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In This Edition

Noam Chomsky returns with, "America's Imperial Power Is Showing Real Signs Of Decline."

Uri Avnery wonders, "Civil War?"

Glen Ford outs, "The 'Obscene 14' House NSA Negroes."

Robert Scheer explores, "America's Legacy Of Nuclear Terrorism."

Jim Hightower with a, "Message To Robert Rubin: Please Go Away."

David Swanson concludes, "John Kerry Needs An Intervention."

James Donahue declares, "Humans Are Their Own Worst Enemy."

John Nichols insists, "Big Media Story Isn't Bezos And The Post, It's The RNC Threatening CNN, NBC."

Tom Engelhardt warns, "I Only Regret That I Have But One Life To Give For My Country: Yours."

Glenn Greenwald finds, "Members Of Congress Denied Access To Basic Information About NSA."

Paul Krugman examines, "Republicans Against Reality."

David Sirota considers, "Pennies At The Register, Dollars In The Paycheck."

William Rivers Pitt says, "You Are, In Fact, Being Watched."

Apple Computers wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explains, "Why Republicans Want Jobs To Stay Anemic."

Medea Benjamin reminds us that what goes around comes around in, "Ten Ways To Reduce The Threat Of Terrorist Attacks On Americans."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Congress Fiercely Divided Over Completely Blank Bill That Says And Does Nothing " but first, Uncle Ernie remembers, "Chain Reactions."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Steve Greenberg, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Brian McFadden, Tom Tomorrow, Chan Lowe, Too Damn Funny.Com, Alex Wong, James Montgomery Flagg, Shizuo Kambayashi, Getty Images, NELP, The Guardian, A.P., The Onion, CNN, Black Agenda Report, You Tube.Com 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."

Chain Reaction by Paul Conrad

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Chain Reactions
By Ernest Stewart

"I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve." ~~~ Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

"Let's get one thing straight, the city of Detroit has not filed for municipal bankruptcy. The emergency manager (EM) filed the bankruptcy petition, and he is an appointee of the governor of the state of Michigan based on Act 436 - a law formerly known as PA 4 - which was repealed by 2.3 million Michigan citizens statewide on Nov. 6, 2012. The EM is only accountable to the governor, the EM only answers to the governor, and the EM can only be 'checked and balanced' by the governor." ~~~ JoAnn Watson ~ Detroit City Council member.

"Additionally, the wireless transmission of sensitive information to a remote source is one example of a threat to security. This sensitive information could be anything from classified government information to questions or answers to an examination administered in an academic setting." ~~~ Apple Computers

"Please, sir, I want some more."
Oliver Twist ~~~ Charles Dickens

It's that time of the year again: time to remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- and, as always, I have mixed emotions. One part of me feels terrible about the suffering of all the men, women and children in those two cities. Another part of me, not so much. In fact, it tells me they got exactly what they deserved. Not to mention more people died in the firebombing of Tokyo than died in either of those two cities -- at least initially.

Sure, FDR and Churchill set the Japanese up, hence the fleet of mothballed WWI battleships parked as a fat target in Pearl Harbor. You may recall that the British broke the Japanese Naval code in March of 1941 and gave it to us in May 1941; so we were reading everything the Japanese Navy sent and knew well in advance what was about to happen. You may recall that all three of the aircraft carriers -- the prime targets for the Japanese raid -- that were assigned to Pearl, and all three were unexpectedly called away and nowhere to be found on December 7. What a happy coincidence, huh?

Still, they didn't have to take the bait which would allow FDR to enter the war -- something he'd been chomping at the bit to do for over two years. Pearl Harbor gave him the excuse to attack Germany and put the Pacific on the back burner. Japan could wait for payback; Hitler was the real threat. Adolph wanted to conquer the world, which was our gig; and Hitler, being the megalomaniac that he was, declared war on us -- much to Churchill's and FDR's great delight!

While the A-bombs were made to use against Germany, by the time they were ready, Germany was at peace; but Japan chose to fight on regardless, knowing full well that they couldn't win, and had plans to fight to the death. Truman went so far as to take the emperor's head out of the noose, which he righteously deserved in a surrender offer to them; but no dice, so c'est la guerre.

What could Truman do? Try the new weapon out or send a couple million American and allied troops to their death, fighting every man, woman and child in Japan, or nuke the bastards? Can you imagine what would've happened if he hadn't used the bomb and the people found out that their fathers, husbands brothers and lovers died when they didn't need to? On a personal note, my father who had avoided the war, because he had served in the Kentucky National Guard during the 30s and had a war-related job building B-24 bombers got his induction notice in July to report in November 1945 and would've been part of the planned March 1946 invasion, and who knows, may have been killed, and yours truly would not be, yours truly!

No, I'm sorry, but the Japanese sheeple got exactly what they deserved for being sheeple -- a lesson our sheeple have yet to learn. They made some bozo an emperor god who led them on into a war they knew to begin with that they couldn't win. Who does that remind you of? 9/11, which we helped plan and execute, was just the first chicken coming home to roost. Since, we got tired of killing Indians and Mexicans and got up on the world stage with our phony Spanish American war; we've for 115 years gone all over the world murdering and stealing until there must be 10,000 chickens patently waiting to come home to roost. It's just a matter of time until bombs 10,000 times more powerful that what we dropped on Japan start dropping over American cities. As the Japanese and the Germans found out, when you live by the sword, you will die by the sword, something that will someday be taught to us, in spades!

In Other News

I see where voter turn out in Detroit was about one third of what a primary election might be expected to turn out. Most say only about 12% bothered voting; and who can blame them? I certainly wouldn't have bothered to vote as it means absolutely nothing; the mayor and the city council may be elected; but they'll have no power. The whole show is being run by Lansing -- well, actually being run by the Koch brothers.

"How can that be," I hear you ask. Simple because Michigan's emperor, Rick Snyder, says so. Rick told the people to go screw themselves; he'll appoint who will run Detroit. Herr Rick has a plan to disenfranchise voters and destroy unions -- especially in black run cities and only, so far, in black-run cities all over Michigan. Can't have those darkies running things, says the Koch brothers' puppet!

Remember, Detroit didn't file for bankruptcy; Snyder did through his Gaultliter, the seditious traitor Kevyn Orr, hoping to get their hands on several billion dollars in artwork from the DIA; Christie's is there now licking their chops; trouble is they can't sell it off -- well, not legally; but that's never stopped Snyder so far. When confronted by the law, Rick just has his legislature pass a new law giving him the power. You may recall that Hitler did the very same thing; so it can be said he never broke a German law! Of course, none of these laws will stand a Supreme Court challenge; but, be that as it may, it won't stop the total destruction of Detroit and the State of Michigan.

By the time Snyder and company are thrown out of power, come the next election, the damage will be done; and it will take decades to make repairs. One would've thought that the US Justice Department would've stepped in and put Rick and Kevin in their place -- behind those stonewalls of Jackson Prison, doing life without parole. Of course, Eric Holder is a much bigger crook than Snyder and Orr; so I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for Eric to do the right thing, to do what he's supposed to do.

And as we've seen in other states hosting Koch puppets, it's not going to get any better, only worse -- until we're a third world country of slaves. We are so screwed, America; and it's ALL YOUR FAULT! It may dawn on you when you and your family are strapped inside a boxcar on the way to a new Happy Camp; but, by then, it will be way too late to do anything about your fate -- and you'll have only yourselves to blame. Just one tip, when you get to the camp, no matter what you do, stay out of that line for the showers!

And Finally

Every once in a while an important news story gets by me, not often, but occasionally. Such is the case with this story. It seems that Apple computers, the only computers that I've had for the last 20 plus years have not only been dodging taxes, allowing Big Brother to read our every keystroke, but now have written into the softwear the ability for most anyone from hackers to Big Brother to turn off the camera, as well as any wi-fi apps whenever the police, Fatherland security, or any other groups of government spooks wish it so.

This means that those pictures of the cops beating some wheelchair-bound innocent to death will be covered up. Even though to do so would be perfectly legal. You have the right to photograph or record the gestapo in their nefarious dealings with you and me. I've read their lame excuses for turning all your info over to Big Brother; but apparently, they've none for turning off your equipment. So, you know what I did, don't you? No, let's not see the same hands all of the time... Everyone who said I bet you wrote them a letter may stay after class and clean the erasers! Here's what I sent...

Hey Apple,

Read an interesting article this morning, and think I'll write an editorial about it for this week's magazine, but before I do, I'd like to get your side of the story. The article, is an oldie, from last year. While I don't know how I missed it, it is more than interesting even at this late date. Amongst other things it says:

"Apple has patented a piece of technology which would allow government and police to block transmission of information, including video and photographs, from any public gathering or venue they deem "sensitive", and "protected from externalities."

­In other words, these powers will have control over what can and cannot be documented on wireless devices during any public event.

And while the company says the affected sites are to be mostly cinemas, theaters, concert grounds and similar locations, Apple Inc. also says "covert police or government operations may require complete 'blackout' conditions." "Additionally," Apple says, "the wireless transmission of sensitive information to a remote source is one example of a threat to security. This sensitive information could be anything from classified government information to questions or answers to an examination administered in an academic setting."

So now Big Brother can cover up its crimes against the American people and the US Constitution which makes you a traitor to this country! I know that you must hate the 4th amendment like you do the local tax laws which you flout constantly.

As someone who has bought seven computers from you in the last 20 years, I feel the machine I bought last year will be my last. It's bad enough that you turn over all my info to Big Brother, but now the legal, repeat, legal, ability to photograph Big Brother busting skulls from babies to grandmothers is to be disallowed; even though it's perfectly legal to do so, by your corpo-rat goons. That humming noise that seems to be everywhere in your headquarters is Steve Jobs, spinning in his grave.

Just a couple of questions question for my readers, "When did you join the dark side?" "When did you become Big Brother, and why?" I'd really like an explanation of your actions, if you have one?

Needless to say, I'll be holding on to my dumb phone instead of buying the new iPhone, like I had planned to when it comes out this fall. Don't worry, I have several cameras I'll be taking to the demonstrations and such so I'll have the photos that you are trying so hard to stop. I've read several pieces from the Woz who agrees with me. Of couse, the Woz has always been a brilliant, honest, helping person, unlike the Big Brothers on the board who hate freedom, hate Americans and folks the world over, and who certainly hate the US Constitution. You've lost a loyal friend and customer, and when millions more find out, it will be 1990 again, and your stock will be worthless. Guess who you'll have to blame for it, only yourselves. Pity it's a great machine, well, except for that awful, tiny little keyboard, which has cut my typing speed in half!

Ernest Stewart
Managing editor
Issues & Alibis Magazine

As always if Apple writes me back, I'll share with you their reply!

