April 1, 2009
By Chris Floyd
Empire Burlesque – Chris-floyd.com
Here’s a purely hypothetical scenario. Let’s say you were a dedicated imperial militarist who believed that your country’s security, prestige and financial interests could best be served by war and the ever-present threat of war. Let’s say you had some really hot and juicy operations going on, endless deadly conflicts that were pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into your war machine and entrenching national policy even more deeply in the militarist philosophy — the machtpolitik – that you believe in.
But there’s a problem. The general public — the cow-like herd out there that doesn’t understand grand strategy the way you and your fellow elites do — is growing weary, and wary, of your Long War. The national treasury is bankrupt, the national infrastructure is rotting, the nation’s communities are dying; millions of people are out of work, losing their homes, losing their dreams, spiraling down into want, privation and despair. Yet you have big plans to escalate the war, expand your war machine, and maintain the global dominance that you believe is the right and natural role for your special nation — and its elites. What to do? How to galvanize the truculent, self-absorbed herd into enthusiastically supporting your vital agenda once more?
Well, here’s one purely hypothetical approach you might try. You goad and provoke violent extremist groups into retaliating against your attacks, your civilian-slaughtering invasions and incursions into their territory. Being unable to confront directly your… Continue reading
March 21, 2009
UN envoy Richard Falk, who
wrote the foreword for David Ray Griffin’s New Pearl Harbor, and has
also praised Peter Dale Scott’s book, The Road to 9/11, was yesterday
quoted by Haaretz
speaking out strongly against Israel’s attacks in Gaza as war crimes;
A United Nations human rights investigator said on Thursday that Israel’s offensive against Hamas in densely populated Gaza appeared to constitute a war crime of the “greatest magnitude.”
Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said the Geneva Conventions required warring forces to distinguish between military targets and surrounding civilians.
“If it is not possible to do so, then launching the attacks is inherently unlawful and would seem to constitute a war crime of the greatest magnitude under international law”
Falk’s assessment is bolstered by statements from IDF soldiers, recently debriefed in Tel Aviv. This was covered last night by UK’s Channel 4;
IDF in Gaza: Killing civilians, vandalism, and lax rules of engagement
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent – 19/03/2009
During Operation Cast Lead, Israeli forces killed Palestinian civilians under permissive rules of engagement and intentionally destroyed their property, say soldiers who fought in the offensive.
The soldiers are graduates of the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military preparatory course at Oranim Academic College in Tivon. Some of their statements made on Feb. 13 will appear Thursday and Friday in Haaretz. Dozens of graduates of… Continue reading
It’s not the bonuses. It’s that AIG’s counterparties are getting paid back in
By Eliot Spitzer
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Everybody is rushing to condemn AIG’s bonuses, but this simple scandal is obscuring
the real disgrace at the insurance giant: Why are AIG’s counterparties getting
paid back in full, to the tune of tens of billions of taxpayer dollars?
For the answer to this question, we need to go back to the very first decision
to bail out AIG, made, we are told, by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson,
then-New York Fed official Timothy Geithner, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein,
and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke last fall. Post-Lehman’s collapse, they feared
a systemic failure could be triggered by AIG’s inability to pay the counterparties
to all the sophisticated instruments AIG had sold. And who were AIG’s trading
partners? No shock here: Goldman, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, UBS, JPMorgan
Chase, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, and on it goes. So now we know
for sure what we already surmised: The AIG bailout has been a way to hide an
enormous second round of cash to the same group that had received TARP money
It all appears, once again, to be the same insiders protecting themselves against
sharing the pain and risk of their own bad adventure. The payments to AIG’s
counterparties are justified with an appeal to the sanctity of contract. If
AIG’s contracts turned out to be shaky, the theory goes, then the whole edifice
of the financial system would collapse.…
Listen to Seymour Hersh’s entire speech regarding US Death Squads.
