Issues & Alibis

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In This Edition

Ray McGovern finds, "Iranian Scientist Would Not Play Curveball."

Uri Avnery observes, "A Parliamentary Mob."

Cynthia McKinney in a joint release, "Vilsack Must Keep Black Farmers On Their Land."

Randall Amster considers, "Anarchism And Nonviolence."

Jim Hightower exclaims, "Surprise! The People Speak."

Robert Fisk says, "They're All Groveling And You Can Guess the Reason."

James Donahue reports, "America Was Set Up For The Current Financial Crash."

Mathew Rothschild wonders, "Obama A 'Socialist'? I Wish."

Chris Floyd explores, "Terror In Iran."

Case Wagenvoord studies, "Keynes And Consumption."

Vandana Shiva visits, "The Killing Fields Of Multi-National Corporations."

Chris Hedges is, "Calling All Future-Eaters."

David Michael Green with an absolute must read, "Why The Presidency Matters, And Why It's Okay To Believe So."

Con-gresswoman Michele Bachmann wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glen Greenwald reviews, "The NYT's Nationalistic Double Standard."

Dana Priest and William M. Arken examines, "Top Secret America."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst looks into, "The Third Gulf War" but first Uncle Ernie asks, "Whaddya Got?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Lalo Alcaraz, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Tom Tomorrow, Keith Tucker, Melina Mara, Michael S. Williamson, Lisa Mcpherson.Org, Andy Singer, Telegraph.Co.UK, Maya Hitij, New York Times, Time Magazine, Pink & Blue Films and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
The Dead Letter Office...
The Cartoon Corner...
To End On A Happy Note...
Have You Seen This...
Parting Shots...

Welcome one and all to "Uncle Ernie's Issues & Alibis."

Whaddya Got?
By Ernest Stewart

Mildred: What are you rebelling against, Johnny?
Johnny: Whaddya got?
The Wild One ~~~ Peggy Maley ~ Marlon Brando

"The Tea Party Express with over 400,000 members is by far larger than the Tea Party Federation's entire membership. Most rank-and-file tea party activists think we're talking about Star Trek when we try to explain who the "Federation" is. Given the absurdity of the actions by the "Federation," this is quite fitting, since their conduct is alien to our membership."Groups trying to say who can or can't be 'expelled' from the tea party movement is arrogant and preposterous. Perhaps this explains why so many tea party groups have left the "Federation" during the past few months. Whatever the reason, most tea party activists are focused on taking back their country and the upcoming 2010 elections and not silly power games being played by individuals such as those in the "Federation." ~~~ Joe Wierzbicki, coordinator for the Tea Party Express

