Sometimes observing politics you notice interesting patterns. Here's a couple of stories with an interesting little pattern IMO.
Back in 2006 a new anonymously run political blog, The Palmetto Voice, suddenly appeared in the South Carolina political blogosphere. The blogger/s were clearly intimately informed about local politics. They (it's unclear if there were really more than one blogger) were also provocative and mysterious. A small SC internet buzz formed speculating the mysterious origins of the site and the site gained a small following.
Then, in March of 2006, the Palmetto Voice made a post claiming to have "politically damaging" information about SC House Majority Leader Rick Quinn, a candidate for State Treasurer. The post threated that The Palmetto Voice would publish the damaging information unless the Quinn campaign met a set of demands regarding their campaign - essentially engaging in blackmail.
Another SC political blog, faithinthesound, wrote about the incident at the time...
For perhaps the first time in the history of the SC blogosphere, a political website is publicly blackmailing a statewide candidate.
The website doing the blackmailing is Palmetto Voice. The candidate being blackmailed is former House Majority Leader Rick Quinn, who is currently running for State Treasurer in a heated, four-way Republican primary.
In an article posted late yesterday evening, Palmetto Voice publicly threatens to leak a negative news story about Quinn to members of the South Carolina media unless certain of its demands are met...
After the blackmail story started to garner wide attention and a bunch of internet backlash, the entire Palmetto Voice site up and disappeared as quickly as it arrived.
But faithinthesound stayed on the story and eventually uncovered the culprits...
It's been a few weeks since an e-mail from Bob Staton campaign manager Mike Rentiers led to the identification of U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson's lap dog, Preston Grisham, as the party responsible (or at least claiming responsibility) for the now-defunct Palmetto Voice website.
Our readers may remember Palmetto Voice as the blog that attempted to blackmail State Treasurer candidate Rick Quinn, on Easter Sunday no less.
Fast forward to...
Last week Alvin Greene won the South Carolina Democratic Senate primary. Anyone paying attention could plainly see something very very strange was happening, regardless of how you cut it. The very next day, U.S. Rep Jim Clyburn publically claimed Alvin Greene was a plant, and that furthermore, two other Democratic candidates in the SC primary - including his own opponent, Gregory A. Brown - were also plants.
The key piece of evidence presented by Clyburn was FEC filings tying Gregory A. Brown's campaign to a Republican consulting firm...
Clyburn contended that Greene's campaign, and those of two other African American candidates, were designed to upend the Democratic primary process in the Palmetto State. He also named Brown and Benjamin Frasier Jr., a perennial candidate who surprised observers by beating retired Air Force Reserve Col. Robert Burton in the 1st District.
As late as Thursday afternoon, the Federal Elections Commission had no public record of any of the three filing quarterly reports revealing their funding sources or campaign outlays.
But in FEC reports filed late Thursday and early Friday, Brown reported that his single largest payment was to the Stonewall Strategies firm run by Preston Grisham, a former aide to Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.). Grisham, a 2005 University of South Carolina graduate, was an intern for Wilson in 2003 and went on to serve as his special assistant and campaign manager.
Brown's campaign paid Stonewall Strategies $23,760 this year for "marketing" and "marketing materials," according to the FEC reports...
Preston Grisham. Interesting IMO.
And as a final note... faithinthesound makes a comment about Mr. Grisham that just might possibly help explain why certain things seem so incredibly stupid...
Of course, anyone who's spent more than two seconds with Preston Grisham realizes that he isn't smart enough to walk and chew gum at the same time, let alone operate a computer and formulate a coherent sentence at the same time, so his recent teary-eyed admission that he "was used by other people" as it relates to the Palmetto Voice blog is plausible.
So who knows? Patterns. Make of them what you will.
Whenever Congressman Dennis Kucinich makes any widely reported critical remarks about the work of President Obama or the Democratic "leadership," the predictable frenzy of hate kicks in on DU and elsewhere.
The cornerstone of the hate frenzy is always the same: Kucinich is ineffective!!!1! Ineffective, ineffective, ineffective! It's like howling at the moon. A broken record. And predictable as the sunrise.
So let's take a look at this.
Let's set aside the fact that Kucinich has a record of passing bills roughly average for non-committee chairs in the House, and slightly better than that of Nancy Pelosi prior to her ascension to Speaker.
Let's instead grant that he has unfortunately not succeeded in passing any major reforms centered around the main points of his political agenda. If only that he had, but alas, it's generally true that he has not.
Why is this?
Is he a poor strategist? Does he not work well with others? Is he impractical? Is he delusional? Unintelligent? Incapable?
Of course not.
What he is - like many true reformers before him - is a minority. His views are simply not shared by very many of his fellow Congress members. It's as simple as that.
Here's the reality:
The vast majority of members of the US Congress - of both parties - support the perpetual maintenance of our massive military Empire and a policy of endless warfare.
Kucinich does not.
The vast majority of Congress members - of both parties - support the wholesale movement of capital and jobs to locations outside the US where the large corporations that own our government can make larger profits.
Kucinich does not.
A large majority of Congress members - of both parties - support drastically rolling back civil liberties and Constitutional rights in the face of the contrived menace of scary terror.
Kucinich does not.
The vast majority of Congress members believe that supporting Wall Street means supporting America and tax Dollars deserve to go to banks before they go to people.
Kucinich does not.
You see, he is in the minority.
Dennis Kucinich isn't the first member of Congress to find themselves in the minority and thus unable to carry out their agenda. In the early 19th century, a series of abolitionist Congress members found themselves in the minority. Sure, they used Congress as platform to speak against the evils of slavery, but most never passed any legislation. Damn were they ineffective!
