Archive for the Cuba Category

“People participate in Labor Day rally across world” – 2014 1 May, photos of Havana, Cuba [Xinhua]

Posted in Cuba, Havana, May 1 on May 5, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

People participate in the May Day parade organized by the Cuban Workers Union (CTC) at Revolution Square in Havana, capital of Cuba, on May 1, 2014. According to an official estimate, some 600,000 workers joined the parade…

Full photo article link:

Photo article is a bit bizarre because it starts with with French right-wing May Day rallies?!?…But the photos from Havana are just awesome – Zuo Shou

Cooking the Books: The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, the China Lobby and Cold War Propaganda, 1950-1962 [Asia-Pacific Journal / Sweet & Sour Socialism Essential Archives]

Posted in "War on Drugs" pretext, Afghanistan, Anti-China propaganda exposure, Anti-communism, Black propaganda, China, China-bashing, CIA, Colombia, Connection to drugs and narcotics, Cuba, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Karzai puppet regime corruption, Korean War, Law enforcement, Media smear campaign, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Panama, PLA, Sweet and Sour Socialism Essential Archives, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Venezuela on April 20, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 37, No. 1, September 14, 2013.

Jonathan Marshall

As influential contributors to national policy, intelligence professionals inevitably face strong political and bureaucratic pressures to shape their assessments to fit official or factional policy. In the modern era, such pressures have contributed to costly, even disastrous, escalations of the Vietnam War, the arms race, and, most notoriously, Washington’s conflict with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.2

Intelligence on the international narcotics menace has been particularly subject to such pressures ever since U.S. leaders vowed to wage “war” on the illicit drug trade more than a half century ago.3 In recent years, influential interest groups and policy makers have leveled epithets like “narco-terrorism” and “narco-communism” against targets such as Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, Panama, Syria, the Taliban, and Venezuela to justify harsh policies ranging from economic sanctions to armed invasion, while ignoring or downplaying evidence implicating U.S. allies (the Nicaraguan Contras, the Afghan mujahedeen and Karzai administration, the Colombian military, and so forth).4 Given the stakes, critical scrutiny of such claims, and rigorous attention to de-politicizing intelligence on international narcotics matters, may be as vital to preventing foreign policy disasters as is ensuring sound intelligence on more traditional matters of national security.

To shed historical light on the dangers of turning international drug enforcement into a political weapon, this paper re-examines a classic case of alleged manipulation of narcotics intelligence: the vilification of Communist China by U.S. Commissioner of Narcotics Harry J. Anslinger at the height of the Cold War. His inflammatory rhetoric denouncing the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as an evil purveyor of narcotics went largely unchallenged in the Western media during the 1950s and early 1960s, when Anslinger acted as America’s leading drug enforcement official and its official representative to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). As we shall see, his charges strongly reinforced Washington’s case for diplomatic isolation of China, including its exclusion from the United Nations.

In 1971, as relations between Washington and Beijing began to thaw, the official U.S. line on China’s responsibility for drug trafficking abruptly reversed. At about the same time, a young scholar named Alfred McCoy published an authoritative volume on the modern history of the international heroin trade, contesting Anslinger’s claims and pinning blame for much of the traffic on U.S. military allies in Southeast Asia.5 Since then a number of historians have endorsed McCoy’s conclusions and characterized Anslinger’s conduct as the work of a master bureaucrat (or ideologue) bent on augmenting his agency’s prestige and power by inflating Cold War stereotypes of the PRC.6

This paper reexamines and extends their work by asking the question made famous by Tennessee Sen. Howard Baker during the Watergate hearings: What did he know, and when did he know it? As Kevin F. Ryan has observed, “it is unclear how much the FBN actually knew about [China’s involvement in] the international narcotics trade (and how much was simply convenient rhetoric) . . .”7 McCoy and most subsequent historians have relied on ex post rejections of Anslinger’s claims by U.S. and foreign law enforcement officials in the aftermath of the opening to China. But can we be sure Anslinger had no evidence to support his charges? If so, did Anslinger simply invent his claims, or did other interested parties feed him misleading or false information? And, equally important, what did Anslinger know but choose to ignore about drug trafficking by American allies, including those covertly backed by the Central Intelligence Agency?