"That's not me. If you look at my life's work, you would know that's not me. ...If they would have looked at the entire tape, I don't see how they could have come away thinking I was a racist. All of my life has been about civil rights work and fairness."
~~~ Shirley Sherrod ~~~

As Meatloaf once sang, "It's always something, there's always something going wrong!" Barry and Con-gress are up to their old tricks again but some of the Sheeple still don't get it. I knew before Barry took office that it was going to be, as Roger Daltry sang, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." Was it just that "History repeating itself again, fiendish thingy?" Well, partially. But mostly all one had to do was look at his voting record as a Sin-ator to see where Barry was at.

So I knew before the Inaugural that I wasn't going to be out of work as there were really no changes ahead. I was, of course, wrong. There were plenty of changes but most all of them were changes for the worse! Not only did Barry not do what he swore to do when running for office, he took Dubya's various and many acts of treason, made them his own and then made them even worse! He's done many things that even Bush and Cheney wouldn't have dared to do.

Yet I keep catching hell for calling Barry on it, like I'm supposed to look the other way because he's black or a Demoncrat. Maybe it's his evil white side that's in charge? Unlike many, I don't care who commits treason, it's still treason. Nor am I a Demoncrat or Rethuglican, although, to be fair, I've been both. Then I grew up and realized there was really no difference between them. It takes a while to shake off all the brainwashing, be it politics or religion! Both are owned and fully operated by the corpo-rats, serving their interests, not ours. It's cost me a lot of money for calling it like it was. The folks that used to support me when I went after Bush closed their pocketbooks when I continued with Obama. C'est la guerre. If you want to be popular, stay out of politics. Back when I was a DJ I had plenty of fans, people from both sides of the aisle. I kept politics out of it and everyone saw me as they wanted me to be, not who I really was. Kind of like Ted Nugent or Barack Obama until they came out of the closet and declared openly they were creatures of the right. They both lost all of their fans but Ted was embraced by the right; Barry wasn't even though they couldn't have had a better man in the White House!

As a lot of comedians said after Dubya was "reelected" they were happy for it even though they didn't like him as a President or as a human being but they knew they'd never run out of material with him in office. I've been a leftist ever since I got out of the Army and as I've said ever since my SDS daze when asked what I was rebelling against, "Whadaya got?"

In Other News

That spinning noise you maybe picking up as a background hum is Abe Lincoln going round and round at hyper-speed in his grave. Abe, you may recall, was the first Republican president. He championed the end of slavery and stood up for equal rights for all. Boy, that was a long time ago, huh?

Since the old general Dwight David took over and started nuking American citizen's it's been a long downward slide into fascism for the party. After we somehow survived "The Crime Family Bush(tm)" we thought the Rethuglicans couldn't go any farther to the right without putting on the jackboots and arm bands and beginning to round up the Jews and Blacks. We were certainly wrong then, weren't we? Along came the tea baggers and proved us wrong. "Tea bagging" a sexual "sport" played by homosexual men was adopted by the far right (since most of them were closet homosexuals anyway) and, surprise, surprise, dragged what was left of the conservative centralists over the edge into madness. This new raw energy wasn't disguised by words or deeds as the Rethulicans had been doing for decades, ever since the time of "The Trick." Instead of speaking Rethuglican "double speak," they came right out and said it. I applaud that as at least we have no doubt where they stand. No "compassionate conservative" bullshit here! A modest example by Mark Williams follows:

Dear Mr. Lincoln

We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!

In fact we held a big meeting and took a vote in Kansas City this week. We voted to condemn a political revival of that old abolitionist spirit called the 'tea party movement.'

The tea party position to "end the bailouts" for example is just silly. Bailouts are just big money welfare and isn't that what we want all Coloreds to strive for? What kind of racist would want to end big money welfare? What they need to do is start handing the bail outs directly to us coloreds! Of course, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the only responsible party that should be granted the right to disperse the funds.

And the ridiculous idea of "reduce[ing] the size and intrusiveness of government." What kind of massa would ever not want to control my life? As Coloreds we must have somebody care for us otherwise we would be on our own, have to think for ourselves and make decisions!

The racist tea parties also demand that the government "stop the out of control spending." Again, they directly target coloreds. That means we Coloreds would have to compete for jobs like everybody else and that is just not right.

Perhaps the most racist point of all in the tea parties is their demand that government "stop raising our taxes." That is outrageous! How will we coloreds ever get a wide screen TV in every room if non-coloreds get to keep what they earn? Totally racist! The tea party expects coloreds to be productive members of society?

Mr. Lincoln, you were the greatest racist ever. We had a great gig. Three squares, room and board, all our decisions made by the massa in the house. Please repeal the 13th and 14th Amendments and let us get back to where we belong.

Precious Ben Jealous, Tom's Nephew NAACP Head Colored Person

This came from radio host and Tea Party Express leader Mark Williams!

I think Mark makes it perfectly clear what the tea baggers are about, don't you? If that doesn't make you a believer see what Andrew Breitbart did below! That should do the trick!

And Finally

Whenever I think about Demoncrats a whole list of adjectives springs to mind, i.e., spineless, gutless, naive, stupid and easily led. They all apply when thinking about their latest faux pas, the Shirley Sherrod story. This came about after the Tea Party's "Dear Mr. Lincoln" (See above) hit the internet and the fascists were trying to get even with the NAACP which came down hard on them by calling a spade a spade, i.e., a racist, a racist!

Barry, the Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, and the NAACP got suckered into firing Shirley from her position as the Agriculture Department's director of rural development in Georgia, after a Rethuglican internet site BigGovernment.Com took a bit of a video out of context of Shirley making a speech about her life, delivered in March at a local NAACP banquet in Georgia. Considering that BigGovernment.Com is a site owned by Andrew Breitbart and is the same site that started the ACORN scam video, you would think they would have learned but not Barry and the boys. Perhaps their mamas never told them about the old adage, "Look Before You Leap?"

Sherrod said officials showed no interest in listening to her explanation when she was told to resign. She said she was on the road Monday when USDA deputy undersecretary Cheryl Cook called her and told her to pull over and submit her resignation on her Blackberry because the White House wanted her out. The voice of a know-it-all, we're always right god, eh? No explanations, just submit!

After watching the whole tape, long after Shirley was forced to resign, did the NAACP make a statement calling for her rehire and admitting that they were (yet another adjective) DUPED. At least the NAACP was honest. The government has yet to make the same excuse but is reconsidering its position. Shirley is a bit dazed and confused not only about the government's treatment of her but also by the NAACP which, like the government, refused to listen to her explanation and turned its back on her! Remember when we used to be "Innocent until proven guilty?" Then with the drug pee tests we were"Guilty until proven innocent." Now it seems we're "Guilty no matter what!"

I'm not surprised by the reaction of Barry or Tom as they have proved time and time again that if a fascist says jump, they jump, and on the way up they meekly ask, "How High Sir?" I'm sure the fascists are rolling in the aisles, slapping high fives and choking on laughter! Now that it's hit the fan and the truth has come out, both Tom and Barry are singing a different tune, apologizing to Shirley. One would hope that they would learn something from this, but I very much doubt that they will!

Oh And One More Thing

Dear Readers,

Issues & Alibis needs your help so that we can keep on, keeping on. It takes a lot of effort to stay abreast of the latest, greatest plans for your demise. To get to the truth in a mountain of BS! We've cut our costs to the bone and no one is paid anything for their help. In 9 1/2 years, I've never made a dime at this but we do have expenses to pay every year to keep fighting the good fight! In order to continue we need your support!

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Ernest Stewart
Issues & Alibis magazine


05-03-1959 ~ 07-20-2010
Pop goes the firing squad!


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So how do you like Bush Lite so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2010 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 9 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine.

Iranian Scientist Would Not Play Curveball
By Ray McGovern

Useful insights often must be seen through a glass darkly. But some can be pulled through the smoke and mirrors shrouding the wanderings of Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri, who is now back home in Iran after 14 months in the U.S. as guest of the CIA.

The confusing/amusing spin applied by both countries to L' Affaire Amiri can detract from the real issues. The facts beneath the competing narratives permit a key conclusion; namely, that U.S. intelligence has learned nothing to change its assessment that Iran halted work on the nuclear-weapons related part of its nuclear development program in the fall of 2003 and has not restarted that work.

That twin judgment leaped out of a formal National Intelligence Estimate, "Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities," approved unanimously by all 16 U.S intelligence agencies in November 2007.

That NIE substituted a rigorous evidence-based approach for the knee-jerk premise of earlier estimates that Iran had already decided to develop nuclear weapons and the question was just when, not if, it would eventually acquire them.

The NIE began with these words:

"We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program; we also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons...

"We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons...

"Tehran's decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005."

That is not what President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney had been telling the world, preferring to hyperbolize the danger from Iran's nuclear "weapons" program. Indeed, visiting Israel in January 2008, Bush said he did not believe the NIE's key judgments, and actually apologized to the Israelis for the unfortunate Estimate.

But the word was out and it put the kibosh on White House/neocon plans to manufacture/embellish an imminent nuclear threat from Iran, to look the other way as the Israelis attacked, and to then spring to the aid of our Israeli "ally," even though there is no bilateral defense treaty requiring that.

The timely publication of the NIE's key judgments played a key role in scuttling plans of those in Washington and Tel Aviv to prevent/pre-empt the ostensibly urgent, but actually bogus, threat from Iran.

U.S. Military Prevented War

Keenly aware of the disaster that would ensue if Israel and fellow travelers in Washington persuaded President Bush to attack Iran or encourage Israel to do so, senior U.S. military leaders joined with those in Congress who had originally requested the NIE and pressed successfully for releasing the key judgments to the public.

The key judgments were declassified - without the kind of dishonest editing featured in the declassified summary of the infamous NIE five years earlier, exaggerating the threat from Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" by eliminating the doubts expressed by some of the intelligence agencies.

This time around, Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen has been expressing increasing nervousness that Israel might attack Iran and draw U.S. forces into a war that could make Iraq and Afghanistan seem like volleyball games.

Like former CENTCOM commander Adm. William "we're-not-going-to-do-Iran-on-my-watch" Fallon, Mullen abhor the notion of being on the receiving end of orders putting U.S. forces at war with Iran.

Mullen and Fallon got then-Director of National Intelligence, retired Adm. Mike McConnell to reverse his openly expressed opposition to making the November 2007 NIE judgments public. In sum, those honest judgments, and their publication, helped thwart the plans of Cheney and Bush to attack Iran in 2008.

Later, Cheney admitted publicly that he was pressing at the time for military action against Iran, but was overruled by Bush. The President then dispatched Adm. Mullen to Israel to tell the Israelis: Don't Even Think of It. Which Mullen was happy to do.

The cast of characters on the intelligence side - and in the military hierarchy - is different now. For instance, CENTCOM commander Fallon was cashiered in March 2008 for his outspokenness against going to war with Iran.

Also, during the exhaustive, bottom-up assessment in 2007 of Iran's nuclear plans, Tom Fingar of the State Department was Director of the National Intelligence Council and led the effort. In the process, he was able to demonstrate that the U.S. intelligence community was still capable of delivering honest, professional analysis and that it could summon the courage to face down the most intense political pressure and insist on telling it like it is.

By pulling together hard fact and experienced analysis, that NIE put an iron bar into the wheel spokes of the juggernaut that had begun rolling toward a disastrous war with Iran. Though himself a man of faith, Fingar had nothing but contempt for the kind of "faith-based intelligence" that helped grease the skids for the disaster in Iraq.

As for the intelligence on Iraq, recall that Sen. Jay Rockefeller, announcing the bipartisan findings of an exhaustive, five-year Senate Intelligence Committee study of the use of intelligence leading up to attack on Iraq, added this remark:

"In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent. As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed."

Rockefeller was, of course, right. In the Estimate on Iran, in contrast, Fingar and his analysts had too much integrity to succumb to the political pressures to which their predecessors bent.

Updated Estimate on Iran

NIEs like the controversial one on Iran are periodically updated. The Fingar-led bottom-up assessment of 2007 does not need to be replicated. Rather, an Estimate now under way is adopting the intelligence analysis art form of a "Memorandum to Holders" of the previous NIE, updating it, as necessary. Drafting began many months ago, but the deadline has been slipping - as is always the case with NIEs on Iran. According to press reports three months ago, the latest target date for completion is August.

The press is also saying that this time the Obama administration will not make public the key judgments.

Why the delay-and the secrecy? I believe the answer is straightforward. Reading the signs, I think it a safe assumption that an honest Memorandum to Holders could fit on one page, the thrust of which would be: We have received no evidence that requires revision of the key judgments of the November 2007 NIE on Iran.

Indeed, in congressional testimony earlier this year, then-Director of National Intelligence Adm. Dennis Blair, to his credit, said essentially that, amid mainstream press reporting alleging a need to make the Estimate more ominous.

It seems a safe bet that one reason Blair was given his walking papers two months ago is that, in the opinion of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and his neocon friends, the retired admiral was not sufficiently malleable. The nominee to replace Blair, retired Gen. James Clapper, and his current boss, Defense Secretary Robert Gates each hold well earned PhDs in malleability.

If integrity holds in the ranks of intelligence analysts, a Memorandum to Holders update could turn out to be just as controversial - and just as disappointing to those wishing to attack Iran - as the NIE of 2007, which contradicted what Bush and Cheney had been saying in exaggerating the threat from Iran.

From the perspective of the hawks, therefore, it's better to delay. Better to take more time to seek out managers and analysts with more flexible consciences than those of the now-retired Tom Fingar, the now-cashiered Adm. Blair, and the just-one-day-on-the-job-as-Director-of-the-National-Intelligence-Council-before-the-neocons-got-him Chas Freeman (a man for all seasons, and perfect man for these times).

Better to take more time to seek additional "evidence" that may be uncorroborated, contradicted, or even non-existent, but nonetheless good enough for use with the Fawning Corporate Media and other fans of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Looking for a Curveball

A brief refresher for those who have put out of mind the lead-up to the attack on Iraq: Curveball was the name assigned to a defector who provided detailed reporting on those "mobile chemical warfare laboratories," which were rendered by CIA graphic artists into visuals to accompany Secretary of State Colin Powell's bogus presentation to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003.

The biological weapons labs did not exist, but the images helped to get a war started the following month. Smoke and mirrors can be consequential.

It is likely that Obama administration hawks directed CIA operatives to see Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri in this context. Would he be willing to adduce what Sen. Rockefeller called "non-existent" intelligence about an urgent nuclear threat from Iran?

From the looks of it, some officials inside U.S. intelligence tried to persuade Amiri to play that kind of role - apparently in vain. Looking for a Curveball, the CIA got a change-up slider - one that slid away without agreeing to provide the "evidence" that might "justify" attacking Iran.

The Fawning Corporate Media has apparently been pre-briefed to expect the Memorandum to Holders to be much scarier than the NIE of almost three years ago. For example, the New York Times on Friday reported that the intelligence community "is likely to back away from some of the conclusions in the earlier document."

So hold onto your hats. I'm waiting for arch-neoconservative Ken Adelman, erstwhile clone of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, to arise from - and dust off - the ashes of Iraq to reassure us that attacking Iran, too, will be a "cake walk."

Pressure Building

What is abundantly clear is that Israel and the neocons are determined to ratchet up the conclusions of the 2007 NIE and make them sound far more ominous in the Memorandum to Holders.

And if no one better than Amiri shows up, they can always make him into Curveball #2 anyway, and then order the excellent CIA graphics shoppe to create artists renderings of the kind they did for Curveball's imaginary mobile chemical weapons labs. (The danger here is that this ruse would be all too reminiscent of Powell's bravura performance in February 2003.)

If the White House decides that a Curveball #2 approach might be so obvious as to backfire and perhaps even raise doubts even among the stenographers of the FCM, administration's hawks would probably opt for further delay in drafting the Memorandum to Holders, allowing more time to bring on board more malleable managers, to twist the arms of intelligence analysts, and to leak to the FCM how the updated estimate is sure to abandon the findings of the NIE from 2007.

If I am right in surmising that there has been no reliable intelligence requiring change in the NIE's key judgments, publication (or, more likely) leaking of an honest Memorandum to Holders could again thwart the Israelis and those who are encouraging an attack on Iran.

There's also the risk to the hawks that a Memorandum that included "uncorroborated, contradicted, and non-existent" intelligence could become an object of ridicule before it provoked another Middle East conflict. Honest analysts pressured to manufacture such evidence might well decide to share their experience with honest journalists (as a few tried to do in 2002-2003 although the warnings were mostly drowned out by the exciting stampede to war). And, given the current dearth of honest journalists in the FCM, analysts might choose to share their chagrin with websites like Wikileaks to expose the latest charade.

As for the role of intelligence, we are likely to learn in the coming weeks whether the senior officials in charge of NIEs and Memoranda to Holders are in the mold of Tom Fingar or, conversely, of George Tenet and his top lieutenants - hangers-on like John Brennan who is now President Barack Obama's right-hand man for intelligence, now working at the National Security Council.

Tenet and his merry men and women were able to persuade themselves that once the President decided to go to war, their job was to create "intelligence" to "justify" it, so the case made to the American people would be a "slam-dunk."

The next war hangs largely on whether U.S. intelligence analysts with integrity are allowed to ply their trade without fear or favor; or, failing that, whether they will decide to give priority to the supervening value of preventing another unnecessary war, as opposed to keeping a promise not to divulge classified information. Most of them are well aware that all too often such information is stamped "SECRET" simply to keep the truth from the American people.
(c) 2010 Ray McGovern served as a CIA analyst for 27 years -- from the administration of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush. During the early 1980s, he was one of the writers/editors of the President's Daily Brief and briefed it one-on-one to the president's most senior advisers. He also chaired National Intelligence Estimates. In January 2003, he and four former colleagues founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

A Parliamentary Mob
By Uri Avnery

WHEN I was first elected to the Knesset, I was appalled at what I found. I discovered that, with rare exceptions, the intellectual level of the debates was close to zero. They consisted mainly of strings of clichs of the most commonplace variety. During most of the debates, the plenum was almost empty. Most participants spoke vulgar Hebrew. When voting, many members had no idea what they were voting for or against, they just followed the party whip.

That was 1967, when the Knesset included members like Levy Eshkol and Pinchas Sapir, David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan, Menachem Begin and Yohanan Bader, Meir Yaari and Yaakov Chazan, for whom today streets, highroads and neighborhoods are named.

In comparison to the present Knesset, that Knesset now looks like Plato's Academy.

WHAT FRIGHTENED me more than anything else was the readiness of members to enact irresponsible laws for the sake of fleeting popularity, especially at times of mass hysteria. One of my first Knesset initiatives was to submit a bill which would have created a second chamber, a kind of Senate, composed of outstanding personalities, with the power to hold up the enactment of new laws and compel the Knesset to reconsider them after an interval. This, I hoped, would prevent laws being hastily adopted in an atmosphere of excitement.

The bill was not considered seriously, neither by the Knesset nor by the general public. The Knesset almost unanimously voted it down. (After some years, several of the members told me that they regretted their vote.) The newspapers nicknamed the proposed chamber "the House of Lords" and ridiculed it. Haaretz devoted a whole page of cartoons to the proposal, depicting me in the garb of a British peer.

So there is no brake. The production of irresponsible laws, most of them racist and anti-democratic, is booming. The more the government itself is turning into an assembly of political hacks, the more the likelihood of its preventing such legislation is diminishing. The present government, the largest, basest and most despised in Israel's history, is cooperating with the Knesset members who submit such bills, and even initiating them itself.

The only remaining obstacle to this recklessness is the Supreme Court. In the absence of a written constitution, it has taken upon itself the power to annul scandalous laws that violate democracy and human rights. But the Supreme Court itself is beleaguered by rightists who want to destroy it, and is moving with great caution. It intervenes only in the most extreme cases.

Thus a paradoxical situation has arisen: parliament, the highest expression of democracy, is itself now posing a dire threat to Israeli democracy.

THE MAN who personifies this phenomenon more than anyone else is MK Michael Ben-Ari of the "National Union" faction, the heir of Meir Kahane, whose organization "Kach" ("Thus") was outlawed many years ago because of its openly fascist character.

Kahane himself was elected to the Knesset only once. The reaction of the other members was unequivocal: whenever he rose to speak, almost all the other members left the hall. The rabbi had to make his speeches before a handful of ultra-right colleagues.

A few weeks ago I visited the present Knesset for the first time since its election. I went there to listen to a debate about a subject that concerns me too: the decision of the Palestinian Authority to boycott the products of the settlements, a dozen years after Gush Shalom started this boycott. I spent some hours in the building, and from hour to hour my revulsion deepened.

The main cause was a circumstance I had not been aware of: MK Ben-Ari, the disciple and admirer of Kahane, holds sway there. Not only is he not an isolated outsider on the fringe of parliamentary life, as his mentor had been, but on the contrary, he is at the center. I saw the members of almost all other factions crowding around him in the members' cafeteria and listening to his perorations with rapt attention in the plenum. No doubt can remain that Kahanism - the Israeli version of fascism - has moved from the margin to center stage.

Recently, the country witnessed a scene that looked like something from the parliament of South Korea or Japan.

On the Knesset speaker's rostrum stood MK Haneen Zoabi of the Arab nationalist Balad faction and tried to explain why she had joined the Gaza aid flotilla that had been attacked by the Israeli navy. MK Anastasia Michaeli, a member of the Lieberman party, jumped from her seat and rushed to the rostrum, letting out blood-curdling shrieks, waving her arms, in order to remove Haneen Zoabi by force. Other members rose from their seats to help Michaeli. Near the speaker, a threatening crowd of Knesset members gathered. Only with great difficulty did the ushers succeed in saving Zoabi from bodily harm. One of the male members shouted at her, in a typical mixture of racism and sexism: "Go to Gaza and see what they will do to a 41 year old unmarried woman!"

One could not imagine a greater contrast than that between the two MKs. While Haneen Zoabi belongs to a family whose roots in the Nazareth area go back centuries, perhaps to the time of Jesus, Anastasia Michaeli was born in (then) Leningrad. She was elected "Miss St. Petersburg" and then became a fashion model, married an Israeli, converted to Judaism, immigrated to Israel at age 24 but sticks to her very Russian first name. She has given birth to eight children. She may be a candidate for the Israeli Sarah Palin, who, after all, was also once a beauty queen..

As far as I could make out, not a single Jewish member raised a finger to defend Zoabi during the tumult. Nothing but some half-hearted protest from the Speaker, Reuven Rivlin, and a Meretz member, Chaim Oron.

In all the 61 years of its existence, the Knesset had not seen such a sight. Within a minute the sovereign assembly turned into a parliamentary lynch mob.

One does not have to support the ideology of Balad to respect the impressive personality of Haneen Zoabi. She speaks fluently and persuasively, has degrees from two Israeli universities, fights for the rights of women within the Israeli-Arab community and is the first female member of an Arab party in the Knesset. Israeli democracy could be proud of her. She belongs to a large Arab extended family. The brother of her grandfather was the mayor of Nazareth, one uncle was a deputy minister and another a Supreme Court judge. (Indeed, on my first day in the Knesset I proposed that another member of the Zoabi family be elected as Speaker.)

This week, the Knesset decided by a large majority to adopt a proposal by Michael Ben-Ari, supported by Likud and Kadima members, to strip Haneen Zoabi of her parliamentary privileges. Even before, Interior Minister Eli Yishai had asked the Legal Advisor to the Government for approval of his plan to strip Zoabi of her Israeli citizenship on the grounds of treason. One of the Knesset members shouted at her: "You have no place in the Israeli Knesset! You have no right to hold an Israeli identity card!"

On the very same day, the Knesset took action against the founder of Zoabi's party, Azmi Bishara. In a preliminary hearing, it approved a bill - this one, too, supported by both Likud and Kadima members - aimed at denying Bishara his pension, which is due after his resignation from the Knesset. (He is staying abroad, after being threatened with an indictment for espionage.)

