Whether celebrated or condemned, the American Dream endures, though always ambiguously. We are forever describing and defining, analyzing and assessing the concept, and with each attempt to clarify, the idea of an American Dream grows more incoherent yet more entrenched.
The literature of this dream analysis is virtually endless, as writers undertake the task of achieving, saving, chasing, restoring, protecting, confronting, pursuing, reviving, shaping, renewing, and challenging the American Dream. Other writers are busy devouring, recapturing, fulfilling, chasing, liberating, advertising, redesigning, rescuing, spreading, updating, inventing, reevaluating, financing, redefining, remembering, and expanding the American Dream. And let’s not forget those who are deepening, building, debating, burying, destroying, ruining, promoting, tracking, betraying, remaking, living, regulating, undermining, marketing, downsizing, and revitalizing the American Dream.
We are exhorted to awaken from, and face up to, the dream, as we explore the myths behind, crisis of, cracks in, decline of, and quest for the American Dream.
My favorite book title on the subject has to be Andy Kaufman: Wrestling with the American Dream , which explores the comedian’s career “within a broader discussion of the ideology of the American Dream.” According to the book’s publisher, the author “brilliantly decodes Kaufman in a way that makes it possible to grasp his radical agenda beyond avant-garde theories of transgression. As an entertainer, Kaufman submerged his identity… Continue reading
June 29, 2011
By Liz Goodwin
The Lookout blog at Yahoo.com
A new report out of Brown University estimates that the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq–together with the counterinsurgency efforts in Pakistan–will, all told, cost $4 trillion and leave 225,000 dead, both civilians and soldiers.
The group of economists, anthropologists, lawyers, humanitarian personnel, and political scientists involved in the project estimated that the cost of caring for the veterans injured in the wars will reach $1 trillion in 30 or 40 years. In estimating the $4 trillion total, they did not take into account the $5.3 billion in reconstruction spending the government has promised Afghanistan, state and local contributions to veteran care, interest payments on war debt, or the costs of Medicare for veterans when they reach 65.
The Congressional Budget Office, meanwhile, has assessed the federal price tag for the wars at $1.8 trillion through 2021. The report says that is a gross underestimate, predicting that the government has already paid $2.3 trillion to $2.7 trillion.
More than 6,000 U.S. troops and 2,300 contractors have died since the wars began after Sept. 11. A staggering 550,000 disability claims have been filed with the VA as of 2010. Meanwhile, 137,000 civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq have died in the conflict. (Injuries among U.S. contractors have also not yet been made public, further complicating the calculations of cost.) Nearly 8 million people have been displaced. Check out Reuters’ factbox breaking down the costs and casualties here.
Perhaps the most sobering… Continue reading
By Glenn Greenwald
In August, 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder — under continuous , aggressive prodding by the Obama White House — announced that three categories of individuals responsible for Bush-era torture crimes would be fully immunized from any form of criminal investigation and prosecution: (1) Bush officials who ordered the torture (Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld); (2) Bush lawyers who legally approved it (Yoo, Bybee, Levin), and (3) those in the CIA and the military who tortured within the confines of the permission slips they were given by those officials and lawyers (i.e., “good-faith” torturers). The one exception to this sweeping immunity was that low-level CIA agents and servicemembers who went so far beyond the torture permission slips as to basically commit brutal, unauthorized murder would be subject to a “preliminary review” to determine if a full investigation was warranted — in other words, the Abu Ghraib model of justice was being applied, where only low-ranking scapegoats would be subject to possible punishment while high-level officials would be protected.
Yesterday, it was announced that this “preliminary review” by the prosecutor assigned to conduct it, U.S. Attorney John Durham, is now complete, and — exactly as one would expect — even this category of criminals has been almost entirely protected, meaning a total legal whitewash for the Bush torture regime:
The Justice Department has opened full criminal investigations of the deaths in CIA custody of two detainees , including one who perished at Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison,… Continue reading
By Agence France-Presse
Monday, July 11th, 2011
Newly appointed US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta told American troops in Baghdad on Monday that 9/11 was the reason they were in Iraq, before he was quickly corrected by his spokesman.
