Ukraine’s Anti-Nazi Partisans: Sabotage & Suicide-Bombings

Eric Zuesse

Just as happened when nazism (racist fascism — then in the form of Germany’s Nazi Party) conquered Europe in the 1940s, today’s Ukraine is seeing sabotage by courageous anti-nazi partisans against the country’s nazi Government, the regime that was installed by the United States in a coup on February 22nd. U.S. State Department’s Victoria Nuland had selected Ukraine’s new ruler or Prime Minister, “Yats” Yatsenyuk, just weeks before the coup, on February 4th. As soon as he came to power, he appointed nazis to all top national security posts, and to many other posts, including the central bank, which promptly shipped $5 billion in gold to the U.S. Federal Reserve vault in NYC, to reimburse the $5 billion that the U.S. had spent to bring Ukraine’s nazis to power.

Dedicated partisans against the resulting genocide in the east of Ukraine are now carefully targeting for bombings the most devoted nazis. Members of Ukraine’s ultra-nazi Azov Battalion, which was formed right after the coup (and is heavily subsidized by the Jewish billionaire Ihor Kolomoysky, who has hired Joe Biden’s son and a friend of John Kerry), are especially being targeted. Many members of the Azov Battalion are openly admirers of Adolf Hitler, and some even publicly display their swastika tattoos. For example, a social spot for Azov members was recently blown up by partisans. In Ukraine, not only Christian nazis but also Jewish ones are united in their shared hatred of Russia and of ethnic Russians. Perhaps Jewish and Christian nazis are postponing their ultimate religious war against one-another in order first to bring about their shared hope for a U.S.-Russia nuclear Armageddon. But in any case, Barack Obama and his CIA and State Department are pushing for it, and the U.S. Congress are virtually united in their drive to bring it about.

Ukraine’s anti-nazi partisans are trying to defend themselves and their families from, above all, the U.S. and European aristocracies, who crave control over Russia and its resources, and who apparently don’t care how many people must die in order to bring it about. These aristocrats are willing to employ even overt nazis to do it.

———-

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 General, Politics / World News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Financialized-Oil Dominoes Are Toppling

The drop in oil revenues has triggered a self-reinforcing feedback dynamic.

Oil is not just something that is refined into fuel–it is capital, collateral, debt and risk. In other words, it is intrinsically financial. As I noted in The Oil-Drenched Black Swan, Part 2: The Financialization of Oil, oil has been financialized to the point that few outside the industry understand the dominoes that are currently toppling.

Let’s start with the obvious fact that the impact of lower oil is financial, political and geopolitical. Lower oil revenues are negatively impacting:

1. Oil-exporters’ revenues

2. Monetary policy of central banks

3. Trade flows

4. Global financial markets

Lower revenues are pressuring oil-dependent governments such as Russia, Venezuela and Iran, and destabilizing the geopolitical order as weakened oil exporters sink into recession and political turmoil.

Lower revenues are also kicking the financial supports out from under the debt-dependent, enormously capital-intensive oil exploration and development projects in North America.

Simply put, the sharp drop in oil revenues has knocked over a line of financial dominoes whose end is not yet in sight. These issues have been addressed by a number of analysts; here is a small selection of recent stories:

Why US Shale May Fizzle Rather Than Boom (research by Mason Inman)

It’s Different This Time… Rig-Count Edition

Profit Recession On Deck Due To Surging Dollar And Plunging Crude, Deutsche Warns

Bank of America sees $50 oil as Opec dies

Fossil fuels: are we on the edge of the Seneca cliff?

This Time Is The Same: Like The Housing Bubble, The Fed Is Ignoring The Shale Bubble In Plain Sight

Ten Reasons Why a Severe Drop in Oil Prices is a Problem

The drop in oil revenues has triggered a self-reinforcing feedback dynamic. As the financial dominoes fall, there is less capital available to maintain production, so oil output falls, further reducing income. As the collateral,income and impaired debt dominoes topple, risky debt in sectors completely unrelated to oil start falling as institutions trim risk throughout their holdings.

Gordon T. Long and I discuss the highlights of this complex set of issues in this video program, The Oil-Drenched Black Swan (28 minutes):

view it on YouTube

 

Posted in General | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

U.S. Congress Now Virtually 100% All-In on Ukraine’s War Against Russia; Americans Are at Least 67% Opposed

Eric Zuesse

Last night, December 11th, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously as the U.S. House had previously voted 98%: to join Ukraine’s war against Russia and against Ukraine’s own ethnic Russians in Ukraine’s southeastern districts, in order to eliminate those resistant Ukrainians and their families.

The U.S. is now throwing down the gauntlet to Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, and daring him to defend openly the ethnic Russians that the U.S.-installed Ukrainian Government is now trying to exterminate in the eastern districts, the places where the present Ukrainian Government is rejected by almost all of the residents.

Those are the districts that had voted about 90% for the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, whom the U.S. overthrew on February 22nd in a violent coup, in which the U.S. paid Ukrainian nazis, or racist-fascists of Ukraine’s Right Sector Party, who masked themselves and dressed themselves as Ukrainian security forces and shot from high places into the “Maidan” crowd of anti-corruption demonstrators, for which shootings the U.S. Government blamed the then-President Yanukovych, since the snipers had dressed as if they were from his security-forces. A special session of Ukraine’s parliament or “Rada” was promptly called to appoint a new leader for the country, and they appointed “Yaz” Arseniy Yatsenyuk, whom the U.S. State Department’s Victoria Nuland had, on February 4th, instructed the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, to get installed as the country’s leader after the coup. Some Rada members were physically threatened by Right Sector gunmen to vote for this change, which then passed overwhelmingly, especially because most of the parliamentarians didn’t even know that the bloodshed had actually been operated by the U.S. However, the EU’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Catherine Ashton, sent an investigator in to determine how the overthrow had occurred, and the investigator, Urmas Paet, informed Ashton on February 26th that “behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition.” In other words: it was someone from the group who wanted to remove and replace Yanukovych. Paet said furthermore, that, “it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened.” And so there was no investigation, other than Paet’s own. He went on, in very broken English (he’s Estonian) to tell Ashton: “So that it was in this instance disturbing that if it’s us now to live its own life very powerfully, then it already discreditates from the very beginning also this new coalition.” Ashton ignored his comment, and just said that, “what we’ve got to be very careful of as well, [is] that they need to demand great change, but they’ve got to let the Rada [Parliament] function. If the Rada doesn’t function, then we’ll have complete chaos.” In other words: we’re just going to let those sleeping dogs lie. And they did.

Anyway, she knew. The top foreign-affairs official at the EU knew that the overthrow of Yanukovych, and the replacement of him by this new pro-EU Ukrainian Government, had been hired by someone from the West. She knew that she hadn’t ordered it. She almost certainly understood right away, that America’s White House did.

And so, too, unquestionably, did Petro Poroshenko, who in elections that were then held on May 25th in Ukraine’s northwest — the regions where the new Obama-installed regime was accepted by the public — won the Presidency of Ukraine to replace Yanukovych. He, too, knew that, as Paet had put it, “behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition.” We know that he knows this because Paet also told Ashton at the same time that, “what was quite disturbing, the same oligarch [Poroshenko] told that well, all the evidence shows that the people who were killed by snipers, from both sides, among policemen and people from the streets, that they were the same snipers, killing people from both sides.” In other words: this was murdering people at random by firing into a crowd, all the while pretending to be security forces of the Ukrainian Government that the crowd is demonstrating against. That’s Obama’s way of “regime change,” instead of sending in the U.S. armed forces, like George W. Bush did to Iraq. However, virtually all of the U.S. Congress have now voted to donate U.S. weapons to this Ukrainian Government.

The EU is in on the secret, and the President who replaced Yanukovych is, too.

But what about the 98% of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the 100% of the U.S. Senate, who have now voted for the U.S. to donate lethal weapons to this Ukrainian Government. Do they know? Who paid ‘our’ Congress-people for this vote? Was it Lockheed Martin? Was it Boeing? Was it Raytheon? Was it all of them and others, all of whose stocks have been soaring since Obama’s overthrow of Yanukovych?

The U.S. public were asked in a 4 April 2014 Pew poll, whether they backed “sending arms/military supplies, to Ukraine govt.” 30% said yes. 62% said no. 8% were undecided. The ratio of those who had an opinion, 62%/92%, was 67% against, 33% for.

Both the House and Senate bills are for not just “arms/military supplies,” but specifically include “lethal weapons.” And they aren’t just to “send,” but to donate them, because the Ukrainian Government is bankrupt and can carry on its extermination campaign only by additional borrowings from the IMF, the U.S., and EU. All of the new ‘loans’ will go to the back of the line and never be paid. So, at least 67% of Americans are opposed to what virtually 100% of Americans’ ‘representatives’ in Congress have voted for, and it’s war against Russia.

This is the U.S. ‘democracy’ that installed the ‘democracy’ in Ukraine, which on February 22nd overthrew the democratically elected Ukrainian President.

Barack Obama hasn’t been as successful at engineering ‘democratic consent’ for war as was George W. Bush, but ‘our’ Government is doing it anyway, and the nuclear weapons are being readied for it.

Furthermore, the entire replacement of Yanukovych was illegally done. The American public is overwhelmingly on the side of the law here, while the American President and Congress are almost uniformly against the law here, but they write the laws; it’s the latter who possesses power in the United States, and the American public don’t actually exist to them, except to be fooled into voting for them, by the billionaires who control companies such as JPMorgan/Chase, and Lockheed Martin and finance political campaigns.

This could turn out to be the path toward a nuclear war against Russia. It could actually be profitable for some people.

And here is a graphic (from the National Priorities project) that shows how influential those people are in the United States:

budgetpie

———-

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Media Is Focusing On the WRONG Senate Torture Report

The Big Story Torture Everyone Is Missing

While the torture report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee is very important, it doesn’t address the big scoop regarding torture.

Instead, it is the Senate Armed Services Committee’s report that dropped the big bombshell regarding the U.S.  torture program.

Senator Levin, commenting on a Armed Services Committee’s report on torture in 2009, explained:

The techniques are based on tactics used by Chinese Communists against American soldiers during the Korean War for the purpose of eliciting FALSE confessions for propaganda purposes. Techniques used in SERE training include stripping trainees of their clothing, placing them in stress positions, putting hoods over their heads, subjecting them to face and body slaps, depriving them of sleep, throwing them up against a wall, confining them in a small box, treating them like animals, subjecting them to loud music and flashing lights, and exposing them to extreme temperatures [and] waterboarding.

McClatchy filled in important details:

Former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration

For most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there.”

It was during this period that CIA interrogators waterboarded two alleged top al Qaida detainees repeatedly — Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in August 2002 and Khalid Sheik Muhammed 183 times in March 2003 — according to a newly released Justice Department document…

When people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people to push harder,” he continued.”  Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn’t any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam . . .

A former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney, told Army investigators in 2006 that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility were under “pressure” to produce evidence of ties between al Qaida and Iraq.

“While we were there a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaida and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al Qaida and Iraq,” Burney told staff of the Army Inspector General. “The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link . . . there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.”

“I think it’s obvious that the administration was scrambling then to try to find a connection, a link (between al Qaida and Iraq),” [Senator] Levin said in a conference call with reporters. “They made out links where they didn’t exist.”

Levin recalled Cheney’s assertions that a senior Iraqi intelligence officer had met Mohammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijackers, in the Czech Republic capital of Prague just months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The FBI and CIA found that no such meeting occurred.

The Washington Post reported the same year:

Despite what you’ve seen on TV, torture is really only good at one thing: eliciting false confessions. Indeed, Bush-era torture techniques, we now know, were cold-bloodedly modeled after methods used by Chinese Communists to extract confessions from captured U.S. servicemen that they could then use for propaganda during the Korean War.

So as shocking as the latest revelation in a new Senate Armed Services Committee report may be, it actually makes sense — in a nauseating way. The White House started pushing the use of torture not when faced with a “ticking time bomb” scenario from terrorists, but when officials in 2002 were desperately casting about for ways to tie Iraq to the 9/11 attacks — in order to strengthen their public case for invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 at all.

***

Gordon Trowbridge writes for the Detroit News: “Senior Bush administration officials pushed for the use of abusive interrogations of terrorism detainees in part to seek evidence to justify the invasion of Iraq, according to newly declassified information discovered in a congressional probe.

Colin Powell’s former chief of staff (Colonel Larry Wilkerson) wrote in 2009 that the Bush administration’s “principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qaeda.”

Indeed, one of the two senior instructors from the Air Force team which taught U.S. servicemen how to resist torture by foreign governments when used to extract false confessions has blown the whistle on the true purpose behind the U.S. torture program.

As Truthout reported:

[Torture architect] Jessen’s notes were provided to Truthout by retired Air Force Capt. Michael Kearns, a “master” SERE instructor and decorated veteran who has previously held high-ranking positions within the Air Force Headquarters Staff and Department of Defense (DoD).

***

The Jessen notes clearly state the totality of what was being reverse-engineered – not just ‘enhanced interrogation techniques,’ but an entire program of exploitation of prisoners using torture as a central pillar,” he said. “What I think is important to note, as an ex-SERE Resistance to Interrogation instructor, is the focus of Jessen’s instruction. It is EXPLOITATION, not specifically interrogation. And this is not a picayune issue, because if one were to ‘reverse-engineer’ a course on resistance to exploitation then what one would get is a plan to exploit prisoners, not interrogate them. The CIA/DoD torture program appears to have the same goals as the terrorist organizations or enemy governments for which SV-91 and other SERE courses were created to defend against: the full exploitation of the prisoner in his intelligence, propaganda, or other needs held by the detaining power, such as the recruitment of informers and double agents. Those aspects of the US detainee program have not generally been discussed as part of the torture story in the American press.”

In a subsequent report, Truthout notes:

Air Force Col. Steven Kleinman, a career military intelligence officer recognized as one of the DOD’s most effective interrogators as well a former SERE instructor and director of intelligence for JPRA’s teaching academy, said ….  “This is the guidebook to getting false confessions, a system drawn specifically from the communist interrogation model that was used to generate propaganda rather than intelligence”  …. “If your goal is to obtain useful and reliable information this is not the source book you should be using.”

Interrogators also forced detainees to take drugs … which further impaired their ability to tell the truth.

And one of the two main architects of the torture program admitted this week on camera:

You can get people to say anything to stop harsh interrogations if you apply them in a way that does that.

And false confessions were, in fact, extracted.

For example:

And the 9/11 Commission Report was largely based on a third-hand account of what tortured detainees said, with two of the three parties in the communication being government employees. And the government went to great lengths to obstruct justice and hide unflattering facts from the Commission.

According to NBC News:

  • Much of the 9/11 Commission Report was based upon the testimony of people who were tortured
  • At least four of the people whose interrogation figured in the 9/11 Commission Report have claimed that they told interrogators information as a way to stop being “tortured.”
  • The 9/11 Commission itself doubted the accuracy of the torture confessions, and yet kept their doubts to themselves

Details here.

Today, Raymond McGovern – a 27-year CIA veteran, who chaired National Intelligence Estimates and personally delivered intelligence briefings to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, their Vice Presidents, Secretaries of State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many other senior government officials – provides details about one torture victim (Al-Libi) at former Newsweek and AP reporter Robert Parry’s website:

But if it’s bad intelligence you’re after, torture works like a charm. If, for example, you wish to “prove,” post 9/11, that “evil dictator” Saddam Hussein was in league with al-Qaeda and might arm the terrorists with WMD, bring on the torturers.

It is a highly cynical and extremely sad story, but many Bush administration policymakers wanted to invade Iraq before 9/11 and thus were determined to connect Saddam Hussein to those attacks. The PR push began in September 2002 – or as Bush’s chief of staff Andrew Card put it, “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.”

By March 2003 – after months of relentless “marketing” – almost 70 percent of Americans had been persuaded that Saddam Hussein was involved in some way with the attacks of 9/11.

The case of Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, a low-level al-Qaeda operative, is illustrative of how this process worked. Born in Libya in 1963, al-Libi ran an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan from 1995 to 2000. He was detained in Pakistan on Nov. 11, 2001, and then sent to a U.S. detention facility in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was deemed a prize catch, since it was thought he would know of any Iraqi training of al-Qaeda.

The CIA successfully fought off the FBI for first rights to interrogate al-Libi. FBI’s Dan Coleman, who “lost” al-Libi to the CIA (at whose orders, I wonder?), said, “Administration officials were always pushing us to come up with links” between Iraq and al-Qaeda.

CIA interrogators elicited some “cooperation” from al-Libi through a combination of rough treatment and threats that he would be turned over to Egyptian intelligence with even greater experience in the torture business.

By June 2002, al-Libi had told the CIA that Iraq had “provided” unspecified chemical and biological weapons training for two al-Qaeda operatives, an allegation that soon found its way into other U.S. intelligence reports. Al-Libi’s treatment improved as he expanded on his tales about collaboration between al-Qaeda and Iraq, adding that three al-Qaeda operatives had gone to Iraq “to learn about nuclear weapons.”

Al-Libi’s claim was well received at the White House even though the Defense Intelligence Agency was suspicious.

“He lacks specific details” about the supposed training, the DIA observed. “It is possible he does not know any further details; it is more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers. Ibn al-Shaykh has been undergoing debriefs for several weeks and may be describing scenarios to the debriefers that he knows will retain their interest.”

Meanwhile, at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, Maj. Paul Burney, a psychiatrist sent there in summer 2002, told the Senate, “A large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq and we were not successful. The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link … there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.”

***

President Bush relied on al-Libi’s false Iraq allegation for a major speech in Cincinnati on Oct. 7, 2002, just a few days before Congress voted on the Iraq War resolution. Bush declared, “We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and deadly gases.”

And Colin Powell relied on it for his famous speech to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, declaring: “I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these [chemical and biological] weapons to al-Qaeda. Fortunately, this operative is now detained, and he has told his story.”

Al-Libi’s “evidence” helped Powell as he sought support for what he ended up calling a “sinister nexus” between Iraq and al-Qaeda, in the general effort to justify invading Iraq.

For a while, al-Libi was practically the poster boy for the success of the Cheney/Bush torture regime; that is, until he publicly recanted and explained that he only told his interrogators what he thought would stop the torture.

You see, despite his cooperation, al-Libi was still shipped to Egypt where he underwent more abuse, according to a declassified CIA cable from early 2004 when al-Libi recanted his earlier statements. The cable reported that al-Libi said Egyptian interrogators wanted information about al-Qaeda’s connections with Iraq, a subject “about which [al-Libi] said he knew nothing and had difficulty even coming up with a story.”

According to the CIA cable, al-Libi said his interrogators did not like his responses and “placed him in a small box” for about 17 hours. After he was let out of the box, al-Libi was given a last chance to “tell the truth.” When his answers still did not satisfy, al-Libi says he “was knocked over with an arm thrust across his chest and fell on his back” and then was “punched for 15 minutes.”

After Al-Libi recanted, the CIA recalled all intelligence reports based on his statements, a fact recorded in a footnote to the report issued by the 9/11 Commission. By then, however, the Bush administration had gotten its way regarding the invasion of Iraq and the disastrous U.S. occupation was well underway.

***

Intensive investigations into these allegations – after the U.S. military had conquered Iraq – failed to turn up any credible evidence to corroborate these allegations. What we do know is that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were bitter enemies, with al-Qaeda considering the secular Hussein an apostate to Islam.

Al-Libi, who ended up in prison in Libya, reportedly committed suicide shortly after he was discovered there by a human rights organization. Thus, the world never got to hear his own account of the torture that he experienced and the story that he presented and then recanted.

Hafed al-Ghwell, a Libyan-American and a prominent critic of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime at the time of al-Libi’s death, explained to Newsweek, “This idea of committing suicide in your prison cell is an old story in Libya.”

Paul Krugman eloquently summarized the truth about the torture used:

Let’s say this slowly: the Bush administration wanted to use 9/11 as a pretext to invade Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. So it tortured people to make them confess to the nonexistent link.

There’s a word for this: it’s evil.

Torture Program Was Part of a Con Job

As discussed above, in order to “justify” the Iraq war, top Bush administration officials pushed and insisted that interrogators use special torture methods aimed at extracting false confessions to attempt to create a false linkage between between Al Qaida and Iraq. And see this and this.

But this effort started earlier …

5 hours after the 9/11 attacks, Donald Rumsfeld said “my interest is to hit Saddam”.

He also said “Go massive . . . Sweep it all up. Things related and not.”

And at 2:40 p.m. on September 11th, in a memorandum of discussions between top administration officials, several lines below the statement “judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [that is, Saddam Hussein] at same time”, is the statement “Hard to get a good case.” In other words, top officials knew that there wasn’t a good case that Hussein was behind 9/11, but they wanted to use the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to justify war with Iraq anyway.

Moreover, “Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the [9/11] attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda”.

And a Defense Intelligence Terrorism Summary issued in February 2002 by the United States Defense Intelligence Agency cast significant doubt on the possibility of a Saddam Hussein-al-Qaeda conspiracy.

And yet Bush, Cheney and other top administration officials claimed repeatedly for years that Saddam was behind 9/11. See this analysis. Indeed, Bush administration officials apparently swore in a lawsuit that Saddam was behind 9/11.

Moreover, President Bush’s March 18, 2003 letter to Congress authorizing the use of force against Iraq, includes the following paragraph:

(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

Therefore, the Bush administration expressly justified the Iraq war to Congress by representing that Iraq planned, authorized, committed, or aided the 9/11 attacks.