The proud parents of these initiatives, which enjoy massive support from Likud, Kadima, Lieberman's party and all the religious factions, do not hide their intention to expel all the Arabs from parliament and establish at long last a pure Jewish Knesset. The latest decisions of the Knesset are but parts of a prolonged campaign, which gives birth almost every week to new initiatives from publicity-hungry members, who know that the more racist and anti-democratic their bills are, the more popular they will be with their electorate.

Such was this weeks Knesset decision to condition the acquisition of citizenship on the candidate's swearing allegiance to Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state", thus demanding that Arabs (especially foreign Arab spouses of Arab citizens) subscribe to the Zionist ideology. The equivalent would be the demand that new American citizens swear allegiance to the USA as a "white Anglo-Saxon protestant state."

There seems to be no limit to this parliamentary irresponsibility. All red lines have been crossed long ago. This does not concern only the parliamentary representation of more than 20% of Israel's citizens, but there is a growing tendency towards depriving all Arab citizens of their citizenship altogether.

THIS TENDENCY is connected with the ongoing attack on the status of the Arabs in East Jerusalem.

This week I was present at the hearing in Jerusalem's magistrates court on the detention of Muhammed Abu Ter, one of the four Hamas members of the Palestinian parliament from Jerusalem. The hearing was held in a tiny room, which can seat only about a dozen spectators. I succeeded only with great difficulty in getting in.

After they were elected in democratic elections, in conformity with Israel's explicit obligation under the Oslo agreement to allow the Arabs in East Jerusalem to take part, the government announced that their "permanent resident" status had been revoked.

What does that mean? When Israel "annexed" East Jerusalem in 1967, the government did not dream of conferring citizenship on the inhabitants, which would have significantly increased the percentage of Arab voters in Israel. Neither did they invent a new status for them. Lacking other alternatives, the inhabitants became "permanent residents", a status devised for foreigners who wish to stay in Israel. The Minister of the Interior has the right to revoke this status and deport such people to their countries of origin.

Clearly, this definition of "permanent residents" should not apply to the inhabitants of East Jerusalem. They and their forefathers were born there, they have no other citizenship and no other place of residence. The revoking of their status turns them into politically homeless people without protection of any kind.

The state lawyers argued in court that with the cancellation of his "permanent resident" status, Abu Ter has become an "illegal person" whose refusal to leave the city warrants unlimited detention.

(A few hours earlier, the Supreme Court dealt with our petition concerning the investigation of the Gaza flotilla incident. We won a partial, but significant, victory: for the first time in its history, the Supreme Court agreed to interfere in a matter concerning a commission of inquiry. The court decided that if the commission requires the testimony of military officers and the government tries to prevent this, the court will intervene.)

IF SOME people are trying to delude themselves into believing that the parliamentary mob will harm "only Arabs", they are vastly mistaken. The only question is: who is next in line?

This week, the Knesset gave the first reading to a bill to impose heavy penalties on any Israeli who advocates a boycott on Israel, in general, and on economic enterprises, universities and other Israeli institutions, including settlements, in particular. Any such institution will be entitled to an indemnity of 5000 dollars from every supporter of the boycott.

A call for boycott is a democratic means of expression. I object very much to a general boycott on Israel, but (following Voltaire) am ready to fight for everybody's right to call for such a boycott. The real aim of the bill is, of course, to protect the settlements: it is designed to deter those who call for a boycott of the products of the settlements which exist on occupied land outside the borders of the state. This includes me and my friends.

Since the foundation of Israel, it has never stopped boasting of being the "Only Democracy in the Middle East". This is the jewel in the crown of Israeli propaganda. The Knesset is the symbol of this democracy.

It seems that the parliamentary mob, which has taken over the Knesset, is determined to destroy this image once and for all, so that Israel will find its proper place somewhere between Libya, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
(c) 2010 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Vilsack Must Keep Black Farmers On Their Land
One Million and a Half Black-Owned Farm Acres Being Looted by USDA While Farmers Wait for Justice
By Cynthia McKinney

Secretary Vilsack admitted in a press conference today, "I did not think before I acted." It is clear from Agriculture Secretary Vilsack's press conference today that he failed to do his job appropriately in his treatment of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) employee, Shirley Sherrod.

Sherrod was fired after her superior, USDA Deputy Under Secretary Cheryl Cook asked Sherrod to pull over on her drive from south Georgia to Athens, Georgia and quit her job after a speech made by Sherrod to the Coffee County NAACP was aired on a Douglas County TV cable access channel and then posted on the internet by Andrew Breitbart, a known conservative, activist blogger.

Sherrod, a veteran advocate for Black Farmers, who the USDA admits have been discriminated against, was fired because the White House feared that Glen Beck was going to discuss her alleged racist remarks on his TV show that night. It turns out, however, that the tape of Sherrod's remarks had been badly doctored and the doctored version had been posted on the internet. Glen Beck and the entire Fox News operation were reacting to the doctored internet posting. Ms. Sherrod was fired without having an opportunity to explain her side of the story and before the White House and Secretary Vilsack had even bothered to look at her entire speech.

"The White House and Secretary Vilsack threw Shirley Sherrod under the bus before they had the facts," said Cynthia McKinney, who knows Sherrod and has spoken often at the Coffee County NAACP.

Unfortunately however, Secretary Vilsack has also thrown Black Farmers under the bus. To date, despite abundant headlines to the contrary, Black Farmers, including the named plaintiffs in Pigford v. Glickman (1997), Lucious Abrams and Cecil Brewington have not even had a meeting with USDA, to settle their discrimination claim. Others who did receive settlements were then harassed by the Internal Revenue Service and had their bank accounts frozen and their Social Security payments offset by any government payments, including stimulus payments. "The actual so-called settlement of the lawsuit was worse than the discrimination that the USDA has admitted to and discrimination is continuing at this very hour," said Pigford plaintiff Black Farmer Eddie Slaughter.

"The President is meeting with everyone except those who brought forward the lawsuit and those who suffered discrimination and the violation of their Constitutional rights," said Lucious Abrams. Eddie Slaughter and Lucious Abrams met with Secretary Vilsack and apprised him of the current situation, but the Secretary to date has failed to act.

The Shirley Sherrod episode shows how quickly legitimate Black interests are thrown under the bus due to fear on the one hand and racial incitement for political purposes on the other hand. "President Barack Obama should meet with Black Farmers who are leading the lawsuit," said McKinney, who has been active for years on the Black Farmer issue. Despite winning the lawsuit, plaintiffs in Pigford have not been made whole and therefore have not received justice. Over one decade later, lead plaintiffs on the lawsuit have not even had a hearing on the merits on their claim of discrimination, now admitted by the USDA. Claimants got paid, but actual farmers did not. The result is that over one million black-owned farm acres are at risk of being lost due to acceleration of collection of debt, foreclosure, bankruptcy, and USDA and USDOJ deliberate delay resulting in delinquent notes for Black Farmers.

Claimants, who are not necessarily farmers, have been paid out of the judgment fund. Meanwhile, class counsel (Alexander Pires), the adjudicators (Poorman Douglas), the arbitrator (Michael Lewis), the DOJ (USDA is paying DOJ), the facilitator (JAM in Dispute), the monitor (Randy Ross) were all paid over $300 million dollars of taxpayer money, yet actual Black Farmers are yet to be made whole.

"Under Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, USDA is still engaged in a racket that will result in the theft of black-owned land," said McKinney.

Both the White House and Secretary Vilsack have issued public apologies to Sherrod.

Contact: Pigford Lawsuit Plaintiff Lucious Abrams, 706-829-0710
Pigford Lawsuit Plaintiff Cecil Brewington, 910-620-2019
Pigford Lawsuit Plaintiff Eddie Slaughter, 229-649-2243
Georgia State Senator Gloria Frazier, 706-513-2717
Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney,


Silence is the deadliest weapon of mass destruction.
(c) 2010 Cynthia McKinney is a former U.S. Congresswoman, Green Party presidential candidate, and an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice. The first African-American woman to represent the state of Georgia, McKinney served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1993-2003, and from 2005-2007.

Anarchism And Nonviolence
Time for a 'Complementarity of Tactics'

By Randall Amster

With the conclusion of the G20 protests in Canada, the inevitable post-mortem dissection has begun in earnest. Activists prepare to file lawsuits, organizers vow to do things differently next time, police pledge to investigate further, the media highlight the purported "destruction" before moving on to the next big story, and world leaders promise to continue their efforts unhampered by the misguided protesters. And, as is by now par for the post-protest course, pretty much everyone seems to cast blame on "the anarchists."

More recently, in the aftermath of the Oscar Grant verdict in Oakland, the media fan the flames by blaming the few stray acts of window-breaking and looting on "self-described anarchists," while police officials emphasize that this de facto terrorist segment justifies their conduct vis--vis protesters in general. More rifts develop in the streets, and although a tenuous solidarity is at times expressed as well, the lasting images once again are of anarchists acting in seemingly unproductive ways that put the interests and safety of larger movement contingents in jeopardy.

These are but two recent examples of a phenomenon that has been regularly played out in North America since at least the WTO protests in Seattle in 1999. Antipathy toward anarchists seems to have increased steadily since then, not only from corporate elites and law enforcement officials, but from a number of fellow movement participants as well. Ironically, this comes at a time when interest in anarchism among activists has greatly expanded, and likewise when its impact upon American activism in general has seen a strong resurgence in recent years.

Critical voices regularly chastise anarchists without indicating that they fully understand what anarchism actually is. But anarchists as well oftentimes seem to act in contravention of both historical and political senses of what anarchism represents. This is further made problematic by the basic fact that anarchists generally eschew doctrinaire definitions and ideological litmus tests, suggesting that people ought to be free to define their own actions and ideas in the manner of their own choosing. And yet, a kind of orthodoxy that increasingly seems like "fundamentalist anarchism" may be taking hold among some sectors that posture as "real revolutionaries," who denigrate as "pathological" those who would seek to deploy their version of anarchism in less spectacular ways than overtly "smashing the state" by striking at some of its symbolic targets.

Interestingly, this plays right into the hands of the caricature of anarchism as violent, bomb-throwing, chaotic behavior that seems to be the first question one gets asked when their anarchism is presented in mixed company. Indeed, I always enjoy getting that inevitable query: "Isn't anarchism just violence and destruction?" To which I usually reply: "How many people would you estimate have been killed by anarchists in the last hundred years? Now, how many would you say have been killed by liberals, or conservatives, in that time frame? If a lawyer or corporate manager were here before you now, would you ask about the blood on their hands or just let it slide as part of business as usual? The state didn't save us from the violence of anarchy - it simply monopolized it, institutionalized it, and expanded its role in our lives."

I recently had the opportunity to facilitate a series of workshops on "Anarchism and Nonviolence" in the U.S. and Canada. As one might expect, spirited conversations ensued in which many powerful young voices felt challenged by the notion of being nonviolent in a world that in their lifetimes has appeared as inherently violent. Indeed, these issues get at the heart of matters of ethics, tactics, and visions for the future, comprising some of the most basic concerns for social movements and individual consciences alike. One of the exercises we did in these workshops was to create a working definition of anarchism, and then one of nonviolence. Comparing the two lists, many overlapping values emerged: self-governance, rejection of domination, respect and mutual aid, antiwar and anti-oppression practices, solidarity, a radical egalitarianism, and the politics of "prefiguring" the future society. Further, it was pointed out that both notions, (an)archism and (non)violence, trace their linguistic origins to the negation of something - yet have developed proactive self-definitions despite an initial reactive framing.

And the synergies don't end there. Among the anarchist milieu, we find figures such as Emma Goldman, who dabbled in the use of revolutionary violence in her younger days but came to reject it in her later years. She once told her comrade and coconspirator Alexander Berkman that "violence in whatever form never has and probably never will bring constructive results," and further elucidated her position that "methods and means cannot be separated from the ultimate aim. The means employed become, through individual habit and social practice, part and parcel of the final purpose." In the end, Goldman saw nonviolence and revolution as intertwined:

It is one thing to employ violence in combat as a means of defense. It is quite another thing to make a principle of terrorism, to institutionalize it, to assign it the most vital place in the social struggle. Such terrorism begets counter-revolution and in turn itself becomes counter-revolutionary.... The one thing I am convinced of as I have never been in my life is that the gun decides nothing at all. Even if it accomplishes what it sets out to do - which it rarely does - it brings so many evils in its wake as to defeat its original aim.... If we can undergo changes in every other method of dealing with the social issues we will also have to learn to change in the methods of revolution. I think it can be done. If not, I shall relinquish my belief in revolution.

Ira Chernus, in chapter five of his book American Nonviolence, assesses Goldman's transition:

It is not surprising that Goldman eventually endorsed nonviolence. Her anarchist views embraced the fundamental premises of the nonviolent abolitionists. She believed that all people should be treated as equals because no one should have authority over another.... She believed that when people do have authority over others they are coercing others, and thus they are bound to do violence. She believed that no one could achieve right ends by wrong means. Her anarchism also foreshadowed important ideas that would later shape the nonviolence tradition. She believed that all power is based on consent. No one can impose their authority upon another.

Another parallel to consider is the inherent anarchism of Mohandas Gandhi's worldview. Known of course as an iconic figure of nonviolence, Gandhi likewise borrowed from and advanced many aspects of anarchism in his social and political philosophies. As described by Josh Fattal in the Winter 2006 edition of Peace Power, Gandhi's anarchism was made plain in myriad ways:

Mohandas Gandhi opposed the State. The State is the military, police, prisons, courts, tax collectors, and bureaucrats. He saw the State as concentrated violence. "The State represents violence in a concentrated and organized form. The individual has a soul, but as the State is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned from violence to which it owes its very existence." Gandhi recognized that the State claims to serve the nation, but he realized that this was a fallacy. "While apparently doing good by minimizing exploitation, [the State] does the greatest harm to mankind." According to Dr. Dhawan, Gandhi was a philosophical Anarchist because he believed that the "[the greatest good of all] can be realized only in the classless, stateless democracy." While Gandhi advocated democracy, he differentiated between direct democracy and western democracy.... He had no more appetite for majority democracy of America; "It is a superstition and an ungodly thing to believe that an act of a majority binds a minority." By centralizing power, western democracies feed into violence. Thus, he thought decentralization was the key to world peace.... Reiterating the idea of Anarchy, Gandhi said, "In such a state (of affairs), everyone is his own ruler. He rules himself in such a manner that he is never a hindrance to his neighbor."... Gandhi's concept of swaraj elucidates the connection between the individual and society. Swaraj translates into 'self-rule' or 'autonomy.'... The principle of swaraj ultimately leads to a grassroots, bottom-up, 'oceanic circle' of self-ruling communities.

Anarchists will recognize many familiar themes here, including autonomy, self-governance, decentralization, self-sufficiency, and a federated network of horizontal communities. As Gandhi explained:

Independence begins at the bottom... It follows, therefore, that every village has to be self-sustained and capable of managing its own affairs.... In this structure composed of innumerable villages, there will be ever-widening, never ascending circles. Life will not be a pyramid with the apex sustained by the bottom. But it will be an oceanic circle whose center will be the individual. Therefore, the outermost circumference will not wield power to crush the inner circle but will give strength to all within and derive its own strength from it.

There are more such examples - as well as some that contradict the thesis being advanced here, of course - but a fuller exposition will necessarily await another opportunity. The point of offering this nexus between anarchism and nonviolence at this juncture is simply to suggest that we look for ways to support and bolster both paradigms since they are increasingly coming into contact with one another in the real world of on-the-ground activism and organizing. Rather than repeat useful but by now tired mantras about respecting a "diversity of tactics," we might consider instead looking to generate a "complementarity of tactics" in which the choices we make are mutually-reinforcing. This is particularly true in an era when provocateurs and propagandists alike can easily exploit the tensions among movement cohorts to denigrate all.

It seems to me that this is a matter of urgency for our movements. I'm not going to assert that my reading of anarchism as inherently nonviolent is somehow correct or true. I am, however, strongly suggesting that anarchists consider the implications of the moment in which we find ourselves. The "useful idiot" sense of anarchists becoming the justification for the escalating police state and all of its retributive techniques against activists in general has become palpable (even as we recognize it as obviously fallacious and revisionist). What worked once or even a few times as a tactic can grow stale when done repeatedly, and frankly begins to seem neither creative, spontaneous, or very anarchistic at this juncture. Not to mention that it has created a situation so rife with the prospect of infiltration that it cannot even be certain any longer whether anarchists themselves are in fact guiding their own course of conduct and self-definitions.

This may not win me any new friends among fellow anarchists, yet it needs to be said: Anarchists ought to publicly and demonstrably proclaim their nonviolence, especially in the context of mass demonstrations. This will make it clear that any violence done in that theater - which time and again is used to legitimize mass arrests, bloated police budgets, and the rest of the fascistic enterprise - is not the product of anarchists but more likely of agents of the state itself. After all, that is the basic notion being advanced, isn't it? To wit: the state (including its corporate underwriters and beneficiaries) is inherently violent both overtly and structurally; anarchists above all reject the state and thus would do well to highlight the fundamental contrast. "The state is violent, and we are not" would be a very good place to start the discussion.
(c) 2010 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His most recent book is the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

Surprise! The People Speak

Michael Duke is the Big Wally of Walmart. As CEO of the low-wage behemoth, he siphons some $19 million a year in personal pay from the global retailer.

How much is $19 million? Let's break it down in terms that Duke's own workforce can appreciate. While Big Wally's workers average about $9.50 an hour, Duke's pay comes to about $9,500 an hour. So he pockets as much in two hours as Walmart workers make in a whole year! But Walmart doesn't give a damn about such gross pay gaps between privileged elites and the rest of us. As a spokesman scoffed, "I don't think Mike Duke... needs me to defend his compensation package."

Really? If not you, who?

Those who think that the hoi polloi don't notice, much less care, about America's growing income disparity, should take a peek at a recent opinion survey run by the right-wing, corporate-funded Peter Peterson Foundation. This outfit intended to show that the general public backs the teabag agenda slashing of government spending, including balancing the federal budget by putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block.

But - woopsie-daisy - the survey of thousands of Americans went badly wrong for the Peterson ideologues. For example, far from wanting to gut Social Security payments, 85 percent of the people favored extending the program by the making rich pay into the fund, like all the rest of us do.

And - hey, Mike - this one's for you: nearly six out of 10 of the folks involved in the foundation's "America Speaks" survey want a new, higher tax bracket to make millionaires pay their fair share of providing for the common good.

The foundation tried to bury these surprisingly progressive results, but you can see a good analysis of them at the Center for Economic Policy and Research:

(c) 2010 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

They're All Groveling And You Can Guess the Reason
By Robert Fisk

It is the season of grovelling.

Only a week after CNN's Octavia Nasr and the British ambassador to Beirut, Frances Guy, dared to suggest that Sayyed Hassan Fadlallah of Lebanon was a nice old chap rather than the super-terrorist the Americans have always claimed him to be, the grovelling began. First Ms Nasr, already fired by the grovelling CNN for her effrontery in calling Fadlallah a "giant", grovelled herself. Rather than tell the world what a cowardly outfit she had been working for, she announced that hers was "a simplistic comment and I'm sorry because it conveyed that I supported Fadlallah's life's work. That's not the case at all."

What is this garbage? Nasr never gave the impression that she supported "Fadlallah's life's work". She merely expressed her regret that the old boy was dead, adding - inaccurately - that he had been part of Hizbollah. I don't know what her pompous (and, of course, equally grovelling) "senior vice president" said to her when she was given her marching orders. But like victims of the Spanish Inquisition, Nasr actually ended up apologizing for sins she had never even been accused of. Then within hours, British ambassador Guy began her own self-flagellation, expressing her regrets that she may have offended anyone (and we all know what that means) by her "personal attempt to offer some reflections of a figure who, while controversial, was also highly influential in Lebanon's history and who offered spiritual guidance to many Muslims in need."

I loved the "controversial" bit - the usual "fuck you" word for anyone you want to praise without incurring the wrath of, well, you know who. The Foreign Office itself took down poor Ms Guy's blogapop on old Fadlallah, thus proving - as Arab journalists leapt to point out this week - that while Britain proclaims the virtues of democracy and the free press to the grovelling newspaper owners and grotty emirs of the Middle East, it is the first to grovel when anything might offend you know who.

For that was the collective sin of Misses Nasr and Guy. What they said might have made Israel's supporters angry. And that will never do. The reality is that CNN should have told Israel's lobbyists to get lost, and the Foreign Office - which was indeed upbraided by the Israeli foreign ministry - should have asked the Israeli government when it is going to stop thieving Arab land. But as my old mate Rami Khoury put it in the Jordanian press this week, "We in the Middle East are used to this sort of racist intellectual terrorism. American and British citizens who occasionally dare to speak accurately about the Middle East and its people are still learning about the full price of the truth when Israeli interests are in the room."

Which brings us, of course, to the Grovel of the Week, the unctuous, weak-willed, cringing figure of Barack "Change" Obama as he strode the White House lawn with Netanyahu himself. For here was the champion of the underdog, the "understanding" president who could fix the Middle East - finding it "harder that he thought", according to his spokesman - proving that mid-term elections are more important than all the injustice in the Middle East. It is more than a year now since Netanyahu responded in cabinet to Obama's first criticisms with the remark: "This guy doesn't get it, does he?" (The quote comes from an excellent Israeli source of mine.) Ever since, Netanyahu has been McChrystalling Obama on a near-weekly basis, and Obama has been alternatively hissing and purring, banning Netanyahu from photo calls, but then - as those elections draw nearer - rolling over and talking about how the brave Netanyahu, whose government has just destroyed some more Arab homes in East Jerusalem, is taking "risks for peace."

Needless to say, the only good guys in this story are the courageous Jewish Americans who oppose the thieves in Netanyahu's government and the racism of his foreign minister, the Ahmadinejad-like Avigdor Lieberman. And which Western newspaper was bold enough to point out that the house destruction in Jerusalem "effectively end(ed) an unofficial freeze of such internationally condemned demolitions?" The New York Times? The Washington Post? No, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, of course. And anyone who thinks Haaretz is alone in condemning the illegal actions of the Israelis should read the excellent Jewish magazine Tikun in the US, which goes for Israel's Likud lobbyists - for they are Likudists - like a tiger. Their latest target was Neal Sher, the Likudist who used to be in the US Justice Department and who is trying to persuade La Clintone to ban Judge Goldstone from America (where he holds a university professorship) for accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza. And whose government was it that also condemned Goldstone's report? Well, Obama's of course.

Looking back, the Obama grovelling started in that famous Cairo reach-out-to-the-Muslim-world speech, when he referred to the Palestinian "relocation" of 1948 (as if the Palestinian Arabs got up one morning on the birth of Israel and decided that they all wanted to go on holiday to Lebanon). But the moment the world should have got wise was when Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. A man of greater dignity would have acknowledged the honor of such an award, but explained that his own unworthiness prevented him from accepting. But he did accept. He wanted the Nobel Prize. It was more important to accept it even though he did not deserve it. And now? Well, we've all been watching the little groveler this week. Middle East peace? Further colonization of Arab land? Crisis in southern Lebanon? The continued siege of Gaza? Forget it. Think of mid-term elections. Remember the fate of Nasr and Guy. And grovel.
(c) 2010 Robert Fisk --- The Independent

America Was Set Up For The Current Financial Crash
By James Donahue

While we sometimes question the intelligence of our elected leadership, there has been an awareness that the people operating our banking and lending institutions, and manipulating our financial system know very well what they are doing.

This is why we suspect that the financial collapse that almost brought on a second great depression and allowed big banks and home mortgage companies to skim billions of dollars from federal coffers at the end of the Bush Administration was a planned ravaging of America's capitalistic system. It was not a stupid blunder by a number of greedy men in high places who gambled with the money they held in trust, and lost. Is was sabotage and it has been in the planning for years.

Several extreme acts by our elected representatives leave clues that strongly support this thesis.

