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Forum Post: Empire Under Obama: Political Language and the "Mafia Principles" of International Relations

Posted 11 months ago on Oct. 8, 2013, 4:46 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5763)
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Empire Under Obama: Political Language and the "Mafia Principles" of International Relations

Tuesday, 08 October 2013 11:08 By Andrew Gavin Marshall, The Hampton Institute | News Analysis

http://truth-out.org/news/item/19296-empire-under-obama-part-1-political-language-and-the-mafia-principles-of-international-relations


Noam Chomsky | On Shutdown, Waning US Influence, Syrian Showdown

Tuesday, 08 October 2013 12:41 By Harrison Samphir, Truthout | Interview

http://truth-out.org/news/item/19287-in-conversation-with-noam-chomsky-on-us-politics-global-affairs-and-capitalist-reform

Noam Chomsky gives his perspective on the US government shutdown, the Syrian civil war, capitalist reform in South America and more in a Truthout interview.

Noam Chomsky is one of the world's greatest living intellectuals. His work and achievements are well known - he is a foundational American linguist, professor emeritus at MIT for more than 60 years, undeviating political activist and commentator, and an ally of progressive movements around the world.

In this interview, Truthout spoke with the 84-year-old by telephone to discuss the current US government shutdown, tumultuous state of American politics, the Syrian Civil War and a wave of capitalist reform in South America.

Chomsky's latest works are Nuclear War and Environmental Catastrophe, with writer and multimedia artist Laray Polk, and On Western Terrorism: From Hiroshima to Drone Warfare, with novelist and filmmaker André Vltchek.

Harrison Samphir: Thank you for speaking with me today, Mr. Chomsky. I would like to begin with the recent federal government shutdown in the United States. Acknowledging that it has happened once before, how is this instance different, if at all? How does it speak to the unwillingness from above to institute meaningful reform - healthcare or otherwise - and respond to the desires of the majority of the population?

Noam Chomsky: Well, actually, there was pretty good commentary on it this morning [October 4] in The New York Times by Paul Krugman who basically makes the point, it's a narrow point, that the Republican Party among the public is a minority party. So for example, they do run the House of Representatives, they're a majority there, and it's the House that is essentially sending the government into shutdown and maybe default. But they won the majority of seats there because of various kinds of chicanery. They got a minority of the votes, but a majority of the seats, and they're using them to press forward an agenda which is extremely harmful to the public. The particular thing that they're focusing on is defunding the health-care system.

You're from Canada so you probably know, the United States is unique among the rich countries, developed countries, in not having some kind of a national health-care system. The US health-care system is a complete scandal. It's got twice the costs of comparable countries and some of the worst outcomes. And the reason is that it's largely privatized and unregulated. So ofcourse it's highly inefficient and costly. And what's called Obamacare is an effort to mildly change this, not change it as far as it should go or as much as the population wants it to go, but to make it a little better and a little more affordable. And the Republicans have picked that as the one thing that they want to hang on to to try to gain some political stand, so they have to destroy what they call Obamacare. This is now not all the Republicans, it's a wing of the Republican Party, which is called conservative but in fact is just deeply reactionary. It's correctly described as a "radical insurgency" by one of the leading conservative commentators, Norman Ornstein.

So there's a radical insurgency, which is a large part of the Republican base, which is willing to do anything, destroy the country, whatever, in order to get rid of this Affordable Care Act. That's the one thing that they're able to hang onto. If they can't get rid of that, they're going to have to tell their base, we've been lying to you for the last five years. So they're willing to go to almost any extent to do that. That's unusual, in fact I think it's unique in the history of modern parliamentary systems. And it's very dangerous for the country and for the world

HS: How do see the shutdown ending?

NC: Well the shutdown itself is bad but not devastating. The real danger will come up in a couple of weeks. There's legislation which is in fact routine - it's passed every year - which allows the government to borrow money, otherwise it can't function. If Congress does not approve this budget request, the government may have to default. That's never happened. And a default of the US government would not only be very harmful here, it would probably send the country back into deep recession, but it just might crash the international financial system. Now, maybe they'll find ways around it, but the financial system of the world depends very heavily on the credibility of the US Treasury Department. US Treasury securities are what's called "good as gold"; they're the basis of international finance, and if the government can't uphold them, if they become valueless, the effect on the international financial system could be quite severe. But in order to destroy a limited health-care law, the right-wing Republicans, the reactionary Republicans, are willing to do that.

Now there's a split in the US about how this will be resolved. The main point to look at is the split within the Republican Party. The Republican establishment, and Wall Street, and the bankers, and the corporate executives and so on, they don't want this. They don't want it at all. It's the part of the base that is mobilized that wants it. And they're finding it hard to control that base. There's a reason why they have a collection of near crazies as the base. Over the past 30 or 40 years, both political parties have drifted to the right. Same thing's happened in Canada, incidentally. This is all part of the whole neoliberal shift in the economy. But the parties have shifted to the right. Today's Democrats are pretty much what used to be called moderate Republicans a generation ago. And the Republicans went so far to the right that they just can't get votes. They've become a dedicated party of the very rich and the corporate sector. And you can't get votes that way. So they've been compelled to mobilize a base of voters and gone to elements of the country that have always been there but were kind of marginal to the political system, for example, religious extremists. The United States is off the international spectrum in religious extremism. I mean half of the population, roughly, thinks the world was created a couple thousand years ago. Two thirds of the country is expecting the second coming of Christ. They've also had to turn to nativists. The gun culture in the United States, which is out of control, is party fueled by people who think 'we've got to have our guns to protect ourselves.' Protect ourselves from whom? From the United Nations? From the federal government? From people from outer space?

There are big, extremely irrational parts of the society, and they have now been mobilized politically by the Republican establishment, hoping that these people could be an electoral base to keep them in power, but on the assumption that they'd be able to control them. And that's turning out not to be easy. You actually saw it in the last primaries if you were watching. The Republican Primaries were quite interesting. The establishment had its candidate, Romney, a kind of a Wall Street lawyer and investor, and they wanted him in. But the base didn't want him. And every time a candidate came up from the base, that is with popular support, the Republican establishment went into high gear to destroy them with massive propaganda attack ads and so on. It was one after another, each one crazier than the last. And the Republican establishment is afraid of them, they don't want them. So they were able to keep them under control and get their own candidate in. But they're losing control of the base, and that's a deep dilemma for the Republican Party.

Actually, I'm sorry to say it has some historical analogs. It's kind of reminiscent of what happened in Germany in the late Weimar years. German industrialists wanted to use the Nazis, who were a relatively small group, as a battering ram against the labour movement and the left. They thought they control them but it turns out they were wrong. They couldn't control them. I'm not saying that will happen here, it's quite a different set of circumstances, but something similar is taking place. The Republican establishment, the mainstream corporate financial wealth, is getting to a point where it can't control the base it's mobilized.

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[-] 4 points by HCHC4 (-28) 11 months ago

"In other words, if you are against war and empire in principle, yet engage in the concocted debates surrounding whatever current war is being pushed for, debating the merits of the one of usually two positions fed to the populace through the media, punditry and pageantry of modern political life, then you simply reinforce that which your own personal values may find so repulsive.

If you are not given a language with which to understand issues and the world in a meaningful way, then you are curtailed in your ability to think of the world in a non-superficial way, let alone articulate meaningful positions.

By simply adopting the political language which makes up the 'discourse of empire' - allowing for politicians, pundits, intellectuals and the media to justify and disagree to various degrees on the objectives and actions of empire - your thoughts and words become an extension of that discourse, and perpetuate its perverse purposes."

That is one hell of an article LeoYo, nice job as usual. Very informative, going deeper than the surface into the underlying meaning of what it is we currently are.

[-] 8 points by LeoYo (5763) 11 months ago

Thanks. Glad to see you're back. Things were a bit dull without you.

Words are Power and something I found out a long time ago is that even when people are informed of the implications behind terminology, they still chose to go with the status quo rather than liberate their own minds and the minds of others through the mere use of speech.

[-] 2 points by HCHC4 (-28) 11 months ago

Thanks, and thanks for the constant great posts that go at corruption regardless of where it is.

[-] 0 points by vagabondblues (18) from Oyster Bay, NY 11 months ago

Yes, I'm glad to see you back too. The tenacity that you have shown us all is a quality that we will all need to summon up in ourselves... if we are going to be successful in our struggle.

[-] 0 points by HCHC4 (-28) 11 months ago

All good, thanks. Lots of good info get exchanged here, despite the gutterish feel of it sometimes.

[-] 4 points by LeoYo (5763) 11 months ago

HS: Turning now to foreign policy, it seems as though news about Syria has effectively vanished from the mainstream media since the agreement was reached to confiscate Assad's chemical weapons arsenal. Can you comment on this silence? Does it reflect Western apathy vis-à-vis foreign conflicts, which are mostly viewed through sanitized television news programs?

NC: In the United States, and to a certain extent in Canada, there's very little interest in what happens outside their borders. The United States is a very insular society. Most people know very little about the outside world and don't care that much. They're concerned with their own affairs. People don't have knowledge and understanding about the outside world, or about history. It's limited, and there are a lot of reasons for this, but it's a fact. So when something isn't constantly drummed-up by the media, they just don't know about it. Syria is bad enough, it's a pretty terrible atrocity. But there are much worse ones in the world. So for example, the worst atrocities in the past decade have been in the Congo, the Eastern Congo, where maybe 5 million people have been killed. Horrible atrocities, and we're [the United States] involved, not directly but indirectly. The main mineral in your cellphone, coltan [a black metallic ore], comes from the Eastern Congo. Multinational corporations are there exploiting the very rich mineral resources of the region. A lot of them are backing militias which are fighting one other to gain control of the resources or a piece of the resources. The government of Rwanda, which is a US client, is intervening massively, and Uganda to an extent. It's almost an international war in Africa. Well, how many people know about this? It is the worst atrocity underway. But it's barely in the media, and people just don't know about it. And that's quite generally true.

What happened in Syria was, President Obama had made a statement announcing what he called his "red line": You can't use chemical weapons, you can do anything else but [use] chemical weapons. Credible reports came through that Syria had used chemical weapons. Whether it's true actually is still open to question, but it's very probably true. At that point, what was at stake was what is called credibility. So if you read the political actors, political leadership, foreign policy commentary, they constantly point out accurately that US credibility was at stake, and we have to maintain US credibility. So therefore something had to be done to show you can't violate our orders. So a bombing was planned, which would probably make the situation worse, but would at least establish US credibility.

And so what is "credibility"? It's a very familiar notion. It's basically the notion that is central to the Mafia. So suppose say the Godfather produces some kind of edict and says you're going to have to pay protection money. Well, he has to back up that statement. It doesn't matter whether he needs the money or not. If some small storekeeper somewhere decides he's not going to pay the money, the Godfather doesn't let him get away with it. The money doesn't mean anything to him, but he sends in his goons to beat him to a pulp. You have to establish credibility, otherwise conformity to your orders will tend to erode. International affairs runs in much the same way. The United States is the Godfather when it establishes edicts. Others had better live up to them, or else. We have to demonstrate that. So that's what the bombing of Syria was to have demonstrated. Obama was reaching a point where he might not have been able to carry it off. There was very little international support, even England wouldn't support it, which is amazing. He was losing support internally, and was compelled to send the vote to Congress, and it looked as if he was going to be defeated, which would have been a very serious blow to his presidency, to his authority. Luckily for Obama, the Russians came along and rescued him with this proposal [to confiscate Assad's chemical weapons] which he quickly accepted - it was a way out of the embarrassment of facing likely defeat. They still have the option of bombing if they want to. And incidentally, to add one comment about this, you'll notice that this would be a very good moment to institute a call for imposing the Chemical Weapons Convention on the Middle East. The actual Chemical Weapons Convention. Not the version that Obama presented in his address to the nation and that media commentators repeat. What he said is that the convention bars the use of chemical weapons. He knows better. And so do the commentators. The Chemical Weapons Convention calls for banning the production, storage and use of chemical weapons, not just the use. So why omit production and storage? Reason: Israel produces and stores chemical weapons. So therefore the US will prevent the Chemical Weapons Convention from being imposed on the Middle East. But it's necessary to evade this by misrepresenting the convention, and I think maybe 100 percent of the media, or close to it, go along. But that's a critical issue. Actually, Syria's chemical weapons were developed largely as a deterrent to Israeli nuclear weapons. Also, not mentioned.

