John Pilger, speaking at the launch in London of The WikiLeaks Files, with an introduction by Julian Assange.
These are dark times, in which the propaganda of deceit touches all our lives. It is as if political reality has been privatised and illusion legitimised. The information age is a media age. We have politics by media; censorship by media; war by media; retribution by media; diversion by media - a surreal assembly line of clichés and false assumptions.
Wondrous technology has become both our friend and our enemy. Every time we turn on a computer or pick up a digital device – our secular rosary beads - we are subjected to control: to surveillance of our habits and routines, and to lies and manipulation.
Edward Bernays, who invented the term, “public relations” as a euphemism for “propaganda”, predicted this more than 80 years ago. He called it, “the invisible government”.
He wrote, “Those who manipulate this unseen element of [modern democracy] constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested,largely by men we have never heard of ...”
The aim of this invisible government is the conquest of us: of our political consciousness, our sense of the world, our ability to think independently, to separate truth from lies.
This is a form of fascism, a word we are rightly cautious about using, preferring to leave it in the flickering past. But an insidious modern fascism is now an accelerating danger. As in the 1930s, big lies are delivered with the regularity of a metronome. Muslims are bad. Saudi bigots are good. ISIS bigots are bad. Russia is always bad. China is getting bad. Bombing Syria is good. Corrupt banks are good. Corrupt debt is good. Poverty is good. War is normal.
Those who question these official truths, this extremism, are deemed in need of a lobotomy – until they are diagnosed on-message. The BBC provides this service free of charge. Failure to submit is to be tagged a “radical” – whatever that means.
Real dissent has become exotic; yet those who dissent have never been more important. The book I am launching tonight, The WikiLeaks Files, is an antidote to a fascism that never speaks its name.
It’s a revolutionary book, just as "WikiLeaks" itself is revolutionary – exactly as Orwell meant in the quote I used at the beginning. For it says that we need not accept these the daily lies. We need not remain silent. Or as Bob Marley once sang: “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.”
In the introduction, Julian Assange explains that it is never enough to publish the secret messages of great power: that making sense of them is crucial, as well as placing them in the context of today and historical memory.
That is the remarkable achievement of this anthology, which reclaims our memory. It connects the reasons and the crimes that have caused so much human turmoil, from Vietnam and Central America, to the Middle East and Eastern Europe, with the matrix of rapacious power, the United States.
There is currently an American and European attempt to destroy the government of Syria. Prime Minister David Cameron is especially keen. This is the same David Cameron I remember as an unctuous PR man employed by an asset stripper of Britain’s independent commercial television.
Cameron, Obama and the ever obsequious Francois Hollande want to destroy the last remaining multi-cultural authority in Syria, an action that will surely make way for the fanatics of ISIS.
This is insane, of course, and the big lie justifying this insanity is that it is in support of Syrians who rose against Bashar al-Assad in the Arab Spring. As The WikiLeaks Files reveals, the destruction of Syria has long been a cynical imperial project that pre-dates the Arab Spring uprising against Assad.
To the rulers of the world in Washington and Europe, Syria’s true crime is not the oppressive nature of its government but its independence from American and Israeli power – just as Iran’s true crime is its independence, and Russia’s true crime is its independence, and China’s true crime is its independence. In an American-owned world, independence is intolerable.
This book reveals these truths, one after the other. The truth about a "war on terror" that was always a "war of terror;" the truth about Guantanamo, the truth about Iraq, Afghanistan, Latin America.
Never has such truth-telling been so urgently needed. With honourable exceptions, those in the media paid ostensibly to keep the record straight are now absorbed into a system of propaganda that is no longer journalism, but anti-journalism. This is true of the liberal and respectable as it is of Murdoch. Unless you are prepared to monitor and deconstruct every specious assertion, so-called news has become unwatchable and unreadable.
Reading The WikiLeaks Files, I remembered the words of the late Howard Zinn, who often referred to “a power that governments can’t suppress.” That describes "WikiLeaks," and it describes true whistleblowers who share their courage.
On a personal note, I have known the people of "WikiLeaks" for some time now. That they have achieved what they have in circumstances not of their choosing is a source of constant admiration. Their rescue of Edward Snowden comes to mind. Like him, they are heroic: nothing less.
"If you believe that the $18.1 trillion federal debt should be much bigger, that the rich don't have nearly enough, and that corporations need a tax-rate cut of 57 percent, then Donald Trump has just what you are looking for."
NC Republicans Screw All Local Governments Good (Well):
Bill Halts Efforts to Regulate Fracking — A bill declaring “local ordinances regulating oil and gas exploration, development and production activities invalid” sounded the death knell for local governments’ efforts to impact hydraulic fracturing after passing by a vote of 61-22 in the N.C. House of Representatives Wednesday morning. Senate Bill 199, sponsored by Sen. Fletcher L. Hartsell Jr. (R-Cabarrus, Union), states clearly that “all provisions of local ordinances, including those regulating land use, adopted by counties, municipalities or other local authorities that regulate or have the effect of regulating oil and gas exploration, development and production activities … are invalidated and unenforceable.”And you thought fracking was over?
