers, employees, and other agents of the United States Government to comply with all pertinent laws and treaties of the United States governing detention and interrogation, including but not limited to: the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution; the Federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. 2340 2340A; the War Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. 2441 . . . .”

Senator Wyden says he will introduce yet another bill to “ban torture.” Here’s how the Washington Post is spinning, and explaining, that:

Torture is already illegal, but Wyden notes that protections can be strengthened. To oversimplify, the U.S. is a signatory to the U.N. Convention Against Torture, in which participating states agreed to outlaw intentionally inflicting severe pain for specific purposes. The Bush administration obviously found a (supposedly) legal route around that.”

In other words, because it was done by a president, it was legal — the worldview of the Post’s old buddy Richard Nixon.

“After the Abu Graib revelations, John McCain helped pass a 2005 amendment that would restrict the military from using specific brutal interrogation tactics — those not in the Army Field Manual. (This didn’t preclude intel services from using these techniques, which might explain why CIA director John Brennan felt free to say the other day that future policymakers might revert to using them). In 2008, Congress passed a measure specifically applying those restrictions to intelligence services, too, but then-President Bush vetoed it. Senator Wyden would revive a version of that 2008 bill as a starting point, with the goal of codifying in law President Obama’s executive order banning the use of those specific techniques for all government employees, those in intelligence services included.”

But let’s back up a minute. When a president violates a law, that president — at least once out of office — should be prosecuted for violating the law. The law can’t be declared void because it was violated. Loopholes can’t be created for the CIA. Reliance on the Army Field Manual can’t sneak into law the loopholes built into that document. Presidents can’t order and un-order things illegal. Here’s how the United Nations Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights, Ben Emmerson responded to the release of the Senate’s report summary:

“The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today’s report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes. The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorised at a high level within the U.S. Government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability. International law prohibits the granting of immunities to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture. This applies not only to the actual perpetrators but also to those senior officials within the U.S. Government who devised, planned and authorised these crimes. As a matter of international law, the U.S. is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice. The UN Convention Against Torture and the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances require States to prosecute acts of torture and enforced disappearance where there is sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction. States are not free to maintain or permit impunity for these grave crimes.”

Now, one could try to spin the endless re-banning of torture as part of the process of enforcing an international treaty that under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land. But banning a practice going forward, even when you ban it better, or ban it more emphatically for the 8th time, does absolutely nothing to fulfill the legal obligation to prosecute those crimes already committed. And here we are dealing with crimes openly confessed to by past officials who assert that they would “do it again” — crimes that resulted in deaths, thus eliminating any attempt at an argument that statutes of limitations have run out.

Here’s a different sort of petition that we’ve set up at RootsAction.org along with Witness Against Torture and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee: ” We call on President Obama to allow the U.S. Department of Justice to enforce our laws, and to immediately appoint a special prosecutor. As torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction, we call on any willing court system in the world to enforce our laws if our own courts will not do so.”

The purpose of such a petition is not vengeance or partisanship or a fetish with history. The purpose is to end torture, which is not done by looking forward or even by pardoning the crimes, as the ACLU has proposed — to its credit recognizing that the crimes exist. That should be a first step for anyone confused by the endless drumbeat to “ban torture.”

Posted in General | 3 Comments

U.S. Gov’t. Seeks Excuse to Nuclear-Attack Russia

HiroshimaMushroom

Never Was a March on Washington More Needed

Eric Zuesse

The world is more nervous about the drift toward nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia than at any time since 1962’s Cuban Missile Crisis. When French President Francois Hollande urgently side-tracked his return-flight from a diplomatic mission recently, in order to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport, at a private room that had been scoured ahead of time to eliminate any possible bugging devices, there was speculation as to what had caused Hollande’s sudden detour, and there were even rumors of a possible cause being an American “false-flag” event in the works to be blamed on Russia as a pretext for going to war against Russia, just as Russia had been falsely blamed for the Ukrainian military’s downing of Malaysia’s airliner MH17 on July 17th. All that was publicly released about the two-hour meeting were platitudes, hardly anything that would have justified side-tracking Hollande’s flight so as to surprise intelligence agencies and be able to meet the Russian leader in an untapped room.

