Archive for the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp Category

“Living Under Drones” – Stanford / NYU report [Livingunderdrones.org]

Posted in Corporate Media Critique, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Media cover-up, Pakistan, US "War on Terror", US drone strikes, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, War crimes on December 4, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Report raises good points but falls short, since the authors fail to term the murder of civilians via drone strikes as either terrorist or criminal, let alone a war crime — the extra-territorial missile murders are euphemized as being of “doubful legality”. Also, while posing as comprehensive, it restricts its investigation to Pakistan and so gives a warped, limited view as to the global scope and damage of the USA’s airborne killer robots. – Zuo Shou

Executive Summary and Recommendations

In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling “targeted killing” of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts.[1]

This narrative is false.

Following nine months of intensive research—including two investigations in Pakistan, more than 130 interviews with victims, witnesses, and experts, and review of thousands of pages of documentation and media reporting—this report presents evidence of the damaging and counterproductive effects of current US drone strike policies. Based on extensive interviews with Pakistanis living in the regions directly affected, as well as humanitarian and medical workers, this report provides new and firsthand testimony about the negative impacts US policies are having on the civilians living under drones…

…in light of significant evidence of harmful impacts to Pakistani civilians and to US interests, current policies to address terrorism [sic] through targeted killings and drone strikes must be carefully re-evaluated.

It is essential that public debate about US policies take the negative effects of current policies into account.

First, while civilian casualties are rarely acknowledged by the US government, there is significant evidence that US drone strikes have injured and killed civilians. In public statements, the US states that there have been “no” or “single digit” civilian casualties.”[2] It is difficult to obtain data on strike casualties because of US efforts to shield the drone program from democratic accountability, compounded by the obstacles to independent investigation of strikes in North Waziristan. The best currently available public aggregate data on drone strikes are provided by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), an independent journalist organization. TBIJ reports that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562-3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474-881 were civilians, including 176 children.[3] TBIJ reports that these strikes also injured an additional 1,228-1,362 individuals. Where media accounts do report civilian casualties, rarely is any information provided about the victims or the communities they leave behind. This report includes the harrowing narratives of many survivors, witnesses, and family members who provided evidence of civilian injuries and deaths in drone strikes to our research team. It also presents detailed accounts of three separate strikes, for which there is evidence of civilian deaths and injuries, including a March 2011 strike on a meeting of tribal elders that killed some 40 individuals.

Second, US drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted-for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury. Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior. The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims. Some community members shy away from gathering in groups, including important tribal dispute-resolution bodies, out of fear that they may attract the attention of drone operators. Some parents choose to keep their children home, and children injured or traumatized by strikes have dropped out of school. Waziris told our researchers that the strikes have undermined cultural and religious practices related to burial, and made family members afraid to attend funerals. In addition, families who lost loved ones or their homes in drone strikes now struggle to support themselves.

Third, publicly available evidence that the strikes have made the US safer overall is ambiguous at best. The strikes have certainly killed alleged combatants and disrupted armed actor networks. However, serious concerns about the efficacy and counter-productive nature of drone strikes have been raised. The number of “high-level” targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low—estimated at just 2%.[4] Furthermore, evidence suggests that US strikes have facilitated recruitment to violent non-state armed groups, and motivated further violent attacks. As the New York Times has reported, “drones have replaced Guantánamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants.”[5] Drone strikes have also soured many Pakistanis on cooperation with the US and undermined US-Pakistani rel­ations. One major study shows that 74% of Pakistanis now consider the US an enemy.[6]

Fourth, current US targeted killings and drone strike practices undermine respect for the rule of law and international legal protections and may set dangerous precedents. This report casts doubt on the legality of strikes on individuals or groups not linked to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and who do not pose imminent threats to the US. The US government’s failure to ensure basic transparency and accountability in its targeted killing policies, to provide necessary details about its targeted killing program, or adequately to set out the legal factors involved in decisions to strike hinders necessary democratic debate about a key aspect of US foreign and national security policy. US practices may also facilitate recourse to lethal force around the globe by establishing dangerous precedents for other governments. As drone manufacturers and officials successfully reduce export control barriers, and as more countries develop lethal drone technologies, these risks increase.

In light of these concerns, this report recommends that the US conduct a fundamental re-evaluation of current targeted killing practices, taking into account all available evidence, the concerns of various stakeholders, and the short and long-term costs and benefits. A significant rethinking of current US targeted killing and drone strike policies is long overdue. US policy-makers, and the American public, cannot continue to ignore evidence of the civilian harm and counter-productive impacts of US targeted killings and drone strikes in Pakistan.

This report also supports and reiterates the calls consistently made by rights groups and others for legality, accountability, and transparency in US drone strike policies:

The US should fulfill its international obligations with respect to accountability and transparency, and ensure proper democratic debate about key policies. The US should:

Release the US Department of Justice memoranda outlining the legal basis for US targeted killing in Pakistan;

Make public critical information concerning US drone strike policies, including as previously and repeatedly reques­ted by various groups and officials:[7] the tar­geting criteria for so-called “signature” strikes; the mechanisms in place to ensure that targeting complies with international law; which laws are being applied; the nature of investigations into civilian death and injury; and mechanisms in place to track, analyze and publicly recognize civilian casualties;[8]

Ensure independent investigations into drone strike deaths, consistent with the call made by Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism in August 2012;[9]

In conjunction with robust investigations and, where appropriate, prosecutions, establish compensation programs for civilians harmed by US strikes in Pakistan.

The US should fulfill its international humanitarian and human rights law obligations with respect to the use of force, including by not using lethal force against individuals who are not members of armed groups with whom the US is in an armed conflict, or otherwise against individuals not posing an imminent threat to life. This includes not double-striking targets as first responders arrive.

Journalists and media outlets should cease the common practice of referring simply to “militant” deaths, without further explanation. All reporting of government accounts of “militant” deaths should include acknowledgment that the US government counts all adult males killed by strikes as “militants,” absent exonerating evidence. Media accounts relying on anonymous government sources should also highlight the fact of their single-source information and of the past record of false government reports.