HS: You have recently stated that American power in the world is declining. Will that limit the extent to which the United States might, to borrow your phrase from 1994's World Orders Old and New, "suppress independent development" in foreign nations? Do you think we live now in a bipolar world, or is that changing? Is the Monroe Doctrine finished completely?

NC: Well, that's not a prediction. It's already happened. And it's happened in the [Western] hemisphere very dramatically. What the Monroe Doctrine stated, in effect, is that the US should dominate the hemisphere. For the past century or so that's actually been true, but it's declining very significantly. South America has virtually broken away in the last decade. That's an event of historic significance. South America just doesn't follow US orders. In fact there isn't a single US military base left there. South America goes its own way dramatically in international affairs. There was a hemispheric conference I think about two years ago in Colombia. It couldn't reach a consensus, so there was no declaration that came out, [but] on the crucial issues, Canada and the US were totally isolated. The rest of the hemisphere voted one way, and the US and Canada rejected it. So there couldn't be a consensus. The two issues were admitting Cuba into the hemispheric system and moving towards decriminalizing some drugs. The rest of the countries are in favor of it; Canada and the U.S. aren't.

The same is true on other issues. You'll remember a few weeks ago several countries in Europe, [including] France and Italy, blocked the presidential plane of the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, and when it was forced to land in Austria, they inspected the plane, all of which is a grotesque violation of diplomatic protocol. The South American countries bitterly condemned this. The Organization of American States, which used to be run by the United States, issued a sharp condemnation, but with a footnote. The US and Canada refused to go along. They are now increasingly isolated in the hemisphere, and sooner or later, I think we're going to find that the US and Canada are simply excluded from hemispheric affairs. That's a sharp reversal of what was the case not long ago.

HS: Latin America is the current center of capitalist reform. Ecuador and Peru, for example, are keeping nature's oil in the ground, while other nations have pursued nationalization programs in an effort to ward off heavy foreign investment and financial manipulation. Will these types of systems eventually gain traction in the West?

NC: Well, you're right. Latin America was the most obedient follower of the neoliberal regime that was instituted by the United States, its allies and the international financial institutions. They followed it most rigorously. Almost everyone who's followed those rules, including the Western countries, have suffered. And in Latin America they suffered severely. They went through several difficult lost decades. Well, part of the uprising of Latin America, particularly in the last 10 to 15 years, has been a reaction to that, and they have thrown out a lot of these measures and moved in a different direction. In earlier years, the US would have overthrown the governments or, one way or another, curtailed them. Now, it can't do that.

HS: Very recently, the United States saw its very first climate change refugees [Yup'ik Eskimos] on the southern coastal tip of Alaska. This puts human impact on the ecosphere into morbid perspective. What is your position on a carbon tax, and in your estimation, how popular might such a measure be in the United States and elsewhere? NC: I think it's basically a good idea. Very urgent measures need to be taken, and without much delay, in dealing with the ongoing destruction of the environment. And here, incidentally, I should say that Canada is one of the major criminals, not just the tar sands and so on, but even mining throughout the world, a lot of it is Canadian. It's extremely destructive, so an important thing for Canadians to do is curtail the predatory and destructive behavior of their own government and corporations. A carbon tax is one way of doing it. If it became a serious proposal in the United States, there would be a huge propaganda onslaught by the business community, the energy corporations and many others, to try to frighten the population into opposing it - claiming that if they have it, all sorts of terrible things will happen, like you won't be able to heat your home, or whatever the story is. Whether that would succeed or not depends on how well the popular movements can organize to effectively combat it.

Copyright, Truthout.

[-] 3 points by LeoYo (5763) 11 months ago

The Data Hackers: Mining Your Information for Big Brother

Tuesday, 08 October 2013 10:19 By Pratap Chatterjee, TomDispatch | News

http://truth-out.org/news/item/19301-the-data-hackers-mining-your-information-for-big-brother

Big Bro is watching you. Inside your mobile phone and hidden behind your web browser are little known software products marketed by contractors to the government that can follow you around anywhere. No longer the wide-eyed fantasies of conspiracy theorists, these technologies are routinely installed in all of our data devices by companies that sell them to Washington for a profit. That’s not how they’re marketing them to us, of course. No, the message is much more seductive: Data, Silicon Valley is fond of saying, is the new oil. And the Valley’s message is clear enough: we can turn your digital information into fuel for pleasure and profits -- if you just give us access to your location, your correspondence, your history, and the entertainment that you like.

Ever played Farmville? Checked into Foursquare? Listened to music on Pandora? These new social apps come with an obvious price tag: the annoying advertisements that we believe to be the fee we have to pay for our pleasure. But there’s a second, more hidden price tag -- the reams of data about ourselves that we give away. Just like raw petroleum, it can be refined into many things -- the high-octane jet fuel for our social media and the asphalt and tar of our past that we would rather hide or forget.

We willingly hand over all of this information to the big data companies and in return they facilitate our communications and provide us with diversions. Take Google, which offers free email, data storage, and phone calls to many of us, or Verizon, which charges for smartphones and home phones. We can withdraw from them anytime, just as we believe that we can delete our day-to-day social activities from Facebook or Twitter.

But there is a second kind of data company of which most people are unaware: high-tech outfits that simply help themselves to our information in order to allow U.S. government agencies to dig into our past and present. Some of this is legal, since most of us have signed away the rights to our own information on digital forms that few ever bother to read, but much of it is, to put the matter politely, questionable.

This second category is made up of professional surveillance companies. They generally work for or sell their products to the government -- in other words, they are paid with our tax dollars -- but we have no control over them. Harris Corporation provides technology to the FBI to track, via our mobile phones, where we go; Glimmerglass builds tools that the U.S. intelligence community can use to intercept our overseas calls; and companies like James Bimen Associates design software to hack into our computers. There is also a third category: data brokers like Arkansas-based Acxiom. These companies monitor our Google searches and sell the information to advertisers. They make it possible for Target to offer baby clothes to pregnant teenagers, but also can keep track of your reading habits and the questions you pose to Google on just about anything from pornography to terrorism, presumably to sell you Viagra and assault rifles.

Locating You

Edward Snowden has done the world a great service by telling us what the National Security Agency does and how it has sweet-talked, threatened, and bullied the first category of companies into handing over our data. As a result, perhaps you’ve considered switching providers from AT&T to T-Mobile or Dropbox to the more secure SpiderOak. After all, who wants some anonymous government bureaucrat listening in on or monitoring your online and phone life? Missing from this debate, however, have been the companies that get contracts to break into our homes in broad daylight and steal all our information on the taxpayer's dime. We’re talking about a multi-billion dollar industry whose tools are also available for those companies to sell to others or even use themselves for profit or vicarious pleasure.

So just what do these companies do and who are they?

The simplest form of surveillance technology is an IMSI catcher. (IMSI stands for International Mobile Subscriber Identity, which is unique to every mobile phone.) These highly portable devices pose as mini-mobile phone towers and can capture all the mobile-phone signals in an area. In this way, they can effectively identify and locate all phone users in a particular place. Some are small enough to fit into a briefcase, others are no larger than a mobile phone. Once deployed, the IMSI catcher tricks phones into wirelessly sending it data.

By setting up several IMSI catchers in an area and measuring the speed of the responses or "pings" from a phone, an analyst can follow the movement of anyone with a mobile phone even when they are not in use.

One of the key players in this field is the Melbourne, Florida-based Harris Corporation, which has been awarded almost $7 million in public contracts by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) since 2001, mostly for radio communication equipment. For years, the company has also designed software for the agency's National Crime Information Center to track missing persons, fugitives, criminals, and stolen property.

Harris was recently revealed to have designed an IMSI catcher for the FBI that the company named "Stingray." Court testimony by FBI agents has confirmed the existence of the devices dating back to at least 2002. Other companies like James Bimen Associates of Virginia have allegedly designed custom software to help the FBI hack into people's computers, according to research by Chris Soghoian of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The FBI has not denied this. The Bureau "hires people who have hacking skill, and they purchase tools that are capable of doing these things," a former official in the FBI's cyber division told the Wall Street Journal recently. "When you do, it's because you don't have any other choice."

The technologies these kinds of companies exploit often rely on software vulnerabilities. Hacking software can be installed from a USB drive, or delivered remotely by disguising it as an email attachment or software update. Once in place, an analyst can rifle through a target's files, log every keystroke, and take pictures of the screen every second. For example, SS8 of Milpitas, California, sells software called Intellego that claims to allow government agencies to "see what [the targets] see, in real time" including "draft-only emails, attached files, pictures, and videos." Such technology can also remotely turn on phone and computer microphones, as well as computer or cellphone cameras to spy on the target in real-time.

Charting You

What the FBI does, however intrusive, is small potatoes compared to what the National Security Agency dreams of doing: getting and storing the data traffic not just of an entire nation, but of an entire planet. This became a tangible reality some two decades ago as the telecommunications industry began mass adoption of fiber-optic technology. This means that data is no longer transmitted as electrical signals along wires that were prone to interference and static, but as light beams.

Enter companies like Glimmerglass, yet another northern California outfit. In September 2002, Glimmerglass started to sell a newly patented product consisting of 210 tiny gold-coated mirrors mounted on microscopic hinges etched on to a single wafer of silicon. It can help transmit data as beams of light across the undersea fiber optic cables that carry an estimated 90% of trans-border telecommunications data. The advantage of this technology is that it is dirt cheap and -- for the purposes of the intelligence agencies -- the light beams can easily be copied with almost no noticeable loss in quality.

"With Glimmerglass Intelligent Optical Systems (IOS), any signal travelling over fiber can be redirected in milliseconds, without adversely affecting customer traffic," says the company on its public website.

Glimmerglass does not deny that its equipment can be used by intelligence agencies to capture global Internet traffic. In fact, it assumes that this is probably happening. "We believe that our 3D MEMS technology -- as used by governments and various agencies -- is involved in the collection of intelligence from sensors, satellites, and undersea fiber systems," Keith May, Glimmerglass's director of business development, told the trade magazineAviation Week in 2010. "We are deployed in several countries that are using it for lawful interception."

In a confidential brochure, Glimmerglass has a series of graphics that, it claims, show just what its software is capable of. One displays a visual grid of the Facebook messages of a presumably fictional “John Smith.” His profile is linked to a number of other individuals (identified with images, user names, and IDs) via arrows indicating how often he connected to each of them. A second graphic shows a grid of phone calls made by a single individual that allows an operator to select and listen to audio of any of his specific conversations. Yet others display Glimmerglass software being used to monitor webmail and instant message chats.

"The challenge of managing information has become the challenge of managing the light," says an announcer in a company video on their public website. "With Glimmerglass, customers have full control of massive flows of intelligence from the moment they access them." This description mirrors technology described in documents provided by Edward Snowden to theGuardian newspaper.

[-] 3 points by LeoYo (5763) 11 months ago

Predicting You

Listening to phone calls, recording locations, and breaking into computers are just one part of the tool kit that the data-mining companies offer to U.S. (and other) intelligence agencies. Think of them as the data equivalents of oil and natural gas drilling companies that are ready to extract the underground riches that have been stashed over the years in strongboxes in our basements. What government agencies really want, however, is not just the ability to mine, but to refine those riches into the data equivalent of high-octane fuel for their investigations in very much the way we organize our own data to conduct meaningful relationships, find restaurants, or discover new music on our phones and computers. These technologies -- variously called social network analysis or semantic analysis tools -- are now being packaged by the surveillance industry as ways to expose potential threats that could come from surging online communities of protesters or anti-government activists. Take Raytheon, a major U.S. military manufacturer, which makes Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, Maverick air-to-ground missiles, Patriot surface-to-air missiles, and Tomahawk submarine-launched cruise missiles. Their latest product is a software package eerily named “Riot” that claims to be able to predict where individuals are likely to go next using technology that mines data from social networks like Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter.