Indeed, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind reports that the White House ordered the CIA to forge and backdate a document falsely linking Iraq with Muslim terrorists and 9/11 … and that the CIA complied with those instructions and in fact created the forgery, which was then used to justify war against Iraq. And see this.

Suskind also revealed that “Bush administration had information from a top Iraqi intelligence official ‘that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – intelligence they received in plenty of time to stop an invasion.’ ”

Cheney made the false linkage between Iraq and 9/11 on many occasions.

For example, according to Raw Story, Cheney was still alleging a connection between Iraq and the alleged lead 9/11 hijacker in September 2003 – a year after it had been widely debunked. When NBC’s Tim Russert asked him about a poll showing that 69% of Americans believed Saddam Hussein had been involved in 9/11, Cheney replied:

It’s not surprising that people make that connection.

And even after the 9/11 Commission debunked any connection, Cheney said that the evidence is “overwhelming” that al Qaeda had a relationship with Saddam Hussein’s regime , that Cheney “probably” had information unavailable to the Commission, and that the media was not ‘doing their homework’ in reporting such ties.

Again, the Bush administration expressly justified the Iraq war by representing that Iraq planned, authorized, committed, or aided the 9/11 attacks. See this, this, this.

Even then-CIA director George Tenet said that the White House wanted to invade Iraq long before 9/11, and inserted “crap” in its justifications for invading Iraq.

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill – who sat on the National Security Council – also says that Bush planned the Iraq war before 9/11.

Top British officials say that the U.S. discussed Iraq regime change even before Bush took office.

And in 2000, Cheney said a Bush administration might “have to take military action to forcibly remove Saddam from power.” And see this.

The administration’s false claims about Saddam and 9/11 helped convince a large portion of the American public to support the invasion of Iraq. While the focus now may be on false WMD claims, it is important to remember that, at the time, the alleged link between Iraq and 9/11 was at least as important in many people’s mind as a reason to invade Iraq.

So the torture program was really all about “justifying” the ultimate war crime:  launching an unnecessary war of aggression based upon false pretenses.

Postscript:   It is beyond any real dispute that torture does not work to produce any useful, truthful intelligence.  Today, the following question made it to the front page of Reddit:

Why would the CIA torture if torture “doesn’t work”? Wouldn’t they want the most effective tool to gather intelligence?

The Senate Armed Services Committee report gave the answer.

Posted in Politics / World News | 1 Comment

Corruption Is Now Officially Legal in the U.S., But Must Be Done Right

Eric Zuesse

On December 10th, Wall Street’s federal appeals court, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, ruled that if inside information about what is going to happen to a corporation is taken advantage of by an investor, it’s okay, so long as the source of the inside-tip isn’t directly paid for passing it along.

In other words, if you have friends who have inside information that they received from their friends, they are free to pass it along to you, and you are free to pass inside information that you possess along to them to pass along to others, but neither of you is permitted to pay the other for any inside tip — the information can legally be acted on only if the tipper is not paid for the tip.

The three-judge panel consisted entirely of Republican-appointed judges. Their ruling, in the case, U.S. v. Newman, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 13-1837, provides insiders a way to sure-thing ‘investing’ in which groups of friends who trust each other and include high corporate executives and/or investment professionals such as stockbrokers, can legally be virtually certain that their ‘investing’ will be profitable for them and unprofitable for the individuals they’re trading against (either selling to or buying from). If you receive advance-word of negative information and sell to someone who doesn’t, or advance-word of favorable information and buy from someone who doesn’t, then that’s okay, according to the three Republican judges, but only if the original passer of the tip isn’t being paid for passing it.

In other words, trading favors is okay, even if it provides unfair advantage against outside investors.

This ruling establishes two classes of investors: one is insiders who trade favors but don’t pay each other for providing inside tips, they instead do it instead like members of a club; the other is suckers who rely on the fairness of America’s investment markets and on the Government’s enforcement against corruption of the investment markets.

Here is the Court’s ruling.

Here is a detailed analysis of the ruling, by the great white-collar criminologist, Bill Black, who as a prosecutor of corruption sent many corrupt executives to prison, when America’s Government wasn’t nearly as corrupt as it has since become.

———-

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 General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SHOULD YOU BELIEVE WHAT THEY TELL YOU OR WHAT YOU SEE?

Sometimes I wish I could just passively accept what my government monarchs and their mainstream media mouthpieces feed me on a daily basis. Why do I have to question everything I’m told? Life would be much simpler and I could concentrate on more important things like the size of Kim Kardashian’s ass, why the Honey Boo Boo show was canceled, the Victoria Secret Fashion Show, whether I’ll get a better deal on Chinese slave labor produced crap on Black Thanksgiving, Black Friday, or Cyber Monday, fantasy football league standings, the latest NFL player to knockout their woman and get reinstated, Obama’s latest racial healing plan, which Clinton or Bush will be our next figurehead president, or the latest fake rape story from Rolling Stone. The willfully ignorant masses, dumbed down by government education, lured into obesity by corporate toxic packaged sludge disguised as food products, manipulated, controlled and molded by an unseen governing class of rich men, and kept docile through never ending corporate media propaganda, are nothing but pawns to the arrogant sociopathic pricks pulling the wires in this corporate fascist empire of debt.

I’m sure my blood pressure would be lower and my mood better if I just accepted everything I was told by my wise, sagacious, Ivy League educated, obscenely wealthy rulers as the unequivocal truth. Why should I doubt these noble, well intentioned, champions of the common folk? They’ve never misled us before. They would never attempt to use two highly publicized deaths as a lever to keep black people and white people fighting each other and not realizing all races are now living in a militarized police surveillance state supported by the one Party. They would never use their complete control over the financial, political, judicial, and media organisms to convince the masses that voting for one of their hand selected red or blue options will ever actually change anything. They would never engineer the overthrow of a democratically elected government, cover up the shooting down of an airliner, and attempt to blame their crimes on the leader of a nuclear power in their efforts to retain a teetering global empire. They would never overthrow or wage economic warfare on countries that don’t toe the line regarding the continued dominance of the petrodollar in global commerce.

Sadly, I’m cursed with a mind that questions everything and trusts no one in authority or associated with the status quo. It’s the reason I don’t read newspapers or watch mainstream media television entertainment propaganda, disguised as news. It’s the reason I will never vote in a national election again. The lesser of two evils is still evil. I’m skeptical of every piece of data fed to the sheep by the government apparatchiks working for the state. The faux journalists being paid millions by one of the six corporations controlling the media and dependent upon the government, Wall Street bankers, and mega-corporations for their advertising revenues regurgitate whatever they are told by those pulling the purse strings. The mainstream media are nothing but propaganda peddlers for the Deep State and truth telling is prohibited in their world of deception, debt, and denial. Their job is to sustain, enhance, and further enrich the status quo by engineering consent through what they report and what they do not report. The true ruling powers who operate in the shadows behind the scenes are men of power, wealth, status and education who truly believe they are better equipped to consciously manage and manipulate the public mind to achieve their ends. They are disciples of the Edward Bernays School of deception, manipulation and propaganda.

“If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it? The recent practice of propaganda has proved that it is possible, at least up to a certain point and within certain limits.” Edward Bernays

The Nazis were pikers compared to the technologically savvy Madison Avenue maggots and Silicon Valley snakes who mold the opinions, tastes, and beliefs of the iGadget addicted, vapid, unintelligent, unquestioning, zombie-like masses who beseech to be led, told what to do and what to believe. A vast swath of the population don’t read books or even know how to read above a grade school level. They couldn’t write a coherent paragraph if their life depended upon it. But they can twitter, text, Instagram, and facebook at the speed of light. Try walking down any street in an American city without some iGadget distracted oblivious moron bumping into you. The addicting nature of today’s technology is being used by the ruling elite to monitor, control, and make you respond the way they choose.

Facebook, corporate media organizations, quasi-government organizations, and the NSA are creating a corporate totalitarian state where the slaves willingly sacrifice their privacy, liberty and freedom for mindless entertainment and distractions. The 21st Century totalitarian state captures your political beliefs, daily activities, habits, interests, spending behaviors, organizational associations, love life, pictures, psychological makeup, and fears from your own postings on the internet. With the right algorithms they can uncannily predict how you will react to different situations and messaging. They can also uncover threats to the status quo. Under the guise of keeping you safe from terrorists they are actually ferreting out subversives and radicals who refuse to conform to their idea of a good citizen slave. We will all be subject to our own Room 101.

Dan Kaplan in his recent article about Facebook as a tool for totalitarianism lays out the extreme threat to our future:

Today’s totalitarian demands a more subtle way to influence cultural and political sentiment. But if you got your hands on an algorithmically filtered newsfeed? One that could control the stories people see every day and influence their emotions across geographic, political and economic lines? You’d be in business.

But then there was the mood-influence study that scandalized us for a couple of weeks this year. Facebook changed the tone of content showing up in people’s feeds to test the impact it could have on their moods. The results, not too surprisingly, suggested that Facebook has the power to manipulate sentiment at scale.

Given how easy it is to scare people about the scary-seeming-but-actually-low-risk Ebola, and how dumb we all get when we are afraid, it is not crazy to think that under the wrong circumstances — like one or two more mass-scale terrorist attacks on major cities — modern democracy gives way to something akin to 1984.

If Big Brother were to seize the reins of power, sure, he’d use the cable news the way it’s being used today. But Facebook’s data maw, targeting power and sentiment-manipulation capabilities would be far more insidious. Whether this is what we become or not comes down to the future we choose to build.

The saddest part of this episode of mass delusion, mass confusion, and mass media collusion is that even though we are moving towards Orwell’s totalitarian vision of society, thus far, technology, triviality and an unending array of distractions have lured the masses into passive preoccupation with egotistical pleasures. We’ve been persuaded to love our servitude while drowning in a sea of irrelevance, diversions, and trifles. We continue to amuse ourselves to death while forging our own chains of debt and yielding to the direction of an all-powerful welfare warfare surveillance state that promises to protect us from phantom threats while actually abolishing our rights, freedoms, and liberties. No coercion necessary. We have been trained to love our servitude.

“A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.” Aldous Huxley – Brave New World

Arrogance, Desperation, Lies & Truth

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” - Aldous Huxley

The level of data massaging by the government and their co-conspirators on Wall Street and in the corporate media is a futile attempt at a happy ending that will never come to fruition. The intensity and relentlessness with which the state and its quasi-state minions attempt to paint a false picture of economic recovery is equal parts arrogance and desperation. The arrogance is a function of successfully pulling off the greatest heist in world history from 2003 through 2008 with no adverse consequences, no criminal charges, no penalties for their crimes, and more power and wealth than they had prior to 2003. The only way to stop sociopaths is to throw them in jail or kill them. In our dystopian paradise of greed, they were rewarded with trillions in rescue packages by their cohorts in crime at the Federal Reserve and in Congress. They’ve paid themselves billions in bonuses for gorging at the Federal Reserve trough of QE and ZIRP. The desperation is borne from the fact that after $7.5 trillion of debt added by the Federal government and $3.5 trillion of debt created by the Federal Reserve since 2009, the Greater Depression for average Americans deepens by the day.

