Archive for the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp Category

Presidential Rule by Deception: Obama, the Master Con-man [The James Petras Website]

Posted in Afghanistan, Africa, Anti-communism, Bill Clinton, Bourgeois parliamentary democracy, China, China-US relations, CIA, Genocide, George W. Bush, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Hillary Clinton, Historical myths of the US, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Obama, Pakistan, Palestine, Pentagon, Russia, State Department, Syria, Torture, US drone strikes, US imperialism, USA, USSR, Venezuela, Wall Street, War crimes, Western nations' human rights distortions, Yugoslavia - former FRY, Zionism on July 8, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by James Petras

June 23, 2013

Introduction: In an electoral system, run by and for a corporate oligarchy, deception and demagoguery are essential elements – entertaining the people while working for the wealthy.

Every US President has engaged, in one fashion or another, in ‘play acting’ to secure popular approval, neutralize hostility and distract voters from the reactionary substance of their foreign and domestic policies.

Every substantive policy is accompanied by a ‘down home’ folksy message to win public approval. This happened with President ‘Jimmy’ Carter’s revival of large-scale proxy wars in Afghanistan in the post-Viet Nam War period; Ronald Reagan’s genocidal wars in Central America, George Bush Sr.’s savaging of Iraq in the First Gulf War; ‘Bill’ Clinton’s decimation of social welfare in the US while bombing civilians in Yugoslavia and deregulating Wall Street; George Bush Jr.’s invasion and partition of Iraq and Afghanistan, the attempted coup in Venezuela and massive tax cuts for the rich; and Barack Obama’s staggering bailout of the biggest Wall Street speculators, unprecedented launching of five consecutive wars, and arrest and deportation of millions of immigrant workers. Each President has elaborated a style in order to ingratiate himself with the public while pursuing his reactionary agenda.

In rhetoric, appearance and in public persona, it is ‘de rigueur’ for US Presidents to present themselves as an ‘everyman’ while committing political actions – including war crimes worthy of prosecution.

Each President, in his ‘play acting’, develops a style suitable to the times. They constantly strive to overcome the public’s suspicion and potential hostility to their overt and covert policies designed to build empire as domestic conditions deteriorate. However, not all play acting is the same: each President’s ‘populist’ style in defense of oligarchic interests has its characteristic nuances.

The Carter Feint: ‘Human Rights’ Wars in the Post-Viet Nam War Era

‘Jimmy’ Carter was elected President at a time of the greatest mass anti-war upheaval in US history. His campaign projected a soft-spoken, conciliatory President from humble roots reaching out to the anti-war electorate and solemnly pledging to uphold human rights against domestic militarists and their overseas despotic allies. To that end, he appointed a liberal human rights advocate Pat Derian to the State Department and a veteran Cold Warrior, Zbigniew (Zbig) Brzezinski, as National Security Advisor and foreign policy strategist…

…Carter soon re-launched the Cold War, reviving military spending and pouring billions of dollars into funding, arming and training tens of thousands of fundamentalist Jihadists from around the world to invade Afghanistan and overthrow its leftist, secular government.

Carter’s policy of re-militarization and launching of large-scale and long-term secret CIA operations in alliance with the most brutal dictators and monarchs of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan was accompanied by sanctimonious speeches about human rights and token appeals to protect ‘civilians’. In this regard, Carter became our founding father of the double discourse: a con man that publically condemned the jailing and torture by Pinochet of political opponents in Chile while orchestrating what would become a decade-long blood bath in Afghanistan with millions of victims.

Reagan: Geniality with Genocide

Up until the ascendancy of Barack Obama, the avuncular President, Ronald Reagan, was acknowledged as the ‘master con-man’, by virtue of his Hollywood acting experience. Reagan was and remained a disciplined and hardened backer of policies designed to concentrate wealth while smashing unions, even as he entertained the flag-waving hard hat construction workers with his jokes about ‘limousine liberals’ and Cadillac welfare queens. The knowing wink and clever two-liners were matched by an adaptation of morality tales from his cowboy films. Reagan, in his role as ‘the righteous sheriff’, backed the mercenary contras as they invaded Nicaragua and destroyed schools and clinics and the genocidal military dictators in El Salvador and Guatemala who murdered hundreds of thousands of Indians and peasants. Uncle Reagan’s friendly chats would describe how he had stopped the communist ‘outlaws’ (peasants, workers and Indians) of Central America from flooding across the Rio Grande and invading California and Texas. His tales resonated with mass audiences familiar with the racist Hollywood cowboy film version of unshaven Mexican bandits crossing the ‘US’ border. The clean-shaven, straight-talking, ‘stand-up for America’ President Ronald Reagan was elected and re-elected by a resounding majority in the midst of CIA-backed mujahedeen victories over the government and secular civil structure of Afghanistan, Pentagon- supported Israeli slaughter of Palestinian refugees in their camps in Lebanon and the mass genocide of scores of thousands of indigenous villagers in Guatemala. When news reports seeped out about the mass graves of poor villagers in Guatemala, Reagan resorted to colloquial language right out of a Hollywood film to defend General Rios Mont: “He’s getting a bum rap”. In defending the brutal dictator of Guatemala, Reagan replaced Carter’s sanctimonious phrasing in favor of down-to-earth macho talk of a no-nonsense sheriff.