In a “Great Conversations” event this week at the University of Minnesota, legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh may have made a little more news than he intended by talking about new alleged instances of domestic spying by the CIA, and about an ongoing covert military operation that he called an “executive assassination ring.” He went on to say: “Yuh. After 9/11, I haven’t written about this yet, but the Central Intelligence Agency was very deeply involved in domestic activities against people they thought to be enemies of the state. Without any legal authority for it. They haven’t been called on it yet. That does happen. … Right now, today, there was a story in the New York Times that if you read it carefully mentioned something known as the Joint Special Operations Command — JSOC it’s called. It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently. They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office. They did not report to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff or to Mr. [Robert] Gates, the secretary of defense. They reported directly to him. … “Congress has no oversight of it. It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s… Continue reading
March 12, 2009
“There is a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government — in this case, the government of Israel. I believe that the inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for US policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics has allowed that faction to adopt and sustain policies that ultimately threaten the existence of the state of Israel. It is not permitted for anyone in the United States to say so. This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States.” – Charles Freeman.
For a one-hour introduction to the Israel Lobby; please check out this excellent Dutch documentary on the controversy that erupted following the publication of Mearsheimer and Walt’s academic paper, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”, in its condensed form at the London Review of Books (The book which then followed is highly recommended.);
Charles Freeman’s statement as published by the Wall Street Journal (!);
Charles Freeman, a veteran diplomat slated to become the top U.S. intelligence analyst, withdrew from consideration Tuesday. He released a statement denouncing the “Israel Lobby” for “character assassination.” Here is the text of the statement.… Continue reading
by Eric Black
March 11 2009
At a “Great Conversations” event at the University of Minnesota last night, legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh may have made a little more news than he intended by talking about new alleged instances of domestic spying by the CIA, and about an ongoing covert military operation that he called an “executive assassination ring.”
Hersh spoke with great confidence about these findings from his current reporting, which he hasn’t written about yet.
In an email exchange afterward, Hersh said that his statements were “an honest response to a question” from the event’s moderator, U of M Political Scientist Larry Jacobs and “not something I wanted to dwell about in public.”
Hersh didn’t take back the statements, which he said arise from reporting he is doing for a book, but that it might be a year or two before he has what he needs on the topic to be “effective…that is, empirical, for even the most skeptical.”
The evening of great conversation, featuring Walter Mondale and Hersh, moderated by Jacobs and titled “America’s Constitutional Crisis,” looked to be a mostly historical review of events that have tested our Constitution, by a journalist and a high government officials who had experience with many of the crises.
And it was mostly historical, and a great conversation, in which Hersh and Mondale talked about the patterns by which presidents seem to get intoxicated by executive power, frustrated by the limitations on that power from Congress and the public, drawn into improper covert actions that exceed their constitutional powers, in the belief that they can get results and will never be found out.…Continue reading
Intro from 911blogger.com:
“Experimental Virus Material” – Live Avian Flu & Human Flu Viruses “Accidentally” mixed, then sent to several Euro facilities
The Czech press is all over this story, but not much so far in the US. A quick search shows this blog entry;
And the following report in the mainstream Canadian press: The Toronto Sun;
By Helen Branswell, THE CANADIAN PRESS
Last Updated: 27th February 2009, 3:26pm
The company that released contaminated flu virus material from a plant in Austria confirmed Friday that the experimental product contained live H5N1 avian flu viruses.
And an official of the World Health Organization’s European operation said the body is closely monitoring the investigation into the events that took place at Baxter International’s research facility in Orth-Donau, Austria.
“At this juncture we are confident in saying that public health and occupational risk is minimal at present,” medical officer Roberta Andraghetti said from Copenhagen, Denmark.
“But what remains unanswered are the circumstances surrounding the incident in the Baxter facility in Orth-Donau.”
The contaminated product, a mix of H3N2 seasonal flu viruses and unlabelled H5N1 viruses, was supplied to an Austrian research company. The Austrian firm, Avir Green Hills Biotechnology, then sent portions of it to sub-contractors in the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Germany.
The contamination incident, which is being investigated by the four European countries, came to light when the subcontractor in the Czech Republic inoculated ferrets with the product… Continue reading
By Chris Hedges
February 17, 2009.
The Director of National Intelligence argued that Wall Street, rather than
Islamic jihad, has produced our most dangerous terrorists.