Ask them yourself if you'd like to, at: and tell'em Uncle Ernie sent you!

Oh, and did I mention, Apple wins this week's Vidkun Quisling Award!

Keepin' On

Hey, the cupboard wasn't bare this week, imagine that! There was a nice check awaiting my arrival. We'd like to thank Richard from New York for his help in paying off 2013. It was a nice check; but we still need a whole lot more if we're going to keep on keeping on for you!

I have just one problem with Richards check. That problem is, as I'm sure you know, is that Richard is a member of the "Usual Suspects" the group of men and women who are responsible for keeping us alive, year after year. Thank mighty Zeus for them; but it's not fair to them to pick up our tabs, when most of you take a free ride, some of you for a decade and haven't sent in any Alms, no matter how pitifully I beg.

Ergo, step up and pay your fair share, and a little more, if you can, for those who can't. That's the major problem we face -- so many of you really can't spare a nickel; believe me, I get that, as we're in the same boat; but many of you are still gainfully employed, or retired with more money than you can spend -- who could afford to give the "Usual Suspects" a break. I know that most of them are hanging on to the middle class by their teeth. It is, after all, for a very good cause! If you can help us pay our final bill for the year, please go here and follow the instructions and thanks one and all for all of your help!


04-06-1927 ~ 07-26-2013
Thanks for the laughs!

01-12-1946 ~ 08-05-2013
Thanks for the music!

09-23-1931 ~ 08-06-2013
Thanks for the laughs!

09-23-1923 ~ 08-07-2013
Thanks for the film!

07-01-1939 ~ 08-08-2013
Thanks for the film!


We get by with a little help from our friends!
So please help us if you can...?


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) 2013 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 12 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Visit the Magazine's page on Facebook and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

America's Imperial Power Is Showing Real Signs Of Decline
Latin America had long been the reliable "backyard" for the United States-not any more.
By Noam Chomsky

On July 9, the Organization of American States held a special session to discuss the shocking behavior of the European states that had refused to allow the government plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales to enter their airspace.

Morales was flying home from a Moscow summit on July 3. In an interview there he had said he was open to offering political asylum to Edward J. Snowden, the former U.S. spy-agency contractor wanted by Washington on espionage charges, who was in the Moscow airport.

The OAS expressed its solidarity with Morales, condemned "actions that violate the basic rules and principles of international law such as the inviolability of Heads of State," and "firmly" called on the European governments - France, Italy, Portugal and Spain - to explain their actions and issue apologies.

An emergency meeting of UNASUR-the Union of South American Nations-denounced "the flagrant violation of international treaties" by European powers.

Latin American heads of state weighed in, too. President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil expressed the country's "indignation and condemnation of the situation imposed on President Evo Morales by some European countries" and warned that this "serious lack of respect for the law...compromises dialogue between the two continents and possible negotiations between them."

Commentators were less reserved. Argentine political scientist Atilio Boron dismissed Europe as "the whore of Babylon," cringing before power.

With virtually identical reservations, two states refused to sign the OAS resolution: the United States and Canada. Their growing isolation in the hemisphere as Latin America frees itself from the imperial yoke after 500 years is of historic significance.

Morales' plane, reporting technical problems, was permitted to land in Austria. Bolivia charges that the plane was searched to discover whether Snowden was on board. Austria responds that "there was no formal inspection." Whatever happened followed warnings delivered from Washington. Beyond that the story is murky.

Washington has made clear that any country that refuses to extradite Snowden will face harsh punishment. The United States will "chase him to the ends of the earth," Sen. Lindsey Graham warned.

But U.S. government spokespersons assured the world that Snowden will be granted the full protection of American law - referring to those same laws that have kept U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning (who released a vast archive of U.S. military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks) in prison for three years, much of it in solitary confinement under humiliating conditions. Long gone is the archaic notion of a speedy trial before a jury of peers. On July 30 a military judge found Manning guilty of charges that could lead to a maximum sentence of 136 years.

Like Snowden, Manning committed the crime of revealing to Americans-and others-what their government is doing. That is a severe breach of "security" in the operative meaning of the term, familiar to anyone who has pored over declassified documents. Typically "security" means security of government officials from the prying eyes of the public to whom they are answerable-in theory.

Governments always plead security as an excuse-in the Snowden case, security from terrorist attack. This pretext comes from an administration carrying out a grand international terrorist campaign with drones and special operations forces that is generating potential terrorists at every step.

Their indignation knows no bounds at the thought that someone wanted by the United States should receive asylum in Bolivia, which has an extradition treaty with the U.S. Oddly missing from the tumult is the fact that extradition works both ways-again, in theory.

Last September, the United States rejected Bolivia's 2008 petition to extradite former president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada-"Goni"-to face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. It would, however, be an error to compare Bolivia's request for extradition with Washington's, even if we were to suppose that the cases have comparable merit.

The reason was provided by St. Augustine in his tale about the pirate asked by Alexander the Great, "How dare you molest the sea?" The pirate replied, "How dare you molest the whole world? Because I do it with a little ship only, I am called a thief; you, doing it with a great navy, are called an Emperor."

St. Augustine calls the pirate's answer "elegant and excellent." But the ancient philosopher, a bishop in Roman Africa, is only a voice from the global South, easily dismissed. Modern sophisticates comprehend that the Emperor has rights that little folk like Bolivians cannot aspire to.

Goni is only one of many that the Emperor chooses not to extradite. Another case is that of Luis Posada Carriles, described by Peter Kornbluh, an analyst of Latin American terror, as "one of the most dangerous terrorists in recent history."

Posada is wanted by Venezuela and Cuba for his role in the 1976 bombing of a Cubana commercial airliner, killing 73 people. The CIA and FBI identified him as a suspect. But Cubans and Venezuelans also lack the prerogatives of the Emperor, who organized and backed the reign of terror to which Cubans have been subjected since liberation.

The late Orlando Bosch, Posada's partner in terrorism, also benefited from the Emperor's benevolence. The Justice Department and FBI requested that he be deported as a threat to U.S. security, charging him with dozens of terrorist acts. In 1990, after President George H.W. Bush overturned the deportation order, Bosch lived the rest of his life happily in Miami, undisturbed by calls for extradition by Cuba and Costa Rica, two mere pirates.

Another insignificant pirate is Italy, now seeking the extradition of 23 CIA operatives indicted for kidnapping Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, an Egyptian cleric in Milan, whom they rendered to Egypt for torture (he was later found to be innocent). Good luck, Italy.

There are other cases, but the crime of rendition returns us to the matter of Latin American independence. The Open Society Institute recently released a study called "Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition." It reviewed global participation in the crime, which was very broad, including among European countries.

Latin American scholar Greg Grandin pointed out that one region was absent from the list of shame: Latin America. That is doubly remarkable. Latin America had long been the reliable "backyard" for the United States. If any of the locals sought to raise their heads, they would be decapitated by terror or military coup. And as it was under U.S. control throughout the latter half of the last century, Latin America was one of the torture capitals of the world.

That's no longer the case, as the United States and Canada are being virtually expelled from the hemisphere.
(c) 2013 Noam Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is co-author, with Gilbert Achcar, of Perilous Power: The Middle East & U.S. Foreign Policy: Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice. His most recent book is Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire.

Civil War?
By Uri Avnery

IT IS now fashionable to say that "the two-state solution is dead". Or: "Time for the two-state solution is running out."

Why dead? How dead? It's one of those things that need no proof. To say it is enough.

If pressed, though, the fake mourners of the two-state solution give a reason: there are just too many settlers in the West Bank and Jerusalem. They can't be removed. It's just impossible.

Is it?

TWO EXAMPLES are cited as evidence: the removal of the North Sinai settlements by Menachem Begin under the peace treaty with Egypt, and the removal of the Gaza Strip settlements by Ariel Sharon.

How terrible they were! Remember the heart-rending scenes on TV, the weeping female soldiers carrying struggling settler girls away, the Auschwitz pajamas with the yellow star worn by the settlers, the storming of the rooftops, the rabbis with their Torah scrolls weeping in unison in the synagogues.

All this for just a handful of settlements. What will happen if half a million people have to be removed? Awful! Unthinkable!


Actually, the removal of the Gaza Strip settlers was nothing but a well-staged tragicomedy. Nobody was killed. Nobody was seriously injured. Nobody committed suicide, whatever their threats. After playing their assigned roles, all the settlers left the stage. Only a handful of soldiers and police officers refused to obey orders. The bulk of the army carried out the instructions of the democratically elected government.

Will the same happen again? Not necessarily. Removing West Bank settlers from the hilltops in the heart of Biblical "Eretz Israel" Is something else.

Let's look at it from close up.

THE FIRST stage of planning is to analyze the problem. Who are these settlers that have to be removed?

Well, first of all they are not a homogenous, monolithic force. When one speaks of "the settlers", one sees before one's mind's eye a mass of half-crazed, religious fanatics, expecting the messiah at any moment, ready to shoot anyone who comes to remove them from their strongholds.

This is pure imagination.

There are such settlers, of course. They are the hard core, the ones who appear on television. The ones who set fire to mosques in Palestinian villages, who attack Palestinian farmers in their fields, who fell olive trees. They have long hair, including side locks, wear the obligatory fringed garment under or over their shirts, dance their odd dances, are so very, very different from ordinary Israelis.

Almost all of these are new-born Jews (known in Hebrew as "those who go back in remorse"), and are heartily despised by real orthodox Jews, who would not marry their daughters to them. But they are a tiny minority.

Much more important is the so-called "national-religious" core, the real leadership of the settlement enterprise. They believe that God has given us this land, all of it, and many of them believe that God also ordered them to cleanse all the land between the sea and the river (the Mediterranean and the Jordan) of non-Jews. Some of them believe, anyhow, that non-Jews are not full human beings, but something between humans and animals, as held by the Kabbala.

This group has enormous political power. It is they who dragged successive governments of all parties, into putting them where they are – sometimes unwillingly, sometimes more than willingly.

They are concentrated in the smaller settlements, dispersed all over the occupied territories. They have infiltrated the army and the government apparatus and terrify the politicians. Their party is the "Jewish Home" led by Naftali Bennett, the "brother" of Ya'ir Lapid, but they also have close ties with the upcoming young leadership of the Likud and Lieberman's crowd.

Any government interested in making peace will have to grapple with them. But they are a minority among the settlers.

THE MAJORITY of the settlers are less vocal. They are mostly concentrated in the "settlement blocs" that are strung along the Green Line, extending a few kilometers inside the occupied territories.

They are called "quality of life settlers", because they went there to enjoy the clean air and the picturesque sight of Muslim minarets nearby, but mainly because they got their dream-villas, with the Swiss red-tile roofs, for next to nothing. They could not dream of ever acquiring anything similar in Israel proper.