In substance, both Carter and Reagan were rebuilding the US war machine after the debacle of Viet Nam; they were setting up a global network of client dictators, Muslim fundamentalists and hypocritical Anglo-American humanitarians interventionists.

Bush Senior: Uni-Polarity and the Ticket to Uncontested Imperial Conquests

Following the break-up of the Soviet Union, the US and Western Europe re-conquered, pillaged and neo-colonized Eastern Europe. West Germany annexed East Germany. And a predator-gangster oligarchy in Russia seized over a trillion dollars of public assets, impoverishing millions and laundered the illicit funds via elaborate banking operations on Wall Street and in London and Tel Aviv.

President George Bush Sr. embraced the doctrine of a unipolar world – free from rival super-power constraints and independent Third World resistance. ‘Poppy’ Bush believed the US could impose its will by force anywhere and at any time without fear of retaliation. He believed he was heir to a new imperial order of free markets, free elections and unrestrained plunder. The first war he would launch would be in the Middle East – the invasion, massive bombing and destruction of Iraq. It was followed by an unprecedented expansion of NATO bases in the countries of Eastern Europe. The spread of neo-liberalism led to the naked pillage of public assets throughout Latin American and Eastern Europe. The Empire ruled the Muslim world through an arc of client dictators from Tunisia, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia to Pakistan…

The Clinton-Con: Black Churches, Welfare Cuts and the Wall Street Warrior

Bill Clinton, like Ronald Reagan, turned out to be a Wall Street populist .With his folksy Arkansas intonations he preached messages of hope in black churches while diligently applying the free-market lessons he had learned from his Wall Street mentors. Tooting the saxophone and oozing compassion, Clinton told the poor that he could ‘feel their pain’, while inflicting misery on single mothers forced to leave their children and take minimum-wage jobs in order to retain any public assistance. He joined hands with labor union bosses at Labor Day festivities, while fast-tracking job-killing free-trade treaties (like NAFTA) that devastated the American working class. Bill Clinton enthusiastically sent bombers over Belgrade and other Yugoslav cities for several weeks, destroying its factories, hospitals, schools, power plants, radio and TV stations and bridges, as well as the Chinese Embassy, in support of the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army and its separatist war against Belgrade. Clinton bombed civilians and their vital infrastructure, a war crime in the name of ‘humanitarian intervention’, to the ecstatic cheers of many Western liberals, progressives, social democrats and not a few Marxists as well as many Jihadists. On the home front, this self-proclaimed ‘people’s candidate’ ripped to shreds all restraints on banking speculation by repealing the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, New Deal legislation enacted to protect against massive banking swindles. This opened the floodgates to massive financial manipulation, which destroyed the pensions of many millions of workers.[2]

Clinton’s policies laid the groundwork for the information technology and Stock Market crash of 2000-01. His appointee, Alan Greenspan, created the conditions leading to speculative financial frenzy and subsequent economic crash of 2008. Bill Clinton’s stand-up comic performances in black churches, his back slapping encounters with labor bureaucrats and his embrace of feminists and others just raised the rhetorical bar for future aspiring Wall Street warlords in the White House. It would take eight years and the election of Barack Hussein Obama to finally surpass Bill Clinton as Con-Man-In Chief.

Bush Junior: A Yale Man with a Texas Drawl

President George Bush, Junior’s regime launched two major wars and backed two Israeli assaults on Palestinian civilians trapped in Gaza – the world’s largest open-air prison. He virtually eliminated taxes on billionaires while overseeing the geometrical growth of the domestic police state apparatus; and he unleashed the biggest speculative bubble and crash since the Great Depression. He lowered the living standards for all Americans except the top 10% of the population – and despite these disasters and despite his lack-luster performance as a con-man, he was re-elected.

