Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Victory for Whom? (Sweet Sucking Sound of Vanished Iraq War $$$$$$$:  Taxpayers Eviscerated At Both Ends)  NeoCons Proudly Rule:  They Achieved Permanent War In MidEast (Disappearing Dollars Without Fireworks?  New York Fed’s Answer to Cartels Rigging Markets – Form Another Cartel!)



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Was Foley’s head really cut off? Hard to tell. We have been fed so much fake government war propaganda in recent decades – from Kuwaiti babies thrown from incubators to Saddam’s hidden nukes – that we must be very cautious.

James Foley was either a very unlucky journalist or is a very lucky government agent according to reporter, Eric Margolis.

I'd like to think that he's alive as the video I saw did not look real and seemed too staged and emotionless to be a real-time event.

We won't know for sure until his body is delivered home to his anguished parents.

The horror, however, forever ongoing it now seems in Iraq is far worse than one man's death.

The Beheading:  Some Words of Caution


By Eric Margolis

August 23, 2014

The alleged beheading of freelance journalist James Foley by the shadowy ISIS (or Islamic State) has sparked outrage and horror around the globe.
I say “alleged” because we are not sure if the decapitation was real or faked.

After three decades of covering wars in the Mideast, Africa, Latin America, and Afghanistan, my reaction as a journalist was also outrage – but cautious outrage.

We westerners have a charming and quaint belief that killing people from the air by using bombs, rockets, shells, napalm and cluster munitions – or even nuclear weapons – is somehow not really as bad as ramming a bayonet into an enemy, blowing him to pieces with heavy artillery, or slashing his throat the way sheep are killed.


Air warfare is clean. Air warfare is the American way of war.
Furthermore, on the same day Foley was allegedly being decapitated, 19 people in Saudi Arabia, a close US ally, were publicly beheaded for various crimes. One of the men was executed for witchcraft.
There was no outcry at all over this medieval horror. Saudi Arabia is suspected of charging political opponents of the monarchy with drug offenses, which carry the penalty of beheading by a sword-wielding executioner. Not a peep about this in the US media trumpeting the Foley story.
I’ve long travelled the same road as this courageous young man and countless other field journalists, covering extremely dangerous places all on my own, with no backup or support system. It’s very lonely and often demoralizing work.
When I was in the southern Angola bush covering pro-western UNITA forces fighting the Soviet-backed Angolan Marxists, I accepted the risk of being killed. But what, I asked myself, would I do if wounded or become desperately ill? The answer:  crawl out 200 kms to South African Army lines.
As I relate in my book War at the Top of the World, I had to run Afghanistan’s Khyber Pass at night in a Toyota Land Cruiser, headlights off, pistol in hand, dodging roadblocks raised by Afridi tribesmen hired by the Communist regime in Kabul to kidnap me. Had I been taken, I would have been thrown into a 10-meter deep hole in the ground filled with snakes and ferocious biting insects until transferred to be tortured and likely killed in Kabul.
In this and a score of other hair-raising adventures in scary places like Syria, Albania, Kashmir, Iraq, Libya, or Burma, no one would have been able to get me out if I was jailed. No one really cared because I was on my own, working for numerous newspapers. Even al-Jazeera can’t get its jailed journalists out of Egypt.
Newspapers used me, and other young, reckless beginner journalists like Foley, to cover the really dangerous places. No medical or pension coverage for us:  we were expendable.
I was usually more scared of dieases like hepatitis or meningitis than of bullets.
Meanwhile, pampered correspondents from the TV networks reported from four-star hotels, surrounded by a support staff and gophers.
Was Foley’s head really cut off? Hard to tell. We have been fed so much fake government war propaganda in recent decades – from Kuwaiti babies thrown from incubators to Saddam’s hidden nukes – that we must be very cautious.
Look at the horrifying pictures of victims from Gaza:  babies with heads blow open and bodies torn into pieces by heavy 155mm shells. What’s the difference between this and a decapitation? Only distance between killer and victim.
Of course I’m outraged that any journalist would be kidnapped and held for ransom, a specialty of ISIS and other jihadist gangs in the Sahara region. Europe has paid ransom and got many of its hostages back.
The US apparently refuses to do so. “We’ll never deal with terrorists,” goes Washington’s mantra, though it deals with plenty of terrorist governments.
Problem is, any group today that opposes the US  abroad is likely to be branded terrorists. No wonder terrorists are popping up everywhere.
Having myself come close to being taken hostage, I would have hoped to have been ransomed in the event I was captured. That seems a more civilized and effective way to deal with hostage takers and bandits, distasteful as it may be.
And yes, paying ransom will encourage more kidnappings. Hobson’s choice. But I prefer bad choices that have happy endings.
Democracies should not allow themselves to be provoked by malefactors. But that’s just what ISIS members are now doing by mounting its video horror show. We must ask, why? Why are they trying to goad the US into broader and deeper military intervention into Iraq and Syria, where they live?


Could it be part of Osama bin Laden’s clearly expressed plan to drive the US out of the Mideast by luring it into a number of small wars, slowly bleeding the American colossus? So far, by invading Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and parts of Pakistan, the US may have stumbled right into Osama’s carefully laid trap.

Or is the orchestrated outrage over Foley the media prelude to direct US intervention in Syria where the jihadists backed by Washington are losing.

It’s all very confusing. In Iraq, ISIS are demon terrorists. But across the border in Syria, they are on our side, fighting against the “terrorist” regime of Basher Assad.


We are tripping over our terrorists. Osama must be smiling.

As well as the whole brigade of NeoCons.

No, It’s Not Anti-Semitic

At least one essayist is keeping an open mind on the James Foley news.

The James Foley Video is Obviously Fake

Al-Qaeda in Iraq? Something that would only happen after the American Invasion of 2003.

So carefully planned by such cautious strategians.

Many of us said it at the time:  It doesn't matter how the war against Iraq ends up, the Neocons' dream-come-true of perpetuating total and permanently ongoing (defense-budget-skyrocketing) war in the Middle East will have been achieved.*

Thus, it was worth every lie they told to start it.

To them.

And after the lies were exposed, and the wasted lives and dollars recounted mournfully by the media mavens (including the political leaders), no blame could ever be allowed to be personally assessed because the purpose of it all . . . was to continue.

Indefinitely.

And it has.

Soon, more medals will be awarded to these architects.

George Tennant was merely the first poster boy of American War Madness - 21st Century.


The simple fact is that the Iraq War was a smashing success – at least for the neocons – because it smashed the keystone in the arch of the region’s stability. By removing Saddam Hussein, his government and the Republican Guard, neocons removed a bulwark against the very jihadism that has policymakers and pundits forever wringing their hands raw, military contractors ringing their cash registers, and the denizens of the national security state resting assured under a blanket of secrecy.

Considering the persistent ubiquity of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, their growing presence around the Horn of Africa and extension into Sub-Saharan Africa, Wolfowitz’s declaration of victory may not be ironic or delusional; it may have some measure of truth – at least from his perspective – but for a reason most would not consider victorious.

That “victory” achieved something the neocons could only dream of during a fitful slumber brought on by counting the media’s sheep, i.e., a permanent war in the Middle East.
Read the whole essay here and below.


*   Drone warfare in 8+ nations, 3 coups, regime change in Libya, Ukraine, Mali, Honduras, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan (forming South Sudan, more chaos created by US government).


Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Consortium News

The Neocons’ Grim ‘Victory’ in Iraq

by JP Sottile



From left:  former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and President George W. Bush. (Photo: Dept. of Defense)

Neocons do like to declare victory, especially regarding the Iraq War. So it came as no surprise that Paul Wolfowitz, apparently unimpressed by Iraq’s mounting crisis, regaled a recent panel discussion at the U.S.-Africa Summit with the blunt proclamation, “We have won it — in  2009.” Unsurprisingly, that’s when Team Bush left the White House — and approximately 150,000 troops behind in Iraq.

Perhaps also not surprisingly, war-weary Americans didn’t pay much attention to Paul’s pronouncement. No doubt they are as tired of Wolfowitz as they are of the war he helped to start. It probably rang as hollow as the faint echo of his earlier pitch for a quick, all-expenses-paid war against 2003’s Hitler of the Moment — Saddam Hussein.

But it’s not quite as simple as that. The issue got more complicated shortly after the Africa summit when President Barack Obama — who had pinned his legacy on extricating the United States from Iraq — suddenly found himself at a podium to announce limited, but open-ended military action to halt the dreaded march of The Islamic State (often called ISIS or ISIL) through the repeatedly rocked Cradle of Civilization.

Many have explained the organization’s plan for creating a fundamentalist caliphate and its reliance on shockingly brutal tactics that make ISIS something that even al-Qaeda could never be, nor perhaps ever wanted to be. Many others have prodded the dying corpse of Iraq to assign blame here, there and everywhere. But the most basic reason for more bombing is found right there in the self-aggrandizing quip by Paul Wolfowitz.

The simple fact is that the Iraq War was a smashing success – at least for the neocons – because it smashed the keystone in the arch of the region’s stability. By removing Saddam Hussein, his government and the Republican Guard, neocons removed a bulwark against the very jihadism that has policymakers and pundits forever wringing their hands raw, military contractors ringing their cash registers, and the denizens of the national security state resting assured under a blanket of secrecy.