Full report link, including footnote references: http://livingunderdrones.org/

Democracy in America today (I) – Russia joins China in attacking US “human rights” propaganda [Strategic Culture Foundation]

Posted in China, Corrupt judge, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Russia, US Agency for International Development, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, USSR on November 11, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Nov. 3, 2012

Washington believes that one of the achievements of its propaganda and diplomatic machinery was that after a meeting in Helsinki in 1975, they managed to make the so-called «third basket» which in the main placed emphasis on human rights. Decade after decade, the United States used the «third basket» as an important weapon of foreign policy influence. Tectonic upheavals happened in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in the late 80′s and 90′s. The twentieth century convinced the Americans of the effectiveness of the chosen instrument… In the end; Washington began to claim almost a monopoly in the field of human rights and the role of final arbiter in determining who is observing them, and who is not. And the more accusations put forward about others, the more hobbled became America`s own practice in this area. Claims to an absolute right, are absolutely ruined by absolute power. Russia has tried to respond to the constant assaults in this regard, but sluggishly, working on the principle: «You do not touch us, and we will not touch you». And then, finally, it looks like the ice broke.

On October 22, 2012 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation presented the first special report on the human rights situation in the United States, and brought it to be heard in the State Duma. The strength of the document is that it refers to the systemic problems facing American society, and this is all illustrated by convincing examples. The report presented by the Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov stressed, «That the treatment of human rights in the U.S. are is far from perfect, and even sometimes resemble [sic] something from another era».

Among the most important challenges facing America are growing social inequality, discrimination on racial, ethnic and religious grounds, the practice of indefinite detention without charges, judicial bias, prisons operating outside of the law, torture, the impact of government agencies on court processes, a poor penal system, the denial of freedom of speech, Internet censorship, legalized corruption, lack of electoral rights of citizens, intolerance based on race and ethnicity, the violation of children’s rights, the extraterritorial application of U.S. law, leading to human rights violations in other countries, kidnapping , tracking dissidents, disproportionate use of force against peaceful demonstrators, the use of the death penalty against minors and the mentally ill, etc. The international legal obligations of the United States, continue to be limited to participation in only three of the nine core human rights agreements, and providing human rights monitoring mechanisms. The U.S. has not ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1979, the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their families in 1990, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006 and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, 2006.

When forced to answer rather sarcastic questions from one of the Russian liberal papers over the fact that previously, say, Russia considered the subject to be an interference in internal affairs, and now, she does it too, Mr. K. Dolgov, Commissioner for Human Rights Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the main architect of the report, said that, “the main idea is that Americans continue to wrongfully position themselves as the absolute authority and unquestioned leader in the field of democracy and human rights. They are engaged in mentoring and trying to teach others how to build their democracies and ensure human rights. They do it often rudely ignoring the basic international law of the principle of state sovereignty. Often their attempts to take care of human rights in other countries are bordering on outright interference in internal affairs. Russia also faces this problem. This, in particular, is one of the reasons why the decision was made to wrap up the operations of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Russia. At the same time, according to the report, the human rights situation for Americans remains very difficult.

It should be recognized that the priority in having the audacity in speaking to America about this and what others «always thought, but were afraid to ask,» still belongs not to Russia, but to China. After many years of the Americans reporting on human rights in China, Beijing promptly submitted its scrupulous and scathing analysis of how the situation is in the US in this sensitive area. As a result, in the relationship between America and China, this topic is present mainly in propaganda, but is practically nonexistent in inter-state relations. It is enough for some American to raise the subject at any level of negotiations, for him to be immediately handed a huge Chinese tome translated into English of US sins, with a counter offer to talk about it. And, actually, why not? It acts like a magic cure, and the Americans’ enthusiasm soon evaporates. It is certainly an instructive example.

The first U.S. reaction to the Russian report proceeded along the same scenario. On 23 October at a regular briefing State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland answering a question about the report, said that the text was not known to her, but the appearance of such studies are welcome, as the U.S. is an «open book» seeking to improve its society. This is commendable, except that she «closed» the report, without even opening it….

At a State Duma hearing on human rights in the U.S., an ambassador of this country well known as a theoretician and practitioner of human rights, Michael McFaul was invited. However, he did not attend, and that is very significant. Whilst hosting numerous comments on all issues in his blog and on Twitter, on this subject the Ambassador is silent. Did he lose his interest? Or did he not expect to hear anything new about the human rights situation in his own country? This suggests that either he is well aware of the existing violations and finds it simply shameful, or he does not want to hear anything about them, and this is hypocritical. The ability not to be able to see the wood for the trees is a characteristic feature of many generations of American politicians.

Doublethink (coined by George Orwell in his novel 1984) has been intrinsic to them since the founding fathers. George Washington, for example, the so called “herald of freedom and democracy», was a planter and slave owner, who kept in the basement of his house a prison with instruments of torture for misbehaving slaves (it has been recently excavated by archaeologists) and sent expeditions to different parts of the country to catch runaway Negroes that belonged to him personally. This duality of American democracy drew the attention of Alexis de Tocqueville.

A number of publications in the U.S. responded to the report in a spirit of «propaganda». Thus, the «Los Angeles Times» says that the «tone, vocabulary and spirit» of the document submitted to the State Duma, «is reminiscent of propaganda attacks of the cold war era». The newspaper did not even try to refute or dismantle even one given fact or conclusion. But if assessing the publication of the report in Russia on human rights in the U.S. shows a return to the cold war, it turns out that for the U.S. itself that war never ended.

