Thursday, October 27, 2011

War and Serfdom: Is This The World We Really Want to Live In? (The Murder of Gaddafi, and the War Crimes of Western Powers) & Defense Contractors Steal Trillions (Defending Massive Military Spending)

Is this the world you want to live in (and have your families grow up in)? It exactly mirrors pre-WW2 Germany in the propaganda that we see daily about the "need" to bomb/subdue criminal sovereign entities - nations or people (Islamists, socialists, communists, countries denying their resources to US).

I have a personal story from my 20+-year career in aerospace software defense that intimately addresses our current national plight that I've never told anyone before, but if you read Bernie Sanders' essay at the bottom of this page, I really don't have to tell it as you will understand enough about it from Bernie's courageous Congressional actions to guess what type of story it is (and it just embroiders the first tales of strife we read about below with which we are now seemingly fatally beset).

[This blog is hoping for an angel to descend and help to defray expenses. Calling all angels!]

War and Serfdom: Is This The World We Really Want to Live In?

By Eric Blair

October 25, 2011 Activist Post 
I’m raising three sons in a world that I don’t want them to live in.  A world of hate, deception, war, injustice, and serfdom.  A world that seems out of our control to change.  If given a choice, who would want to live in that world?

Yet, we try to live the change that we want to see. We don’t have TV, we homeschool our boys, and we’ve opted out of the system as much as possible. We eat healthy, don’t use dangerous household chemicals, and shop almost exclusively at the local level.  We grow food, keep chickens, recycle, and live as simply and independently as feasible.  And we’ve taught our children that the principles of peace and love carry more weight than patriotism or any other manufactured beliefs.

But sometimes personal change doesn’t seem to be good enough to counteract a powerful establishment intent on having more war and more power.

The idea of peace doesn’t seem to be strong enough to prevent these engineered conflicts.  What do we tell our children of the absolute destruction of Libya [2] over so-called humanitarian concerns?  When dragging the bloody body of the toppled leader through the streets is being hailed as some sort of victory. This, in the same week that Iraq, after all the tragedy there, was deemed mission accomplished for the umpteenth time.

Any peace-loving person who knows the real score of NATO’s Libya invasion must be incredibly disheartened.

Libya, like everywhere else in the world, was not perfect.  Yet, it was a shining example of an independent, prosperous, and secular country in Africa, and it was completely destroyed based on more establishment lies.  And there was nothing anyone could have done to stop it.

America and NATO countries claimed there was a “humanitarian crisis,” illegally seized Gaddafi’s international assets, and fraudulently sold a “no fly” zone to the United Nations. That no fly zone turned into arming radical Islamic rebels and carpet bombing heavily populated cities and critical infrastructure to remove or kill their popular leader Gaddafi [3].  Immoral war crimes all.  And American children are supposed to cheer alongside the television about this “victory”?

Worse yet, all of this was done without any authority by the people or independent oversight by their representatives. Congress was never given a chance to debate or vote on this military action and expenditure.  The media was complicit as usual, selling establishment lies about humanitarian intervention to neuter the anti-war crowd.

 Now, surprise, surprise; NATO is carving up Libya’s vast resources into Western hands as they prepare for their next conquest. There seems to be no force capable of confronting this monster.

The increasingly impotent anti-war protesters who vehemently opposed Bush’s aggressive wars and criminal torture, were suddenly cheering President Obama [4] when he subverted the rule of law for regime change and resource raping.  What’s more, the despised Bush doctrine of preemptive war now seems to be the international model for dealing with any real or manufactured threats, or even minor internal concerns of sovereign nations like in the case of Libya.

The success and spoils from the violent overthrows of these countries seems to have intoxicated those on the winning side.  Drunk with power from having gotten away with such obscene murderous crimes and outright plunder, they’re already bragging about Syria being next, while also setting the stage for taking on Iran. It seems they will stop at nothing to conquer the last holdouts to their control.

Consequently, we’re clearly headed for more bloodshed. So who, if anybody, can possibly stop this killing machine?  It seems very unlikely that Western powers will sober up long enough to see the evil of their ways and quit the path of war on their own.  Can other countries like Russia or China with their combined killing machines stop them? If you look close enough, it appears theWest is actually trying to bait them [5] into a greater conflict.  Or, perhaps, it’s just a predictable byproduct of empire building. Regardless, it’s clear that a bigger war is approaching.

