Posted by: quiscus | May 4, 2009

May 4, 2009

1.  “In the case of our increasingly troublesome ally, Israel, this is now literally true: in dropping the charges against Rosen and Weissman – and allowing AIPAC, the organization for which they worked and which served as a cover for illegal activities, to function without registering as a foreign agent – we have handed them the keys to the safe deposit box wherein our most vital secrets lie.

The decision to drop this case was clearly made at the top, not by the local prosecutors. Indeed, there was reportedly an energetic internal debate. The lawyers for Rosen and Weissman, for their part, clearly credited the Obama administration for the decision to quash the case, as the Washington Post reported:

“Lawyers for Rosen and Weissman attributed the withdrawal of the case in part to the Obama administration. ‘We are extremely grateful that this new administration … has taken seriously their obligation to evaluate cases on the merits,’ the lawyers, Abbe D. Lowell, John Nassikas, and Baruch Weiss, said in a statement.”

While there is no direct evidence of any involvement by the White House, we have every reason to take this statement at face value. The idea that this was a decision made solely by prosecutors, over the strenuous objections of the FBI agents on this case, is further debunked by a New York Times account, which pointedly qualified routine denials of political interference:

“Several other officials said, however, that while senior political appointees at the Justice Department did not direct subordinates to drop the case, they were heavily involved in the deliberations. These officials said David S. Kris, the newly appointed chief of the department’s national security division, and Dana J. Boente, the interim United States attorney in Alexandria, had conferred regularly with prosecutors and ultimately decided to accept the recommendation to abandon the case. Attorney General Eric H. Holder was informed and raised no objections.”

Whether this case was dropped because it became a trading card in Obama’s increasingly contentious relations with the Israelis or because it was the victim of Israel’s increasingly aggressive intervention in American politics we’ll leave for future historians to decide. What is clear, at this point, is that it is now effectively legal for AIPAC and its allies to function quite openly as an intelligence-gathering entity for the Israeli state. The line between lobbying and espionage has been erased, at least as far as Israel’s activities in the U.S. are concerned.”

2.  “American Wars – Both Hot and Cold – Through Revisionist Eyes

Editor’s note: The following is adapted from chapter four of Jeff Riggenbach’s new book, Why American History Is Not What They Say: An Introduction to Revisionism (Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2009).”

3.  “there might, if one were charitable, have been a reason for the U.S. to reverse-engineer a form of torture developed by Chinese Communist and North Koreans – not to get at the truth, but to engineer false confessions.

According to the Senate Armed Services Committee report [.pdf] (a mostly Democratic-oriented document to be sure, but bearing at least some evidence to back its assertions), one of the reasons folks at the top agitated for “enhanced interrogation” techniques was that they weren’t getting what they wanted from early Guantanamo detainees – evidence that Saddam Hussein was in operational cahoots with al-Qaeda. Of course, as has become abundantly clear, this early justification for the pre-desired outcome of invading Iraq was not forthcoming because it didn’t exist.

So, the neat equation: The Cheney-Rumsfeld crowd didn’t want the truth; they wanted evidence to justify the forthcoming invasion, which meant they needed not reliable intelligence but lies. What better way to get false confessions than techniques designed to elicit just such results? And they probably knew there was no good evidence of a Saddam-Osama collaboration, but they didn’t care much. They needed revelations, reliable or not, that could be used to pump up the prewar propaganda barrage.

The only trouble with this neat equation is that there is also evidence, adduced by New York Times reporting, that the architects of the Bush-era torture regimen also didn’t do enough research to find out that the techniques they were adopting were originally communist tactics.”

4.  More on AIPAC:

“And why was the case dropped at just this moment?

The last question is the easiest to answer. The Justice Department announced that the charges would be dropped two days before the opening of the 2009 AIPAC Convention. One may have noticed earlier that the Obama administration and the government of Israel play each other on a tight clock. Israel withdrew from its devastating assault on Gaza only hours before the inauguration of Barack Obama. The administration has let off the AIPAC lobbyists in time to be considered as sentimental encouragers and not spoilers of the mutual uplift that marks the annual AIPAC gathering.”

5.  Neanderthal Christian Right:

Was Torture Really Part of a Religious Crusade?

Conservative Christians were the biggest backers of the Iraq war.

Churchgoers were more likely to back torture of suspected terrorists than atheists (and see this).

One of the top Pentagon officials involved in the Iraq war – General William Boykin – literally:

Sees the “war on terror” as a religious war between Judeo-Christian civilization and Satan, with Islam of course cast in the latter role.

The bottom line is that – while torture was ordered by the highest level Bush administration officials in order to create a false link between 9/11 and Iraq – it seems like many of those who enthusiastically rallied around torture looked at it, literally, as a religious crusade.