His handlers and backers did their best to market their boy: his Ivy League credentials and New England background was replaced by a transparently phony Texas accent; tinny, whiney sound bites, reminiscent of his father’s, were replaced by a Texas ‘ranchers’ homely drawl. His ‘just-folks’ grammatical mistakes may have been mocked by the liberals but they resonated deeply with fundamentalist Christians – who would never have recognized the Phillips Exeter Academy-Yale Skull and Bones boy in their Commander-in Chief. President Bush, Jr. was decked out in the uniform of a ‘Top Gun’ fighter pilot to polish his military credentials tarnished by revelations that the millionaire-playboy had gone AWOL during his service in the National Guard. His silly ‘Mission Accomplished’ claim that the Iraq war had been won in the first months after the invasion was rudely corrected by the huge outbreak of Iraqi resistance against the occupier. Bush handed over foreign policymaking, especially pertaining to the Middle East, to a small army of Jewish Zionists, aided and abetted by notorious militarists, like Cheney and Rumsfeld. Most major political events were handled by his Cabinet thugs – Secretary of State Colin Powell shamelessly fabricated the ‘evidence’ of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction in his performance before the United Nations. Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz invented Afghanistan’s ties to the planners of 9/11. Cheney and his Zionist troika of Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and ‘Scooter’ Libby trumpeted the ‘global war on terror’ while Michael Chertoff, Michael Mukasey and Stuart Levey conducted a domestic war against the Bill of Rights and US Constitutional freedoms, defending torture, jailing thousands of Muslims, punishing businesses trading with Iran and labeling US opponents of Israel’s war crimes as ‘security threats’. Bush, Jr. just nodded his approval, letting the “big fellas have a piece of the action”. With Junior, there was no peace demagoguery just plain talk to plain folks and- “Let the bombs fall and the Capital flow”. Bush did not have to go preaching to black churches (he had a black Secretary of State and National Security Adviser to do his dirty work without the cant); Bush never claimed that Israel got the ‘bum rap’ when it was charged with genocidal crimes. Under Bush, Jr., war criminals did not have to ‘sugar-coat’ their crimes. While occupying the White House, Bush signed off on the multi-trillion-dollar bailout for Wall Street and then just went off to tend his cows and chop wood at the Texas ranch.

Bush’s ‘style’ was a combination of ‘laid back’ and ‘straight forward’: he simply committed war crimes, protected Wall Street swindles and expanded the police state, without claiming otherwise. As the endless wars dragged on, as the stock market flopped under its own fraud and manipulation and the increasingly repressive legislation provoked debate, Bush just shrugged his shoulders and finished out his term in office without flourish or fanfare: “Y’all can’t win ‘em all. Let the next guy try his hand”.

Barack Obama: The Master of Deceit

From the beginning of his Presidential campaign, Obama demonstrated his proficiency as the master of all cons. He spoke passionately against torture while consulting with the torturers; he condemned Wall Street speculators while appointing key Street operatives as economic advisers. He promised a new deal in the Middle East, especially for Palestinians and then appointed a dual citizen, Israeli-US, Rahm Emmanuel (son of an Israeli Irgun terrorist) to be his most intimate Presidential advisor. Honolulu born and bred, Barack modulated his voice according to the audience, adopting a Baptist minister’s cadence for the black audiences while assuming the professorial tone of an Ivy League lawyer for his Wall Street contributors. He hob-knobbed with Hollywood celebrities and Silicon billionaires, who bankrolled the fairy tale of his ‘historic breakthrough’ – the First Afro-American President who would speak for all Americans – nay for the entire world! Millions of giddy camp followers, white, black, old and young, the trade unionists and community activists alike were willingly deceived. They had chosen to disregard the fact that Barack Obama’s key advisers were rabid militarists, big bankers, corporate CEO’s, die-hard Zionists and Wall Street manipulators. Indeed Obama’s supporters were enchanted by the phony rhetoric, the demagogy, the ‘populist style’, and the fake ‘authenticities’. Here was the man who promised to end the wars, close the torture concentration camp in Guantanamo, bring Wall Street to heel, repeal the Patriot Act and restore the Bill of Rights. And he was ‘their guy’ – shooting hoops in an urban playground – something Bush had never done! In truth, Barack Hussein Obama did a lot that Bush never dared to do – he surpassed Bush by far in committing war crimes against humanity – pushing for more military adventures abroad and police state repression at home. He exceeded by far any President in US history in assuming dictatorial police powers, in waging multiple wars while directing the massive transfer of state revenues to Wall Street bankers. President Obama, hands down, will be regarded as the greatest con-man President in American history. The Carters, Reagans and Clintons all pale in comparison: the enormous gap between style and substance, promise and performance, peace and war, capital and labor has never been greater.