As my boys rapidly approach draft eligibility age, how do I prepare them for a future surely filled with war when they believe in peace?  I keep telling my kids that if enough people wanted peace, we’ll have peace.  But I’m not sure if that’s true anymore.  I want to believe that simply the idea of peace should be enough to unite the masses, but strangely it isn’t.  Everyone remains afraid of whatever the television tells them to fear, or they’re just distracted by their other hardships.

Nonetheless, it’s difficult to imagine a peaceful world given the apathy to Western aggression.  It appears we have no choice but to surrender to this reality until enough people demand that it stops.  And even then, we appear to face an uphill battle.  It boils down to a simple question; do you want to live in a world of war and serfdom or a world of peace and liberty?  We better make up your mind real quick, otherwise we may have no say in the matter.

Here's some serious information you may want to consider before you start dancing in the street over Gaddafi's demise. Or perhaps you're one of those who still believe in American "exceptionalism." And nothing can stop you dancing over dead bodies.

The Murder of Gaddafi, and the War Crimes of Western Powers

Peter Baofu, Ph.D.

October 25, 2011

The jubilant reaction of Western powers and the foes of Muammar Gaddafi to his barbaric murder on October 20, 2011 raises some serious questions about war crimes committed by the Western-backed National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters and NATO forces.

There are two serious violations of international law here, namely, (1) in relation to the Third Geneva Convention in 1929 and (2) in relation to the UN Security Council Resolution #1973 in 2011. Let me explain first (1) the Geneva Convention and then (2) the UN Resolution hereafter.

(1) The first violation of international law concerns the Third Geneva Convention in 1929, which offers rights to prisoners of war (POWs), such that POWs have certain rights to be protected. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rightly said on October 21, 2011 that, "in compliance with international law, the moment that a party to an armed conflict is captured, special procedures should be applied to him or her, including assistance, as well as a ban on killing such a person."

But this right was violated, when Gaddafi was captured alive (as POW) and was then repetitively verbally and physically abused before being shot dead shortly after. As "testified by the grainy mobile phone footage seen by the world of the former leader, bloodied and dazed, being dragged along by NTC fighters" in a gruesome way, "Gaddafi can be heard in one video saying 'God forbids this' several times, as slaps from the crowd [of NTC fighters] rain down on his head," as reported by Rania El Gamal for Reuters on October 23.

Then, he was executed by a young NTC fighter named Sanad al-Sadek al-Ureibi, who claimed that he shot Gaddafi after capture, because he did not want him alive; and other fighters celebrated with him after the summary execution. Worse, his dead body was then publicly displayed in a commercial freezer at a shopping center for more celebration.

This act of Western-backed NTC fighters is not only criminal but also barbaric. The foes of Gaddafi may argue that he deserves this fate, but two wrongs do not make a right (which is a well-known logical fallacy), and the answer to criminality is not more criminality. This blatant violation of the Geneva Convention then led Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial executions, to charge on October 21 that "the manner of the deposed Libyan leader's killing could be a war crime," in a report by RT on October 22.

This criminal act by Western-supported NTC fighters is not just restricted to the case of Gaddafi's death but also be extended to the murder of his son (and others in the group). For instance, Gaddafi's son, Mutassim Gaddafi, was captured alive, together with his father, and, in a video released by NTC fighters, he was shown to be "alive in custody, and even casually smoking a cigarette" in a room (surrounded by armed NTC fighters), but in a few moments later, "other images show him dead with gunshot wounds to his neck and abdomen" in the same room, in a report by RT on October 21.

A technical question here is who should be responsible for this criminal act. There are at least five legal possibilities, namely, (a) the individuals who physically abused him and/or pulled the trigger, like Sanad al-Sadek al-Ureibi and others to be identified, (b) the specific unit of NTC fighters which participated in the capture of Gaddafi and his group, (c) the NTC leadership, (d) NATO forces because of their participation (or complicity) in the attack which led to the capture (and the subsequent murder), and (e) certain leaders of Western powers who have given wholehearted support to NTC from the start to encourage the violence against the regime.

It is not surprising that, at the beginning, the NTC tried to cover up the criminal killing by making up fictional stories and blaming others instead. For instance, NTC leader Mahmoud Jibril, first tried to defend NTC by making a dubious public statement to the press that Gaddafi was killed in a crossfire and was shot by one of his own loyalists. But this cover-up was questioned later, even by a senior member of NTC, Waheed Burshan, who said on October 22: "We found that he was alive and then he was dead. And as far as we can tell, there was no fight" (crossfire).

