Posted by: quiscus | May 7, 2011

May 7, 2011

1.  What a surprise:

“US military support increases terror attacks on American citizens study shows
US military support for foreign governments encourages terrorist groups to attack Americans, demonstrates a new study from the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Essex.

Terrorist attacks on Americans are more likely to come from countries where the US provides military aid, stations troops and sells arms finds the study – the first to show a statistical correlation between American foreign policy and terrorism against its citizens.

Professor Neumayer said: ‘We have empirically demonstrated that the more governments are dependent on US military support, the more attacks against Americans by terrorists from those countries can be expected. Our results suggest that Americans will, on average, be less at risk of terrorism if the USA reduces or even withdraws its military support from countries heavily dependent on it.’ ”

2.  “Record Number of Americans Targeted by National Security Letters

The latest report to Congress on the Justice Department’s use of foreign intelligence surveillance powers has just been released, and it shows a truly stunning increase in the number of Americans whose sensitive phone, Internet, and banking records were obtained by the FBI — without judicial oversight — pursuant to National Security Letters. In 2009, a total of 14,788 NSL requests were issued targeting U.S. persons — a number that excludes requests for “basic subscriber information” as opposed to phone or e-mail logs — and 6,114 different Americans were affected by those demands for information. In 2010, the number of NSL requests targeting Americans rose to 24,287.

What’s really shocking, however, is the number of people affected. A whopping 14,212 American citizens and permanent residents had records of their financial, telephone, and online activity seized last year.  The previous record, set in 2005, was 9,475. Were you one of those 14,212? If so, what did the FBI get? Thanks to the gag orders that come with NSLs, you will almost certainly never get to find out. But even if the Bureau decides there’s no reason to continue investigating you, whatever data they obtained — lists of phone numbers, credit card purchases, financial transactions, e-mail correspondents, or IP addresses visited — are likely to remain in a massive government database indefinitely

This pattern suggests that the Bureau is doing broader but shallower investigation — sweeping more people into the information vacuum, but issuing fewer requests per person, presumably because the results of the initial request provide few grounds for further scrutiny.  Needless to say, the overwhelming majority of those people are not terrorists — and, indeed, are probably guilty of nothing more than a second- or third-degree connection to the subject of an investigation. Remember, as expiring Patriot Act provisions come up for reauthorization at the end of this month: These tools are fundamentally not about spying on terrorists. The government has always had ample power to do that. They’re about authority to spy on the innocent.”

3.  “Expert: “It Seems To Be Part Of The Pattern Of The EPA Trying To Make Sure That There Are No Measurements That Could Cause People To Be Concerned”

The EPA is closing ranks with the nuclear power industry:

EPA officials, however, refused to answer questions or make staff members available to explain the exact location and number of monitors, or the levels of radiation, if any, being recorded at existing monitors in California. Margot Perez-Sullivan, a spokeswoman at the EPA’s regional headquarters in San Francisco, said the agency’s written statement would stand on its own.

Critics said the public needs more information.

“It’s disappointing,” said Bill Magavern, director of Sierra Club California. “I have a strong suspicion that EPA is being silenced by those in the federal government who don’t want anything to stand in the way of a nuclear power expansion in this country, heavily subsidized by taxpayer money.”

The EPA has pulled 8 of its 18 radiation monitors in California, Oregon and Washington because (by implication) they are giving readings which seem too high.

Indeed, all nuclear regulators have been captured by the nuclear industry.”

4.  “U.S. tries to assassinate U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki
The killing of bin Laden got the testosterone pumping, the righteousness pulsating, and faith in the American military and its Commander-in-Chief skyrocketing to all-time highs.  It made America feel good about itself in a way that no other event has since at least Obama’s inauguration; we got to forget about rampant unemployment, home foreclosures by the millions, a decade’s worth of militaristic futility and slaughter, and ever-growing Third-World levels of wealth inequality.  This was a week for flag-waving, fist-pumping, and nationalistic chanting:  even — especially — among liberals, who were able to take the lead and show the world (and themselves) that they are no wilting, delicate wimps; it’s not merely swaggering right-wing Texans, but they, too, who can put bullets in people’s heads and dump corpses into the ocean and then joke and cheer about it afterwards.  It’s inconceivable that this wave of collective pride, boosted self-esteem, vicarious strength, and renewed purpose won’t produce a desire to replicate itself.  Four days after bin Laden is killed, a missile rains down from the sky to try to execute Awlaki without due process, and that’ll be far from the last such episode (indeed, also yesterday, the U.S. launched a drone attack in Pakistan, ending the lives of 15 more people:  yawn).