The men pulling the strings behind the scenes are drunk with power and their hubris allows them to believe their own infallibility and blinds them to the dire consequences for our country when their debt Ponzi scheme fails. But, as we grow ever closer to the day of reckoning, they will use every means at their disposal to paint a positive picture, regardless of the facts and reality for the average person. The examples of twisting, distorting and outright lying about the economic reality of our times are endless. These are some of the major false storylines peddled by our benevolent corporate fascist leaders:

The BLS reported 321,000 jobs added in November and the unemployment rate at 5.8%. Jobs are plentiful, based upon these statistics.

A skeptical critical thinking individual might ask a few questions or point out a few inconvenient facts the government purveyors of propaganda might not want us to ponder:

  • The non-manipulated, non-seasonally adjusted number of jobs in November FELL by 270,000. The BLS added 600,000 jobs as an adjustment to achieve the headline grabbing result.
  • If the jobs market is so good, why is the labor participation rate at a 30 year low of 62.8%?
  • Since 2007 the number of working age Americans has risen by 17 million, while the number of employed has risen by less than 1 million, but the unemployment rate is about the same.
  • Why would almost 14 million working age Americans leave the labor force since 2007 if the economy is booming and jobs plentiful, with 1.2 million leaving in the last 12 months?
  • Why would payroll tax receipts be flat with last year if millions of new jobs have been created?
  • If the country has really added 8 million jobs since 2010, how could real median household income FALL by 2.3%?

According to the government reported figures, the economy hasn’t been this strong since 2007. GDP has supposedly grown at greater than 4% over the last two quarters.

Anyone who is sentient knows consumer spending accounts for 68% of GDP. Capital investments that lead to long term prosperity continue to decline as a percentage of GDP from 20% in 2000 to 16% today. We’ve chosen consumption and financialization over savings and investment. This fact leads to some observations:

  • If GDP has actually grown by 20% since 2008 how does this correlate with a 6.9% decline in real median household income?
  • GDP has been goosed by a $69 billion increase in government spending, with the majority going to the military industrial complex. ISIS has been a godsend for our GDP and arms dealer profits.
  • GDP was increased retroactively by $500 billion last year based on a new way the government accounts for intangibles.
  • The surge in consumer expenditures over the last two quarters has been in the purchase of services. The higher costs for Obamacare are a boon for GDP. Are they a boon for your bank account?
  • The trade deficit has fallen as exports of petroleum products have temporarily provided a boost to GDP. The collapse in oil prices will reverse that trend rapidly.

According to the quasi-governmental mouthpieces at the Conference Board, consumer confidence is near a 5 year high, reflecting what should be robust spending.

So we are told by the representatives of corporatism that we are confident about the economy and the future. How does that measure up to the facts on the ground:

  • Black Friday weekend sales collapsed by 11% versus the previous year. As the pundits tried to blame it on on-line sales (10% of total retail sales), Cyber Monday also proved to be a dud.
  • If the average person is confident about the future and happy with their economic circumstances, why did they just vote to throw out the bums in November?
  • If consumers are confident, why have real retail sales, excluding subprime debt goosed auto sales, been flat for the last three months and up only 1% in the last year?
  • If consumers are so confident, why are credit card balances still $138 billion BELOW where they were in 2008? If all these new jobs are being created why is credit card debt lower than it was in mid-2010? Maybe consumers are so desperate they are using credit cards to pay utility and tax bills and not using them for frivolous Chinese crap at big box retailers.
  • The increased spending at grocery stores and restaurants is driven by food inflation, not foot traffic. Discretionary spending at furniture, electronics, and sporting goods stores is flat.
  • Department store sales continue to fall. Sears and JC Penney teeter on the verge of bankruptcy. Delia’s is liquidating and Radio Shack isn’t far behind. The major chains have completely stopped building new stores. The great bricks and mortar unwind relentlessly plods forward. In addition, online growth is stalling as states implement sales taxes.

According to the government, the deficit was ONLY $483 billion in 2014.

This is a real doozy. Obama has been touting how he has cut the deficit through his wise management of the budget. This is where government accounting is used by apparatchiks to mislead the public and obscure the truth. A few pertinent facts are always left out by the politicians touting deficit reduction:

  • Because of the budget impasse in 2013, the Federal government stopped updating the national debt on a daily basis, but we know from when they started counting again, the debt went up by $2.3 billion per day. Therefore, the national debt on October 1, 2013 was approximately $17.038 trillion. On October 1, 2014 the national debt was $17.875. Therefore, the national debt went up by $837 billion in 2014. Just a smidge higher than the reported deficit of $483 billion.
  • Interest is not paid on reported deficits. It’s paid on the national debt, so the massaged, manipulated and made over deficit is meaningless. The national debt was always slightly higher than reported deficits, but in the last few years the deviation has grown to a Grand Canyon size.
  • The deficit number has been artificially lowered by nothing other than accounting entry hocus pocus. The Federal Reserve increasing its balance sheet to $4 trillion out of thin air creates approximately $80 billion of phantom interest profits that are paid to the Treasury. Why don’t they increase their balance sheet to $40 trillion and eliminate deficits all together?
  • The biggest accounting scam is Fannie and Freddie. Just as the Wall Street banks have created fake profits through accounting entries regarding future losses, Fannie and Freddie have gone the extra mile in helping fake deficit reduction. These bloated insolvent government run pigs required a $187 billion taxpayer bailout in 2009. Amazingly, when you allow criminals to value their assets at whatever they choose, phantom profits flow like honey.
  • These two horribly run institutions of fraud “generated profits” of $129 billion in 2014 which were “paid back” to the Treasury. That is four times more than Apple or Exxon’s profits during a non-existent housing recovery. Why are their stocks trading at just over $2 per share if they are generating vastly more profits than they were in 2007 when their stocks were north of $70 per share? It’s because the profits are fake. Everyone knows it, but the Federal Deficit is reported $129 billion lower because these insolvent entities pretended to pay the taxpayer back. Accounting entries do not reduce deficits. Spending less than you generate in revenues reduces deficits.

According to the government, we’ve experienced a strong housing recovery since 2010.

The supposed housing recovery storyline continues to be beaten like a dead horse by the Wall Street media (CNBC) and the shills at the NAR. Anyone with a functioning brain (eliminates CNBC bimbos, hacks, and Ivy League economists) can see there has been no real housing recovery:

  • The 24% rise in home prices (Case Shiller Index) since the 2012 low has been nothing more than a Wall Street hedge fund/Federal Reserve scheme to elevate prices and make Wall Street bank balance sheets less insolvent. Wall Street banks withholding foreclosures from the market while Wall Street hedge funds (Blackstone) use free money from the Fed to buy up housing and rent it out to former homeowners has enriched the .1% while destroying the dream of home ownership for millions.
  • The percent of first time home buyers remains near record lows, while speculators, flippers, hedge fund managers, and rich Chinese businessmen make up a record number of purchasers. The fact this is a fake housing recovery is proven by mortgage applications to purchase a home sitting at 1995 levels and 30% below 2009 recession lows. Maybe the fact real median household income is also at 1995 levels, real wages keep declining, and labor force participation is at 1978 levels has something to do with real people not being able to purchase a home.

  • Even with the artificial hedge fund demand, existing home sales are lower than 2013 and languishing at 1999 levels. They are still 25% below 2005 levels, despite the lowest mortgage rates in history. New home sales are a disaster, with no appreciable increase in two years. Apartment construction has far outpaced single family housing construction. After a five year housing recovery, new home sales languish at levels seen at the bottom of our last six recessions. New home sales are 65% below the 2005 peak and at levels seen in the early 1960’s when there were 130 million less people living in the country.

According to the corporate media, the auto market is hitting on all cylinders with annual sales of 16.4 million, the highest since 2006.

Pretending to sell automobiles to people without the means to pay you for the automobile is always a good business idea. Of course, when you have Ally Financial and the rest of the Wall Street banking cabal doling out 7 year 0% loans and subprime auto loans like candy, it’s easy to move inventory. The temporary boost to GDP by issuing more bad debt always works out in the long run. Right?

  • If the auto business is booming why have GM profits fallen from $9.2 billion in 2011 to $5.4 billion in 2013, and on course to fall to $4 billion in 2014? Record levels of channel stuffing produces sales gains, but no profits. Why is their stock 25% below its 52 week high and lower than it was in 2010 when it was IPO’d after being rescued by Obama?
  • If the auto business is booming why are Ford’s profits falling by 35% versus last year and lower than they were in 2010? Why is their stock price 16% below its 52 week high and still 20% below its 2010 price?
  • Auto loan debt is at an all-time high of $950 billion, up 33% since 2010 when the Fed, Wall Street, and the political class in the fetid D.C. swamp decided they needed new debt bubbles in auto loans and student loans to jump start our moribund economy.
  • There are 65 million auto loans outstanding, and the average debt now stands at $17,352. Over 30% of auto “sales” are actually leases. The rest are financed over an average of 65 months. Virtually all new car sales are nothing more than 3 to 7 year rentals. It’s amazing what easy money from the Fed can produce.
  • Over 31% of all new auto loans this year were to subprime borrowers. They now account for 36.5% of all outstanding auto loans. You become a subprime borrower by defaulting on previous debt obligations. In a shocking development, auto loan delinquencies surged by 13% in the last quarter, with subprime loan delinquencies skyrocketing by 18%. When has issuing billions of debt to subprime borrowers ever caused problems before?
  • Only a University of Phoenix African Studies major is more of a subprime risk than the millions of ecstatic Escalade drivers cruising around our urban ghetto paradises. The average student loan debt is now $33,000. Until the Obama administration went Keynesian, student loan debt was primarily in the private sector. When Obama entered the White House total student loan debt was $620 billion and delinquencies totaled $50 billion. There are now $1.3 trillion of student loans outstanding, with the Federal government accounting for $830 billion and guaranteeing a large portion of the rest. Delinquencies have skyrocketed to $125 billion, as another taxpayer bailout beckons.

According to the corporate mainstream media pundits, the plunge in oil prices from $100 per barrel to $61 per barrel is unequivocally good for the economy. The shale oil boom has worked its magic and happy times are here again.

Sometimes you have to wonder whether the highly educated spokesmodels on the corporate mainstream media are really as vacuous and clueless as they appear or whether they are just paid to look pretty and mouth the corporate line. They seem incapable of comprehending the unintended consequences of various events. The collapse in oil prices is one of those events.