A category by itself are the orthodox. Their huge natural increase is crowding them out of their towns and neighborhoods in Israel proper, and they desperately need new housing, which the government is only too happy to provide – in the occupied territories. They already have several towns there, one of which is Modi'in Illit, the border town which is located on the lands of Bil'in, the village fighting an epic battle to get them back.

Quite another story is the settlements in East Jerusalem. The hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews now living in the new neighborhoods there do not think of themselves as settlers at all, they have forgotten all about the Green Line. Indeed, they are quite surprised when reminded of it. It may be just a few blocks away.

ALL THESE categories - and the many sub-categories – must be dealt with separately. For each, there is a different solution.

Let's assume, for argument's sake, that in nine months Kerry's Dream will come true. There will be a signed peace agreement solving all problems, with an agreed timetable for implementation.

Let's further assume that this agreement is approved by a large majority in an Israeli referendum (and in a Palestinian one, too.) This would give our government the political and moral power to tackle the settlement problem.

For the Jerusalemites, Bill Clinton had a simple answer: Leave them where they are. Redraw the map of Jerusalem in such a way that "what is Jewish will become part of Israel, what is Arab will be part of Palestine."

Considering the immense difficulty of unscrambling the omelet there, this has its attractions, especially if full sovereignty over the Temple Mount and the Old City is restored to the Palestinians (and the Western Wall with the Jewish Quarter remains in Israel).

For the big settlement blocs, the solution is already more or less agreed: territorial swaps. The settlements hard on the border will be annexed by Israel, Israeli territory of equal size (though, perhaps, not of equal quality) will be turned over to Palestine.

This may not be quite as easy as it sounds. Annex the settlements only, or also the land around and between them? And what about Ariel, the "settlers' capital", which is located 20 km inside the West Bank? A corridor? An enclave? And Ma'aleh Adumim, which, if annexed to Jewish Jerusalem, would almost cut the West Bank in two? Plenty to argue about.

The "quality of life" settlers must be bought out. It's a simple question of money. Give any of them an equivalent or an even better apartment near Tel Aviv and most of them will jump at it. Indeed, some polls have shown that quite a number of them would move even today, if such an offer were made. (We suggested this to Yitzhak Rabin, but he refused.)P> There remain the hard-core settlers, the "ideological" ones, those who serve God by living on stolen land. What about them?

THE SIMPLEST solution was that provided by Charles de Gaulle. After signing the peace agreement that put an end to the occupation of Algeria after a hundred years, he announced that the French army would leave the country on a certain date. He told the more than a million settlers, many of them fourth or fifth generation: If you want to leave, leave. If you want to stay, stay. The result was a last minute frantic mass exodus of historic dimensions.

I can't imagine an Israeli leader bold enough to follow that prescription. Even Ariel Sharon, a brutal person without compassion, didn't dare to.

Of course, the Israeli government could tell these settlers: "If you can make arrangements with the Palestinian government so you can stay there, as Palestinian citizens (or even as Israeli citizens), by all means do so."

Some naïve Israelis say: "Why not? There are a million and a half Arab citizens in Israel. Why can't there be some hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews in Palestine?"

Unlikely. The Arabs in Israel live on their own land, where they have lived for centuries. The settlers live on "expropriated" land, and they have justly earned the hatred of their neighbors. I don't see how a Palestinian government could allow it.

There remains the hard core of the hard core. Those who will not budge without violence. They will have to be removed forcibly by a strong government supported by the bulk of public opinion, expressed through the referendum. A civil war? Not really. Nothing like the American Civil War, nor like the present Syrian one. But still a hard, violent, brutal struggle, in which blood will be shed.

Do I look forward to it? Certainly not. Does it frighten me? Yes it does. Do I think it means we should give up the future of Israel, give up peace, give up the two-state solution, the only solution there is?

(c) 2013 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

The "Obscene 14" House NSA Negroes
By Glen Ford

Last week, 14 Black members of the U.S. House indelibly marked themselves as tools of the Surveillance State, wholly unfit to represent any African American constituency. The "Obscene 14" aligned with Democratic and Republican leadership [5] to narrowly defeat (217-205 [6]) a bill that would have defunded the National Security Agency's program to spy on the telephones of every American household. Had only half of these U.S. House Negroes acted in accordance with the overwhelming sentiments of their constituents - and with the historical Black Consensus on peace and social justice - the Bush-Obama surveillance regime would have been dealt its first serious setback in more than a decade of fascism-in-the-making. All 14 should be excised, like a malignancy, from the African American polity.

The Black people of Texas are especially ill-served. All four Black congressional representatives - Al Green, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Eddie Bernice Johnson, and newcomer Marc Veasey - voted with the NSA spies and their current boss in the White House, as did three of the four Georgia Black lawmakers: Sanford Bishop, Hank Johnson, and David Scott. Two of Florida's three Black congresspersons pledged allegiance to universal surveillance: Corrine Brown and Frederica Wilson.

Full List of the Obscene 14:

Terri Sewell (AL)

Corrine Brown (FL)

Frederica Wilson (FL)

Sanford Bishop (GA)

Hank Johnson (GA)

David Scott (GA)

Robin Kelly (IL)

Donald Payne Jr. (NJ)

Gregory Meeks (NY)

G.K. Butterfield (NC)

Al Green (TX)

Sheila Jackson Lee (TX)

Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX)

Marc Veasey (TX)

Five of the shameless lawmakers openly advertise themselves as "progressives." Florida's Frederica Wilson and Corrine Brown, Texas' Eddie Bernice Johnson and Sheila Jackson-Lee, and Georgia's Hank Johnson, are members of the Progressive Congressional Caucus, where Jackson-Lee serves as a vice chair. But then, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who bullied a minority of her party into line with the president and House Republican leadership, was once upon a time a co-chair of the PCC. (Steven Horsford, the Nevada Black Congressman, is also a PCC member. He failed to vote on the NSA bill.)

Nearly two-thirds of the Congressional Black Caucus were in their right minds last week. Among the 25 "yes" votes for defunding the NSA program were, commendably, Rep. James Clyburn, the South Carolina lawmaker who serves as House Assistant Democratic Leader, but balked at towing Pelosi's and Obama's line, and North Carolina's Mel Watt, who awaits confirmation [7] as the new head of Federal Housing Finance Agency, for which he will need a full court press from the White House.

The Cardinal Sin

In making common cause with the Surveillance State, the Obscene 14 have thrown in their lot with same forces that have, for the past two generations, placed Black America under hyper-surveillance - the foundation of both mass Black incarceration and the social environment that allows the stalking and murder of hundreds [8] of innocent Black people every year in the United States. African Americans, more than any other U.S. constituency, have an existential interest in ending the Surveillance State. In that struggle, the Obscene 14 and their ilk are more than useless; they have chosen the side of the enemy, and will inevitably commit more treachery.

Back in October of 2002, only four members of the Black Caucus voted for George Bush's War Powers Act, Congress' consent to the invasion of Iraq. Of the four, only Georgia's Sanford Bishop - who voted, predictably, for continued NSA bulk telephonic spying - remains in the House; William Jefferson (LA), Harold Ford Jr. (TN) and Albert Wynn (MD) are, thankfully, gone. Yet, 2002's "Four Eunuchs of War [9]" have been replaced and reinforced in infamy by today's Obscene 14 - a full third of the CBC. In the intervening decade, the historical Black Consensus on peace and social justice has been assaulted as never before by the massive entrance of corporate money into Black politics, and the ascent of a corporatist Black militarist to the White House - which are, in reality, two aspects of the same phenomenon. The Obscene 14 have chosen their side in the U.S. War Against All. The last place such persons belong is in leadership positions among the people who suffer most from racial and political surveillance.
(c) 2013 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

People pray for the atomic bomb victims at the
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan.

America's Legacy Of Nuclear Terrorism
A statement of peace, or an epitaph
By Robert Scheer

August 6 marks 68 years since the United States committed what is arguably the single gravest act of terrorism that the world has ever known. Terrorism means the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians, and targeted they were, with the cutely named "Little Boy" atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima at a location and time of day when, as the Strategic Bombing Survey commissioned by President Harry Truman conceded, "nearly all the school children ... were at work in the open," a perfect opportunity for mass incineration.

"That fateful summer, 8:15," the mayor of Hiroshima recalled at a memorial service in 2007, "the roar of a B-29 breaks the morning calm. A parachute opens in the blue sky. Then suddenly, a flash, an enormous blast-silence-hell on earth. The eyes of young girls watching the parachute were melted. Their faces became giant charred blisters. The skin of people seeking help dangled from their fingernails. ... Others died when their eyeballs and internal organs burst from their bodies. Hiroshima was a hell where those who somehow survived envied the dead. Within the year, 140,000 had died."

It was followed three days later by the "Fat Man" bomb leveling Nagasaki, with a comparable disastrous impact on a largely civilian population that had no effective control over the decisions of the emperor who initiated the war. Nagasaki was a last- minute substitute for Kyoto, which Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson ordered spared because he had fond memories of his honeymoon in that city a couple of decades earlier. The devastation of those two cities was so gruesome that our government banned the showing of film footage depicting the carnage we had caused.

We have never been very good at challenging our nation's own reprehensible behavior, but if we don't take proper measure of the immense extermination wrought by two small and primitive nuclear weapons as compared with today's arsenals, we lose the point as to why they must be banned. We are the country that designed and exploded these weapons that are inherently implements of terrorism in that, as the nuking of Japan amply demonstrated, they cannot distinguish between civilian and combatant.

For those who believe that honorable ends absolve a nation of evil means, there is the argument that the bombings shortened the war, although the preponderance of more recent evidence would hold that the Soviet entrance into the war against Japan two days after Hiroshima was a more decisive factor.

But the basic assumption of universal opposition to terrorism is a rejection of the notion that even noble means justify ignoble ends, and a consistent opposition to the proliferation, let alone use of nuclear weapons, must insist that they are inherently anti-civilian and therefore immoral.

Why, then, on this anniversary, do we not acknowledge our responsibility as the nation that first created these weapons, has been the only country to use them, and is still in possession of the biggest repository of such weapons of mass destruction on earth? Is it not unwise, as well as wrong, for Aug. 6 to pass, as it generally does, without any widespread discussion of our culpability for the vast death in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Indeed, in Santa Monica, Calif., home of one of the rare reminders of the catastrophe we unleashed, a sculpture of a mushroom cloud, designed by three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Paul Conrad, is slated for destruction by a city council that claims it does not have funding for needed repairs.