Considering the persistent ubiquity of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, their growing presence around the Horn of Africa and extension into Sub-Saharan Africa, Wolfowitz’s declaration of victory may not be ironic or delusional; it may have some measure of truth – at least from his perspective – but for a reason most would not consider victorious. That “victory” achieved something the neocons could only dream of during a fitful slumber brought on by counting the media’s sheep, i.e. a permanent war in the Middle East.

No Walking Away

The Iraq War made it functionally impossible for the United States to ever fully walk away from Iraq, the Persian Gulf or anywhere Muslims and oil mix. And for Wolfowitz, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and William Kristol, it’s a dream come true. Regime change in Iraq created a power vacuum that was and is too strong to resist.


In fact, that vacuum allowed a wandering Jordanian jihadist named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his group of international also-rans to run amok in the chaos of post-Saddam Iraq. After a series of suicide attacks and a pledge to al-Qaeda, the anti-Shi’ite, anti-American, anti-almost-everything group became “al-Qaeda in Iraq,” and, as Bobby Ghosh explains, eventually metastasized into ISIS.

ISIS’s regional road show took off after Zarqawi was killed in June 2006 and a tenuous stability was literally bought by the U.S. during the Sunni Awakening and the much-ballyhooed Surge.

The Sunni Awakening was a cash-incentivized purchase of cooperation from just enough angry Iraqis to force interlopers and internecine adversaries to retreat, retool or retire.

And that cash made it safe to hang the trappings of democracy over a vacuum that would eventually suck America back in again. And did it ever suck.


Although Team Obama was content to let ISIS grow in war-torn Syria’s radicalized incubator, ISIS’s unimpeded advance onto the doorstep of Erbil — the shining oil metropolis at the heart of the Kurdish semi-state — could not be tolerated.

While Chevron and ExxonMobil evacuated employees, Obama sent in tactical assistance for the Yazidi religious minority trapped on a mountain. While the humanitarian crisis and looming “genocide” came and went quickly — perhaps a little too quickly for credulity’s sakethe all-too predictable chaos unleashed by the legacy of regime change and left behind by a legacy-minded Obama made this latest action almost inevitable.

Hillary Clinton’s Protests

Alas, the policy of regime change has been replicated — with many thanks to the “stupid stuff” both Obama and Hillary Clinton have done in Libya and Syria. After having wrung the traditional idea of diplomacy out of the State Department – i.e. advancing your country’s interests without warfare – Hillary has climbed atop a growing stack of her unsold books so everyone can hear some classic Clintonian “triangulation” and pre-election posturing.

It’s still early. Maybe she can create distance between herself, her former boss and her rumored, if perpetually disproved, ideals.

Since Obama didn’t go as far as Hillary now says she wanted to go in smashing Syria, it’s even more likely that she played a significant role sucking two more secular regimes down the jihadist rabbit hole, Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya and Bashar al-Assad’s Syria (although “regime change” has come up a little short in Damascus).

True enough, some Syrian rebels were only helped covertly through her State Department’s Conflict Bureau (and the CIA) and, although never officially linked to the U.S., through Libyan weapons transferred to the fight against Assad, another Hitler du jour, reportedly via a little-known port at a place called Benghazi.

But now there is little doubt Clinton was present at the creation of yet more reasons for Muslim radicals to organize and arm themselves against U.S. aims, allies and proxies — from drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan to Muslim persecution after the “foreign policy success” of Myanmar.

However, the Mother of All Sucking Sounds is still the powerful vacuum created by destroying an entire country under false pretenses. That Iraq vacuum sucked trillions of dollars out of the U.S. Treasury, sucked hundreds of thousands of Americans into a vortex of deployments and redeployments, and created the impetus for millions of Muslims around the world to quite rightly think that they were being targeted by America.


As if decades of dances with dictators and America’s oil-slicked machinations weren’t enough evidence, the neocon agenda for Rebuilding America’s Defenses established once and for all through facts on their sandy ground, through pictures from Abu Ghraib and with extrajudicial imprisonment at Gitmo that Muslims make easy targets (in more ways than one).

Perhaps by taking out a contract on Saddam’s uncooperative regime, they were, in effect, taking out a “bridge loan” for their corporate sponsors until another wave of neocon-men and con-women could breathe life into the long-since dead Cold War with their chess moves in Ukraine. But the real action was and is still at the “other” Ground Zero — in Iraq and around the oil-enriched Persian Gulf.

The bait-and-switch of 9/11 for Saddam, of Colin Powell’s show-stopping vial of fake anthrax for actual evidence of chemical weapons, of aluminum tubes as proof for non-existent nuclear centrifuges — it all set a trap that, in the final analysis, America cannot really free itself from, no matter how rabidly Uncle Sam gnaws at the exposed bone of his blood-soaked leg.

Unbloodied and Unbowed

And somehow, the planners of the Great Remaking of the Middle East have been surprisingly unbowed in spite of the colossal failures and the supposed “blunder” of a strategy gone wrong.

Their lack of penance has made them the butt of jokes, but the joke may be on us.


These were not stupid men. They knew that the only way to keep their version of “the peace” was to keep America trapped in Middle East wars in perpetuity. They planned on it.

Sure, Obama’s pull-out provided momentary relief from the trap, but with each passing month the death and destruction and body count mounted in a “free” and “democratic” Iraq until it predictably collapsed upon itself, unable to make whole what American indifference to facts, law and human life tore asunder.

Now that vacuum has sucked in the detritus of his Obama administration’s own failed policy of regime changes. In Syria and in Libya and, somewhere outside the news media’s bubble, in Yemen, a supposedly feckless Obama has played the same damnable game with the targeted “smashing” of drones, airstrikes and anti-terrorism initiatives.

Meanwhile, the result of illegally smashing Iraq still speaks for itself. So maybe, just maybe, Wolfowitz is, technically speaking, correct when he said “we won.”

The problem is that the “we” is not America or even most Americans.

The “we” is the quirky cabal of desk jockeys, chicken-hawks and Sunday showmen who, through their interconnected web of think tanks and political appointments and corporate connections, ensnared the United States into a conflagration that is beginning its second act.

And if the U.S. somehow avoids getting sucked into a long-term battle against disaffected, dislocated and disenfranchised Muslims? Cold War 2.0 ensures that the perpetual machine designed to continually “rebuild” America’s defenses has a never-ending supply of financial fuel and antagonistic grist for its multi-generational mill.

Either way, the neocon mission has truly been accomplished.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

The National Guard Protects Ferguson's Police, Not Its People...
Anna Feigenbaum
Deep Justice in Ferguson 
Robert C. Koehler
Robert Reich

The Double Identity of an "Anti-Semitic" Commenter
Lance Tapley

Jeff Bryant

. . . how the “oxymoronic” term “majority-minority” is another “clear indicator” of how white people continue to perceive themselves as a “majority” even when statistically they no longer are, in many respects. Public education, in particular, is now one of those “majority-minority” arenas. As numerous recent reports have recently conveyed, this new school year will be the first in which white students are no longer a majority in public schools.

Why I Oppose Anti-Semitism
Russell Brand

New York Fed’s Answer to Cartels Rigging Markets – Form Another Cartel


By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
August 20, 2014


Trader on the Open Markets Trading Desk at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Trader on the Open Markets Trading Desk at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word cartel can mean either businesses that seek to restrict competition or a coalition “intended to promote a mutual interest.” Under at least the second definition, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a key regulator of the biggest Wall Street banks’ holding companies, has been sponsoring (yes, sponsoring) a cartel for decades.

To grasp the sheer insanity of what the New York Fed is doing, imagine going to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s web site (another Wall Street regulator) and finding that it has loaned out its web site and its imprimatur to multiple Wall Street cartels writing their own rules of conduct. It sounds Orwellian doesn’t it.

And yet this is the web site address for the New York Fed-sponsored Foreign Exchange Committee:  http://www.newyorkfed.org/fxc/ which has been operating for the past 36 years and whose three key members, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley, are likely to be charged this fall, according to press reports, with involvement in rigging the very foreign exchange market they are engaged in writing best practices for under sponsorship by the New York Fed.

According to the current member list at the New York Fed’s Foreign Exchange Committee’s web site, Troy Rohrbaugh of JPMorgan Chase chairs the group; Senad Prusac of Morgan Stanley is a member as is Jose Luis Yepez of Citigroup.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but JPMorgan Chase is currently on a two-year probation (deferred prosecution agreement) imposed by the U.S. Justice Department for committing two felonies in aiding and abetting the Bernie Madoff fraud over decades. Should it be involved in writing best practices for, uh…anything?

But it gets worse. The lawyers that will likely be involved in defending the Wall Street banks and or discussing settlements with the Federal Reserve over rigging the foreign exchange markets have their own sponsored wing of the New York Fed. It’s called the Financial Markets Lawyers Group and its web site, an extension of the New York Fed’s web site, is http://www.newyorkfed.org/fmlg/

Included among the current members of the Financial Markets Lawyers Group are:  Lisa A. Shemie, Executive Director and Assistant General Counsel, JPMorgan Chase; Maria Douvas-Orme, Managing Director, Morgan Stanley; and Robert F. Klein, Managing Director and Counsel, Citigroup Global Markets – all firms implicated in foreign exchange market rigging.