  • There is no doubt that lower oil prices will lower the price of gas for the average American. Estimates say they will save $368 per year, which can be spent elsewhere. The highly paid shill economists who declare this will boost spending seem to be math challenged. Retail sales figures include gas stations. What isn’t spent there will be spent in another category, most likely healthcare or groceries as prices in both areas continue to escalate. It’s a zero sum game. No new spending will occur.
  • The worldwide supply of oil has only increased marginally over the last few years. The U.S. shale boom has been offset by declines elsewhere (Libya, Iran, Mexico). The reason for the collapse is the same reason for the 2009 collapse – worldwide demand is contracting. Europe is in a depression. Japan is in a depression. Russia’s economy is contracting. China is decelerating rapidly. The U.S. demand is flat. The implications of another global recession after five years of central banks printing trillions of fiat currency are alarming to say the least.
  • The cost to extract shale oil and transport it to a refinery capable of processing it is high. Honest analysts will tell you that a price of $70 to $80 is required to breakeven. Most companies don’t build breakeven into their plans. Bakken shale oil sells at a discount of about $14 per barrel due to the difficulty of extraction, transport, and processing. It is now selling for $47 per barrel. The number of permits for new rigs fell by 40% in November when oil was still selling for $75 per barrel. Do you think permits for new wells will fall at a price of $61 per barrel? Capital spending by the energy industry accounted for 33% of all capital spending in the last few years. I’m sure some other industry will pick up the slack. Right?
  • It seems the shale oil boom has resulted in a few jobs being created since the 2010 recession trough. In fact the states where fracking is prevalent have accounted for all the job growth in the nation. I wonder if a shale oil bust will have any employment implications. There are 9.3 million jobs related to the energy industry across the country. The plunge in oil prices created by Saudi Arabia in the 1980s created a depression in Texas which contributed to the S&L crisis. This plunge will reveal who has been swimming naked in the high yield bond market and derivatives market.

These are just a few examples among a multitude of lies. Others include: stocks aren’t overvalued, gold isn’t money, inflation is good for you, and ISIS terrorists are an imminent threat to your way of life. Every feel good story fed to the masses by the oligarchs running this shitshow we call America is no different than the propaganda doled out by other infamous totalitarian regimes throughout history. We believe things because we’ve been conditioned to believe them. The crony capitalist oligarchs are intelligent enough to invent theories to explain how the world should work, but not intelligent enough to interpret their models correctly. When they act on their theories (Keynesianism), their actions appear to be those of a lunatic. Despite all evidence refuting their theories, their arrogance and hubris lead them to destruction. The collective insanity of this world is almost too much for a rational thinking person to grasp. The extremely wealthy men operating in the shadows will use every means at their disposal to retain power, enhance their wealth, and crush dissent.

“Being a card carrying member of the privileged class means never having to say I’m sorry, much less ‘not guilty.’ Power is doing what you want when you want, and consequences are for everyone else. Or perhaps these titans of modern industry and the halls of power are at heart just good natured bumblers, who in a genuine belief destroy lives and crash economies, while pursuing insane ideological assumption put forward by vested interests, all the while stuffing their pockets, and crushing all dissent with the political skills of a Machiavelli and the ruthlessness of Al Capone.” – Jesse

The two party system is nothing but a ruse designed to keep the people believing they have a say in how things are run in this country. Both parties support the military industrial complex. Both parties support the militarization of police forces around the country. Both parties support the mass surveillance of its citizens. Both parties do the bidding of their rich corporate and special interest benefactors. Both parties favor deficit spending for eternity. Both parties believe the government should expand its role in our everyday lives. Both parties do the bidding for and protect the Wall Street interests who really run this country. No more proof is needed than what has occurred over the last five years, as criminal Wall Street bankers were rewarded for their malfeasance with trillions of dollars from taxpayers and their puppets at the Federal Reserve. While we were allowing ourselves to be distracted, amused, entertained, and indebted, the oligarchs were busy conducting a silent coup.

“Let’s be clear about this, the oligarchs are flush with victory, and feel that they are firmly in control, able to subvert and direct any popular movement to the support of their own fascist ends and unslakable will to power.

This is the contempt in which they hold the majority of American people and the political process: the common people are easily led fools, and everyone else who is smart enough to know better has their price. And they would beggar every middle class voter in the US before they will voluntarily give up one dime of their ill-gotten gains.

But my model says that the oligarchs will continue to press their advantages, being flushed with victory, until they provoke a strong reaction that frightens everyone, like a wake-up call, and the tide then turns to genuine reform.” – Simon Johnson

The oligarchs have had a good run. The system cannot be reformed from within. The corruption runs too deep. The system is broken and can’t be fixed. There is no doubt in my mind that a collapse approaches which will make 2008/2009 look like a walk in the park. The anger, blame and retribution will sweep away the existing social order and replace it with something new. It will be up to the people to decide what happens next. We were warned two centuries ago by a wise man. Hopefully, we’ll get a 2nd chance.

“However political parties may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” George Washington

 

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Who’s Right … Torture Defenders Or Critics?

http://www.nps.gov/stli/historyculture/images/Statue-Scaffolding-Copy.jpg

The Senate says that torture didn’t produce any actionable intelligence.

The CIA and a handful of those who ordered torture say that it was necessary.

Who’s right?

We don’t have to guess, get in a personality conflict, or engage in a partisan fight.

There is an overwhelming consensus among top interrogation experts of all stripes …

Overwhelming Consensus: Torture Doesn’t Work

Virtually all of the top interrogation experts – both conservatives and liberals (except for those trying to escape war crimes prosecution) – say that torture doesn’t work:

Experience indicates that the use of force is not necessary to gain the cooperation of sources for interrogation. Therefore, the use of force is a poor technique, as it yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator wants to hear.

  • The C.I.A.’s 1963 interrogation manual stated:

Intense pain is quite likely to produce false confessions, concocted as a means of escaping from distress. A time-consuming delay results, while investigation is conducted and the admissions are proven untrue. During this respite the interrogatee can pull himself together. He may even use the time to think up new, more complex ‘admissions’ that take still longer to disprove.

  • Richard Stolz, The chief of the CIA’s clandestine service under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, testified to Congress:

Physical abuse or other degrading treatment was rejected not only because it is wrong, but because it has historically proven to be ineffective.

  • According to the Washington Post, the CIA’s top spy – Michael Sulick, head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service – said that the spy agency has seen no fall-off in intelligence since waterboarding was banned by the Obama administration. “I don’t think we’ve suffered at all from an intelligence standpoint.”
  • The Chief Prosecutor of the Guantanamo military commissions (Colonel Morris Davis) says:

As person responsible for prosecuting KSM [i.e. alleged 9/11 “master mind” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed], I spent 2 yrs immersed in the intel/evid. Torture did no good.

  • A 30-year veteran of CIA’s operations directorate who rose to the most senior managerial ranks (Milton Bearden) says (as quoted by senior CIA agent and Presidential briefer Ray McGovern):

It is irresponsible for any administration not to tell a credible story that would convince critics at home and abroad that this torture has served some useful purpose.

***

The old hands overwhelmingly believe that torture doesn’t work ….

  • The head of Army intelligence in 2006 (General John Kimmons) says:

No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tells us that.

  • A former high-level CIA officer (Philip Giraldi) states:

Many governments that have routinely tortured to obtain information have abandoned the practice when they discovered that other approaches actually worked better for extracting information. Israel prohibited torturing Palestinian terrorist suspects in 1999. Even the German Gestapo stopped torturing French resistance captives when it determined that treating prisoners well actually produced more and better intelligence.

  • Another former high-level CIA official (Bob Baer) says:

And torture — I just don’t think it really works … you don’t get the truth. What happens when you torture people is, they figure out what you want to hear and they tell you.

  • Michael Scheuer, formerly a senior CIA official in the Counter-Terrorism Center, says:

“I personally think that any information gotten through extreme methods of torture would probably be pretty useless because it would be someone telling you what you wanted to hear.”

  • A retired C.I.A. officer who oversaw the interrogation of a high-level detainee in 2002 (Glenn L. Carle) says:

[Coercive techniques] didn’t provide useful, meaningful, trustworthy information…Everyone was deeply concerned and most felt it was un-American and did not work.”

  • A former top Air Force interrogator who led the team that tracked down Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who has conducted hundreds of interrogations of high ranking Al Qaida members and supervising more than one thousand, and wrote a book called How to Break a Terrorist writes:

As the senior interrogator in Iraq for a task force charged with hunting down Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, the former Al Qaida leader and mass murderer, I listened time and time again to captured foreign fighters cite the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo as their main reason for coming to Iraq to fight. Consider that 90 percent of the suicide bombers in Iraq are these foreign fighters and you can easily conclude that we have lost hundreds, if not thousands, of American lives because of our policy of torture and abuse. But that’s only the past. Somewhere in the world there are other young Muslims who have joined Al Qaida because we tortured and abused prisoners. These men will certainly carry out future attacks against Americans, either in Iraq, Afghanistan, or possibly even here. And that’s not to mention numerous other Muslims who support Al Qaida, either financially or in other ways, because they are outraged that the United States tortured and abused Muslim prisoners.

In addition, torture and abuse has made us less safe because detainees are less likely to cooperate during interrogations if they don’t trust us. I know from having conducted hundreds of interrogations of high ranking Al Qaida members and supervising more than one thousand, that when a captured Al Qaida member sees us live up to our stated principles they are more willing to negotiate and cooperate with us. When we torture or abuse them, it hardens their resolve and reaffirms why they picked up arms.

He also says:

[Torture is] extremely ineffective, and it’s counter-productive to what we’re trying to accomplish. When we torture somebody, it hardens their resolve … The information that you get is unreliable. … And even if you do get reliable information, you’re able to stop a terrorist attack, al Qaeda’s then going to use the fact that we torture people to recruit new members.

And he repeats:

I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

And:

They don’t want to talk about the long term consequences that cost the lives of Americans…. The way the U.S. treated its prisoners “was al-Qaeda’s number-one recruiting tool and brought in thousands of foreign fighters who killed American soldiers.

  • The FBI interrogators who actually interviewed some of the 9/11 suspects say torture didn’t work
  • Another FBI interrogator of 9/11 suspects said:

I was in the middle of this, and it’s not true that these [aggressive] techniques were effective

  • The FBI warned military interrogators in 2003 that enhanced interrogation techniques are “of questionable effectiveness” and cited a “lack of evidence of [enhanced techniques’] success.
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously found that torture doesn’t work, stating:

The administration’s policies concerning [torture] and the resulting controversies damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies, and compromised our moral authority.

  • General Petraeus says that torture is unnecessary
  • Retired 4-star General Barry McCaffrey – who Schwarzkopf called he hero of Desert Storm – agrees
  • Former Navy Judge Advocate General Admiral John Hutson says:

Fundamentally, those kinds of techniques are ineffective. If the goal is to gain actionable intelligence, and it is, and if that’s important, and it is, then we have to use the techniques that are most effective. Torture is the technique of choice of the lazy, stupid and pseudo-tough.

He also says:

Another objection is that torture doesn’t work. All the literature and experts say that if we really want usable information, we should go exactly the opposite way and try to gain the trust and confidence of the prisoners.