New evidence, including recently declassified files of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Central Intelligence Agency, along with overlooked public materials from that period, sheds important new light on the state of Anslinger’s knowledge and probable motives. The records, unavailable to or unused by previous historians, provide strong new confirmation of Anslinger’s manipulation of intelligence to serve both his agency’s bureaucratic interests and a militantly anti-Communist foreign policy agenda at the expense of genuine narcotics enforcement. They leave open the possibility that Chinese traffickers continued to smuggle opiates out of the mainland into the 1950s, but do not challenge what is widely accepted today about the communist government’s attempt to suppress cultivation and trafficking…

— Anslinger’s Questionable Sources: the SCAP Connection —

…In reassessing the credibility of Anslinger’s claims, one of the most striking facts to note is that Anslinger had no full-time agents stationed in the Far East until 1962.37 (The U.S. Customs service had jurisdiction over narcotics investigations in the region, with offices in Hong Kong and Japan.)38 He thus depended heavily on agents of friendly governments — and particularly on partisan intelligence sources connected with U.S. occupation forces in Japan (SCAP) and Nationalist China.

Anslinger acknowledged that SCAP intelligence provided among “the first reports we received about the Communist narcotic smuggling in the Far East.”39 He made a SCAP account of heroin trafficking in Japan the centerpiece of his first all-out assault against Communist China before the CND in May 1952.40 The report declared that “Investigations, arrests, and seizures in Japan during 1951 proved conclusively that communists are smuggling heroin from China to Japan, and are using the proceeds from the sale thereof to finance party activities and to obtain strategic materials for China.” In support of that strong claim, it [among other allegations] cited one seizure of heroin that carried the seals of a pharmaceutical laboratory in northern China. But more than a half dozen other cases cited in the document simply involved heroin smuggled into Japan from Hong Kong — typically by Chinese from Taiwan (“Formosans”). Evidently, for Anslinger, heroin carried from British-controlled Hong Kong by smugglers from Nationalist-controlled Taiwan was proof of a Communist conspiracy…

…neither SCAP intelligence nor its sources could ever be considered “reliable,” except politically…42

–Anslinger and the China Lobby–

Many of Anslinger’s detailed allegations about large opium-growing regions in China, heroin laboratories in Chinese cities, and smuggling directives by Chinese government agencies originated from Nationalist China, whose representative to the CND issued grandiose allegations against the mainland’s new Communist masters.55 In 1951 Nationalist China provided the CND laboratory with its only “authenticated” samples of opium from the mainland. These samples were in turn used to implicate the PRC whenever the lab found a chemical match with opium seized by a member nation, including the United States. This stunning conflict of interest — perhaps fraud is not too strong a word — was uncovered only in 1963 following an inquiry by the Polish representative to the CND.56

Anslinger’s uncritical reliance on intelligence from Nationalist China was all the more irresponsible because he knew all about that regime’s own sordid history of profiting from the drug trade. Throughout much of the 1930s, a senior Treasury agent based in China sent Anslinger voluminous, detailed reports implicating senior government officials in opium trafficking. Indeed, history Chiang Kai-shek rise to power was smoothed by the muscle and financial support of China’s most infamous criminal syndicate, the Green Gang.57

In the 1950s, Anslinger collaborated closely with the “China Lobby,” a network of Nationalist Chinese officials and American supporters who sought to maintain high levels of aid to Taiwan while denying diplomatic recognition to the PRC…

…Anslinger helped the China Lobby in another key respect — by delegitimizing serious charges that some of its own personnel were tainted by the illegal drug trade. In 1960, Anslinger helped the Taiwan regime suppress publication of the first scholarly study of the China Lobby, because it contained the sensational claim:

There is . . . considerable evidence that a number of [Nationalist] Chinese officials engaged in the illegal smuggling of narcotics into the United States with the full knowledge and connivance of the Nationalist Chinese Government. The evidence indicates that several prominent Americans have participated in and profited from these transactions. It indicates further that the narcotics business has been an important factor in the activities and permutations of the China Lobby…61

–The FBI, Customs and CIA v. Anslinger–

Most Americans were in no position to question Anslinger’s assertions about China. Out of public view, however, many official experts in the U.S. and allied governments rejected his claims—including some in his own bureau.