Raytheon's Rapid Information Overlay Technology software -- yes, that’s how they got the acronym Riot -- extracts location data from photos and comments posted online by individuals and analyzes this information. The result is a variety of spider diagrams that purportedly will show where that individual is most likely to go next, what she likes to do, and whom she communicates with or is most likely to communicate with in the near future.

A 2010 video demonstration of the software was recently published online by the Guardian. In it, Brian Urch of Raytheon shows how Riot can be used to track "Nick" -- a company employee -- in order to predict the best time and place to steal his computer or put spy software on it. "Six a.m. appears to be the most frequently visited time at the gym," says Urch. "So if you ever did want to try to get a hold of Nick -- or maybe get a hold of his laptop -- you might want to visit the gym at 6:00 a.m. on Monday."

"Riot is a big data analytics system design we are working on with industry, national labs, and commercial partners to help turn massive amounts of data into useable information to help meet our nation's rapidly changing security needs," Jared Adams, a spokesman for Raytheon's intelligence and information systems department, told the Guardian. The company denies that anyone has yet bought Riot, but U.S. government agencies certainly appear more than eager to purchase such tools.

For example, in January 2012 the FBI posted a request for an app that would allow it to "provide an automated search and scrape capability of social networks including Facebook and Twitter and [i]mmediately translate foreign language tweets into English." In January 2013, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration asked contractors to propose apps "to generate an assessment of the risk to the aviation transportation system that may be posed by a specific individual" using "specific sources of current, accurate, and complete non-governmental data."

Privacy activists say that the Riot package is troubling indeed. "This sort of software allows the government to surveil everyone," Ginger McCall, the director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center's Open Government program, told NBC News. "It scoops up a bunch of information about totally innocent people. There seems to be no legitimate reason to get this."

Refining fuel from underground deposits has allowed us to travel vast distances by buses, trains, cars, and planes for pleasure and profit but at an unintentional cost: the gradual warming of our planet. Likewise, the refining of our data into social apps for pleasure, profit, and government surveillance is also coming at a cost: the gradual erosion of our privacy and ultimately our freedom of speech. Ever tried yelling back at a security camera? You know that it is on. You know someone is watching the footage, but it doesn’t respond to complaint, threats, or insults. Instead, it just watches you in a forbidding manner. Today, the surveillance state is so deeply enmeshed in our data devices that we don’t even scream back because technology companies have convinced us that we need to be connected to them to be happy.

With a lot of help from the surveillance industry, Big Bro has already won the fight to watch all of us all the time -- unless we decide to do something about it.

To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com here

[-] 3 points by LeoYo (5763) 11 months ago

Last Hours of Humanity: Warming the World to Extinction

Tuesday, 08 October 2013 13:09 By The Daily Take, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/19311-last-hours-of-humanity-warming-the-world-to-extinction

If you were standing outdoors looking at the distant and reddening sky 250 million years ago as the Permian Mass Extinction was beginning, unless you were in the region that is known as Siberia you would have no idea that a tipping point had just been passed and soon 95% of all life on earth would be dead.

It's almost impossible to identify tipping points, except in retrospect. For example, we have almost certainly already past the tipping point to an ice-free Arctic. And we are just now realizing it, even though that tipping point was probably passed a decade or more ago. This is critically important because in the history of our planet there have been five times when more than half of all life on Earth died. They're referred to as "mass extinctions."

One – the one that killed the dinosaurs – was initiated by a meteorite striking the Earth. The rest all appear to have been initiated by tectonic and volcanic activity.

In each case, however, what happened was that massive amounts of carbon-containing greenhouse gases – principally carbon dioxide, were released from beneath the Earth's crust and up into the atmosphere.

This provoked global warming intense enough to melt billions of tons of frozen methane on the oceans floors. That pulse of methane - an intense greenhouse gas - then brought the extinction to its full of intensity.

While in the past it took continental movement or an asteroid to break up the crust of the earth enough to release ancient stores of carbon into the atmosphere, we humans have been doing this very aggressively for the past 150 years by drilling and mining fossil fuels. So the question:

Will several centuries of burning fossil fuels release enough carbon into the atmosphere to mimic the effects of past volcanic and asteroid activity and provoke a mass extinction?

Geologists who study mass extinctions are becoming concerned. As more and more research is coming out about the massive stores of methane in the Arctic and around continental shelves, climate scientists are beginning to take notice, too.

The fossil fuel companies are sitting on roughly 2 trillion tons of underground carbon. That, in and of itself, is enough to warm the earth by 5 or 6°C, and is an amount of carbon consistent with tipping points during past mass extinctions.

There are an additional estimated 2 trillion tons of methane stored in the Arctic and probably 2 to 5 times that much around continental shelves all around the Earth.

If our burning fossil fuels warms the oceans enough that that methane melts and is quickly released into the atmosphere, the Earth will be in its sixth mass extinction.

And make no mistake about it, the animals and plants that are most heavily hit by mass extinctions are those that are largest and at the top of the food chain.

That means us.

We must stop the carbon madness and move, worldwide, to renewable 21st century energy sources.

This is why we've produced a short documentary on this topic, and a short e-book titled The Last Hours of Humanity: Warming the World to Extinction that you can find at www.lasthours.org.

Please check it out and share it with as many friends as possible. The future of humanity is at stake.

This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication.

[-] 2 points by Builder (4202) 11 months ago

I don't understand the "frozen methane" trapped in continental shelves all around the world.

[-] 3 points by shadz66 (19985) 11 months ago

Intense pressures and cold temperatures lead to the solidification of Methane Hydrates into a kind of deep sea dry ice deposit. The ''frozen'' is an analogue of ''solidified'' - as opposed to liquid or gaseous. Changes in currents due to changes in temperature and salinity can cause previously stable deep sea deposits of these 'solidified' hydrates to give up their gas to the sea and then the atmosphere.

Alas, Methane is many times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. The thawing Arctic tundra will also release locked up methane 'bog gases'. I watched a doc. about it so will spare you any links as I'm a bit square eyed and hungry right now but I butted in here, as I saw your query in comments :-)

pax ...

[-] 2 points by Builder (4202) 11 months ago

Thanks Shadz. I recall reading about methane "bubbles" erupting from deep lakes somewhere in Africa, and killing every living creature for miles around. Or was that CO?

My sharp memory seems to be lapsing. More wheatgrass needed.

[-] 3 points by shadz66 (19985) 11 months ago

That was CO2 being released by volcanic vents under a lake(s) at altitude and lower down and as a heavier than air, ground hugging gas just suffocating people and animals. In the case of some smaller mountain lakes, it is an almost permanent phenomenon & most animals and local people know to stay clear but it's lower down where it can become a sudden, huge, catastrophic but temporary thing but still pretty fkng scary !! That's me for the night so solidarity @ MAM & u 'B'. Onyer mate ;-) & fyi :

pax ...

[-] 2 points by Builder (4202) 11 months ago

G'nite. And thanks again.

[-] 1 points by Builder (4202) 11 months ago

Yes, but the article states that there is "2 to 5 times" that much again trapped in continental shelves around the world.

The most effective solution to most of our energy and pollution needs today, is hemp. The plant sequesters carbon, produces clean-burning fuel oil, paper, building materials, high-protein food, and requires no chemicals to grow.

[Removed]

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5763) 11 months ago

Empire Under Obama: America's "Secret Wars" in Over 100 Countries Around the World

Friday, 25 October 2013 10:13 By Andrew Gavin Marshall, The Hampton Institute | News Analysis

http://truth-out.org/news/item/19622-empire-under-obama-americas-secret-wars-in-over-100-countries-around-the-world

Obama's global terror campaign is not only dependent upon his drone assassination program, but increasingly it has come to rely upon the deployment of Special Operations forces in countries all over the world, reportedly between 70 and 120 countries at any one time. As Obama has sought to draw down the large-scale ground invasions of countries (as Bush pursued in Afghanistan and Iraq), he has escalated the world of 'covert warfare,' largely outside the oversight of Congress and the public. One of the most important agencies in this global "secret war" is the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC for short.

JSOC was established in 1980 following the failed rescue of American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran as "an obscure and secretive corner of the military's hierarchy," noted the Atlantic. It experienced a "rapid expansion" under the Bush administration, and since Obama came to power, "appears to be playing an increasingly prominent role in national security" and "counterterrorism," in areas which were "traditionally covered by the CIA."[1] One of the most important differences between these covert warfare operations being conducted by JSOC instead of the CIA is that the CIA has to report to Congress, whereas JSOC only reports its most important activities to the President's National Security Council.[2]

During the Bush administration, JSOC "reported directly" to Vice President Dick Cheney, according to award-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh (of the New Yorker), who explained that, "It's an executive assassination ring essentially, and it's been going on and on and on." He added: "Under President Bush's authority, they've been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That's been going on, in the name of all of us."[3]

In 2005, Dick Cheney referred to U.S. Special Forces as "the silent professionals" representing "the kind of force we want to build for the future... a force that is lighter, more adaptable, more agile, and more lethal in action." And without a hint of irony, Cheney stated: "None of us wants to turn over the future of mankind to tiny groups of fanatics committing indiscriminate murder and plotting large-scale terror."[4] Not unless those "fanatics" happen to be wearing U.S. military uniforms, of course, in which case "committing indiscriminate murder and plotting large-scale terror" is not an issue.

The commander of JSOC during the Bush administration - when it served as Cheney's "executive assassination ring" - was General Stanley McChrystal, whom Obama appointed as the top military commander in Afghanistan. Not surprisingly, JSOC began to play a much larger role in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.[5] In early 2009, the new head of JSOC, Vice Admiral William H. McRaven ordered a two-week 'halt' to Special Operations missions inside Afghanistan, after several JSOC raids in previous months killed several women and children, adding to the growing "outrage" within Afghanistan about civilian deaths caused by US raids and airstrikes, which contributed to a surge in civilian deaths over 2008.[6] JSOC has also been involved in running a "secret war" inside of Pakistan, beginning in 2006 but accelerating rapidly under the Obama administration. The "secret war" was waged in cooperation with the CIA and the infamous private military contractor, Blackwater, made infamous for its massacre of Iraqi civilians, after which it was banned from operating in the country.[7]

Blackwater's founder, Erik Prince, was recruited as a CIA asset in 2004, and in subsequent years acquired over $1.5 billion in contracts from the Pentagon and CIA, and included among its leadership several former top-level CIA officials. Blackwater, which primarily hires former Special Forces soldiers, has largely functioned "as an overseas Praetorian guard for the CIA and State Department officials," who were also "helping to craft, fund, and execute operations," including "assembling hit teams," all outside of any Congressional or public oversight (since it was technically a private corporation).[8]

The CIA hired Blackwater to aid in a secret assassination program which was hidden from Congress for seven years.[9] These operations would be overseen by the CIA or Special Forces personnel.[10] Blackwater has also been contracted to arm drones at secret bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan for Obama's assassination program, overseen by the CIA.[11] The lines dividing the military, the CIA and Blackwater had become "blurred," as one former CIA official commented, "It became a very brotherly relationship... There was a feeling that Blackwater eventually become an extension of the agency."[12]

The "secret war" in Pakistan may have begun under Bush, but it had rapidly expanded in the following years of the Obama administration. Wikileaks cables confirmed the operation of JSOC forces inside of Pakistan, with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani telling the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson (who would later be appointed as ambassador to Egypt), that, "I don't care if they do it as long as they get the right people. We'll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it."[13]

Within the first five months of Obama's presidency in 2009, he authorized "a massive expansion of clandestine military and intelligence operations worldwide," granting the Pentagon's regional combatant commanders "significant new authority" over such covert operations.[14] The directive came from General Petraeus, commander of CENTCOM, authorizing Special Forces soldiers to be sent into "both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa." The deployment of highly trained killers into dozens of countries was to become "systemic and long term," designed to "penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy" enemies of the State, beyond the rule of law, no trial or pretenses of accountability. They also "prepare the environment" for larger attacks that the U.S. or NATO countries may have planned. Unlike with the CIA, these operations do not report to Congress, or even need "the President's approval." But for the big operations, they get the approval of the National Security Council (NSC), which includes the president, as well as most other major cabinet heads, of the Pentagon, CIA, State Department, etc.[15]

The new orders gave regional commanders - such as Petraeus who headed CENTCOM, or General Ward of the newly-created Africa Command (AFRICOM) - authority over special operations forces in the area of their command, institutionalizing the authority to send trained killers into dozens of countries around the world to conduct secret operations with no oversight whatsoever; and this new 'authority' is given to multiple top military officials, who have risen to the top of an institution with absolutely no 'democratic' pretenses. Regardless of who is president, this "authority" remains institutionalized in the "combatant commands."[16]

The combatant commands include: AFRICOM over Africa (est. 2007), CENTCOM over the Middle East and Central Asia (est. 1983), EUCOM over Europe (est. 1947), NORTHCOM over North America (est. 2002), PACOM over the Pacific rim and Asia (est. 1947), SOUTHCOM over Central and South America and the Caribbean (est. 1963), SOCOM as Special Operations Command (est. 1987), STRATCOM as Strategic Command over military operations to do with outer space, intelligence, and weapons (est. 1992), and TRANSCOM handling all transportation for the Department of Defense. The State Department was given "oversight" to clear the operations from each embassy,[17] just to make sure everyone was 'in the loop,' unlike during the Bush years when it was run out of Cheney's office without telling anyone else.