But Fred Weir, the long time correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor in Moscow, believes that the report is «well-documented» and «professionally written». Mainly it is based on U.S. non-governmental and academic sources and the issues raised «are quite familiar to any well-informed Americans». The Russian are not trying to say something new to America, writes Fred Weir, they want to encourage her to change her point of view and look at Russia without prejudice. They broaden the debate by pointing out that before lecturing others; the United States should resolve their own numerous problems. In the past, said Weir, the Soviet propaganda machine also tried to use this method, but rather unsuccessfully. Now Moscow’s response is much more ambitious. The Russians really feel that the American perception of them is far from correct. Also the American correspondent noticed the desire from the Russian side to move the debate «behind closed doors». And this is an echo of its past approaches which proved to be ineffective. For the White House this move just does not make sense, since the theme of human rights is a tool, not an end policy in itself. It is useless to urge the Americans to give up their decades of proven tools; they can only be confronted by self [sic] action. The Foreign Affairs Report is a worthy and successful example of such action. In pursuing the stated positions, firmness and consistency are important not only in terms of the effective management of information warfare, but also to confirm the equality of rights of states as members of the international community. For it is impossible to ensure equal respect for human rights in the world, if equal rights are not respected, including freedom of speech, in the countries in which «these people» live.

So you have made a claim? Be so kind as to listen to the reply and counterclaims. Every time, without exceptions. Refusal is the application of inequality, which is also a form of violation of the rights of individuals and the states representing them, the fact is that «all sides must be heard» Audiatur et altera pars is the basic principle of democracy.

Excerpted by Zuo Shou

Article link, including original footnotes: http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2012/11/03/democracy-in-america-today-i.html

“Democracy in America Today” Parts II [III, IV]: http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2012/11/04/democracy-in-america-today-ii.html

(To be continued)

“Who is the worst civil liberties president in US history?” by Glenn Greenwald – Obama is a likely candidate [Guardian]

Posted in 9/11, CIA, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Obama, Torture, US "War on Terror", USA, World War II on November 11, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

* Where do the abuses of the last decade from Bush and Obama rank when compared to prior assaults in the name of war? *

2 November 2012

The following interesting question arose yesterday from what at first appeared to be some petty Twitter bickering: who was the worst president for civil liberties in US history? That question is a difficult one to answer because it is so reliant upon which of many valid standards of measurement one chooses; it depends at least as much on the specific rights which one understands the phrase “civil liberties” to encompass. That makes the question irresolvable in any definitive way, but its examination is nonetheless valuable for the light it sheds on current political disputes.

It’s worthwhile first to set forth the context in which the question arose. At their Lawfare blog, Ritika Singh and Benjamin Wittes posted an excerpt of an essay they wrote for a new book on the War of 1812; their essay pertains to the impact of that war on civil liberties and executive power. The two Brookings writers note that despite intense domestic opposition to the war, President Madison “eschewed the authority to detain American citizens in military custody or try them in military tribunals, and more generally, declined to undertake the sorts of executive overreaches we have come to expect – and even encourage – from our presidents in war…”

…If one were simply to consider specific acts which constituted grave assaults on civil liberties – narrowly defined as the core political rights explicitly protected by the Bill of Rights: free speech, freedom from deprivation of life and liberty without due process, etc. – one could make a strong argument for several presidents. John Adams signed The Alien and Sedition Acts, which essentially criminalized certain forms of government criticism in preparation for a war with France, a radical assault on the First Amendment.

Abraham Lincoln illegally suspended the core liberty of habeas corpus without Congressional approval. Wilson’s attacks on basic free speech in the name of national security were indeed legion and probably unparalleled. Franklin Roosevelt oversaw the due-process-free internment of more than 100,000 law-abiding Japanese-Americans into concentration camps.

And then there are the two War on Terror presidents. George Bush seized on the 9/11 attack to usher in radical new surveillance and detention powers in the PATRIOT ACT, spied for years on the communications of US citizens without the warrants required by law, and claimed the power to indefinitely imprison even US citizens without charges in military brigs.

His successor, Barack Obama, went further by claiming the power not merely to detain citizens without judicial review but to assassinate them (about which the New York Times said: “It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing”). He has waged an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, dusting off Wilson’s Espionage Act of 1917 to prosecute more then double the number of whistleblowers than all prior presidents combined. And he has draped his actions with at least as much secrecy, if not more so, than any president in US history.

Ultimately, it is close to impossible to rank these abuses strictly as a qualitative matter, in terms of the powers seized. How does one say that interning citizens in concentration camps (Roosevelt) is better or worse than imprisoning people for dissent (Adams and Wilson), putting people in cages with no charges (Lincoln, Bush, Obama), or claiming the power to execute citizens in total secrecy and without any checks of any kind (Obama)? If anything, one could reasonably argue that the power of due-process-free executions is the most menacing since it’s the only act that is permanent and irreversible.

Certainly, the quantity of abuse matters. In that regard, Roosevelt’s interments and Wilson’s free speech prosecutions would appear worse than, say, Adams’ attacks on dissent, Bush’s indefinite detentions, or Obama’s citizen assassinations.

Moreover, it is one of the ironies of US history that civil liberties erosions are often accompanied by civil liberties progress from the same leader: Adams was integral in the founding of the republic and its rights-enshrining documents; Lincoln freed the slaves; Wilson supported women’s suffrage; Roosevelt appointed two of the most sterling civil liberties advocates to the supreme court; Obama withdrew authorization for some torture techniques (ones that were not in use when he was inaugurated) and banned CIA black sites (ones that were empty when he assumed office).

Ultimately, there are two critical factors that, for me at least, are highly influential if not decisive in determining the proper ranking. The first is the extent to which the civil liberties abuses are temporary or permanent.

Most of the contenders for worst civil liberties abuses were “justified” by traditional wars that had a finite end and thus dissipated once the wars were over. Lincoln’s habeas suspension did not survive the end of the Civil War, nor did FDR’s internment camps survive the end of World War II. The Alien and Sedition Acts were severely diluted fairly quickly, while the bulk of Wilson’s abuses which survived World War I lay dormant until the War on Terror. As horrible as they were, these radical erosions were often finite, arguably by design, since the wars which served as their pretext would foreseeably end at some point.

This is one key factor that distinguishes the War on Terror. By its nature, it will never end, at least not in the foreseeable future. It is a “war” far more in a metaphorical sense than a real one.