The British Foreign Office, for example, dismissed his sources, which included Nationalist Chinese press accounts and claims by arrested traffickers in Japan, as “very dubious.” British Home Office official John Henry Walker privately derided Anslinger’s “annual onslaughts on Red China” as largely unsubstantiated and speculated that Anslinger sought to grab headlines because he was “under pressure in Washington and having to fight to keep his job…”70

–What the FBN Knew about the CIA and the Golden Triangle Drug Trade–

[I’ve excerpted this particularly sensational section which is quite long, but highly recommend reading it in its entirely – Zuo Shou]

It is notable that the single biggest redaction from the 1956 CIA study, when it was quietly declassified several decades later, concerns Thailand. For it was the CIA’s assets in Thailand who bore more responsibility than any other group in the “Golden Triangle” for the resurgence of the opium trade after the Communist victory in China in 1949. It is thus critical to explore what Anslinger must have known but chose not to disclose about the CIA’s drug-trafficking allies in the region.

Several excellent studies of the Golden Triangle in the 1950s provide rich background — without necessarily answering the question of what Anslinger knew.79 In brief, by January 1950, the People’s Liberation Army had driven thousands of Chinese Nationalist soldiers from the Eighth and Twenty-Sixth armies out of Yunnan province into Burma and French Indochina. In northeast Burma, more than 10,000 men under the command of General Li Mi found sanctuary in the wild hill country settled by minority peoples, many of whom cultivated opium as a traditional cash crop. Having themselves profited from opium for many years in Yunnan, the KMT forces — named for the Kuomintang party that ruled Nationalist China — began trafficking once again from Burma, both to make ends meet and to finance their schemes to reconquer China.

Washington’s interest in using Li Mi’s forces to contain the Chinese Communists soared after the start of the Korean War. By direction from President Truman in December 1950, the CIA secretly began supplying the KMT by air and with ground caravans through Thailand.80 Security was provided by the CIA-backed Thai national police, who in turn were eager to market the KMT’s opium to the legal Thai national opium monopoly and to international traffickers.

After several hapless forays by the KMT into southern China in 1951 and early 1952, Washington gave up serious hope of using them to roll back Communism in China. Meanwhile, as the CIA’s “covert” mission became widely known, U.S. relations with Burma worsened and Washington grew alarmed at the possibility of a retaliatory invasion by Communist China.81 The United States tried in vain to persuade the KMT forces to decamp for Taiwan, but the Chinese insisted on staying put — and in the words of one U.S. ambassador, “continuing nefarious operations in Burma and Thailand including opium smuggling racket.”82 Tabling preparations for war, they focused instead on building a drug empire that helped boost the region’s opium exports from an estimated 40 tons before World War II to more than three hundred tons by 1962.

Washington’s role in this trade was much more than incidental.83 As U.S. officials understood early on,84 the Thai national police, under the ruthless and brutal General Phao Sriyanon, “had become the largest opium-trafficking syndicate in Thailand,” in McCoy’s words. He adds:

CIA support for Phao and the KMT seems to have sparked . . . a ‘takeoff’ in the Burma-Thailand opium trade during the 1950s: modern aircraft replaced mules, naval vessels replaced sampans, and well-trained military organizations expropriated the traffic from bands of illiterate mountain traders.

Never before had [Burma’s] Shan States encountered smugglers with the discipline, technology, and ruthlessness of the KMT. Under General Phao’s leadership Thailand had changed from an opium-consuming nation to the world’s most important opium distribution center. The Golden Triangle’s opium production approached its present scale . . .85

The Golden Triangle would remain the world’s largest exporter of opiates until supplanted in the 1980s by a new set of CIA allies in South Asia, the Afghan mujahedeen and Pakistani military intelligence.86

All of this was top secret—so much so that the very existence of the operation to support the KMT guerrillas was kept from the CIA’s deputy director for intelligence, most or all top State Department officials, and the U.S. ambassadors to Burma and Thailand.87 The CIA went to especially great lengths to hush up the drug-related murder of one agent and widespread opium trafficking under its auspices.88 So is it fair in retrospect to hold Anslinger responsible for ignoring or underplaying the U.S.-Thailand drug connection?