The Officials Who Created the Torture Program Used The Old Playbook

The godfather of the Neoconservative movement – Leo Strauss – taught that religion should be used as a way to manipulate people to achieve the aims of the leaders. But that the leaders themselves need not believe in religion.

As I have previously written:

Leo Strauss is the father of the Neo-Conservative movement, including many leaders of the current administration. Indeed, some of the main neocon players were students of Strauss at the University of Chicago, where he taught for many years. Strauss, born in Germany, was an admirer of Nazi philosophers and of Machiavelli.

Strauss believed that “A political order can be stable only if it is united by an external threat . . . . Following Machiavelli, he maintained that if no external threat exists then one has to be manufactured” (quote is by one of Strauss’ main biographers).

Therefore, it is unknown whether the Bush administration officials who created the torture program actually believed that the brown-skinned people they wished to torture were Satan-worshippers who needed either to be converted or destroyed.

More likely, they just followed the old Straussian playbook in creating a threat which didn’t exist – Satanic Muslims who wanted to take over the world – and using religion to rally the mid- and lower-level participants in the torture program to carry out their orders.”

6.  “The FBI’s Department of Precrime

As they walked along the busy, yellow-lit tiers of offices, Anderton said: “You’re acquainted with the theory of precrime, of course. I presume we can take that for granted.” — Philip K. Dick, The Minority Report

A chilling new report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reveals the breadth and scope of the FBI’s Investigative Data Warehouse (IDW), the Bureau’s massive data-mining project.

With more than a billion records “many of which contain information on American citizens,” EFF is calling on Congress to demand FBI accountability and strict oversight of this Orwellian project. By all accounts IDW is huge and growing at a geometric pace. According to the Bureau’s own narrative,

The IDW received its initial authority to operate in September 2005, and successfully completed a Federal Information Security Management Act audit in May 2007. As of September 2008, the IDW had: 7,223 active user accounts; 3,826 FBI personnel trained on the system, and 997,368,450 unique searchable documents. The IDW transitioned to the operations and maintenance phase during FY 2008. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Investigative Data Warehouse,” no date)

EFF notes that “the Library on Congress by way of comparison, has about 138 million (138,313,427) items in its collection.”

Kurt Opsahl, EFF’s Senior Staff Attorney and the author of the new report said: “The IDW includes more than four times as many documents as the Library of Congress, and the FBI has asked for millions of dollars to data-mine this warehouse, using unproven science in an attempt to predict future crimes from past behavior. We need to know all of what’s in the IDW, and how our privacy will be protected.”

7.  “Investigate Bush Abuses: A Real Investigation or a Waste of Time?

In a letter to voters, Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL) has announced his introduction of House Resolution 383 to establish “a bi-partisan Select Committee tasked with making comprehensive recommendations on our national security policy – including those covering laws on torture, FISA law violations, wiretapping, civil liberties protections, among others. This committee would have all of the power of a standing committee, including subpoena power.” Co-sponsors are Barbara Lee (D-CA) and John Conyers (D-MI). Conyers is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Wexler’s statement continued by stating that, “The committee will investigate many of the outrageous policies of the Bush Administration to unearth and expose what happened during the past eight years…. We must take a hard look at what went wrong in the last eight years.  We must continue to peel back the veil of secrecy that the previous Administration used as cover to undermine our system of checks and balances, and establish a clear line between what is necessary for our security and what is unlawful government intrusion and a violation of our civil liberties.”

Wexler is not the only member of Congress to announce his attention to call out the Bush administration on its abuses. Senator Patrick Leahy wants to set up a “Truth Commission,” whose mission, as described in Time, would be “to investigate the politicization of prosecution in the Justice Department under former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; the wiretapping of U.S. Citizens; the flawed intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq; and the use of torture at Guantanamo and so-called black sites abroad. Leahy’s commission is to be modeled after one that investigated the apartheid regime in South Africa .”

The trouble is that congressional investigating committees rarely amount to anything. An example was the 1976 House Select Committee on Assassinations, set up to investigate the killings of President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The committee met largely in secret, withheld much of its evidence from the public, and, while it said both assassinations likely involved conspiracies, stated no government agencies were parties to them. The latter point has been disputed by independent researchers both before and since.

Another example was the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States , a.k.a, the 9/11 Commission. While the commission concluded that failures of the CIA and FBI allowed the attacks to occur, it failed to look at any possibility of complicity by those agencies or the Bush administration. Members of the commission later said government officials lied to them and impeded the investigation.

It’s possible, of course, that any committees set up to investigate Bush, Cheney,, will have better luck, but will they examine the questions that really matter? Neither Wexler nor Leahy mention reopening the 9/11 case. And neither mentions the event that may be just as momentous—this is the “financial 9/11”; i.e., the 2008 collapse of the U.S. financial system.