Since it began, both administrations who have waged it have expressly acknowledged its virtually indefinite – and thus unique – nature. In May 2009, when Obama unveiled his proposal for “preventive detention”, he said: “Unlike the Civil War or World War II, we can’t count on a surrender ceremony to bring this journey to an end.” He added that we’ll still be fighting this war “a year from now, five years from now, and – in all probability – 10 years from now.”

Just last week, the Washington Post reported that the Obama administration is creating permanent bureaucratic systems to implement its War on Terror powers as it “expects to continue adding names to kill or capture lists for years”. Specifically, “among senior Obama administration officials, there is broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade.” That “suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism.”

Civil liberties abuses justified by a finite war can be awful while they last, but then they cease. Abuses that are systematized based on the premise that they are to be permanent do far more than that: they radically alter the nature of the government and the relationship of the political class to the citizenry.

This, to me, has always been the most uniquely pernicious aspect of the War on Terror civil liberties assaults of the last decade: they will not end when the “war” does because the “war” will have no end. Each new power is embedded permanently into the political framework, incrementally transforming the political culture and the species of government itself…

…the “War on Terror” is not even legitimately described as a “war”, let alone one anywhere near the magnitude of its predecessors. Shortly after I began writing about politics in late 2005, I examined the inane tactic of Bush-following neoconservatives – one that is, like so many neocon views, now vigorously embraced by many Obama defenders – to cite Lincoln’s civil liberties abridgments during the Civil War to justify abridgments in the name of the War on Terror. The fundamental differences are obvious…

…It takes little effort to demonstrate that the “War on Terror” is not in the same universe. As Professor Richard Jackson has documented, there is a greater risk of dying from lightning strikes or bathtub falls than terrorism. Professors John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, writing in the latest issue of International Security, condemned the “extraordinarily exaggerated and essentially delusional response” to 9/11. As Professor Stephen Walt described their article:

“Mueller and Stewart analyze 50 cases of supposed ‘Islamic terrorist plots’ against the United States, and show how virtually all of the perpetrators were (in their words) ‘incompetent, ineffective, unintelligent, idiotic, ignorant, unorganized, misguided, muddled, amateurish, dopey, unrealistic, moronic, irrational and foolish.’ They quote former Glenn Carle, former deputy national intelligence officer for transnational threats saying ‘we must see jihadists for the small, lethal, disjointed and miserable opponents that they are,’ noting further that al-Qaida’s ‘capabilities are far inferior to its desires.’”

To the extent the validity of the proffered justification matters, and it must matter some, the War on Terror abuses are easily the worst for this metric. Unlike the…wars of the past, this “war” is pure pretext, a total farce: so out of proportion to the civil liberties assaults employed in its name as to be inconceivable.

As noted, this discussion assumes a rather narrow range of the term “civil liberties”: namely a focus on the original core political liberties expressly guaranteed by the Bill of Rights: freedom of speech, freedom from deprivation of life and liberty without due process, habeas corpus. If one expands the term to include more contemporary debates surrounding issues such as gay equality and reproductive rights, as is proper, then the overall picture meaningfully changes.

The one common strain running through these historic civil liberties assaults is war. War almost always erodes political liberties. That has always been true. Cicero famously observed “inter arma, enim silent leges” (in times of war, the law falls mute).

That fact – that wars maximize a political leader’s power – is a key reason they often crave war and why wars, under the Constitution, were supposed to be extremely difficult for presidents to start. As John Jay wrote in Federalist 4, “absolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for the purposes and objects merely personal” (that’s also why the absurd contortions invoked by President Obama to fight a war in Libya not only in the absence of Congressional approval, but in the face of formal Congressional disapproval, belongs high on the list of his worst and likely most enduring civil liberties assaults).

But in terms of the role played by war in enabling civil liberties assaults, at least the exploited wars are usually real. In the case of the “War on Terror”, it is far more illusory and frivolous than real. That – along with their permanence – is a major factor in determining where the civil liberties erosions of the last decade, and the presidents responsible for them, rank in history.

Excerpted by Zuo Shou

Full article link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/02/obama-civil-liberties-history?INTCMP=SRCH

Human rights critics of Russia and Ecuador parade their own hypocrisy [Glenn Greenwald @ Guardian]

Posted in Assassination, Bahrain, Capitalist media double standard, China, Ecuador, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Iran, Iraq, Julian Assange, Libya, Media smear campaign, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.K., US drone strikes, US imperialism, USA, Wikileaks on August 27, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

The media’s new converts to civic freedom over the Pussy Riot and Assange asylum affairs show a jingoism blind to US abuses

21 August 2012

by Glenn Greenwald

[Excerpted]

Readers of the American and British press over the past month have been inundated with righteous condemnations of Ecuador‘s poor record on press freedoms. Is this because western media outlets have suddenly developed a new-found devotion to defending civil liberties in Latin America?  Please.  To pose the question is to mock it.

It’s because feigning concern for these oppressive measures is a convenient instrument for demeaning and punishing Ecuador for the supreme crime of defying the US and its western allies.  The government of President Rafael Correa granted asylum to western establishmentarians’ most despised figure, Julian Assange, and Correa’s government then loudly condemned Britain’s implied threats to invade its embassy.  Ecuador must therefore be publicly flogged for its impertinence, and its press freedom record is a readily available whip. As a fun bonus, denunciations of Correa’s media oppression is a cheap and easy way to deride Assange’s supposed hypocrisy.

(Apparently, activists should only seek asylum from countries with pristine human rights records, whichever countries those might be: a newly concocted standard that was conspicuously missing during the saga of blind Chinese…activist Chen Guangcheng at the US embassy; I don’t recall any western media outlets accusing Guangcheng of hypocrisy for seeking refuge from a country that indefinitely imprisons people with no charges, attacked Iraq, assassinates its own citizens with no due process on the secret orders of the president, bombs funerals and rescuers in Pakistan, uses extreme force and mass arrests to try to obliterate the peaceful Occupy protest movement, wages an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, prosecutes its Muslim citizens for posting YouTube videos critical of US foreign policy, embraces and arms the world’s most oppressive regimes, and imprisoned Muslim journalists for years at Guantánamo and elsewhere with no charges of any kind.)