Washington’s lies fooled no one on the scene and could not have fooled Anslinger. A review of the often-overlooked public record shows that Anslinger must have known more than to sound the alarm about the emergence of the KMT and its U.S.-supported Thai allies as one of the world’s largest narcotics-trafficking syndicates. Ignorance was simply not a credible excuse.

As early as May 1950, the New York Times reported on the presence in Northeast Burma of “an aggregation of refugee Nationalist troops” who “operate pretty much as a law unto themselves” and “have been engaging extensively in opium dealing.” The story noted that the United States planned to open a consulate “at the little northern Thailand city of Chiangmai to watch American interests in an area of increasing importance in Southeast Asia,” a tip that U.S. authorities were in touch with the KMT.89

Less than two years later, the respected London Observer accused “certain Americans” of joining Thai officials and KMT officers in “making large profits” from the “guns for opium trade.” The story pointed to the large quantities of American-made weapons and ammunition flown to General Li Mi “from a certain trading company in Bangkok in which Americans have an interest.” (As we will see, that was a reference to the CIA’s Sea Supply Company.) Amazingly, the American embassy in Bangkok confirmed the allegation. “It cannot be denied that we are in the opium trade,” one U.S. diplomat told the reporter.90 In case Anslinger missed the story, the Washington Post made it the subject of an editorial: “It is somewhat startling to read the allegation that in supporting the Chinese Nationalist effort in northeastern Burma to harass the Chinese Communists, Americans have gone into the opium business!…”91

…Anslinger could hardly deny the obvious any more. The narcotics commissioner now acknowledged publicly that, “More opium moves to and around Chiengrai in northern Thailand than any other place in the world in illicit traffic.” But he still blamed Red China, choosing not to draw attention to the pro-American parties responsible for bringing the drugs to the world market.101 “By an accident of history,” wrote one journalist friendly with Anslinger who nonetheless appreciated the irony, “the middlemen between Yunnan and Thailand are anticommunist Chinese. . . . They grow opium and add it to the supplies they get from China and neighboring tribal villages of Laos and Burma…”102


Anslinger’s sweeping rhetoric against “Red China” today strikes most historians—rightly so—as an anachronistic product of the McCarthy era. But the long litany of arrests, interrogation reports and statistics that Anslinger cited to back up his claims sounded authoritative and proved persuasive to Westerners all through the 1950s and into the 1960s…

…Anslinger, however, went far beyond…limited claims [of PRC involvement in illegal narcotics trade] to condemn the Beijing regime as a uniquely grand and evil purveyor of narcotics. Such strong charges demanded equally strong evidence. Anslinger never provided it and almost certainly never had it. With the opening of FBN records, we now know that its Communist China files hold no credible reports implicating the Maoist regime in drug smuggling. Furthermore, other U.S. and British officials privately called Anslinger on the matter at the time, savaging the credibility of his sources. The CIA’s definitive study of the question in 1956 demonstrates that Anslinger pushed his incendiary charges at the United Nations and in the media despite clear intelligence to the contrary. At the same time, Anslinger ignored or downplayed readily available public and private evidence that America’s allies — and its own officials — were contributing far more than Communist China to the growth of the Far East drug trade and the expansion of the world heroin market.

Clearly, the FBN chief chose to put anti-communism, national security [sic], and bureaucratic self-interest ahead of his agency’s declared mission. These disparate values meshed seamlessly. By serving up a steady supply of lurid claims to feed the propaganda mills of professional Cold Warriors and China Lobbyists, Anslinger bought protection against budget cuts, premature retirement, loss of authority to rival agencies, and any weakening of the nation’s drug laws. Today one must agree with the British Home Office official who concluded disparagingly in 1954 that Anslinger had “strong motives for emphasizing the responsibilities of other countries for illicit traffic in the United States and for attributing this traffic to Communist sources.”129 Anslinger’s deplorable record should remind us today of the need for critical scrutiny of claims related to drug trafficking to avoid letting our own era’s propaganda warriors generate fear and revulsion to escalate international conflicts.