The first was the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913. Most people believe this agency is part of the government. But that is not true. It is a privately held corporation owned by the largest banks in the country. It was supposedly created to act as a back-up for member banks in the event of financial collapse from bad investments. Yet the Great Depression occurred just 16 years after the reserve was created.

Now we are in the midst of another world-wide financial crisis that threatens to have as big an impact on the world economic system as the Great Depression. How could this be happening? Some believe that the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States, which operates under a shadow, has allowed bankers to gain unwarranted power over the country. In the process they have brought down the worldwide financial system. And they accomplished this by clever schemes and the use of a trade jargon that most people do not understand.

Most Americans were not around to live through the declaration of war against the big banking interests by Franklin D. Roosevelt that led to passage of the Glass-Steagal Act. The act put government controls on financial institutions. Those controls worked very well and brought financial stability and prosperity for most Americans following World War II.

Swiss columnist Patrik Etschmayer, in the publication Nachrichten, described the succession of events that brought us down once more and pilfered most of the world's money into the pockets of the few. He wrote:

Only when regulations were relaxed under Ronald Reagan did the first rather costly banking disaster ensue: The Savings and Loan crisis." A total of 747 Savings and Loan Associations failed in the late 1980s and early 1990s at a cost of about $160 billion. President George H. W. Bush, who succeeded Reagan, arranged for a government financed financial bailout that cost American taxpayers about $124 billion.

Etschmayer wrote that what became known as the "S&L Crisis" led to a recession in the early 1990s that helped get Bill Clinton elected in 1992. "But Clinton didn't heed the warning. Even though it is no longer discussed, and all fingers point toward George W. Bush - his actions alone could not have resulted in today's disaster.

"Clinton worked until almost the end of his term to abolish Glass-Steagal. The Congress fought him for years just as it had under Reagan and Bush the First. But in 1997, the FED Board of Directors under Alan Greenspan eliminated rules that limited securities trading for savings banks," Etschmayer wrote.

The passage of the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, after an agreement between the Clinton Administration and Congressional Republicans, finally recalled the Glass-Steagall Act. Now the big banking institutions were free to go back to business as usual, before Roosevelt came to town and spoiled everything.

After President George W. Bush began his second term in the White House, with a Republican controlled House and Senate, the big money interests made their move to seize control of the wealth.

There was just one final obstacle in place that still irked the big lending institutions. That was the federal bankruptcy law.

Congress approved and Bush signed a revised bankruptcy law in 2005 that makes it almost impossible for debt-strangled consumers to walk out of bankruptcy court debt free. Even people with meager incomes must pay credit card charges, medical bills and other obligations under a court-ordered bankruptcy plan. It also requires people in bankruptcy to pay additional costs for credit counseling. The legal fees for going bankrupt have almost doubled, with most lawyers now demanding at least $2,000 up front before agreeing to represent a bankruptcy client. When people are that down-and-out, they rarely have that much spare change lying around to hire a bankruptcy lawyer.

During the Bush years the banking industry went wild in approving credit for just about anybody asking for it. Our mail boxes were packed with pre-approved credit card offers. People found themselves getting new credit cards to use to help make payments on older credit cards. Students still in college and struggling to pay the cost of tuition and books suddenly found themselves eligible to buy things on credit. And balloon payment home mortgage loans were readily available for moderate income families that were fooled into buying more house than they could really afford. They could not meet the high interest payments that came along after the first years of low interest payments.

The secret key to banking financial and political power is debt. When people are deep in debt they can be controlled. When nations are deep in debt, they also can be controlled. We suspect there has been a devious and secret plan for national if not world control behind the events of the past decade.

The bankers obviously knew from the start that the house of financial cards they were building was designed to collapse. We suspect they were gambling that it wouldn't happen until after Bush left office and that a Democratic successor would carry the blame for the financial crash. They knew Bush was an unpopular president. They probably thought that if they could set up the next president for a fall, the Republicans would be right back in power by 2012.

The bankers were wrong. The system collapsed between the time President Obama was elected and the day he was inaugurated. Consequently it was the Bush Administration that was left to approve the big bank bail-outs that threw our nation into a multi-trillion dollar deficit. Mr. Obama inherited a financial nightmare.

The Republicans have launched a propaganda campaign to blame the Obama Administration for the nation's financial mess. A lot of people, especially the Teabaggers, appear to have already forgotten how it all came down and believe the lies. It is easy to blame Mr. Obama because the results of the GOP-created mess cannot be repaired overnight. And the Republicans, especially in the Senate, are doing all they can to slow down attempts to bring about economic recovery.

We must hope that wise heads in Washington and across the nation succeed in exposing what really happened and hold the real villains accountable for the disaster they created. It needs to be skillfully done before voters return to the polls in November.
(c) 2010 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

Obama A 'Socialist'? I Wish
By Matthew Rothschild

I got an e-mail from a group called 21st Century Democrats, bemoaning the fact that a recent poll shows that 55% of likely voters said that the word "socialist" describes Obama and his policies. The 21st Century Democrats said, "You and I know [that] is not the case."

I only wish it were!

I wish Obama had pressed for single-payer national health care.

I wish Obama had nationalized Citicorp and Bank of America, rather than bail them out.

I wish he would have favored breaking up the rest of the big banks so they couldn't destroy our economy.

I wish he would have forced any banks taking federal bailout money to freeze foreclosures for at least a year and freeze interest rates on mortgages and credit cards.

I wish Obama would have proposed redistributing income from the wealthy to those who really need it by raising the marginal income tax, and the capital gains tax, and the estate tax.

I wish Obama would have proposed a transaction tax on every stock sale so as to curb speculation.

I wish Obama would have proposed raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour, as Ralph Nader has proposed.

I wish Obama would have replaced Ben Bernanke at the Fed with Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.

I wish Obama would have come out for democratizing the Fed, as Dennis Kucinich has recommended.

I wish Obama would have proposed a public works program to put every American who needs a job to work.

I wish Obama would have ordered every federal building to be installed with a solar panel, and almost every car in the federal fleet to be a hybrid or electric car.

I wish Obama would have proposed opening federal grocery stores in areas that are food deserts.

I wish Obama would have addressed the cruel problem of poverty in America.

I wish Obama would have proposed 12 months of paid maternity and paternity leave, mandatory paid sick leave, and federal child care.

I wish Obama would have advocated the nationalization of the armament companies, as Sen. Robert La Follette did back in 1924.

No decent socialist would have implemented policies that have left unemployment at over 9 percent and foreclosures at record heights.

No decent socialist would have let the banks get off so easily.

No decent socialist would have been caught dead praising the CEOs of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase and justifying their obscene salaries the way Obama did. ("I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen. I, like most of the American people, don't begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.")

No decent socialist would have left the health insurance industries in the driver's seat.

No decent socialist would have empowered a panel to advocate the cutting of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

No decent socialist would have expanded the war in Afghanistan, a hopeless war being fought by the sons and daughters of America's working class.

So, no, Obama isn't a socialist. Not even close.

But we'd be a lot better of in this country if he were.
(c)2010 Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.

Terror In Iran
Another Day, Another Atrocity in the World of Dirty War
By Chris Floyd

Perhaps this is America's answer to Washington's embarrassment over the Iranian scientist who got away this week:

At least 21 people, including members of the elite Revolutionary Guards, were killed and 100 wounded in suicide attack at a Shi'ite mosque in the southeast Iranian city of Zahedan on Thursday, Iranian media reported.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the two suicide bombings in front of Zahedan's Grand Mosque, although a lawmaker said he believed the Sunni rebel group Jundollah was behind the attack.

We do know that the United States has been covertly aiding Jundullah -- no doubt as part of the secret armies, militias, terrorist groups and covert operators that the Peace Laureate Administration has recently admitted -- or rather, bragged about in a strategic leak -- running in up to 75 countries around the world.

As I noted last year, after a similar terrorist attack in the same Iranian city:

On Thursday, a suicide bomber walked into a mosque, detonated his explosives and killed and wounded almost 140 people. In the wreckage and confusion afterward, a final death count has not yet been established, but the latest available information puts it at 23.

It is unlikely that you heard about this terrorist attack -- because it took place in Iran. For years, Iran has endured a series of terrorist actions -- suicide bombings, kidnappings, beheadings, open assaults by fanatical gunmen, sabotage, and "targeted assassinations" of government officials, scientists and others. Multitudes have been slaughtered in these operations, whose ferocity and frequency are surpassed only by the atrocities that have been unleashed in the four countries that have been on the forefront of America's Terror War: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia. One shudders to think what Washington's response would be to such a sustained campaign on American soil.

Of course, it is no mystery why the attack on the mosque in Zahedan -- a city situated at the strategic point where the borders of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan converge -- attracted so little attention in the Western press. Every day, we are schooled relentlessly by our political and media classes to regard the Iranians -- heirs to one of the world's oldest and most sophisticated civilizations -- as demons and subhumans, whose lives are of little account. This can be seen in the long-running debate over an attack on Iran, which focuses almost entirely on the advantages or disadvantages such an assault would pose for American and Israeli interests -- and not at all on the thousands of human beings living in Iran who would be killed in the operation.

But there is another reason why the terrorist attack in Zahedan has not been greeted with commiserations from the White House or excited coverage from our government-spoonfed media: because it is highly likely that the United States played a role in fomenting the attack, either by direct or by collateral hand...

Zahedan is the capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province, with "a large ethnic Sunni Baluch minority," which is often at odds with the Shiite-dominated central government. The region -- which is also a prime conduit for arms and drug trafficking across the volatile borders -- has been roiled for years by the militant Sunni extremist group, Jundullah (Soldiers of God). This group, aligned philosophically if not operationally with al Qaeda, has openly boasted of killing hundreds of people in its campaigns

The militant Sunni extremist group, Jundullah (Soldiers of God) ... aligned philosophically if not operationally with al Qaeda, has openly boasted of killing hundreds of people in its campaigns...

You would think that such violent, frenzied zealots -- fellow travellers of Osama bin Laden! -- would be taken up by our Terror Warriors as poster boys for the evils of "Islamofascism." But as we noted here a few months ago, "bombings and beheadings and deathporn videos are not inherently evil; they can also be a force for good -- as long as they put to the service of America's ever-noble, ever-lofty foreign policy ideals."

For Jundullah is one of the several armed insurgent groups inside Iran being supported by the United States. As Andrew Cockburn reported last year:

Six weeks ago, President Bush signed a secret finding authorizing a covert offensive against the Iranian regime that, according to those familiar with its contents, "unprecedented in its scope."

Bush's secret directive covers actions across a huge geographic area - from Lebanon to Afghanistan - but is also far more sweeping in the type of actions permitted under its guidelines - up to and including the assassination of targeted officials. This widened scope clears the way, for example, for full support for the military arm of Mujahedin-e Khalq, the cultish Iranian opposition group, despite its enduring position on the State Department's list of terrorist groups.

Similarly, covert funds can now flow without restriction to Jundullah, or "army of god," the militant Sunni group in Iranian Baluchistan - just across the Afghan border -- whose leader was featured not long ago on Dan Rather Reports cutting his brother-in-law's throat.

Thus the attack this week in Zahedan is an integral part of a wide-ranging campaign of American-supported terrorism inside Iran -- even if the "darksiders" in the U.S. security organs had no direct involvement or knowledge of this particular attack. When you are in the business of fomenting terror (see here and here), there's no need for micro-management. You co-opt the armed extremists who best serve your political agenda of the moment; you slip them guns, money, intelligence, guidance -- and then you turn them loose on the local populace.

We have seen this over and over; in Iraq, for example, where American death squads -- such as the ones led by Stanley McChrystal, recently appointed by Barack Obama to work his "dirty war" magic in Afghanistan -- joined with mostly Shiite militias to carry out massive "ethnic cleansing" campaigns and individual assassinations. We saw it years ago, in the American-led construction of an international army of mostly Sunni extremists raised to hot-foot the Soviets in Afghanistan -- then turned loose upon the world. And of course this lineage of terror-breeding as an instrument of American foreign policy goes back for many decades. with one of the earliest, most spectacular successes being the use of religious extremists to help bring down the secular republic in Iran in 1953.

... Bush's directive represents an intensification of the drive for open war with Iran, but it is not a new development; rather, it is a major "surge" in a state terror campaign the Administration has been waging against Iran (among others) for years. As I wrote as along ago as August 2004, the Bushists have openly sought, and received, big budgets and bipartisan support for terrorist groups and extremist militias all over the world. Here's an excerpt from that 2004 report:

If you would know the hell that awaits us - and not far off - there's no need to consult ancient prophecies, or the intricate coils of hidden conspiracies, or the tortured arcana of high-credentialed experts. You need only read the public words, sworn before God, of top public officials, the great lords of state, the defenders of civilization, as they explain - clearly, openly, with confidence and pride - their plans to foment terror, rape, war and repression across the face of the earth.

Last month, in little-noticed testimony before Congress, the Bush Regime unveiled its plans to raise a host of warlord armies in the most volatile areas in the world, Agence France-Presse reports. Bush wants $500 million in seed money to arm and train non-governmental "local militias" - i.e., bands of lawless freebooters - to serve as Washington's proxy killers in the so-called "arc of crisis" that just happens to stretch across the oil-bearing lands and strategic pipeline routes of Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and South America.

Flanked by a gaggle of military brass, Pentagon deputy honcho Paul Wolfowitz told a rapt panel of Congressional rubber-stamps that Bush wants big bucks to run "counter-insurgency" and "counter-terrorist" operations in "ungoverned areas" of the world - and in the hinterlands of nations providing "sanctuary" for terrorists. Making copious citations from Bush's 2002 "National Security Strategy" of unprovoked aggressive war against "potential" enemies, Howlin' Wolf proposed expanding the definition of "terrorist sanctuary" to any nation that allows clerics and other rabble-rousers to offer even verbal encouragement to America's designated enemies du jour....

There's nothing really new in Bush's murder-by-proxy scheme, of course; America has a long, bipartisan tradition of paying local thugs to do Washington's bloodwork. For example, late last month, Guatemala was forced to pay $420 million in extortion to veterans of the U.S.-backed "paramilitaries" who helped Ronald Reagan's favorite dictator, right-wing Christian coupster Efrain Rios Montt, kill 100,000 innocent people during his reign, the BBC reports. The paramilitaries, whose well-documented war crimes include rape, murder and torture, had threatened to shut down the country if they weren't given some belated booty for their yeoman service in the Reagan-Bush cause.

But Wolfowitz did reveal one original twist in Bush's plan: targeting the Homeland itself as a "terrorist sanctuary." In addition to loosing his own personal Janjaweed on global hotspots, Bush is also seeking new powers to prevent anyone he designates a "terrorist" from "abusing the freedom of democratic societies" or "exploiting the technologies of communication" - i.e., defending themselves in court or logging on to the Internet. As AFP notes, Wolfowitz tactfully refrained from detailing just how the Regime intends to curb the dangerous use of American freedom, but he did allow that "difficult decisions" would be required.

Whether the Iranian nuclear scientist, Shahram Amiri, was abducted by the CIA, as he claims, or simply changed his mind about defecting and went home, as Washingon claims, his return is a PR coup for Iran and an annoyance for the imperial Potomac court. And off course, it may be that this latest terrorist attack in Iran is just a coincidence, unrelated to the Amiri affair, and is instead just part of the terrorist wave that the United States has been helping along in Iran for years.

But when the United States boasts about its secret military operations and hit squads across the globe, it is inevitable that direct American involvement must at least be considered in every such terrorist attack.

This is the dirty world that our great and good have made for us.
(c) 2010 Chris Floyd

Keynes And Consumption
By Case Wagenvoord

All of a sudden, John Maynard Keynes has returned to the A-list. Exiled at the beginning of the Reagan administration, he is once again in vogue as the policies of Reagan and his successors have ended in an economic meltdown.

Keynes made his name during the Great Depression when he knocked Says law off its pedestal. Says law stated that supply and demand would always balance out in the long run. 1929 put the lie to that.

Instead, Keynes put forth a theory of aggregate demand in which he argued that demand evolves from the interaction of consumption, investment and government spending. In short, he believed that if consumption drops because of an economic downturn, then it was necessary to increase government spending, which would put money in the consumer's pocket, which, in turn, would be used to buy goods, and this would stimulate the economy. (Of course, this implied that government spending be reduced in good times, something out leaders ignored during the Cold War.)

The only problem I have with Keynes theory is that it was developed when mass consumption was in its adolescence.

It is difficult to date exactly when the age of mass consumption began since several factors contributed to it. There was the sudden flooding of the consumer market with large quantities of mass produced goods that were affordable. Some argue that mass consumption really took off in the 1890s with the growth of corporate bureaucracies and the increased pay for white collar workers.

If we accept 1890 as an arbitrary start date, then Keynes formulated his theory when mass consumption was a little over forty years old. At this time, there was still room for growth in the consumer market. Many homes were without indoor plumbing or electricity. Coal or wood still heated houses and cooked the food. Clothes were washed by hand; fields were plowed by a team of mules; hot water had to be heated on the stove.

Now we fast forward to today when consumption is seventy percent of our GDP, and one could argue that much of this consumption has been superfluous since most of our basic needs were met in the go-go days of the fifties and sixties. In addition to that, this superfluous consumption has been floated on a sea of consumer debt.

How do you stimulate spending in a saturated consumer market? Whatever money is funneled into the consumer's pocket will most likely go to pay down consumer debt. We have been floating on a consumer bubble, and it has popped. It is unlikely it will be re-inflated.

Like Icarus, our economy flew too close to the sun and has come crashing back to earth. There are no more wings to be had.
(c) 2010 Case Wagenvoord. Some years ago, Case Wagenvoord turned off the tube and picked up a book. He's been trouble ever since. His articles have been posted at The Smirking Chimp, Countercurrents and Issues & Alibis. When he's not writing or brooding, he is carving hardwood bowls that have been displayed in galleries and shows across the country. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two cats. His book, Open Letters to George W. Bush is available at

The Killing Fields Of Multi-National Corporations
Pesticides, Pollution and the Economies of Genocide
By Vandana Shiva

The Bhopal gas tragedy was the worst industrial disaster in human history. Twenty-five thousand people died, 500,000 were injured, and the injustice done to the victims of Bhopal over the past 25 years will go down as the worst case of jurisprudence ever.

The gas leak in Bhopal in December 1984 was from the Union Carbide pesticide plant which manufactured "carabaryl" (trade name "sevin") - a pesticide used mostly in cotton plants. It was, in fact, because of the Bhopal gas tragedy and the tragedy of extremist violence in Punjab that I woke up to the fact that agriculture had become a war zone. Pesticides are war chemicals that kill - every year 220,000 people are killed by pesticides worldwide.

After research I realised that we do not need toxic pesticides that kill humans and other species which maintain the web of life. Pesticides do not control pests, they create pests by killing beneficial species. We have safer, non-violent alternatives such as neem. That is why at the time of the Bhopal disaster I started the campaign "No more Bhopals, plant a neem." The neem campaign led to challenging the biopiracy of neem in 1994 when I found that a US multinational, W.R. Grace, had patented neem for use as pesticide and fungicide and was setting up a neem oil extraction plant in Tumkur, Karnataka. We fought the biopiracy case for 11 years and were eventually successful in striking down the biopiracy patent.

Meanwhile, the old pesticide industry was mutating into the biotechnology and genetic engineering industry. While genetic engineering was promoted as an alternative to pesticides, Bt cotton was introduced to end pesticide use. But Bt cotton has failed to control the bollworm and has instead created major new pests, leading to an increase in pesticide use.

The high costs of genetically-modified (GM) seeds and pesticides are pushing farmers into debt, and indebted farmers are committing suicide. If one adds the 200,000 farmer suicides in India to the 25,000 killed in Bhopal, we are witnessing a massive corporate genocide - the killing of people for super profits. To maintain these super profits, lies are told about how, without pesticides and genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), there will be no food. In fact, the conclusions of International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, undertaken by the United Nations, shows that ecologically organic agriculture produces more food and better food at lower cost than either chemical agriculture or GMOs.

The agrochemical industry and its new avatar, the biotechnology industry, do not merely distort and manipulate knowledge, science and public policy. They also manipulate the law and the justice system. The reason justice has been denied to the victims of Bhopal is because corporations want to escape liability. Freedom from liability is, in fact, the real meaning of "free trade". The tragedy of Bhopal is dual. Interestingly, the Bhopal disaster happened precisely when corporations were seeking deregulation and freedom from liability through the instruments of "free trade," "trade liberalisation" and "globalisation," both through bilateral pressure and through the Uruguay Round of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) which led to the creation of the World Trade Organisation.

Injustice for Bhopal has been used to tell corporations that they can get away with murder. This is what senior politicians communicated to Dow Chemical. This is what the US-India Commission for Environmental Cooperation forum stated on June 11, 2010, in the context of the call from across India for justice for Bhopal victims. As one newspaper commented, Bhopal is being seen as a "road block and impediment to trade... the recommendations include removing road blocks to commercial trade by (India), and adoption of a nuclear liability regime."

Denial of justice to Bhopal has been the basis of all toxic investments since Bhopal, be it Bt cotton, DuPont's nylon plant or the Civil Nuclear Liability Bill.

Just as Bhopal victims were paid a mere Rs 12,000 (approximately $250) each, the proposed Nuclear Liability Bill also seeks to put a ceiling on liability of a mere $100 million on private operations of a nuclear power plant in case of a nuclear accident. Once again, people can be killed but corporations should not have to pay.

There has also been an intense debate in India on GMOs. An attempt was made by Monsanto/Mahyco to introduce Bt brinjal in 2009. As a result of public hearings across the country, a moratorium has been put on its commercialisation. Immediately after the moratorium a bill was introduced for a Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India -the bill does not only leave the biotechnology industry free of liability, but it also has a clause which empowers the government to arrest and fine those of us who question the need and safety of GMOs.

From Bhopal to pesticides to GMOs to nuclear plants, there are two lessons we can draw. One is that corporations introduce hazardous technologies like pesticides and GMOs for profits, and profits alone. And second lesson, related to trade, is that corporations are seeking to expand markets and relocate hazardous and environmentally costly technologies to countries like India.

Corporates seek to globalise production but they do not want to globalise justice and rights. The difference in the treatment of Union Carbide and Dow Chemical in the context of Bhopal, and of BP in the context of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico shows how an apartheid is being created. The devaluation of the life of people of the Third World and ecosystems is built into the project of globalisation. Globalisation is leading to the outsourcing of pollution - hazardous substances and technologies - to the Third World. This is at the heart of globalisation - the economies of genocide.

Lawrence Summers, who was the World Bank's chief economist and is now chief economic adviser to the Obama government, in a memo dated December 12, 1991, to senior World Bank staff, wrote,

"Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the less developed countries?"

Since wages are low in the Third World, economic costs of pollution arising from increased illness and death are least in the poorest countries. According to Mr Summers, the logic "of relocation of pollutants in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that." All this and Bhopal must teach us to reclaim our universal and common humanity and build an Earth Democracy in which all are equal, and corporations are not allowed to get away with crimes against people and the planet.
(c) 2010 Vandana Shiva Ph.D. is an Indian feminist and environmental activist. She is the founder/director of Navdanya Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology.

The Quotable Quote...

"A total population of 250-300 million people, a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal."
~~~ Ted Turner to Audubon Magazine, 1996 ~~~