It is President Obama’s hollow eloquence that raised the hopes of millions at home and abroad only to condemn them to an inferno of endless wars. It is the perversity of his rhetoric which attracts the Latino vote with promises of immigrant citizenship while his policy has been fill detention centers with hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers and their families. His soaring rhetoric promising justice for Muslims in Cairo was followed by the bloody bombing of Tripoli, the torture and slaughter of the Libyan patriot President Gadhafi; the broken promises to the Palestinians contrasts with the embrace of the bloody Israeli warlords. Obama far out-paced President Bush’s drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan, bombings which targeted farmers, whole families and famished orphans in their schools. Soaring moral and ethical pronouncements accompany Obama’s arming and praising the 40,000 Muslim fundamentalist mercenaries sent to degrade and shatter the secular Syrian state. The pretexts for mass killing fall from his lips like maggots on a rotten corpse: his blatant lies about the use of poison gas in Syria as the government in Damascus confronts a foreign mercenary invasion; the lurid tales of fabricated massacres in Benghazi (Libya) and the false claims of stolen elections in Venezuela. Obama’s rhetoric converts executioners into victims and victims into executioners.

President Barack Obama promised a comprehensive health care overhaul for America and then presented the electorate with a confusing series of obligatory payments for plans designed by for-profit private health insurance companies. Obama ‘defended social security’ by raising the age of retirement, ensuring that hundreds of thousands of workers in hazardous occupations would die before ever receiving any benefits after a lifetime of obligatory contributions. Obama solemnly promised to defend Medicare and then proposed to reduce its budget by a trillion dollars over a decade.

Obama claims a presidential prerogative of ‘defending American interests’ by ordering the assassination of whomever his million-member secret police state apparatus designates as a security threat – including American citizens – without trial, without recourse to habeas corpus.

In the White House Rose Garden President Barack Obama strolls arm-in-arm with his wife and children, a family man, true to his promises… While in Aleppo a young teen, a street vendor, is beheaded before his parents and neighbors by fanatical ‘freedom-fighters’ praised and supported by the President. The boy’s alleged crime was blasphemy. The murdered teen has joined the scores of thousands of Syrians killed and the hundreds of thousands who will join them, as Obama has decided to openly arm the mercenaries.

Casual, open collar, President Obama jokes as he walks and talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the sumptuous estate of a California billionaire, offering friendship and peace – shaking hands for the cameras with a scorpion in his palm. The smiling Obama has ceaselessly dispatched his envoys to Asia, Latin America, Oceana and Africa to incite claims and conflicts against Beijing. Obama believes that his own ‘personal magic’ will blind the Chinese to the fact that China is being encircled by US air and maritime bases. He seems to believe that the Chinese will ignore his efforts to forge US-centered trade pacts which specifically exclude China.

The master ‘confidence-man’ sincerely believes in his power to move and mystify the public, pick the pockets of his adversaries and make his victims believe they have been in the presence of a world-class statesman. In fact, Obama has been playing the role of a street hustler living off the earnings and lives of his people while handing them over to his corporate bosses and pimps for Israel.

Obama fills internment camps with hundreds of thousands of Latino immigrant workers while promising a ‘roadmap to citizenship’ to the cheers of Mexican-American Democratic Party vote hustlers!

Obama received 95% of the Afro-American votes, while the income gap between blacks and whites widens and unemployment and poverty figures soar. Obama, the first ‘Afro-American President’, has bombed and intervened in more African countries, backing mercenary armies in Libya and Somalia and establishing more military bases throughout the black continent than the last five ‘white’ Presidents … So much for the self-proclaimed “historic breakthrough of a Black President ending centuries of racism”.

It’s enough for Obama to appoint other black police state thugs and foreign interventionists, like Eric Holder and Susan Rice, to win the cheers of liberals even as their own security files grow in the data warehouses of the world’s biggest spying agencies.

One cynic, commenting on the long-standing love affair between Obama and white liberals, observed that ‘the more he screws them the better they like him … Even as he marches them off to jail, they would take care to note on his behalf, that the barred windows have curtains – something Bush would never have allowed.’

Conclusion

For sheer span of broken promises, of systematic lies in pursuit of wars and financial manipulation in the name of peace and social justice, of consistent and bold aggrandizement of executive power over the life and death of US citizens in the name of security, Obama has set the standard of political deception and demagogy far beyond past and probable future US Presidents.

The political context of his ascent to power and his deep links to the military-financial-Zionist networks insured his success as a premier confidence man.