Excerpted; full article (with notes) link:

US secretly created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to stir unrest and undermine government [Guardian]

Posted in Anti-communism, Cuba, US Agency for International Development, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA on April 4, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Otherwise interesting article has a more or less obvious bias against Cuban government, and distorts reality of Internet access in Cuba – Zuo Shou

* USAid started ZunZuneo, a social network built on texts, in hope it could be used to organize ‘smart mobs’ to trigger Cuban spring *

Associated Press in Washington
3 April 2014

In July 2010, Joe McSpedon, a US government official, flew to Barcelona to put the final touches on a secret plan to build a social media project aimed at undermining Cuba’s communist government…

Excerpted; full article link:

(c) Guardian News & Media Ltd

Also see: ‘“Cuban twitter” affair exposes USAID as instrument of regime-change’ [World Socialist Website]

The WSWS article catalogs USAID’s history of ‘regime change’ operations, which somehow the Associated Press / Guardian article omitted – Zuo Shou

Why the Affordable Care Act is already so expensive [Workers World]

Posted in Canada, Cuba, USA, Vietnam on January 24, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Deirdre Griswold

January 10, 2014

The year was 1965. The U.S. government’s war in Vietnam was increasingly unpopular, especially among the young people being drafted and sent there. The movements of oppressed peoples for liberation were also growing, often inspired by the anticolonial struggles and the resistance of the Vietnamese.

In the U.S., Lyndon Johnson, whose presidency had begun with the Kennedy assassination and all the skepticism that it aroused, was trying to win popular support with what he called a War on Poverty. Congress, under the same pressure to be seen as releasing funds for some butter along with the guns, passed a bill supported by Johnson that set up the Medicare program. It used the power of the federal government to ensure that the elderly, no matter how poor, would have access to health care and added that those using the program could not be discriminated against on the basis of race.

One year later, on July 1, 1966, the Medicare program was rolled out. In that year, “Medicare started paying bills for 18.9 million seniors (99 percent of those eligible for coverage) just 11 months after President Johnson signed it into law.”

The quote is from a revealing article written for the Health Affairs blog by Drs. David Himmelstein and Steffi Woolhandler and posted on Jan. 2 of this year. The authors contrast the cost involved in rolling out Medicare with what is anticipated for the Affordable Care Act.

Their conclusion? That the ACA will cost hundreds of billions of dollars extra to provide insurance for fewer people — because of the complex and confusing rules demanded by the for-profit health care industry.

Looking at the various expenses involved, the authors estimate that getting the ACA’s health exchanges up and running and hopefully enrolling 7 million people will cost more than $6 billion in its first year.

By contrast, Medicare, which was set up under the Social Security Administration, cost $120 million ($867 million in 2013 dollars) and enrolled 18.9 million seniors in its first year. This included the cost of medical treatment for those enrolled. The costs incurred in setting up the ACA are only for the health exchanges themselves. Once people sign up for the new insurance, most will be paying for it out of their own pockets, although there will be subsidies for the very poor.

“Signing up most of the elderly for Medicare was simple; they were already known to Social Security Administration, which handled enrollment,” write Himmelstein and Woolhandler. “To find the rest, the feds sent out mailings to seniors, held local meetings, and asked postal workers, forest rangers and agricultural representatives to help contact people in remote areas. The Office for Economic Opportunity spent $14.5 million to hire 5,000 low income seniors who went door-to-door in their ­neighborhoods.

“Despite predictions of chaos, and worries that the newly-insured seniors would flood the health care system, there were few bottlenecks. Hospitals continued to operate smoothly and no waiting lists materialized. The only real ‘glitch’ was that many hospitals in the Deep South initially refused to integrate their facilities — which Medicare required for certification and payment. But by the end of the first month, 99.5 percent of hospitals had signed on.”

What has made the rollout of the new plan so expensive?

‘Single payer plan could save billions’

The authors say that “complexity is ‘baked in’ to the design, just as simplicity was ‘baked in’ to Medicare. [The ACA’s] exchanges must coordinate thousands of different plans, with premiums, co-payments, deductibles and provider networks that vary county-by-county; Medicare offered a single, uniform plan. The exchanges must calculate subsidies for each applicant after first verifying income, family size and immigration status; Medicare offered free hospital coverage, with a minimal ($22) uniform premium for doctor coverage. Instead of setting up a new bureaucracy to collect premiums from millions of enrollees and funnel them to private insurers, Medicare relied on the existing payroll and income tax system to garner funds.”