According to Lee County Manager John Crumpton, the bill stonewalls measures like a moratorium on fracking and changes to the county’s unified development ordinance that would require special-use permits to frack in much of the county. “They’ve made it perfectly clear to us,” Crumpton said of the legislature Wednesday. “If there were any loopholes … [they were] taken care of this morning.” Discussion of a moratorium was on the Lee County Board of Commissioners’ schedule for its regular meeting Monday, but Crumpton advised in an email that it be removed from the agenda.
Not in NC. It's just going into high gear now.
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Mr. Feffer states: 'Both the United States and Russia are committed to bolstering unitary states in the Middle East.' The question is: which United States? The one of the CIA? Or the one of the Pentagon? Or the one of the state department? The one of the White House? Or the one of the military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned for in 1961? Perhaps Mr. Feffer can be more explicit.
The Canadian former diplomat Peter Dale Scott wrote: 'Above all it is increasingly evident to a global minority that American hypermilitarism, in the name of security, is becoming – much like British hypermilitarism in the nineteenth century - a threat to everyone’s security, including America’s, by inducing and increasingly seeking wider and wider wars.' The first Nakba was committed by the zionists. The current Nakba is the product of the American hegemony. As long as this drive of Washington and Wall Street to be the superior master goes on nothing will change. So who or what will stop a corrupt and bankrupt system?
I said in 2002 that the U.S. bombing/invasion of Afghanistan (not even mentioning the dreamed-of pipeline) would lead to the greatest tragedy that anyone could then imagine as the innocents killed and the refugees displaced would soon be appearing in the news and on the shores of every country close by or involved in the mayhem. Especially, eventually, the U.S.
Truly a nakba.
Thank you, John Feffer.
September 30, 2015
The states that we have taken for granted for so long — Iraq, Syria, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia — are being transformed. The chain of events set into motion by the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq is inexorably reaching its logical conclusion — not the consolidation of democratic, secular states but the disintegration of multi-ethnic and multi-confessional entities. Nationalist forces have squared off against religious extremists over not only who controls the states of the region, but the very nature of the state institutions. Meanwhile, outside powers have poured arms and money into the region in quixotic attempts to influence the outcome.
Many people aren’t sticking around to see who will win. They’re voting with their feet.
Millions of refugees, mostly from Syria but also from Afghanistan and Iraq, are pouring into neighboring countries. The shortfall in funds available to manage this refugee flow — and the resulting lack of food and health care in the refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon — has precipitated a follow-on wave of emigration, mostly to Europe. The states of those strife-torn countries have failed their denizens, so they’re seeking out places where the state provides at least partial shelter from everyday violence and uncertainty.
In an equally startling development, tens of thousands are going in the opposite direction.
The Islamic State has attracted nearly 30,000 people in the last two years. Given an inflow of 1,000 new recruits each month, the entity is able to maintain its fighting strength of 20,000-30,000 zealots, despite having absorbed 7,000 air strikes and suffering an estimated loss of 10,000 members (or perhaps because of these well-publicized martyrdoms).
A member of the U.S. Special Operations forces guides two soldiers from Cameroon’s 3rd Battalion Intervention Rapid (BIR) during a 2013 training event. (Photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Larry W. Carpenter Jr.) (Click on photo for full effect.)
Read the entire essay here. It's more than worth your valuable time.
A century ago, this country opened its arms to refugees like my great grandmother. Now our nation of immigrants has become about as welcoming as a desert cactus.
Phyllis Bennis and Manuel Perez-Rocha
In his speech to U.S. lawmakers, the "People's pope" condemned the arms trade, war profiteering, and even the war on terror itself.
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Go on over to Tom's and read Nomi's latest.
Or go to her link at the bottom of this page.
Sometimes when I look at the increasingly bizarre, never-ending campaign for the White House and the staggering fundraising that goes with it, I think to myself: if we were in Kabul, Afghanistan, we would know what this was. We would recognize warlord politics. We would understand that (Bernie Sanders aside) politicians running for the presidency now need patrons - modern-day Medicis who can fund the super PACs that are increasingly the heart and soul of a process leading to the first $10 billion election. Those billionaire funders are, of course, America’s warlords. In his book No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes, reporter Anand Gopal offers a riveting up close and personal look at how the process works far from home. One of the Afghans he follows is a remarkable woman who, under the patronage of just such a warlord, finds herself a senator in the Afghan Parliament.