Even "British MP Jeremy Corbyn said that, as Gaddafi was captured alive, he should have been treated as prisoner of war, interrogated and put on trial," but "it looks that there was an element of mob rule in this, and he was indeed killed in the back of the truck," as reported by RT on October 20.

So now, both "the UN Human Rights Office and Amnesty International are calling for an investigation into Gaddafi's death as it raises concerns over what may be the unlawful killing of a prisoner," as reported by RT on October 22. U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville even said on October 20 that he found it very disturbing when "you see someone who has been captured alive and then you see the same person dead....Summary executions are strictly illegal under any circumstances. It's different if someone is killed in combat....But if something else has happened, if someone is captured and then deliberately killed, then that is a very serious matter," as reported by Stephanie Nebehay for Reuters on October 21.

Unfortunately, because of the Western dominance in international legal bodies, any prosecution of war crimes committed by Western forces and their allies is very unlikely, as "Benjamin Barber, an analyst at a US think tank, does not expect anyone will be held accountable for the colonel's death," as reported by RT on October 22.

Now that Gaddafi was dead, the most tragic thing is that this gruesome murder "will cast doubt on the promises by Libya's new rulers to respect human rights and prevent reprisals. It would also embarrass Western governments which gave their wholehearted backing to the NTC," as reported by Rania El Gamal for Reuters on October 23.

Even British MP Jeremy Corbyn soberly warned that "this really does raise some question marks about the command and discipline of the NTC forces and what Libya is going to be like, not just tomorrow, but next month, next year and the next ten years."

Furthermore, according to Shirin Sagedhi, "the gruesome and public killing of Gaddafi was insulting to the people of Libya and the people of the region, as well as the 'idea that democratic forces would brutally kill someone like that,'" in a report by RT on October 22.

(2) And the second violation of international law concerns the UN Security Council Resolution #1973 in 2011, which set up a "no-fly zone" above Libya but did not authorize NATO forces to carry out an attack on any group who were not harming anyone but were fleeing from being attacked instead. Indeed, it was a French jet which "fired on Gaddafi convoy" when it was trying to flee from the ferocious attack by NTC fighers, as confirmed by French defense chief and reported by RT on October 20.

In this specific case, Gaddafi and his few bodyguards were under attack by NTC fighters when they were fleeing Sirte in a convoy, but NATO helped the NTC fighters and carried out an aerial attack (by a French jet) on Gaddafi's convoy (which led to Gaddafi's capture).

But this violates international law, in regard to the UN Security Council Resolution #1973, since, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday rightly pointed out, "the attack on Gaddafi's convoy was directly at odds with the agreed task of guaranteeing a no-fly zone," because "in this specific case one cannot speak of protecting the lives of civilians, either because the convoy did not attack anyone" and was trying instead to escape from the ferocious attack by NTC fighters, or because there was no civilian around to protect (as an excuse) in the first place.

Russia's NATO envoy, Dmitry Rogozin, therefore accused NATO of being "directly involved in the operation to kill the former Libyan leader," since "apparently there were orders that oriented the military servicemen who are in Libya and that directed them to ensure the physical elimination of Gaddafi," as reported by RT on October 21.

Instead of showing respect towards international law, Western powers reacted joyfully to the killing, as shown by the elation of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who, when "learned about the death of Muammar Gaddafi via an SMS message" in an interview "filmed by CBS NEWS," exclaimed "Wow!" and thus joyfully said, "We came, we saw, he died!," as reported by Pravda on October 21.

And her boss, President Obama, triumphantly announced that, "without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we achieved our objectives" of getting rid of Gaddafi and setting up a new regime.

In reaction to this Western joy over the killing, Rogozin thus observed that "the Western elation over the death of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi could have sadistic grounds," as he thus added: "The faces of the leaders of 'world democracies' are so happy, as if they remembered how they hanged stray cats in basements in their childhoods," as reported by RT on October 21.

In this way, Western mainstream media did not waste time to engage in spinning the whole murder into one of bashing Gaddafi and his historical legacy, without telling the rest of the world about the Western complicity in supporting Gaddafi in all these years of dictatorial rule.

For instance, only some years ago, "former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had no qualms doing business with Gaddafi and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi got cozy with him at a United Nations Summit in Rome," as reported by RT on October 21.