The level of fear is certainly rising on both sides. On the U.S. side, the CBS News Poll in summer 2007 found 6% of Americans calling Russia an “enemy”; seven years later, that same figure was 22%. However, what is not rumor nor fear, but proven fact, by Obama’s own actions as will be documented here, is that he wants a war against Russia and is trying hard to get Europe (including Hollande) onboard with this goal in order to win it; and that America’s Republican Party want this at least as much as he does, though the American public do not.

The Democratic Party (in the House and Senate) are staying as quiet as possible about a ‘Democratic’ President pushing them toward World War III, which is a goal that Republicans have always been far more eager for than Democrats. (Republicans are famous for “Speak softly but carry a big stick,” and for swinging it as hard as they can, especially against Russians.) In fact, one of the reasons why Obama won the Presidency is that he criticized his 2012 Republican opponent Mitt Romney for saying of Russia, “This is without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe.”

That dissent by Nobel Peace Prize Winner Obama appealed to the U.S. public at the time, but not to America’s aristocracy, who are a mix of people some of whom hate Russians and others of whom don’t care about Russians, but none of whom are passionate opponents of nuclear war (a diverse group that they lump contemptuously with “peaceniks”).

For example, one major mouthpiece of Democratic Party aristocrats has always been The New Republic, and on 17 September 2014 they headlined “Obama Can’t Admit That Romney Was Right: Russia Is Our ‘Top Geopolitical Threat’.” Another one is the National Journal, the aristocracy’s version of its companion propaganda-operation (owned by the same aristocrat as) The Atlantic. On 7 May 2014 (just five days after Obama’s people had massacred pro-Russians in the House of Trade Unions in Odessa and thereby started the extermination-campaign against them, or “civil war” that’s still raging), the National Journal headlined “Mitt Romney Was Right: Russia Is Our Biggest Geopolitical Foe.” Conservative ‘Democrats’ are just Republicans spelled with a “D”; but, when it’s an aristocrat, they know how to spell, and are just trying to deceive the ones who don’t. This is why ‘liberal’ magazines are prized possessions of the aristocracy — to deceive the ones who don’t know the difference and who think that it’s fine in a democracy for politics to be merely a choice between two conservative parties, one of which is called by a meaningless adjective ‘liberal.’

The people who fund both political Parties are virtually united in that fascist belief: they don’t even mind backing racist facists or “nazis”; many of them are precisely that themselves.

Obama is with them (and with Wall Street, and with Big Ag, and Big Oil, and Big Military), against the public. But he’s smart enough a politician to pretend otherwise, and his aristocratic funders respect this. (There were no hard feelings for his exploiting Romney’s politically stupid public assertion; they knew that it was an Obama pose: he’s a ‘Democrat,’ after all.)

For America’s elite, the Cold War never ended, because it was never really about communism versus capitalism — not for them. They are fascists, and they want global dominance. Capitalism, shmapitalism; all they really care about is dominating the world, destroying enemies, which means anyone who refuses to be controlled by them.

Aristocracy hasn’t changed since, well, long before the Bible began. Domination is the big thing, for the aristocracy. Russia threatens the vaunted global control by America’s aristocracy, their dominance over all other aristocracies, because Russia is the second-most-powerful military nation. Russia is the only nation that can say no to U.S. aristocrats and (maybe) get away with it. That’s what this conflict is all about. It’s why they ratcheted up the “enemy” figure for Russia from 6% to 22% in just the past seven years.