The ACA’s “byzantine complexity reflects the contortions required to simultaneously expand coverage and appease private insurers. And private insurers will exact a steep ongoing toll. Medicare’s overhead is just 2 percent, vs. an average of 13 percent for private plans (on top of the Exchanges’ costs, roughly 3 percent of premiums). A single payer plan that excluded private insurers could save hundreds of billions in transaction costs.”

Single payer is not socialized medicine — that is, free, universal health care like what exists in Cuba and other countries that have overthrown capitalism. But it would be a lot better than the ACA, which in turn may be better — for most people — than no insurance at all. But the health-for-profit industry is the main winner, so far.

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Editorial: “Why not amnesty here?” – Putin’s amnesty vs. Obama’s US prison state [Workers World]

Posted in 9/11, Capitalist media double standard, Connection to drugs and narcotics, Corporate Media Critique, Cuba, George W. Bush, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Obama, Police State, US imperialism, USA on January 3, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

BREAKING NEWS – Radical attorney Lynne Stewart, mentioned in this article, just released from Federal Prison – Zuo Shou

January 1, 2014

In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an amnesty for some 20,000 prisoners — including the Greenpeace protesters, the Pussy Riot punk band, who are considered dissidents, and his billionaire political opponent Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Putin’s political enemies quickly denounced this amnesty as a cynical political maneuver, a comment repeated widely in the imperialist media.

Khodorkovsky is a favorite of the U.S. ruling class because he’s a newly superrich robber baron. No one, to our knowledge, refused the amnesty, regardless of what they called it.

We have a suggestion for President Barack Obama: Outdo Putin.

Obama has barely used his power of pardon. Even George W. Bush outpardoned him. A blanket amnesty could quickly reverse this.

U.S. imperialism is the world’s No. 1 jailer, with more than 2 million prisoners. With 5 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. locks up 25 percent of the world’s prison population. More than 3,000 prisoners still face ­execution.

Not only are 70 percent of prisoners people of color, but 90 percent are from families that cannot afford the high cost of legal representation. Many have been in prison 30 years or more. Many others got 15-year-minimum sentences for “crimes” like selling marijuana.

Some prisoners are known far and wide for the political nature of their incarceration and are the center of campaigns for their release. These international heroes and heroines should top the pardon list:

Mumia Abu-Jamal, in prison 32 years, 30 on death row.

Leonard Peltier, 36 years.

Oscar López Rivera, 33 years.

Lynne Stewart, a people’s attorney diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.

Four of the Cuban 5, still in prison after 15 years.

Maybe not as well known but equally facing unjust and/or frame-up sentences are:

The surviving eight of the Move 9 prisoners — Charles, Debbie, Delbert, Edward, Janet, Janine, Michael and William, all with the surname Africa — 34 years.

Sundiata Acoli, 40 years.

Ruchell Magee, 44 years.

Imam Jamil (formerly H. Rap Brown), 10 years.

Albert Woodfox, the last of the Angola 3, 30 years. Robert King was finally released after 29 years in solitary confinement and Herman Wallace died three days after he was released last October from the infamous Louisiana prison plantation after more than 41 years in solitary.

And there’s Assata Shakur, who has spent 40 years in prison or exile and has a $2 million bounty on her head. She escaped U.S. racist injustice for asylum in Cuba.

At the website of the Jericho Movement, you can see a list of more political prisoners, who belonged to organizations like the Black Panther Party, La Raza Unida, FALN, Los Macheteros, the North American Anti-Imperialist Movement, May 19th, AIM, the Black Liberation Army, etc. They are in prison because of their political beliefs and acts in support of and/or in defense of freedom for their people from imperialist rule.

There are the mostly Muslim prisoners framed up in the post-9/11 frenzy. There are the prisoners still held at Guantánamo. And there are undoubtedly others who missed making any lists.

A revolutionary workers’ movement in the U.S. should want to “tear down the walls” of the penitentiaries. In the meantime, we challenge Obama to pardon even a small part of the prison population, the hundreds who are heroes for their people and the hundreds of thousands who are only behind bars because of racist injustice and class exploitation.