In the early 20th century a vocal minority of Congress members supported the right of women to participate in the American political process. They made a lot of noise but were never able to pass a single thing. Ineffective losers that lot.
War, corporate rule, and the erosion of the Constitution. These are the uphill battles of our day. Those of us who support winding down the war machine, or reigning in the oligarchy, or restoring the Constitution are sadly a small minority. We are a minority among the American people, the media elites, and particularly among the governing class. It is wholly unrealistic, in our present environment, to expect significant legislative victories in these areas. We have a long way to go and a lot of groundwork to lay before that day comes.
In the meantime we have Dennis Kucinich and a few others. They speak for millions of Americans who have no other political voice. And they keep the ball moving forward, bit by bit, inch by inch.
You know when the haters howl at the moon that you're getting under their skin - making them squirm. And I assure you that when they howl that we, or Dennis Kucinich, are "ineffective!!!11," that they are missing the forest for the trees.
And it may be just as well to let them think that - like they have of so many before. It just means that when the tide turns, and the minority grows into a majority, we'll be taking them by surprise. And eventually, though maybe not soon, the tide WILL turn.
And then someone new will be ineffective.
Posted by Truth2Tell in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Tue Nov 10th 2009, 02:08 PM
It's a political reality that the corporate interests who have made such a mess of our health care system also have a stranglehold on our Congress. They dominate the Republican Party and they have massive influence in our Party.
Among the most dozen or so conservative Democratic members of the Senate, it's impossible to find more than few who don't act consistently to serve the interests of the Insurance, Pharmaceutical and other corporate health lobbies. These Senators wield enough collective political power on behalf of these interests so as to have an effective veto over any sort of health care or insurance industry reform. They have for many many years. As a practical political reality they have to be negotiated with on any such bill.
This political reality existed before Obama won the Presidency and it still exists now. There was no 60 seat magic or possibility of slipping in just a few more progressives that would have changed this. Obama knew before he even won that if he was going to "do" health care reform he would need to strike a deal with the very interests who had broken the system. The political reality was and still is that these interests are so powerful in our system that they had to be given "a seat at the table."
We are now beginning to see the outlines of the deal being struck. It includes a lot of painful and expensive shape-up requirements for the Insurance Cartels, no doubt. In exchange it appears to insure the long-term survival of the industry, and to apply what they feel to be adequate nails to the coffin of single-payer, public-option, Medicare expansion or any other government-centric alternative. That's the big trade-off here. Shape up, and in exchange you never have to ship out.
To suggest that no grand deal between Industry and Obama is taking shape in this bill is to bury one's head in the sand. It's not like it's some secret who the blue dog Democrats in the Senate serve. Obama always knew he'd have to deal with these guys. Now he is.
So Nancy Pelosi says she couldn't have revealed the classified information she was told about Bush administration torture even if she had wanted to. For that matter she says she still can't. And the meme echos across DU. Over and over posters insist that secrecy laws stood in the way of our noble office holders revealing what they were allegedly told about Bush Administration crimes. Alas, if only they could have spoken out...
Well, they could have. Here's the facts:
Pelosi and her defenders have been frequently citing 18 USC 798 regarding penalties for the disclosure of classified information. They are correct to do so. But there is more to secrecy law than just 18 USC 798, beginning with the the definition of "classified information."
"Classified information" is legally defined as "Any information or material, regardless of its physical form or characteristics, that is owned by the United States Government, and determined pursuant to Executive Order 12356, April 2, 1982 or prior orders to require protection against unauthorized disclosure, and is so designated."
So lets look at Executive Order 12356, the foundational legal document of our current system of security classification. Here's the relevant passage:
Sec. 1.6 Limitations on Classification.
(a) In no case shall information be classified in order to conceal
violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error; to prevent
embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency; to restrain
competition; or to prevent or delay the release of information that does
not require protection in the interest of national security.
Bottom line: information that has been classified in order to conceal violations of law has been improperly and illegally classified. This is clearly the case regarding torture (not to mention FISA violations and a myriad of other official crimes).
Anyone - from Congress members to members of the press - who publicly reveals improperly classified information has available to them the defense that the information in question was not in fact "legally classified." Of course the revealer of the information is taking the chance that - if prosecuted - a judge will not agree with their personal assessment that the classified activities were criminal.
All of this is well established. The "embarrassment" language of Exec Order 12356 1.6 (a) was in fact used by the New York Times to successfully defend themselves against charges of violating secrecy laws with the publication of the Pentagon Papers. And of course none of this even touches on the criminal immunity Congress members enjoy for statements made on the floor of the House or Senate.
Sooo... all that would have been required of Pelosi, Rockefeller, Harmon or any other Congress member would have been to make the individual self-evident and perfectly reasonable determination that what they were briefed about violated the law. They could then have revealed that information and fought to oppose the criminal acts.
If the Bush administration were really foolish enough to have opened the can of worms involved in charging a member of Congress with violating 18 USC 798 they would eventually have found themselves in in secret court proceedings defending the legality of the underlying torture crimes. Such an action on their part would have been highly unlikely for both legal and political reasons.
Some in our Party would like to put their heads in the sand and insist that ALL culpability for torture and other crimes rests with the previous Republican administration. Such an unwillingness to take responsibility for the Democratic share of blame is not only the height of hypocrisy but also weakens our Party and helps ensure that future governmental lawbreakers will avoid accountability.