But this behavior illustrates how purported human rights concerns are cynically exploited as a weapon by western governments and, more inexcusably, by their nationalistic, self-righteous media enablers. Concern over a foreign regime’s human rights abuses are muted, often nonexistent, when those regimes dutifully adhere to US dictates, but are amplified to deafening levels when nations defy those dictates and, especially, when it’s time to wage war against them. This is why attacks on protesters by US-supported regimes in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are typically described by western media outlets with the innocuous-sounding, both-sides-are-to-blame term "clashes with rebels", while villain-of-the-moment regimes in Iran, Syria or Libya are said to be slaughtering their own citizens. It’s why arming Syrian rebels to enable them to defend against regime oppression is conventional wisdom, whereas arming Palestinian rebels to defend against Israeli violence is criminal…

Full article link here

“Useful Idiots of the Anti-Putin Movement? The Pussy Riot Flap” by Mike Whitney [Counterpunch]

Posted in Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Julian Assange, Media smear campaign, Police, Police brutality, Russia, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, USSR, Wikileaks on August 18, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

August 8, 2012

In March 2012, three women from the feminist punk-rock band Pussy Riot were arrested and charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred or hostility” for staging an unauthorised and profane performance at Moscow’s Christ the Saviour church.  The women who were arrested — Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samutsevitch– claim that their action was not intended to ridicule the church or poke fun at religious believers, but to draw attention to political repression under Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We did not want to offend anybody…Our motives were exclusively political,” said Tolokonnikova.  The trial of the 3 girls is now underway in Moscow where a verdict is expected any day. The prosecution is asking for a 3 year sentence in a minimum security prison.

The trial has attracted worldwide attention and a number of celebrities, including Sting, Madonna and Danny Devito have spoken out on the defendants behalf. Here’s an except from an article in Reuters which appeared on Tuesday morning: “Pop singer Madonna urged Russia on Monday not to jail three women from the punk band Pussy Riot for staging a protest in a church, while jailed former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky likened their trial to a medieval inquisition.” (Reuters)

Interestingly, Khodorkovsky’s opinions have been inserted into a great many of the articles that have been written about the incident, which suggests that the media’s coverage is part a larger agenda to discredit Putin. Keep in mind that “In October 2003, October, 2003 Khodorkovsky was arrested, flown to Moscow and charged with various counts of fraud of tax evasion.” And in May, 2005 “judges found Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev guilty of six charges including tax evasion and sentence them to nine years in prison each.” (BBC) The idea that a calculating oligarch like Khodorkovsky is an innocent victim of a political witch hunt is spurious nonsense propagated by the western media.  Putin summed it up best when he said, “A thief should sit in jail.” So, what’s really going on here? Why would Reuters use a quote from Khodorkovsky, a convicted criminal,  in a headline defending a punk-rock band? (“Jailed Russian tycoon says Pussy Riot trial “medieval”: Reuters) Imagine if BP’s Tony Hayward had been thrown in the slammer for polluting the Gulf of Mexico. Would that make him an expert on the US justice system? Would Reuters then consult Hayward on matters concerning civil rights violations? Can you see how stupid this is? It only makes sense if the media is engaged in some larger, covert strategy to attack Putin. And I would say–after reading 30 or more articles about the incident at Moscow’s Christ the Saviour church–that that is exactly what’s happening. This isn’t about Pussy Riot and their run-in with the law, nor is about feminism or freedom of speech. It’s all political maneuvering to make Putin look bad. That’s all there is to it.

Just take a look at Google News. As of Monday night, there were 2,453 articles about Pussy Riot, every one of them singing the praises of the courageous girls who took on Vladimir the Terrible and exposed themselves to 7 years of jailtime. That’s the basic storyline with virtually no exceptions. Over and over again, the same tedious theme; “Pussy good, Putin bad”.  Now wouldn’t you think that in a country as fanatically religious as the United States, that at least one or two of the journalists would defend the position of the church or find fault in what the girls did?  Of course, they would, but I didn’t find any articles like that, which is why the coverage doesn’t pass the smell test.

So, let’s do a little thought-experiment and dig a little deeper into this matter. Let’s say an all-girl punk-rock band stormed into St Patrick’s Cathedral or a major Jewish synagogue in downtown Manhattan and commandeered the altar so they could execute a raucous and blasphemous performance that derides believers as well as Barack Obama. Do you think the media would be as supportive as they have with Pussy Riot?  Of course not. The whole idea is absurd, right? So, what’s the difference here?

Putin, that’s the difference. The media is after Putin.    And–another thing– do you think the girls would have been escorted out as considerately as they were in Moscow or do you think that they would have been tasered, pepper-sprayed, bludgeoned and dragged off in chains by a small army of New York’s finest?

Everyone knows the answer to that. They’d probably all still be in the hospital today. You don’t mess with NYPD!   The media doesn’t like to point out civil liberties violations at home. They’d rather point the finger at someone else. That’s why there are nearly 2,500 articles defending poor, abused Pussy Riot and not a word about Bradley Manning, Julien Assange or the thousands of Occupy protesters who were gassed, pummeled and incarcerated during the protests last year.

These people’s musings don’t appear in the headlines either–like civil rights champion, Khodorkovsky–because they’re not rich and powerful and don’t have a propaganda service to defend themselves. They’re invisible.  By the way, have you heard the news that Pussy Riot’s three rising stars were scuttled off to a remote island penitentiary where they were waterboarded, kept awake for weeks at a time listening to AC-DC at full-volume, stripped naked in a freezing 6′x8′ cell, force-fed through a plastic tube that was pushed up their noses without an anesthetic, and forced to crouch in a kneeling position for 12 hours at a stretch? Did you hear about that?

Of course, you didn’t. Because the “tyrannical” Putin doesn’t torture the people he’s arrested. Only the US treats its prisoners like that, which is another reason why the media has this whole Pussy story backwards. They should be reporting on the appalling treatment of prisoners in US custody, not casting stones at Putin. And that goes double for the legal proceedings.