We have a remarkable ability to create our own monsters. A few decades of meddling
in the Middle East with our Israeli doppelgnger and we get Hezbollah, Hamas,
al-Qaida, the Iraqi resistance movement and a resurgent Taliban. Now we trash
the world economy and destroy the ecosystem and sit back to watch our handiwork.
Hints of our brave new world seeped out Thursday when Washington’s new director
of national intelligence, retired Adm. Dennis Blair, testified before the Senate
Intelligence Committee. He warned that the deepening economic crisis posed perhaps
our gravest threat to stability and national security. It could trigger, he
said, a return to the "violent extremism" of the 1920s and 1930s.
It turns out that Wall Street, rather than Islamic jihad, has produced our
most dangerous terrorists. We will see accelerated plant and retail closures,
inflation, an epidemic of bankruptcies, new rounds of foreclosures, bread lines,
unemployment surpassing the levels of the Great Depression and, as Blair fears,
The United Nations’ International Labor Organization estimates that some 50
million workers will lose their jobs worldwide this year. The collapse has already
seen 3.6 million lost jobs in the United States. The International Monetary
Fund’s prediction for global economic growth in 2009 is 0.5 percent–the worst
since World War II. There are 2.3 million properties in the United States that
received… Continue reading
Human Rights Watch Mourns Loss of Alison Des Forges
Alison’s loss is a devastating blow not only to Human Rights Watch but also
to the people of Rwanda and the Great Lakes region.
Kenneth Roth, executive director
Leading Rwanda Expert Killed in Plane Crash
February 13, 2009
(New York) – It is with enormous sadness that Human Rights Watch announces
the death of our beloved colleague Dr. Alison Des Forges, who was killed in
the crash of Flight 3407 from Newark to Buffalo on February 12, 2009. Des Forges,
senior adviser to Human Rights Watch’s Africa division for almost two decades,
dedicated her life to working on Rwanda and was the world’s leading expert on
the 1994 Rwanda genocide and its aftermath.
“Alison’s loss is a devastating blow not only to Human Rights Watch but
also to the people of Rwanda and the Great Lakes region,” said Kenneth
Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “She was truly wonderful,
the epitome of the human rights activist – principled, dispassionate, committed
to the truth and to using that truth to protect ordinary people. She was among
the first to highlight the ethnic tensions that led to the genocide, and when
it happened and the world stood by and watched, Alison did everything humanly
possible to save people. Then she wrote the definitive account. There was no
one who knew more and did more to document the genocide and to help bring the
perpetrators to justice.”
Des Forges, born in Schenectady, New… Continue reading
By Paul Craig Roberts
February 04, 2009
According to US government propaganda, terrorist cells are spread throughout America, making it necessary for the government to spy on all Americans and violate most other constitutional protections. Among President Bush’s last words as he left office was the warning that America would soon be struck again by Muslim terrorists.
If America were infected with terrorists, we would not need the government to tell us. We would know it from events. As there are no events, the US government substitutes warnings in order to keep alive the fear that causes the public to accept pointless wars, the infringement of civil liberty, national ID cards, and inconveniences and harrassments when they fly.
The most obvious indication that there are no terrorist cells is that not a single neocon has been assassinated.
I do not approve of assassinations, and am ashamed of my country’s government for engaging in political assassination. The US and Israel have set a very bad example for al Qaeda to follow.
The US deals with al Qaeda and Taliban by assassinating their leaders, and Israel deals with Hamas by assassinating its leaders. It is reasonable to assume that al Qaeda would deal with the instigators and leaders of America’s wars in the Middle East in the same way.
Today every al Qaeda member is aware of the complicity of neoconservatives in the death and devastation inflicted on Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Gaza. Moreover, neocons are highly visible… Continue reading
February 2, 2009
by Chris Hedges
The daily bleeding of thousands of jobs will soon turn our economic crisis into a political crisis. The street protests, strikes and riots that have rattled France, Turkey, Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Iceland will descend on us. It is only a matter of time. And not much time. When things start to go sour, when Barack Obama is exposed as a mortal waving a sword at a tidal wave, the United States could plunge into a long period of precarious social instability.