Yes. Lets point the primary finger of responsibility for Bush era abuses first and foremost at the criminal Republican administration that directly conceived and executed the crimes. By all means hold them accountable first and foremost. But lets not be afraid to clean our own house as needed. A Democratic leadership committed to accountability and aggressive oversight could have certainly put much more of a crimp in Bush lawbreaking if only a serious effort had been made.
Certain Democrats could have legally spoken out. They CHOSE not to. Lets move beyond the tortured rationalizations (pun intended) and admit what we all know: Our leaders lacked the moral and political courage to stand against the Bush administration and its crimes. They feared being labeled un-American or soft on terror. They feared the wrath of the media and their political enemies and they feared losing their own positions of power. They behaved like gutless sniveling cowards when we needed them the most. For the sake of our Party we shouldn't let that pass.
I understand this process of self examination can be politically difficult. The Republicans and the direct perpetrators of Bush crimes predictably use any discussion of Democratic complicity to divert attention from their own even greater share of blame. In fact they almost certainly briefed Democrats about their crimes to lay the groundwork for this exact strategy. Still, such is politics and these attempts at diversion can be easily deflected. They certainly don't excuse our own refusal to pursue all those complicit - even our own.
I am a Democratic Party Purist.
This means that I choose which politicians I support and which I do not based upon their values and their political agenda. When candidates or office holders work toward and believe in the same things I do, I support them. When they work against the values I believe in and support positions opposite of my own, I oppose them. I do this regardless of the political party to which they claim to belong.
A few confused provocateurs on DU choose to compare me and those like me to Nazis, Stalinists or worse. Evidently these folks would prefer that, like them, I support anyone capable of penciling in the letter "D" next to their name and close my eyes to what they believe or what their political agenda might be. Sorry. Not me.
It's unfortunate that this needs to be explained, but here goes: The difference between my insistence on a "purity" of values and that of the Nazis, Communists, Stalinists or Fascists is... wait for it... I'm not a Nazi, Communist, Stalinist or Fascist. I'm an anti-war libertarian-leaning leftist Democrat. As such, believe it or not, I prefer that politicians I support share my anti-war libertarian-leaning leftist Democratic views - at least to a certain extent. I want my fellow Democrats, if they are to garner my support, to share my Democratic values. Imagine that.
Just because some Nazis also wanted their fellow Nazis to share their Nazi views doesn't make ME a Nazi. I hope that makes sense to the confused Nazi-labeling-disruptor crowd.
Anyone who claims to have no "litmus test" for whom they would welcome to our Democratic Party should ask themselves if they would welcome racists or anti-gay bigots. Or self-proclaimed fascists. Or NAMBLA members. Fill in the blank with whatever objectionable belief you can think of. If you have no litmus tests and would welcome them all then I pity you.
Personally I have plenty of litmus tests and am quite fine with that. Such is the only way to conduct politics of any substantive meaning. No racists supported here. No war-mongers. No Corporatists. And more.
I hope this helps clear things up.
I mean really. One more blue dog? One more Republicrat now in a safe seat?
After all, it's our own "centrists" blocking most of the substantive efforts at real change.
I'm sorry, but I give this news a big YAWN.
For the record, I understand the differences between the USA and North Korea, in governance, power etc. I also understand the role of the United Nations. That being said, can someone please tell me, from the standpoint of fundamental fairness, why the USA should be allowed to test long-range ballistic missiles but North Korea should not? And where do we derive the right to decide this? Really.
From a recent email I recieved:
By Paul Richmond
Recently I was told the story of a Colorado man who approached then Vice President Dick Cheney and raised questions of his policies. Within minutes the man was arrested and handcuffed by a Secret Service agent for “assaulting” the vice president. Thank God that stuff’s over the person telling the story said to me.
Ironically, I’ve been having similar concerns over one of President Obama’s recent appointments, Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske. While he’s being hailed by many as an enlightened, even brilliant choice my experience may temper that unbridled optimism. As attorney who’s worked in the Seattle area, doing support for demonstrators I have genuine concerns about his actions regarding the First Amendment, including several with parallels to the Cheney episode above. As a researcher who tracked much of the militarization of law enforcement around the drug war, I’m concerned about programs he’s already implemented.
I found Kerlikowske had a marked disdain for critics. I experienced it personally when he appeared at UW Law School where I was enrolled and finishing a J.D. Kerlikowske responded to a difficult question I asked by singling me out by name and claiming I followed him everywhere – it was in fact the second time I’m aware I’d been at the same event as him. Of course I was a white law student and that was as far as it went.
Shortly after I graduated, I came to represent Anwar Peace, a young black man who was concerned about the number of black men shot by the Seattle Police. Peace who had no criminal history, wanted to have a meeting with Chief Kerlikowske to discuss this. Peace left phone messages, would attempt to speak with Kerlikowske at public events, and ultimately set up a table on the sidewalk in front of the police department. Kerlikowske’s response was to file a Restraining Order, (which was granted as these usually are) and then pursue criminal charges the next time Peace contacted him. The criminal trials dragged on and on, and the police invested an incredible amount of time and money into this. Rather astounding when you consider GWB never sought a restraining order against Cindy Sheehan.
This also seemed to follow a pattern of little tolerance for any dissent. From my experience I can say, Kerlikowske has shown a record of contempt for the rights of demonstrators and a history of responding to them with disproportionate force. This has included:
* Overseeing the mass arrests of people trying to leave the site of the first anniversary of the WTO demonstrations, on November 30, 2000. Demonstrators were promised if they left the area they would be free to go. They were directed down a street where they were surrounded by fences and riot police. Over a hundred were arrested, the first of these being the legal observers.