What would possess US journalists to criticize Moscow’s so called “show trial” when Gitmo terror suspects get no trial at all? Have you thought about that? In fact, they have no rights at all; no right to appear before a judge, no right to a jury of their peers, no right to prove their innocence.  Zero freedom in the “land of the free”…

 

Continue reading

The Anti-Empire Report #106, by William Blum [killinghope.org]

Posted in Afghanistan, CIA, Cuba, FBI, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Julian Assange, Obama, Torture, US drone strikes, US imperialism, USA, Wikileaks on July 4, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

July 3rd, 2012
by William Blum
www.killinghope.org

Julian Assange

I’m sure most Americans are mighty proud of the fact that Julian Assange is so frightened of falling into the custody of the United States that he had to seek sanctuary in the embassy of Ecuador, a tiny and poor Third World country, without any way of knowing how it would turn out.  He might be forced to be there for years. “That’ll teach him to mess with the most powerful country in the world!  All you other terrorists and anti-Americans out there — Take Note!  When you f**k around with God’s country you pay a price!”

How true.  You do pay a price.  Ask the people of Cuba, Vietnam, Chile, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Iran, Haiti, etc., etc., etc.  And ask the people of Guantánamo, Diego Garcia, Bagram, and a dozen other torture centers to which God’s country offers free transportation.

You think with the whole world watching, the United States would not be so obvious as to torture Assange if they got hold of him? Ask Bradley Manning. At a bare minimum, prolonged solitary confinement is torture. Before too long the world may ban it. Not that that would keep God’s country and other police states from using it.

You think with the whole world watching, the United States would not be so obvious as to target Assange with a drone? They’ve done it with American citizens. Assange is a mere Aussie…

No shelter from the drones of infinite justice or the bacteria of enduring freedom

Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai said recently that he had had an argument with Gen. John Allen, the top US commander in Afghanistan, about the issue of American drone attacks in Afghanistan, following yet another deadly airstrike that killed a number of civilians. Karzai asked Allen an eminently reasonable question: “Do you do this in the United States?” The Afghan president added: “There is police action every day in the United States in various localities. They don’t call an airplane to bomb the place.”2

Karzai’s question to Allen was rhetorical of course, for can it be imagined that American officials would bomb a house in an American city because they suspected that certain bad guys were present there? Well, the answer to that question is that it can be imagined because they’ve already done it.

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On May 13, 1985, a bomb dropped by a police helicopter burned down an entire block, some 60 homes destroyed, 11 dead, including several small children. The police, the mayor’s office, and the FBI were all involved in this effort to evict an organization called MOVE from the house they lived in.

The victims were all black of course. So let’s rephrase our question. Can it be imagined that American officials would bomb a house in Beverly Hills or the upper east side of Manhattan? Stay tuned.

And what else can we imagine about a society that’s been super militarized, that’s at war with much of the world, and is convinced that it’s on the side of the angels and history? Well, the Boston transit system, MBTA, recently announced that in conjunction with Homeland Security they plan to release dead bacteria at three stations during off-hours this summer in order to test sensors that detect biological agents, which terrorists could release into subway systems. The bacterium, bacillus subtilis, is not infectious even in its live form, according to the government…3

…For the planned Boston test the public has not been informed of the exact days; nor is it known how long the bacteria might linger in the stations or what the possible danger might be to riders whose immune system has been weakened for any reason…

Barack Obama, his mother, and the CIA

In his autobiography, Dreams From My Fathers, Barack Obama writes of taking a job at some point after graduating from Columbia University in 1983. He describes his employer as “a consulting house to multinational corporations” in New York City, and his functions as a “research assistant” and “financial writer”.

Oddly, Obama doesn’t mention the name of his employer. However, a New York Times story of October 30, 2007 identifies the company as Business International Corporation. Equally odd is that the Times did not remind its readers that the newspaper itself had disclosed in 1977 that Business International had provided cover for four CIA employees in various countries between 1955 and 1960.10

The British journal, Lobster — which, despite its incongruous name, is a venerable international publication on intelligence matters — has reported that Business International was active in the 1980s promoting the candidacy of Washington-favored candidates in Australia and Fiji…11

…In his book, not only doesn’t Obama mention his employer’s name; he fails to say exactly when he worked there, or why he left the job.  There may well be no significance to these omissions, but inasmuch as Business International has a long association with the world of intelligence, covert actions, and attempts to penetrate the radical left — including Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)13 — it’s reasonable to wonder if the inscrutable Mr. Obama is concealing something about his own association with this world.

Adding to the wonder is the fact that his mother, Ann Dunham, had been associated during the 1970s and 80s — as employee, consultant, grantee, or student — with at least five organizations with intimate CIA connections during the Cold War: The Ford Foundation, Agency for International Development (AID), the Asia Foundation, Development Alternatives, Inc., and the East-West Center of Hawaii…14

[Obamacare vs. Cuban socialized medicine / single payer]

…The Supreme Court of the United States has just upheld the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law, the Affordable Care Act. Liberals as well as many progressives are very pleased, regarding this as a victory for the left.

Under the new law, people can benefit in one way or another depending on the following factors:

Their age; whether their income is at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level; whether their parents have a health plan; whether they use tobacco; what state they live in; whether they have a pre-existing medical condition; whether they qualify to buy health insurance through newly-created market places known as “exchanges”; and numerous other criteria … They can obtain medical insurance in a “competitive insurance market” (emphasis on the “competitive”); they can perhaps qualify for various other kinds of credits and tax relief if they meet certain criteria … The authors of the Act state that it will save thousands of dollars in drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries by closing a coverage gap called the “donut hole” … They tell us that “It keeps insurance companies honest by setting clear rules that rein in the worst insurance industry abuses.”

That’s a sample of how health care looks in the United States of America in the 21st century, with a complexity that will keep a small army of lawyers busy for years to come. Ninety miles away, in the Republic of Cuba, it looks a bit different. If you feel sick you go to a doctor. You’re automatically qualified to receive any medical care that’s available and thought to be suitable. The doctor treats you to the best of his or her ability. The insurance companies play no role. There are no insurance companies. You don’t pay anything. You go home.