Last night, in a post entitled “Reigniting the GWOT [Global War on Terrorism]” — Digby wrote about why the reaction to the killing of bin Laden is almost certain to spur greater aggression in the “War on Terror,” and specifically observed:  “They’re breathlessly going on about Al Qaeda in Yemen ‘targeting the homeland’ right now on CNN. Looks like we’re back in business.”  The killing of bin Laden isn’t going to result in a reduction of America’s military adventurism because that’s not how the country works: when we eradicate one Enemy, we just quickly and seamlessly find a new one to replace him with — look over there:  Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is the True Threat!!!! — and the blood-spilling continues unabated (without my endorsing it all, read this excellent Chris Floyd post for the non-euphemistic reality of what we’ve really been doing in the world over the last couple years under the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Winner).

A civil liberties lawyer observed by email to me last night that now that Obama has massive political capital and invulnerable Tough-on-Terror credentials firmly in place, there are no more political excuses for what he does (i.e., he didn’t really want to do that, but he had to in order not to be vulnerable to GOP political attacks that he’s Weak).  In the wake of the bin Laden killing, he’s able to do whatever he wants now — ratchet down the aggression or accelerate it — and his real face will be revealed by his choices (for those with doubts about what that real face is).  Yesterday’s attempt to exterminate an American citizen who has long been on his hit list — far from any battlefield, not during combat, and without even a pretense of due process — is likely to be but a first step in that direction.”

5.  “The Politics Of Revenge And Submission:

 “When the individual feels, the community reels”

Osama bin Laden is dead. And so is the U.S. republic. We had to destroy our freedoms in order to save them. What is left to save from the next rampaging dragon when the knights, sworn to kill the monster, destroy everything in their path in the pursuit of him? One killer is dead. Now what are we going to do with all the killers in our midst who killed him.

Since 9/11/2001, due to the lust for revenge of the people of the U.S., hundreds of thousands of innocent Islamic people are dead. These human beings were killed in our name. Be very careful when you proclaim: “I’m glad ‘we’ got bin Laden. He deserved it.” Be very grateful most of us don’t get what we deserve.

To appropriate a classical understanding of the situation: Aeschylus, in his Oresteia trilogy, dramatized that civilization begins when (in fact, civilization is not even possible until) retribution yields to justice i.e., The Furies, goddesses adorned with serpent-seething headdresses and an abiding passion for retribution, must be transformed into the Eumenides (the kindly ones). They must cease their seeking of revenge (which engenders endless revenge cycles, inflicting a trauma-wrought callowness on the people of a culture) and become the enemies of those who bear false witness and stand against the democratic process.

In contrast, in the U.S., a state policy of genocide against its native inhabitants determined the geographical dimensions of the nation itself, and, in many ways, determined the inner dimensions of its collective mindscape, which created and maintains the death cult calculus of U.S. militarist imperium. (The U.S. military still envisages its enemies as “Red Indian savages.” Witness: Osama bin Laden having been given the moniker, “Geronimo.”)

Hence the isolated, alienated U.S. populace (its males in particular) clutch, to the point of fetishizing, their guns, because they feel powerless before the depravations of an exploitive system rigged to benefit a small class of privileged insiders

How is it possible for troubled individuals to live in a culture in which the response of their government (mirrored in its movies, television programs, and video games) to almost every problem abroad involves military force and imperialist coercion — and not have these death-leveling policies leave their mark on the psyches of the populace?

All too frequently, in the increasingly desperate and denial-ridden nation, deranged chickens come home and reap havoc in the roost (also known as The Law Of Perpetual Poultry Return). As above with its government, so below with its populace: With troubling frequency, in shooting rampages, unhinged individuals stage freelance, military-style commando raids, defending (in the tormented perception of their besieged minds) their internal homeland.

The rigid hierarchical structure of U.S. corporate oligarchy (but veiled by the internalization of its upward class mobility hagiography) imposes a type of domination and control compulsion (and attendant low-level hysteria) in the psyches of the nation’s males. Hence, the need for disproportionate amounts of control to displace their own sense of being dominated by brutal power (e. g., they feel so deeply diminished by their own submissive position in the economic order that the men and boys of the nation are driven to taunt other males by bandying demeaning invectives, such as, “You’re my bitch.”)

What they are expressing is the displaced anger, engendered by their helplessness before the dictates of the corporate state. An insidious order that determines the course of their day: At what hour, they will rise (at the insistence of an alarm clock) to meet the day; what they will eat (generally, processed or fast food); the roads and routes they will travel (stranded in the grinding limbo of commuter traffic); who they will be in contact with during the day (the dharma-decimating exigencies of the workspaces of the neo-liberal economic order). In short, how their day unfolds (exploited for the benefit of the oligarchs of the corporate state) and how their day ends (on edge, enervated, muck-brained, in hyper-attenuated communion with some form of the mass media hologram).

The inimical effect of this mode of being has come to be known as “the American way of life.” Therein, individuals, reduced to mere assets of the economic elite, grow bereft of the means and motivation for personal transformation. Moreover, the culture — always an organic, collaborative effort between individuals and the collective mind of an age — withers into an economic, as well as, psychic wasteland, because the means of social engagement have been denuded due to the full-spectrum domination of both cultural real estate and individual mindscape by the corporate state. “


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