Small ice figures are seen on the stairs as part of an
art project by World Wide Fund for Nature. Around one
thousand ice figures by Brasilian artist Nele Azevedo were
melting within 30 minutes symbolizing the effect of global warming.

Calling All Future-Eaters
By Chris Hedges

The human species during its brief time on Earth has exhibited a remarkable capacity to kill itself off. The Cro-Magnons dispatched the gentler Neanderthals. The conquistadors, with the help of smallpox, decimated the native populations in the Americas. Modern industrial warfare in the 20th century took at least 100 million lives, most of them civilians. And now we sit passive and dumb as corporations and the leaders of industrialized nations ensure that climate change will accelerate to levels that could mean the extinction of our species. Homo sapiens, as the biologist Tim Flannery points out, are the "future-eaters."

In the past when civilizations went belly up through greed, mismanagement and the exhaustion of natural resources, human beings migrated somewhere else to pillage anew. But this time the game is over. There is nowhere else to go. The industrialized nations spent the last century seizing half the planet and dominating most of the other half. We giddily exhausted our natural capital, especially fossil fuel, to engage in an orgy of consumption and waste that poisoned the Earth and attacked the ecosystem on which human life depends. It was quite a party if you were a member of the industrialized elite. But it was pretty stupid.

Collapse this time around will be global. We will disintegrate together. And there is no way out. The 10,000-year experiment of settled life is about to come to a crashing halt. And humankind, which thought it was given dominion over the Earth and all living things, will be taught a painful lesson in the necessity of balance, restraint and humility. There is no human monument or city ruin that is more than 5,000 years old. Civilization, Ronald Wright notes in "A Short History of Progress," "occupies a mere 0.2 percent of the two and a half million years since our first ancestor sharpened a stone." Bye-bye, Paris. Bye-bye, New York. Bye-bye, Tokyo. Welcome to the new experience of human existence, in which rooting around for grubs on islands in northern latitudes is the prerequisite for survival.

We view ourselves as rational creatures. But is it rational to wait like sheep in a pen as oil and natural gas companies, coal companies, chemical industries, plastics manufacturers, the automotive industry, arms manufacturers and the leaders of the industrial world, as they did in Copenhagen, take us to mass extinction? It is too late to prevent profound climate change. But why add fuel to the fire? Why allow our ruling elite, driven by the lust for profits, to accelerate the death spiral? Why continue to obey the laws and dictates of our executioners?

The news is grim. The accelerating disintegration of Arctic Sea ice means that summer ice will probably disappear within the next decade. The open water will absorb more solar radiation, significantly increasing the rate of global warming. The Siberian permafrost will disappear, sending up plumes of methane gas from underground. The Greenland ice sheet and the Himalayan-Tibetan glaciers will melt. Jay Zwally, a NASA climate scientist, declared in December 2007: "The Arctic is often cited as the canary in the coal mine for climate warming. Now, as a sign of climate warming, the canary has died. It is time to start getting out of the coal mines."

But reality is rarely an impediment to human folly. The world's greenhouse gases have continued to grow since Zwally's statement. Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO22) from burning fossil fuels since 2000 have increased by 3 per cent a year. At that rate annual emissions will double every 25 years. James Hansen, the head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the world's foremost climate experts, has warned that if we keep warming the planet it will be "a recipe for global disaster." The safe level of CO22 in the atmosphere, Hansen estimates, is no more than 350 parts per million (ppm). The current level of CO22 is 385 ppm and climbing. This already guarantees terrible consequences even if we act immediately to cut carbon emissions.

The natural carbon cycle for 3 million years has ensured that the atmosphere contained less than 300 ppm of CO22, which sustained the wide variety of life on the planet. The idea now championed by our corporate elite, at least those in contact with the reality of global warming, is that we will intentionally overshoot 350 ppm and then return to a safer climate through rapid and dramatic emission cuts. This, of course, is a theory designed to absolve the elite from doing anything now. But as Clive Hamilton in his book "Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change" writes, even "if carbon dioxide concentrations reach 550 ppm, after which emissions fell to zero, the global temperatures would continue to rise for at least another century."