The Affordable Care Act will undoubtedly serve as a disincentive to the movement for single-payer national health insurance, setting the movement back for years. The Affordable Care Act was undoubtedly designed for that purpose…

Edited / excerpted by Zuo Shou

Full article here, contains footnote references and links

“Minju Joson Accuses Former U.S. President of His Monstrous War Crimes” – GW Bush found guilty by tribunal [Korean Central News Agency]

Posted in Genocide, George W. Bush, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Iraq, Korean Central News Agency of DPRK, Torture, US "War on Terror", US imperialism, USA, War crimes on May 21, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Pyongyang, May 21 (KCNA) — The War Criminal Tribunal in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, formed a chief justice [sic] with its jurists and law experts and held a hearing on torture and war crimes committed by Former U.S. President Bush II and his seven assistants from May 7 to 12.

Minju Joson Monday observes in a bylined commentary in this regard: This clearly shows the will of the international community not to pardon those who committed hideous war crimes against humanity no matter how much water has [flowed] under the bridge, the commentary notes, and goes on:

Still fresh in the memory of world people are the shuddering human rights abuses perpetrated by U.S. troops in Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq and Guantanamo naval base, shocking the world.

These being hard facts, Bush II did not assume any legal responsibility for those hideous crimes against humanity.

But he is still at large though he earned an ill fame as a hideous war criminal and the U.S., the world’s worst human rights abuser and chieftain of genocide, is busy waging “an anti-terror war.” This cannot but be a tragedy of the international community.

Both international law and the UN Charter have no provision stipulating that the U.S. cannot be brought to an international tribunal as it is a “superpower”. In the international community each country is equal and the U.S. is just a member of this community. The U.S. deserves a stern punishment if it committed crimes against humankind.

It will certainly judge on behalf of justice the U.S., the root cause of all the misfortune and sufferings on earth. -0-

KCNA English homepage: http://www.kcna.kp/goHome.do?lang=eng

US’ human rights violations [China Daily]

Posted in Afghanistan, China, Corporate Media Critique, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Libya, Media smear campaign, Pakistan, Pentagon, Tibet, Torture, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, War crimes on May 14, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

March 26, 2012

by Eric Sommer

US media and political figures constantly attack China for alleged human rights violations, while conveniently turning a blind eye to human rights violations perpetrated by the United States in the name of its war on terror, for instance the use of torture at Abu Ghraib, the illegal detention of suspects at Guantanamo, the apprehension and extrajudicial transfer of individuals from one [nation] to another, and the unauthorized surveillance of citizens are just some the US’ well-documented human rights abuses.

And as important as rights such as [so-called] freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom of religion may be, these rights pale in significance beside the most fundamental of human rights, which is the right to live, with its corollary of security from actions or conditions which threaten life, such as military aggression, criminal acts, or similar threats that put people’s lives at risk.

With this in mind let’s compare China and the US, to see who is the real human rights violator.

US military forces have been responsible for thousands, possibly millions, of civilian deaths around the world in the past decade.

While there are no accurate figures for the civilian death toll in Iraq, household surveys have been conducted asking Iraqis to list the family members they have lost and the results then extrapolated to the total population to give a nationwide estimate. The prominent British medical journal, the Lancet, ran into a storm of controversy when it published an article by researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore which extrapolated the results of a survey of a randomly chosen sample of 1,849 households to the total Iraqi population and estimated that there were 655,000 deaths between April 2003 and June 2006. Yet in 2007, the British polling firm Opinion Research Business surveyed 1,720 Iraqi adults and extrapolated a figure that was even higher – a “minimum of 733,158 to a maximum of 1,446,063″ – Iraqi civilaians killed.

The independent UK-based research group, the Iraq Body Count, which only counts civilan deaths where there is documentary evidence, such as cross-checked media reports, hospital, and morgue records – which is likely to be the minority seeing as so few bodies are recovered – has a minimum civilian death toll of 105,753.

Nor is there a single figure for the overall number of civilians killed by the 10-year war in Afghanistan, but according to the latest report from the United Nations, 12,793 have been killed in just the past six years.

And these figures do not include those that have been injured in the two wars, nor those killed or injured by the US military in Pakistan and Libya.

It should be noted that none of these countries attacked -or have ever attacked – the US.

The US military, supported by the US government, defines its goal as “full spectrum” – that is global land, sea and air and indeed space – military dominance. In support of this goal, the US military is deployed in more than 150 countries and according to an official Pentagon accounting of US military bases, the Base Structure Report, Fiscal 2010 Baseline the US has at least 662 overseas bases in 38 foreign countries, although the figure is more because the list excludes bases in several nations integral to active operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Chinese government has emphasized that the Chinese military’s role is strictly defensive: protection of its sovereignty and territorial integrity and peaceful economic development. China adheres to a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, and during the same period it has had no military conflicts with other countries. It also has no military bases in other countries.

Turning to civil liberties. The US’ rate of imprisonment is the highest in the world: about 760 out of every 100,000 US citizens are in jail. China, with a population very nearly four times as big, has a rate of imprisonment that is one-seventh that of the US, about 118 out of every 100,000 of its citizens are in jail.

In the US there is unofficial media censorship by the central government – which seeks control over news content relating to its military operations – and by the powerful corporate interests which control the mass media in the US. This control was evident both in the run-up to the Iraq War, in which the media willingly accepted the government’s claims that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that the presence of such weapons justified a military invasion. It was also evident in the many false reports which included doctored pictures purporting to “show Chinese police brutality” during the Lhasa riots in 2008. Nevertheless, it must be noted that the Internet and smaller media outlets enable wider discussion.

In China the mass media is State owned, but again the Internet and smaller media outlets enable wider discussion.

Regarding religious freedom, the US provides the right to practice any religion and to attempt to convert others to your religion, and does not allow any crimes in the name of religion. China allows believers to practice their religion in recognized places of worship and does not allow any crimes in the name of religion, either.

While China needs to do more to convince the world that it has and will better protect human rights, the US-led West clearly needs to improve its own human rights record.