As President Obama’s speech at West Point, on 28 May 2014, propagandized for (i.e., rationalized) this conquer-Russia view on the part of America’s aristocracy: “Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us.” So, Obama made clear to the graduating West Point cadets that the BRIC countries are the enemy (Russia and its leading supporters of international independence, the enemies against a mono-polar or “hegemonic” world), from the standpoint of America’s aristocracy, whom the U.S. military now serves to the exclusion of any public interest. Ours want to crush the aristocrats in Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Though it’s alright for those other countries to produce more, that’s true only if American aristocrats control the local ones there, like in any other international empire — not if the local nation’s aristocrats control the country. That’s not the way aristocrats in banana republics are supposed to behave. They’re not supposed to be independent countries. Not really.

The President who had invaded Libya and Syria, and re-invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, and who perpetrated a violent overthrow and installed racist fascists (nazis) in control of Ukraine, is lecturing the world against “Russia’s aggression,” for its having accepted back into Russia’s traditional fold little Crimea, which craved to return to Russia.

He’s got some gall to do that, but in order to be a cadet at West Point (and thus be there hearing his speech) one needed to be either a sucker or else a cravenous tool of the aristocracy, as the military has traditionally served; so, Obama played them for being both, and they evidently liked it.

Obama knows how to speak down to an audience and fool them into thinking he respects them. But, to aristocrats, his respect is no mere act at all; he not only respects them, he lies for them, and he protects them, because he self-identifies with them, and not with the public (who just provide his voters, the people that are forced to choose between him versus Romney, or else to go for a mere token protest-vote or non-vote, such as American ‘democracy’ has degenerated into being).

Obama was enemy-izing (turning into enemies) nations that don’t want to serve as America’s banana republics. Similarly, for example, the British Empire didn’t wish for local aristocrats in India to be in control, but only for those client aristocrats to be of use. That’s what it means to be a client nation (or, in the American case, a banana republic).

Obama, in his speech, added, placing a clear hyper-nationalistic coloration on his promotion of America’s empire: “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation.” (Hitler thought the same thing of Germany.) He promised to keep it that way: “That has been true for the century passed [sp.: past [[somebody at the White House didn’t know the difference between ‘past’ and ‘passed’]] and it will be true for the century to come.” (At least he wasn’t predicting there a Thousand-Year Reich.)

So: that’s historical background to Obama’s plan for using Ukraine as a stepping-stone toward conquering Russia — one of the few favors he hasn’t yet achieved for his sponsors, after having protected them from what he contemptuously calls (in private) the “pitchforks”; a.k.a., the public. (And he really did call us “pitchforks” there, in private. To him, the public were like the KKK; and the mega-bank CEOs whom he was confiding to were like the people KKKers lynched. That’s the type of ‘Black’ he actually is. Blacks should loathe him, but most people, black and white, can’t see beyond his skin-color and liberal platitudes. They’ve got their categories wrong, and the aristocracy-controlled media like that just fine. Stereotypes help aristocrats control political outcomes. It’s button-pushing for them.)

On December 11th, the U.S. Senate voted 100% (unanimously) to donate U.S. weapons to the Ukrainian Government in its war against Russia. On December 4th, 98% of the U.S. House had done likewise. Both bills also accuse Russia of having invaded Ukraine, and this accusation of an aggressive Russia provides a pretext for the U.S. to attack Russia, now that the Ukrainian Government has flipped from neutral (according to some estimations) or pro-Russian (according to others) to being clearly and publicly anti-Russian, by means of their U.S.-engineered coup that occurred in February of this year, when masked gunmen, who were actually hired mercenaries, dressed themselves as if they were instead Ukrainian security forces, and fired into a crowd of “Maidan” anti-corruption protesters and police, and the U.S. Government immediately blamed Ukraine’s then-President for doing that, and Ukraine’s parliament or “Rada,” who weren’t in on the scheme and didn’t know about it, promptly elected “Yats” Yatsenyuk, who had secretly been appointed 18 days prior to lead the country, by Victoria Nuland of the U.S. State Department. “Yats” immediately installed a far-right Government, filled with people who had already committed themselves to a Ukrainian war against Russia. They then promptly set about terminating Russia’s 42-year Crimean lease for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which is key to Russia’s security. Crimeans, who had always overwhelmingly considered themselves to be Russians and not Ukrainians, demonstrated against that Ukrainian move against them and against Russia, and Russian troops came into Crimea, to local applause, but to the condemnation from Washington and its allies.