Copenhagen was perhaps the last chance to save ourselves. Barack Obama and the other leaders of the industrialized nations blew it. Radical climate change is certain. It is only a question now of how bad it will become. The engines of climate change will, climate scientists have warned, soon create a domino effect that could thrust the Earth into a chaotic state for thousands of years before it regains equilibrium. "Whether human beings would still be a force on the planet, or even survive, is a moot point," Hamilton writes. "One thing is certain: there will be far fewer of us."

We have fallen prey to the illusion that we can modify and control our environment, that human ingenuity ensures the inevitability of human progress and that our secular god of science will save us. The "intoxicating belief that we can conquer all has come up against a greater force, the Earth itself," Hamilton writes. "The prospect of runaway climate change challenges our technological hubris, our Enlightenment faith in reason and the whole modernist project. The Earth may soon demonstrate that, ultimately, it cannot be tamed and that the human urge to master nature has only roused a slumbering beast."

We face a terrible political truth. Those who hold power will not act with the urgency required to protect human life and the ecosystem. Decisions about the fate of the planet and human civilization are in the hands of moral and intellectual trolls such as BP's Tony Hayward. These political and corporate masters are driven by a craven desire to accumulate wealth at the expense of human life. They do this in the Gulf of Mexico. They do this in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, where the export-oriented industry is booming. China's transformation into totalitarian capitalism, done so world markets can be flooded with cheap consumer goods, is contributing to a dramatic rise in carbon dioxide emissions, which in China are expected to more than double by 2030, from a little over 5 billion metric tons to just under 12 billion.

This degradation of the planet by corporations is accompanied by a degradation of human beings. In the factories in Guangdong we see the face of our adversaries. The sociologist Ching Kwan Lee found "satanic mills" in China's industrial southeast that run "at such a nerve-racking pace that worker's physical limits and bodily strength are put to the test on a daily basis." Some employees put in workdays of 14 to 16 hours with no rest day during the month until payday. In these factories it is normal for an employee to work 400 hours or more a month, especially those in garment industry. Most workers, Lee found, endure unpaid wages, illegal deductions and substandard wage rates. They are often physically abused at work and do not receive compensation if they are injured on the job. Every year a dozen or more workers die from overwork in the city of Shenzhen alone. In Lee's words the working conditions "go beyond the Marxist notions of exploitation and alienation." A survey published in 2003 by the official China News Agency, cited in Lee's book "Against the Law: Labor Protests in China's Rustbelt and Sunbelt," found that three in four migrant workers had trouble collecting their pay. Each year scores of workers threaten to commit suicide, Lee writes, by jumping off high-rises or setting themselves on fire over unpaid wages. "If getting paid for one's labor is a fundamental feature of capitalist employment relations, strictly speaking many Chinese workers are not yet laborers," Lee writes.

The leaders of these corporations now determine our fate. They are not endowed with human decency or compassion. Yet their lobbyists make the laws. Their public relations firms craft the propaganda and trivia pumped out through systems of mass communication. Their money determines elections. Their greed turns workers into global serfs and our planet into a wasteland.

As climate change advances we will face a choice between obeying the rules put in place by corporations or rebellion. Those who work human beings to death in overcrowded factories in China and turn the Gulf of Mexico into a dead zone are the enemy. They serve systems of death. They cannot be reformed or trusted.

The climate crisis is a political crisis. We will either defy the corporate elite, which will mean civil disobedience, a rejection of traditional politics for a new radicalism and the systematic breaking of laws, or see ourselves consumed. Time is not on our side. The longer we wait, the more assured our destruction becomes. The future, if we remain passive, will be wrested from us by events. Our moral obligation is not to structures of power, but life.
(c) 2010 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle."

Why The Presidency Matters, And Why It's Okay To Believe So
By David Michael Green

Eric Alterman just published a massive essay in The Nation, entitled "Kabuki Democracy: Why a Progressive Presidency Is Impossible, for Now"

I don't recommend it.

First, it's damn hard to find a thesis in this extended disquisition. The article does a fine job of cataloguing the many ills that beset American democracy today (no wonder it's so long), but is far less clear about answering its own title question. In fact, not only does Alterman not answer the question substantively, he doesn't even - as far as I could see - provide a thesis statement identifying his argument. As near as I can tell it is that the campaign finance system and the media in America are so polluted that no president could actually govern as a progressive. I already get that this country badly needs reform of those two sectors of our political system - I sure don't need any convincing there. But the next step is altogether missing. Elaboration of the argument as to why these malignancies necessarily preclude a progressive presidency was sorely missing from the piece.

Even so, I thought the thing was more or less worth reading for its thorough chronicling of what ails us today. Until I got tot the end, that is, when I badly wanted to hurl as I read the final substantive paragraph of the essay:

"What's more, one hypothesis - one I'm tempted to share - for the Obama administration's willingness to compromise so extensively on the promises that candidate Obama made during the 2008 campaign would be that as president, he is playing for time. Obama is taking the best deal on the table today, but hopes and expects that once he is re-elected in 2012 - a pretty strong bet, I'd say - he will build on the foundations laid during his first term to bring on the fundamental 'change' that is not possible in today's environment. This would be consistent with FDR's strategy during his second term and makes a kind of sense when one considers the nature of the opposition he faces today and the likelihood that it will discredit itself following a takeover of one or both houses in 2010. For that strategy to make sense, however, 2013 will have to provide a more pregnant sense of progressive possibility than 2009 did, and that will take a great deal of work by the rest of us."

Do I really have this straight? Alterman believes that by allowing the right to crawl back up off the mat it had leveled itself upon less than two years ago, by alienating progressives and moderate voters in droves, by not improving any of the crisis situations on his plate, by failing to defend his policies from the worst sort of excoriation from insane troglodyte freaks, by giving the GOP control of one or both branches of Congress (and thus also investigatory power - can you say "Whitewater"? "Vince Foster"? "Monica"?), and by running a recession with massive unemployment for the full length of his term, it's a "pretty strong bet" that Obama is supposed to get reelected in 2012? My god, are you using the word "bet" literally, man? Can I get some serious action against that proposition?!?!

Oh, but there's more. Then, once reelected, he's going to morph from a right-wing plutocrat carrying out the agenda of George W. Bush's third term into some kind of reborn progressive? He'll shut down Afghanistan, restore civil liberties, get all that money back from Wall Street, raid BP's coffers, unwind the offshore oil plots he's opened for development, slash military spending, restore taxes on the rich, make Israel stop building settlements, quit defending the Defense of Marriage Act in the courts, force Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to resign and replace them with real progressives, reel in his idiotic health care bonanza for insurance companies and pass real socialized medicine instead, fire all the Republicans and Goldman Sachs retreads in his cabinet, and lead the world into taking serious action on global warming? Is that you notion, Eric? Oh, and that he'll do all this without any support from left, right or center, having alienated them all, and despite the fact that he will be a lame-duck president, and despite the fact the presidents almost always do far less in their second terms than their first, and despite the fact that in part that is because they also almost always have a major second-term scandal explode in their face?


That's ludicrous. Most importantly, though, what is wrong with Alterman's take on Obama is that he fundamentally misunderstands the nature of the American presidency (as does Obama himself, assuming - as I most certainly do not - that this president is something other than a right-wing hack at his core). This shows up emphatically in Alterman's phrasing just in the single paragraph quoted above. When he talks about Obama "taking the best deal on the table today" so that later he can "bring on the fundamental 'change' that is not possible in today's environment," he unfortunately demonstrates how little he understands of American politics.

Let me be blunt. Strong and successful presidents (meaning those who get what they want - whether that happens to be good for the country or not) do not accept "the best deal on the table". They take out their carpentry tools and the build the goddam piece of furniture themselves. Strong and successful presidents do not get dictated to by the political environment. They reshape the environment into one that is conducive to their political aspirations.

In short, strong and successful presidents are the bat, not the ball.

It's absolutely true that presidents are not the be-all and end-all of American politics. I (mostly) sympathize with the (sometimes too politically correct) notion that we need to emphasize strong advocacy movements to force change where it would otherwise not happen. First, of all, this is certainly true for the far-more-frequent-than-not occasions when there is not a progressive in the White House (such as the last half a century now, for instance). And even when that's not the case, strong movements make it easier for progressive presidents to go further, faster. So, heck yes - let's do some serious movement building, and absolutely, let's never rely on electoral solutions exclusively.

At the same time, however, taking that logic too far to its extreme negates both the principles of democracy and the evidence of history. In the former case, to argue that presidents cannot matter is to argue that American democracy is entirely false. I might be willing to accept that argument if I saw it actually made - as opposed to the bumper-sticker version - but I haven't, and so I don't. And I especially don't because of the presidencies of Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. It takes no small degree of historical revisionism to pretend that these two individuals didn't advance the ball for progressivism way down the field by virtue of their actions as president. They did. And unless something has changed dramatically in the structure of American governance since that time (again, I need to see the argument to be persuaded of that), then I see no reason it could not happen again.

While we're making a list of presidents who mattered, we have to hold our noses and include Reagan and the Boy Bush. Of course they wrecked the country. Of course they told dramatically dishonest lies to the public. Of course they sold out the very people they were pretending to be serving and defending. In a way, that's just the point. Look at what you can get away with if you get serious about communications strategy in the White House. Look at what George W. Caligula did in his first term, without solid majorities in Congress, without (mostly) real crises, without (mostly) a public mandate, without international good will, and without either good common sense ideas or respect for the established traditions of American domestic and especially foreign policy.

Alternatively, look at how little Half o'Bama has done, with all these same powerful winds in his sails that Bush lacked. Forget about the stimulus bill, the health care bill and the financial regulation bill. They're all nothing-burgers, which is evident as much by the lack of public support they have engendered as by the absence of corporate antipathy in reaction to them. Obama had everything going for him had he wanted to legitimately be a transformative president. He had perfect raw material, not least including a hated GOP and the definitive exposure of the public's real enemies in the form of Wall Street bank predators and rapacious oil companies.

Sure, there would have been resistance. But if he had been inclined to really do the job, and if he had been smart, he could have used the force of that resistance adroitly against the regressive resisters themselves, like a clever practitioner of political jujitsu. Instead, he did they opposite, and they have now miraculously revived themselves. It's as if Adolph Hitler had staged a comeback in 1947, without even acknowledging, let alone atoning for, the destruction he had wrought over the prior decade. "More war, more genocide!" might have been the new campaign slogan. "The problem isn't what we did, but that we didn't do it enough!" Heck, take out the genocide part (though a million dead Iraqis might disagree even with that bit of generosity) and substitute tax cuts for the rich, and today's GOP could basically run under the same banner: "More war, less taxes." Great work, Barack, bringing the Republican Party back from the dead. You know you're a useless punk when you're getting rolled by the likes of Sarah Palin. Or at least you should know - it's even sadder when you're so lame you don't even realize your ship is sinking.

But I digress.

My point is that successful presidents will minimally exploit the opportunities given to them, something the Obama administration has utterly failed to do. More importantly, though, they make their own realities when the one they've inherited is unfavorable to their agenda. This is so critical right now, because the single biggest deficiency for progressives on the national stage is that we're being pummeled in the war of narratives. Indeed, we're not even in the arena. I cannot think of a single prominent voice in American politics today articulating a genuinely progressive agenda and, more crucially, pitching a progressive frame for the understanding of what ails us. There is no Rush Limbaugh or George W. Bush of the left. No one even close. This is all the more astonishing for three reasons. First, because progressive ideas - such as fighting discrimination, environmental protection or regulation of the private sector - have a long and esteemed history of great success. Second, because regressive policy prescriptions - such as tax cuts, needless wars or deregulation - could not possibly have blown up in our faces more obviously and more emphatically than they have this last decade. And, third, because the logical benefits of progressive solutions are often so plainly transparent to anyone with half a brain.

Given all these factors, it would be so easy to make the sale, if only there was a salesman. But since there hasn't been for a long, long time, deeply destructive sheer idiocy, like the effluent that spews from the sewers that are Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck's mouths, is uncontested and our politics somehow miraculously gets stupider daily, just when you thought that was no longer physically possible.

Regrettably, Eric Alterman's article has given us no evidence whatsoever that a progressive presidency is "impossible" right now. To put it in stark, non-abstract terms, what would have happened if Barack Obama had used his mandate and the set of enormously favorable conditions surrounding his inauguration to be a progressive president, and if he had sold those ideas as effectively as Bush or Reagan or Johnson or Roosevelt did in their respective days? Alterman never answers this question. Would the blogosphere and talk radio go ballistic? Would pundits and paid hacks make up huge lies about him that millions of dopes would actually believe? Would he encounter stiff opposition in Congress? Would his poll ratings drop twenty points? Would his reelection prospects and those of fellow Democrats be imperiled?

Of course, all those things are precisely what has happened!! Except that they happened as Obama has pursued a non-progressive agenda, non-boldly. So, given that he has already paid every imaginable penalty for not being progressive, what exactly would be the cost of instead pursuing progressive politics? What additional stumbling block remains to make a progressive presidency "impossible"?

Many progressives feel that it's a mistake to focus so much energy on electoral politics generally, and presidential politics specifically. I certainly agree that movement organization is crucial, and that there is some point after which enough focus on electoral politics transitions into being too much. But I might dispute where that point is. The presidency remains crucial. There is no other soapbox in the country - or even the world - that comes close to the power of the White House bully pulpit.

And that power would be hugely magnified if the bully pulpit was not only used properly and effectively, but also infused with some absurdly necessary truth-telling. What if we had a president who made it issue number one to tell the American people that its government is for sale to special interests and this must be stopped right away? How hard a pitch would that be? How foolish would Republicans look in opposing that idea? How self-destructive would their defense of the status quo be? And how huge a difference would this make in American government, across the board, if we could finally break the stranglehold of money over government?

Imagine if a progressive president explained to the American public how badly they've been wounded by regressive economic policies for three decades now, which have shifted wealth in this country back to nineteenth century-style distributions, have left the middle class tattered and insecure, and have rendered the federal government drowning in debt. What if that president led the way toward the reform of tax and trade and labor laws so that this kleptocratic imbalance could be rectified? How hard would that be? How much would the debate change if the White House was shaping it in a full court press every day? How clearly would the opposition be perceived to be the tool of plutocrats, especially if the president called them just that, and pointed out the connections?

What if we had a president who honestly told us that the Iraq war was based on lies, and gave us the evidence for that? What if he informed Americans that, while their schools and roads and local governments were falling apart from resource starvation, their country spends more on 'defense' from a non-existent enemy than all the other countries in the world combined? Could you not maybe sell massive cuts in military spending if you told the truth, made a ridiculously logical argument, and said it loudly, repeatedly and boldly? Wouldn't people really rather have schools than expensive military bloat that does nothing for national security?

What if the president had the courage to tell the public that our for-profit health care system costs us vastly more than any other country's in the world, and still does not provide health care for tens of millions of people, leaving the quality of the US model ranked almost fortieth on the planet, according to the World Health Organization? How many American have the slightest clue as to how the American system compares to those of other developed countries? I would bet that very few do. In fact, it's worse than that. I'd bet most Americans suffer under the corporate-promulgated and regressive-promoted illusion that the systems in Britain and Canada and elsewhere are abysmal. That's because, in part, nobody - including no president - has ever had the guts and an interest in selling a counter-narrative, which also just happens to be true.

We could go on and on here, but the point is made. There is no persuasive power in the country anything like the presidency, and if we had a bold progressive in that position, articulating a truthful counter-narrative to the endless lies we get from the right and from the talking heads of the media (both avowed right-wing screamers and the mainstreamers who pretend to be dispassionate centrists), it would massively change the dynamic of politics in America.

There's even a certain efficiency argument to be made here. You get a lot more progressive bang for your buck by just putting one good person in the Oval Office than you do by the long and hard and expensive work of movement organizing. In the end, though, both kinds of political work are critical. Neither should be dismissed.