“The reason you guys are here is because of 9/11. The US got attacked and 3,000 human beings got killed because of Al-Qaeda,” Panetta told about 150 soldiers at the Camp Victory US base.
“We’ve been fighting as a result of that,” he said.
The administration of former US President George W. Bush had hastily linked Saddam Hussein, the ousted Iraqi dictator, to the 9/11 attacks.
That was one of the justifications for the 2003 US-led invasion, but the argument has since been widely dismissed [Ed.: by the Bush Administration itself].
Doug Wilson, Panetta’s spokesman, quickly jumped in after his boss, who just took office on July 1, made the statement.
“I don’t think he’s getting into the argument of 2002-2003,” as the reason for the Iraq invasion, Wilson he told reporters, adding that his boss was “a plain-spoken secretary.”
“He has made clear that the major threat to this country is coming from Al-Qaeda and terrorist groups and he has also made clear that wherever we are in the world today, that (Al-Qaeda) is a principle reason for a military presence,” Wilson said.
The new defence secretary also committed a faux pas in Afghanistan on Saturday, telling reporters the United States intends to keep 70,000 troops there until 2014.
President Barack Obama’s administration has said it plans a steady withdrawal of US forces until the Afghans can take over their own security.…Continue reading
July 14, 2011
By Robert Koehler
Published at Antiwar.com
Leon Panetta, on his first visit to Iraq as secretary of defense last weekend, reached for a Bush moment ten years too late.
“The reason you guys are here is because on 9/11 the United States got attacked,” he said to the assembled troops at Camp Victory in Baghdad, according to the Washington Post. “And 3,000 Americans — 3,000 not just Americans, 3,000 human beings, innocent human beings — got killed because of al-Qaeda. And we’ve been fighting as a result of that.”
Yeah, oops, gaffe, Mr. Secretary, right? That Iraq-al-Qaeda connection thingy isn’t in the spin anymore, and Panetta’s assistant had to mop up afterwards, making sure no one misinterpreted the boss’s remarks as reopening an old “debate” by reiterating a long-abandoned lie.
In point of fact, Panetta told the embarrassing truth: 9/11, day of unspeakable tragedy, was a goldmine for the Pentagon and the corporate war interests and was quickly used to launch two wars, both of which are long past the need for justification and require, it seems, nothing more than the first law of physics to stay in motion. You guys are here because of 9/11, the tragic all-purpose justification for global hegemony and the pursuit of empire.
Of course, Panetta was trying to be inspirational. That’s what’s missing from the Obama game plan: the old-time patriotism the Bush administration milked till the cow dropped dead. The new secretary of defense apparently felt a need to connect… Continue reading
Peter Dale Scott
The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 9, Issue 31 No 1, August 1, 2011.
Twice in the last two decades, significant cuts in U.S. and western military spending were foreseen: first after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and then in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. But both times military spending soon increased, and among the factors contributing to the increase were America’s interventions in new areas: the Balkans in the 1990s, and Libya today.1 Hidden from public view in both cases was the extent to which al-Qaeda was a covert U.S. ally in both interventions, rather than its foe.
U.S. interventions in the Balkans and then Libya were presented by the compliant U.S. and allied mainstream media as humanitarian. Indeed, some Washington interventionists may have sincerely believed this. But deeper motivations – from oil to geostrategic priorities – were also at work in both instances.
In virtually all the wars since 1989, America and Islamist factions have been battling to determine who will control the heartlands of Eurasia in the post-Soviet era. In some countries – Somalia in 1993, Afghanistan in 2001 – the conflict has been straightforward, with each side using the other’s excesses as an excuse for intervention.