That sculpture, called "Chain Reaction," was given to the city in 1991 thanks to the beneficence of Joan Kroc, the widow of the founder of McDonald's, who used her fortune to advance the cause of public enlightenment. It is a grim warning that the best educated can commit the most heinous of crimes, and its placement opposite the RAND Corp., a faux intellectual outpost of the military-industrial complex, adds historic significance to a landmark designated municipal work of art that is now threatened with extinction.

Conrad, world famous as the editorial cartoonist for The Denver Post and Los Angeles Times for four decades, was himself a veteran of the war in the Pacific, one of those whose life the bomb was ostensibly designed to save. Conrad joined the Army in 1942 and participated in the invasions of Guam and Okinawa, where he was stationed at the time of the Hiroshima bombing.

His sentiment about that horrific event is inscribed on his powerful sculpture: "This is a statement of peace. May it never become an epitaph."

Conrad's critically important sculpture might soon be gone. As a nation, we excel at obliterating reminders of our own failings.
(c) 2013 Robert Scheer is the editor of Truthdig. A journalist with over 30 years experience, Scheer has built his reputation on the strength of his social and political writing. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country, and his in-depth interviews have made headlines. He is the author, most recently, of "The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America," published by Twelve Books.

Message To Robert Rubin: Please Go Away

Will America ever get shuck of Robert Rubin?

The Wall Street peer became a top economic witch doctor for Bill Clinton in the 1990s, convincing old Gullible Bill to (1) drop his campaign promise to help working families by raising the minimum wage, (2) push hard for the job-crushing NAFTA scam, and (3) join the odious Republican Senator, Phil Gramm, in the disastrous deregulation of Wall Street derivatives, which lead to the 2008 economic collapse that's still crushing our middle class. Heck of a job, Robbie!

Having worked his magic with Bill, Rubin hightailed it back to Wall Street, where he led Citigroup into a bunch of reckless gambles, resulting in serial bailouts that cost us taxpayers hundreds-of-billions of dollars. But Robert wasn't through. Among his proteges are Timmy Geithner and Larry Summers, and he helped slip them into the top economic spots in the Obama regime.

Geithner, a Wall Street trusty, headed the Treasury and dutifully fought such true reformers as Elizabeth Warren, when she was trying to stop the Street's too-big-to-fail greedheads. Summers, a comically-incompetent economics professor, was the "genius" who convinced Obama in 2009 to implement only a small, weak stimulus plan, then to surrender even that to Republican demands for a failed, budget-butchering, austerity scheme.

With a record like that, surely we've heard the last of the Rubinistas, right? We wish! But, no. Astonishingly, Rubin's deep circle of economic hell has been pushing "screw-up" Summers on Obama, saying he's just the man to take over the Federal Reserve, America's national monetary system, and fix our economy.

Sure he is. The problem is that Rubin & Crew use "fix" in the same way your veterinarian means it. To say "NO!" to Summers, go to
(c) 2013 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.

John gives the corpo-rat salute!

John Kerry Needs An Intervention
By David Swanson

If John Kerry was beating his children and promising to stop "very very soon" and then explaining that he meant "very very soon" in a geological sense, he'd be forced to resign his office.

If we even discovered that John Kerry had once beaten one of his children, even many years ago, perhaps shortly after he returned from killing people in Vietnam, he'd be forced to resign.

Imagine if we were to discover that John Kerry was actually murdering children, and women, and men, using missiles shot out of flying robots and promising to stop "very very soon" and explaining that what he meant by that was "I'd like to see you try to stop me you goddamn primitive Pashtun peons."

Would we respond?

We didn't respond when he claimed Bush won Ohio. How'd that work out?

What if we were about to consider possibly responding, and maybe even growing indignant, and John Kerry stood up on a pile of corpses and screamed "Wolf! Giant ass wolf right behind you! Arabic speaking wolf! Wolf! Wolf!"

And what if he added, "The safest thing for you to do now is to go shopping. But try not to get blown up. What? You don't believe me? Look, here are all the details of what the terrorists are planning. If Bradley Manning gave you this kind of information, I'd hang him by his ears and get a red hot poker with one of those . . . . I mean, the point is very very soon I'm going to stop killing people. Not very soon, but very very soon."

Would we react with the outrage we'd achieve if John Kerry drove drunk? if John Kerry smoked pot? if John Kerry had sex with someone not his wife? if John Kerry promised never to nuke Iran?

Are we sure we've got our priorities straight?

It's been months since Obama gave a speech on prison victims and drone victims. Since then no prisoners have been freed, Obama's drones have kept killing, and people who cheered for Obama's speech are ready to cheer for John Kerry's.

As our global Zimmermen stand their ground, we need to step in. Addicts who oppose their own addictions -- be they to caffeine or hellfire missiles -- are ready to take the next step in shaking the habit.

John Kerry needs an intervention.

If he were beating his wife, we'd advise her to leave. So, we must advise the world's governments. Stop putting makeup over your bruises and covering up for your abuser. The time has come to walk away. You don't need any more drone strikes. John Kerry does not love you and he never will.

There was once a time, from the birth of the nation to the birth of the internet, when the U.S. government could tell the Native Americans or the Mexicans or the Filipinos one thing, and the good citizens back home something else.

No longer.

The Washington Post can compare innocent prisoners in Guantanamo with Nazis, but not without the world recognizing the extent of the sickness from which the U.S. establishment is suffering.

A 16 year old American boy murdered by presidential drone has a grandfather who is suing in court to find out why his grandson was killed.

I am confident he'll receive an answer very very soon.
(c) 2013 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Humans Are Their Own Worst Enemy
By James Donahue

A friend recently e-mailed the following. The little story line, while funny, also points to a flaw that is taking us down the deadly road we have been traveling for far too long:

In the beginning God populated the earth with broccoli and cauliflower and spinach, green and yellow and red vegetables of all kinds, so man and woman would live long and healthy lives.

Then using Gods great gifts, Satan created Ben and Jerrys and Krispy Kreme. And Satan said, You want chocolate with that? And man said Yea. And woman said, And another one with sprinkles. And they gained 10 pounds.

And God created the healthful yogurt that woman might keep the figure that man found so fair. And Satan brought forth white flour from the wheat, and sugar from the cane, and combined them. And woman went from size 2 to size 6.

So God said, Try my fresh green salad. And Satan presented Thousand Island Dressing and garlic toast on the side. And man and woman unfastened their belts following the repast.

God then said, I have sent you heart healthy vegetables and olive oil in which to cook them. And Satan brought forth deep fried fish, chicken-fried steak so big it needed its own platter. And man gained more weight and his cholesterol went through the roof.

God then brought running shoes so that his children might loose those extra pounds. And Satan gave cable TV with a remote control so man would not have to toil changing the channels. And man and woman laughed and cried before the flickering light and gained pounds.

Then God brought forth the potato, naturally low in fat and brimming with nutrition. And Satan peeled off the healthful skin and sliced the starchy center into chips and deep-fried them. And man gained pounds.

God then gave lean beef so that man might consume fewer calories and still satisfy his appetite. And Satan created McDonalds and its 99-cent double cheeseburger. Then said, You want fries with that? And man replied Yea! And super size em. And Satan said, It is good. And man went into cardiac arrest.

God sighed and created quadruple bypass surgery. And Satan created HMOs.

The irony in this funny little story is that it is almost true. The error is that it has been a devil of our own making called American capitalism that created all of the deadly variations to turn good food into bad. It was the capitalist system that brought us radio, television, cars, motorized golf carts and all of the other devices that turned us into couch potatoes. And it was capitalism that turned health insurance into a greedy empire conspiring against the people who need it the most.

And we let it happen.

Americans have consequently become a nation of overweight, unhealthy sheep who have lost their ability to think. We are skillfully manipulated through subliminal messages delivered via our televisions, radios and the Internet. We can be programmed to buy certain products, watch certain films, elect certain leaders, and even go to war without cause, almost at the flip of a switch.

Why, for example, do you think the people would collectively agree to allow their president to declare a universal and unending state of war against a political philosophy called terrorism which can never be won? Or willingly allow our leaders to dismantle the freedoms we once enjoyed through the U. S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, all in the guise of protecting us from terrorism within?

And why would we just yawn and turn up the air conditioner another notch when our leaders and some so-called weather "experts" assure us that the record heat waves, flaming forests, and crazy weather patterns are not caused by global warming.

We even allowed Mr. Bush, during his time in office, to drop the lawsuits brought by the Environmental Protection Agency against several big electric companies with coal burning plants that are in gross violation of the Federal Clean Air Act.

That we have used this so-called war-on-terrorism to attack Afghanistan and then Iraq, and to use drones to bomb targets in various other nations in pursuit of radical Moslem leaders believed linked to the 9-11 attack on America, was an act of terrorism far worse than anything Osama bin Laden brought against us. There were slightly less than 3000 people killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. As of December, 2001, our bombs were known to have killed an estimated 3,700 innocent civilians in Afghanistan alone. We also destroyed homes, crops and food sources. And the killing continues in that country to this day.

And we believe that we are a peace-loving nation.

But let's not worry about that stuff. How about some dip with those chips and beer when we gather in front of our television screens tonight? The talking heads will tell us what to do.
(c) 2013 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

The big media story this week is not the purchase of The Washington Post by Amazon's Jeff Bezos.

Big Media Story Isn't Bezos And The Post, It's The RNC Threatening CNN, NBC
By John Nichols

For as long as there have been newspapers, rich people have bought them as toys and tools.

So, while it is significant that Bezos bought the Post for $250 million, this is not exactly a definitional development on the media landscape.

Bezos is not even the only rich guy to buy a major metropolitan daily paper in the past week. It was announced on Saturday that Boston Red Sox owner John W. Henry has purchased another of the twenty-five largest dailies in the United States, The Boston Globe, for $70 million.

While it cannot be said for certain regarding Bezos and Henry, the best bet is that these very wealthy men will run their papers as side projects-Bezos a little less hands-on, Henry a little more hands-on-in the tradition of another wealthy newspaper purchaser, Warren Buffett. The fact that these guys don't need big profits from newspapers that no longer post big profits actually provides a measure of insulation that financially struggling metro dailies owned by publicly traded companies lack. And while Bezos, Henry and Buffett have political pedigrees, none has the take-no-prisoners edge that has made the prospect of purchases of the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune by the brothers Koch so unsettling to so many of the free-press faithful.

If new owners maintain old papers pretty much as they have been, that's not dramatic news. Indeed, the only real "news" may be that newspapers, which cannot survive as publicly traded entities where stockholders demand big payouts, might have a future as the vanity projects of rich people. Or even better, as nonprofit entities, cooperatives and public trusts.

So if the sale of the Post is not as dramatic a development as might initially seem to be the case, what is?

The big deal in media this week has to do with the relationship of broadcast and cable news networks to the two major political parties. And it matters-more-because it gets to question that is at the heart of all of our discussions about the future of print, broadcast and digital media: Will we have a sufficient journalism, and a sufficiently independent journalism, to sustain democracy?