In its first annual report for 1979, the Foreign Exchange Committee wrote:


“A year ago, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced that, in response to urging of bankers in the U.S. foreign exchange community, it would sponsor the establishment of a Foreign Exchange Committee…

“To some extent, this first year was one in which the Committee worked out its specific procedures and established working relationships with the other institutions that take an interest in the foreign exchange and international money markets.” [Italics have been added because under anti-trust law it is typically considered illegal to have “working relationships” with competitors involved in the same market.]

Among the charges that will likely be brought by regulators this fall is that foreign exchange traders from multiple banks had “working relationships” with competitors where they rigged markets in chat rooms or instant-message groups that they named “The Cartel” and “The Bandits Club.”

In August 1976, the Committee on Banking, Currency and Housing released a report titled: Federal Reserve Directors:  A Study of Corporate and Banking Influence.  The report drills down to the core of the ongoing problem today:

“The big business and banking dominance of the Federal Reserve System cited in this report can be traced, in part, to the original Federal Reserve Act, which gave member commercial banks the right to select two-thirds of the directors of each district bank.  But the Board of Governors in Washington must share the responsibility for this imbalance. They appoint the so-called ‘public’ members of the boards of each district bank, appointments which have largely reflected the same narrow interests of the bank-elected members. The parochial nature of the boards affects the public interest across a wide area, ranging from monetary policy to bank regulation.  These are the directors, for example, who initially select the presidents of the 12 district banks—officials who serve on the Federal Open Market Committee, determining the nation’s money supply and the level of economic activity. The selection of these public officials, with such broad and essential policymaking powers, should not be in the hands of boards of directors selected and dominated by private banking and corporate interests.”
On January 15 of this year, the New York Fed formally chartered a new cartel – the Treasury Market Practices Group. The charter reads:

“The Treasury Market Practices Group (‘TMPG’ or the ‘Group’) is a private-sector organization sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The TMPG is a group of market professionals committed to supporting the integrity and efficiency of the Treasury, agency debt, and agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) markets.  The TMPG is composed of senior business managers and legal and compliance professionals from a variety of institutions.”

The TMPG has been functioning for some time. Just when it came under the New York Fed’s sponsorship is unclear. Its current members include executives from JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Citigroup.
Related Articles:

Is the New York Fed Too Deeply Conflicted to Regulate Wall Street?

New York Fed’s Strange New Role:  Big Bank Equity Analyst

As Criminal Probes of JPMorgan Expand, Documents Surface Showing JPMorgan Paid $190,000 Annually to Spouse of the Bank’s Top Regulator

At Last We Know the Real Purpose of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York:  It’s a Confessional for Traders Gone Rogue

Sunday, August 24, 2014

(Letterman On Williams!) Thomas Frank and Cornel West Compare Obama's Promise and Rewards (Firing Professors for Their Speech Is a Throwback To the Bad Old Days of the Red Scare) Corporatization of the University Continues Apace (We Are the Enemy?) Ukraine's Victims



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David Letterman knew Robin Williams for 38 years as a fellow comedian, friend and mentor.

His tribute to him is irrepressible (by me at least).

Do yourself a favor an watch it. You won't regret the wasted time.



. . . the thing is he posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free.

And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair. And that’s a very sad moment in the history of the nation because we are — we’re an empire in decline. Our culture is in increasing decay. Our school systems are in deep trouble. Our political system is dysfunctional. Our leaders are more and more bought off with legalized bribery and normalized corruption in Congress and too much of our civil life. You would think that we needed somebody — a Lincoln-like figure who could revive some democratic spirit and democratic possibility.

The same is true with the Robert Rubin crowd. Obama comes in, he’s got all this populist rhetoric which is wonderful, progressive populist rhetoric which we needed badly. What does he do, goes straight to the Robert Rubin crowd and here comes Larry Summers, here comes Tim Geithner, we can go on and on and on, and he allows them to run things. You see it in the Suskind book, The Confidence Men. These guys are running things, and these are neoliberal, deregulating free marketeers — and poverty is not even an afterthought for them.

They’re the same ones who screwed it up before.

Absolutely.

That was the worst moment [when he brought in the Rubin protégés].

We tried to point that out as soon as he became part of the Rubin stable, part of the Rubin group, and people didn’t want to hear it for the most part. They didn’t want to hear it.

Thomas Frank (one of my favorite journalist-reporters) interviews Cornel West (one of my hallowed-ground philosophers) on Obama's never-restored (or ever realized) promise and "about the vicious attacks of the Obama cheerleaders:"

Last time we talked it was almost six years ago. It was a panel discussion The New Yorker magazine had set up, it was in the fall of 2008, so it was while the financial crisis was happening, while it was actually in progress. The economy was crumbling and everybody was panicking. I remember you  speaking about the financial crisis in a way that I thought made sense. There was a lot of confusion at the time. People didn’t know where to turn or what was going on.

I also remember, and this is just me I’m talking about, being impressed by Barack Obama who was running for president at the time. I don’t know if you and I talked about him on that occasion. But at the time, I sometimes thought that he looked like he had what this country needed.

So that’s my first question, it’s a lot of ground to cover but how do you feel things have worked out since then, both with the economy and with this president? That was a huge turning point, that moment in 2008, and my own feeling is that we didn’t turn.

(CW)  No, the thing is he posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair. And that’s a very sad moment in the history of the nation because we are — we’re an empire in decline. Our culture is in increasing decay. Our school systems are in deep trouble. Our political system is dysfunctional. Our leaders are more and more bought off with legalized bribery and normalized corruption in Congress and too much of our civil life. You would think that we needed somebody — a Lincoln-like figure who could revive some democratic spirit and democratic possibility.

(TF)  That’s exactly what everyone was saying at the time.

(CW) That’s right. That’s true. It was like, “We finally got somebody who can help us turn the corner.” And he posed as if he was a kind of Lincoln.

(TF)  Yeah. That’s what everyone was saying.

(CW) And we ended up with a brown-faced Clinton. Another opportunist. Another neoliberal opportunist. It’s like, “Oh, no, don’t tell me that!” I tell you this, because I got hit hard years ago, but everywhere I go now, it’s “Brother West, I see what you were saying. Brother West, you were right. Your language was harsh and it was difficult to take, but you turned out to be absolutely right.” And, of course with Ferguson, you get it reconfirmed even among the people within his own circle now, you see. It’s a sad thing. It’s like you’re looking for John Coltrane and you get Kenny G in brown skin.

(TF) When you say you got hit hard, are you talking about the personal confrontation you had with him?

(CW) I’m just thinking about the vicious attacks of the Obama cheerleaders.

(TF) The personal confrontation you had with him is kind of famous. He got angry at you because you were saying he wasn’t progressive enough.

(CW) I just looked at him like “C’mon, man. Let the facts speak for themselves. I’m not into this rhetorical exchange.”

(TF) Is there anybody who thinks he’s progressive enough today?

(CW) Nobody I know. Not even among the progressive liberals. Nobody I know. Part of this, as you can imagine, is that early on there was a strong private-public distinction. People would come to me and say privately, “We see what you’re saying. We think you’re too harsh in how you say it but we agree very much with what you’re saying in private.” In public, no comment. Now, more and more of it spills over in public.

(TF) There’s a lot of disillusionment now. My liberal friends included. The phrase that I have heard from more than one person in the last year is they feel like they got played.

(CW) That’s true. That’s exactly right. What I hear is that, “He pimped us.” I heard that a zillion times. “He pimped us, brother West.” That’s another way of saying “we got played.”

(TF) You remember that enthusiasm in 2008. I’m from Kansas City. He came and spoke in Kansas City and 75,000 people came to see him.

(CW) Oh yeah. Well we know there were moments in Portland, Oregon, there were moments in Seattle. He had the country in the palm of his hand in terms of progressive possibilities.

(TF) What on earth ails the man? Why can’t he fight the Republicans? Why does he need to seek a grand bargain?

(CW) I think Obama, his modus operandi going all the way back to when he was head of the [Harvard] Law Review, first editor of the Law Review and didn’t have a piece in the Law Review. He was chosen because he always occupied the middle ground. He doesn’t realize that a great leader, a statesperson, doesn’t just occupy middle ground. They occupy higher ground or the moral ground or even sometimes the holy ground.

(CW) But the middle ground is not the place to go if you’re going to show courage and vision. And I think that’s his modus operandi. He always moves to the middle ground. It turned out that historically, this was not a moment for a middle-ground politician. We needed a high-ground statesperson and it’s clear now he’s not the one.

(CW) And so what did he do? Every time you’re headed toward middle ground what do you do? You go straight to the establishment and reassure them that you’re not too radical, and try to convince them that you are very much one of them so you end up with a John Brennan, architect of torture [as CIA Director]. Torturers go free but they’re real patriots so we can let them go free. The rule of law doesn’t mean anything.

(TF) The rule of law, oh my God. There’s one law for us and another law if you work on Wall Street.

(CW) That’s exactly right. Even with [Attorney General] Eric Holder. Eric Holder won’t touch the Wall Street executives; they’re his friends. He might charge them some money. They want to celebrate. This money is just a tax write-off for these people. There’s no accountability. No answerability. No responsibility that these people have to take at all.