But there have been other interventions in which Americans have used al-Qaeda as a resource to increase their influence, for example Azerbaijan in 1993. There a pro-Moscow president was ousted after large numbers of Arab and other foreign mujahedin veterans were secretly imported from Afghanistan, on an airline hastily organized by three former veterans of the CIA’s airline Air America. (The three, all once detailed from the Pentagon to the CIA, were Richard Secord, Harry Aderholt, and Ed Dearborn.)2 This was an ad hoc marriage of convenience: the mujahedin got to defend Muslims against Russian influence in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, while the Americans got a new president who opened up the oilfields of Baku to western oil companies.
The pattern of U.S. collaboration with Muslim fundamentalists against more secular enemies is not new. It dates back to at least 1953, when the CIA recruited right-wing mullahs to overthrow Prime Minister Mossadeq in Iran, and also began to cooperate with the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood.3 But in Libya in 2011 we see a more complex marriage of convenience between US and al-Qaeda elements: one which repeats a pattern seen in Bosnia in 1992-95, and Kosovo in 1997-98. In those countries America responded to a local conflict in the name of a humanitarian intervention to restrain the side committing atrocities. But in all three cases both sides committed atrocities, and American intervention in fact favored the side allied with al-Qaeda.
The cause of intervention was fostered in all three cases by blatant manipulation and falsification of the facts. What a historian has noted of the Bosnian conflict was true also of Kosovo and is being echoed today in Libya: though attacks were “perpetrated by Serbs and Muslims alike,” the pattern in western media was “that killings of Muslims were newsworthy, while the deaths of non-Muslims were not.”4 Reports of mass rapes in the thousands proved to be wildly exaggerated: a French journalist “uncovered only four women willing to back up the story.”5 Meanwhile in 1994 the French intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy (BHL) traveled to Bosnia and fervently endorsed the case for intervention in Bosnia; in 2011 February BHL traveled to Benghazi and reprised his interventionist role for Libya.6
In all of the countries mentioned above, furthermore, there are signs that some American and/or western intelligence groups were collaborating with al-Qaeda elements from the outset of conflict, before the atrocities cited as a reason for intervention.. This suggests that there were deeper reasons for America’s interventions including the desire of western oil companies to exploit the petroleum reserves of Libya (as in Iraq) without having to deal with a troublesome and powerful strong man, or their desire to create a strategic oil pipeline across the Balkans (in Kosovo).7
That the U.S. would support al-Qaeda in terrorist atrocities runs wholly counter to impressions created by the U.S. media. Yet this on-going unholy alliance resurrects and builds on the alliance underlying Zbigniew Brzezinski’s 1978-79 strategy of provocation in Afghanistan, at a time when he was President Carter’s National Security Adviser.
The Shah (left), Brzezinski (right), Carter (second right)
By Noah Shachtman
July 28, 2011
Danger Room blog at Wired.com
ASPEN, Colorado — Ground the U.S. drone war in Pakistan. Rethink the idea of spending billions of dollars to pursue al-Qaida. Forget chasing terrorists in Yemen and Somalia, unless the local governments are willing to join in the hunt.
Those aren’t the words of some human rights activist, or some far-left Congressman. They’re from retired admiral and former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair — the man who was, until recently, nominally in charge of the entire American effort to find, track, and take out terrorists. Now, he’s calling for that campaign to be reconsidered, and possibly even junked.
Starting with the drone attacks. Yes, they take out some mid-level terrorists, Blair said. But they’re not strategically effective. If the drones stopped flying tomorrow, Blair told the audience at the Aspen Security Forum, “it’s not going to lower the threat to the U.S.” Al-Qaida and its allies have proven “it can sustain its level of resistance to an air-only campaign,” he said.
It’s one of many reasons why it’s a mistake to “have that campaign dominate our overall relations” with countries like Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. “Because we’re alienating the countries concerned, because we’re treating countries just as places where we go attack groups that threaten us, we are threatening the prospects of long-term reform,” Blair said.
The “unilateral” strikes in Pakistan have to come to an end, he added, and be replaced with operations that had the full cooperation of the government in Islamabad.…Continue reading
By Nancy A. Youssef
August 1, 2011
WASHINGTON — The last-minute deal that Congress is considering to raise the federal debt limit probably will mean trillions of dollars in government spending reductions for most agencies. But one department stands to gain: the Pentagon.