Russia’s taking back Crimea was not aggression at all, though America’s noise-media say it was; it was instead protection of Crimeans against the CIA’s American invasion of Ukraine. When the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev donated Crimea from Russia to Ukraine in 1954, it was much to the consternation of Crimeans at the time, and ever since. Yet, one of the explicit alleged ‘justifications’ for war against Russia, that are listed in the Republican House’s bill (“Whereas the Russian Federation’s forcible occupation and illegal annexation of Crimea. …”) is a blatant lie, because Crimeans overwhelmingly wanted Russia’s protection against the new, Obama-imposed, Ukrainian regime, which Obama’s State Department and CIA had just installed when overthrowing the President for whom nearly 80% of Crimeans had voted. In fact, a poll that was issued by Gallup in June 2014 showed then that 71.3% of Crimeans viewed as “Mostly positive” the role of Russia there, and 4.0% viewed it as “Mostly negative”; by contrast, only 2.8% viewed the role of the United States there as “Mostly positive,” and a whopping 76.2% viewed it as “Mostly negative.” This wasn’t much changed from a year-earlier Gallup poll. The Republican Party (and thus the Republican-controlled House) is willing to lie blatantly (about this and other crucial matters) in order to justify invading Russia, as it did in invading Iraq in 2003 (and even in 1991); and Barack Obama is willing to lie blatantly too for the same reasons — such as about the source of the sarin gas attack in Syria, etc. — but there were enough Democrats in the U.S. Senate to block Obama’s getting such blatant lies into the Senate’s bill on Ukraine, so it’s much milder, even though it does give the Ukrainian Government $450 million of U.S. taxpayers’ money. However, when Republicans take over the Senate in January, their bill will match the House’s in its warmongering lies, and Obama will get all he wants for his planned war against Russia (not just the $450 million that the Democratic-controlled Senate bill has provided).

So, now, both the Senate and the House, plus the U.S. President (via his State Department, CIA, FBI, and entire Administration), are actually at war, a hot war not a cold war, against Russia, through their proxy, their made-in-Washington, racist-fascist or nazi, Government of Ukraine, which currently is doing the fighting and the killing and the dying, but which couldn’t do it but for that Western backing.

This should be analogized to Fidel Castro’s takeover of Cuba and his and Soviet leader Khrushchev’s attempt to base near the U.S., Soviet nuclear missiles aimed against America. At that time, in 1962, U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy said that we’d go to war against the USSR if necessary to prevent this; and today Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has implied, but not yet said, that his country will likewise go to war against the United States if necessary to stop its attempt to do against Russia what Khrushchev had been stopped from doing against the U.S. in 1962.

However, the U.S. is now already farther along the warpath than the USSR had been in 1962. Already, many thousands of deaths have resulted from Ukraine’s war against Russia and against its supporters inside what had previously been parts of Ukraine. In 1962, Cuba was at peace, except for a few bands of U.S.-backed Cubans, who were trying to overthrow Fidel Castro. Ukraine is today’s Cuba, but even more of a danger. And, this time, the United States Government is trying to impose nuclear supremacy; the Soviet Union and its communism no longer even exist, and Russia is up against the mortal threat that is being wrongfully perpetrated by the U.S. against them.

Clearly, U.S. President Obama was serious when he tossed out Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych; and clearly he has the full backing of the U.S. Congress (though with some hesitation on the part of Democrats) to go to war against Russia and finish the job that he has begun.