(CW) The same is true with the Robert Rubin crowd. Obama comes in, he’s got all this populist rhetoric which is wonderful, progressive populist rhetoric which we needed badly. What does he do, goes straight to the Robert Rubin crowd and here comes Larry Summers, here comes Tim Geithner, we can go on and on and on, and he allows them to run things. You see it in the Suskind book, The Confidence Men. These guys are running things, and these are neoliberal, deregulating free marketeers — and poverty is not even an afterthought for them.

(TF) They’re the same ones who screwed it up before.

(CW) Absolutely.

(TF) That was the worst moment [when he brought in the Rubin protégés].

(CW) We tried to point that out as soon as he became part of the Rubin stable, part of the Rubin group, and people didn’t want to hear it for the most part. They didn’t want to hear it.

(TF) Now it’s six years later and the search for the Grand Bargain has been fruitless. Why does he persist? I shouldn’t be asking you to psychologize him…

(CW) I think part of it is just temperament. That his success has been predicated on finding that middle ground. “We’re not black. We’re not white. We’re not rich. We’re not poor. There’s no classes in America. We are all Americans. We’re the American family.” He invoked the American family last week. It’s a lie, brother.

(CW) You’ve got to be able to tell the truth to the American people. We’re not a family. We’re a people. We’re a nation. And a nation always has divisions. You have to be able to speak to those divisions in such a way that, like FDR, like Lincoln, you’re able to somehow pull out the best of who we are, given the divisions.

(CW) You don’t try to act as if we have no divisions and we’re just an American family, with the poor getting treated in disgraceful ways and the rich walking off sipping tea, with no accountability at all, and your foreign policy is running amok with Israelis committing war crimes against precious Palestinians and you won’t say a mumbling word about the Palestinian children.

(CW) What is history going to say about you? Counterfeit! That’s what they’ll say, counterfeit. Not the real thing.

(TF) Let’s talk about Ferguson. All I know about it is what I’ve been reading in the newspapers; I haven’t been out there. But I feel like there’s a lot more going on there than this one tragic killing.

(CW) Oh, absolutely. I mean, one, we know that this is a systemic thing. This thing has been going on — we can hardly get a word out of the administration in terms of the arbitrary police power. I’ll give you a good example: Carl Dix and I, three years ago, we went to jail over stop and frisk. We had a week-long trial and we were convicted, we were guilty. While the trial was going on, President Obama came into New York and said two things: He said that Michael Bloomberg was a terrific mayor even though he had stopped and frisked over four and a half million since 2002.

(CW) Then he went onto say that Ed Koch was one of the greatest mayors in the last 50 years. This is right at a time when we’re dealing with stop and frisk, arbitrary police power, and Bloomberg is extending stop and frisk and proud of it. At least Bloomberg is honest about it. Bill De Blasio is just trying to walk a tightrope in this regard. At least Bloomberg was honest about it. He was glad that stop and frisk was in place. When we went to jail he said, “Y’all are wrong. If stop and frisk is stopped, then crime is going to go up…”

(CW) I just give you that as an example in terms of arbitrary police power because in Ferguson we’re talking about arbitrary police power, and this particular instance of it has been going on for a long time. The Obama administration has been silent. Completely silent. All of a sudden now, you get this uprising and what is the response? Well, as we know, you send out a statement on the death of brother Robin Williams before you sent out a statement on brother Michael Brown. The family asked for an autopsy at the Federal level, they hold back, so they [the family] have to go and get their own autopsy, and then the federal government finally responds. [Obama] sends Eric, Eric’s on the way out. Eric Holder’s going to be gone by December.

(TF) Oh, is he?

(CW) Yeah, he’s already said, this is it. He’s concerned about his legacy as if he’s somehow been swinging for black folk ever since he’s been in there. That’s a lie. He’s been silent, too. He’s been relatively silent. He’s made a couple of gestures in regards to the New Jim Crow and the prison-industrial complex, but that’s just lately, on his way out. He was there for six years and didn’t do nothing. See what I mean?

(TF) I see exactly what you mean, but I look at the pictures at Ferguson and it looks like it could be anywhere in America, you know.

(CW) Absolutely. It looks like it could be New York, Chicago, Atlanta, L.A. It’s like they’re lucky that it hasn’t hit New York, Chicago, L.A. yet, you know.

(TF) When they rolled out the militarized police, it frightened people. Something is going on here. It’s not breaking down the way it usually does. People are reacting to this in a different way.

(CW) That’s true. It’s a great moment, but let me tell you this though. Because what happens is you got Eric Holder going in trying to create the calm. But you also got Al Sharpton. And when you say the name Al Sharpton, the word integrity does not come to mind. So you got low-quality black leadership. Al Sharpton is who? He’s a cheerleader for Obama.

(TF) I haven’t followed him for years; I didn’t know that.

(CW) He meets with the president regularly.

(TF) I did not know that.

(CW) On his show on MSNBC…

(TF) I knew he had a show, I just…I guess I don’t watch it enough.

(CW) You gotta check that out, brother.

(TF) That’s the problem with me, I don’t watch enough TV.

(CW) It’s probably good for your soul but you still have to be informed about how decadent things are out here. But, no:  MSNBC, state press, it’s all Obama propaganda, and Sharpton is the worst. Sharpton said explicitly, I will never say a critical word about the president under any condition. That’s why he can’t stand what I’m saying. He can’t stand what I do because, for him, it’s an act of racial traitorship to be critical of the president. There’s no prophetic integrity in his leadership.

(TF) I understand that. I think a lot of people feel that way. Not just in a racial sense but because Obama’s a Democrat. People feel that way in a partisan sense.

(CW) I think that’s true too. You have had some Democrats who’ve had some criticisms of the president. You’ve got some senator that has been critical about his violation of civil liberties and so forth, and rightly so. But Sharpton, and I mention Sharpton because Sharpton is the major black leader who is called on to deal with arbitrary police power. So, Trayvon Martin, what did he do?

(CW) You got all this black rage down there calling for justice. Has there been justice for Trayvon Martin? Has the Department of Justice done anything for the Trayvon Martin case? None whatsoever. The same is true now with Ferguson. They call Sharpton down. He poses, he postures like he’s so radical. But he is a cheerleader for the Obama administration which means, he’s going to do what he can to filter that rage in neoliberal forms, rather than for truth and justice.

(TF) One last thing, where are we going from here? What comes next?

(CW) I think a post-Obama America is an America in post-traumatic depression. Because the levels of disillusionment are so deep. Thank God for the new wave of young and prophetic leadership, as with Rev. William Barber, Philip Agnew, and others. But look who’s around the presidential corner. Oh my God, here comes another neo-liberal opportunist par excellence.

(CW) Hillary herself is coming around the corner. It’s much worse. And you say, “My God, we are an empire in decline.” A culture in decay with a political system that’s dysfunctional, youth who are yearning for something better but our system doesn’t provide them democratic venues, and so all we have are just voices in the wilderness and certain truth-tellers just trying to keep alive some memories of when we had some serious, serious movements and leaders.

(TF) One last thought, I was talking to a friend recently and we were saying, if things go the way they look like they’re going to go and Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and then wins a second term, the next time there’ll be a chance for a liberal, progressive president is 2024.

(CW) It’d be about over then, brother. I think at that point — Hillary Clinton is an extension of Obama’s Wall Street presidency, drone presidency, national surveillance, national security presidency. She’d be more hawkish than he is, and yet she’s got that strange smile that somehow titillates liberals and neo-liberals and scares Republicans. But at that point it’s even too hard to contemplate.

(TF) I know, I always like to leave things on a pessimistic note. I’m sorry. It’s just my nature.

(CW) It’s not pessimistic, brother, because this is the blues. We are blues people. The blues aren’t pessimistic. We’re prisoners of hope but we tell the truth and the truth is dark. That’s different.

Thomas Frank

Thomas Frank is a Salon politics and culture columnist. His many books include What's The Matter With Kansas, Pity the Billionaire and One Market Under God. He is the founding editor of The Baffler magazine.


Having been a victim of this type of this type of "political" campaign myself, I would urge you to sign the petitition linked to the essay.

From Lawyers, Guns & Money:

Salaita Update

August 23, 2014 | Erik Loomis
Sadly, the University of Illinois, after two meetings of the Board of Trustees, has decided to stick with the firing of Stephen Salaita for his anti-Israel war on Gaza positions as stated on Twitter. We’ve had several posts here about this case and as we’ve expressed, this is an outrageous attack on the free speech of academics. To fire professors for their speech is a throwback to the bad old days of the Red Scare when professors were fired for not supporting the U.S. effort in World War I. The corporatization of the university continues apace, where employees are canned for not holding to the official corporate political line or speaking their own mind in a way that might bring unwanted attention to the school, even though in the case of Salaita, it’s not like there was even a coordinated effort against him from right-wingers. Sadly, it was other pro-Israel academics like Cary Nelson who brought him down.
In the recent past, there have been real victories when universities have tried to crack down on free speech. The case against myself is one example. I fear this is the beginning of the rolling back of those victories.
Right now, the biggest thing you can do is sign the general academic petition to demand Salaita’s reinstatement and to boycott the University of Illinois until they do so. Corey Robin has been the biggest promoter of the cause and his blog also has links to all the field-specific petitions, useful because our readers come from so many academic fields. Regardless of what you think about Salaita’s statements on Gaza, I urge all you academics to sign this petition because you are next. Or I am next. Or someone you know is next. And each and every time it creates a McCarthy-like atmosphere on our campuses that reduces the intellectual experiences of our students and depresses the freedoms of us all.