In 2010, it was reported by the Washington Post that the U.S. has expanded the operations of its Special Forces around the world, from being deployed in roughly 60 countries under Bush to about 75 countries in 2010 under Obama, operating in notable spots such as the Philippines and Colombia, as well as Yemen, across the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia. The global deployment of Special Forces - alongside the CIA's global drone warfare program - were two facets of Obama's "national security doctrine of global engagement and domestic values," in the words of the Washington Post, though the article was unclear on which aspect of waging "secret wars" in 75 countries constituted Obama's "values." Commanders for Special Operations forces have become "a far more regular presence at the White House" under Obama than George Bush, with one such commander commenting, "We have a lot more access... They are talking publicly much less but they are acting more. They are willing to get aggressive much more quickly." Such Special Operations forces deployments "go beyond unilateral strikes and include the training of local counterterrorism forces and joint operations with them."[18]

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5763) 11 months ago

So not only are U.S. forces conducting secret wars within dozens of countries around the world, but they are training the domestic military forces of many of these countries to undertake secret wars internally, and in the interests of the United States Mafia empire. One military official even "set up a network" of private military corporations that hired former Special Forces and CIA operations to gather intelligence and conduct secret operations in foreign countries to support "lethal action": publicly subsidized, privatized 'accountability.' Such a network was "generally considered illegal" and was "improperly financed."[19] When the news of these networks emerged, the Pentagon said it shut them down and opened a "criminal investigation." Turns out, they found nothing "criminal," because two months later, the operations were continuing and had "become an important source of intelligence." The networks of covert-ops corporations were being "managed" by Lockheed Martin, one of the largest military contractors in the world, while being "supervised" by the Pentagon's Special Operations Command.[20]

Admiral Eric T. Olson had been the head of Special Operations Command from 2007 to 2011, and in that year, Olson led a successful initiative - endorsed by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates - to encourage the promotion of top special operations officials to higher positions in the whole military command structure. The "trend" was to continue under the following Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who previously headed the CIA from 2009 to 2011.[21] When Olson left his position as head of Special Operations Command, he was replaced with Admiral William McRaven, who served as the head of JSOC from 2008 to 2011, having followed Stanley McChrystal.

By January of 2012, Obama was continuing with seeking to move further away from large-scale ground wars such as in Iraq and Afghanistan, and refocus on "a smaller, more agile force across Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East." Surrounded by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in full uniforms adorned with medals, along with other top Pentagon officials, President Obama delivered a rare press briefing at the Pentagon where he said that, "our military will be leaner, but the world must know the United States is going to maintain our military superiority." The priorities in this strategy would be "financing for defense and offense in cyberspace, for Special Operations forces and for the broad area of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance."[22]

In February of 2012, Admiral William H. McRaven, the head of the Special Operations Command, was "pushing for a larger role for his elite units who have traditionally operated in the dark corners of American foreign policy," advocating a plan that "would give him more autonomy to position his forces and their war-fighting equipment where intelligence and global events indicate they are most needed," notably with expansions in mind for Asia, Africa and Latin America. McRaven stated that, "It's not really about Socom [Special Operations Command] running the global war on terrorism... I don't think we're ready to do that. What it's about is how do I better support" the major regional military command structures.[23] In the previous decade, roughly 80% of US Special Operations forces were deployed in the Middle East, but McRaven wanted them to spread to other regions, as well as to be able to "quickly move his units to potential hot spots without going through the standard Pentagon process governing overseas deployments." The Special Operations Command numbered around 66,000 people, double the number since 2001, and its budget had reached $10.5 billion, from $4.2 billion in 2001.[24]

In March of 2012, a Special Forces commander, Admiral William H. McRaven, developed plans to expand special operations units, making them "the force of choice" against "emerging threats" over the following decade. McRaven's Special Operations Command oversees more than 60,000 military personnel and civilians, saying in a draft paper circulated at the Pentagon that: "We are in a generational struggle... For the foreseeable future, the United States will have to deal with various manifestations of inflamed violent extremism. In order to conduct sustained operations around the globe, our special operations must adapt." McRaven stated that Special Forces were operating in over 71 countries around the world.[25]

The expansion of global special forces operations was largely in reaction to the increasingly difficult challenge of positioning large military forces around the world, and carrying out large scale wars and occupations, for which there is very little public support at home or abroad. In 2013, the Special Operations Command had forces operating in 92 different countries around the world, with one Congressional critic accusing McRaven of engaging in "empire building."[26] The expanded presence of these operations is a major factor contributing to "destabilization" around the world, especially in major war zones like Pakistan.[27]

In 2013, McRaven's Special Operations Command gained new authorities and an expanded budget, with McRaven testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee that, "On any day of the year you will find special operations forces [in] somewhere between 70 and 90 countries around the world."[28] In 2012, it was reported that such forces would be operating in 120 different countries by the end of the year.[29]

In December of 2012, it was announced that the U.S. was sending 4,000 soldiers to 35 different African countries as "part of an intensifying Pentagon effort to train countries to battle extremists and give the U.S. a ready and trained force to dispatch to Africa if crises requiring the U.S. military emerge," operating under the Pentagon's newest regional command, AFRICOM, established in 2007.[30] By September of 2013, the U.S. military had been involved in various activities in Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde Islands, Senegal, Seychelles, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia, among others, constructing bases, undertaking "security cooperation engagements, training exercises, advisory deployments, special operations missions, and a growing logistics network."[31]

In short, Obama's global 'war of terror' has expanded to roughly 100 countries around the world, winding down the large-scale military invasions and occupations such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq, and increasing the "small-scale" warfare operations of Special Forces, beyond the rule of law, outside Congressional and public oversight, conducting "snatch and grab" operations, training domestic repressive military forces in nations largely run by dictatorships to undertake their own operations on behalf of the 'Global Godfather.'

Make no mistake: this is global warfare. Imagine for a moment the international outcry that would result from news of China or Russia conducting secret warfare operations in roughly 100 countries around the world. But when America does it, there's barely a mention, save for the passing comments in the New York Times or the Washington Post portraying an unprecedented global campaign of terror as representative of Obama's "values." Well, indeed it is representative of Obama's values, by virtue of the fact that he doesn't have any.

Indeed, America has long been the Global Godfather applying the 'Mafia Principles' of international relations, lock-in-step with its Western lackey organized crime 'Capo' states such as Great Britain and France. Yet, under Obama, the president who had won public relations industry awards for his well-managed presidential advertising campaign promising "hope" and "change," the empire has found itself waging war in roughly one hundred nations, conducting an unprecedented global terror campaign, increasing its abuses of human rights, war crimes and crimes against humanity, all under the aegis of the Nobel Peace Prize-winner Barack Obama. Whether the president is Clinton, Bush, or Obama, the Empire of Terror wages on its global campaign of domination and subjugation, to the detriment of all humanity, save those interests that sit atop the constructed global hierarchy. It is in the interests of the ruling elite that America protects and projects its global imperial designs. It is in the interests of all humanity, then, that the Empire be opposed - and ultimately, deconstructed - no matter who sits in office, no matter who holds the title of the 'high priest of hypocrisy' (aka: President of the United States). It is the Empire that rules, and the Empire that destroys, and the Empire that must, in turn, be demolished. The world at large - across the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America - suffers the greatest hardships of the Western Mafia imperial system: entrenched poverty, exploitation, environmental degradation, war and destruction. The struggle against the Empire cannot we waged and won from the outside alone. The rest of the world has been struggling to survive against the Western Empire for decades, and, in truth, hundreds of years. For the struggle to succeed (and it can succeed), a strong anti-Empire movement must develop within the imperial powers themselves, and most especially within the United States. The future of humanity depends upon it. Or... we could all just keep shopping and watching TV, blissfully blind to the global campaign of terror and war being waged in our names around the world. Certainly, such an option may be appealing, but ultimately, wars abroad come home to roost. As George Orwell once wrote: "The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact."

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5763) 11 months ago

References

[1] Max Fisher, "The Special Ops Command That's Displacing The CIA," The Atlantic, 1 December 2009: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/12/the-special-ops-command-thats-displacing-the-cia/31038/

[ 2] Mark Mazzetti, "U.S. Is Said to Expand Secret Actions in Mideast," The New York Times, 24 May 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/25/world/25military.html?hp

[ 3] Eric Black, "Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh describes 'executive assassination ring'," Minnesota Post, 11 March 2009: http://www.minnpost.com/eric-black-ink/2009/03/investigative-reporter-seymour-hersh-describes-executive-assassination-ring

[ 4] John D. Danusiewicz, "Cheney Praises 'Silent Professionals' of Special Operations," American Forces Press Service, 11 June 2005: http://www.defense.gov/News/NewsArticle.aspx?ID=16430

[ 5] Max Fisher, "The Special Ops Command That's Displacing The CIA," The Atlantic, 1 December 2009: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/12/the-special-ops-command-thats-displacing-the-cia/31038/

[ 6] Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, "U.S. Halted Some Raids in Afghanistan," The New York Times, 9 March 2009: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/10/world/asia/10terror.html?hp

[ 7] Jeremy Scahill, The Secret US War in Pakistan. The Nation: November 23, 2009: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20091207/scahill

[ 8] Adam Ciralsky, "Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy," Vanity Fair, January 2010: http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2010/01/blackwater-201001

[ 9] Mark Mazzetti, "C.I.A. Sought Blackwater's Help to Kill Jihadists," The New York Times, 19 August 2009: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/20/us/20intel.html?_r=0

[ 10] R. Jeffrey Smith and Joby Warrick, "Blackwater tied to clandestine CIA raids," The Washington Post, 11 December 2009: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2009-12-11/news/36873053_1_clandestine-cia-raids-cia-assassination-program-blackwater-personnel

[ 11] James Risen and Mark Mazzetti, "C.I.A. Said to Use Outsiders to Put Bombs on Drones," The New York Times, 20 August 2009: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/21/us/21intel.html

[ 12] James Risen and Mark Mazzetti, "Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret C.I.A. Raids," The New York Times, 10 December 2009: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/11/us/politics/11blackwater.html

[ 13] Jeremy Scahill, "The (Not So) Secret (Anymore) US War in Pakistan," The Nation, 1 December 2010: http://www.thenation.com/blog/156765/not-so-secret-anymore-us-war-pakistan#

[ 14] March Ambinder, "Obama Gives Commanders Wide Berth for Secret Warfare," The Atlantic, 25 May 2010: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/05/obama-gives-commanders-wide-berth-for-secret-warfare/57202/

[ 15] Mark Mazzetti, "U.S. Is Said to Expand Secret Actions in Mideast," The New York Times, 24 May 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/25/world/25military.html?hp

[ 16] Marc Ambinder, "Obama Gives Commanders Wide Berth for Secret Warfare," 25 May 2010: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/05/obama-gives-commanders-wide-berth-for-secret-warfare/57202/

[ 17] Max Fisher, "The End of Dick Cheney's Kill Squads," The Atlantic, 4 June 2010: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/06/the-end-of-dick-cheneys-kill-squads/57707/

[ 18] Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe, "U.S. 'secret war' expands globally as Special Operations forces take larger role," The Washington Post, 4 June 2010: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/03/AR2010060304965.html

[ 19] Dexter Filkins and Mark Mazzetti, "Contractors Tied to Effort to Track and Kill Militants," The New York Times, 14 March 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/15/world/asia/15contractors.html?pagewanted=1

[ 20] Mark Mazzetti, "U.S. Is Still Using Private Spy Ring, Despite Doubts," The New York Times, 15 May 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/16/world/16contractors.html?pagewanted=all

[ 21] Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt, "Special Operations Veterans Rise in Hierarchy," The New York Times, 8 August 2011: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/09/us/09commanders.html?pagewanted=all

[ 22] Elisabeth Bumiller and Thom Shanker, "Obama Puts His Stamp on Strategy for a Leaner Military," The New York Times, 5 January 2012: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/06/us/obama-at-pentagon-to-outline-cuts-and-strategic-shifts.html

[ 23] Eric Schmitt, Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker, "Admiral Seeks Freer Hand in Deployment of Elite Forces," The New York Times, 12 February 2012: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/13/us/admiral-pushes-for-freer-hand-in-special-forces.html?pagewanted=all

[ 24] Ibid.