* When the October 22 group attempted to have their annual demonstration in 2003, police not only limited them to the sidewalk, but drove a line of vans on the lane alongside that sidewalk, hiding the march from sight. This resulted in a federal suit from the ACLU filed in federal court as C04-860Z.
* Also in 2003 Kerlikowske spearheaded the prosecution of a few women from the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) who dropped a banner off of a construction crane under an old felony statute enacted to go after the Wobblies. Let me be clear these women were facing many years in prison for simply hanging a banner from a crane. As one of the lawyers involved in defending these women, I believe that the owners of the construction site had no interest in this prosecution, the push coming from Kerlikowske’s office and the prosecutors.
* During the first days of the Iraq invasion, Kerlikowske’s police not only terrorized demonstrators with a heavy show of force, again corralling demonstrators and making liberal numbers of arrests. We also began noticing a number of them carrying highly lethal rifles, many of them M-16 variants.
* In June of 2003 the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit (LEIU) held it’s annual convention in Seattle and hundreds of demonstrators came out. Kerlikowske’s police responded by penning the demonstrators in a small area for twenty five minutes, firing less lethal weaponry and chemical agents at them through this time.
Kerlikowske’s adherence to these military tactics against demonstrators is not surprising. His earlier role in the federal was the COPS program. This was the part of the 1995 Crime Bill designed to put 100,000 new cops on the street. Funding was short term with long term funding depending on asset forfeiture by these new cops. This corresponded neatly with the spread of paramilitary SWAT units throughout the country. Kerlikowske's love for these tactics was shown in an early editorial he did for the Seattle Times (August 30, 2000) praising the tactics of his officers who showed with two paramilitary vehicles, SWAT Teams dressed in camaflage carrying military weapons to apprehend a single unarmed suspect.
In short then, though Kerlikowske has received even some praise for not opposing policies (that he did not bring) to lower the priority of marijuana enforcement, these policies did not come from him. His history and future actions can probably be more accurately seen by looking at the intolerance he has had for dissent including both heavy handed tactics in the street and heavy handed prosecutions as well as his earlier promotion of what are in essence programs that militarized the police and vastly expanded some of the worst aspects of the war on drugs.
Paul Richmond is a long time community activist and independent media reporter. He produced several thousand hours of local television in Portland, was one of the founders of the independent media center during the WTO, and one of the coordinators of the legal observer program. He authored the report “Waging War on Dissent,” and was a consultant on the documentary Urban Warrior. As a lawyer he has represented dozens of activists and has recently gotten dismissals of criminal charges brought by the U.S. Border Patrol at their checkpoints on the Olympic Peninsula.
Obama's domino theory
The president sounds like he's channeling Cheney or McCain -- or a Cold War hawk afraid of international communism -- when he talks about the war in Afghanistan.
By Juan Cole
March 30, 2009 | President Barack Obama may or may not be doing the right thing in Afghanistan, but the rationale he gave for it on Friday is almost certainly wrong. Obama has presented us with a 21st century version of the domino theory. The U.S. is not, contrary to what the president said, mainly fighting "al-Qaida" in Afghanistan. In blaming everything on al-Qaida, Obama broke with his pledge of straight talk to the public and fell back on Bush-style boogeymen and implausible conspiracy theories.
Obama realizes that after seven years, Afghanistan war fatigue has begun to set in with the American people. Some 51 percent of Americans now oppose the Afghanistan war, and 64 percent of Democrats do. The president is therefore escalating in the teeth of substantial domestic opposition, especially from his own party, as voters worry about spending billions more dollars abroad while the U.S. economy is in serious trouble.
He acknowledged that we deserve a "straightforward answer" as to why the U.S. and NATO are still fighting there. "So let me be clear," he said, "Al-Qaida and its allies -- the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks -- are in Pakistan and Afghanistan." But his characterization of what is going on now in Afghanistan, almost eight years after 9/11, was simply not true, and was, indeed, positively misleading. "And if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban," he said, "or allows al-Qaida to go unchallenged -- that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can."
Obama described the same sort of domino effect that Washington elites used to ascribe to international communism. In the updated, al-Qaida version, the Taliban might take Kunar Province, and then all of Afghanistan, and might again host al-Qaida, and might then threaten the shores of the United States. He even managed to add an analog to Cambodia to the scenario, saying, "The future of Afghanistan is inextricably linked to the future of its neighbor, Pakistan," and warned, "Make no mistake: Al-Qaida and its extremist allies are a cancer that risks killing Pakistan from within."
Much more here...
Note to mods: Clearly this is not an "I/P" post, as it refers to activities inside the US and does not involve the "P." Thanks in advance for not moving it.
CounterPunch today includes a useful roundup of Israeli spying activities in the US. This is particularly relevant given the recent capitulation of the Obama administration to the powerful right-wing Israel Lobby regarding the appointment of Chaz Freeman as DNI. Check it out:
March 12 , 2009
By CHRISTOPHER KETCHAM
Scratch a counterintelligence officer in the U.S. government and they'll tell you that Israel is not a friend to the United States.
This is because Israel runs one of the most aggressive and damaging espionage networks targeting the U.S..
The fact of Israeli penetration into the country is not a subject oft-discussed in the media or in the circles of governance, due to the extreme sensitivity of the U.S.-Israel relationship coupled with the burden of the Israel lobby, which punishes legislators who dare to criticize the Jewish state. The void where the facts should sit is filled instead with the hallucinations of conspiracy theory -- the kind in which, for example, agents of the Mossad, Israel’s top intelligence agency, engineer the 9/11 attacks, while 4,000 Israelis in the Twin Towers somehow all get word to escape before the planes hit. The effect, as disturbing as it is ironic, is that the less the truth is addressed, the more noxious the falsity that spreads.