  • Army Colonel Stuart Herrington – a military intelligence specialist who interrogated generals under the command of Saddam Hussein and evaluated US detention operations at Guantánamo – notes that the process of obtaining information is hampered, not helped, by practices such as “slapping someone in the face and stripping them naked”. Herrington and other former US military interrogators say:

We know from experience that it is very difficult to elicit information from a detainee who has been abused. The abuse often only strengthens their resolve and makes it that much harder for an interrogator to find a way to elicit useful information.

  • Major General Thomas Romig, former Army JAG, said:

If you torture somebody, they’ll tell you anything. I don’t know anybody that is good at interrogation, has done it a lot, that will say that that’s an effective means of getting information. … So I don’t think it’s effective.

  • The first head of the Department of Homeland Security – Tom Ridge – says we were wrong to torture
  • The former British intelligence chairman says that waterboarding didn’t stop terror plots
  • A spokesman for the National Security Council (Tommy Vietor) says:

The bottom line is this: If we had some kind of smoking-gun intelligence from waterboarding in 2003, we would have taken out Osama bin Laden in 2003.

In researching this article, I spoke to numerous counterterrorist officials from agencies on both sides of the Atlantic. Their conclusion is unanimous: not only have coercive methods failed to generate significant and actionable intelligence, they have also caused the squandering of resources on a massive scale through false leads, chimerical plots, and unnecessary safety alerts … Here, they say, far from exposing a deadly plot, all torture did was lead to more torture of his supposed accomplices while also providing some misleading “information” that boosted the administration’s argument for invading Iraq.

  • Neuroscientists have found that torture physically and chemically interferes with the prisoner’s ability to tell the truth
  • An Army psychologist – Major Paul Burney, Army’s Behavior Science Consulting Team psychologist – said (page 78 & 83):

was stressed to me time and time again that psychological investigations have proven that harsh interrogations do not work. At best it will get you information that a prisoner thinks you want to hear to make the interrogation stop, but that information is strongly likely to be false.

***

Interrogation techniques that rely on physical or adverse consequences are likely to garner inaccurate information and create an increased level of resistance…There is no evidence that the level of fear or discomfort evoked by a given technique has any consistent correlation to the volume or quality of information obtained.

  • An expert on resisting torture – Terrence Russell, JPRA’s manager for research and development and a SERE specialist – said (page 209):

History has shown us that physical pressures are not effective for compelling an individual to give information or to do something’ and are not effective for gaining accurate, actionable intelligence.

Indeed, it has been known for hundreds of years that torture doesn’t work:

  • As a former CIA analyst notes:

During the Inquisition there were many confessed witches, and many others were named by those tortured as other witches. Unsurprisingly, when these new claimed witches were tortured, they also confessed. Confirmation of some statement made under torture, when that confirmation is extracted by another case of torture, is invalid information and cannot be trusted.

  • The head of Britain’s wartime interrogation center in London said:

“Violence is taboo. Not only does it produce answers to please, but it lowers the standard of information.”

  • The national security adviser to Vice President George H.W. Bush (Donald P. Gregg) wrote:

During wartime service with the CIA in Vietnam from 1970 to 1972, I was in charge of intelligence operations in the 10 provinces surrounding Saigon. One of my tasks was to prevent rocket attacks on Saigon’s port. Keeping Saigon safe required human intelligence, most often from captured prisoners. I had a running debate about how North Vietnamese prisoners should be treated with the South Vietnamese colonel who conducted interrogations. This colonel routinely tortured prisoners, producing a flood of information, much of it totally false. I argued for better treatment and pressed for key prisoners to be turned over to the CIA, where humane interrogation methods were the rule – and more accurate intelligence was the result.

The colonel finally relented and turned over a battered prisoner to me, saying, “This man knows a lot, but he will not talk to me.”

We treated the prisoner’s wounds, reunited him with his family, and allowed him to make his first visit to Saigon. Surprised by the city’s affluence, he said he would tell us anything we asked. The result was a flood of actionable intelligence that allowed us to disrupt planned operations, including rocket attacks against Saigon.

Admittedly, it would be hard to make a story from nearly 40 years ago into a definitive case study. But there is a useful reminder here. The key to successful interrogation is for the interrogator – even as he controls the situation – to recognize a prisoner’s humanity, to understand his culture, background and language. Torture makes this impossible.

There’s a sad twist here. Cheney forgets that the Bush administration followed this approach with some success. A high-value prisoner subjected to patient interrogation by an Arabic-speaking FBI agent yielded highly useful information, including the final word on Iraq’s weapons programs.

His name was Saddam Hussein.

  • Top interrogators got information from a high-level Al Qaeda suspects through building rapport, even if they hated the person they were interrogating by treating them as human

Senator John McCain explains, based upon his own years of torture:

I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners sometimes produces good intelligence but often produces bad intelligence because under torture a person will say anything he thinks his captors want to hear — true or false — if he believes it will relieve his suffering. Often, information provided to stop the torture is deliberately misleading.

According to the experts, torture is unnecessary even to prevent “ticking time bombs” from exploding (see this, this and this). Indeed, a top expert says that torture would fail in a real ‘ticking time-bomb’ situation. (And, no … it did NOT help get Bin Laden).

As shown above, torture doesn’t produce actionable intelligence  …

But even if it did, the specific type of torture used by the U.S. is famous for producing false evidence.

Postscript: U.S. national security experts also say that – rather than preventing terror attacks – torture only creates new terrorists and reduces our security.

Posted in Politics / World News | Leave a comment

FBI Counter-Terror Expert: ISIS Is Putting American Hostages In Orange Jumpsuits Because U.S. Put Tortured Guantanamo Detainees In Orange Jumpsuits

Blowback from U.S. Torture

In the back of my mind, I’ve wondered why ISIS puts captured American hostages in orange jumpsuits before killing them.

Without thinking about it, I’ve assumed it’s some weird Muslim tradition.

But a high-level FBI counter-terrorism officer – who was the lead interrogator of numerous high-level Al Qaeda terrorists without using torture (Ali Soufan) – explains the clothing in the Washington Post:

“Imagine if we didn’t go down that road [of using torture]. Imagine. We played into the enemy’s hand,” said Ali H. Soufan, a former F.B.I. agent who clashed with the C.I.A. over its interrogation tactics. “Now we have American hostages in orange jumpsuits because we put people in orange jumpsuits.

In other words,  ISIS is putting American hostages in orange jumpsuits because the U.S. put Muslim detainees in Guantanamo in orange jumpsuits.

And because the U.S. waterboarded Arab detainees, ISIS is waterboarding Western hostages.

More blowback from our idiotic policies

Posted in Politics / World News | Leave a comment

RATING THE NATIONS

Ukraine the Only Non-African Country on the List of Worst for Workers.

U.S. Ranks in Bottom Third. Denmark is the Top Rated of All Nations.

Denmark Is Likewise the Top-Ranked for Happiness or Well-Being.

Eric Zuesse

The country that’s best for workers is also the happiest country in the world. The country that’s worst for workers is the second-most miserable, and that country is also nearly the most corrupt one on Earth.

The U.S. isn’t particularly good on either rating. And it’s moderately corrupt. Whoever says that “The U.S. is number one” would have to be referring to some other criterion, or else be ignorant of current reality on happiness, workers’ rights, and government corruption.

On 19 May 2014, the International Trade Union Confederation headlined “New ITUC Global Rights Index – The world’s worst countries for workers 2014.”

They reported: “The ITUC Global Rights Index ranks 139 countries against 97 internationally recognised indicators to assess where workers’ rights are best protected, in law and in practice. ‘Countries such as Denmark and Uruguay led the way, … but perhaps surprisingly, the likes of Greece, the United States and Hong Kong, lagged behind,’ said ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow. ‘A country’s level of development proved to be a poor indicator of whether it respected basic rights to bargain collectively, strike for decent conditions, or simply join a union at all.’”

They noted: “Only Denmark received a perfect score of zero for respecting all 97 indicators of workers’ fundamental rights.”

Each country was ranked 1 through 5, with the most extremely-bad countries being ranked a “5+” so that there are actually six rankings, from the best “1,” down to the worst “5+.”

Ukraine is the worst for workers, but it’s tied there along with seven African nations; it’s the only non-African one on that list. All 8 of these countries received a score of 5+.

The U.S. scored a 4, placing it in the lowest third of rated nations, for its treatment of workers.

Ukraine (which is now in civil war, but wasn’t at war when these ratings were taken) ranks also amongst the most corrupt nations on Earth. How gigantic is Ukraine’s corruption? According to the World Economic Forum, in their “Global Competitiveness Report, 2013-2014,” Ukraine ranks #122 out of the 148 rated nations for “Diversion of public funds,” #143 for “Property rights,” #139 for “Judicial independence,” #130 for “Irregular payments and bribes,” #133 for “Favoritism in decisions of government officials” (otherwise known as cronyism), #143 for “Wastefulness of government spending,” #144 for “Efficiency of legal framework in settling disputes,” #146 for “Efficiency of legal framework in challenging regs,” #146 for “Protection of minority shareholders’ interests,” and #133 for “Reliability of police services.” Only a few African, and Central and South American, countries are as corrupt as Ukraine. The U.S. ranks in the mid-thirties, which is about the lowest of all industrialized nations.

Ukraine is, for workers, the only non-African country ranked at the bottom as a 5+ place for workers. Besides Ukraine, the other bottom-rankers are Central African Republic, Libya, Palestine, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Syria.

Most of the top-rated countries for workers are in Europe (the countries that Republicans commonly disdainfully call “socialistic.”)

Here are all of the nations that received the top rating for workers, the rating category of 1: Barbados, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, Togo, and Uruguay.

Here are other countries that are prominent in the news right now, along with their respective ratings for workers: Japan 2, Russia 2, Venezuela 3, United Kingdom 3, Poland 3, Israel 3, Georgia 3, Ecuador 3, Chile 3, Canada 3, Brazil 3, Australia 3, Thailand 4, Pakistan 4, Myanmar 4, Mexico 4, Lebanon 4, Iraq 4, Iran 4, Indonesia 4, Hong Kong 4, Honduras 4, Haiti 4, El Salvador 4, Argentina 4, Zimbabwe 5, Turkey 5, Saudi Arabia 5, Philippines 5, Nigeria 5, Guatemala 5, Greece 5, Egypt 5, China 5, Bangladesh 5.