Of course neither Wexler nor Leahy intends to examine any of these issues. Which is why their calls for investigations make good political theater, may put a few minor players on the hot seat, but, in the big picture, will be a complete waste of time. A better course would be a Special Prosecutor. But the Obama administration has given no indication of doing this either.”

8.  “Pork’s Dirty Secret: The nation’s top hog producer is also one of America’s worst polluters

America’s top pork producer churns out a sea of waste that has destroyed rivers, killed millions of fish and generated one of the largest fines in EPA history. Welcome to the dark side of the other white meat.”

9.  “Unreported or Underreported Real Pandemics, Not Fake Ones Like Avian and Swine Flu

Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano saying: “We are proceeding as if we are preparatory to a full pandemic” even though:

— no evidence suggests one;

— flu epidemics are extremely rare, certainly global ones with the potential to kill millions;

— influenza (flu) is a common viral illness;

— it exists in numerous strains;

— most remain infectious for about a week and produce symptoms including fever, coughing, nausea and at times vomiting – annoying but rarely life-threatening; and

— simple good health practices are more effective than dangerous drugs, including frequent hand washing, use of disinfectants and detergents, and abstaining from high-risk foods like all GMO ones as well as beef, poultry, and pork – raised under unsanitary conditions on factory farms that “are notorious breeding grounds for toxic pathogens.”

That said, major unreported or underreported  pandemics abound, real ones. None, however, make headlines or arouse public or media concern. Below are some.

Other global pandemics include:

— 1.3 billion people live on less than $1 dollar a day, including over 500 million existing in “absolute poverty” according to the World Bank; another three billion survive on about $2 a day; poverty this extreme kills;

— starvation and famine kill about 15 million children annually;

— according to the World Health Organization (WHO), one-third of the world population is ill-fed and another one-third is starving; malnutrition affects one in twelve people, including 160 million children under age five; in America, one-sixth of the elderly population is ill-fed, and one out of eight children under 12 endures daily hunger;

— global hunger, starvation and famine persist in spite of a plentiful world food supply;

— five million annual smoking-related deaths occur;

— two million annual alcohol-related deaths;

— about one million annual suicides;

— 400,000 annual auto and truck accident deaths;

— 200,000 annual illicit drug-related deaths; two – three times that number die from legal drugs;

— about 30,000 annual US gun-related deaths;

— unknown annual tens of thousands of deaths from pollution, food and water contamination, nuclear radiation exposure, and domestic violence, especially to women, children and the elderly; and

— according to the World Health Organization: “The world’s biggest killer and the greatest cause of ill health and suffering across the globe is listed almost at the end of the International Classification of Diseases (code Z59.5) — extreme poverty.”

These are real preventable pandemics, not fake ones like Swine Flu being hyped for profit, to spread fear, and divert public attention from real problems like the above-listed ones, the deepening global economic holocaust, the systematic looting of national wealth, and the steady path America is on to becoming a militarized banana republic police state.”

10.  “Someone needs to give Jane Harman an award for this

But all that said, nothing can top this quote from Harman, uttered near the end of an AIPAC panel discussion after she realized that nobody was going to ask her about this matter and thus brought it up herself.  As reported by a pro-AIPAC blogger in attendance:

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) said she is “not a victim” but a “warrior on behalf of our Constitution and against abuse of power” . . . .

But almost 40 minutes into the discussion Sunday morning, as moderator Dan Senor started to wrap up and asked the final question of the four panelists, no one had even mentioned the issue.  So Harman took the matter into her own hands — winding up with a spirited defense of the Constitution and AIPAC.

Jane Harman is a warrior on behalf of the Constitution and against abuse of power — that’s the same Jane Harman who tried to bully The New York Times out of writing about Bush’s illegal spying program, who succeeded in pressuring them not to publish their story until after Bush was re-elected, who repeatedly proclaimed the program to be “legal and necessary” once it was revealed, who called the whistle-blowers “despicable”, who went on Meet the Press and expressed receptiveness to a criminal investigation of The New York Times for publishing the story, who led the way in supporting the Fourth-Amendment-gutting and safeguard-destroying FISA Amendments Act of 2008, and who demanded that telecoms be retroactively immunized for breaking multiple laws by allowing government spying on their customers without warrants of any kind.

That is who is a self-proclaimed “warrior on behalf of our Constitution and against abuse of power.”  How can that ever be topped?

It’s hard to fathom the intellectual cowardice necessary to publish such a strident, controversial, provocative argument, and then refuse to discuss it with those who want to question you about it, and worse, to do so on the trite and shallow ground that “the piece speaks for itself.”  Actually, “the piece” does nothing of the sort, as it is a model of logical fallacies and historical inaccuracies that provokes all sorts of questions that are dishonestly ignored in the argument.  If someone is afraid to address questions and criticisms about their argument, they might want to refrain from publishing it.”


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