Israel's spying on the U.S., however, is a matter of public record, and neither conspiracy nor theory is needed to present the evidence...
...Armed with digital technology and handed vast new funding and an almost limitless mandate in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Bamford writes, the NSA has today "become the largest, most costly, and most technologically sophisticated spy organization the world has ever known." The NSA touches on every facet of U.S. communications, its mega-computers secretly filtering "millions of phone calls and e-mails" every hour of operation. For those who have followed the revelations of the NSA’s "warrantless wiretapping" program in the New York Times in 2005 and the Wall Street Journal last year, what Bamford unveils in "The Shadow Factory" is only confirmation of the worst fears: "There is now the capacity," he writes of the NSA’s tentacular reach into the private lives of Americans, "to make tyranny total."
Much less has been reported about the high-tech Israeli wiretapping firms that service U.S. telecommunications companies, primarily AT&T and Verizon, whose networks serve as the chief conduits for NSA surveillance. Even less is known about the links between those Israeli companies and the Israeli intelligence services. But what Bamford suggests in his book accords with the history of Israeli spying in the U.S.: Through joint partnerships with U.S. telecoms, Israel may be a shadow arm of surveillance among the tentacles of the NSA. In other words, when the NSA violates constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure to vacuum up the contents of your telephone conversations and e-mail traffic, the Israeli intelligence services may be gathering it up too -- a kind of mirror tap that is effectively a two-government-in-one violation.
Great thorough review of Israeli spying activities in full article here...
The above reference to "Bamford" regards James Bamford and his latest book The Shadow Factory. Here's an explanation from a CounterCurrents review focusing on the Israeli spying angle:
05 November, 2008
By Ali Abunimah
In his new book, The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America author James Bamford casts light on this effort, including a detailed account of how spying on American citizens has been outsourced to several companies closely linked to Israel's intelligence services.
What is less well-known is that AT&T and Verizon handed "the bugging of their entire networks -- carrying billions of American communications every day" to two companies founded in Israel. Verint and Narus, as they are called, are "superintrusive -- conducting mass surveillance on both international and domestic communications 24/7," and sifting traffic at "key Internet gateways" around the US.
Virtually all US voice and data communications and much from the rest of the world can be remotely accessed by these companies in Israel, which Bamford describes as "the eavesdropping capital of the world." Although there is no way to prove cooperation, Bamford writes that "the greatest potential beneficiaries of this marriage between the Israeli eavesdroppers and America's increasingly centralized telecom grid are Israel's intelligence agencies."
Israel's spy agencies have long had a revolving-door relationship with Verint and Narus and other Israeli military-security firms. The relationship is particularly close between the firms and Israel's own version of the NSA, called "Unit 8200." After the 11 September attacks, Israeli companies seeking a share of massively expanded US intelligence budgets formed similarly incestuous relationships with some in the American intelligence establishment: Ken Minihan, a former director of the NSA, served on Verint's "security committee" and the former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) official responsible for liaison with the telecom industry became head of the Verint unit that sold eavesdropping equipment to the FBI and NSA.
Complete review here...
Even The Forward has addressed Bamford's work:
October 23, 2008
By Marc Perelman
A bestselling author writing about America’s most secretive intelligence agency is raising eyebrows with his claims that Israeli intelligence has potentially gained access to sensitive American communications information.
Bamford has written about the NSA, which conducts a wide array of electronic-surveillance activities, over the last quarter century. While some of the revelations in his latest book – NSA’s failure to act upon crucial information that could have prevented the 9/11 attacks and the abuses of the eavesdropping program – have received praise in the mainstream press, his Israel-related claims have been ignored by most and criticized by a few.
Whole thing here...
Of course most of this has been known for many years, just buried by our mainstream media. FOX news actually let the cat out of the bag about a month after 9-11 with a famous four part series by Carl Cameron on these matters. FOX almost immediately purged all record of their report and has since refused to comment. For the record, I'll conclude my post with a down-loadable AVI of that report:
By William Blum
Being serious about torture. Or not.
In Cambodia they're once again endeavoring to hold trials to bring some former senior Khmer Rouge officials to justice for their 1975-79 war crimes and crimes against humanity. The current defendant in a United Nations-organized trial, Kaing Guek Eav, who was the head of a Khmer Rouge torture center, has confessed to atrocities, but insists he was acting under orders. As we all know, this is the defense that the Nuremberg Tribunal rejected for the Nazi defendants. Everyone knows that, right? No one places any weight on such a defense any longer, right? We make jokes about Nazis declaring: "I was only following orders!" ("Ich habe nur den Befehlen gehorcht!") Except that both the Bush and Obama administrations have spoken in favor of it. Here's the new head of the CIA, Leon Panetta: "What I have expressed as a concern, as has the president, is that those who operated under the rules that were provided by the Attorney General in the interpretation of the law
The UN Convention Against Torture (first adopted in 1984), which has been ratified by the United States, says quite clearly, "An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture." The Torture Convention enacts a prohibition against torture that is a cornerstone of international law and a principle on a par with the prohibition against slavery and genocide.
Of course, those giving the orders are no less guilty. On the very day of Obama's inauguration, the United Nation's special torture rapporteur invoked the Convention in calling on the United States to pursue former president George W. Bush and defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld for torture and bad treatment of Guantanamo prisoners.