Rather than cutting $400 billion in defense spending through 2023, as President Barack Obama had proposed in April, the current debt proposal trims $350 billion through 2024, effectively giving the Pentagon $50 billion more than it had been expecting over the next decade.
With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, experts said, the overall change in defense spending practices could be minimal: Instead of cuts, the Pentagon merely could face slower growth.
“This is a good deal for defense when you probe under the numbers,” said Lawrence Korb, a defense expert at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning research center. “It’s better than what the Defense Department was expecting.”
To be sure, the numbers could change. Under the current debt deal the department would have to reduce its budget by $600 billion over the next decade if Congress can’t agree on the deficit-reduction proposals of a new 12-member, bipartisan legislative committee that’ll be tasked with recommending further spending cuts.
But the proposed figures — after weeks of drawn-out, vitriolic debate between both political parties — raise questions about what, if anything, could lead to substantial defense reductions. Military spending has more or less survived the drawdown of two wars and a domestic… Continue reading
August 24, 2011
By Stephen C. Webster
Despite a prohibition on spying within the United States, the Central Intelligence
Agency played a key role in transforming the New York Police Department’s intelligence
unit into a cutting edge spy shop dedicated to gathering information on Muslims,
and not just in New York.
That’s according to a new report out Wednesday by The Associated Press, which
claims a veteran CIA agent helped train one of the NYPD’s detectives in advanced
surveillance methods. They also sent an undercover agent to work in the department,
the report says.
With the CIA’s help, the NYPD has gathered information on cab drivers, street
level food vendors, ethnic book stores, Internet cafes and even mosques, sending
snoops in to listen to sermons — all without a hint of federal, state or local
Part of their strategy involves the use of a “Demographic Unit,”
which the NYPD officially denied exists. One undercover officer quoted by AP
said he was ordered to move into an ethnic neighborhood and “act like a
civilian” so his monitors could use him like a “walking camera.”
Detectives have also tapped shopkeepers and “nosy neighbors” in ethnic
neighborhoods to keep them updated on local goings-on, according to the report.
They’ve even sent officers into prisons to promise help for Muslim prisoners,
if they’ll just work with the police.
Unlike the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which is prohibited from
conducting similar operations without prior evidence of wrongdoing, the NYPD
is unrestricted in this manner, although AP noted that the department has been
keen to cover its tracks, to prevent any appearance of civil rights abuses or
By Russ Baker
Another original investigation by WhoWhatWhy.com
Article Summary: When you look closely, nothing seems right about what will surely become the accepted account of the raid that nailed America’s enemy number one. And then things get even weirder…
The establishment media just keep getting worse. They’re further and further from good, tough investigative journalism, and more prone to be pawns in complicated games that affect the public interest in untold ways. A significant recent example is The New Yorker ‘s vaunted August 8 exclusive on the vanquishing of Osama bin Laden.
The piece, trumpeted as the most detailed account to date of the May 1 raid in Abbottabad Pakistan, was an instant hit. “Got the chills half dozen times reading @NewYorker killing bin Laden tick tock…exquisite journalism,” tweeted the digital director of the PBS show Frontline . The author, freelancer Nicholas Schmidle, was quickly featured on the Charlie Rose show, an influential determiner of “chattering class” opinion. Other news outlets rushed to praise the story as “exhaustive,” “utterly compelling,” and on and on.