Ever since the Democratic and Republican parties took over the nation's presidential debates in 1987, with the creation of a corporate-funded "Commission on Presidential Debates" run by the former chairs of the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee, the dialogue in presidential election years has been the ultimate insiders' game.

Debate rules have for a quarter-century been dictated by parties and campaigns, not by the television networks that present them-and certainly not by nonpartisan good-government groups such as the League of Women Voters, which used to organize debates before the parties elbowed them aside. The change has resulted in a degeneration of the discourse that has tended to reinforce the status quo rather than extend America's experiment with democracy.

Parallel to the commission's management of fall debates featuring the presidential and vice presidential nominees of the major parties-it's been more than two decades since billionaire Ross Perot bought his way onto the stage in a way that no independent or third-party candidate has since been able to do-there's been an equally ugly phenomenon: the "partnering" of major parties with networks to organize debates between candidates seeking presidential nominations.

The partnering deals have been just as ugly as the corruption of the election process by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

That ugliness went public this week when Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus threatened a broadcast network, NBC, and a cable network, CNN, over planned projects on Hillary Clinton.

That Clinton, a former first lady, New York senator and secretary of state who started her public career as a Watergate prosecutor and played a significant role in struggles for women's rights and children's rights, is a worthy subject for examination should be beyond question journalistically and academically. But it is not beyond question politically.

Because Clinton might seek the Democratic presidential nod in 2016, Priebus says NBC must cancel plans for a four-hour mini-series and CNN must dump its plan for a documentary. Presuming that the projects would be positive in their portrayals of Clinton, despite the fact that she's been a frequently controversial figure, Priebus accused each network of engaging in a "thinly-veiled attempt at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election." Priebus has a long history of complaining about media coverage of his party and its candidates. Besides, both the CNN and NBC projects are likely to air before Clinton decides on whether to run. If anything, the most likely candidates to be harmed are prospective Democratic primary challengers to Clinton.

So the chairman's letter would have been stashed in the "whiner" file, except for one component: the threat.

"If you have not agreed to pull this programming prior to the start of the RNC's summer meeting on August 14," wrote Priebus, "I will seek a binding vote of the RNC stating that the committee will neither partner with you in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates which you sponsor."

The reactions from the networks were uninspired. NBC News declined to comment, CNN offered a vapid "we would encourage the members of the Republican National Committee to reserve judgment until they know more."

The networks should have told Priebus "Good riddance!"


Partnerships between the networks and the major political parties are a far greater concern than the ownership of newspapers by new generations of rich people. By cutting deals with the parties to host "exclusive" primary debates, and by accepting the parameters established by the two major parties for fall debates, the networks defer to the political establishment in the worst of ways.

It's time for the networks, wealthy and powerful entities that they are, to declare independence from the major parties. If they want to partner with the League of Women Voters, which remains honorably committed to fairness and openness, that's great. If they want to work with groups such as Common Cause, or state-based good government organizations and, yes, newspapers, that's terrific.

But the network partnerships with the parties reinforce the worst status quo instincts-in our media and our politics. Americans should be interested in who owns newspapers, but they should be indignant about an arrangement that has television news operations negotiating with, partnering with and being threatened by political parties.
(c) 2013 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

I Only Regret That I Have But One Life To Give For My Country: Yours
The Crime of the Century
By Tom Engelhardt

Hey, let's talk spying! In Surveillance America, this land of spookery we all now inhabit, what else is there to talk about?

Was there anyone growing up like me in the 1950s who didn't know Revolutionary War hero and spy Nathan Hale's last words before the British hanged him: "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country"? I doubt it. Even today that line, whether historically accurate or not, gives me a chill. Of course, it's harder these days to imagine a use for such a heroically solitary statement -- not in an America in which spying and surveillance are boom businesses, and our latest potential Nathan Hales are tens of thousands of corporately hired and trained private intelligence contractors, who often don't get closer to the enemy than a computer terminal.

What would Nathan Hale think if you could tell him that the CIA, the preeminent spy agency in the country, has an estimated 20,000 employees (it won't reveal the exact number, of course); or that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which monitors the nation's spy satellites, has a cast of 16,000 housed in a post-9/11, almost $2 billion headquarters in Washington's suburbs; or that our modern Nathan Hales, multiplying like so many jackrabbits, lack the equivalent of a Britain to spy on. In the old-fashioned sense, there really is no longer an enemy on the planet. The modern analog to the British of 1776 would assumedly be... al-Qaeda?

It's true that powers friendly and less friendly still spy on the U.S. Who doesn't remember that ring of suburban-couples-cum-spies the Russians planted here? It was a sophisticated operation that only lacked access to state secrets of any sort and that the FBI rolled up in 2010. But generally speaking, in a single-superpower world, the U.S., with no obvious enemy, has been building its own system of global spying and surveillance on a scale never before seen in an effort to keep track of just about everyone on the planet (as recently released NSA documents show). In other words, Washington is now spy central. It surveils not just potential future enemies, but also its closest allies as if they were enemies. Increasingly, the structure built to do a significant part of that spying is aimed at Americans, too, and on a scale that is no less breathtaking.

Spies, Traitors, and Defectors in Twenty-First-Century America

Today, for America's spies, Nathan Hale's job comes with health and retirement benefits. Top officials in that world have access to a revolving door into guaranteed lucrative employment at the highest levels of the corporate-surveillance complex and, of course, for the spy in need of escape, a golden parachute. So when I think about Nathan Hale's famed line, among those hundreds of thousands of American spies and corporate spylings just two Americans come to mind, both charged and one convicted under the draconian World War I Espionage Act.

Only one tiny subset of Americans might still be able to cite Hale's words and have them mean anything. Even when Army Private First Class Bradley Manning wrote the former hacker who would turn him in about the possibility that he might find himself in jail for life or be executed, he didn't use those words. But if he had, they would have been appropriate. Former Booz Allen employee Edward Snowden didn't use them in Hong Kong when he discussed the harsh treatment he assumed he would get from his government for revealing the secrets of the National Security Agency, but had he, those words wouldn't have sounded out of whack.

The recent conviction of Manning on six charges under the Espionage Act for releasing secret military and government documents should be a reminder that we Americans are in a rapidly transforming world. It is, however, a world that's increasingly hard to capture accurately because the changes are outpacing the language we have to describe them and so our ability to grasp what is happening.

Take the words "spying" and "espionage." At a national level, you were once a spy who engaged in espionage when, by whatever subterfuge, you gathered the secrets of an enemy, ordinarily an enemy state, for the use of your own country. In recent years, however, those being charged under the Espionage Act by the Bush and Obama administrations have not in any traditional sense been spies. None were hired or trained by another power or entity to mine secrets. All had, in fact, been trained either by the U.S. government or an allied corporate entity. All, in their urge to reveal, were freelancers (a.k.a. whistleblowers) who might, in the American past, have gone under the label of "patriots."

None was planning to turn the information in their possession over to an enemy power. Each was trying to make his or her organization, department, or agency conform to proper or better practices or, in the cases of Manning and Snowden, bring to the attention of the American people the missteps and misdeeds of our own government about which we were ignorant thanks to the cloak of secrecy thrown over ever more of its acts and documents.

To the extent that those whistleblowers were committing acts of espionage, surreptitiously taking secret information from the innards of the national security state for delivery to an "enemy power," that power was "we, the people," the governing power as imagined in the U.S. Constitution. Manning and Snowden each believed that the release of classified documents in his possession would empower us, the people, and lead us to question what was being done by the national security state in our name but without our knowledge. In other words, if they were spies, then they were spying on the government for us.

They were, that is, insiders embedded in a vast, increasingly secretive structure that, in the name of protecting us from terrorism, was betraying us in a far deeper way. Both men have been termed "traitors" (Manning in military court), while Congressman Peter King called Snowden a "defector," a Cold War term no longer much in use in a one-superpower world. Such words, too, would need new definitions to fit our present reality.

In a sense, Manning and Snowden could be said to have "defected" -- from the U.S. secret government to us. However informally or individually, they could nonetheless be imagined as the people's spies. What their cases indicate is that, in this country, the lock-'em-up-and-throw-away-the-key crime of the century is now to spy on the U.S. for us. That can leave you abused and mistreated in a U.S. military prison, or trapped in a Moscow airport, or with your career or life in ruins.

In terms of the national security state, "spying" now has two preeminent meanings. It means spying on the world and spying on Americans, both on a massive scale. In the process, that burgeoning structure has become Washington's most precious secret, ostensibly from our enemies, but actually from us and, as we've learned recently, even from our elected representatives. The goal of that state, it seems, is to turn the American people into so much absorbable, controllable intelligence data, our identities sliced, diced, and passed around the labyrinthine bureaucracy of the surveillance world, our bytes stored up to be "mined" at their convenience.

Government of the Surveillers, by the Surveillers, for the Surveillers

If Edward Snowden's documents reveal anything, it's that the frenzy of construction -- from new headquarters to new data centers -- that has been the mark of the intelligence world since 9/11 has been matched by a similar frenzy of construction in the world of online and telephonic communications. We undoubtedly don't know the full scope of it yet, but it's already obvious that from PRISM to XKeyscore the U.S. Intelligence Community has been creating a labyrinth of redundant surveillance mechanisms that mimics the vast growth and redundancy of the intelligence world itself, of the 17 organizations and agencies in that "community" and all the little outfits or offices not even counted in that staggering figure.

The truth is that, thanks to our "spies," we know a great deal more about how our American world, our government, really works, but we still don't know what this thing that's being built really is. Even its creators may be at sea when it comes to what exactly they are in the process of constructing. They want us to trust them, but we the people shouldn't put our trust in the generals, high-level bureaucrats, and spooks who don't even blink when they lie to our representatives, pay no price for doing so, and are creating a world that is, and is meant to be, beyond our control. We lack words for what is happening to us. We still have to name it.

It is at least clearer that our world, our society, is becoming ever more imperial in nature, reflecting in part the way our post-9/11 wars have come home. With its widening economic inequalities, the United States is increasingly a society of the rulers and the ruled, the surveillers and the surveilled. Those surveillers have hundreds of thousands of spies to keep track of us and others on this planet, and no matter what they do, no matter what lines they cross, no matter how egregious their acts may be, they are never punished for them, not even losing their jobs. We, on the other hand, have a tiny number of volunteer surveillers on our side. The minute they make themselves known or are tracked down by the national security state, they automatically lose their jobs and that's only the beginning of the punishments levied on them.

Those who run our new surveillance state have not the slightest hesitation about sacrificing us on the altar of their plans -- all for the greater good, as they define it.