On several occasions, President Obama has indicated his reluctance to pursue war crimes charges against Bush officials, by expressing a view such as: "I don't believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards." This is the same excuse Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has given for not punishing Khmer Rouge leaders. In December 1998 he asserted: "We should dig a hole and bury the past and look ahead to the 21st century with a clean slate." Hun Sen has been in power all the years since then, and no Khmer Rouge leader has been convicted for their role in the historic mass murder.
Posted by Truth2Tell in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Sun Mar 01st 2009, 06:20 PM
However the goals have to be modest. We cannot be there to "control" or pacify the region but rather to destabilize our adversaries there...
Problem is, we ARE presently trying to "control" the region. Just destabilizing our adversaries would require fewer not more troops. What requires the large number of troops is maintaining the political status quo. Our leaders have made the determination that we need to RULE Afghanistan to achieve the objective of rooting out terrorism in BOTH Pakistan and Afghanistan. I'm not buying that. I believe aggressive special ops and targeted strikes from elsewhere could achieve that same objective.
I couldn't imagine for a second being a father in that country of my two beautiful daughters knowing they would be deprived of dignity, self-worth, and an education.
This is not really the point. Many dozens of regimes around the world operate in an equally oppressive and brutal way. We support and enable many of them. Is it really the responsibility of our bankrupt nation to take on the challenge of correcting those inequities at the point of a gun? Sure, we should oppose such regimes whenever we can, but to invade and occupy foreign nations goes above and beyond our ability and our responsibility. It creates more enemies for our children to fight, and it violates all the rules of behavior designed by international institutions to prevent escalation of war and conflict. And if we DO want to take such an interventionist-humanitarian stance, shouldn't we at least begin with the long list of similar dictatorships that we strongly support?
Do we really want a Taliban run nuclear Pakistan?
There is no threat of this. The Taliban does not enjoy any real political following in Pakistan beyond the border regions. They are an Afghan-focused organization. There certainly are threats from radical Islamist elements in Pakistan, many deeply embedded in the current government, but Taliban rule in Pakistan is not a realistic scenario.
I just don't have a lot of compassion for Al Queda, their vision for the world, or their means of political and social expression. I do however have a lot of compassion for the innocents caught in the crossfire. Whatever methods we employ, the least amount of collateral damage is imperative even though it is unavoidable.
Not occupying all of Afghanistan and attempting to control the political makeup of the government there would lead to the fewest civilian casualties. Much of the support for the Taliban comes from Afghanis simply sick of occupation and rule by foreign powers, not from people with any sympathy for radical Islam or Al Queda. There are other ways to strike at Al Queda, whom we all want to destroy. It's important not to do things, like invade and occupy Muslim nations, that play right into their hands and unite the Islamic world behind them.
Let there be no doubt, a large scale terrorist attack on our country, if following a large reduction of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, will raise the odds of one term for Obama and then you will be hailing to President Palin or some other representative of the American-Taliban.
I fail to see how Occupying Afghanistan or even killing Osama (if he's not already dead) will reduce the chance of an attack on America. Al Queda has morphed into a worldwide, loosely organized network of like minded people. It's not a top down organization. Even the 9-11 hijackers, who were from Saudi Arabia, didn't plan their attack in Afghanistan or Pakistan. They did it in Germany and the USA. Why breed more terrorists by sending more troops to fight people who aren't Al Queda?
Unless your point is purely political. Fear of this scenario: Reducing troops ---> another attack ---> losing election, even if they are not related events. Well, it would frankly be immoral to continue a war based on that political calculus. And it would be immoral to keep breeding new terrorists based on that political analysis. So I will give Obama the benefit of the doubt, for the sake of discussion, and assume he's not actually thinking that way.
To a certain extent, you have to lend him some trust. I said lend, not give. He deserves the loan. But if over time, he does not live up to the bargain, I think everyone is well within their rights to withdraw that trust. But until then, a good leader needs good followers.
Good followers speak out when they think their leader is making fatal errors. We need to push Obama as hard as we can to do the things we believe it, regarding war and peace and everything else. The other side certainly does so.
...as long as conquest is not our aim, our hurdles for success won't be nearly as high as they were in Iraq...
It's worth saying again that if conquest wasn't our aim, we wouldn't need these additional forces. We need them to keep "our" team in charge of the country. Absent that goal, we could strike the opposition other ways to our hearts content. We wouldn't need anywhere approaching tens of thousands of troops.
The fantasy of Iraq, as it evolved, was to create a permanent safe military and oil producing haven for the United States in order to stave off the effects of peak oil as well as conquer the middle east.
True. However, the invasion of Afghanistan was part and parcel of this same exact plan. The neocons who hatched it in the first place wanted access to pipeline routes from Central Asia to the Indian Ocean, for the exact reasons you describe. They wanted to flank Iran. They had all sorts of ulterior motives beyond Al Queda. In fact they cared so little about Al Queda that they let them escape. And they emboldened and strengthened them with their invasion and occupation. Why continue down this counterproductive neocon path?
Also, we will always have deeper pockets, better weapons, and better trained armed forces.
The age of deeper pockets is coming to an end. And in the modern era of asymmetrical warfare, more troops, bigger weapons and better training means nothing. Smart over-arching strategic foreign policy aimed at making friends not enemies is all that can save us. Invading and occupying foreign nations is the opposite of that.
Expect us to be there throughout Obama's first term, and possibly his second.
Sadly I do. I expect us to be there, and the other outposts of the Empire, until the whole thing collapses of it's own weight. Americans are far too willing to swallow the rationales for this stuff. Our militarism is suicidal and bi-partisan, and it will be our undoing. Heck, it already is.