To be sure, it is the kind of granular, heroic story that the public loves, that generates follow-up bestsellers and movie options. The takedown even has a Hollywood-esque code name: “Operation Neptune’s Spear”
Here’s the introduction to the mission commander , full of minute details that help give it a ring of authenticity and suggest the most… Continue reading
by Glenn Greenwald
The Los Angeles Times examines the staggering sums of money expended on patently absurd domestic “homeland security” projects: $75 billion per year for things such as a Zodiac boat with side-scan sonar to respond to a potential attack on a lake in tiny Keith County, Nebraska, and hundreds of “9-ton BearCat armored vehicles, complete with turret” to guard against things like an attack on DreamWorks in Los Angeles. All of that — which is independent of the exponentially greater sums spent on foreign wars, occupations, bombings, and the vast array of weaponry and private contractors to support it all — is in response to this mammoth, existential, the-single-greatest-challenge-of-our-generation threat:
“The number of people worldwide who are killed by Muslim-type terrorists, Al Qaeda wannabes, is maybe a few hundred outside of war zones. It’s basically the same number of people who die drowning in the bathtub each year ,” said John Mueller, an Ohio State University professor who has written extensively about the balance between threat and expenditures in fighting terrorism.
Last year, McClatchy characterized this threat in similar terms: “undoubtedly more American citizens died overseas from traffic accidents or intestinal illnesses than from terrorism .” The March, 2011, Harper ‘s Index expressed the point this way : “Number of American civilians who died worldwide in terrorist attacks last year: 8 — Minimum number who died after being struck by lightning: 29.” That’s the threat in the name of which a vast domestic Security State is constructed,… Continue reading
September 12, 2011
by Hereward Fenton
On this sad anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in post-war history I am reminded of the prophetic words spoken by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his farewell address to the nation in 1961: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
Eisenhower was the supreme commander in western Europe who had led America to victory against one of the most evil regimes in history, a man who had witnessed the depths of human depravity, and wanted finally to warn us that the war machine which had been created to defend freedom in WWII could equally be used for the opposite purpose, and that it was up to the American people to guard against this possibility.
Eisenhower coined the phrase “military industrial complex” which became the catch-cry of the anti-war movement of the 1960s, describing an economic and political fusion of power involving armaments manufacturers, construction companies, banks, democratic governments and puppet dictatorships.
As Marine Major General Smedley Butler put it, War is a Racket. In his seminal book on the subject Butler declares, “I spent 33 years in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a… Continue reading
By Glenn Greenwald
September 20, 2011
The story of Jose Padilla, continuing through the events of yesterday, expresses so much of the true nature of the War on Terror and especially America’s justice system. In 2002, the American citizen was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, publicly labeled by John Ashcroft as The Dirty Bomber, and then imprisoned for the next three years on U.S. soil as an “enemy combatant” without charges of any kind, and denied all contact with the outside world, including even a lawyer. During his lawless incarceration, he was kept not just in extreme solitary confinement but extreme sensory deprivation as well, and was abused and tortured to the point of severe and probably permanent mental incapacity. (Bush lawyers told a court that they were unable to produce videos of Padilla’s interrogations because those videos were mysteriously and tragically “lost”).
Needless to say, none of the government officials responsible for this abuse of a U.S. citizen on American soil has been held accountable in any way. That’s because President Obama decreed that Bush officials shall not be criminally investigated for War on Terror crimes, while his Justice Department vigorously defended John Yoo, Donald Rumsfeld and other responsible functionaries in civil suits brought by Padilla seeking damages for what was done to him.
As usual, the Obama DOJ cited national security imperatives and sweeping theories of presidential power to demand that Executive Branch officials be fully shielded from judicial scrutiny (i.e., shielded from the … Continue reading
September 21, 2011
SecrecyKills.com [website no longer exists]
Despite threats of prosecution from the CIA, the makers of 9/11: Press For Truth have released their new documentary podcast Who Is Rich Blee?
Alfreda Frances Bikowsky: The Current Director of the CIA Global Jihad Unit
September 21, 2011
Boiling Frogs Post has now confirmed the identity of the CIA analyst at the heart of a notorious failure in the run-up to the September 11th tragedy. Her name is Alfreda Frances Bikowsky and she is the current director of the CIA Jihad Unit. Through three credible sources and documents we have confirmed Ms. Bikowsky’s former titles and positions, including her start at the CIA as an analyst for the Soviet Desk, her position as one of the case officers at the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit-Alec Station, her central role and direct participation in the CIA’s rendition-torture and black sites operations, and her current position as director of the CIA’s Global Jihad Unit.