[ 25] David S. Cloud, "U.S. special forces commander seeks to expand operations," Los Angeles Times, 4 May 2012: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/may/04/world/la-fg-special-forces-20120505

[ 26] Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, "A Commander Seeks to Chart a New Path for Special Operations," The New York Times, 1 May 2013: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/02/us/politics/admiral-mcraven-charts-a-new-path-for-special-operations-command.html?pagewanted=all

[ 27] Nick Turse, "How Obama's destabilizing the world," Salon, 19 September 2011: http://www.salon.com/2011/09/19/obama_global_destablization/

[ 28] Walter Pincus, "Special Operations wins in 2014 budget," The Washington Post, 11 April 2013: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-04-11/world/38448541_1_mcraven-socom-special-forces

[ 29] David Isenberg, "The Globalisation of U.S. Special Operations Forces," IPS News, 24 May 2012: http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/05/the-globalisation-of-u-s-special-operations-forces/

[ 30] Tom Bowman, "U.S. Military Builds Up Its Presence In Africa," NPR, 25 December 2012: http://www.npr.org/2012/12/25/168008525/u-s-military-builds-up-its-presence-in-africa ; Lolita C. Baldor, "Army teams going to Africa as terror threat grows," Yahoo! News, 24 December 2012: http://news.yahoo.com/army-teams-going-africa-terror-threat-grows-082214765.html

[ 31] Nick Turse, "The Startling Size of US Military Operations in Africa," Mother Jones, 6 September 2013:

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/09/us-military-bases-africa

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5763) 10 months ago

Empire Under Obama: Counterinsurgency, Death Squads, and the Population as the Target

Friday, 01 November 2013 09:57 By Andrew Gavin Marshall, The Hampton Institute | News Analysis

http://truth-out.org/news/item/19750-empire-under-obama-part-4-counterinsurgency-death-squads-and-the-population-as-the-target

Part 1: Political Language and the 'Mafia Principles' of International Relations

Part 2: Barack Obama's Global Terror Campaign

Part 3: America's "Secret Wars" in Over 100 Countries Around the World

While the American Empire - and much of the policies being pursued - did not begin under President Obama, the focus of "Empire Under Obama" is to bring awareness about the nature of empire to those who may have - or continue - to support Barack Obama and who may believe in the empty promises of "hope" and "change." Empire is institutional, not individual. My focus on the imperial structure during the Obama administration is not to suggest that it does not predate Obama, but rather, that Obama represents 'continuity' in imperialism, not "change." This part examines the concept of 'counterinsurgency' as a war against the populations of Iraq, Afghanistan and spreading into Pakistan.

http://truth-out.org/news/item/19750-empire-under-obama-part-4-counterinsurgency-death-squads-and-the-population-as-the-target

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5763) 11 months ago

American Raids in Libya and Somalia Expose Military Lawlessness

Friday, 18 October 2013 12:44 By Jessica Desvarieux, The Real News Network | Video Interview

http://truth-out.org/news/item/19494-american-raids-in-libya-and-somalia-expose-military-lawlessness

Jessica Desvarieux, TRNN Producer: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore. And welcome to this edition of The Ratner Report.

Now joining us is Michael Ratner. He is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and he's also a board member for The Real News Network.

It's always a pleasure having you on, Michael. Thanks for being with us.

Ratner: It's good to be with you, Jessica, and The Real News.

Desvarieux: Michael, what are you working on this week?

Ratner: You never know what's going to happen when you open the newspaper every day. Last week was October 5. I was actually shocked to read that the U.S. had kidnapped a man named Abu Anas al-Liby from Tripoli in Libya, a man who was under indictment in the United States for being involved in the Nairobi embassy bombing in some way. They kidnapped him out of Tripoli. And on the same day, apparently, they did a military attack on a town in Somalia to supposedly kill or capture a man that was with Shabaab known by the name of Ikrima.

And when I say you never know it's going to happen, you like to think that after 9/11, some of these incredible departures from law and into lawlessness might have started to decline. Perhaps in some way somewhere they have. But these two kidnapping [incompr.] are not an indication that we've departed from the post-9/11 utter lawlessness of the U.S. military, the U.S. government, and the CIA. And what's shocking about it is is of course the fact that there's so little reaction in the United States to it. Kidnapping, and now disappearances, seem to be just par for the course by the United States, despite the fact that the United States in both cases was going into sovereign countries with kidnappings and armed attacks. Broadly let's look first and probably [incompr.] look in most detail at the kidnapping of Abu Aanas al-Liby out of Tripoli. Broadly it says something about the war in Libya, because what the United States said and what was quoted widely is that Libya has become--Tripoli in particular, I think, maybe other parts as well--a center for jihadists and people, and it has broken down and no real government. It's lawless. And, of course, this is a war that I opposed and that many others progressive people opposed. And you see what happens. Whatever people thought of the government of Libya before the invasion, it's certainly turned out to be, seemingly, an utter disaster that's really--now the U.S. itself admits there's hardly anything left of the place in a certain way.

And that goes to the first issue, really, which is, when you go into a country and you kidnap someone out of it, you need the authority of the country to cross their border. The UN Charter, international law, customary law absolutely prohibits across-border kidnapping, cross-border invasion. It's Article 2.4. It's a crime, illegal. It's completely illegal without the consent of the country. And in this case there's not even a real claim by the U.S. that there was consent. They said somehow that, well, a few months ago we talked to some people in Libya or the government, whatever that was. Others have said, well, there's no point to talking to anybody because, going back to my earlier point, there's no real government in Libya. So the first thing that was illegal about kidnapping of Abu Anas, in my view, is crossing the border of Libya and taking him.

The second thing is: on what basis could they take him? Did they have the right, even assuming Libya consented, to go in and get him? Just remember, Abu Anas was indicted in an American federal court, one here in New York. Why didn't they ask for his extradition? Why didn't they ask for his arrest and take him out with legal channels? The U.S. has never come up with an explanation as to why an indicted person that wanted in the United States, why they didn't ask for that person's extradition or legal procedures to take him out of Libya.

The only other way the U.S. could actually go into a country and kidnap someone or stop them is if they were actually in a war zone as a combatant and they essentially had their finger on a button that was going to attack the United States or involved in a war against the United States. No one claims al-Liby was doing that at that point. He was living in Tripoli. He was living with his family. There's no justification that this was a war zone vis-à-vis the United States. So the U.S.v has no claim here. They weren't allowed to cross into the border and take him. He was indicted. They could have taken him by extradition. And they certainly couldn't justify it by a war.

Then you look at a second set of rights of al-Liby that were violated. You know, these pickups or kidnapping are not done in a peaceful way. We know how they're done. They're done with six or eight or ten--and in this case there were eyewitnesses--three trucks pulling up, guns pulled. And what they do in the normal case--I don't know all the details here--but they strip the person down, they put a suppository in them, and they get them out of the country somehow, put him in a coffin box, put him in an airplane, really conduct that amounts to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, if not torture, to just get him out of the country.

You would think that in this case, after they got him out of the country, maybe they'd bring him right to the United States because he actually is indicted in a federal court here in New York where I'm giving this interview from. But no, that's not what they did. They put him on a ship somewhere in the world, where he's going to be interrogated without a lawyer, without the warnings that anything he says can be used against him. So they're going to interrogate him rather than bring him to court for trial. Now, in my view the law is that as soon as he's taken by the United States, I don't care whether it's the Department of Justice, the CIA, the FBI, the military, whoever it is, he has a right to get a lawyer because he's been indicted. But that's not what the U.S. is doing any longer, if it ever did. It's violating the law. It's saying, we'll interrogate him first. After we interrogate him, then maybe then we'll decide what we'll do with him, even though he's indicted. And, of course, that interrogation on a boat is illegal altogether because under the Geneva Conventions, assuming the U.S. is even paying lip service, you're not allowed to be held on a boat wandering around the world. That's explicitly prohibited by Article 22 of the Geneva Conventions.

In this case, an interesting wrinkle happened. They put him on a boat and they expected to interrogate him about whatever they thought he might know. But apparently he wasn't talking, and apparently he went on a hunger strike and a liquid hunger strike and wasn't eating. And he, according to the news reports, has hepatitis C and was getting sicker and sicker. Therefore he couldn't really be interrogated. And a week or so later, they had to bring him into the United States, into federal court, where he was finally given a lawyer, presumably given Miranda warnings, and has pled not guilty to the various crimes for which he's been indicted.

But the point is this practice of kidnapping, kidnapping violently, putting into interrogation, and then finally taking him into a federal court, it's utterly lawless and utterly illegal. And sadly, it goes along, it goes along with what we've been learning since 9/11 about what our country has been doing. It goes along with renditions to torture, Guantanamo, torture, kidnappings, and the like. And it doesn't seem that under this new Obama--or relatively new five-year-old Obama administration that these practices are changing.

Really the point I think I'm making here is we are living in a different world. We're living in a place in which one of our goals as not just progressives but as human beings is to dismantle this system of illegal kidnappings, torture, interrogation without attorneys, utter lawlessness. It reminds me--and I'll end on this note--I remember how we all opposed what we called Operation Condor, which was run by Pinochet in Chile, in which he picked up people all over the world, took them to torture camps, or murdered them. Sad to say, Operation Condor, you know, you can rename it whatever we want to rename it, but it's certainly being carried out by the United States today.

Desvarieux: Michael Ratner, always a pleasure having you on. Thanks for being with us.

Ratner: Thanks for having me on The Real News.

Desvarieux: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5763) 11 months ago

How US Pressure Bends UN Agencies

Thursday, 17 October 2013 09:56 By Robert Parry, Consortium News | News Analysis

http://truth-out.org/news/item/19470-how-us-pressure-bends-un-agencies

Lost in the celebration over the Nobel Peace Prize to the UN agency eliminating the Syrian government’s chemical weapons is the question of who was really behind the August 21 poison-gas attack near Damascus. Relevant to that mystery is the recent US pressure to control key UN agencies including the prize recipient, reports Robert Parry.

For at least the past dozen years, the U.S. government has aggressively sought to gain control of the leadership of key United Nations agencies, including the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) which is central to the dispute over the Syrian government’s alleged use of Sarin gas on Aug. 21.

Yet, despite evidence that this U.S. manipulation can twist the findings of these UN groups in ways favored by Official Washington, the mainstream American press usually leaves out this context and treats UN findings — or at least those that side with the U.S. government – as independent and beyond reproach, including the OPCW’s recent reporting on the Syrian dispute.

For instance, the background of the current OPCW director-general, Ahmet Uzumcu, is rarely if ever mentioned in American news articles about the OPCW’s work in Syria. Yet, his biography raises questions about whether he and thus his organization can be truly objective about the Syrian civil war.