This, of course, has nothing whatsoever to do with any imaginable definition of democracy or the long-gone republic. This is part of the new way of life of imperial America in which a government of the surveillers, by the surveillers, for the surveillers shall not perish from the Earth.

Those who watch us -- they would undoubtedly say "watch over," as in protect -- are no Nathan Hales. Their version of his line might be: I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country: yours.
(c) 2013 Tom Engelhardt is co-founder of the American Empire Project. He is the author of The End of Victory Culture: a History of the Cold War and Beyond, as well as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing. His most recent book is The American Way of War: How Bush's Wars Became Obama's (Haymarket Books).

Members of Congress are increasingly frustrated at their inability to obtain even basic information about the NSA and FISA court.

Members Of Congress Denied Access To Basic Information About NSA
Documents provided by two House members demonstrate how they are blocked from exercising any oversight over domestic surveillance
By Glen Greenwald

Members of Congress have been repeatedly thwarted when attempting to learn basic information about the National Security Agency (NSA) and the secret FISA court which authorizes its activities, documents provided by two House members demonstrate.

From the beginning of the NSA controversy, the agency's defenders have insisted that Congress is aware of the disclosed programs and exercises robust supervision over them. "These programs are subject to congressional oversight and congressional reauthorization and congressional debate," President Obama said the day after the first story on NSA bulk collection of phone records was published in this space. "And if there are members of Congress who feel differently, then they should speak up."

But members of Congress, including those in Obama's party, have flatly denied knowing about them. On MSNBC on Wednesday night, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct) was asked by host Chris Hayes: "How much are you learning about what the government that you are charged with overseeing and holding accountable is doing from the newspaper and how much of this do you know?" The Senator's reply:

The revelations about the magnitude, the scope and scale of these surveillances, the metadata and the invasive actions surveillance of social media Web sites were indeed revelations to me."

But it is not merely that members of Congress are unaware of the very existence of these programs, let alone their capabilities. Beyond that, members who seek out basic information - including about NSA programs they are required to vote on and FISA court (FISC) rulings on the legality of those programs - find that they are unable to obtain it.

Two House members, GOP Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia and Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida, have provided the Guardian with numerous letters and emails documenting their persistent, and unsuccessful, efforts to learn about NSA programs and relevant FISA court rulings.

"If I can't get basic information about these programs, then I'm not able to do my job", Rep. Griffith told me. A practicing lawyer before being elected to Congress, he said that his job includes "making decisions about whether these programs should be funded, but also an oath to safeguard the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which includes the Fourth Amendment."

Rep. Griffith requested information about the NSA from the House Intelligence Committee six weeks ago, on June 25. He asked for "access to the classified FISA court order(s) referenced on Meet the Press this past weekend": a reference to my raising with host David Gregory the still-secret 2011 86-page ruling from the FISA court that found substantial parts of NSA domestic spying to be in violation of the Fourth Amendment as well as governing surveillance statutes.

In that same June 25 letter, Rep. Griffith also requested the semi-annual FISC "reviews and critiques" of the NSA. He stated the rationale for his request: "I took an oath to uphold the United States Constitution, and I intend to do so."

Almost three weeks later, on July 12, Rep. Griffith requested additional information from the Intelligence Committee based on press accounts he had read about Yahoo's unsuccessful efforts in court to resist joining the NSA's PRISM program. He specifically wanted to review the arguments made by Yahoo and the DOJ, as well as the FISC's ruling requiring Yahoo to participate in PRISM.

On July 22, he wrote another letter to the Committee seeking information. This time, it was prompted by press reports that that the FISA court had renewed its order compelling Verizon to turn over all phone records to the NSA. Rep. Griffith requested access to that court ruling.

The Congressman received no response to any of his requests. With a House vote looming on whether to defund the NSA's bulk collection program - it was scheduled for July 25 - he felt he needed the information more urgently than ever. He recounted his thinking to me: "How can I responsibly vote on a program I know very little about?"

On July 23, he wrote another letter to the Committee, noting that it had been four weeks since his original request, and several weeks since his subsequent ones. To date, six weeks since he first asked, he still has received no response to any of his requests (the letters sent by Rep. Griffith can be seen here).

"I know many of my constituents will ask about this when I go home," he said, referring to the August recess when many members of Congress meet with those they represent. "Now that I won't get anything until at least September, what am I supposed to tell them? How can I talk about NSA actions I can't learn anything about except from press accounts?"

Congressman Grayson has had very similar experiences, except that he sometimes did receive responses to his requests: negative ones.

On June 19, Grayson wrote to the House Intelligence Committee requesting several documents relating to media accounts about the NSA. Included among them were FISA court opinions directing the collection of telephone records for Americans, as well as documents relating to the PRISM program.

But just over four weeks later, the Chairman of the Committee, GOP Rep. Mike Rogers, wrote to Grayson informing him that his requests had been denied by a Committee "voice vote".

In a follow-up email exchange, a staff member for Grayson wrote to the Chairman, advising him that Congressman Grayson had "discussed the committee's decision with Ranking Member [Dutch] Ruppersberger on the floor last night, and he told the Congressman that he was unaware of any committee action on this matter." Grayson wanted to know how a voice vote denying him access to these documents could have taken place without the knowledge of the ranking member on the Committee, and asked: "can you please share with us the recorded vote, Member-by-Member?" The reply from this Committee was as follows:

Thanks for your inquiry. The full Committee attends Business Meetings. At our July 18, 2013 Business Meeting, there were seven Democrat Members and nine Republican Members in attendance. The transcript is classified."

To date, neither Griffith nor Grayson has received any of the documents they requested. Correspondence between Grayson and the Committee - with names of staff members and email addresses redacted - can be read here.

Denial of access for members of Congress to basic information about the NSA and the FISC appears to be common. Justin Amash, the GOP representative who, along with Democratic Rep. John Conyers, co-sponsored the amendment to ban the NSA's bulk collection of Americans' phone records, told CNN on July 31: "I, as a member of Congress, can't get access to the court opinions. I have to beg for access, and I'm denied it if I - if I make that request."

It is the Intelligence Committees of both the House and Senate that exercise primary oversight over the NSA. But as I noted last week, both Committees are, with the exception of a handful of members, notoriously beholden to the NSA and the intelligence community generally.

Its members typically receive much larger contributions from the defense and surveillance industries than non-Committee members. And the two Committee Chairs - Democrat Dianne Feinstein in the Senate and Republican Mike Rogers in the House - are two of the most steadfast NSA loyalists in Congress. The senior Democrat on the House Committee is ardent NSA defender Dutch Ruppersberger, whose district not only includes NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, but who is also himself the second-largest recipient of defense/intelligence industry cash.

Moreover, even when members of the Intelligence Committee learn of what they believe to be serious abuses by the NSA, they are barred by law from informing the public. Two Democratic Committee members in the Senate, Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, spent years warning Americans that they would be "stunned to learn" of the radical interpretations of secret law the Obama administration had adopted in the secret FISA court to vest themselves with extremist surveillance powers.

Yet the two Senators, prohibited by law from talking about it, concealed what they had discovered. It took Edward Snowden's whistleblowing for Americans to learn what those two Intelligence Committee members were so dramatically warning them about.

Finally, all members of Congress - not just those on the Intelligence Committees - are responsible for making choices about the NSA and for protecting the privacy rights and other Constitutional guarantees of Americans. "I did not take an oath to defer to the Intelligence Committee," Rep. Griffith told me. "My oath is to make informed decisions, and I can't do my job when I can't get even the most basic information about these programs."

In early July, Grayson had staffers distribute to House members several slides published by the Guardian about NSA programs as part of Grayson's efforts to trigger debate in Congress. But, according to one staff member, Grayson's office was quickly told by the House Intelligence Committee that those slides were still classified, despite having been published and discussed in the media, and directed Grayson to cease distribution or discussion of those materials in the House, warning that he could face sanctions if he continued.

It has been widely noted that the supremely rubber-stamping FISA court constitutes NSA "oversight" in name only, and that the Intelligence Committees are captured by the agency and constrained to act even if they were inclined to. Whatever else is true, members of Congress in general clearly know next to nothing about the NSA and the FISA court beyond what they read in the media, and those who try to rectify that are being actively blocked from finding out.
(c) 2013 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. His most recent book is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. 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. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism.

Republicans Against Reality
By Paul Krugman

Last week House Republicans voted for the 40th time to repeal Obamacare. Like the previous 39 votes, this action will have no effect whatsoever. But it was a stand-in for what Republicans really want to do: repeal reality, and the laws of arithmetic in particular. The sad truth is that the modern G.O.P. is lost in fantasy, unable to participate in actual governing.

Just to be clear, I'm not talking about policy substance. I may believe that Republicans have their priorities all wrong, but that's not the issue here. Instead, I'm talking about their apparent inability to accept very basic reality constraints, like the fact that you can't cut overall spending without cutting spending on particular programs, or the fact that voting to repeal legislation doesn't change the law when the other party controls the Senate and the White House.

Am I exaggerating? Consider what went down in Congress last week.

First, House leaders had to cancel planned voting on a transportation bill, because not enough representatives were willing to vote for the bill's steep spending cuts. Now, just a few months ago House Republicans approved an extreme austerity budget, mandating severe overall cuts in federal spending - and each specific bill will have to involve large cuts in order to meet that target. But it turned out that a significant number of representatives, while willing to vote for huge spending cuts as long as there weren't any specifics, balked at the details. Don't cut you, don't cut me, cut that fellow behind the tree.

Then House leaders announced plans to hold a vote cutting spending on food stamps in half - a demand that is likely to sink the already struggling effort to agree with the Senate on a farm bill.

Then they held the pointless vote on Obamacare, apparently just to make themselves feel better. (It's curious how comforting they find the idea of denying health care to millions of Americans.) And then they went home for recess, even though the end of the fiscal year is looming and hardly any of the legislation needed to run the federal government has passed.

In other words, Republicans, confronted with the responsibilities of governing, essentially threw a tantrum, then ran off to sulk.

How did the G.O.P. get to this point? On budget issues, the proximate source of the party's troubles lies in the decision to turn the formulation of fiscal policy over to a con man. Representative Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, has always been a magic-asterisk kind of guy - someone who makes big claims about having a plan to slash deficits but refuses to spell out any of the all-important details. Back in 2011 the Congressional Budget Office, in evaluating one of Mr. Ryan's plans, came close to open sarcasm; it described the extreme spending cuts Mr. Ryan was assuming, then remarked, tersely, "No proposals were specified that would generate that path."

What's happening now is that the G.O.P. is trying to convert Mr. Ryan's big talk into actual legislation - and is finding, unsurprisingly, that it can't be done. Yet Republicans aren't willing to face up to that reality. Instead, they're just running away.