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From Pinochet to Suharto, U.S. supported dictators who ‘killed their own people’ [Workers World]

Posted in Allende, Anti-communism, Capitalist media double standard, Chile, CIA, Corporate Media Critique, Cuba, Fascism, Indonesia, Iran, Obama, Pinochet, Psychological warfare, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Vietnam on September 19, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Deirdre Griswold on September 9, 2013

“He is killing his own people.” How many times have we read and heard that?

It is the endlessly repeated phrase that is supposed to make us hate the head of Syria enough to justify the killing of many more Syrians with U.S. cruise missiles.

Do the people who sprinkle such phrases in their “news” reports even think about them?

When did the U.S. government suddenly decide that governments which kill their own people should be “taken out”?

This Sept. 11 is the 40th anniversary of the 1973 fascist coup in Chile that brought down the social democratic government of Salvador Allende, who had been trying to narrow the big gap between rich and poor in that country through a variety of social reforms. Allende was killed in the coup, along with thousands of other Chileans. Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who led the coup, was therefore responsible for “killing his own people” many times over.

Did Washington go to the United Nations to condemn the coup? Did it institute sanctions against Pinochet’s brutal military regime? Did it do anything about it, other than make sanctimonious, toothless statements about human rights?

On the contrary. Pinochet was Washington’s man. He was a staunch anti-communist. But it didn’t matter that Allende was not a communist. U.S. corporations still wanted to get rid of him. Pinochet was their answer to the wave of progressivism that swept Latin America after the Cuban Revolution.

The role played by U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in installing and protecting Pinochet is on the public record. The book “Nixon, Kissinger, and Allende: U.S. Involvement in the 1973 coup in Chile” gives many of the details.

After Pinochet had buttressed his rule through killings, torture and mass detentions, the path was cleared for U.S. corporations and banks to get back “their” property, which had been nationalized under Allende. Anaconda and Kennecott copper companies had squeezed fabulous profits out of Chile before Allende; once the generals were in power, they were welcomed back to do business as usual.

– Indonesian bloodbath of 1965-66 –

The 1973 Chile coup was not the first time that the U.S. government helped install dictators who seized power by killing “their own” people. There is a very, very long list of them.

One of the grisliest of all was the 1965 coup in Indonesia, which led to a bloodbath of epic proportions. (See the pamphlet “Indonesia 1965: The Second Greatest Crime of the Century” at

The 1965 coup in Indonesia ushered in a slaughter of unarmed people that has not been equaled since. Some estimates put the number of those killed by the military and paramilitary bands at one million. The population of the beautiful island of Bali — today a high-priced tourist destination — was reduced by 10 percent as soldiers went from village to village, killing those singled out as leftists and progressive nationalists: activists in unions, student groups, and women’s and peasants’ associations. The Indonesian Communist Party, which had been the largest in the world outside the socialist bloc, was decimated.

Again, there were no condemnations from Washington. No sanctions. Not a thought of U.S. intervention against the generals.

On the contrary, editorials and articles in leading bourgeois newspapers showed how the ruling class here welcomed the carnage. James Reston, associate editor of the New York Times at the time, wrote a column on June 19, 1966, about the massacres entitled “A Gleam of Light in Asia.” The “savage transformation” of Indonesia, he said, was “one of the more hopeful political developments” in Asia.

“There was a great deal more contact between the anti-communist forces in that country and at least one very high official in Washington before and during the Indonesian massacre than is generally realized,” wrote Reston. “It is doubtful if the coup would ever have been attempted without the American show of strength in Vietnam or been sustained without the clandestine aid it has received indirectly from here.”

Just as in Chile, the coup threw open the doors to Western corporations — mostly U.S.-based — to reap vast profits from Indonesia’s abundant natural resources and low wages, made even lower by the destruction of the unions. When you read today about the mowing down of Indonesia’s great rain forests for their precious hardwoods, think of the coup and its million victims.

– Bipartisan support for coups –

These two examples — and there are many more, from the coup that installed the Shah of Iran to the massacre of Salvadorans and Guatemalans by U.S.-armed military dictators — show how both the two big pro-capitalist political parties backed U.S. imperialist foreign policy.

The Indonesian coup took place during the Democratic Lyndon Johnson administration . His “liberal” vice president, Hubert Humphrey, personally handled relations with the blood-stained regime of General Suharto. Humphrey was the “very high official in Washington” referred to in Reston’s column.