President George Bush, Jr., the cringing, fading war-monger engaged in prolonged, costly wars and facing the collapse of the entire banking and financial sector, provided Candidate Obama with an easy target. Obama exploited the mass revulsion of the American people, longing for change. His soaring rhetoric and vacuous promise of ‘change’ attracted millions of young activists … The problem is that in their enthusiasm and blind adherence to ‘identity politics’ with its claims that all ‘blacks’ and ‘women’ are oppressed and therefore guaranteed to promote peace and justice– facilitated Obama’s con-game and political hustle.

Obama, once in office, not only deepened and widened the scope of President Bush, Jr’s wars, massive spy apparatus and corporate profiteering; he bamboozled the vast majority of his liberal-labor supporters in the Democratic Party! Barack Obama conned the Democratic Party Congressional liberals and they, in turn, conned their constituents into supporting this fraud.

The costs of President Obama’s two-faced policies are enormous: democracy has given way to a police state openly defended by the President and Congressional leaders; Wall Street’s recovery and corporate profiteering is fast destroying public health and social security. Barack Obama’s multiple endless wars and interventions are destroying vast cities, infrastructure, entire cultures while and killing and impoverishing millions of people from Libya to Palestine, from Syria to Iran. The economic sanctions against Iran, the provocative encirclement and isolation of China, and the campaign to destabilize Venezuela are the centerpieces of Obama’s ‘pivot to empire’. These policies portend even greater world-shattering catastrophes.

Unmasking the con-man is a first step requiring that we expose the tricks of the con-game. The politics of deception and demagogy thrives by directing popular attention to style and rhetoric, not substance. The solemn and pious cant of ‘Jimmy’ Carter distracted from his launch of the rabid Jihadists against the secular administration of Afghanistan. Uncle Ronald Reagan’s geniality and populist TV patter covered-up his blood baths in Central America and mass firing of the unionized air controllers and jailing of union leaders. ‘Bill’ Clinton’s show of empathy for the poor and embrace of ‘feel-good’ politics neutralized opposition as he bombed Yugoslavia into a pre-industrial age while his domestic policies kicked vulnerable single mothers from welfare programs. They all paled before the grand con-master Obama, billed as the ‘first black’ President, a community organizer (who disowned his sponsor into the black communities of Chicago, Rev. Wright, for his anti-war, anti-imperial stand) has capitalized on his racial credentials to garner the vote of guilt-ridden, soft-headed liberals and marginalized blacks in order to serve the interests of Wall Street and Israel.

Disarming these con-men and women requires exposing the nature of their demagogic populist styles and focusing on substantive politics. The decisive criteria need to be class politics that are defined by fundamental class alignments, between capital and labor regarding budgets, income, taxes, social spending, financing and property rights. ‘Shooting hoops’ in ghetto playgrounds is a con-man’s distraction while his budget cuts close hospitals and schools in black and poor neighborhoods.

The extravaganzas, featuring sports and entertainment celebrities to promote imperial wars, are the ‘con’ to undermine international solidarity for war victims and the unemployed. President Obama, the confidence man, is still performing while sowing destruction. It’s time for the deceived, the disillusioned and the deprived to stand-up and shout! “We are deceived no more. Its time you were put on trial for Crimes against Humanity!”

Excerpted; full article link: http://petras.lahaine.org/?p=1944

“Why Disinformation Works” – Why Chinese dissident / émigré Chen Guangcheng is a sucker [Paul Craig Roberts]

Posted in Assassination, China, Ecuador, Germany, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Julian Assange, Mao Zedong, Nazism, Police State, Russia, U.K., US imperialism, USA, USSR, Wikileaks, World War II on June 11, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Paul Craig Roberts

May 23, 2013

[Excerpted]

…In America, government statements have a unique authority. This authority comes from the white hat that the US wore in World War II and in the subsequent Cold War. It was easy to demonize Nazi Germany, Soviet Communism and Maoist China. Even today when Russian publications interview me about the perilous state of civil liberty in the US and Washington’s endless illegal military attacks abroad, I sometimes receive reports that some Russians believe that it was an impostor who was interviewed, not the real Paul Craig Roberts. There are Russians who believe that it was President Reagan who brought freedom to Russia, and as I served in the Reagan administration these Russians associate me with their vision of America as a light unto the world. Some Russians actually believe that Washington’s wars are truly wars of liberation.

