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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 05/29/2011 - 06/05/2011
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"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
- Noam Chomsky
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Friday, June 03, 2011

Hating on Chomsky for telling the truth

there's nothing in today's world more guaranteed to earn vitriol, hatred and death threats than telling the truth...
In a move likely to spark another annual round of healthy controversy, the veteran American linguist, social scientist and human rights campaigner Noam Chomsky was named 2011 winner of the Sydney Peace Prize last night.

Professor Chomsky said he was honoured by the award, whose previous recipients include the South African cleric Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi and the Australian journalist John Pilger.

In recent weeks the 82-year-old has been one of America's most-hated men, subjected to ''obscenities, intellectual hysteria and death threats'' over remarks following the shooting of Osama bin Laden.

The al-Qaeda leader's crimes, he wrote, were vastly exceeded by those of the former president George Bush. ''We might ask how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at his compound, assassinated him and dumped his body in the Atlantic.''

Professor Chomsky said the ill-considered American operation had pushed the world to the brink of war, possibly even nuclear war. ''The commandos who violated Pakistani sovereignty were given orders to fight their way out if necessary. They risked coming into confrontation with the Pakistani army."

as jack nicholson playing colonel nathan r. jessup so famously said, "you can't HANDLE the truth...!"

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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

When anybody starts ranting about ending "entitlement" programs, be sure to mention "corporate welfare" as one of 'em

how's that austerity thing workin' for ya...?

from think progress...


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Due-process-free: to a collapsing Empire, security is the ONLY cognizable value

It will never cease to amaze me how acquiescent the country is to the seizure by this President of the extremist and warped power to target American citizens, far from any battlefield, for killing, all without a shred of due process. It's not just a profound assault on due process rights but also free speech rights.

Submission to this power is, I believe, based on three factors: (1) blind faith in political leaders of the type that led Americans to accept the due-process-free punishment at Guantánamo ("my President accuses this person of being a Terrorist and therefore it's true; I don't need a trial to know it's true"); (2) acceptance of anything done to a fellow citizen as long as he has a foreign-sounding, Muslim-ish name like "Anwar al-Awlaki," who dresses in white cleric robes and is in Yemen and is thus probably guilty of something or other; and (3) the automatic and enthusiastic embrace by America's Foreign Policy Community of the use of force in response to any problem...


The government "needs to do all it can" in the name of Terrorism: even targeting its own citizens with assassination without a trial based on the mere suspicion that he's doing something criminal -- or invading other countries that haven't attacked us -- or dropping a continuous stream of missiles on people's homes who are purely innocent -- or locking people up for life without a trial. This is the sociopathic mindset of the security fetishist that dominates our political discourse -- Terrorism: the meaningless though all-justifying slogan -- and, more than anything else, this is what explains why something as radical and dangerous as the President's due-process-free assassination program aimed at American citizens triggers so little objection. "Washington needs to do all it can" -- no matter how violent and lawless -- "to reduce the risk of another attack." To a militarized, authoritarian, collapsing Empire in a posture of Endless War, security is the only cognizable value.

it's amazing to me that the house of cards is still standing...

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chomsky: Pakistan is the most dangerous country in the world

Pakistan is the most dangerous country on Earth, with the fastest-growing nuclear arsenal. The revenge killing on Pakistani soil only stoked the anti-American fervor that had long been building. In his new book, “Pakistan: A Hard Country,” Anatol Lieven writes that “if the U.S. ever put Pakistani soldiers in a position where they felt that honor and patriotism required them to fight America, many would be very glad to do so.”

And if Pakistan collapsed, an “absolutely inevitable result would be the flow of large numbers of highly trained ex-soldiers, including explosive experts and engineers, to extremist groups.”

The primary threat is leakage of fissile materials to jihadi hands, a horrendous eventuality.

The Pakistani military has already been pushed to the edge by U.S. attacks on Pakistani sovereignty. One factor is the drone attacks in Pakistan that Obama escalated immediately after the killing of bin Laden, rubbing salt in the wounds.

But there is much more, including the demand that the Pakistani military cooperate in the U.S. war against the Afghan Taliban. The overwhelming majority of Pakistanis see the Taliban as fighting a just war of resistance against an invading army, according to Lieven.

The killing of bin Laden could have been the spark that set off a conflagration, with dire consequences, particularly if the invading force had been compelled to fight its way out, as was anticipated.