In the case of the U.S., the thoughtful comment by Matthew Rothschild on October 21 is worth mentioning: "The hypocrisy of the U.S. position could hardly be greater. In 2003, the Bush Administration rehabilitated Qaddafi, who became an ally of the United States in the 'war on terror.' In fact, the CIA used Qaddafi's intelligence service to torture detainees that the U.S. sent over to Libya. The CIA 'rendered' eight or nine detainees to Qaddafi's intelligence service, and sent questions along with for the torturers to ask, according to Human Rights Watch, in an interview with Democracy Now.

The CIA may even have had agents present during some of the questioning. In 2008, Condoleezza Rice visited Qaddafi in Libya. The next year, Obama shook his hand, and John McCain offered him arms. When it was convenient for Washington to support Qaddafi, it did so. When it was convenient to attack him, it did so. But the Obama administration didn't attack Bahrain when it cracked down on people fighting for democracy against that kingdom. No, Washington even let Saudi Arabia, another kingdom, invade Bahrain to help put down the nonviolent uprising."

Many who do not know the history of modern Libya are not aware of the historical contributions of Muammar Gaddafi to his people and the region, even when he has his own failures. Consider, for instance, the following five important contributions by Gaddafi to his country and the region:

(a) He envisioned "the United States of Africa" and thus contributed to the formation of the African Union. In fact, "the African Union is basically the creation of Muammar Gaddafi, who saw it as a vessel for a stronger Africa," as reported by RT on October 20

(b) He succeeded in holding Libya together, which, according to Shirin Sagedhi, was previously fragmented by different "tribes and ethnicities."

(c) He transformed Libya to have "one of the highest GDPs per capita in Africa provide an extensive level of social security, particularly in the fields of housing and education," in a way that many sub-Saharan countries in Africa could only dream of, in the article on Libya by Wikipedia.

(d) He managed to avoid being dominated by the Soviet Union or the U.S. during the Cold War by masterfully playing the Soviet Union against the U.S. without being a puppet of the former. After the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War, he continued to fight against Western domination in the region and thus developed bad blood with Western powers.

(e) He overthrew the Kingdom of Libya in a bloodless military coup against King Idris in 1969 and thus brought Libya into the modern era (from monarchic feudalism).

All these achievements are no small feats for a ruler of a small country with only a few million people and thus have allowed Gaddafi to rule for 42 years.

This does not mean that Gaddafi has no failures. Surely, there are good examples to consider, like his personal vanity, his abuse of power, his ruthlessness, and the like. But who has no failures, for a man with his historical status in the modern era?

But all these achievements are now forgotten, as the West had finished using him, and Western mainstream media is now spinning his historical legacy, in accordance to the dominant rhetoric of Western powers in world media.

Yet, history has its final say: Muammar Gaddafi, in the end, is a historical figure in the modern history of Africa and for that matter, the Middle East, in spite of all his personal faults. And the war crimes by Western powers and their allies help perpetuating the vicious cycle of violence and of suffering in the world.

Fraudulent Defense Contractors Paid $1 Trillion

Bernie Sanders

October 25, 2011

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 - Hundreds of defense contractors that defrauded the U.S. military received more than $1.1 trillion in Pentagon contracts during the past decade, according to a Department of Defense report prepared for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Sanders (I-Vt.) called the report "shocking." He said aggressive steps must be taken to ensure taxpayer dollars aren't wasted.

"The ugly truth is that virtually all of the major defense contractors in this country for years have been engaged in systemic fraudulent behavior, while receiving hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money," said Sanders.

"With the country running a nearly $15 trillion national debt, my goal is to provide as much transparency as possible about what is happening with taxpayer money."

The report detailed how the Pentagon paid $573.7 billion during the past 10 years to more than 300 contractors involved in civil fraud cases that resulted in judgments of more than $1 million, $398 billion of which was awarded after settlement or judgment for fraud.  When awards to "parent" companies are counted, the Pentagon paid more than $1.1 trillion during the past 10 years just to the 37 top companies engaged in fraud.

Another $255 million went to 54 contractors convicted of hard-core criminal fraud in the same period. Of that total, $33 million was paid to companies after they were convicted of crimes.
Some of the nation's biggest defense contractors were involved.

For example, Lockheed Martin in 2008 paid $10.5 million to settle charges that it defrauded the government by submitting false invoices on a multi-billion dollar contract connected to the Titan IV space launch vehicle program.  That didn't seem to sour the relationship between Lockheed and the Defense Department, which gave Lockheed $30.2 billion in contracts in fiscal year 2009, more than ever before.