At no period in American history has our democracy been in such peril or has the possibility of totalitarianism been as real. Our way of life is over. Our profligate consumption is finished. Our children will never have the standard of living we had. And poverty and despair will sweep across the landscape like a plague. This is the bleak future. There is nothing President Obama can do to stop it. It has been decades in the making. It cannot be undone with a trillion or two trillion dollars in bailout money. Our empire is dying. Our economy has collapsed.
How will we cope with our decline? Will we cling to the absurd dreams of a superpower and a glorious tomorrow or will we responsibly face our stark new limitations? Will we heed those who are sober and rational, those who speak of a new simplicity and humility, or will we follow the demagogues and charlatans who rise… Continue reading
By Joshua Holland
February 3, 2009
Explosive anger is spilling out onto the streets of Europe. The meltdown of
the global economy is igniting massive social unrest in a region that has long
been a symbol of political stability and social cohesion.
It’s not a new trend: A wave of upheaval is spreading from the poorer countries on the periphery of the global economy to the prosperous core.
Over the past few years, a series of riots spread across what is patronizingly known as the Third World. Furious mobs have raged against skyrocketing food and energy prices, stagnating wages and unemployment in India, Senegal, Yemen, Indonesia, Morocco, Cameroon, Brazil, Panama, the Philippines, Egypt, Mexico and elsewhere.
For the most part, those living in wealthier countries took little notice. But now, with the global economy crashing down around us, people in even the wealthiest nations are mad as hell and reacting violently to what they view as an inadequate response to their tumbling economies.
The Telegraph (UK) warned last month that protests over governments’ handling of the crisis “are widespread and gathering pace,” and “may spark a new revolution”:
A depression triggered in America is being played out in Europe with increasing violence, and other forms of social unrest are spreading. In Iceland, a government has fallen. Workers have marched in Zaragoza, as Spanish unemployment heads towards 20 percent. There have been riots and bloodshed in Greece, protests in Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary and Bulgaria. The police have suppressed public discontent… Continue reading
by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
January 26, 2009
The arrival of the Obama administration will not fundamentally alter the course of military expansion accelerated during the Bush era. The origins of these policies do not lie uniquely in neoconservative ideology. While the election of President Obama may offer new opportunities for progressive forces to delimit the damage, their space for movement will ultimately be constrained by deep-seated structural pressures that will attempt to exploit Obama to rehabilitate American imperial hegemony, rather than transform it.
Indeed, the radicalization of Anglo-American political ideology represented by the rise of neoconservative principles and the militarization processes of the ‘War on Terror’, constituted a strategic response to global systemic crises supported by the American business classes. The same classes, recognizing the extent to which the Bush era has discredited this response, have rallied around Obama. Therefore, as global crises intensify, this militarization response is likely to undergo further radicalization, rather than a meaningful change in course. The key differences will be in language and method, not substance.
Obama and National Security: “It’s the Oil, Stupid!”
This became increasingly clear as Barack Obama’s administration appointees became known — individuals whose political and ideological positions are largely commensurate with neoconservative ideals particularly on security matters, and whose social and intellectual connections link them to neo-conservative think-tanks and policy-makers.
A glance through Obama’s national security team also raises eyebrows, but we should focus on his selection of former Marine General Jim Jones as his National Security Advisor. Jones… Continue reading
By Greg Miller, Washington Bureau
January 31, 2009
WASHINGTON — The CIA’s secret prisons are being shuttered. Harsh interrogation
techniques are off-limits. And Guantánamo Bay will eventually go back to being
a wind-swept naval base on the southeastern corner of Cuba.
But even while dismantling these discredited programs, President Barack Obama
left an equally controversial counterterrorism tool intact.
Under executive orders issued by Obama last week, the CIA still has authority
to carry out what are known as renditions, or the secret abductions and transfers
of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the U.S.
Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said the rendition program is
poised to play an expanded role because it is the main remaining mechanism–aside
from Predator missile strikes–for taking suspected terrorists off the
The rendition program became a source of embarrassment for the CIA, and a target
of international scorn, as details emerged in recent years of botched captures,
mistaken identities and allegations that prisoners were turned over to countries
where they were tortured.
The European Parliament condemned renditions as an “illegal instrument
used by the United States.” Prisoners swept up in the program have sued
the CIA as well as a subsidiary of Boeing Corp., which is accused of working
with the agency on dozens of rendition flights.