If it weren’t for the ongoing donations — officially loans, but ‘loans’ to an already-bankrupt Government are donations — by both U.S. taxpayers and EU taxpayers, that are channeled mainly through the U.S. and EU and IMF, Ukraine would simply stop its hot war against Russia and against its own ethnic Russians; and the Ukrainian Government that we installed in February would just collapse. The IMF and EU seem likely now to have ended their donations, but U.S. taxpayers certainly haven’t ended ours. We’ve barely even started, though, ever since 1991, U.S. taxpayers have already invested “over five billion dollars” in this scheme to bring ‘democracy’ to Ukraine, even before Obama’s successful February coup provided the capstone to that entire Orwellian effort: America’s aristocracy and its hired hands call this ‘democracy.’

The investigative journalist Wayne Madsen has published his analysis of the American aristocrats, ranging from the Kochs on the right to the Soroses on the left, who are lobbying for this campaign to get taxpayers to fund the American aristocracy’s military take-over of other nations’ aristocracies and resources. Madsen sees as being the few politicians in Washington who are resisting that, both Ron Paul (and definitely not his son Rand Paul) libertarians, and Dennis Kucinich progressives.

Madsen doesn’t note, however, that both of those men are now retired; so, they can afford to speak the truth without losing their jobs, since they’ve already lost them. Among the U.S. aristocracy that finances politicians into federal offices, there is no visible support whatsoever for such dissidents challenging the aristocracy: when one of them somehow manages to get into the political system, they’re removed from it, in one way or another, before they can do any damage to the U.S. aristocracy.

This is how it came to be that 98% of the House and 100% of the Senate voted for war against Russia, even though at least 67% of the American public who expressed an opinion about that in a Pew poll were opposed (and this 67% figure might have been far higher if the question had been more directly asked, such as: “Should the U.S. go to war against Russia in order to enable Ukraine to get back Crimea and conquer the rebelling regions in Ukraine’s own former southeast?”).

This America is supposed to be a ‘democracy,’ in which 99% of Congress and the President want taxpayers to be required to donate to the Ukrainian military, but less than one-third of the American public want to make those donations. Is it instead actually taxation without representation — a modern fascist form of the very oligarchy that America’s Founders went to war against and defeated in order to create America? How much more of a demonstration needs to be made that today’s America is a dictatorship, not a representative democracy or republic? Only media pretend it’s not a dictatorship, because they’re part of it, owned by the same people who heisted our Government and who trade favors with one-another against us. Clearly, this is an us-versus-them situation in which oligarchs are the aggressors, who destroyed American democracy, and from which a democracy now must again be seized, because it has been stolen from us and will not be retaken without a fight.

Madsen also has an interesting explanation as to why Israel is so passionately supportive of the racist-fascist, or nazi, Ukrainian political parties that the Obama Administration has placed in control of Ukraine.

Regardless of such speculations and evidence, however, there is nothing speculative about the American Government’s drive to nuclear war.

It’s part and parcel of the same deal that just passed in the U.S. Congress and was signed by the President, that in the event of any future U.S. financial crash, FDIC-insured bank accounts won’t be paid until and unless the mega-banks that hold derivatives contracts get full payment on all of those gambling policies they had bought — i.e, never. Granny’s savings account will get emptied out to pay Wall Street’s gambling-debts. (Not that the U.S. ‘news’ media ever made such things clear to the public. But how do you think we had managed to obtain a Congress and a President like these are? The public had to be fooled by the aristocrats’ propaganda, and the ‘news’ media had to help aristocrats fool them about it, because the ‘news’ media receive their funding from aristocrats, both as their owners and as their advertisers. The public are just pawns on their chessboard. This is what became of democracy: it’s merely the residual verbal shell — ‘democracy’ — an Orwellian opposite of the original meaning.)

As Obama told the mega-bank chiefs on 27 March 2009 in private, “I’m protecting you … My Administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

He’s going to teach those granny-bank-account “pitchforks,” and such, a thing or two about “the one indispensable nation.” Namely: those people in it, the public, are dispensable, even if not quite as much so as are the people his forces are slaughtering (ethnically cleansing) in southeast Ukraine and other such places, where the ‘real riffraff’ live. The people in those areas are punished and killed for the crime of living where “the right people” want them simply to be gone (preferably dead, but otherwise refugees in Russia, until the ICBMs kill them).

“Sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.” But it’s long since gone, and is now aiming to clear out land elsewhere, especially southeast Ukraine, to place nuclear missiles there.

America’s ‘entrepreneurs’ have work to do, across the globe; and all the charred remains of the nuclear ‘victory’ will be passed on to their proud heirs.

It’s the new American way, the way of ‘entrepreneurs’ — a.k.a. “the aristocracy” — but actually only the ‘entrepreneurs’ who have been able to grab the most, who are billionaires. Only insiders can apply for admission. Outsiders can apply for a job, nothing more.

Obama had it all figured out. Everything else from him was just an act. He is the personification of cynicism, and of lies.

If you don’t think so, then how do you explain this, and this, and this, and this? Are those just innocent tragedies; and, if not, then who was the most indispensable person toward causing them to happen — causing them to be imposed by the Ukrainian Government that Obama’s coup imposed upon Ukraine? Obama’s decisions were essential in order to empower the people who are perpetrating this extermination-campaign, which is the bait intended to draw Vladimir Putin into a Ukrainian conflict so as to provide a pretext for an American nuclear attack against Russia — as if Russia doesn’t have even more of a legitimate national-security interest in its Ukrainian neighbor than the U.S. had in its Cuban neighbor in 1962, when we rightly threatened nuclear war over that type of provocation.

If the next U.S. President protects Obama from criminal prosecution for Ukraine like Obama protected Bush from criminal prosecution for Iraq, then the U.S. is hopelessly a lawless nation, no democracy at all.

Unfortunately, the nuclear bombs in the war that Obama and the other stooges of America’s aristocracy are building up to, will not be targeted against themselves and their psychopathic (often billionaire) sponsors. Those people will instead have their bomb-shelters, and their corporate jets.

Oligarchs are foreign to a democracy. Consequently, their servants in government, especially America’s current and former President, are foreign to the U.S. Constitution, and to their Oath of Office, and thus to this country, irrespective of their technical citizenship as ‘American.’ They should both be brought up on charges of treason against the United States of America; for, if they are not, then truly democracy is ended in this country, with no hope of restoration, and America’s Presidents are not subject to American Law, but instead stand above it, beyond it, and immune from it. That makes them dictators, but for whom, and against whom? The record speaks for itself.

Reader-comments to this commentary, pro-and-con, are invited regarding this conclusion, especially because a public forum to discuss this severe matter is needed now — a turning-point in American, and (sad to say), perhaps also (if a nuclear attack occurs) a turning-point in global history. That’s the case regardless of which side of this debate one is on. The fundamental character of this country is at stake now. The public should have a say in it (if that’s still even possible, given that 99% of the media are in the hands of oligarchs — the very same aristocrats who benefit from the status-quo).

Nuclear war is a serious matter, and the American Government must immediately halt their plan to provoke it. The time to force a halt to that is now, or else it will be never. Every step we get closer to nuclear war makes reversing the direction, which is toward war, even more difficult, and less likely, and makes nuclear war even likelier than it was before.

If the public is to take charge (assuming that doing so is still possible), it will happen sooner rather than later.

The public discussion will begin now, if it begins at all.

We’re close to the precipice. Will the public remain quiet?

———-

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Posted in Business / Economics, Energy / Environment, General, Politics / World News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

The Great Generic Drug Rip-Off

Big Pharma has followed the only avenue left to reap billion-dollar profits: jack up the price of generics.

What happens when rapacious cartels run out of billion-dollar-profit products? They jack up the price of what was previously low-cost. And why are they able to raise prices by 388% to 8,000% at will? Because they can. That’s the whole point in having a cartel that is enabled and enforced by the cartel’s toadies and apologists in the central state (federal government): price increases can be imposed on the government and the private sector at will.