On February 23 President Obama appointed Dennis Ross to be the “Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for the Gulf and Southwest Asia.” Ross will be leaving his present position as a “consultant” to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP or simply Washington Institute), a “think tank” affiliate of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), in order to become what insiders have described as Obama's "point man" on Iran.
This is not good news.
Some background from Cal State Professor Sasan Fayazmanesh in CounterPunch:
Who is Dennis Ross, what does he advocate, how was he positioned to become the adviser on Iran in the Obama Administration and what will he do to Iran if he gets the chance? Let me briefly review the case.
Dennis Ross is best known as the dishonest broker who led the so-called negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians during the Clinton Administration. He was “Israel’s lawyer,” to use Aaron David Miller’s apt description of the role that Ross’s “negotiating team” played in the Clinton era, particularly in 1999-2000.
Ross, along with Martin Indyk—who was Clinton’s national security advisor and the US Ambassador to Israel—is a co-founder of the Washington Institute. After leaving office in 2000, Ross became the director of the WINEP. Once the 2008 presidential election approached, Ross jockeyed for a position, left his directorship job and became a “Consultant” to the institute. Originally, Ross and Indyk represented one wing of the WINEP, a wing which appeared to be close to the Israeli Labor Party. Another wing, closer to the Likud Party, and particularly Benjamin Netanyahu, consisted of individuals such as Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, individuals who played a pivotal role in planning the invasion of Iraq. The difference between the Likud and the Labor wing of the Washington Institute was mostly one of the means employed rather than the end sought. Both wings of the WINEP, similar to Kadima, strove toward a “Greater Israel” (Eretz Yisrael) that includes all or most of “Judea and Samaria.” They both saw Iran’s support for the Palestinian resistance as the biggest obstacle in achieving that goal. As such, the charge that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and posing an “existential threat” to Israel became a convenient tool for “containing” Iran and stopping its support for the Palestinians. What separated the two sides was that the Labor wing believed that sanctions will eventually bring Iran to its knees, cause either a popular uprising to overthrow the Iranian “regime” or make Iran ripe for a US invasion. The Likud wing, however, had very little patience for sanctions. It wanted an immediate result, a series of military attacks against Iran, replacing the Iranian “regime” with a US-Israeli friendly government, as was done in Iraq. With the emergence of the Kadima Party in Israel in 2005, which brought together the likes of the Likud Party member Ariel Sharon and Labor Party member Shimon Peres, the differences between the two wings of the Washington Institute has mostly disappeared. Clinton’s Middle East men, such as Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk and Richard Holbrooke, are hardly distinguishable from Bush’s men, such as Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith. But since the latter group is temporarily out of office, the former is filling in. Ross has become the designated senior Israeli lobby man in Obama’s Administration. He has no expertise when it comes to Iran. But he knows that for the cause of Eretz Yisrael Iran must be contained; and given this goal, he knows how to recite, ad nauseum, all the usual lines of Israel and its lobby groups against Iran.
Ross's appointment doesn't come as much of a surprise, considering his role in crafting Obama's aggressive stance toward Iran during the campaign, and his role as Obama's envoy to the Likudnik Lobby. Ali Gharib of InterPress Services made the prediction last month over at HuffPo and laid out some additional background:
During the campaign, Obama faced an onslaught of attacks on his Muslim background and insinuations that he harbored sympathies to enemies of Israel. Enter Dennis Ross. The veteran diplomat is widely believed to have crafted Obama's campaign address to the American-Israeli Political Action committee in which the candidate called for an undying commitment to America's alliance with Israel and ensured that Jerusalem would remain "undivided," a controversial proposal that contradicted President George W. Bush's "Road Map For Peace." Having helped consolidate Jewish support for the young senator, Ross positioned himself for a prominent position in the upcoming administration.
Ross' hard line on Iran raised eyebrows. In the heat of the presidential race, Ross co-chaired an ad hoc group called United Against A Nuclear Iran. Members of the organization comprised a who's who of neocons and Iran hawks, including former Bush adviser Karen Hughes, neoconservative scholar Fouad Ajami, and Jim Woolsey, the former CIA chief who clamored for an invasion of Iraq well before Bush assumed power. In September, Ross added his signature to a report demanding that Iran suspend all uranium enrichment activities as a precondition for negotiation. Joining Ross in support of the statement were arch-neoconservatives Michael Makovsky and the American Enterprise Institute's Michael Rubin, with consultation from Patrick Clawson, the Iran specialist at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a think tank formed by AIPAC.
So what's wrong with this "United Against A Nuclear Iran," which Ross co-chaired, aside from from being a nest of neocons? Well to begin with, they seem to be pushing the same sort of bald-faced, unabashed lies about the Iranian nuclear program that the neocon usual suspects pushed about Iraqi WMD prior to 2003. Check out this slick, and thoroughly dishonest video over at their oohhh so scary anti-Iranian Website. Just keep some of the following facts in mind as you watch:
- The IAEA has never said that Iran produced "highly-enriched uranium" as repeatedly asserted in this video - even now Iran can now barely manage to produce low-enriched uranium that cannot be used to make bombs.
- Iran's nuclear enrichment program was not "hidden" nor a "secret" - in fact it started in the 1970s with the cooperation of France. After the revolution, not only did Iran openly and repeatedly announce its enrichment plans on national radio, Iran had openly sought to cooperate with the IAEA in developing the program until the US blocked it.
- Iran has never "obstructed inspectors" as claimed and in fact it has allowed more inspections that its safeguards agreement requires.
- Iran's nuclear program makes perfect economic sense, which is why the US encouraged and supported Iran's nuclear program in the first place.