The producers Nowosielski and Duffy have now made both names available at their website. They also identify the second CIA culprit as Michael Anne Casey. We have not been able to obtain confirmation by other sources on this person yet, but we are still working on it.
Alfreda Frances Bikowsky is the person described in New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer’s book The Dark Side as having flown in to watch the waterboarding of terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammad without being assigned to do so. “Its not supposed to be entertainment,” superiors were said to have told her. She was also at the center of “the el-Masri incident,” in which an innocent German citizen was kidnapped by the CIA in 2003 and held… Continue reading
By Larry Chin
Iran is engaged in a surreal global shouting match with so-called Al Qaeda figures over who and what was responsible for the atrocities of 9/11.
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began by publicly pronouncing that 9/11 was a US government false flag operation. Al-Qaeda responded by accusing Ahmadinejad of being a conspiracy theorist — a “9/11 truther”. Iran then replied in kind by pointing to CIA involvement with Al-Qaeda.
This spectacle would be uproarious, if the actual stakes were not so high; if this war of words was not part of a much larger and very real war that places the future of the entire world at risk.
What we are witnessing is a typical propaganda battle in which truth, lies and half-truths have been liberally mixed. Only the most clear-minded and astute observers can see the battle lines clearly.
Looking past the noise, putting aside the reliability of the figures making it, there are clear and undeniable historical facts:
By Glenn Greenwald
The FBI has received substantial criticism over the past decade — much of it valid — but nobody can deny its record of excellence in thwarting its own Terrorist plots. Time and again, the FBI concocts a Terrorist attack, infiltrates Muslim communities in order to find recruits, persuades them to perpetrate the attack, supplies them with the money, weapons and know-how they need to carry it out — only to heroically jump in at the last moment, arrest the would-be perpetrators whom the FBI converted, and save a grateful nation from the plot manufactured by the FBI.
Last year, the FBI subjected 19-year-old Somali-American Mohamed Osman Mohamud to months of encouragement, support and money and convinced him to detonate a bomb at a crowded Christmas event in Portland, Oregon, only to arrest him at the last moment and then issue a Press Release boasting of its success. In late 2009 , the FBI persuaded and enabled Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, a 19-year old Jordanian citizen, to place a fake bomb at a Dallas skyscraper and separately convinced Farooque Ahmed, a 34-year-old naturalized American citizen born in Pakistan, to bomb the Washington Metro . And now, the FBI has yet again saved us all from its own Terrorist plot by arresting 26-year-old American citizen Rezwan Ferdaus after having spent months providing him with the plans and materials to attack the Pentagon, American troops in Iraq, and possibly the Capitol Building using “remote-controlled” model airplanes carrying explosives.
None… Continue reading
by Kurt Haskell
October 2, 2011
Adventures with Kurt and Lori
Over the past 21 months, I have come into contact with many people that fail to even consider the possibility that U.S. intelligence agents could have been involved in the underwear bomber plot. It is with these people in mind that I decided to write the following article. I have noticed that recent terrorist attacks within the United States have many similar characteristics. If you look at these plots together as a series of attacks, the modus operandi of U.S. intelligence agencies begins to develop. For this article, I have decided to look at only “terrorist attacks” from January 1, 2002, to the present.
1. Mohamed Mohamud (The Portland Christmas Tree Bomber)
Date Of Incident: November 26, 2010.
The 2010 Portland car bomb plot involved an incident in which Mohamud, a Somali-American student, was arrested in an FBI sting operation, after attempting to set off what he thought was a car bomb at a Christmas tree lighting in Portland, Oregon.
Mohamud had been monitored by the FBI for months. Prior to Mohamud’s arrest, an undercover FBI agent, posing as a terrorist, had been in contact with him since June 2010 (A 5 month period). In preparation for the planned bombing of a public gathering, Mohamud and undercover FBI operatives drove to a remote area of Lincoln County, Oregon, where they conducted a test run on November 4, 2010 by detonating a real bomb Mohamud believed to have been hidden… Continue reading