Progressives were right to be hopeful in 2008. A bold progressive president would have had a dramatic and sustained impact on American politics for generations, changing not only policy today, but sticking a spike tomorrow though the heart of right-wing vampires who have long been bleeding the country dry.

That Barack Obama is not remotely that person does not mean that it's impossible to have a progressive president.

Or that the presidency doesn't matter.

It does.
(c) 2010 David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

The Dead Letter Office...

Michele relaxes at home

Heil Obama,

Dear Unterfuhrer Bachmann,

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, Ralph Nader, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Fredo Bush, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge Sonia (get whitey) Sotomayor.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and your defense of Tea Bagger racism, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross 1st class with Diamond clusters, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 09-05-2010. We salute you Frau Bachmann, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

The NYT's Nationalistic Double Standard
By Glenn Greenwald

Here's a particularly illustrative example of how The New York Times' editorial policy -- it cannot be "torture" if the United States does it -- obfuscates the truth and actively bolsters government propaganda. There are countless examples like this, but this one is unusually stark, especially since these two episodes occur within one day of each other:

From today's article on how the CIA used tactics never authorized by the DOJ:

A former Bush Justice Department official who approved brutal interrogation methods by the C.I.A. has told Congress that he never authorized several other rough tactics reportedly inflicted on terrorism suspects -- including prolonged shackling to a ceiling and repeated beatings.

So in NYT World, even shackling helpless detainees to the ceiling for prolonged periods and repeatedly beating them is not "torture," but are rather merely "rough tactics" or "brutal interrogation methods" . . . if it's high-level U.S. government officials who have authorized them. But, from a NYT article yesterday:

[A] federal appeals court last week ordered the United States to provide a haven for a woman facing the likelihood of torture in China. . . . Others named in the same warrant and caught by the Chinese police had described beatings, suffocation, electric shocks, sleep deprivation and other forms of torture to get them to disclose details about the human rights group to which they all belonged.

Many of the same tactics used by the U.S. are magically transformed into unambiguous "torture" when used by China, notwithstanding the categorical denials by the Chinese Government that the tactics they use never rise to the level of "torture". Torture, by definition, is something U.S. officials do not authorize; it's only what those Evil Other Governments do. That's the propagandistic message delivered over and over to Americans not only by the government officials who did it, but by The New York Times as well. Meanwhile, Bill Keller -- the editor responsible for these nationalistic editorial double standards, as well as for the strained, government-pleasing euphemisms he forces on his reporters ("rough tactics") -- accuses anyone who objects (rather than himself) of "tendentious political correctness." Isn't it classic propaganda to use one set of words for what Other Countries do, but completely different words for what your own country does?
(c) 2010 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

Top Secret America
A hidden world, growing beyond control
By Dana Priest and William M. Arken

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

The investigation's other findings include:

* 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.

* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings - about 17 million square feet of space.

* Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.

* Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year - a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.

These are not academic issues; lack of focus, not lack of resources, was at the heart of the Fort Hood shooting that left 13 dead, as well as the Christmas Day bomb attempt thwarted not by the thousands of analysts employed to find lone terrorists but by an alert airline passenger who saw smoke coming from his seatmate.

They are also issues that greatly concern some of the people in charge of the nation's security.

"There has been so much growth since 9/11 that getting your arms around that - not just for the DNI [Director of National Intelligence], but for any individual, for the director of the CIA, for the secretary of defense - is a challenge," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said in an interview with The Post last week.

In the Department of Defense, where more than two-thirds of the intelligence programs reside, only a handful of senior officials - called Super Users - have the ability to even know about all the department's activities. But as two of the Super Users indicated in interviews, there is simply no way they can keep up with the nation's most sensitive work.

"I'm not going to live long enough to be briefed on everything" was how one Super User put it. The other recounted that for his initial briefing, he was escorted into a tiny, dark room, seated at a small table and told he couldn't take notes. Program after program began flashing on a screen, he said, until he yelled ''Stop!" in frustration.

"I wasn't remembering any of it," he said.

Underscoring the seriousness of these issues are the conclusions of retired Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who was asked last year to review the method for tracking the Defense Department's most sensitive programs. Vines, who once commanded 145,000 troops in Iraq and is familiar with complex problems, was stunned by what he discovered.

"I'm not aware of any agency with the authority, responsibility or a process in place to coordinate all these interagency and commercial activities," he said in an interview. "The complexity of this system defies description."

The result, he added, is that it's impossible to tell whether the country is safer because of all this spending and all these activities. "Because it lacks a synchronizing process, it inevitably results in message dissonance, reduced effectiveness and waste," Vines said. "We consequently can't effectively assess whether it is making us more safe."

The Post's investigation is based on government documents and contracts, job descriptions, property records, corporate and social networking Web sites, additional records, and hundreds of interviews with intelligence, military and corporate officials and former officials. Most requested anonymity either because they are prohibited from speaking publicly or because, they said, they feared retaliation at work for describing their concerns.

The Post's online database of government organizations and private companies was built entirely on public records. The investigation focused on top-secret work because the amount classified at the secret level is too large to accurately track.

Today's article describes the government's role in this expanding enterprise. Tuesday's article describes the government's dependence on private contractors. Wednesday's is a portrait of one Top Secret America community. On the Web, an extensive, searchable database built by The Post about Top Secret America is available at

Defense Secretary Gates, in his interview with The Post, said that he does not believe the system has become too big to manage but that getting precise data is sometimes difficult. Singling out the growth of intelligence units in the Defense Department, he said he intends to review those programs for waste. "Nine years after 9/11, it makes a lot of sense to sort of take a look at this and say, 'Okay, we've built tremendous capability, but do we have more than we need?'" he said.

CIA Director Leon Panetta, who was also interviewed by The Post last week, said he's begun mapping out a five-year plan for his agency because the levels of spending since 9/11 are not sustainable. "Particularly with these deficits, we're going to hit the wall. I want to be prepared for that," he said. "Frankly, I think everyone in intelligence ought to be doing that."

In an interview before he resigned as the director of national intelligence in May, retired Adm. Dennis C. Blair said he did not believe there was overlap and redundancy in the intelligence world. "Much of what appears to be redundancy is, in fact, providing tailored intelligence for many different customers," he said.

Blair also expressed confidence that subordinates told him what he needed to know. "I have visibility on all the important intelligence programs across the community, and there are processes in place to ensure the different intelligence capabilities are working together where they need to," he said.

Weeks later, as he sat in the corner of a ballroom at the Willard Hotel waiting to give a speech, he mused about The Post's findings. "After 9/11, when we decided to attack violent extremism, we did as we so often do in this country," he said. "The attitude was, if it's worth doing, it's probably worth overdoing."

Outside a gated subdivision of mansions in McLean, a line of cars idles every weekday morning as a new day in Top Secret America gets underway. The drivers wait patiently to turn left, then crawl up a hill and around a bend to a destination that is not on any public map and not announced by any street sign.

Liberty Crossing tries hard to hide from view. But in the winter, leafless trees can't conceal a mountain of cement and windows the size of five Wal-Mart stores stacked on top of one another rising behind a grassy berm. One step too close without the right badge, and men in black jump out of nowhere, guns at the ready.

Past the armed guards and the hydraulic steel barriers, at least 1,700 federal employees and 1,200 private contractors work at Liberty Crossing, the nickname for the two headquarters of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and its National Counterterrorism Center. The two share a police force, a canine unit and thousands of parking spaces.

Liberty Crossing is at the center of the collection of U.S. government agencies and corporate contractors that mushroomed after the 2001 attacks. But it is not nearly the biggest, the most costly or even the most secretive part of the 9/11 enterprise.

In an Arlington County office building, the lobby directory doesn't include the Air Force's mysteriously named XOIWS unit, but there's a big "Welcome!" sign in the hallway greeting visitors who know to step off the elevator on the third floor. In Elkridge, Md., a clandestine program hides in a tall concrete structure fitted with false windows to look like a normal office building. In Arnold, Mo., the location is across the street from a Target and a Home Depot. In St. Petersburg, Fla., it's in a modest brick bungalow in a run-down business park.

Each day at the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean,
workers review at least 5,000 pieces of terrorist-related data
from intelligence agencies and keep an eye on world events.

Every day across the United States, 854,000 civil servants, military personnel and private contractors with top-secret security clearances are scanned into offices protected by electromagnetic locks, retinal cameras and fortified walls that eavesdropping equipment cannot penetrate.

This is not exactly President Dwight D. Eisenhower's "military-industrial complex," which emerged with the Cold War and centered on building nuclear weapons to deter the Soviet Union. This is a national security enterprise with a more amorphous mission: defeating transnational violent extremists.

Much of the information about this mission is classified. That is the reason it is so difficult to gauge the success and identify the problems of Top Secret America, including whether money is being spent wisely. The U.S. intelligence budget is vast, publicly announced last year as $75 billion, 21/2 times the size it was on Sept. 10, 2001. But the figure doesn't include many military activities or domestic counterterrorism programs.

At least 20 percent of the government organizations that exist to fend off terrorist threats were established or refashioned in the wake of 9/11. Many that existed before the attacks grew to historic proportions as the Bush administration and Congress gave agencies more money than they were capable of responsibly spending.

The Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency, for example, has gone from 7,500 employees in 2002 to 16,500 today. The budget of the National Security Agency, which conducts electronic eavesdropping, doubled. Thirty-five FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces became 106. It was phenomenal growth that began almost as soon as the Sept. 11 attacks ended.

Nine days after the attacks, Congress committed $40 billion beyond what was in the federal budget to fortify domestic defenses and to launch a global offensive against al-Qaeda. It followed that up with an additional $36.5 billion in 2002 and $44 billion in 2003. That was only a beginning.

With the quick infusion of money, military and intelligence agencies multiplied. Twenty-four organizations were created by the end of 2001, including the Office of Homeland Security and the Foreign Terrorist Asset Tracking Task Force. In 2002, 37 more were created to track weapons of mass destruction, collect threat tips and coordinate the new focus on counterterrorism. That was followed the next year by 36 new organizations; and 26 after that; and 31 more; and 32 more; and 20 or more each in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

In all, at least 263 organizations have been created or reorganized as a response to 9/11. Each has required more people, and those people have required more administrative and logistic support: phone operators, secretaries, librarians, architects, carpenters, construction workers, air-conditioning mechanics and, because of where they work, even janitors with top-secret clearances.

With so many more employees, units and organizations, the lines of responsibility began to blur. To remedy this, at the recommendation of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, the George W. Bush administration and Congress decided to create an agency in 2004 with overarching responsibilities called the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to bring the colossal effort under control.

While that was the idea, Washington has its own ways.

The first problem was that the law passed by Congress did not give the director clear legal or budgetary authority over intelligence matters, which meant he wouldn't have power over the individual agencies he was supposed to control.

The second problem: Even before the first director, Ambassador John D. Negroponte, was on the job, the turf battles began. The Defense Department shifted billions of dollars out of one budget and into another so that the ODNI could not touch it, according to two senior officials who watched the process. The CIA reclassified some of its most sensitive information at a higher level so the National Counterterrorism Center staff, part of the ODNI, would not be allowed to see it, said former intelligence officers involved.

And then came a problem that continues to this day, which has to do with the ODNI's rapid expansion.

When it opened in the spring of 2005, Negroponte's office was all of 11 people stuffed into a secure vault with closet-size rooms a block from the White House. A year later, the budding agency moved to two floors of another building. In April 2008, it moved into its huge permanent home, Liberty Crossing.

Today, many officials who work in the intelligence agencies say they remain unclear about what the ODNI is in charge of. To be sure, the ODNI has made some progress, especially in intelligence-sharing, information technology and budget reform. The DNI and his managers hold interagency meetings every day to promote collaboration. The last director, Blair, doggedly pursued such nitty-gritty issues as procurement reform, compatible computer networks, tradecraft standards and collegiality.

But improvements have been overtaken by volume at the ODNI, as the increased flow of intelligence data overwhelms the system's ability to analyze and use it. Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases. The same problem bedevils every other intelligence agency, none of which have enough analysts and translators for all this work.

The practical effect of this unwieldiness is visible, on a much smaller scale, in the office of Michael Leiter, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Leiter spends much of his day flipping among four computer monitors lined up on his desk. Six hard drives sit at his feet. The data flow is enormous, with dozens of databases feeding separate computer networks that cannot interact with one another.

There is a long explanation for why these databases are still not connected, and it amounts to this: It's too hard, and some agency heads don't really want to give up the systems they have. But there's some progress: "All my e-mail on one computer now," Leiter says. "That's a big deal."

To get another view of how sprawling Top Secret America has become, just head west on the toll road toward Dulles International Airport.

As a Michaels craft store and a Books-A-Million give way to the military intelligence giants Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, find the off-ramp and turn left. Those two shimmering-blue five-story ice cubes belong to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which analyzes images and mapping data of the Earth's geography. A small sign obscured by a boxwood hedge says so.

Across the street, in the chocolate-brown blocks, is Carahsoft, an intelligence agency contractor specializing in mapping, speech analysis and data harvesting. Nearby is the government's Underground Facility Analysis Center. It identifies overseas underground command centers associated with weapons of mass destruction and terrorist groups, and advises the military on how to destroy them.

Clusters of top-secret work exist throughout the country, but the Washington region is the capital of Top Secret America.

About half of the post-9/11 enterprise is anchored in an arc stretching from Leesburg south to Quantico, back north through Washington and curving northeast to Linthicum, just north of the Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport. Many buildings sit within off-limits government compounds or military bases.

Others occupy business parks or are intermingled with neighborhoods, schools and shopping centers and go unnoticed by most people who live or play nearby.

Many of the newest buildings are not just utilitarian offices but also edifices "on the order of the pyramids," in the words of one senior military intelligence officer.

Not far from the Dulles Toll Road, the CIA has expanded into two buildings that will increase the agency's office space by one-third. To the south, Springfield is becoming home to the new $1.8 billion National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency headquarters, which will be the fourth-largest federal building in the area and home to 8,500 employees. Economic stimulus money is paying hundreds of millions of dollars for this kind of federal construction across the region.

Construction for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in Springfield

It's not only the number of buildings that suggests the size and cost of this expansion, it's also what is inside: banks of television monitors. "Escort-required" badges. X-ray machines and lockers to store cellphones and pagers. Keypad door locks that open special rooms encased in metal or permanent dry wall, impenetrable to eavesdropping tools and protected by alarms and a security force capable of responding within 15 minutes. Every one of these buildings has at least one of these rooms, known as a SCIF, for sensitive compartmented information facility. Some are as small as a closet; others are four times the size of a football field.

SCIF size has become a measure of status in Top Secret America, or at least in the Washington region of it. "In D.C., everyone talks SCIF, SCIF, SCIF," said Bruce Paquin, who moved to Florida from the Washington region several years ago to start a SCIF construction business. "They've got the penis envy thing going. You can't be a big boy unless you're a three-letter agency and you have a big SCIF."

SCIFs are not the only must-have items people pay attention to. Command centers, internal television networks, video walls, armored SUVs and personal security guards have also become the bling of national security.

"You can't find a four-star general without a security detail," said one three-star general now posted in Washington after years abroad. "Fear has caused everyone to have stuff. Then comes, 'If he has one, then I have to have one.' It's become a status symbol."

Among the most important people inside the SCIFs are the low-paid employees carrying their lunches to work to save money. They are the analysts, the 20- and 30-year-olds making $41,000 to $65,000 a year, whose job is at the core of everything Top Secret America tries to do.

At its best, analysis melds cultural understanding with snippets of conversations, coded dialogue, anonymous tips, even scraps of trash, turning them into clues that lead to individuals and groups trying to harm the United States.