Uzumcu, who was chosen to take over the top OPCW job in 2010, is a career Turkish diplomat who previously served as Turkey’s consul in Aleppo, Syria, now a rebel stronghold in the war to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; as Turkey’s ambassador to Israel, which has publicly come out in favor of the rebels; and as Turkey’s permanent representative to NATO, which is dominated by the United States and other Western powers hostile to Assad. Uzumcu’s home country of Turkey also has been a principal backer of the rebel cause.

While Uzumcu’s history does not necessarily mean he would pressure his staff to slant the OPCW’s findings against the Syrian government, his objectivity surely could be put in question given his past diplomatic postings and the interests of his home government. Plus, even if Uzumcu were inclined to defy Turkey and its NATO allies – and insist on being evenhanded in his approach toward Syria – he surely would remember what happened to one of his predecessors who got on the wrong side of U.S. geopolitical interests.

That history about how the world’s only superpower can influence purportedly honest-broker UN outfits was recalled on Monday in an article by Marlise Simons of the New York Times, describing how George W. Bush’s administration ousted OPCW’s director-general Jose Mauricio Bustani in 2002 because he was seen as an obstacle to invading Iraq.

Bustani, who had been reelected unanimously to the post less than a year earlier, described in an interview with the Times how Bush’s emissary, Under-Secretary of State John Bolton, marched into Bustani’s office and announced that he (Bustani) would be fired. “The story behind [Bustani’s] ouster has been the subject of interpretation and speculation for years, and Mr. Bustani, a Brazilian diplomat, has kept a low profile since then,” wrote Simons. “But with the agency thrust into the spotlight with news of the Nobel [Peace] Prize last week, Mr. Bustani agreed to discuss what he said was the real reason: the Bush administration’s fear that chemical weapons inspections in Iraq would conflict with Washington’s rationale for invading it. Several officials involved in the events, some speaking publicly about them for the first time, confirmed his account.” Bolton, a blunt-speaking neocon who later became Bush’s Ambassador to the United Nations, continued to insist in a recent interview with the New York Times that Bustani was ousted for incompetence. But Bustani and other diplomats close to the case reported that Bustani’s real offense was drawing Iraq into acceptance of the OPCW’s conventions for eliminating chemical weapons, just as the Bush administration was planning to pin its propaganda campaign for invading Iraq on the country’s alleged secret stockpile of WMD.

Bustani’s ouster gave President Bush a clearer path to the invasion by letting him frighten the American people about the prospects of Iraq sharing its chemical weapons and possibly a nuclear bomb with al-Qaeda terrorists.

Brushing aside Iraq’s insistence that it had destroyed its chemical weapons and didn’t have a nuclear weapons project, Bush launched the invasion in March 2003, only for the world to discover later that the Iraqi government was telling the truth. As a result of the Iraq War, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died, along with nearly 4,500 American soldiers, with the estimated costs to the U.S. taxpayers running into the trillions of dollars.

Bush’s Bullying

But U.S. bullying of UN agencies did not start or stop with replacing the OPCW’s Bustani. Prior to Bustani’s ouster, the Bush administration employed similar bare-knuckled tactics against UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary C. Robinson, who had dared criticize human rights abuses committed by Israel and Bush’s “war on terror.” The Bush administration lobbied hard against her reappointment. Officially, she announced she was retiring on her own accord.

The Bush administration also forced out Robert Watson, the chairman of the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC]. Under his leadership, the panel had reached a consensus that human activities, such as burning fossil fuels, contributed to global warming. ExxonMobil sent a memo to Bush’s White House asking, “Can Watson be replaced now at the request of the U.S.?”

The ExxonMobil memo, obtained by the Natural Resources Defense Council through the Freedom of Information Act, urged the White House to “restructure U.S. attendance at the IPCC meetings to assure no Clinton/Gore proponents are involved in decisional activities.” On April 19, 2002, the Bush administration succeeded in replacing Watson with Rajendra Pachauri, an Indian economist. Commenting on his removal, Watson said, “U.S. support was, of course, an important factor. They [the IPCC] came under a lot of pressure from ExxonMobil who asked the White House to try and remove me.” [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Bush’s Grim Vision.”]

This pattern of pressure continued into the Obama administration which used its own diplomatic and economic muscle to insert a malleable Japanese diplomat, Yukiya Amano, into the leadership of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA], which was playing a key role in the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. Before his appointment, Amano had portrayed himself as an independent-minded fellow who was resisting U.S.-Israeli propaganda about the Iranian nuclear program. Yet behind the scenes, he was meeting with U.S. and Israeli officials to coordinate on how to serve their interests. His professed doubts about an Iranian nuclear-bomb project was only a theatrical device to intensify the later impact if he declared that Iran indeed was building a nuke. But this ploy was spoiled by Pvt. Bradley Manning’s leaking of hundreds of thousands of pages of U.S. diplomatic cables. Among them were reports on Amano’s secret collaboration with U.S. and Israeli officials.

The U.S. embassy cables revealing the truth about Amano were published by the U.K. Guardian in 2011 (although ignored by the New York Times, the Washington Post and other mainstream U.S. news outlets). Despite the silence of the major U.S. news media, Internet outlets, such as Consortiumnews.com, highlighted the Amano cables, meaning that enough Americans knew the facts not to be fooled again. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Did Manning Help Avert War with Iran?”]

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5763) 11 months ago

The Syrian Dossiers

This history is relevant now because the credibility of the UN’s chemical weapons office has been central to conclusions drawn by the mainstream U.S. news media that the OPCW’s report on the alleged chemical weapons attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21 pointed to the Syrian government as the responsible party. Though the OPCW report did not formally assess blame for the attack, which purportedly killed hundreds of Syrian civilians, the report included details that the U.S. press and some non-governmental organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, used to extrapolate the guilt of Assad’s government.

Yet, elements of the OPCW’s official report appeared stretched to create the public impression that the Syrian government carried out the attack despite apparent doubts by OPCW field investigators whose concerns were played down or buried in tables and footnotes. For instance, the UN inspectors found surprisingly little evidence of Sarin gas at the first neighborhood that they visited on Aug. 26, Moadamiyah, south of Damascus. Of the 13 environmental samples collected that day, none tested positive for Sarin or other chemical-warfare agents. The two laboratories used by the inspectors also had conflicting results regarding trace amounts of chemical residue that can be left behind by Sarin after being degraded by intense heat. By contrast, tests for Sarin were more clearly positive from samples taken two and three days later – on Aug. 28-29 – in the eastern suburban area of Zamalka/Ein Tarma. There, Lab One found Sarin in 11 of 17 samples and Lab Two found Sarin in all 17 samples. Though the UN report concludes that Sarin was present in Moadamiyah – despite the failure to identify actual chemical-warfare agents – the report does not explain why the Aug. 26 samples in Moadamiyah would test so negatively when the Aug. 28-29 samples in Zamalka/Ein Tarma would test much more positively.

One would have thought that the earlier samples would test more strongly than later samples after two or three more days of exposure to sun and other elements. An obvious explanation would be that the release of Sarin was concentrated in the eastern suburb and that the spotty residue detected in the south came from other factors, such as false positives for secondary chemicals especially from Lab Two. If the Aug. 21 attack centered on Zamalka/Ein Tarma as the UN results suggest, that would indicate a much less expansive use of chemical weapons than a U.S. government white paper claimed. The alleged breadth of the attack served as a primary argument for blaming the Syrian government given its greater military capabilities than the rebels.

Obama’s Claims

That point was driven home by President Barack Obama in his nationally televised address on Sept. 10 when he asserted that 11 neighborhoods had come under chemical bombardment on Aug. 21. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Obama Still Withholds Syria Evidence.”]

However, even the U.S. “Government Assessment” on the attack, issued on Aug. 30 explicitly blaming the Syrian government, suggested that the initial reports of about a dozen targets around Damascus may have been exaggerated. A footnote contained in a White House-released map of the supposed locations of the attack read:

“Reports of chemical attacks originating from some locations may reflect the movement of patients exposed in one neighborhood to field hospitals and medical facilities in the surrounding area. They may also reflect confusion and panic triggered by the ongoing artillery and rocket barrage, and reports of chemical use in other neighborhoods.”

In other words, victims from one location could have rushed to clinics in other neighborhoods, creating the impression of a more widespread attack than actually occurred. That possibility would seem to be underscored by the divergent findings of the UN inspectors when they took soil and other environmental samples from the southern and eastern areas and got strikingly different results.

The UN inspectors also revealed how dependent they were on Syrian rebels for access to the areas of the alleged chemical attacks and to witnesses, with one rebel commander even asked to take “custody” of the UN inspection.

At the suspected attack sites, the inspectors also detected signs that evidence had been “moved” and “possibly manipulated.” Regarding the Moadamiyah area, the UN report noted, “Fragments [of rockets] and other possible evidence have clearly been handled/moved prior to the arrival of the investigative team.”

In the Zamalka/Ein Tarma neighborhood, where a crudely made missile apparently delivered the poison gas, the inspectors stated that “the locations have been well traveled by other individuals prior to the arrival of the Mission. … During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated.”

Media’s Conventional Wisdom

The UN inspectors did not draw any specific conclusion from their research as to whether Syrian government forces or the rebels were responsible for the hundreds of civilian deaths that resulted from the apparent use of Sarin gas. However, major U.S. news outlets, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, concluded that the findings implicated the Syrian government.

Those accounts cited weapons “experts” as asserting that the type of missiles used and the supposed sophistication of the Sarin were beyond the known capabilities of the rebels. The articles also said the rough calculations by the UN inspectors of the likely missile trajectories suggested that the launches occurred in government-controlled areas with the missiles landing in areas where the rebels dominate.

These mainstream U.S. news reports did not cite the cautionary comments contained in the UN report about possible tampering with evidence, nor did they take into account the conflicting lab results in Moadamiyah compared with Zamalka/Ein Tarma, nor the fact that the OPCW’s director-general is a career Turkish diplomat. [For more on rebel capabilities, see Consortiumnews.com's "Do Syrian Rebels Have Sarin?"]

Reinforcing the Assad-did-it conventional wisdom, Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama moved to assign any remaining doubters to the loony bin of conspiracy theorists. “We really don’t have time today to pretend that anyone can have their own set of facts,” Kerry sniffed in response to continuing Russian government’s doubts.

President Obama drove home the same point in his annual address to the UN General Assembly: “It’s an insult to human reason and to the legitimacy of this institution to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack.”

Yet, the doubters reportedly include U.S. intelligence analysts, who I’m told have briefed Obama personally about the uncertainty of the evidence. Clearly, if the Obama administration had the entire intelligence community onboard, there would have been no need for such a dodgy dossier as the “Government Assessment” posted by the White House press office on Aug. 30, rather than a National Intelligence Estimate that would have reflected the views of the 16 intelligence agencies and been released by the Director of National Intelligence.

Doubts in the Field

And, Robert Fisk, a veteran reporter for London’s Independent newspaper, found a lack of consensus among UN officials and other international observers in Damascus – despite the career risks that they faced by deviating from the conventional wisdom on Assad’s guilt.

“In a country – indeed a world – where propaganda is more influential than truth, discovering the origin of the chemicals that suffocated so many Syrians a month ago is an investigation fraught with journalistic perils,” Fisk wrote. “Nevertheless, it also has to be said that grave doubts are being expressed by the UN and other international organisations in Damascus that the sarin gas missiles were fired by Assad’s army.

“While these international employees cannot be identified, some of them were in Damascus on 21 August and asked a series of questions to which no one has yet supplied an answer. Why, for example, would Syria wait until the UN inspectors were ensconced in Damascus on 18 August before using sarin gas little more than two days later – and only four miles from the hotel in which the UN had just checked in?

“Having thus presented the UN with evidence of the use of sarin – which the inspectors quickly acquired at the scene – the Assad regime, if guilty, would surely have realised that a military attack would be staged by Western nations.

“As it is, Syria is now due to lose its entire strategic long-term chemical defences against a nuclear-armed Israel – because, if Western leaders are to be believed, it wanted to fire just seven missiles almost a half century old at a rebel suburb in which only 300 of the 1,400 victims (if the rebels themselves are to be believed) were fighters.

“As one Western NGO put it … ‘if Assad really wanted to use sarin gas, why for God’s sake, did he wait for two years and then when the UN was actually on the ground to investigate?’”