But the Obama administration appears to have determined that the rendition
program was one component of the Bush administration’s war on terrorism that
it could not afford to discard.
The decision underscores the fact that… Continue reading
David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
January 30, 2009
If you’re poor and the bank is coming for your home, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur
has a plan for you.
Just squat, she says.
Yes, this Ohio Democrat is actually encouraging her financially distressed
constituents whose homes have been foreclosed upon, to simply stay put.
In a Friday report, CNN’s Drew Griffin explored the case of Ohioan Andrea Geiss,
whose home was foreclosed upon in April.
“Behind in payments, out of work, a husband sick, she had nowhere to go,”
said Griffin. “So, she decided to follow the advice of her Congresswoman
and go nowhere.”
In Lucas County, Ohio, over 4,000 properties were foreclosed upon in 2008,
“So I say to the American people, you be squatters in your own homes,”
said Congresswoman Kaptur before the House of Representatives. “Don’t you
She’s called on all of her foreclosed-upon constituents to stay in their homes
and refuse to leave without “an attorney and a fight,” said CNN.
“If they’ve had no legal representation of a high quality, I tell them
stay in their homes,” Kaptur told Griffin.
Kaptur is a high-profile advocate of an increasingly popular mode of fighting
foreclosures best known for it’s key phrase: “Produce the note.”
By telling a bank to “produce the note,” a homeowner can delay foreclosure
by forcing the lender to prove the suing institution is actually the same which
owns the debt.
“During the lending boom, most mortgages were flipped and sold… Continue reading
Imagine yourself within the mind of Barack Obama, the first African American president of the United States of America. You are a man who knows how “the system” works.
This knowledge has been accrued at hard struggle, and by a remarkable and unique ability to adapt to any environment because you spent a lifetime as an exotic specimen in every environment, from Kansas to Kenya–both African and American, Muslim and Christian, black and white. But you always displayed your native nobility–tribal nobility on your father’s side; nobility of spirit on your mother’s–and you were, with rare exceptions, accepted on your own terms. You were born under the sign of Leo, the lion, the natural leader; and your intelligence was honed with great discipline, under the influence of strong women.
Because your upbringing instilled in you a generosity of spirit that is natural to liberalism, and firsthand understanding from your grandfather of what motivates a man to risk his life for his country and an African father’s sense of freedom, unencumbered by Jim Crow oppression, you are a natural idealist who believes in the promise of America.
But you are also–with laser-focused intensity–a realist. A “pragmatist,” as they say. And no one knows better than you how much danger you are in.
It’s not just the racist crazies, one of whom could always, unexpectedly pop up through some weird quirk in the security system. But that’s only a distant possibility. You know, better than anyone, I suspect, that your greatest danger is what “the system” will do to protect itself, to what lengths it will go to protect itself, if certain lines are crossed.…Continue reading
January 23, 2009
Project on Government Oversight
Honorable Carl Levin, Chairman
U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services
228 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Honorable John McCain, Ranking Member
U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services
228 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Levin and Senator McCain,
The undersigned groups commends you, Chairman Levin, for your decision to wait
to evaluate the impact of President Obama’s new revolving door restrictions
requiring appointees to recuse themselves from work related to their former
employer or clients, as well as from matters or issues for which he lobbied.
Proceeding with the nomination of William J. Lynn III, a former Raytheon Company
lobbyist, to the position of Deputy Secretary of Defense clearly violates President
Obama’s Executive Order (EO). We believe your cautious approach is an important
exercise of congressional oversight. Upon reviewing the President’s just released
EO and its waiver provisions we urge you to go one step further and reject the
nomination of Mr. Lynn.
This letter is not to suggest that Mr. Lynn is not qualified for the position.
Before the President issued his Ethics Commitment by Executive Branch Personnel
Executive Order, there would have been little ground for questioning the proposed
nomination of Mr. Lynn. However, given that the new pledge required by President
Obama is written to preclude any appointee from participating “in any particular
matter on which I lobbied within the 2 years before the date of my appointment,”
or accepting “employment with any executive agency… Continue reading