The author is a Canadian independent researcher.

Article link: http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2012-03/26/content_14909556.htm

When Obama met China’s VP Xi Jinping – the US’ “human rights” lies [Globalreseach.ca]

Posted in Afghanistan, Anti-Arab / Antisemitism, Anti-China media bias, Anti-China propaganda exposure, Anti-Islam hysteria, China, CIA, Genocide, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Historical myths of the US, Iran, Islamophobia, Israel, Julian Assange, Libya, Obama, Pakistan, Palestine, Somalia, Syria, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, War crimes, Wikileaks, Yemen on February 15, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Article’s original title: “Washington’s Insouciance Has No Rival”

by Paul Craig Roberts

Is Obama a hypocrite or merely insouciant? Or is he an idiot?

According to news reports Obama’s White House meeting on Valentine’s day with China’s Vice President, Xi Jinping, provided an opportunity for Obama to raise “a sensitive human rights issue with the Chinese leader-in-waiting.” The brave and forthright Obama didn’t let etiquette or decorum get in his way. Afterwards, Obama declared that Washington would “continue to emphasize what we believe is the importance of realizing the aspirations and rights of all people.”

Think about that for a minute. Washington is now in the second decade of murdering Muslim men, women, and children in six countries. Washington is so concerned with human rights that it drops bombs on schools, hospitals, weddings and funerals, all in order to uphold the human rights of Muslim people. You see, bombing liberates Muslim women from having to wear the burka and from male domination.

One hundred thousand, or one million, dead Iraqis, four million displaced Iraqis, a country with destroyed infrastructure, and entire cities, such as Fallujah, bombed and burnt with white phosphorus into cinders is the proper way to show concern for human rights.

Ditto for Afghanistan. And Libya.

In Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia Washington’s drones bring human rights to the people.

Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and secret CIA prison sites are other places to which Washington brings human rights. Obama, who has the power to murder American citizens without due process of law, is too powerless to close Guantanamo Prison.

He is powerless to prevent himself from supplying Israel with weapons with which to murder Palestinians and Lebanese citizens to whom Obama brings human rights by vetoing every UN resolution passed against Israel for its crimes against humanity.

Instead of following Washington’s human rights lead, the evil Chinese invest in other countries, buy things from them, and sell them goods.

Has any foreign dignitary ever raised “a sensitive human rights issue” with Obama or his predecessor? How is the world so deranged that Washington can murder innocents for years on end and still profess to be the world’s defender of human rights?

How many people has China bombed, droned, and sanctioned into non-existence in the 21st century?

Will Syria and Iran be the next victims of Washington’s concern for human rights?

Nothing better illustrates the total unreality of life in the West than the fact that the entire Western world did not break out in riotous laughter over Obama’s expression of his human rights concern over China’s behavior.

Washington’s concern with human rights does not extend as far as airport security where little girls and grandmothers are sexually groped. Antiwar activists have their homes invaded, their personal possessions carried off, and a grand jury is summoned to frame them up on some terrorist charge. US soldier Bradley Manning is held for two years in violation of the US Constitution while the human rights government concocts fabricated charges to punish him for revealing a US war crime. WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange is harassed endlessly with the goal of bringing him into the human rights clutches of Washington. Critics of Washington’s inhumane policies are monitored and spied upon.

Washington is the worst violator of human rights in our era, and Washington has only begun.

Who will liberate Americans from Washington’s clutches?

Article link: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29301

Repulsive progressive hypocrisy [Glenn Greenwald / Salon]

Posted in Assassination, Bourgeois parliamentary democracy, George W. Bush, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Obama, US "War on Terror", US drone strikes, US imperialism, USA on February 13, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

1) What used to be considered ‘liberal progressive’ is probably now something like neo-liberal, with the general trend of political degeneration towards the right;

2) Glenn is absolutely right about the consummate vileness of these Democrat-branded phonies; while in the US I witnessed these opportunistic parasites as they neutered and destroyed the US anti-war movement for the sole purpose of elevating the bankrupt Democrat wing to political power. – Zuo Shou

Feb 9, 2012

* Excerpted *

[Recent polls show that the "left wing" of the Democrat Party in the US overwhelmingly supports continued operation of Guantanamo Prison in Cuba, Obama's global assassination policy, and his escalating use of drones -- despite their use causing widespread death amongst innocents, including women and children.]

One of the reasons I’ve written so much about the complete reversal of progressives on these issues (from pretending to be horrified by them when done under Bush to tolerating them or even supporting them when done by Obama) is precisely because it’s so remarkable to see…authoritarian follower traits manifest so vibrantly in the very same political movement — …progressives [sic]…

The Democratic Party owes a sincere apology to George Bush, Dick Cheney and company for enthusiastically embracing many of the very Terrorism policies which caused them to hurl such vehement invective at the GOP for all those years. And progressives who support the views of the majority as expressed by this poll should never be listened to again the next time they want to pretend to oppose civilian slaughter and civil liberties assaults when perpetrated by the next Republican President (it should be noted that roughly 35% of liberals, a non-trivial amount, say they oppose these Obama policies).

…I’ve often made the case that one of the most consequential aspects of the Obama legacy is that he has transformed what was once known as “right-wing shredding of the Constitution” into bipartisan consensus…When one of the two major parties supports a certain policy and the other party pretends to oppose it — as happened with these radical War on Terror policies during the Bush years — then public opinion is divisive on the question, sharply split. But once the policy becomes the hallmark of both political parties, then public opinion becomes robust in support of it. That’s because people assume that if both political parties support a certain policy that it must be wise, and because policies that enjoy the status of bipartisan consensus are removed from the realm of mainstream challenge. That’s what Barack Obama has done to these Bush/Cheney policies: he has…shielded and entrenched them as standard U.S. policy for at least a generation, and (by leading his supporters to embrace these policies as their own) has done so with far more success than any GOP President ever could have dreamed of achieving…

Full article link: http://www.salon.com/2012/02/08/repulsive_progressive_hypocrisy/singleton/

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