Denmark also scores at the top in a remarkably large percentage of the international studies of “happiness” or “well-being.” And this isn’t only recent. A massive study of the happiness-level of 178 countries was reported at HealthDay on 26 July 2006, “Danes Are The Happiest, Study Says,” and BusinessWeek later bannered on this study “Rating Countries for the Happiness Factor.” Adrian White at Britain’s University of Leicester had crunched numbers, and reported in his “A Global Projection of Subjective Well-Being,” that Denmark was the happiest of 178 nations, and Burundi was the most miserable. Of all industrialized nations, only Japan didn’t rank in the top half — it was 90th. Italy, however, didn’t do too well either, on that rating; it was 50th. Almost all industrialized nations ranked higher than #23, which was the U.S. rank. The top ten nations, for “subjective well-being” or happiness, in order, were: Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Iceland, Bahamas, Finland, Bhutan, Brunei, Canada, and Ireland. Then, on 20 August 2008, BusinessWeek headlined “Survey Says: People Are Happier: The 2008 World Values Survey found that freedom of choice and tolerance — and not simply wealth — have lots to do with a rise in happiness.” This ranking of 97 countries also placed Denmark as the happiest. The complete top ten in this ranking were, in order: Denmark, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Iceland, N. Ireland, Ireland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, and Austria. The U.S. was #16.

However, a Spring 2008 Gallup report, written by Princeton’s Angus Deaton, for Gallup, was titled “Income, Health, and Well-Being Around the World: Evidence From the Gallup World Poll,” and it reported that Puerto Rico ranked only at the top of the bottom half of the world’s nations, for “Life Satisfaction.” Denmark was #1 in that ranking also, and Finland was #2.

In all three of these rankings, the U.S. was within the top 12% for happiness or well-being. However, the U.S. was closer to the top 1% on other rankings, more physical types of rankings, which measured solely per-capita income or economic well-being. Clearly, the U.S. has wasted huge sums, lost lots of well-being, by its enormous healthcare expenditures (now an astronomically high 17% of our GDP, versus less than half that for other countries); this nation has been becoming internationally uncompetitive because of medical-cost wastage draining resources from the rest of the American economy. The U.S. is also one of the highest-drainage countries via financial services. Medical services and financial services are increasingly eating up the U.S. economy. The most-competitive nations (on the World Economic Forum rankings) tended to have socialized health insurance, or even socialized healthcare, but the propaganda from America’s major “news” media say that this nation is already too “socialistic.” The services that drain resources from the rest of the economy spend a large proportion of that drainage upon advertising and other propaganda-expenditures that go toward the aristocrats who own the “news” media, so “socialism” (which is respected in countries such as Denmark and all of Scandinavia) is widely thought by Americans to be a variety of communism, what sank the Soviet Union. That’s a Big Lie, but it’s common in the U.S.

Furthermore, the Gallup-Deaton study contained a remarkable graph, “Figure 5: Confidence in Healthcare and Medical Systems Around the World,” which showed that the public in every industrialized country other than in the U.S., and even the people in some developing countries such as Thailand Vietnam and Cuba, had vastly higher confidence in their healthcare than did Americans. Americans were not only the sole industrialized country that had no centralized government control over health insurance, but were also the sole industrialized country whose populace distrusted their healthcare providers. (Perhaps the U.S.’s being the most corrupt industrialized country had something to do with this widespread mistrust of healthcare providers in the U.S.) How much U.S. press-coverage was there of that? None.

Gallup and Deaton foolishly didn’t list and show the rankings of the 155 countries that Gallup had surveyed, except of the top few, but Forbes published the full rankings on 14 June 2010, when Francesca Levy headlined “Table: The World’s Happiest Countries.” This table showed that Gallup had produced their ranking from a composite of four factors on their questionnaires: Percent Thriving, Percent Suffering, Percent Struggling, and Daily Experience (questions about what happened that day). This complete rank-list showed that the U.S. was #14 of the 155 countries. The U.S. scored closer to Mexico, below it, than to Canada, above it. The rankings placed at the top the nations that generally scored at the top also on two economic indicators: per-capita income, and economic equality (low gini). For example, Singapore, which has high per-capita income but fairly low equality, scored #81 on happiness, which was midway, in the Gallup rankings. Denmark and Finland, which have high per-capita incomes and extremely high equality, were at the top in happiness. And Togo and Burundi, which have the world’s lowest PCIs, and moderate equality, were at the bottom in happiness. Of course, the poor countries that have extreme inequality, such as Chad, Benin, and Burkina Faso,

Furthermore, in yet another measure of happiness, the U.S. didn’t rank in the top 12%, but only at the very top of the bottom two-thirds: On 5 May 2009, the OECD issued “Society at a Glance 2009: OECD Social Indicators”, which ranked the 30 OECD nations on (among other things) “Life Satisfaction.” Since the OECD consists almost entirely of the world’s wealthy industrialized democracies, the U.S. ranked only 11th out of these 30 nations. The top ten on “Life Satisfaction,” in order, here were: Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Belgium, and Sweden. This same study ranked countries also on health, and also on the percentage of the national income that was spent on healthcare; the U.S. was only middling on health, but was far and away the most wasteful, #1, having the highest percentage of its national income spent (thus wasted) on it. America would have won, hands down, any contest for the wastefulness and inefficiency in its healthcare expenditures, but wouldn’t even have been competitive on the average quality of healthcare provided to its public.

Incidentally, as far as Ukraine is concerned: The Gallup-Deaton study showed (see page 6) that Ukraine and Moldova were the bottom two countries on “Life Satisfaction” (and that was before the 2014 Ukrainian civil war). So, there does seem to be a correlation between being a rotten place to work, and having unhappy workers.

And, perhaps the most remarkable conclusion from the research is that, despite U.S. propaganda (from the aristocrats who own America’s major “news” media and who hire and fire its “reporters” to write the propaganda they want), America is not only among the bottom third of all ranked nations on workers’ rights and protections, but is also among the lowest-ranked of industrialized nations on happiness or well-being of the public. If the American public are inclined to think otherwise, then the people who control America’s “news” media have been very successful at what they are being paid to do, which is to deliver a complacent public of obedient (even if unhappy — including low-paid, and becoming lower paid) workers.

Of course, since President Obama has spent over $5 billion of U.S. taxpayer money in order to overthrow the democratically elected President of Ukraine and has cleaned out the entire gold reserves of the Ukrainian Central Bank of its former $1.8 billion in gold bars as a down payment against that debt, leaving a net debt owed by Ukraine to the U.S. of around three to four billion for that overthrow, one might wonder whether the happiness of people in either Ukraine or U.S. will be improved by that operation by Obama on behalf of America’s aristocracy.

Some readers might consider this article to be partisan, but it is that only if the research-findings are. And they aren’t. What’s partisan is instead the propaganda that’s fed daily to the American people and that causes the scientific evidence to seem partisan to the people who have been taken in by that propaganda. Now, which media will report this? It’s being submitted to them all. So: we’ll soon know.

———-

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 General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Torture “Architect” Mistaken in Claim Nobody’s Punished for Drone Murders

A psychologist who played a key role in a U.S. torture program said on a video yesterday that torture was excusable because blowing up families with a drone is worse (and nobody’s punished for that). Well, of course the existence of something worse is no excuse for torture. And he’s wrong that no one is punished for drone murders. The protesters are. Latest example:

“Missouri judge convicts and sentences two peace activists for protesting drone warfare at Whiteman Air Force Base.

“Jefferson City, MO—On December 10, a federal magistrate found Georgia Walker, of  Kansas  City, MO and Chicagoan Kathy Kelly guilty of criminal trespass to a military installation  as a result of their June 1 effort to deliver a loaf of bread and a citizens’ indictment of drone warfare to authorities at Whiteman AFB.   Judge Matt Whitworth sentenced Kelly to three months in prison and Walker to one year of supervised probation.

“In testimony, Kelly, who recently returned from Afghanistan, recounted her conversation with an Afghan mother whose son, a recent police academy graduate, was killed by a drone as he sat with colleagues in a garden.  “I’m educated and humbled by experiences talking with people who’ve been trapped and impoverished by U.S. warfare,” said Kelly. ‘The U.S. prison system also traps and impoverishes people.  In coming months, I’ll surely learn more about who goes to prison and why.’

“During sentencing, prosecution attorneys asked that Walker be sentenced to five years of probation and banned from going within 500 feet of any military base.  Judge Whitworth imposed a sentence of one year probation with a condition that Walker refrain from approaching any military base for one year. Walker coordinates an organization that provides re-entry services to newly released prisoners throughout Missouri.  Noting that the condition to stay away from military bases will affect her ability to travel in the region, Walker expressed concern that this condition will limit her work among former prisoners.

“Kelly’s work as a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence places her alongside people in a working class neighborhood of Kabul.  She said that the day’s proceedings offered a valuable opportunity to shed light on experiences of Afghan families whose grievances are seldom heard. At the conclusion of the sentencing, Kelly said that every branch of U.S. government, including the judicial branch, shares responsibility for suffering caused when drones target and kill civilians.”

On December 3, Mark Colville, a protester of drone murders at Hancock Air Base in New York, was sentenced to a one year conditional release, $1000 fine, $255 court costs, and to give a DNA sample to NY State. “This sentence was a great departure from what Judge Jokl threatened to give Mark,” said Ellen Grady. “We are relieved that the judge did not give him the maximum and we in the courtroom were very moved by Mark’s powerful statement to the court. May the resistance continue!”

This was Colville’s statement in court:

“Judge Jokl:

“I am standing here before you tonight because I tried to intervene on behalf of a family in Afghanistan whose members have experienced the unspeakable trauma of witnessing loved ones being blown to pieces, murdered by hellfire missiles fired from remote control aircraft like those flown from the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Airbase. I stand here, under judgement in this court, because a member of that family, Raz Mohammad, wrote an urgent plea to the courts of the United States, to our government and military, to stop these unprovoked attacks on his people, and I made a conscientious decision to carry Mr. Mohammad’s plea to the gates of Hancock. Make no mistake: I am proud of that decision. As a husband and father myself, and as a child of God, I do not hesitate to affirm that the actions for which I stand subject to punishment in this court tonight were responsible, loving and nonviolent. As such, no sentence that you pronounce here can either condemn me or deligitimize what I’ve done, nor will it have any impact on the truth of similar actions undertaken by dozens of others who are still awaiting trial in this court.

“The drone base within your jurisdiction is part of a military/intelligence undertaking that is not only founded upon criminality, but is also, by any sober analysis, allowed to operate beyond the reach of law. Extrajudicial killings, targeted assassinations, acts of state terrorism, the deliberate targeting of civilians- all of these crimes form the essence of the weaponized drone program that the United States government claims to be legal in its prosecution of the so called “war on terror”. Recent studies have shown that for every targeted person killed in a drone strike, twenty eight people of undetermined identity have also been slaughtered. The military admits to employing a mode of operation called “double-tapping”, in which a weaponized drone is directed back to strike a target a second time, after first responders have arrived to help the wounded. Yet never has any of this been subject to congressional approval or, more importantly, to the scrutiny of U.S. courts. In this case, you had the opportunity, from where you sit, to change that. You’ve heard the testimony of several trials similar to mine; you know what the reality is. You also heard the desperate plea of Raz Mohammad, which was read in open court during this trial. What you chose was to further legitimize these crimes by ignoring them. The faces of dead children, murdered by our nation’s hand, had no place in this court. They were excluded. Objected to. Irrelevant. Until that changes, this court continues to take an active, crucial role in condemning the innocent to death. In so doing, this court condemns itself.