The same illusions reign among Chinese dissidents. Chen Guangcheng is the Chinese dissident who sought refuge in the US Embassy in China. Recently he was interviewed by the BBC World Service. Chen Guangcheng believes that the US protects human rights while China suppresses human rights. He complained to the BBC that in China police can arrest citizens and detain them for as long as six months without accounting for their detainment. He thought that the US and UK should publicly protest this violation of due process, a human right. Apparently, Chen Guangcheng is unaware that US citizens are subject to indefinite detention without due process and even to assassination without due process.

The Chinese government allowed Chen Guangcheng safe passage to leave China and live in the US. Chen Guangcheng is so dazzled by his illusions of America as a human rights beacon that it has never occurred to him that the oppressive, human rights-violating Chinese government gave him safe passage, but that Julian Assange, after being given political asylum by Ecuador is still confined to the Ecuadoran embassy in London, because Washington will not allow its UK puppet state to permit his safe passage to Ecuador.

Perhaps Chen Guangcheng and the Chinese and Russian dissidents who are so enamored of the US could gain some needed perspective if they were to read US soldier Terry Holdbrooks’ book about the treatment given to the Guantanamo prisoners. Holdbrooks was there on the scene, part of the process, and this is what he told RT: “The torture and information extraction methods that we used certainly created a great deal of doubt and questions in my mind to whether or not this was my America. But when I thought about what we were doing there and how we go about doing it, it did not seem like the America I signed up to defend. It did not seem like the America I grew up in. And that in itself was a very disillusioning experience.” http://rt.com/news/guantanamo-guard-islam-torture-608/

In a May 17 Wall Street Journal.com article, Peggy Noonan wrote that President Obama has lost his patina of high-mindedness. What did Obama do that brought this loss upon himself? Is it because he sits in the Oval Office approving lists of US citizens to be assassinated without due process of law? Is it because he detains US citizens indefinitely in violation of habeas corpus? Is it because he has kept open the torture prison at Guantanamo? Is it because he continued the war that the neoconservatives started, despite his promise to end it, and started new wars?

Is it because he attacks with drones people in their homes, medical centers, and work places in countries with which the US is not at war? Is it because his corrupt administration spies on American citizens without warrants and without cause?

No. It is none of these reasons. In Noonan’s view these are not offenses for which presidents, even Democratic ones, lose their high-minded patina. Obama can no longer be trusted, because the IRS hassled some conservative political activists.

Noonan is a Republican, and what Obama did wrong was to use the IRS against some Republicans. Apparently, it has not occurred to Noonan that if Obama–or any president–can use the IRS against opponents, he can use Homeland Security and the police state against them. He can use indefinite detention against them. He can use drones against them.

All of these are much more drastic measures. Why isn’t Peggy Noonan concerned?

Because she thinks these measures will only be used against terrorists, just as the IRS is only supposed to be used against tax evaders.

When a public and the commentators who inform it accept the collapse of the Constitution’s authority and the demise of their civil liberties, to complain about the IRS is pointless.

Full article: http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2013/05/23/why-disinformation-works-paul-craig-roberts/#

Guantánamo Bay force feeding inhuman and degrading, says UN [Guardian]

Posted in Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Torture, USA on May 9, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

* Officials call on US to either charge or release detainees amid fears for welfare of at least 21 hunger strikers being forcibly fed *

Owen Bowcott

2 May 2013

Force feeding hunger strikers in Guantánamo Bay is against international medical standards and should be stopped, according to a group of senior UN officials…

Full article link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/may/02/guantanamo-bay-force-feeding-inhuman-un

(c) Guardian News & Media Ltd

The Growing Campaign to Revoke Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize [Globalresearch.ca]

Posted in Afghanistan, George W. Bush, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Nobel Peace Prize, Obama, Torture, US drone strikes, US imperialism, USA, War crimes on April 4, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Norman Solomon

April 4, 2013

The Nobel Peace Prize that President Obama received 40 months ago has emerged as the most appalling Orwellian award of this century. No, war is not peace. George Carlin used to riff about oxymorons like “jumbo shrimp,” “genuine imitation,” “political science” and “military intelligence.” But humor is of the gallows sort when we consider the absurdity and tragedy of the world’s most important peace prize honoring the world’s top war maker.

This week, a challenge has begun with the launch of a petition urging the Norwegian Nobel Committee to revoke Obama’s Peace Prize. By midnight of the first day, nearly 10,000 people had signed. The online petition simply tells the Nobel committee: “I urge you to rescind the Nobel Peace Prize that was awarded to Barack Obama.”