When it comes to fiscal policy, then, Republicans have fallen victim to their own con game. And I would argue that something similar explains how the party lost its way, not just on fiscal policy, but on everything.

Think of it this way: For a long time the Republican establishment got its way by playing a con game with the party's base. Voters would be mobilized as soldiers in an ideological crusade, fired up by warnings that liberals were going to turn the country over to gay married terrorists, not to mention taking your hard-earned dollars and giving them to Those People. Then, once the election was over, the establishment would get on with its real priorities - deregulation and lower taxes on the wealthy.

At this point, however, the establishment has lost control. Meanwhile, base voters actually believe the stories they were told - for example, that the government is spending vast sums on things that are a complete waste or at any rate don't do anything for people like them. (Don't let the government get its hands on Medicare!) And the party establishment can't get the base to accept fiscal or political reality without, in effect, admitting to those base voters that they were lied to.

The result is what we see now in the House: a party that, as I said, seems unable to participate in even the most basic processes of governing.

What makes this frightening is that Republicans do, in fact, have a majority in the House, so America can't be governed at all unless a sufficient number of those House Republicans are willing to face reality. And that quorum of reasonable Republicans may not exist.
(c) 2013 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." ~~~ Frederick Douglass

Fast food workers on strike Monday at McDonald's near Yankee Stadium in NYC

Pennies At The Register, Dollars In The Paycheck
By David Sirota

You know the boilerplate argument against higher wages in America, because you've heard it so many times from Fox News' and CNBC pundits. But as service industry workers now mount protests against poverty-level pay and as the Associated Press reports that "four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare," it is worth reviewing the blowhard's case for low wages one more time - just to see whether it even makes sense.

The three tiered argument goes like this: 1) Higher wages for workers create higher costs for corporations; 2) corporations pass on those higher costs in the form of product price increases; and 3) those price increases must be enormous for corporations to recoup all of their increased labor costs.

What gives these assertions such mass appeal is their populist insinuation that higher wages would hurt the Average Joe. Ultimately, that Average Joe is supposed to conclude that the supposed harm modest wage increases will inflict on him will be far greater than the benefit they will generate for him and the economy as a whole.

For the sake of evaluating this particular conclusion, let's set aside all of the other moral and economic questions at play in the larger debate over wages. Let's, for instance, bypass a discussion about why the richest nation on earth has a $7.25-an-hour federal minimum wage that condemns many workers to destitution. Let's also for a moment disregard the fact that CEOs of the biggest restaurant companies make more in a morning than the average minimum-wage worker in their companies make in a year. Let's even ignore evidence that raising the minimum wage boosts the economy by putting money in the hands of those who will most quickly spend it.

Let's instead focus on a very simple question: Is it really true that higher wages would be devastating for individual consumers?

The answer, it seems, depends on your definition of "devastating." Is 5 cents really "devastating"? What about 22 cents or 46 cents? Does that somehow qualify as "devastating"?

Those figures aren't pulled out of thin air - they come from three data-driven reports proving that it costs mere pennies at the register to put more dollars in millions of Americans' paychecks.

The first analysis comes from 100 economists who, in a letter to policymakers, estimated that raising the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour would result in just a nickel increase in the price of a Big Mac.

That was followed up by a report in Newsweek based on the calculations of University of Massachusetts economists. They found that raising McDonald's workers wages to $15 an hour would likely add just 22 cents to the retail price of the Big Mac.

It is much the same for Wal-Mart. According to a study by researchers at the City University of New York and the University of California, raising the wages of all of the retailers' employees to at least $12 an hour would cost the average customer just 46 cents more during their typical trip to the store. Over an entire year, that's just $12.50.

With those numbers in mind, let's circle back to the concept of harm by considering what is more devastating: wages that relegate millions of people to a life of poverty or having to fork over just a bit more pocket change during your next trip to McDonalds and Wal-Mart?

As Congress contemplates raising the minimum wage and more workers take collective action in the fight for better pay, the answer should be more obvious than ever.
(c) 2013 David Sirota is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and the best-selling author of "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee. Follow him on Twitter @davidsirota .

You Are, In Fact, Being Watched
By William Rivers Pitt

At a bit past 6:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Monday evening, the top stories on happened to include the following:

A-Rod Suspended, Can Keep Playing During Appeal

Sources: Al Qaeda Attack Plan Nearly Set

11 Jailbreaks Linked to Al Qaeda Plot?

50 Cent Enters Not Guilty Plea

Johnny Football's Offseason Craziness

Beauty Queen Arrested in Bomb Case

Spelling Error Costs Boy on "Jeopardy"

Neil Patrick Harris: "I Was Goosed"

You Should Swim With Sharks Here

CNN, always calm and even-handed in matters of national security and terrorism, was kind enough to pad their reports of imminent national annihilation between enough syrupy goo to send the Fluffernutter people running for their therapists...but there it is all the same: The End Of The World, Again.

It has been like this for days, on all the networks and above the fold of every newspaper: ZOMG SKY FALLING TAKE APPROPRIATE PRECAUTIONS NO FURTHER INFORMATION AVAILABLE ZOMG.

And it is all very familiar, actually. Take this short, vapid bit from the Associated Press, also delivered on Monday evening:

Two officials say a secret message that was intercepted between al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri and his deputy in Yemen led to the shutdown of U.S. embassies.

A U.S. intelligence official and a Mideast diplomat said al-Zawahri's message was picked up several weeks ago and appeared to initially target Yemeni interests.

The intelligence official said the message was sent to Nasir al Wuhayshi, the head of the terror network's organization, based in Yemen, that is known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the sensitive issue publicly.


Two officials, names not provided, and a message from al-Zawahri, details not provided. Never mind the fact that I've lost count of the number of times we were told al-Zawahri was dead; it was certain in 2006 until it wasn't, and again in 2008, and in the years before and since, I'm pretty sure he died more times than The Cat That Came Back.

So we're back to this crap again.

Forgive my crashing cynicism, but I still have a huge hangover from the days when Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney or even George Dubya himself would sling impending-doom terror alerts whenever a friend of the administration got indicted, the stock market dropped more than a few points, or anything else happened that required a big, juicy CNN banner (accompanied by appropriately dramatic music) to make everyone look away...and here we are, right in the middle of a national conversation about whether we're all comfortable about the degree to which the government can track us like tagged whales.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but seriously, folks: talk about timing, right? Thank goodness we have the NSA, the CIA, and this massive surveillance state working to protect us all from threats just like this! Why, if they weren't doing whatever it is they do, there could be a terrorist under my bed right now! Or yours! Or your children's!

And for sure, getting the "mainstream" news media all geeked up over a terror alert is a dead-bang guaranteed way to make sure almost nobody hears about the Reuters report that also broke on Monday. To wit:

A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin - not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.

The unit of the DEA that distributes the information is called the Special Operations Division, or SOD. Two dozen partner agencies comprise the unit, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security. It was created in 1994 to combat Latin American drug cartels and has grown from several dozen employees to several hundred.

Today, much of the SOD's work is classified, and officials asked that its precise location in Virginia not be revealed. The documents reviewed by Reuters are marked "Law Enforcement Sensitive," a government categorization that is meant to keep them confidential.

"Remember that the utilization of SOD cannot be revealed or discussed in any investigative function," a document presented to agents reads. The document specifically directs agents to omit the SOD's involvement from investigative reports, affidavits, discussions with prosecutors and courtroom testimony. Agents are instructed to then use "normal investigative techniques to recreate the information provided by SOD."

A spokesman with the Department of Justice, which oversees the DEA, declined to comment.

I'll bet they declined to comment. This report confirms, after all the denials and the push-back and the baloney, that the national security apparatus is, in fact, being deployed against American citizens, and for the specific purpose of putting American citizens in prison.

The cat has fled the bag, folks. The American government is spying on you comprehensively, is using the information they gather on you to jail you if they choose to, and is doing so by laundering secretly-gathered information from one alphabet-soup agency through another and another, to make that information nice and clean for the courts.

Harken to the vacillators: "But it's just terrorists and drug dealers, and it's been going on for 20 years. Why do you care about terrorists and drug dealers, and why are you surprised?"

Sure, yeah, terrorists suck and drug dealers suck, and I'm sure this massive thing that has been unleashed upon the American system of law, and the American people, is totally benign and awesome and only doing good things and stuff.

Let's pretend for a second that we even believe that.

What about tomorrow?

And next year?

And four years from now?

And ten years from now?

How much do you trust the future?

The poet Yeats told us that the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. I pray his judgment of the best is wrong, but I know for a stone fact that his understanding of the worst is ruthlessly correct...which means, sure as sunrise, another Dick Cheney will someday hold a seat of power that allows him to direct the incredible weapon of our massive national surveillance state against anyone not properly bathed in the blood of the Lamb.

If they can jail someone based on surveillance-gathered data forwarded surreptitiously to the DEA, why not you? Who knows what "crime" will come to mean in the world our American Taliban Christians would like to create? They already control a third of the federal government, and are gunning - pardon the pun - for the rest, from the counties to the states and on up the line. Imagine if they got another one of their candidates into the White House, or took over the Senate, or managed both in one fell swoop.

If you think it can't happen, you're a damned fool.

So forgive me for being leery of this latest ZOMG ANY MINUTE NOW terror alert. I've been badly used by the people tasked to "keep us safe," as have you. That Reuters report submarined any argument that claims we aren't being comprehensively watched and recorded for the express purpose of punishing us. They are building a future I want no part of, and I would not put it past them to puff up a threat to distract us.

...and, P.S., if by dark chance a bomb does go off somewhere, it begs the question: would the American surveillance state be better able to thwart bombers if it didn't spend its resources surveilling the American people?
(c) 2013 William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know" and "The Greatest Sedition Is Silence." His newest book, "House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation." He lives and works in Boston.

The Dead Letter Office...

The new iPhone

Heil Obama,

Dear Apple-Computern,

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, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Sam Bush, Fredo Bush, Kate Bush, Kyle Busch, Anheuser Busch, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge John (the enforcer) Roberts.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your total sell out to Fatherland Security, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Corporate 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 Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 09-02-2013. We salute you Herr Cook, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Why Republicans Want Jobs To Stay Anemic
by Robert Reich

Job-growth is sputtering. So why, exactly, do regressive Republicans continue to say "no" to every idea for boosting it - even last week's almost absurdly modest proposal by President Obama to combine corporate tax cuts with increased spending on roads and other public works?

It can't be because Republicans don't know what's happening. The data are indisputable. July's job growth of 162,000 jobs was the weakest in four months. The average workweek was the shortest in six months. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has also lowered its estimates of hiring during May and June.

It can't be Republicans really believe further spending cuts will help. They've seen the effects of austerity economics on Europe. They know the study they relied on by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff has been debunked. They're no longer even trying to make the case for austerity.