Now, we learn the truth that has been evading our grasp through the TV coverage?

We have become the enemy.

So it would seem.

The simple fact is that the Constitution — and in particular the Bill of Rights — is being undermined on virtually every front. Indeed, everything America was founded upon is in some way being challenged. The openness and freedom that were once the hallmarks of our nation are now in great peril.
Look at the news headlines and then the death-by-police statistics.

In recent months there has been a dramatic shift in the overall national dialogue regarding public concern over an emerging police state in the America and its individual manifestations such as government surveillance, indefinite detention, and drones taking to domestic skies.
From constitutional attorney, John Whitehead, author of A Government of Wolves:  The Emerging American Police State, and the president of The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit international civil liberties organization, a man known for his "impeccable integrity in defending civil liberties for all:"

Life in the American police state is an endless series of don’ts delivered at the end of a loaded gun: don’t talk back to police officers, don’t even think about defending yourself against a SWAT team raid (of which there are 80,000 every year), don’t run when a cop is nearby lest you be mistaken for a fleeing criminal, don’t carry a cane lest it be mistaken for a gun, don’t expect privacy in public, don’t let your kids walk to the playground alone, don’t engage in nonviolent protest near where a government official might pass, don’t try to grow vegetables in your front yard, don’t play music for tips in a metro station, don’t feed whales, and on and on.
For those who resist, who dare to act independently, think for themselves, march to the beat of a different drummer, the consequences are invariably a one-way trip to the local jail or death.
What Americans must understand, what we have chosen to ignore, what we have fearfully turned a blind eye to lest the reality prove too jarring is the fact that we no longer live in the “city on the hill,” a beacon of freedom for all the world.
Far from being a shining example of democracy at work, we have become a lesson for the world in how quickly freedom turns to tyranny, how slippery the slope by which a once-freedom-loving people can be branded, shackled and fooled into believing that their prisons walls are, in fact, for their own protection.
Having spent more than half a century exporting war to foreign lands, profiting from war, and creating a national economy seemingly dependent on the spoils of war, we failed to protest when the war hawks turned their profit-driven appetites on us, bringing home the spoils of war — the military tanks, grenade launchers, Kevlar helmets, assault rifles, gas masks, ammunition, battering rams, night vision binoculars, etc. — to be distributed for free to local police agencies and used to secure the homeland against “we the people.”
It’s not just the Defense Department that is passing out free military equipment to local police. Since the early 1990s, the Justice Department has worked with the Pentagon to fund military technology for police departments. And then there are the billions of dollars’ worth of federal grants distributed by the Department of Homeland Security, enabling police departments to go on a veritable buying spree for highly questionable military-grade supplies better suited to the battlefield.
Is it any wonder that we now find ourselves in the midst of a war zone?
We live in a state of undeclared martial law. We have become the enemy.

. . . This is not just happening in Ferguson, Missouri. As I show in my book, A Government of Wolves, it’s happening and will happen anywhere and everywhere else in this country where law enforcement officials are given carte blanche to do what they like, when they like, how they like, with immunity from their superiors, the legislatures, and the courts.

You see, what Americans have failed to comprehend, living as they do in a TV-induced, drug-like haze of fabricated realities, narcissistic denial, and partisan politics, is that we’ve not only brought the military equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan home to be used against the American people. We’ve also brought the very spirit of the war home.

This is what it feels like to be a conquered people. This is what it feels like to be an occupied nation. This is what it feels like to live in fear of armed men crashing through your door in the middle of the night, or to be accused of doing something you never even knew was a crime, or to be watched all the time, your movements tracked, your motives questioned. This is what it’s like to be a citizen of the American police state. This is what it’s like to be an enemy combatant in your own country.

So if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, by all means, stand down. Cower in the face of the police, turn your eyes away from injustice, find any excuse to suggest that the so-called victims of the police state deserved what they got.

But remember, when that rifle finally gets pointed in your direction — and it will — when there’s no one left to stand up for you or speak up for you, remember that you were warned.

It works the same in every age. Martin Niemoller understood this. A German pastor who openly opposed Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in a concentration camp, Niemoller warned:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Ukrainian Victims Speak Without Mainstream Media Press

Oh, to have had the life of Richard Attenborough!




Saturday, August 23, 2014

(Chump Goldman-Suks Change?) MS Admits $100B Offshore (Most Ever) Untaxed Profits (Anti-Zionist NOT Anti-Semitic) A Country of Lone Gunmen:  One Nation Under SWAT (Plea For Ukraine Inquiry By Millions Urging No WWIII, Please!)



(Editor's Note:   If you can make a small donation to Pottersville2, it will be hugely appreciated as we've come under vast financial pressure recently and need to ask for some aid. Thanks so much for your support!)

Goldman Sachs to Pay $1.2 Billion for Selling Faulty Mortgages to Fannie and Freddie

Reuters

Goldman Sachs has agreed to a settlement worth $1.2bn (£723m) to resolve a US regulator's claims the bank sold Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac faulty mortgage bonds, the regulator announced on Friday.


READ MORE

Comments:

# A P 2014-08-23 07:23

If this is like the CITI and JP Morgan settlements, the top execs get off scott-free and the bank's "fine" is tax deductible. As in the fine is actually less than half what the press is tossing around. And considering the $trillions the banks collectively took from the SubPrime scam, a few $billion each is just the price of doing business.

# Activista 2014-08-23 08:20

US oligarchs from Goldman Sax will get premiums . . . salaries are only part of the compensation . . . http://www1.salary.com/GOLDMAN-SACHS-GROUP-INC-Executive-Salaries.html
While CEO of Goldman Sachs Group in 2007, Blankfein earned a total compensation of $53,965,418, which included a base salary of $600,000, a cash bonus of $26,985,474, stocks granted of $15,542,756 and options granted of $10,453,031. . . and these people are SELECTING Congress .. we are like Ukraine ....

It's getting tougher (and uglier) every day to keep track of those working at top speed to pare back U.S. (and world) civilization (as if they don't live here anymore, but come to think about it, they probably don't).

If it isn't lone gunmen, it's lone entrepreneurs. (With deep, deep pockets.)

But aren't they all just gaming entrepreneurs?

No, It’s Not Anti-Semitic

Profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities. Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-semitic in their effect if not their intent.

Lawrence Summers, 17 September 2002

When the president of Harvard University declared that to criticise Israel at this time and to call on universities to divest from Israel are ‘actions that are anti-semitic in their effect, if not their intent’, he introduced a distinction between effective and intentional anti-semitism that is controversial at best. The counter-charge has been that in making his statement, Summers has struck a blow against academic freedom, in effect, if not in intent. Although he insisted that he meant nothing censorious by his remarks, and that he is in favour of Israeli policy being ‘debated freely and civilly’, his words have had a chilling effect on political discourse. Among those actions which he called ‘effectively anti-semitic’ were European boycotts of Israel, anti-globalisation rallies at which criticisms of Israel were voiced, and fund-raising efforts for organisations of ‘questionable political provenance’. Of local concern to him, however, was a divestment petition drafted by MIT and Harvard faculty members who oppose Israel’s current occupation and its treatment of Palestinians. Summers asked why Israel was being ‘singled out . . . among all nations’ for a divestment campaign, suggesting that the singling out was evidence of anti-semitic intentions. And though he claimed that aspects of Israel’s ‘foreign and defence’ policy ‘can be and should be vigorously challenged’, it was unclear how such challenges could or would take place without being construed as anti-Israel, and why these policy issues, which include occupation, ought not to be vigorously challenged through a divestment campaign. It would seem that calling for divestment is something other than a legitimately ‘vigorous challenge’, but we are not given any criteria by which to adjudicate between vigorous challenges that should be articulated, and those which carry the ‘effective’ force of anti-semitism.

Summers is right to voice concern about rising anti-semitism, and every progressive person ought to challenge anti-semitism vigorously wherever it occurs. It seems, though, that historically we have now reached a position in which Jews cannot legitimately be understood always and only as presumptive victims. Sometimes we surely are, but sometimes we surely are not. No political ethics can start from the assumption that Jews monopolise the position of victim. ‘Victim’ is a quickly transposable term: it can shift from minute to minute, from the Jew killed by suicide bombers on a bus to the Palestinian child killed by Israeli gunfire. The public sphere needs to be one in which both kinds of violence are challenged insistently and in the name of justice.

BREAKING:

International Business Times has a breaking news scoop . . . . Buried in Microsoft's latest SEC filing, the company admits to stashing $92 billion in offshore subsidiaries in order to avoid paying than $29 billion in U.S. taxes.

 David Sirota
@davidsirota
August 22 2014


Microsoft Corp. is currently sitting on almost $29.6 billion it would owe in U.S. taxes if it repatriated the $92.9 billion of earnings it is keeping offshore, according to disclosures in the company’s most recent annual filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The amount of money that Microsoft is keeping offshore represents a significant spike from prior years, and the levies the company would owe amount to almost the entire two-year operating budget of the company’s home state of Washington.