Further adding to these doubts about the Official Story of the Aug. 21 poison-gas attack is the 11-year-old story about how the U.S. government engineered a change in the leadership of the UN’s OPCW because the director-general committed the unpardonable sin of getting in the way of a U.S. geopolitical/propaganda priority — and the question about the impartiality of the Turkish diplomat now running the agency.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5763) 11 months ago

Empire Under Obama: Barack Obama's Global Terror Campaign

Thursday, 17 October 2013 00:00 By Andrew Gavin Marshall, The Hampton Institute | News Analysis

http://truth-out.org/news/item/19466-empire-under-obama-barack-obamas-global-terror-campaign

Under the administration of Barack Obama, America is waging a global terror campaign through the use of drones, killing thousands of people, committing endless war crimes, creating fear and terror in a program expected to last several more decades. Welcome to Obama's War OF Terror. Also see: Empire Under Obama: Political Language and the "Mafia Principles" of International Relations

When Obama became President in 2009, he faced a monumental challenge for the extension of American and Western imperial interests. The effects of eight years under the overt ruthless and reckless behaviour of the Bush administration had taken a toll on the world. With two massive ground wars and occupations under way in Iraq and Afghanistan, Western military forces were stretched thin, while the world's populations had grown increasingly wary and critical of the use of military force, both at home and abroad. Just as Brzezinski had articulated: "while the lethality of their military might is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low."[1]

When it came to the 'War on Terror,' Obama implemented his electoral visions of "hope" and "change" in the only way he knows: change the rhetoric, not the substance, and hope to hell that the Empire can continue extending its influence around the world. As such, Obama quickly implemented a policy change, dropping the term "war on terror" and replacing it with the equally - if not more - meaningless term, "overseas contingency operations."[2] A major facet of Obama's foreign policy strategy has been the implementation of an unprecedented global terror war with flying killer robots ("drones") operated by remote control. By 2011, the Washington Post reported that no president in U.S. history "has ever relied so extensively on the secret killing of individuals to advance the nation's security goals."[3]

Every Tuesday, a counterterrorism meeting takes place in the White House Situation Room among two dozen security officials where they decide who - around the world - they are going to illegally bomb and kill that week, drawing up the weekly "kill list" (as it is called).[4] By October of 2012, Obama's "kill list" had evolved into a "next-generation targeting list" now officially referred to as the "disposition matrix," in yet another effort to demean the English language.[5] The "disposition matrix"/kill list establishes the names of "terror suspects" who the Obama administration wants to 'dispose' of, without trial, beyond the rule of law, in contravention of all established international law, and in blatant war crimes that kill innocent civilians.

Obama administration officials believe that the use of global drone terror warfare and "kill lists" are likely to last at least another decade, with one top official commenting, "We can't possibly kill everyone who wants to harm us... It's a necessary part of what we do... We're not going to wind up in 10 years in a world of everybody holding hands and saying, 'We love America'."[6] Indeed, quite true. That's one of the actual repercussions - believe it or not - of waging a massive global assassination program against people around the world: they tend to not "love" the country bombing them.

But the Obama administration warned the world that as of 2012, the U.S. had only reached the "mid-point" in the global war on [read: of] terror, with Obama's assassination program having already killed more than 3,000 people around the world, more than the number of people killed on 9/11.[7] As Glenn Greenwald noted, this represented "concerted efforts by the Obama administration to fully institutionalize - to make officially permanent - the most extremist powers it has exercised in the name of the war on terror."[8] But in case you had any moral 'qualms' about bombing and murdering hundreds of innocent children in multiple countries around the world with flying robots, don't worry: as Joe Klein of Time Magazine noted, "the bottom line in the end is - whose 4-year-old gets killed? What we're doing is limiting the possibility that 4-year-olds here will get killed by indiscriminate acts of terror."[9]

Quite right. After all, "indiscriminate acts of terror" are only okay when the United States - or the "international community" - does it. But when the U.S. spreads terror, death and destruction around the world, this is referred to as a "war on terror," instead of the more accurate "war of terror." It could be argued that as a rule of thumb, whenever the United States declares a "war" ON something, simply remove the word 'on' and replace it with 'of', and suddenly, everything starts to make more sense. After all, whenever the U.S. declares a war "on" something (drugs, poverty, terror), the result is that there is a great deal more of whatever it is being 'targeted', and that U.S. policies themselves facilitate the exponential growth of these so-called 'targets.' Hence, the "war on terror" is truly more accurately described as a "war of terror," since that is the result of the actual policies undertaken in the name of such a war.

A major NYU School of Law and Stanford University Law School research report was published in September of 2012 documenting the civilian terror inflicted by Obama's global assassination-terror campaign. While the Obama administration has claimed that drones are "surgically precise" and "makes the US safer," the report countered that this was completely "false." The report noted that Obama's drone war often uses the strategy of hitting the same target multiple times, thus killing rescuers and humanitarian workers who go to help the injured.[10]

This is referred to as a "double-tap" strategy, and according to the FBI and Homeland Security, this is a tactic which is regularly used in "terrorist attacks" to target "first responders as well as the general population." Obama's drones not only target rescuers, but also frequently bomb the funerals of previous drone victims. According to the United Nations, such tactics "are a war crime."[11] Even the NYU/Stanford Law School report identified the drone program as a terror campaign when it noted that the effects of the drone program are that it "terrorizes men, women, and children."[12]

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5763) 11 months ago

John O. Brennan, who served as Obama's chief counterterrorism adviser (and is now the director of the CIA), was the main advocate of the drone program inside the Obama administration. In 2011, he reassured the American people that, "in the last year, there hasn't been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, [and] precision of the capabilities that we've been able to develop," and added that, "if there are terrorists who are within an area where there are women and children or others, you know, we do not take such action that might put those innocent men, women and children in danger."[13] That sounds pretty impressive, though unfortunately, it's an absurd lie.

The New York Times noted that Obama's method for counting civilian deaths caused by drone strikes was "disputed" (to say the least), because it "counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants," thus radically underreporting the level of civilian deaths. The "logic" of this view that that "people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good." This "counting method," noted the NYT, "may partly explain the official claims of extraordinarily low collateral deaths." Some administration officials outside the CIA have complained about this method, referring to it as "guilty by association" which results in "deceptive" estimates. One official commented, "It bothers me when they say there were seven guys, so they must all be militants... They count the corpses and they're not really sure who they are."[14] In 2011, it was reported that drone strikes in Pakistan had killed 168 children, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.[15] In Afghanistan, officials note that civilians are killed not only by Taliban attacks but also increasingly by drone attacks, with Afghan president Hamid Karzai condemning the attacks which kill women and children as being "against all international norms."[16] Afghanistan was in fact the epicenter of the U.S. drone war, even more so than Pakistan, with the CIA having launched upwards of 333 drone strikes in the country over the course of 2012, the highest total ever.[17] The U.S. strategy in Afghanistan has evolved into "a new and as yet only partially understood doctrine of secret, unaccountable and illegal warfare," which is "destroying the West's reputation," noted the Telegraph in 2012.[18] And considering the already-existing "reputation" of the West in the rest of the world, that's quite an impressive feat.

From 2004 to 2012, between 2,400 and 3,100 people were reported to have been killed by U.S. drone strikes, including at least 800 innocent civilians (as a low estimate). As Seumas Milne reported in the Guardian, the drone strikes "are, in reality, summary executions and widely regarded as potential war crimes by international lawyers."[19]

The UN warned in June of 2012 that drone strikes may constitute "war crimes," and that the use of drone strikes and "targeted killings" has been found to be "immensely attractive" to other states in the world, and thus, such practices "weaken the rule of law," as they "fall outside the scope of accountability." A Pakistani Ambassador declared that, "We find the use of drones to be totally counterproductive in terms of succeeding in the war against terror. It leads to greater levels of terror rather than reducing them." Ian Seiderman, the director of the International Commission of Jurists noted that as a result of the global drone war, "immense damage was being done to the fabric of international law."[20]

Robert Grenier, former head of the CIA's counter-terrorism center from 2004 to 2006, commented that the United States was "creating a situation where we are creating more enemies than we are removing from the battlefield," adding that, "If you strike them indiscriminately you are running the risk of creating a terrific amount of popular anger," and that the strikes could even create "terrorist safe havens."[21]

In testimony before the U.S. Congress in April of 2013, a Yemeni man who had studied in the United States explained that his community in Yemen - a small village - knew about the United States primarily through stories of his own experiences living there (which were positive), but their positive association with America changed following U.S. drone strikes, commenting: "Now... when they think of America, they think of the fear they feel at the drones over their heads. What the violent militants had failed to achieve, one drone strike accomplished in an instant."[22]

U.S. drone bases operate out of multiple countries, including Afghanistan, Djibouti, Turkey, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Seychelles, and Saudi Arabia. Drones have conducted "surveillance missions" in Libya, Iran, Turkey, Mexico, Colombia, Haiti, and North Korea. Drone strikes have taken place in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia,[23] and there have even been reports of drone strikes taking place in the Philippines.[24] The U.S. has also considered undertaking drone strikes in the African country of Mali.[25]

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5763) 11 months ago

In February of 2013, the United States sent 100 U.S. troops to Mali to set up a drone base for operations in Western Africa.[26] The U.S. began operating drones out of Mali right away, as "north and west Africa [were] rapidly emerging as yet another front in the long-running US war against terrorist networks," giving the Pentagon "a strategic foothold in West Africa," with Niger bordering Mali, Nigeria and Libya, which was already the target of a French-British-American war in 2011.[27]

In September of 2011, Anwar al-Awlaki, an American "suspected terrorist" in Yemen had his name added to Obama's "kill list" and was murdered in a drone bombing, with Obama reportedly saying that making the decision to kill him was "an easy one."[28] Two weeks later, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the 16-year-old son of Anwar, also born in America but at the time living in Yemen, was then killed with a drone strike. Obama's former White House Press Secretary and then-reelection campaign adviser Robert Gibbs was asked how the U.S. justified killing the 16-year-old boy, with the journalist commenting, "It's an American citizen that is being targeted without due process, without trial. And, he's underage. He's a minor." Gibbs replied that the boy "should have [had] a far more responsible father." Gibbs also noted, "When there are people who are trying to harm us, and have pledged to bring terror to these shores, we've taken that fight to them."[29] Pretty simple: America has decided to take the "terror" to "them."

At his first inaugural address as President in 2009, Barack Obama said: "To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect." Less than two-and-a-half years later, favourable views of the United States in the Middle East had "plummeted... to levels lower than they were during the last year of the Bush administration." A 2013 Gallup poll found that 92% of Pakistanis disapproved of U.S. leadership, with only 4% approving, "the lowest approval rating Pakistanis have ever given." While there was "substantial affection" for American culture and people in the Muslim world, according to the poll, the problem was U.S. policies. Even a Pentagon study undertaken during the Bush administration noted: "Muslims do not 'hate our freedom,' but rather, they hate our policies," specifically, "American direct intervention in the Muslim world," which, the Pentagon noted, "paradoxically elevate[s] stature of and support for Islamic radicals."[30]

A June 2012 poll of public opinion sought to gauge the level of support for U.S. drone strikes among 20 countries: the U.S., Britain, Germany, Poland, France, India, Italy, Czech Republic, China, Lebanon, Mexico, Spain, Japan, Brazil, Russia, Tunisia, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and Greece. The poll found that 17 of the countries had a "clear majority" opposed to drone strikes, while only the U.S. had a "clear majority" (62%) in support.[31]

In May of 2013, Michael Sheehan, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee where he was asked how long the 'war on terrorism' will last, to which he replied: "At least 10 to 20 years," with a Pentagon spokesperson later clarifying that he meant that, "the conflict is likely to last 10 to 20 more years from today - atop the 12 years that the conflict has already lasted."[32] In other words, according to the Pentagon, the world has at least one-to-two more decades of America's global terror war to look forward to.