Their work is greatly enhanced by computers that sort through and categorize data. But in the end, analysis requires human judgment, and half the analysts are relatively inexperienced, having been hired in the past several years, said a senior ODNI official. Contract analysts are often straight out of college and trained at corporate headquarters.

When hired, a typical analyst knows very little about the priority countries - Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan - and is not fluent in their languages. Still, the number of intelligence reports they produce on these key countries is overwhelming, say current and former intelligence officials who try to cull them every day. The ODNI doesn't know exactly how many reports are issued each year, but in the process of trying to find out, the chief of analysis discovered 60 classified analytic Web sites still in operation that were supposed to have been closed down for lack of usefulness. "Like a zombie, it keeps on living" is how one official describes the sites.

The problem with many intelligence reports, say officers who read them, is that they simply re-slice the same facts already in circulation. "It's the soccer ball syndrome. Something happens, and they want to rush to cover it," said Richard H. Immerman, who was the ODNI's assistant deputy director of national intelligence for analytic integrity and standards until early 2009. "I saw tremendous overlap."

Even the analysts at the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), which is supposed to be where the most sensitive, most difficult-to-obtain nuggets of information are fused together, get low marks from intelligence officials for not producing reports that are original, or at least better than the reports already written by the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency or Defense Intelligence Agency.

When Maj. Gen. John M. Custer was the director of intelligence at U.S. Central Command, he grew angry at how little helpful information came out of the NCTC. In 2007, he visited its director at the time, retired Vice Adm. John Scott Redd, to tell him so. "I told him that after 41/2 years, this organization had never produced one shred of information that helped me prosecute three wars!" he said loudly, leaning over the table during an interview.

Two years later, Custer, now head of the Army's intelligence school at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., still gets red-faced recalling that day, which reminds him of his frustration with Washington's bureaucracy. "Who has the mission of reducing redundancy and ensuring everybody doesn't gravitate to the lowest-hanging fruit?" he said. "Who orchestrates what is produced so that everybody doesn't produce the same thing?"

He's hardly the only one irritated. In a secure office in Washington, a senior intelligence officer was dealing with his own frustration. Seated at his computer, he began scrolling through some of the classified information he is expected to read every day: CIA World Intelligence Review, WIRe-CIA, Spot Intelligence Report, Daily Intelligence Summary, Weekly Intelligence Forecast, Weekly Warning Forecast, IC Terrorist Threat Assessments, NCTC Terrorism Dispatch, NCTC Spotlight . . .

It's too much, he complained. The inbox on his desk was full, too. He threw up his arms, picked up a thick, glossy intelligence report and waved it around, yelling.

"Jesus! Why does it take so long to produce?"

"Why does it have to be so bulky?"

"Why isn't it online?"

The overload of hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and annual reports is actually counterproductive, say people who receive them. Some policymakers and senior officials don't dare delve into the backup clogging their computers. They rely instead on personal briefers, and those briefers usually rely on their own agency's analysis, re-creating the very problem identified as a main cause of the failure to thwart the attacks: a lack of information-sharing.

A new Defense Department office complex goes up in Alexandria.

The ODNI's analysis office knows this is a problem. Yet its solution was another publication, this one a daily online newspaper, Intelligence Today. Every day, a staff of 22 culls more than two dozen agencies' reports and 63 Web sites, selects the best information and packages it by originality, topic and region.

Analysis is not the only area where serious overlap appears to be gumming up the national security machinery and blurring the lines of responsibility.

Within the Defense Department alone, 18 commands and agencies conduct information operations, which aspire to manage foreign audiences' perceptions of U.S. policy and military activities overseas.

And all the major intelligence agencies and at least two major military commands claim a major role in cyber-warfare, the newest and least-defined frontier.

"Frankly, it hasn't been brought together in a unified approach," CIA Director Panetta said of the many agencies now involved in cyber-warfare.

"Cyber is tremendously difficult" to coordinate, said Benjamin A. Powell, who served as general counsel for three directors of national intelligence until he left the government last year. "Sometimes there was an unfortunate attitude of bring your knives, your guns, your fists and be fully prepared to defend your turf." Why? "Because it's funded, it's hot and it's sexy."

Anti-Deception Technologies

From avatars and lasers to thermal cameras and fidget meters, this multimedia gallery takes a look at some of the latest technologies being developed by the government and private companies to thwart terrorists. Launch Gallery.

Last fall, U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly opened fire at Fort Hood, Tex., killing 13 people and wounding 30. In the days after the shootings, information emerged about Hasan's increasingly strange behavior at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he had trained as a psychiatrist and warned commanders that they should allow Muslims to leave the Army or risk "adverse events." He had also exchanged e-mails with a well-known radical cleric in Yemen being monitored by U.S. intelligence.

But none of this reached the one organization charged with handling counterintelligence investigations within the Army. Just 25 miles up the road from Walter Reed, the Army's 902nd Military Intelligence Group had been doing little to search the ranks for potential threats. Instead, the 902's commander had decided to turn the unit's attention to assessing general terrorist affiliations in the United States, even though the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI's 106 Joint Terrorism Task Forces were already doing this work in great depth.

The 902nd, working on a program the commander named RITA, for Radical Islamic Threat to the Army, had quietly been gathering information on Hezbollah, Iranian Republican Guard and al-Qaeda student organizations in the United States. The assessment "didn't tell us anything we didn't know already," said the Army's senior counterintelligence officer at the Pentagon.

Secrecy and lack of coordination have allowed organizations, such as the 902nd in this case, to work on issues others were already tackling rather than take on the much more challenging job of trying to identify potential jihadist sympathizers within the Army itself.

Beyond redundancy, secrecy within the intelligence world hampers effectiveness in other ways, say defense and intelligence officers. For the Defense Department, the root of this problem goes back to an ultra-secret group of programs for which access is extremely limited and monitored by specially trained security officers.

These are called Special Access Programs - or SAPs - and the Pentagon's list of code names for them runs 300 pages. The intelligence community has hundreds more of its own, and those hundreds have thousands of sub-programs with their own limits on the number of people authorized to know anything about them. All this means that very few people have a complete sense of what's going on.

"There's only one entity in the entire universe that has visibility on all SAPs - that's God," said James R. Clapper, undersecretary of defense for intelligence and the Obama administration's nominee to be the next director of national intelligence.

Such secrecy can undermine the normal chain of command when senior officials use it to cut out rivals or when subordinates are ordered to keep secrets from their commanders.

One military officer involved in one such program said he was ordered to sign a document prohibiting him from disclosing it to his four-star commander, with whom he worked closely every day, because the commander was not authorized to know about it. Another senior defense official recalls the day he tried to find out about a program in his budget, only to be rebuffed by a peer. "What do you mean you can't tell me? I pay for the program," he recalled saying in a heated exchange.

Another senior intelligence official with wide access to many programs said that secrecy is sometimes used to protect ineffective projects. "I think the secretary of defense ought to direct a look at every single thing to see if it still has value," he said. "The DNI ought to do something similar."

The ODNI hasn't done that yet. The best it can do at the moment is maintain a database of the names of the most sensitive programs in the intelligence community. But the database does not include many important and relevant Pentagon projects.

Because so much is classified, illustrations of what goes on every day in Top Secret America can be hard to ferret out. But every so often, examples emerge. A recent one shows the post-9/11 system at its best and its worst.

Last fall, after eight years of growth and hirings, the enterprise was at full throttle when word emerged that something was seriously amiss inside Yemen. In response, President Obama signed an order sending dozens of secret commandos to that country to target and kill the leaders of an al-Qaeda affiliate.

In Yemen, the commandos set up a joint operations center packed with hard drives, forensic kits and communications gear. They exchanged thousands of intercepts, agent reports, photographic evidence and real-time video surveillance with dozens of top-secret organizations in the United States.

That was the system as it was intended. But when the information reached the National Counterterrorism Center in Washington for analysis, it arrived buried within the 5,000 pieces of general terrorist-related data that are reviewed each day. Analysts had to switch from database to database, from hard drive to hard drive, from screen to screen, just to locate what might be interesting to study further.

As military operations in Yemen intensified and the chatter about a possible terrorist strike increased, the intelligence agencies ramped up their effort. The flood of information into the NCTC became a torrent.

Somewhere in that deluge was even more vital data. Partial names of someone in Yemen. A reference to a Nigerian radical who had gone to Yemen. A report of a father in Nigeria worried about a son who had become interested in radical teachings and had disappeared inside Yemen.

These were all clues to what would happen when a Nigerian named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab left Yemen and eventually boarded a plane in Amsterdam bound for Detroit. But nobody put them together because, as officials would testify later, the system had gotten so big that the lines of responsibility had become hopelessly blurred.

"There are so many people involved here," NCTC Director Leiter told Congress.

"Everyone had the dots to connect," DNI Blair explained to the lawmakers. "But I hadn't made it clear exactly who had primary responsibility."

And so Abdulmutallab was able to step aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253. As it descended toward Detroit, he allegedly tried to ignite explosives hidden in his underwear. It wasn't the very expensive, very large 9/11 enterprise that prevented disaster. It was a passenger who saw what he was doing and tackled him. "We didn't follow up and prioritize the stream of intelligence," White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan explained afterward. "Because no one intelligence entity, or team or task force was assigned responsibility for doing that follow-up investigation."

Blair acknowledged the problem. His solution: Create yet another team to run down every important lead. But he also told Congress he needed more money and more analysts to prevent another mistake.

More is often the solution proposed by the leaders of the 9/11 enterprise. After the Christmas Day bombing attempt, Leiter also pleaded for more - more analysts to join the 300 or so he already had.

The Department of Homeland Security asked for more air marshals, more body scanners and more analysts, too, even though it can't find nearly enough qualified people to fill its intelligence unit now. Obama has said he will not freeze spending on national security, making it likely that those requests will be funded.

More building, more expansion of offices continues across the country. A $1.7 billion NSA data-processing center will be under construction soon near Salt Lake City. In Tampa, the U.S. Central Command's new 270,000-square-foot intelligence office will be matched next year by an equally large headquarters building, and then, the year after that, by a 51,000-square-foot office just for its special operations section.

Just north of Charlottesville, the new Joint-Use Intelligence Analysis Facility will consolidate 1,000 defense intelligence analysts on a secure campus.

Meanwhile, five miles southeast of the White House, the DHS has broken ground for its new headquarters, to be shared with the Coast Guard. DHS, in existence for only seven years, already has its own Special Access Programs, its own research arm, its own command center, its own fleet of armored cars and its own 230,000-person workforce, the third-largest after the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

Soon, on the grounds of the former St. Elizabeths mental hospital in Anacostia, a $3.4 billion showcase of security will rise from the crumbling brick wards. The new headquarters will be the largest government complex built since the Pentagon, a major landmark in the alternative geography of Top Secret America and four times as big as Liberty Crossing.
(c) 2010 Dana Priest and William M. Arken

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Lalo Alcaraz ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Rolling Stones Undercover of the Night

Dan | MySpace Video

Undercover Of The Night
The Rolling Stones

Hear the screams from Center 42
Loud enough to bust your brains out
The opposition's tongue is cut in two
Keep off the streets cause you're in danger

One hundred thousand disparos
Lost in the jails of South America
Cuddle up baby
Cuddle up tight
Cuddle up baby
Keep it all out of sight
Keep it all out of sight
Undercover of the night

The sex police are out there in the streets
Make sure the pass laws are not broken
The race militia has got itchy fingers
All the way from New York back to Africa

Cuddle up baby
Keep it all out of sight
Cuddle up baby
Sleep with all out of sight

Cuddle up baby
Keep it all out of sight
Keep it all out of sight
Undercover of the night

All the young men they've rounded up
Sent to camps back in the jungle
And people whisper, people double-talk
At once their fathers act so humble
All the young girls they have got the blues
They're heading on back to Center 42

Keep it undercover
Keep it out of sight
Keep it undercover
Keep it out of sight
Keep it out of sight
Keep it out of sight
Undercover of the night

Down in the bars, the girls are painted blue
Done up in lace, done up in rubber
The john's are jerky little G.I. Joe's
On R&R from Cuba and Russia
The smell of sex
The smell of suicide
All these things I just can't keep inside

Keep it all out of sight
Undercover of the night
Undercover of the night
Undercover of the night
Undercover of the night!
(c) 1983/2010 Mick Jagger/Keith Richards

Have You Seen This...

You've heard me talk about this for five years. If you didn't get to see it at the festivals or in the theatres or haven't rented it or bought it from Amazon here's your chance to see it for free in this week's magazine. If you like it and want a copy you can download it or get a DVD from the Amazon link below!

Parting Shots...

The Third Gulf War
By Will Durst

The President may have wrestled Afghanistan and Iraq to shaky standoffs but the newest skirmish in the heads- up display of Air Force One shows him losing the third Gulf war and losing bad. Taking shots from both sides- from both sides. Republicans are yelling at Obama for holding BP responsible for the Deepwater Horizon disaster AND for not doing enough to clean it up. That man sure is a geographic oddity. On two wrong sides of the same issue. Which ain't easy.

The main burst of charges that Obama is scapegoating British Petroleum are oozing from the newest Republican Senate candidate from Kentucky, Rand Paul. A man naturally disposed to disturbing people with both his views and his coif. Please, someone, have the simple common human decency to tell him that 1985 is calling and it wants its hair back. Not even Lyle Lovett wears it like that anymore. Anthony Geary maybe.

But I digress. Calls are streaming across the aisle for the President to ignore BP's jurisdictional claims and have the military take over. Because people suspect BP cannot be trusted. About anything. If they smile and say "hello," check your back for shards of a malfunctioning Blowout Protector. "We're trying our best." We are familiar with your best. Your best sucks.

Top Kill was supposed to take 12 hours, then 24, 48 and now 96. You don't have to be Stephen Hawking to spot a mathematical progression here. 12,288 is a mere 7 press conferences spewed down the line. They didn't want the video feed to go public because even you and me and your five year old helper- monkey would see the ferocious gushing and realize, "whoa, that's more than 5,000 gallons a day. That's 5,000 gallons a frame. Where's my banana?"

BP's sole object is protecting profit. Covering corporate butt. In the last six weeks, not a single word that has leaked out of their mouths has been true. Eventually they will divest themselves of all US assets, change their name and seep offshore to escape financial culpability in the courts but until then, the main object is to deflect blame keeping responsibility to a minimum. And when I say responsibility, I mean- money. The ultimate lubricant.

BP is not concerned with plugging or cleaning or stopping or fixing or reimbursing, except for how it affects the quarterly dividend. To that end they will lie and deny and incomply and do whatever it takes. They will lie about what happened, what is happening and what will happen. They will lie because that is the culture in which corporations live. They will lie because it is their nature. They will lie because they're good at it. They will lie to stay in practice. They will lie about lying. Offer up proof. They will lie. They will claim it was their evil twin. Remember when this all started on Earth Day and they said there was no leak. Why? Because they hoping to get it under control and nobody would be the wiser.

Some people are calling for a boycott of BP. Not enough. Don't just boycott British Petroleum; ride a bicycle to one of their stations, seize their toilet paper assets and send them to the Gulf. To help clean up. If Obama and the Oil Flushers can't do the right thing, we'll do it for them. Then stay on that bicycle for as long as you can.
(c) 2010 Will Durst , is a San Francisco based political comic, who often writes. This being an indignant example. Catch his one man show "The Lieutenant Governor from the State of Confusion." And don't forget his new CD, "Raging Moderate" from Stand-Up Records now available on both iTunes and Amazon.

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Issues & Alibis Vol 10 # 30 (c) 07/23/2010

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