Many signers have added their own comments. Here are some samples:

“It is with very great regret that I sign this petition, but I feel it is morally the right thing to do. I had phenomenally high hopes that our President would be a torch bearer for the true message of Peace. Instead he has brought death, destruction and devastation to vast areas of the world, and made us less safe by creating more enemies.” Sushila C., Punta Gorda, FL

“War is nothing to be given a peace prize for.” Brent L., San Diego, CA

“President Obama has clearly demonstrated that he is undeserving of the Nobel Peace Prize. Revoke his prize and give it to Bradley Manning!” Henry B., Portland, OR

“Perhaps a better president than Bush or Romney, but not a Nobel laureate for peace.” Arun N., Woodinville, WA

“I honestly cannot understand how they could bestow that honor on President Obama to begin with; I’m still puzzled!” Cindy A., Phoenix, AR

“Giving the prize to President Obama has degraded the esteem the Nobel Prize once had as a means of recognizing the best of us. It now represents a pat on the back for the thugs that roam freely amongst our governments. That decision has made me question the integrity of all previous nominations, and wonder if the entire Nobel Prize program is nothing but a sham.” Juan F., Arcata, CA

“Continued occupation of Afghanistan and drone strikes across national borders are NOT the actions of a peacemaker. Mr. Obama has defiled the good will of the Nobel prize.” Dudley D., Chicago, IL

“His actions are speaking louder than his words. He has continued Bush’s torture policy and both wars. He has sent armed drones in to remote places and only questionably killed terrorists, but definitely killed civilians. He does not deserve it.” Katherine M., San Diego, CA

“Les espoirs envers Obama étaient élevés, les résultats décevants.” André T., Quebec City, Canada

“A President for Peace? Tell that to the thousands of innocent men, women and hundreds of children that have been killed in drone strikes during the Obama administration. It was laughable that this coveted prize was given to him in the first place but now it is just obscene!” Barlee R., Antioch, CA

“Allowing the Nobel Peace Prize to remain in Obama’s name forsakes the very creed the prize is meant to represent. Please don’t (continue to) be a hypocrite — no way in Hell does that man deserve to be credited in any way for being a peacemaker. I said the same for Bush by the way — so don’t think I’m just some partisan nutcase obsessed with bashing Obama. I simply speak the Truth as often as possible and let the chips fall where they may. Many of us peaceful, compassionate folks would like to have this message droned into your collective heads. Obama is just another puppet doing the bidding of the greedy, mass-murdering global elite.” Greg C., Manhattan, KS

“The peace prize should be awarded to Pfc. Bradley Manning instead.” Robert F., Santa Clara, CA

“This would be an extraordinarily bold move, but it certainly would send a message to the world that peace means peace, not war.” David G., Portland, OR

“I so wish President Obama had lived up to the award he was given. Instead he has chosen to continue and expand the horrors being perpetrated by our country. War is not ever the answer.” Carol G., Goshen, IN

“Droning people to death is not peace.” William S., New York, NY

“Not being George W. Bush was never sufficient ground for this award, and Mr. Obama’s enthusiastic support for the extension of empire, fossil fuels, raw military power, and other violence against the earth and its people is further evidence of its unwisdom.” Scott W., Durham, NC

“One must walk the walk of peace, not just talk the talk of peace in order to earn the Peace Prize.” Paul M., Los Angeles, CA

“Drone Bombs create more terrorists than they kill.” Jay J., Roachdale, IN

“A war criminal is not worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize.” Lars P., Afton, WI

“Our President had an unprecedented opportunity to effect a turn-around in foreign policy after the illegal and failed wars of his predecessor. He was hired to do so; but he has squandered the opportunity and has in fact increased U.S. aggression. He does not deserve to be known as a Nobel Peace Prize recipient.” Lynn J., Roslyn, PA

“The PEACE prize should be given to those that work toward PEACE, not the ones that only talk about it.” Karen W., Weirsdale, FL

“Take it from Obama and give it to its rightful owner, Bradley Manning.” Rand K., Hotchkiss, CO

“I urge you to rescind the Nobel from this coward who kills children with drones. Are you intentionally making the peace prize a joke or are you just not too bright?” Janet M., Charlottetown, CA

“He’s not as big a war criminal as Kissinger, so you should revoke both.” Earl F., Santa Maria, CA

“This man is a disgrace in the cause of peace. What were you thinking?” Sherrill F., Davis, CA

“Given his actions and policies, Obama is more a Man of Pieces — as in, ‘Blow them to pieces!’ — than he is a Man of peace.” Marcus M., San Rafael, CA

“He’s done nothing to deserve it; and he’s done many things to destroy peace in this world.” Danny D., Shoreline, WA