The company says it has "not provided deferred U.S. income taxes" because it says the earnings were generated from its "non-U.S. subsidiaries” and then "reinvested outside the U.S.” Tax experts, however, say that details of the filing suggest the company is using tax shelters to dodge the taxes it owes as a company domiciled in the United States.

In response to a request for comment, a Microsoft spokesperson referred International Business Times to 2012 U.S. Senate testimony from William J. Sample, the company’s corporate vp for worldwide tax. He said: “Microsoft’s tax results follow from its business, which is fundamentally a global business that requires us to operate in foreign markets in order to compete and grow. In conducting our business at home and abroad, we abide by U.S. and foreign tax laws as written. That is not to say that the rules cannot be improved - to the contrary, we believe they can and should be.”

The disclosure in Microsoft’s SEC filing lands amid an intensifying debate over the fairness of U.S.-based multinational corporations using offshore subsidiaries and so-called "inversions" to avoid paying American taxes. Such maneuvers - although often legal - threaten to significantly reduce U.S. corporate tax receipts during an era marked by government budget deficits.

So, just keep buying that Windows crap, kiddies.

And we'll soon see the end of days? (Our good days, anyway.)

Man, that new Surface thingie sure looks sexy.

And is that the one that has the top come off?

Whoooeee!!!


Speaking of entrepreneurs, don't those law enforcement agencies' entrepreneurial skills just blow you away?

Welcome to a new era of American policing, where cops increasingly see themselves as soldiers occupying enemy territory, often with the help of Uncle Sam’s armory, and where even nonviolent crimes are met with overwhelming force and brutality.

Yes. Your local cop sees many of you/us as the enemy.

Hardly the local cop who comes to lecture at schools, civic groups, etc., inspiring confidence in our local "leadership."

Thank our increasingly controversial "War On Drugs!"



One Nation Under SWAT


The Pentagon is distributing weaponry and equipment made for U.S. counterinsurgency campaigns abroad to police who patrol American streets.

By Matthew Harwood, August 15, 2014. Originally published in TomDispatch.

police-militarization-swat-pentagon-military-contractors

The war on terror has melded thoroughly with the war on drugs, and the result couldn’t be any more disturbing:  police forces that increasingly look and act like occupying armies. (Photo: Brendan Scherer / Flickr)
Jason Westcott was afraid.

One night last fall, he discovered via Facebook that a friend of a friend was planning with some co-conspirators to break in to his home. They were intent on stealing Wescott’s handgun and a couple of TV sets. According to the Facebook message, the suspect was planning on “burning” Westcott, who promptly called the Tampa Bay police and reported the plot.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the investigating officers responding to Westcott’s call had a simple message for him:  “If anyone breaks into this house, grab your gun and shoot to kill.”

Around 7:30 pm on May 27th, the intruders arrived. Westcott followed the officers’ advice, grabbed his gun to defend his home, and died pointing it at the intruders. They used a semiautomatic shotgun and handgun to shoot down the 29-year-old motorcycle mechanic. He was hit three times, once in the arm and twice in his side, and pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

The intruders, however, weren’t small-time crooks looking to make a small score. Rather they were members of the Tampa Police Department’s SWAT team, which was executing a search warrant on suspicion that Westcott and his partner were marijuana dealers. They had been tipped off by a confidential informant, whom they drove to Westcott’s home four times between February and May to purchase small amounts of marijuana, at $20-$60 a pop. The informer notified police that he saw two handguns in the home, which was why the Tampa police deployed a SWAT team to execute the search warrant.

In the end, the same police department that told Westcott to protect his home with defensive force killed him when he did. After searching his small rental, the cops indeed found weed, two dollars’ worth, and one legal handgun — the one he was clutching when the bullets ripped into him.

Welcome to a new era of American policing, where cops increasingly see themselves as soldiers occupying enemy territory, often with the help of Uncle Sam’s armory, and where even nonviolent crimes are met with overwhelming force and brutality.

The War on Your Doorstep

The cancer of militarized policing has long been metastasizing in the body politic. It has been growing ever stronger since the first Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams were born in the 1960s in response to that decade’s turbulent mix of riots, disturbances, and senseless violence like Charles Whitman’s infamous clock-tower rampage in Austin, Texas.

While SWAT isn’t the only indicator that the militarization of American policing is increasing, it is the most recognizable. The proliferation of SWAT teams across the country and their paramilitary tactics have spread a violent form of policing designed for the extraordinary but in these years made ordinary. When the concept of SWAT arose out of the Philadelphia and Los Angeles Police Departments, it was quickly picked up by big city police officials nationwide. Initially, however, it was an elite force reserved for uniquely dangerous incidents, such as active shooters, hostage situations, or large-scale disturbances.

Nearly a half-century later, that’s no longer true.

In 1984, according to Radley Balko’s Rise of the Warrior Cop, about 26 percent of towns with populations between 25,000 and 50,000 had SWAT teams. By 2005, that number had soared to 80 percent and it’s still rising, though SWAT statistics are notoriously hard to come by.

As the number of SWAT teams has grown nationwide, so have the raids. Every year now, there are approximately 50,000 SWAT raids in the United States, according to Professor Pete Kraska of Eastern Kentucky University’s School of Justice Studies. In other words, roughly 137 times a day a SWAT team assaults a home and plunges its inhabitants and the surrounding community into terror.

Upping the Racial Profiling Ante

In a recently released report, “War Comes Home,” the American Civil Liberties Union (my employer) discovered that nearly 80 percent of all SWAT raids it reviewed between 2011 and 2012 were deployed to execute a search warrant.

Pause here a moment and consider that these violent home invasions are routinely used against people who are only suspected of a crime. Up-armored paramilitary teams now regularly bash down doors in search of evidence of a possible crime.

In other words, police departments increasingly choose a tactic that often results in injury and property damage as its first option, not the one of last resort. In more than 60 percent of the raids the ACLU investigated, SWAT members rammed down doors in search of possible drugs, not to save a hostage, respond to a barricade situation, or neutralize an active shooter.

On the other side of that broken-down door, more often than not, are blacks and Latinos. When the ACLU could identify the race of the person or people whose home was being broken into, 68 percent of the SWAT raids against minorities were for the purpose of executing a warrant in search of drugs. When it came to whites, that figure dropped to 38 percent, despite the well-known fact that blacks, whites, and Latinos all use drugs at roughly the same rates. SWAT teams, it seems, have a disturbing record of disproportionately applying their specialized skill set within communities of color.

Think of this as racial profiling on steroids in which the humiliation of stop and frisk is raised to a terrifying new level.

Everyday Militarization

Don’t think, however, that the military mentality and equipment associated with SWAT operations are confined to those elite units. Increasingly, they’re permeating all forms of policing.

As Karl Bickel, a senior policy analyst with the Justice Department’s Community Policing Services office, observes, police across America are being trained in a way that emphasizes force and aggression. He notes that recruit training favors a stress-based regimen that’s modeled on military boot camp rather than on the more relaxed academic setting a minority of police departments still employ. The result, he suggests, is young officers who believe policing is about kicking ass rather than working with the community to make neighborhoods safer. Or as comedian Bill Maher reminded officers recently:  “The words on your car, ‘protect and serve,’ refer to us, not you.”

This authoritarian streak runs counter to the core philosophy that supposedly dominates twenty-first-century American thinking: community policing. Its emphasis is on a mission of “keeping the peace” by creating and maintaining partnerships of trust with and in the communities served. Under the community model, which happens to be the official policing philosophy of the U.S. government, officers are protectors but also problem solvers who are supposed to care, first and foremost, about how their communities see them. They don’t command respect, the theory goes: they earn it. Fear isn’t supposed to be their currency. Trust is.

Nevertheless, police recruiting videos, as in those from California’s Newport Beach Police Department and New Mexico’s Hobbs Police Department, actively play up not the community angle but militarization as a way of attracting young men with the promise of Army-style adventure and high-tech toys. Policing, according to recruiting videos like these, isn’t about calmly solving problems; it’s about you and your boys breaking down doors in the middle of the night.

SWAT’s influence reaches well beyond that. Take the increasing adoption of battle-dress uniforms (BDUs) for patrol officers. These militaristic, often black, jumpsuits, Bickel fears, make them less approachable and possibly also more aggressive in their interactions with the citizens they’re supposed to protect.

A small project at Johns Hopkins University seemed to bear this out. People were shown pictures of police officers in their traditional uniforms and in BDUs. Respondents, the survey indicated, would much rather have a police officer show up in traditional dress blues. Summarizing its findings, Bickel writes, “The more militaristic look of the BDUs, much like what is seen in news stories of our military in war zones, gives rise to the notion of our police being an occupying force in some inner city neighborhoods, instead of trusted community protectors.”

Where Do They Get Those Wonderful Toys?

“I wonder if I can get in trouble for doing this,” the young man says to his buddy in the passenger seat as they film the Saginaw County Sheriff Office’s new toy:  a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle. As they film the MRAP from behind, their amateur video has a Red Dawn-esque feel, as if an occupying military were now patrolling this Michigan county’s streets. “This is getting ready for f**king crazy times, dude,” one young man comments. “Why,” his friend replies, “has our city gotten that f**king bad?”