Perhaps the assassination was perceived as an “act of vengeance,” as [British barrister Geoffrey] Robertson concludes. Whatever the motive, it could hardly have been security.

so, the assassination of bin laden, in line with so many other things the u.s. has done fighting the "war on terror", only serves to REDUCE our security, not INCREASE it...

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More on Afghanistan: Bagram, worse than Guantánamo but further away and, thus, less visible

i've posted on bagram many times... one of these days, the shit will hit the fan over bagram and it can't come too soon... when i'm in kabul, i shudder every time i think of what's going on there, just 80km up the road...

from john hanrahan at nieman watchdog...

The system of dealing with Bagram prisoners through detainee review boards (DRB), although improved upon since President Obama took office, violates universal standards on detention in that it “does not provide detainees the minimum level of due process required by international law,” according to a human rights organization’s recent report. Thus far, the report, issued May 10 by New York- and Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization Human Rights First (HRF), has been ignored by almost all the mainstream print and broadcast news media.

As Human Rights First states, the ever-growing number of Bagram detainees – most of whom are Afghans – have far fewer rights than their counterparts at the much more controversial Guantanamo Bay prison. Thanks to a 2008 Supreme Court decision, Guantanamo detainees “have the right to challenge their detention in a U.S. court and to representation by a lawyer,” something Bagram prisoners are denied, the report notes.

The system has resulted in detainees being incarcerated at Bagram for eight years or more, “based largely on evidence they have never seen and with no meaningful opportunity to defend themselves,” the report says. Additionally “a significant number” of the approximately 41 non-Afghan detainees “have been recommended for release by a Detainee Review Board but remain in detention at...[Bagram]..without explanation.”

In an interview with Nieman Watchdog, the HRF report’s author, Daphne Eviatar, put that figure of 1,700 detainees into context, noting that it is “almost triple the number of detainees who were at Bagram when President Obama came into office two years ago, and is 10 times greater than the number of prisoners currently being held at Guantanamo.” In addition, it is more than twice the total number of detainees – 779 – who were ever held at Guantanamo. More than 1,300 individuals were arrested and incarcerated in Bagram in 2010 alone, compared to some 500 in 2009. Eviatar is senior associate in Human Rights First’s law and security program. (Click here for a video on Bagram by Eviatar.)

Besides violating international law, the current system “flies in the face of the well-founded wisdom of our top military leaders in the region who have warned repeatedly of the dangers of denying Afghan detainees due process,” Eviatar said in releasing the report. “Beyond the imprisonment of many likely innocent people, the lack of due process erodes support for U.S. forces in Afghanistan and ultimately undermines U.S. goals there.”

There have been past indications that a majority of the Bagram detainees are being wrongfully held. In August 2009, various news outlets reported that U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Major General Douglas M. Stone had been assigned to investigate detention practices in Afghanistan and had issued a still-unreleased 700-page classified report. As National Public Radio reported at the time, Stone told senior military officials that as many as 400 of the 600 detainees then held at Bagram could be released.

as in the previous post, imagine if you will what it would be like for any of us to have innocent family members killed or "disappeared" at the hands of a foreign power and not being able to do a damn thing about it...

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Not only doesn't the U.S. care what its own people think, it doesn't care what leaders of other countries think

glenn has pointed out repeatedly (most recently here) - as has noam chomsky and others - that, for our ruling, super-rich, global elites and their bought-and-paid-for governmental puppets who claim to act on our behalf, listening to the citizenry is an annoyance and a distraction at best but, nonetheless, an illusion worth maintaining if for nothing else to keep the masses docile...

it's particularly sad and disturbing when the u.s. feels it can summarily ignore the president of afghanistan (surrounded by corruption though he might be) when he decries the killing of innocent people in his own country...


A spate of horrific civilian killings by NATO in Afghanistan has led Afghan President Hamid Karzai to demand that NATO cease all air attacks on homes. That is likely to be exactly as significant you think it would be, as The Los Angeles Times makes clear:

"This should be the last attack on people's houses," the president told a news conference in Kabul. "Such attacks will no longer be allowed."

Karzai's call was viewed as mainly symbolic. Western military officials cited existing cooperation with Afghan authorities and pledged to continue consultations, but said privately that presidential authority does not include veto power over specific targeting decisions made in the heat of battle

So we're in Afghanistan to bring Freedom and Democracy to the Afghan People, but the President of the country has no power whatsoever to tell us to stop bombing Afghan homes. His decrees are simply requests, "merely symbolic." Karzai, of course, is speaking not only for himself, but even more so for (and under pressure from) the Afghan People: the ones we're there to liberate, but who -- due to their strange, primitive, inscrutable culture and religion -- are bizarrely angry about being continuously liberated from their lives: "Karzai's statements . . . underscored widespread anger among Afghans over the deaths of noncombatants at the hands of foreign forces."