“This human has killed more after he got the prize.” Thomas P., Lewiston, CA

“He obtained the award on promises he didn’t keep.” Ron B., Bend, OR

“President Obama’s actions have shown that his words were meaningless. The Nobel Peace Prize means little if it’s so easily given away.” Debra J., Pasadena, MD

“As an Obama voter I am deeply disappointed. It was bad judgment to give it to him in the first place.” Tim K., Long Prairie, MN

“Drones are offensive weapons, in every sense of the word.” Richard F., Portland, OR

“As much of an Obama supporter I am, perhaps stripping him of this award would get his attention, nothing else seems to be getting the message across that the American People have had enough of multiple trillion dollar unnecessary wars.” Vern M., Albuquerque, NM

“Obama is a smiling war monger.” Jon M., Wellington, New Zealand

“Under Obama’s leadership our assassination-by-drone foreign policy has increased dramatically, which makes him a war criminal.” Frank S., Bellingham, WA

“As a constituent and two-time voter for Barack Obama, I am dismayed and frightened at the warmongering ways he has displayed as our leader. I urge the revocation of his undeserved Nobel prize.” Samuel P., Colton, CA

“What a good idea! Yes, he has the blood of many innocents on his hands.” Gene A., Athens, OH

“He should have never got it in the first place!” David S., Everett, WA

“I voted for the president in both elections but I do not feel he ever deserved the Nobel Peace Prize! Please rescind it!” Carol H., Michigan City, IN

“Please start with Henry Kissinger before Obama, whose hands are tied.” Bob S., Gibsons, BC, Canada

“Giving him a Nobel Peace Prize is an affront to the deep heritage of true peacemakers who well deserved it. Obama has waged continuous war, torture and other violence since being President. Please revoke it now.” Barry S., Macdoel, CA

“Bush gave us 2 unfunded wars. Will Obama add a few more? Stop wars, drones and killing with other people’s children.” Burt S., Pompton Plains, NJ

“I voted for Obama — twice. I am very sad to sign this petition, but I believe in my heart, what he has done with drones is totally wrong!” Gloria H., Santa Rosa, CA

“Obama’s deeds do not match his words.” Evalyn S., Walnut Creek, CA

“You lost any credibility giving Obama the peace prize. Fix it.” Camilo B., Long Beach, CA

“Obama’s harsh treatment of whistleblowers who are trying to expose the outlandish abuses of the military/corporate state disqualify him from any awards given to peacemakers.” David L., Alamosa, CO

“It’s real sad that the promises that were made by Barack Obama concerning nearly everything have been lost with his sellout to corporate greed. We need a real leader for Peace.” Al B., Ignacio, CO

“I had high hopes for this President when I voted for him. I believed him to be a peace maker, unlike the hawk who was his predecessor. However, there seems to be no effort at peacemaking, at reconciliation, at hope, and killing-by-drone simply leads to more fear and hatred. I fear the day that the government will try to control US with them, too.” Louise A., Greenfield, MA

“You gave him the Nobel Peace Prize too soon. His use of drones and killing of innocent civilians attests to his being anything but a peace-maker.” Rev. Sandy G., San Francisco, CA

“It is not a good example of what peace means when the Nobel Prize is awarded to the leader of a nation engaging in war as a business strategy. Make a statement, please.” Chandra P., Walsenburg, CO

“I, like so many others, gave this man the benefit of the doubt. It has been thrown back in our faces.” Chris C., Harrogate, Great Britain

“He never deserved it and he hasn’t earned it. Yes, please, take it back.” Jackie F., Oakland, CA

“The Nobel Peace Prize should not be awarded to war mongers and war criminals. Therefore, please revoke the Peace Prize you awarded to President Obama in 2009.” Fred N., Pleasanton, CA

“It is with deepest regret we ask for this but our President’s actions have not lived up to the high honor of promoting peace.” GlendaRae H., South Bend, IN

“I don’t think anyone ever understood what Obama was supposed to have done to have deserved the Peace Prize in the first place. And I’m a lifelong Democrat, so my feeling that the Nobel Committee made a mistake is not based in political partisanship.” Steve J., Hermosa Beach, CA

“It appears that preemptive peace prizes work about as well as preemptive wars.” Jaan C., Alameda, CA

To read more comments, or to sign the RootsAction.org petition urging the Norwegian Nobel Committee to revoke President Obama’s Peace Prize, click here [link in original article; see below].

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He writes the Political Culture 2013 column.

Globalresearch.ca article link, article contains links to “Revoke Obama’s Peace Prize” petition: http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-growing-campaign-to-revoke-obamas-nobel-peace-prize/5329659

“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

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