In fact, nothing happening in Saginaw County warranted the deployment of an armored vehicle capable of withstanding bullets and the sort of improvised explosive devices that insurgent forces have regularly planted along roads in America’s recent war zones. Sheriff William Federspiel, however, fears the worst. “As sheriff of the county, I have to put ourselves in the best position to protect our citizens and protect our property,” he told a reporter. “I have to prepare for something disastrous.”

Lucky for Federspiel, his exercise in paranoid disaster preparedness didn’t cost his office a penny. That $425,000 MRAP came as a gift, courtesy of Uncle Sam, from one of our far-flung counterinsurgency wars. The nasty little secret of policing’s militarization is that taxpayers are subsidizing it through programs overseen by the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Justice Department.

Take the 1033 program. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) may be an obscure agency within the Department of Defense, but through the 1033 program, which it oversees, it’s one of the core enablers of American policing’s excessive militarization. Beginning in 1990, Congress authorized the Pentagon to transfer its surplus property free of charge to federal, state, and local police departments to wage the war on drugs. In 1997, Congress expanded the purpose of the program to include counterterrorism in section 1033 of the defense authorization bill. In one single page of a 450-page law, Congress helped sow the seeds of today’s warrior cops.

The amount of military hardware transferred through the program has grown astronomically over the years. In 1990, the Pentagon gave $1 million worth of equipment to U.S. law enforcement. That number had jumped to nearly $450 million in 2013. Overall, the program has shipped off more than $4.3 billion worth of materiel to state and local cops, according to the DLA.

In its recent report, the ACLU found a disturbing range of military gear being transferred to civilian police departments nationwide. Police in North Little Rock, Arkansas, for instance, received 34 automatic and semi-automatic rifles, two robots that can be armed, military helmets, and a Mamba tactical vehicle. Police in Gwinnet County, Georgia, received 57 semi-automatic rifles, mostly M-16s and M-14s. The Utah Highway Patrol, according to a Salt Lake City Tribune investigation, got an MRAP from the 1033 program, and Utah police received 1,230 rifles and four grenade launchers. After South Carolina’s Columbia Police Department received its very own MRAP worth $658,000, its SWAT Commander Captain E.M. Marsh noted that 500 similar vehicles had been distributed to law enforcement organizations across the country.

Astoundingly, one-third of all war materiel parceled out to state, local, and tribal police agencies is brand new. This raises further disconcerting questions:  Is the Pentagon simply wasteful when it purchases military weapons and equipment with taxpayer dollars? Or could this be another downstream, subsidized market for defense contractors?

Whatever the answer, the Pentagon is actively distributing weaponry and equipment made for U.S. counterinsurgency campaigns abroad to police who patrol American streets, and this is considered sound policy in Washington. The message seems striking enough:  what might be necessary for Kabul might also be necessary for DeKalb County.

In other words, the twenty-first-century war on terror has melded thoroughly with the twentieth-century war on drugs, and the result couldn’t be any more disturbing:  police forces that increasingly look and act like occupying armies.

How the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice Are Up-Armoring the Police

When police departments look to muscle up their arms and tactics, the Pentagon isn’t the only game in town. Civilian agencies are in on it, too.

During a 2011 investigation, reporters Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz discovered that, since 9/11, police departments watching over some of the safest places in America have used $34 billion in grant funding from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to militarize in the name of counterterrorism.

In Fargo, North Dakota, for example, the city and its surrounding county went on an $8 million spending spree with federal money, according to Becker and Schulz. Although the area averaged less than two murders a year since 2005, every squad car is now armed with an assault rifle. Police also have access to Kevlar helmets that can stop heavy firepower as well as an armored truck worth approximately $250,000. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1,500 beat cops have been trained to use AR-15 assault rifles with homeland security grant funding.

As with the 1033 program, neither DHS nor state and local governments account for how the equipment, including body armor and drones, is used. While the rationale behind stocking up on these military-grade supplies is invariably the possibility of a terrorist attack, school shooting, or some other horrific event, the gear is normally used to conduct paramilitary drug raids, as Balko notes.

Still, the most startling source of police militarization is the Department of Justice, the very agency officially dedicated to spreading the community policing model through its Community Oriented Policing Services office.

In 1988, Congress authorized the Byrne grant programs in the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which gave state and local police federal funds to enlist in the government’s drug war. That grant program, according to Balko, led to the creation of regional and multi-jurisdictional narcotics task forces, which gorged themselves on federal money and, with little federal, state, or local oversight, spent it beefing up their weapons and tactics. In 2011, 585 of these task forces operated off Byrne grant funding.

The grants, Balko reports, also incentivized the type of policing that has made the war on drugs such a destructive force in American society. The Justice Department doled out Byrne grants based on how many arrests officers made, how much property they seized, and how many warrants they served. The very things these narcotics task forces did very well. “As a result,” Balko writes, “we have roving squads of drug cops, loaded with SWAT gear, who get money if they conduct more raids, make more arrests, and seize more property, and they are virtually immune to accountability if they get out of line.”

Regardless of whether this militarization has occurred due to federal incentives or executive decision-making in police departments or both, police across the nation are up-armoring with little or no public debate. In fact, when the ACLU requested SWAT records from 255 law enforcement agencies as part of its investigation, 114 denied them. The justifications for such denials varied, but included arguments that the documents contained “trade secrets” or that the cost of complying with the request would be prohibitive. Communities have a right to know how the police do their jobs, but more often than not, police departments think otherwise.

Being the Police Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

Report by report, evidence is mounting that America’s militarized police are a threat to public safety. But in a country where the cops increasingly look upon themselves as soldiers doing battle day in, day out, there’s no need for public accountability or even an apology when things go grievously wrong.

If community policing rests on mutual trust between the police and the people, militarized policing operates on the assumption of “officer safety” at all costs and contempt for anyone who sees things differently. The result is an “us versus them” mentality.

Just ask the parents of Bou Bou Phonesavanh. Around 3:00 a.m. on May 28th, the Habersham County Special Response Team conducted a no-knock raid at a relative’s home near Cornelia, Georgia, where the family was staying. The officers were looking for the homeowner’s son, whom they suspected of selling $50 worth of drugs to a confidential informant. As it happened, he no longer lived there.

Despite evidence that children were present — a minivan in the driveway, children’s toys littering the yard, and a Pack ‘n Play next to the door — a SWAT officer tossed a “flashbang” grenade into the home. It landed in 19-month-old Bou Bou’s crib and exploded, critically wounding the toddler. When his distraught mother tried to reach him, officers screamed at her to sit down and shut up, telling her that her child was fine and had just lost a tooth. In fact, his nose was hanging off his face, his body had been severely burned, and he had a hole in his chest. Rushed to the hospital, Bou Bou had to be put into a medically induced coma.

The police claimed that it was all a mistake and that there had been no evidence children were present. “There was no malicious act performed,” Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It was a terrible accident that was never supposed to happen.” The Phonesavanhs have yet to receive an apology from the sheriff’s office. “Nothing. Nothing for our son. No card. No balloon. Not a phone call. Not anything,” Bou Bou’s mother, Alecia Phonesavanh, told CNN.

Similarly, Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor continues to insist that Jay Westcott’s death in the militarized raid on his house was his own fault. “Mr. Westcott lost his life because he aimed a loaded firearm at police officers. You can take the entire marijuana issue out of the picture,” Castor said. “If there’s an indication that there is armed trafficking going on — someone selling narcotics while they are armed or have the ability to use a firearm — then the tactical response team will do the initial entry.”

In her defense of the SWAT raid, Castor simply dismissed any responsibility for Westcott’s death. “They did everything they could to serve this warrant in a safe manner,” she wrote the Tampa Bay Times — “everything,” that is, but find an alternative to storming the home of a man they knew feared for his life.

Almost half of all American households report having a gun, as the ACLU notes in its report. That means the police always have a ready-made excuse for using SWAT teams to execute warrants when less confrontational and less violent alternatives exist.

In other words, if police believe you’re selling drugs, beware. Suspicion is all they need to turn your world upside down. And if they’re wrong, don’t worry; the intent couldn’t have been better.

Voices in the Wilderness

The militarization of the police shouldn’t be surprising. As Hubert Williams, a former police director of Newark, New Jersey, and Patrick V. Murphy, former commissioner of the New York City Police Department, put it nearly 25 years ago, police are “barometers of the society in which they operate.” In post-9/11 America, that means police forces imbued with the “hooah” mentality of soldiers and acting as if they are fighting an insurgency in their own backyard.

While the pace of police militarization has quickened, there has at least been some pushback from current and former police officials who see the trend for what it is:  the destruction of community policing. In Spokane, Washington, Councilman Mike Fagan, a former police detective, is pushing back against police officers wearing BDUs, calling the get-up “intimidating” to citizens. In Utah, the legislature passed a bill requiring probable cause before police could execute a no-knock raid. Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank has been a vocal critic of militarization, telling the local paper, “We’re not the military. Nor should we look like an invading force coming in.” Just recently, Chief Charlie Beck of the Los Angeles Police Department agreed with the ACLU and the Los Angeles Times editorial board that “the lines between municipal law enforcement and the U.S. military cannot be blurred.”