A poll of Afghan men released earlier this month by the International Council on Security and Development found overwhelming opposition to NATO operations in their country.




The Taliban is widely unpopular among Afghans (though in the South, a majority oppose military operations against them); but whatever else is true, 8 out of 10 men, spread throughout all regions of that country, believe that NATO operations are bad for the Afghan people.

i have the honor and privilege of working closely with a number of afghans in my current project not to mention those i've worked with in past years... i must point out that most afghans are among the nicest, sharpest, kindest and thoroughly decent people you'd ever want to meet... (i say "most" because - no surprise - afghanistan, just like everywhere in the world, has its share of a-holes and jerks...) i'm blessed, however, that over my years of working in afghanistan, i've developed a few very close afghan friends, friends that i know wouldn't hesitate to throw their bodies across the tracks for me (a poor metaphor since there are currently no railroads in afghanistan) and they know i would do the same for them... and, as i'm sure is the case with most of us, there simply aren't a lot of friends - afghan or otherwise - we can say that about...

the afghans only want what all of us want - the means to put food on the table, a roof over the heads of their families, clothes on their backs and the ability to live in a little peace and quiet - and who can argue with that...? there is simply no excuse for the killing of innocent women and children and i'm becoming less and less convinced of the need for killing of any sort, no matter what the supposed justification...

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Monday, May 30, 2011

The reality of post-legal America: our real rulers are unelected & supported by a religious attitude toward security and the U.S. military

accountability...? rule of law...? pish-tosh...

tom engelhardt...

Is the Libyan war legal? Was Bin Laden’s killing legal? Is it legal for the president of the United States to target an American citizen for assassination? Were those “enhanced interrogation techniques” legal? These are all questions raised in recent weeks. Each seems to call out for debate, for answers. Or does it?


Here is the reality of post-legal America: since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the National Security Complex has engorged itself on American fears and grown at a remarkable pace. According to Top Secret America, a Washington Post series written in mid-2010, 854,000 people have “top secret” security clearances, “33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001... 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks... [and] some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security, and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.”

Just stop a moment to take that in. And then let this sink in as well: whatever any one of those employees does inside that national security world, no matter how “illegal” the act, it’s a double-your-money bet that he or she will never be prosecuted for it (unless it happens to involve letting Americans know something about just how they are being “protected”).

Consider what it means to have a U.S. Intelligence Community (as it likes to call itself) made up of 17 different agencies and organizations, a total that doesn’t even include all the smaller intelligence offices in the National Security Complex, which for almost 10 years proved incapable of locating its global enemy number one. Yet, as everyone now agrees, that man was living in something like plain sight, exchanging messages with and seeing colleagues in a military and resort town near Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. And what does it mean that, when he was finally killed, it was celebrated as a vast intelligence victory?

The Intelligence Community with its $80 billion-plus budget, the National Security Complex, including the Pentagon and that post-9/11 creation, the Department of Homeland Security, with its $1.2 trillion-plus budget, and the imperial executive have thrived in these years. They have all expanded their powers and prerogatives based largely on the claim that they are protecting the American people from potential harm from terrorists out to destroy our world.

Above all, however, they seem to have honed a single skill: the ability to protect themselves, as well as the lobbyists and corporate entities that feed off them. They have increased their funds and powers, even as they enveloped their institutions in a penumbra of secrecy. The power of this complex of institutions is still on the rise, even as the power and wealth of the country it protects is visibly in decline.

Now, consider again the question “Is it legal?” When it comes to any act of the National Security Complex, it’s obviously inapplicable in a land where the rule of law no longer applies to everyone. If you are a ordinary citizen, of course, it applies to you, but not if you are part of the state apparatus that officially protects you. The institutional momentum behind this development is simple enough to demonstrate: it hardly mattered that, after George W. Bush took off those gloves, the next president elected was a former constitutional law professor.

Think of the National Security Complex as the King George of the present moment. In the areas that matter to that complex, Congress has ever less power and, as in the case of the war in Libya or the Patriot Act, is ever more ready to cede what power it has left.

So democracy? The people’s representatives? How quaint in a world in which our real rulers are unelected, shielded by secrecy, and supported by a carefully nurtured, almost religious attitude toward security and the U.S. military.

and yet we still preach rule of law, accountability, due process and all the other trappings of a constitutional state to nations around the world... so sad...

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