It could be they just want to continue opposing anything Obama proposes, but that's beginning to seem like a stretch. Republican leaders and aspiring 2016 presidential candidates are warning against being the "party of 'no.'" Public support for the GOP continues to plummet.

The real answer, I think, is they and their patrons want unemployment to remain high and job-growth to sputter. Why? Three reasons:

First, high unemployment keeps wages down. Workers who are worried about losing their jobs settle for whatever they can get - which is why hourly earnings keep dropping. The median wage is now 4 percent lower than it was at the start of the recovery. Low wages help boost corporate profits, thereby keeping the regressives' corporate sponsors happy.

Second, high unemployment fuels the bull market on Wall Street. That's because the Fed is committed to buying long-term bonds as long as unemployment remains high. This keeps bond yields low and pushes investors into equities - which helps boosts executive pay and Wall Street commissions, thereby keeping regressives' financial sponsors happy.

Third, high unemployment keeps most Americans economically fearful and financially insecure. This sets them up to believe regressive lies - that their biggest worry should be that "big government" will tax away the little they have and give it to "undeserving" minorities; that they should support low taxes on corporations and wealthy "job creators;" and that new immigrants threaten their jobs.

It's important for Obama and the Democrats to recognize this cynical strategy for what it is, and help the rest of America to see it.

And to counter with three basic truths:

First, the real job creators are consumers, and if average people don't have jobs or good wages this economy can't have a vigorous recovery.

Second, the rich would do better with a smaller share of a rapidly-growing economy than their current big share of an economy that's hardly moving.

Third, therefore everyone would benefit from higher taxes on the wealthy to finance public investments in roads, bridges, public transit, better schools, affordable higher education, and healthcare - all of which will help the middle class and the poor, and generate more and better jobs.

(c) 2013 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, "Beyond Outrage," is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, “Inequality for All,” will be out September 27.

Ten Ways To Reduce The Threat Of Terrorist Attacks On Americans
By Medea Benjamin

This 10-point plan would significantly reduce terrorist threats, save taxpayers billions of dollars and make Americans more loved and admired in the world. After a decade of wielding the military stick, it's time for some carrots.

Declare a moratorium on drone strikes: The head of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is calling on jihadists to retaliate for US drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. The Yemeni group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), where the US says the threats are emanating from, is also calling for retaliation for drones strikes (there have been four strikes in Yemen since July 28). Drone strikes have become the number one recruiting tool for extremists. By grounding the drones, we will stop creating new enemies faster than we can kill them.

Close the US drone base in Saudi Arabia. One of the reasons Osama bin Laden said he hated the United States was that the US had military bases in the Holy Lands in Saudi Arabia. President Bush quietly closed those bases in 2003 but in 2010 President Obama secretly reopened a base there for launching drones into Yemen. It's a national security threat ripe for blowback. So are many of the over 800 US bases peppered all over the world. We can save billions of taxpayer dollars, and make ourselves safer, by closing them.

Free the 86 Guantanamo prisoners cleared for release. The US treatment of Guantanamo prisoners, holding people indefinitely without charges or trials and brutally force-feeding the hunger strikers, is an affront to people throughout the Muslim world and a blatant hypocrisy of our American values. Of the 166 prisoners left in Guantanamo, 86 have been cleared for release, meaning the US government has determined they represent no threat to our nation. President Obama can use the waiver system, certifying to Congress that it is in the US national interest to release them. He just did this, for the first time, for two Algerian prisoners. He should do this for all 86 cleared prisoners, then bring the remaining prisoners to the US for trials.

Apologize and compensate innocent victims. There is a perception in the Muslim world that the US government does not value their lives. Airstrikes have killed many innocent people and only in the cases of Afghanistan and Iraq has there been a way, albeit woefully inadequate, for aggrieved families to seek redress. The US should agree to apologize and compensate the families of innocent people who have been killed or maimed by the US armed forces or CIA.

Go for the “zero option” in Afghanistan: withdraw all US troops. The 11-year US occupation of Afghanistan has provided fodder for the Taliban in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, while propping up an unpopular and corrupt regime in Kabul. And if the US troops were not in Afghanistan, the Taliban would not be trying to cross the Pakistani border to kill US soldiers. President Obama promised to end the US occupation by the end of 2014, but is now weighing options for keeping thousands of troops and military contractors behind. Bad idea.

Sit down and talk. The Taliban opened an office in Qatar in June to finally start long-delayed talks with the US. But due to President Karzai's objections, the talks were nixed. It's long past the time to talk to the Taliban, and then move on to talk to those elements in Al Qaeda who are more rational and open to negotiations. If you look at the Rand Corporation's study of the demise of 268 terrorist groups, 43% dissolved by joining the political process, 40% from better policing, and only 7% through military action. We've been using military action for over a decade; it's time for another approach.

Stop supporting dictatorships and repressive militaries. The US recently signed the largest arms deal in history with the monarchy of Saudi Arabia, the same government that rolled its tanks into neighboring Bahrain to crush the democratic uprising there. In Egypt, US weapons and tear gas were used for decades against peaceful demonstrators, and continue to be used against peaceful protesters supporting ousted Muslim Brotherhood. While weapons sales to undemocratic and/or unstable regimes might be good for US weapons manufacturers, they are bad for the reputation and security of the American people.

Support non-violent democracy movements. Terrorists thrive best where there is chaos and instability. Nurturing democratic institutions and non-violent civil society are key to thwarting the growth of extremist movements. The US needs to do more than support these efforts; it also needs to listen to them. In Yemen, the US is helping to fund the 6-month experiment in democracy called the National Dialogue Conference, where 565 extremely diverse members of society are meeting daily to map out the nation's future. The Conference recently passed, by overwhelming vote, a resolution declaring drones strikes and all extrajudicial killing illegal. Unfortunately, the US has refused to abide by the popular will thus far.

Adhere to the international rule of law. In its war on terror, the US has been killing terror suspects with blatant disregard for international law and national sovereignty. A July 18 Pew poll of 39 nations found fierce global opposition to US drone strikes, particularly in the Muslim world. If the US wants help and sympathy in rooting out would-be attackers, it has to show the world it will stop using extrajudicial assassinations and start adhering to international law.

Spend foreign aid money on education, healthcare and lifting people out of poverty. For a fraction of the money we keep wasting each month on the failed war in Afghanistan or supporting the already wealthy Israeli military, we could be building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan, helping Yemenis find a solution to their water shortages, and providing humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees. We'll make a lot more friends building clinics, wells, electrical grids and schools than vaporizing people with Hellfire missiles.

(c) 2013 Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK, which has organized seven humanitarian delegations to Gaza. She is author of Don't Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Steve Greenberg ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Congressional leaders in both parties have failed to find common ground on the completely text-free bill.

Congress Fiercely Divided Over Completely Blank Bill That Says And Does Nothing

WASHINGTON-A blank piece of legislation that says nothing, does nothing, and contains no text whatsoever has been the source of heated debate in Washington this week, and has sharply divided Congress along partisan lines, Beltway sources confirmed Thursday.

Known as S.0000, the bill, which doesn't have sponsors, co-sponsors, or an author, has reportedly drawn starkly contrasting opinions from legislators in both the Senate and House of Representatives, and has paved the way for a major legislative battle in coming months.

"At a time when millions of Americans are still struggling, we simply cannot afford this kind of devil-may-care federal policy," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), angrily waving the blank stack of papers in front of reporters. "We will not risk leading the American people into further hardship simply so the Obama administration can once again do whatever they please, regardless of the consequences. As it is now, the bill is both short-sighted and utterly irresponsible."

Bill S.0000, which has sharply divided lawmakers.

"Frankly, we need to get back to the negotiating table and make some major changes before members of my party would even consider putting this up for a vote," McConnell continued. "And if my friends on the other side of the aisle try push it through, well, they'll pay the consequences at the ballot box."

According to reports, 45 Democratic senators are in favor of the bill-which contains no text whatsoever-while 41 Republicans are staunchly opposed. At least three Republicans, including Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), David Vitter (R-LA), and Susan Collins (R-ME), have said they would consider crossing the aisle and backing the bill, an announcement that drew fierce criticism from GOP leadership and primary threats from members within their own party.

Republican critics told reporters that the wordless document would "kill jobs and force another round of big government policies upon the American people." Some Democrats said the blank legislation doesn't go far enough, while a majority of party members accused the GOP of "willfully undermining the legislative process" and being totally averse to any and all concessions.

Republican senators filibustered the up-and-down vote proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) earlier in the week, and sources said today's cloture motion that would have forced S.0000 to a vote also failed to pass.

House Speaker John Boehner has already said the Senate version of the non-legislation is dead on arrival in the House, and that the Republican majority would work together to pass their own blank law.

"The truth is, Speaker Boehner doesn't have enough support in his own party, and will need Democratic help to pass anything," said Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), adding that he "firmly and categorically stands behind" many of the nonexistent measures in the bill. "But once again, the GOP has decided they would rather spread vicious lies about the effects of this legislation, and they've successfully created a panic that is completely unfounded. Americans can't afford to wait around any longer. We need to get this done now."

While lawmakers have overwhelmingly fallen along party lines, several Democratic members of Congress who are up for reelection in 2014 have joined Republicans in blasting the legislation, fearing that showing any kind of support for President Obama and his agenda could lead to their ouster. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has said the bill, which would enact no changes of any kind to either federal or statewide governments, is immoral, unconstitutional, and flies in the face of states' rights.

President Obama, meanwhile, has heavily criticized Congress for its failure to vote on the proposal.

"The inaction of Congress and the hyperbolic, ultra-partisan statements regarding this legislation, are precisely why most Americans are frustrated with Washington," Obama told the assembled White House press corps, adding that he is prepared to sign the empty sheet of paper into law as soon as it crosses his desk. "Our government representatives are putting politics ahead of the American people, and that's unacceptable."

Though some lawmakers remain optimistic over a future deal brokered between the two parties, many Capitol Hill insiders said any future compromise is overwhelmingly unlikely.

"Essentially, there are two possible outcomes for this bill: It'll either get completely gutted in committee, or it'll be put up for a vote and then be swiftly killed," said Washington Post national political correspondent Karen Tumulty, adding that to enact the bill's total lack of provisions would require heavy concessions from both sides of the aisle. "But let's not beat around the bush here-the midterm elections are right around the corner, and these legislators don't want to take a chance and do anything that might cast them in a negative light before their constituents go to the polls."

"To be completely honest, the best bet would be if Congress just waits until after 2014, breaks the bill up the into smaller parts and tries to pass it piecemeal," Tumulty added. "Or maybe they should just start from scratch."
(c) 2013 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 13 # 30 (c) 08/09/2013

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