In another case, Northrop Grumman paid $62 million in 2005 to settle charges that it "engaged in a fraud scheme by routinely submitting false contract proposals," and "concealed basic problems in its handling of inventory, scrap and attrition."  Despite the serious charges of pervasive and repeated fraud, Northrop Grumman received $12.9 billion in contracts the next year, 16 percent more than the year before.

A Sanders provision in a defense spending bill required the report and directed the Department of Defense to recommend ways to punish fraudulent contractors. The Pentagon said sanctions already are in place.

"It is not clear, however, that these remedies are sufficient ... to deter and punish fraud when it is detected." That tone was different than what the Pentagon said in a preliminary report last January, which declared that ‘the department believes that existing remedies with respect to contractor wrongdoing are sufficient." 

Said Sanders: "It is clear that DOD's current approach is not working and we need far more vigorous enforcement to protect taxpayers from massive fraud."

Under another Sanders provision in a separate law, a government-wide federal contractor fraud database was opened to the public earlier this year.  Access to the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System had been limited to federal acquisition officials and certain members of Congress.  The DOD promises to ramp up monitoring of this database to ensure its contractors' fraudulent actions are accurately and fully disclosed.

To read the Pentagon report and the tables, click here and here.

(Bernie Sanders was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving 16 years in the House of Representatives. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history.)

Defending Bloated Military Spending

By Ryan Alexander

October 25, 2011

The Association of the United States Army packed hundreds of exhibitors into two halls the size of football fields at its annual convention. Companies from around the world came to the event, recently held at the Washington Convention Center, to sell the Army everything from mammoth tanks to micro-thin wires. Corporations such as Raytheon and KBR erected multi-level installations nearly big enough to generate their own zip code, complete with conference rooms and coffee bars.

Had the political leaders tackling our budget mess visited this spectacle, they would have gotten a good lesson on federal spending. The Pentagon's budget stands the risk of being subjected to a process known as "sequestration," which would impose $600 billion in defense cuts over 10 years if Congress doesn't approve a $1.2-trillion deficit-slashing plan that the panel of lawmakers known as the supercommittee will propose later this year. In his address to the convention, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called this plan a "doomsday mechanism."


Later, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), who represents a district heavy with defense contractors, launched an initiative claiming that sequestration would "cause significant harm to United States interests." He was echoing a report released last month by the Republican staff of the House Armed Services Committee that read like a list of campaign debate talking points. It was light on facts but replete with fear-mongering claims that reductions risked "increasing the threat of nuclear proliferation," as well as our ability to "adequately defend allies."

This all cleverly misses the point. Sequestration was meant to be the scary stick to get Congress to take its deficit-cutting medicine. What big military budget boosters are trying to do with this line of reasoning is to protect Pentagon spending in the supercommittee's deliberations.

It's no surprise that the Pentagon would scramble to protect its flank in these budget-cutting times, but the offensive from Panetta, some members of Congress, and industry titans is brazenly alarmist — and sometimes downright wrong. Panetta told Congress that sequestration would increase the country's unemployment rate by 1 percent, despite the absence of any evidence.

Similarly, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney pledged in a speech to "reverse Obama's massive defense cuts." But under President Barack Obama, military spending has actually increased by billions of dollars.

Let's review some more facts. First of all, the $450 billion in Pentagon cuts that the debt ceiling deal enacted would only lower the rate of increase in military spending, a rate that has gone through the roof in the last decade. In other words, it isn't actually a "cut" at all. Even that so-called "doomsday mechanism" would only shrink the Pentagon's budget back down to where it stood in 2007.

Second, with our country facing a $1.3-trillion deficit, everything must be on the table. Consequently, as the consumer of the largest piece of our discretionary budget pie, the Pentagon must be part of the budget-cutting plan. There's certainly plenty of fat to cut. The Defense Department buys more than $1 billion of goods and services every day. It employs some three million people globally, more than the world's largest corporation. Its headquarters, the Pentagon, is the world's largest office building. If that doesn't epitomize Big Government, what does?

Finally, the chances of sequestration coming to pass are slim to none, and Rep. Forbes and his allies know it. The supercommittee will produce a plan and the broader Congress is bound to adopt the recommendations or come up with some of its own.

This full-court press on behalf of Pentagon spending looks like an attempt to dissuade the supercommittee from making any military cuts at all, or to prepare for the battle soon to take place in Congress. Exploiting taxpayers' anxieties about jobs and safety is a cynical way to avoid making tough decisions that will affect our security for decades to come.

(This article was first published at  FPIF.)

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