The Chilean coup was under the Republican Richard Nixon administration. His secretary of state, Kissinger, was the point man for relations with Pinochet.

We now have a Democratic administration, headed by Barack Obama, who actually lived in Indonesia from 1967 to 1971 after his mother married an Indonesian geographer, Lolo Soetoro, who worked for the Indonesian army and later for the Unocal oil company. In his book “Dreams from My Father,” Obama speaks of his years as a child in Indonesia and mentions the role of the CIA in supporting the generals. That book was written before he was elected to any political office.

Presidents come and go, but the think tanks funded by the wealthy corporate families of the U.S. shape policies, domestic and foreign, as well as the politicians who will articulate them. It takes more than elections to change these bloody-handed policies. It takes the building of a mass movement that rejects imperialist wars and fights in the interests of the workers and all the oppressed.

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Russia grants Snowden asylum [Workers World]

Posted in Bolivia, China, CIA, Cuba, Iran, National Security Agency / NSA, Nicaragua, NSA, Obama, State Department, Torture, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Venezuela on August 9, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Chris Fry

August 7, 2013

Despite U.S. threats to retaliate, the Russian Federation government on Aug. 1 granted whistle-blower Edward Snowden temporary sanctuary. Snowden left Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow, where he has spent the last 39 days, to move into an apartment. He has already been offered employment at VKontakte, a Russian social network website. (New York Times, Aug. 1)

Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia have offered Snowden permanent asylum, but the U.S. has threatened to block air traffic carrying Snowden to those countries – – a clear act of air piracy. Washington already forced its European allies to block Bolivian President Evo Morales’ aircraft leaving from a conference in Moscow when the U.S. suspected Snowden might be on board.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, “Russia has stabbed us in the back, and each day Mr. Snowden is allowed to roam free is another twist of the knife.” Schumer recommended that the Obama administration move “out of Russia the summit of G20 leaders planned for St. Petersburg.” (, Aug. 1)

Right-wing Sen. John McCain called the Russian government’s decision “a disgrace and a deliberate effort to embarrass the United States.” He called on the Obama administration to expand NATO and accelerate the European “missile-defense program” (, Aug. 1), even though Washington has always insisted that this program is only to defend against a potential Iranian missile attack, not the Russian missile program.

Obama administration spokesperson Jay Carney threatened that the U.S. would pull out of a planned September meeting between President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin. And in a move seemingly beyond coincidence, the U.S government declared a global “terrorist alert,” supposedly based on National Security Agency gathered information.

With no extradition treaty between the U.S. and Russia, Russia is under no legal obligation whatsoever to turn Snowden over. And this week, a U.S. military court convicted whistle-blower B. Manning of weighty charges for exposing military atrocities and State Department corrupt backing of “friendly” dictatorships. Snowden would likely receive similar harsh treatment.

Attorney General Eric Holder promised that Snowden would not be tortured or killed. Based on Manning’s experience of torture at Quantico military base, this pledge carries little weight.

Why has Russia’s decision to refuse Washington’s demand to turn over Snowden to face espionage charges left the Obama administration and both right-wing and “liberal” politicians frothing at the mouth?

The NSA is a key arm of the U.S. military. Edward Snowden has exposed powerful NSA computer programs like PRISM and XKeyscore, which are used not only to monitor phone calls, email and Internet chats in the U.S. and abroad, but also to spy on any number of foreign countries, such as Russia and China, as well as any number of U.S. “allied” governments and foreign corporations.

The U.S. government has arrogantly demanded that the very same governments that were targets of illegal U.S. spying turn over Snowden for harsh punishment for exposing these spy programs. Of course, there is no lack of hypocrisy – the U.S. government has refused the Venezuelan request for extradition of Luis Posada Carriles, a CIA operative who planned the bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people.

The decision by the Russian Federation is re-enforced by popular support. Some 43 percent versus 29 percent of Russians polled favored their government’s decision to grant Snowden asylum. This comes after a recent U.S. poll here that shows that 52 percent of those polled consider Snowden to be a whistle-blower . A majority of those polled here have also said that neither Russia nor any other country should be punished for granting Snowden asylum.

Despite the U.S.’s gigantic military apparatus and its immense economic and political power, the events around Snowden show a dramatic erosion of the ability of the U.S. to get its way.

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