So, if America was actually waging a war on terror which sought to reduce the threat of terror, then why would it be undertaking policies that actively - and knowingly - increase the threat and levels of terrorism? Well the answer is perhaps shockingly simple: America is not attempting to reduce terror. Quite the contrary, America is not only increasing the threat of terror, but is doing so by waging terror against much of the world. So this begs the question: what is the actual purpose of Obama's drone terror campaign?

Akbar Ahmed, the Islamic Studies chair at American University and former Pakistani high commissioner to Britain, explained in a May 2013 op-ed in the New York Times that the drone war in Pakistan was producing "chaos and rage" as it was "destroying already weak tribal structures and throwing communities into disarray," threatening the Pakistani government and fueling hatred of America, and that this was also occurring in Afghanistan, Somalia, and Yemen, other major target nations of Obama's terror campaign.[33]

Many of these tribal societies had struggled for autonomy under colonial governments (usually run by the British), and then struggled against the central governments left by the British and other colonial powers. These tribal societies have subsequently come under attack by the Taliban and al-Qaeda (whose growth was developed by the US in cooperation with Saudi Arabia and the Pakistani state), and then they continued to suffer under foreign occupations led by the United States, Britain and other NATO powers in Afghanistan and Iraq, destabilizing the entire Middle East and Central Asia.[34]

Now, these tribal societies are being subjected to Obama's drone campaign of terror, "causing ferocious backlashes against central governments while destroying any positive image of the United States that may have once existed," noted Ahmed. In his op-ed, he concluded: "Those at the receiving end of the strikes see them as unjust, immoral and dishonorable - killing innocent people who have never themselves harmed Americans while the drone operators sit safely halfway across the world, terrorizing and killing by remote control."[35]

So why would the United States knowingly do this, and why target these specific groups? The answer may be that the U.S. is simply targeting so-called "lawless" and "stateless" regions and peoples. In a world where states, corporations, and international organizations rule the day, with the United States perched atop the global hierarchy, the imperial concept of "order" reigns supreme, where the word 'order' is defined as control. In a world experiencing increased unrest, protests, rebellions, revolutions and uprisings, "order" is under threat across the globe.

For the American 'Mafia Godfather' Empire, control must be established, through whatever means necessary. For, as the 'Mafia Principles' of international relations dictate: if one state, region, or people are able to "successfully defy" the Godfather/Empire, then other states and people might try to do the same. This could potentially set off a "domino effect" in which the U.S. and its Mafia capo Western allies rapidly lose control of the world. Thus, we have witnessed the United States and the West intimately involved in attempting to manage the 'transitions' taking place as a result of the Arab Spring, desperately seeking to not lose control of the incredibly important strategic region of the Arab world.

Meanwhile, the technological capacity of American military force has reached new heights, with the global drone warfare as a major example. It allows the U.S. to reduce its use of large military forces being sent into combat, and thus reduces the domestic political pressure against foreign aggression and warfare. The drone program fits perfectly into Zbigniew Brzezinski's description in 2009 of how the major state powers of the world are at a stage where "the lethality of their military might is greater than ever." Yet, as Brzezinski elaborated, and as is evident in the case of the Arab Spring, the monumental political changes in Latin America over the past decade and a half, and the increased unrest of people around the world, the "capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low. To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people"[36]

Thus, we attempt a logical reasoning as to why the U.S. is targeting stateless tribal societies with its global terror campaign: if you can't control them, kill them. Such a strategy obviously could not be publicly articulated to the population of a self-declared "democratic" society which congratulates itself on being a beacon for "freedom and liberty." Thus, political language is applied. As George Orwell wrote, political language "is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."

When it comes to Obama's drone terror campaign against stateless tribal societies, the political language is firmly rooted in the "war on terror." These people are deemed to be "terror suspects," and so they are bombed and killed, their families and communities terrorized, and as a result, they become increasingly resentful and hateful toward the United States, thus leading to increased recruitment into terrorist organizations and an increased terror threat to the United States itself. Thus, the policy becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: in terrorizing and bombing impoverished, stateless, tribal societies in the name of "fighting terror," the U.S. creates the terror threat that it uses to justify continued bombing. And thus, the war of terror wages on.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5763) 11 months ago

Some may find my use of the term "terror campaign" to refer to Obama's drone program as hyperbolic or emotive. But what else are we supposed to call a program that produces "chaos and rage" around the world, creating "more enemies than we are removing" as it "terrorizes men, women and children," so that when people think of America, "they think of the fear they feel at the drones over their heads"? What do you call this when it has been launched against at least seven different countries in the past four years, killing thousands of people - including hundreds of innocent children - and targeting first responders, humanitarian workers, and funerals?

By definition, this is terrorism. Obama's global flying-killer-robot-campaign is the implementation of the most technologically advanced terror campaign in history. The fact that Obama's terror war can continue holding any public support - let alone a majority of public support - is simply evidence of a public with little knowledge of the reality of the campaign, or the terror being inflicted upon people all over the world in their name.

If the objective of U.S. policies were to counter or reduce the threat of terror, one would think that the U.S. would then stop participating in terror. Obviously, that is not the case. Therefore, the objective is different from that which is articulated. As Orwell noted, "political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible," and that committing such horrific atrocities - such as dropping atomic bombs on cities, supporting genocide, civil wars or, in this case, waging a global campaign of terror - "can indeed be defended," added Orwell, "but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face." Thus, "political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness."

As Obama sought to justify his global terror campaign, he claimed that it has "saved lives" (except, presumably, for the thousands of lives it has claimed), that "America's actions are legal," and that, "this is a just war - a war wage proportionally, in last resort, and in self-defense." Perhaps the most poignant statement Obama made during his May 2013 speech was thus: "the decisions that we are making now will define the type of nation - and world - that we leave to our children."[37]

So the question for Americans then, should be this: do you want to live in a nation - and world - which is defined by the decision to wage a global campaign of terror upon multiple nations and regions, and tens of thousands of people around the world? Obama clearly has no problem with it, nor does the American foreign policy establishment, nor the media talking heads. But... do you?

Notes:

[1] Zbigniew Brzezinski, "Major Foreign Policy Challenges for the Next US President," International Affairs, 85: 1, (2009), page 54.

[2] Scott Wilson and Al Kamen, "'Global War On Terror' Is Given New Name," The Washington Post, 25 March 2009.

[3] Greg Miller, "Under Obama, an emerging global apparatus for drone killing," The Washington Post, 27 December 2011.

[4] Jo Becker and Scott Shane, "Secret 'Kill List' Proves a Test of Obama's Principles and Will," The New York Times, 29 May 2012.

[5] Greg Miller, "Plan for hunting terrorists signals U.S. intends to keep adding names to kill lists," The Washington Post, 23 October 2012.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Glenn Greenwald, "Obama moves to make the War on Terror permanent," The Guardian, 24 October 2012

[9] Glenn Greenwald, "Joe Klein's sociopathic defense of drone killings of children," The Guardian, 23 October 2012

[10] Glenn Greenwald, "New Stanford/NYU study documents the civilian terror from Obama's drones," The Guardian, 25 September 2012.

[11] Glenn Greenwald, "US drone strikes target rescuers in Pakistan - and the west stays silent," The Guardian, 20 August 2012.

[12] Glenn Greenwald, "New Stanford/NYU study documents the civilian terror from Obama's drones," The Guardian, 25 September 2012.

[13] Glenn Greenwald, "New study proves falsity of John Brennan's drone claims," Salon, 19 July 2011.

[14] Jo Becker and Scott Shane, "Secret 'Kill List' Proves a Test of Obama's Principles and Will," The New York Times, 29 May 2012.

[15] Rob Crilly, "168 children killed in drone strikes in Pakistan since start of campaign," The Telegraph, 11 August 2011.

[16] Azam Ahmed, "Drone and Taliban Attacks Hit Civilians, Afghans Say," The New York Times, 8 September 2013.

[17] Noah Shachtman, "Military Stats Reveal Epicenter of U.S. Drone War," Wired, 9 November 2012.

[18] Peter Osborne, "It may seem painless, but drone war in Afghanistan is destroying the West's reputation," The Telegraph, 30 May 2012.

[19] Seumas Milne, "America's murderous drone campaign is fuelling terror," The Guardian, 29 May 2012.

[20] Owen Bowcott, "Drone strikes threaten 50 years of international law, says UN rapporteur," The Guardian, 21 June 2012.

[21] Paul Harris, "Drone attacks create terrorist safe havens, warns former CIA official," The Guardian, 5 June 2012.

[22] Charlie Savage, "Drone Strikes Turn Allies Into Enemies, Yemeni Says," The New York Times, 23 April 2013.

[23] Elspeth Reeve, "The Scope of America's World War Drone," The Atlantic Wire, 6 February 2013.

[24] Akbar Ahmed and Frankie Martin, "Deadly Drone Strike on Muslims in the Southern Philippines," The Brookings Institution, 5 March 2012.

[25] Raf Sanchez, "US 'to deploy drones to launch air strikes against al-Qaeda in Mali'," The Telegraph, 2 October 2012.

[26] Craig Whitlock, "U.S. troops arrive in Niger to set up drone base," The Washington Post, 22 February 2013.

[27] Craig Whitlock, "Drone warfare: Niger becomes latest frontline in US war on terror," The Guardian, 26 March 2013.

[28] Jo Becker and Scott Shane, "Secret 'Kill List' Proves a Test of Obama's Principles and Will," The New York Times, 29 May 2012.

[29] Conor Friedersdorf, "How Team Obama Justifies the Killing of a 16-Year-Old American," The Atlantic, 24 October 2012.

[30] Glenn Greenwald, "Obama, the US and the Muslim world: the animosity deepens," The Guardian, 15 February 2013.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Glenn Greenwald, "Washington gets explicit: its 'war on terror' is permanent," The Guardian, 17 May 2013.

[33] Akbar Ahmed, "The Drone War Is Far From Over," The New York Times, 30 may 2013.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Zbigniew Brzezinski, "Major Foreign Policy Challenges for the Next US President," International Affairs, 85: 1, (2009), page 54.

[37] Barack Obama, "As Delivered: Obama's Speech on Terrorism," The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire, 23 May 2013.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 0 points by shoozTroll (17632) 11 months ago

Drones, drones and more drones. Since the 50s.

They are not going away anytime soon, nor is the US alone. So in the interest of fairness, what are we going to do about the rest of them?

"Beginning in 2011, a series of weaponized emails—PDF and Word attachments with malware inside—were sent to people who work in America's drone brain trust. A cybersecurity group found that the attachments, many of them with benign titles like "dodd-frank-conflict-minerals.doc," "Boeing_Current_Market_Outlook_2011_to_2030.pdf" and "April Is the Cruelest Month.pdf," originated with a hacker group in Shanghai linked to China's military.

Of the 261 attacks uncovered, 123 targeted U.S. drone companies, from large defense contractors to small firms. "We believe the attack was largely successful," Darien Kindlund, manager of threat intelligence at the cybersecurity company FireEye, based in California, said in February. “It seems to align pretty well with the focus of the Chinese government to build up their own drone technology capabilities,” he told the New York Times in a report published on Saturday, which included a salad of alarming cyberpunk keywords: China. Drones. Hacking. Secret Military Campaigns over Contested Territories.

Creepy language aside, if you've been following news of China's military hackers, little of this should come as a surprise. Of course Beijing, despite insisting that it's not behind the attacks, and is itself is the victim of cyberespionage, has a motive for going after American drone secrets, just as it would with any emergent military technology, and just as Washington does in return."

http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/hackers-are-helping-china-build-cheap-clones-of-americas-drones

and now, in the spirit of libertopian competition, the States will once again be pitted against one another.

http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/states-are-gearing-up-for-the-big-drone-boom

.

[Removed]

[-] 0 points by MyBrothersKeeper (-36) 11 months ago

None of this acknowledges the involvement of both parties to not only allow corruption, but further enable it. It doesn't touch on the bipartisan approval of turning the US in to a military controlled country by way of national security dictating an increasing number of our laws and policies.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5763) 11 months ago

Is Homeland Security Preparing for the Next Wall Street Collapse?

Wednesday, 09 October 2013 10:14 By Ellen Brown, Web of Debt Blog | News Analysis

http://truth-out.org/news/item/19314-is-homeland-security-preparing-for-the-next-wall-street-collapse