I was alerted to the extraordinary price increases in widely used generic drugs by Ishabaka (M.D.), who forwarded this fact sheet issued by the office of Senator Bernie Sanders: (Chart is reproduced below)

Staggering Price Increases for Generic Drugs

“Rep. Elijah E. Cummings and Senator Bernard Sanders sent letters to 14 drug manufacturers requesting information about the escalating prices of generic drugs used to treat everything from common medical conditions to life-threatening illnesses. Data was provided by the Healthcare Supply Chain Association (HSCA) on recent purchases by group purchasing organizations (GPOs) of ten generic drugs.”

Here are Ishabaka’s comments:

“I’d like to focus on the top one – doxycycline. This is a very effective antibiotic for pneumonia, bronchitis, and sexually transmitted diseases (chlamydia and gonorrhea). Throughout my medical career, it has been a cheap generic drug I used all the time. It’s cost has gone up from $20 a prescription to over $1,600 a prescription in the last 12 months.

Low-income people used to be able to afford doxycycline, which would stop the spread of these serious, sometimes life-threatening infections. Now they can’t, and there is no drug as good as doxycycline available cheaply. I think this is an outrage. Imagine if a generic bottle of aspirin increased in price from $10 a bottle to $800 a bottle in 12 months – Americans would be marching in protest.”

Drug Use Average Market Price Oct. 2013 Average Market Price April 2014 Average Percentage Increase
Doxycycline Hyclate
(bottle of 500, 100 mg tablets)
antibiotic used to treat a variety of infections $20 $1,849 8,281%
Albuterol Sulfate
(bottle of 100, 2 mg tablets)
used to treat asthma and other lung conditions $11 $434 4,014%
Glycopyrrolate
(box of 10 0.2 mg/mL, 20 mL vials)
used to prevent irregular heartbeats during surgery $65 $1,277 2,728%
Divalproex Sodium ER
(bottle of 80, 500 mg tablets ER 24H)
used to prevent migraines and treat certain types of seizures $31 $234 736%
Pravastatin Sodium
(bottle of 500, 10 mg tablets)
used to treat high cholesterol and to prevent heart disease $27 $196 573%
Neostigmine Methylsulfate
(box of 10 1:1000 vials)
used in anesthesia to reverse the effects of some muscle relaxants $25 $121 522%
Benazepril/
Hydrochlorothiazide
(bottle of 100, 20-25 mg tablets)
used to treat high blood pressure $34 $149 420%
Isuprel
(box of 25, 0.2 mg/mL vials)
used to treat heart attacks and irregular heartbeat $916 $4,489 390%
Nitropress
(50 mg vial)
used to treat congestive heart failure and reduce blood pressure $44 $215 388%
Digoxin
(single tablet, 250 mcg)
used to treat irregular heartbeats and heart failure $0.11 $1.10 884%

The murky world of drug pricing is attracting some much-needed attention:

Lawmakers Look for Ways to Provide Relief for Rising Cost of Generic Drugs

For 30 years, generic medications helped make health care cheaper. Why is their cost surging?

What politicos and the mainstream media cannot dare state openly is obvious: the system of drug development and generic drug pricing/distribution is broken in the U.S., and the core cause is the cartel-like structure of Big Pharma and the rest of the healthcare system.

Though nobody in officialdom or the mainstream media can say this publicly, the reason for these outrageous increases is painfully obvious: As Big Pharma’s stable of billion-dollar drugs slip off patent, their profit pipeline is weakening.

The pipeline of potentially billion-dollar-profit drugs (so-called blockbuster drugs) is thin. So Big Pharma has followed the only avenue left to reap billion-dollar profits: jack up the price of generics, and push the government to pay the outrageous increases via Medicare and Medicaid and force the increases on private insurers and providers. If we just roll over and accept 8,000% increases, we deserve the corrupt, rapacious system we have.

Posted in General | Tagged , | 8 Comments