- Iran's nuclear reactor at Bushehr is perfectly legal, operated under IAEA safeguards, and IAEA head ElBaradei himself has said that it poses no concern.
- Iran has never "violated" the Non-Proliferation Treaty In fact, IAEA reports on Iran have consistently stated that there is no evidence that Iran diverted nuclear material for weapons use.
Extensive documentation of all the above facts is available over at the Website of The Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran.
And that's just one video representing only the tip of these guy's Iranian demonization iceberg. Dennis Ross not only participated in spreading these lies, he spearheaded the lie machine.
But that's just lately. What about this "Washington Institute?" Joel Beinin gave a nice summary in LeMonde back in 2003, including a tad about Dennis Ross and his role in the monkey-wrenching the Oslo peace process, events which really call for a whole post of their own:
TEL AVIV’S INFLUENCE ON AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS
The pro-Sharon thinktank
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy influences the thinking of the United States government and has a near monopoly on the supply of ’expert’ witnesses to the media. After almost two decades of relative moderation, the institute is now drifting toward the Israeli right.
Winep has close links with both leading Democrats and Republicans. Its first major success was the publication of the report Building for Peace: An American Strategy for the Middle East on the eve of the 1988 presidential elections. The report urged the incoming administration to "resist pressures for a procedural breakthrough
The Clinton administration continued this policy. As a result, from 1991 to 1993, 11 rounds of US-sponsored negotiations between Israel and "non-PLO" Palestinians produced no result. When Israel became serious about negotiating with the Palestinians it met official PLO representatives in Oslo, behind the back of the Clinton administration...
Dennis Ross is another Winep figure with major responsibility for Oslo. He was a key aide to Secretary of State James Baker in formulating Middle East policy during the Bush Sr administration, and then became President Clinton’s special coordinator for the peace process. After retiring from government service Ross became the director of Winep...
So Dennis Ross is back again. Like Back to the Future. Or Back in Black. Or Back room deals, or Back door policy, or Back-tracking commitments, or Back stories, or Back slapping. Back like that.
Pray for peace, but plan for war. On this particular front I'm afraid there isn't much change to believe in.
From: Counter Punch
Orwell in Babylon
Obama's Non-Withdrawal Withdrawal Plan
By CHRIS FLOYD
It would be superfluous in us to point out that a plan to "end" a war which includes the continued garrisoning of up to 50,000 troops in a hostile land is, in reality, a continuation of that war, not its cessation. To produce such a plan and claim that it "ends" a war is the precise equivalent of, say, relieving one's bladder on the back of one's neighbor and telling him that the liquid is actually life-giving rain.
But this is exactly what we are going to get from the Obama Administration in Iraq. Word has now come from on high – that is, from "senior administration officials" using "respectable newspapers" as a wholly uncritical conduit for government spin – that President Obama has reached a grand compromise with his generals (or rather, the generals and Pentagon poobahs he has inherited -- and eagerly retained -- from George W. Bush) on a plan to withdraw some American troops from the country that the United States destroyed in an unprovoked war of aggression. Obama had wanted a 16-month timetable for the partial withdrawal; his potential campaign rival in 2012, General David Petraeus, wanted 23 months; so, with Solomonic wisdom, they have now split the difference, and will withdraw a portion of the American troops in 19 months instead.
But the hypocrisy – the literally murderous hypocrisy – of claiming that this plan "leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war," as Obama asserted in his State of the Union speech, is sickening. It does no such thing, and he knows it.
Instead, it entrenches the United States more and more deeply in a "counter-insurgency" war on behalf of whichever clique or faction of sectarian parties in Iraq is most effective in adhering to America's dominationist agenda in the region. It sends an apparently endless stream of American troops to die -- and, in even greater numbers, to kill -- in a criminal action that has helped bankrupt our own country while sending waves of violent instability and extremism around the world. It will further enfilth a cesspool of corruption and war profiteering that has already reached staggering, world-historical proportions.
Entire thing here...
There is no question that 50,000 troops (Still more than in Afghanistan) equals a substantial and likely permanent presence. It means dominating the politics and governance of Iraq, and it means continued conflict with Iraqi insurgent forces. No getting around it.
Biggest Embassy in the World, still kickin'.
From Glenn Greenwald:
It cannot be emphasized enough that those who are arguing against criminal investigations for Bush officials are -- whether consciously or implicitly -- arguing that the U.S., alone in the world, is exempt from the laws and principles which we've been advocating and imposing on other countries for decades. There is simply no way to argue that our leaders should be immunized from criminal investigations for torture and other war crimes without believing that (a) the U.S. is and should be immune from the principles we've long demanded other nations obey and (b) we are free to ignore our treaty obligations any time it suits us.
It's just as simple as that: one must embrace both of those premises in order to argue for a bar against criminal investigations. And that's particularly true for those who argue that Bush officials should not be held liable for what they did either because (a) DOJ lawyers said it was legal and/or (b) Congress provided retroactive immunity to the torturers. As documented below, those are two of the most common and most universally discredited excuses in Western justice.
That fact may not lead anyone to change their minds about investigations and prosecutions, but those who are arguing for immunity for Bush officials ought to at least be honest and admit that they don't care about our treaty obligations and the principles we spent decades advocating for others because those rules -- for whatever reasons (e.g., we're special; we have too many other important things to do; we're the strongest and so nobody can make us do anything) -- don't apply to us. Those who oppose criminal investigations and prosecutions should acknowledge that this is what they believe (or at least are willing implicitly to embrace). Why pretend otherwise?