“And I think it’s fitting to end with the words of Raz that were sent to me this afternoon on behalf of his sister, widowed after a drone attack killed her young husband:

“‘My sister says that for the sake of her 7 year old son, she doesn’t want to bear any grudges or take revenge against the U.S./NATO forces for the drone attack that killed his father. But, she asks that the U.S./NATO forces end their drone attacks in Afghanistan, and that they give an open account of deaths cause by drone attacks in this country.'”

Plans are being made for big national protests at Shaw Air Base in South Carolina (dates to be determined) and at Creech Air Base in Nevada (that one March 1-4).

Actions at Hancock Air Base in New York are ongoing, as at Beale in CA and Battle Creek, MI.

Want to get involved in opposing drone murder?

Sign BanWeaponizedDrones.org

Organize with KnowDrones

Support Voices for Creative Nonviolence

Get your city or state to oppose drones.

Get anti-drone shirts, stickers, hats, etc.

Brian Terrell, who has spent 6 months behind bars already for opposing murder by drone, offers some useful insights in an article called Redefining “Imminent”.

So does a victim’s child in My father was killed by a computer, says 7 year old Afghan child.

As does drone murder protester Joy First in  What Happens When You Talk With Americans About Drone Murders.

Find more articles here.

<--break->

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Central Banks’ 2% Plan to Impoverish You

The 2% target is low enough that the household frogs in the kettle of hot water never realize they’re being boiled alive because the increase is so gradual.

A comment by correspondent David C. suggested the importance of demonstrating the impoverishing consequences of central banks reaching their 2% inflation target. David observed: “That central bankers aren’t all hanging by their necks from lamp posts everywhere is a testament to how scarce are those who grasp exponents and compounding.”

Anyone with basic Excel skills can calculate the cumulative impoverishment caused by central banks’ “modest” 2% annual inflation. Here is my worksheet:

Column 1: year
Column 2: index starting with 100
Column 3: annual inflation sum (2% of previous year’s total index)
Column 4: cumulative total index

1    100.00  2.00  102.00
2    102.00  2.04  104.04
3    104.04  2.08  106.12
4    106.12  2.12  108.24
5    108.24  2.16  110.41
6    110.41  2.21  112.62
7    112.62  2.25  114.87
8    114.87  2.30  117.17
9    117.17  2.34  119.51
10  119.51  2.39  121.90

Ten years of modest 2% inflation robs households of nearly 20% of their purchasing power. What was $100 in year 1 costs about $122 after 10 years of “modest” 2% inflation. Put another way, $100 in year one is only worth $81 in year 10.

11  121.90  2.44  124.34
12  124.34  2.49  126.82
13  126.82  2.54  129.36
14  129.36  2.59  131.95
15  131.95  2.64  134.59
16  134.59  2.69  137.28
17  137.28  2.75  140.02
18  140.02  2.80  142.82
19  142.82  2.86  145.68
20  145.68  2.91  148.59

Two decades of “modest” 2% inflation robs households of one-third of their purchasing power. What was $100 in year 1 costs about $150 after 20 years of “modest” 2% inflation. Put another way, $100 in year one is only worth $66 in year 20.

Even when central banks fail to reach their 2% annual-thievery target, incomes decline across the entire spectrum. The middle class (however you define it) lost roughly 10% as of 2012. In Japan, famous for essentially no inflation, wages have fallen by 9% in real terms since 1997.

While wages go nowhere, costs continue lofting ever higher as central banks print and pump money and credit:


source: What Inflation Means to You: Inside the Consumer Price Index (Doug Short)

Imagine central banks overshoot their 2% theft per year target and reach 3% annual inflation. If 2% is good, 3% must be even better, right?

In one decade of 3% annual inflation, the purchasing power of $100 declines to $73, and after 20 years of central bank inflation, it drops almost in half to $54. The central banks’ inflation is a steady transfer of wealth from households to the banking sector and those holding ballooning assets like stocks. This is why central banks cling to their target so vociferously: their reason to exist is to enrich the banking sector at the expense of the rest of us.

The 2% target is low enough that the household frogs in the kettle of hot water never realize they’re being boiled alive because the increase is so gradual. The central banks assume their 2% plan to impoverish us all escaped our notice. Apparently it has.


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

Congress Just Passed Legislation Ramping Up Mass Surveillance to Super-Steroid Levels

Fascist Power Grab Wipes out 4th Amendment

Remember how Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to mass surveillance, and how the government promised to rein in spying on Americans?

Yeah, that never happened

Instead, Congress snuck a provision into the Intelligence Authorization Act which will ramp up spying on us normal, average, innocent Americans.

Congressman Justin Amash explains:

When I learned that the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2015 was being rushed to the floor for a vote—with little debate and only a voice vote expected (i.e., simply declared “passed” with almost nobody in the room)—I asked my legislative staff to quickly review the bill for unusual language. What they discovered is one of the most egregious sections of law I’ve encountered during my time as a representative: It grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American.

On Wednesday afternoon, I went to the House floor to demand a roll call vote on the bill so that everyone’s vote would have to be recorded. I also sent the letter below to every representative.

With more time to spread the word, we would have stopped this bill, which passed 325-100. Thanks to the 99 other representatives—44 Republicans and 55 Democrats—who voted to protect our rights and uphold the Constitution. And thanks to my incredibly talented staff.

###

Block New Spying on U.S. Citizens: Vote “NO” on H.R. 4681

Dear Colleague:

The intelligence reauthorization bill, which the House will vote on today, contains a troubling new provision that for the first time statutorily authorizes spying on U.S. citizens without legal process.

Last night, the Senate passed an amended version of the intelligence reauthorization bill with a new Sec. 309—one the House never has considered. Sec. 309 authorizes “the acquisition, retention, and dissemination” of nonpublic communications, including those to and from U.S. persons. The section contemplates that those private communications of Americans, obtained without a court order, may be transferred to domestic law enforcement for criminal investigations.

To be clear, Sec. 309 provides the first statutory authority for the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of U.S. persons’ private communications obtained without legal process such as a court order or a subpoena. The administration currently may conduct such surveillance under a claim of executive authority, such as E.O. 12333. However, Congress never has approved of using executive authority in that way to capture and use Americans’ private telephone records, electronic communications, or cloud data.

Supporters of Sec. 309 claim that the provision actually reins in the executive branch’s power to retain Americans’ private communications. It is true that Sec. 309 includes exceedingly weak limits on the executive’s retention of Americans’ communications. With many exceptions, the provision requires the executive to dispose of Americans’ communications within five years of acquiring them—although, as HPSCI admits, the executive branch already follows procedures along these lines.

In exchange for the data retention requirements that the executive already follows, Sec. 309 provides a novel statutory basis for the executive branch’s capture and use of Americans’ private communications. The Senate inserted the provision into the intelligence reauthorization bill late last night. That is no way for Congress to address the sensitive, private information of our constituents—especially when we are asked to expand our government’s surveillance powers.

I urge you to join me in voting “no” on H.R. 4681, the intelligence reauthorization bill, when it comes before the House today.

Justin Amash
Member of Congress

The House subsequently passed H.R. 4681.

Top NSA officials previously said that we’ve got a “police state” … J. Edgar Hoover (or the Stasi) “on super steroids“.

Now what do we call it?

Posted in Politics / World News | 1 Comment

Architect of the Torture Program: “You Can Get People To Say ANYTHING To Stop Harsh Interrogations”

The Hidden Secret of the Torture Program

James Mitchell and his partner Bruce Jessen are the architects of the American torture program.  And see this.

Mitchell just told Vice News that:

You can get people to say anything to stop harsh interrogations if you apply them in a way that does that.

Yes, that’s the whole point … the U.S. tortured people for the specific purpose of producing false propaganda.

Posted in Politics / World News | Leave a comment

Elizabeth Warren Could Use Some Elizabeth Peacen

Why people want to become fans of a senator rather than pushing senators to serve the public is beyond me.

Why people want to distract and drain away two years of activism, with the planet in such peril, fantasizing about electing a messiah is beyond me.

And when people who’ve chosen as their messiah someone who isn’t even running for the office they’re obsessed with, respond to criticism with “Well, who else is there?” — that makes zero sense. They’ve made the list and could make it differently.

But here’s what’s really crazy about talking to Elizabeth-Warren-For-Presidenters. If you complain that she hasn’t noticed the military budget yet, they tell you that doing so would cost her the election. And when you reject that contention, they tell you that wars are just one little issue among a great many.

Now, when Congress was cooking up a Grand Bargain to solve the debt “crisis,” people who were polled almost universally rejected any of the acceptable solutions under consideration, such as smashing Social Security. Instead, they said they wanted the rich taxed and the military cut. When pollsters at the University of Maryland show people the federal budget, a strong majority wants big cuts to the military. This is nothing new. People favor cutting war spending. People who elected Obama believed (falsely) that he intended to cut the military.

A different and more substantiated argument would be that turning against military spending would cost Warren the support of wealthy funders and the tolerance of media gatekeepers. But that does not seem to be the argument that Warren-For-Presidenters make.

It’s the “just one issue among many” thing that’s truly nuts. Look at this:

One little item makes up over half the discretionary budget, the things a Senator votes to spend money on or not spend money on. Does Warren think this massive investment in war preparation is too much, too little, or just the right amount? Who the hell knows? Can anyone even be found who cares?

The cost of one weapons system that doesn’t work could provide every homeless person with a large house.

A tiny fraction of military spending could end starvation at home and abroad.

The Great Student Loan Struggle takes place in the shadow of military spending unseen in countries that simply make college free, countries that don’t tax more than the United States, countries that just don’t do wars the way the U.S. does. You can find lots of other little differences between those countries and the U.S. but none of them on the unfathomable scale of military spending or even remotely close to it.

Financially, war is what the U.S. government does. Everything else is a side show.

In the typical U.S. Congressional election, the military budget is never mentioned by any candidate or commentator. But surely it’s fair to ask Senator Warren, with her great interest in financial questions and economic justice, whether she knows the military budget exists and what she thinks of it.

As far as I know, nobody has asked her. When asked about Israel bombing families, she literally ran away. When asked again, she gave her support to the mass killing.

When a candidate is never asked about a subject, most people simply imagine the candidate shares their own view. This is why it’s important to ask.

Of course, many people actually think that war is only one little issue among many others and that, for example, funding schools is totally unrelated to dumping over half the budget into a criminal enterprise. To them I say, please look carefully at the graphic above.

Posted in General | 1 Comment

Please Sign Urgent Petition Against Derivatives Deregulation

Details here: Please Sign Urgent Occupy the SEC Petition on Against Derivatives Deregulation

Background here, here, here, here, herehere, here and here.

Posted in Business / Economics, Politics / World News | Leave a comment