Retired Seattle police chief Norm Stamper has also become an outspoken critic of militarizing police forces, noting “most of what police are called upon to do, day in and day out, requires patience, diplomacy, and interpersonal skills.” In other words, community policing. Stamper is the chief who green-lighted a militarized response to World Trade Organization protests in his city in 1999 (“The Battle in Seattle”). It’s a decision he would like to take back. “My support for a militaristic solution caused all hell to break loose,” he wrote in the Nation. “Rocks, bottles and newspaper racks went flying. Windows were smashed, stores were looted, fires lighted; and more gas filled the streets, with some cops clearly overreacting, escalating and prolonging the conflict.”

These former policemen and law enforcement officials understand that police officers shouldn’t be breaking down any citizen’s door at 3 a.m. armed with AR-15s and flashbang grenades in search of a small amount of drugs, while an MRAP idles in the driveway. The anti-militarists, however, are in the minority right now. And until that changes, violent paramilitary police raids will continue to break down the doors of nearly 1,000 American households a week.

War, once started, can rarely be contained.

(Matthew Harwood is senior writer/editor at the American Civil Liberties Union and a TomDispatch regular. You can follow him on Twitter @mharwood31).

Think the CIA-nonsense-engendered Ukraine situation is not serious enough to cause widescale war?

One sign of the times is that where once there was outrage over CIA involvement in drug trafficking, today many seem glad to see the Agency developing outside interests that don’t require access to a dungeon.

Think again.

Demand Swells for Straight Answers on Plane in Ukraine


By David Swanson

22 August 2014

A long list of prominent individuals has signed, a number of organizations will be promoting next week, and you can be one of the first to sign right now, a petition titled "Call For Independent Inquiry of the Airplane Crash in Ukraine and its Catastrophic Aftermath."

The petition is directed to "All the heads of states of NATO countries, and of Russia and the Ukraine, to Ban-ki Moon and the heads of states of countries on the UN Security Council." And it will be delivered to each of them.



The petition reads:

"Set up an impartial international fact finding inquiry and a public report on the events in Ukraine to reveal the truth of what occurred.

"Why is this important?

"It's important because there is so much misinformation and disinformation in the media that we are careening towards a new cold war with Russia over this."

That's not hyperbole. It's the language of U.S. and Russian politicians and media.

Of course, there are undisputed facts that could change people's understanding. Many Americans are unaware of NATO's expansion or of what actions Russia views as aggressive and threatening. But when a particular incident appears to be set up as a proximate cause for war it is well worth our time to insist on an exposure of the facts.  Doing so is not to concede that any outcome of the inquiry would justify a war.  Rather it is to prevent the imposition of an unproven explanation that makes war more likely.

What if the Gulf of Tonkin had been investigated 50 years ago this month? What if the independent inquiry that Spain wanted into the USS Maine had been allowed? What if Congress hadn't swallowed the one about the babies taken from incubators or that hilarious bit about the vast stockpiles of WMDs? Or, on the other hand, what if everyone had listened to John Kerry unskeptically on Syria last year?

When a Malaysian airplane went down in Ukraine, Kerry immediately blamed Vladimir Putin, but has yet to produce any evidence to back up the accusation. Meanwhile, we learn that the U.S. government is looking into the possibility that what happened was actually an attempt to assassinate Putin. Those two versions, the one initially announced with no apparent basis and the one reportedly now being investigated in secret, could hardly be more different.  That the second one is under consideration makes it appear very likely that any serious proof of the former claim has not been found.

Here's a longer version of the petition:

"At this very moment in history, when so many people and nations around the world are  acknowledging the 100th Anniversary of our planet's  hapless stumble into World War I,  great powers and their allies are ironically once again provoking new dangers where governments appear to be sleepwalking towards a restoration of old Cold War battles. A barrage of conflicting information is broadcast in the various national and nationalistic media with alternative versions of reality that provoke and stoke new enmities and rivalries across national borders.

"With the U.S. and Russia in possession of over 15,000 of the world’s 16,400 nuclear weapons, humanity can ill-afford to stand by and permit these conflicting views of history and opposing assessments of the facts on the ground to lead to a 21st Century military confrontation between the great powers and their allies. While sadly acknowledging the trauma suffered by the countries of Eastern Europe from years of Soviet occupation, and understanding their desire for the protection of the NATO military alliance, we the signers of this global call to action also note that the Russian people lost 20 million people during WWII to the Nazi onslaught and are understandably wary of NATO expansion to their borders in a hostile environment. Russia has lost the protection of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which the US abandoned in 2001, and warily observes missile bases metastasizing ever closer to its borders in new NATO member states, while the US rejects repeated Russian efforts for negotiations on a treaty to ban weapons in space, or Russia’s prior application for membership in NATO.

"For these reasons, we the peoples, as members of Civil Society, Non-Governmental Organizations, and global citizens, committed to peace and nuclear disarmament, demand that an independent international inquiry be commissioned to review events in Ukraine leading up to the Malaysian jet crash and of the procedures being used to review the catastrophic aftermath.  The inquiry should factually determine the cause of the accident and hold responsible parties accountable to the families of the victims and the citizens of the world who fervently desire peace and a peaceful settlement of any existing conflicts.  It should include a fair and balanced presentation of what led to the deterioration of U.S. –Russian relations and the new hostile and polarized posture that the U.S. and Russia with their allies find themselves in today.

"The UN Security Council, with US and Russian agreement, has already passed Resolution 2166 addressing the Malaysian jet crash, demanding accountability, full access to the site and a halt to military activity which has been painfully disregarded at various times since the incident.   One of the provisions of SC Res 2166 notes that the Council “[s]upports efforts to establish a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines.”  Further, the 1909 revised Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes adopted at the 1899 Hague International Peace Conference has been used successfully to resolve issues between states so that war was avoided in the past. Both Russia and Ukraine are parties to the Convention.

"Regardless of the forum where the evidence is gathered and fairly evaluated, we the undersigned urge that the facts be known as to how we got to this unfortunate state of affairs on our planet today and what might be the solutions.  We urge Russia and Ukraine as well as their allies and partners to engage in diplomacy and negotiations, not war and hostile alienating actions. The world can little afford the trillions of dollars in military spending and trillions and trillions of brain cells wasted on war when our very Earth is under stress and needs the critical attention of our best minds and thinking and the abundance of resources mindlessly diverted to war to be made available for the challenge confronting us to create a livable future for life on earth."
Here are initial signatories (organizations for identification only):  (Add your name.)

Hon. Douglas Roche, OC, Canada
David Swanson, co-founder, World Beyond War
Medea Benjamin, Code Pink
Bruce Gagnon, Global Network Against Nuclear Power and Weapons in Space
Alice Slater, JD, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, NY
Professor Francis A. Boyle, University of Illinois College of Law
Natasha Mayers, Union of Maine Visual Artists
David Hartsough, co-founder, World Beyond War
Larry Dansinger, Resources for Organizing and Social Change
Ellen Judd, Project Peacemakers
Coleen Rowley, Women Against Military Madness
Lisa Savage, Code Pink, State of Maine
Brian Noyes Pulling, M. Div.
Anni Cooper, Peaceworks
Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance
Leah Bolger, CDR, USN (Ret), Veterans for Peace
Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance
Gloria McMillan, Tucson Balkan Peace Support Group
Ellen E. Barfield, Veterans for Peace
Cecile Pineda, author. Devil's Tango:  How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step
Jill McManus
Steve Leeper, Visiting professor, Hiroshima Jogakuin University, Nagasaki University, Kyoto University of Art and Design
William H. Slavick, Pax Christi Maine
Carol Reilly Urner, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Ann E. Ruthsdottir
Raymond McGovern, former CIA analyst, VA
Kay Cumbow
Steven Starr, Senior Scientist, Physicians for Social Responsibility
Tiffany Tool, Peaceworkers
Sukla Sen, Committee for Communal Amnity, Mumbai India
Felicity Ruby
Joan Russow, PhD, Coordinator, Global Compliance Research Project
Rob Mulford, Veterans for Peace, North Star Chapter, Alaska
Jerry Stein, The Peace Farm, Amarillo , Texas
Michael Andregg, professor, St. Paul, Minnesota
Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council, ret.: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, Washington
Robert Shetterly, artist, “Americans Who Tell the Truth,” Maine
Katharine Gun, United Kingdom
Amber Garland, St. Paul, Minnesota
Beverly Bailey, Richfield, Minnesota
Stephen McKeown, Richfield, Minnesota
Darlene M. Coffman, Rochester, Minnesota
Sister Gladys Schmitz, Mankato, Minnesota
Bill Rood, Rochester, Minnesota
Tony Robinson, Editor Pressenza
Tom Klammer, radio host, Kansas City, Missouri
Barbara Vaile, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Helen Caldicott, Helen Caldicott Foundation
Mali Lightfoot, Helen Caldicott Foundation
Brigadier Vijai K Nair, VSM [Retd] Ph.D., Magoo Strategic Infotech Pvt Ltd, India
Kevin Martin, Peace Action
Jacqueline Cabasso, Western States Legal Foundation, United for Peace and Justice
Ingeborg Breines, Co-president International Peace Bureau
Judith LeBlanc, Peace Action
David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Edward Loomis, NSA Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)
J. Kirk Wiebe, NSA Senior Analyst (ret.), MD
William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)