In our system, the candidates now first test their “electability” not with voters in primaries, but with a tiny coterie of the super-rich. In the case of the Koch brothers, for instance, they literally audition for support. In twenty-first-century America, these should undoubtedly be considered the real primaries and what happens starting in Iowa and New Hampshire early next year should be thought of as the secondaries. The increasingly fierce contests for money are America’s new electoral reality, the one the Supreme Court let loose on the land with its 2010 "Citizens United" decision that freed the voice of money to overwhelm the many voices of this country. The process of fundraising has only gained momentum since then and yet this new form of electoral politics is a system still in formation, like molten lava only now beginning to cool and settle into its future shape.
To give credit where it’s due, Donald Trump has kept that lava hot in ways that, under other circumstances, would be amusing indeed. After all, he’s the definition of an American warlord - and he’s also running for the presidency. It’s an unexpected wrinkle in the coalescence of a genuinely plutocratic electoral system. In other words, The Donald would like to send himself and, as TomDispatch regular Nomi Prins points out today, his money directly to the Oval Office in January 2017, while mocking those helpless peons of the political class who need to turn to people like him to be in the big time.
Despite some public discussion of Trump's many bankruptcies, Mr. Art of the Deal has had remarkably free sailing when it comes to what it might mean to put a billionaire in the White House. Conflicts of interest? Don’t even think about it! Prins, author of All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power, shifts the focus to where it should be - on The Donald’s finances and the conflicts that make the man and would be part and parcel of any Trump presidency.
The Donald’s Finances and the Art of Ignoring Conflicts and Contradictions
By Nomi Prins
The 2016 election campaign is certainly a billionaire’s playground when it comes to “establishment candidates” like Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush who cater to mega-donors and use their money to try to rally party bases. The only genuine exception to the rule this time around has been Bernie Sanders, who has built a solid grassroots following and funding machine, while shunning what he calls “the billionaire class” that fuels the super PACs.
Donald Trump, like Ross Perot back in the 1992 and 1996 elections, has played quite a different trick on the money-saturated American political system. He has removed the billionaire as middleman between citizen plebeians and political elites, and created a true .00001% candidate, because he’s... well, a financial elite unto himself, however conveniently posed as the country’s straight-talking “everyman.”
Despite his I-can-buy-but-can’t-be-bought swagger, Trump’s persona has been carefully constructed to deflect even the most obvious questions of conflict of interest that his wealth and deal-making history should bring up. He claims that he would govern (or dictate) as he is, no apologies or bullshit. But would he?_ _ _ _ _ _ _
September 24, 2015
It was an impressive effort: a front-page "New York Times" story about a “new way of war” with the bylines of six reporters, and two more and a team of researchers cited at the end of the piece. “They have plotted deadly missions from secret bases in the badlands of Somalia. In Afghanistan, they have engaged in combat so intimate that they have emerged soaked in blood that was not their own. On clandestine raids in the dead of the night, their weapons of choice have ranged from customized carbines to primeval tomahawks.” So began the "Times" investigation of SEAL Team 6, its nonstop missions, its weaponry, its culture, the stresses and strains its “warriors” have experienced in recent years, and even some of the accusations leveled against them. (“Afghan villagers and a British commander accused SEALs of indiscriminately killing men in one hamlet.”)
For all the secrecy surrounding SEAL Team 6, it has been the public face of America’s Special Operations forces and so has garnered massive attention, especially, of course, after some of its members killed Osama bin Laden on a raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in 2011. It even won a starring role in the Oscar-winning Hollywood film "Zero Dark Thirty," produced with CIA help, about the tracking down of bin Laden. As a unit, however, SEAL Team 6 is “roughly 300 assault troops, called operators, and 1,500 support personnel;” in other words, more or less a drop in the bucket when it comes to America’s Special Operations forces. And its story, however nonstop and dramatic, is similarly a drop in the bucket when it comes to the flood of special operations actions in these years.
While SEAL Team 6 has received extensive coverage, what could be considered the military story of the twenty-first century, the massive, ongoing expansion of a secret force (functionally the president’s private army) cocooned inside the U.S. military -- now at almost 70,000 personnel and growing - has gotten next to none. Keep in mind that such a force is already larger than the active-duty militaries of Australia, Chile, Cuba, Hungary, the Netherlands, Nigeria, and South Africa, among a bevy of other countries. If those 70,000 personnel engaging in operations across the planet - even their most mundane acts enveloped in a blanket of secrecy - have created, as the "Times" suggests, a new way of war in and out of Washington’s war zones, it has gone largely unreported in the American media.
Thanks to Nick Turse (and Andrew Bacevich), however, "TomDispatch" has been the exception to this seemingly ironclad rule. Since 2011, when he found special operations units deployed to 120 countries annually, Turse has continued to chart their expanding global role in 2012, 2014, and this year. He has also tried, as today, to assess just how successful this new way of war that melds the soldier and the spy, the counterinsurgent and the guerrilla, the drone assassin and the “man-hunter” has been. Imagine for a moment the resources that the media would apply to such an analogous Russian or Chinese force, if its units covertly trained “friendly” militaries or went into action yearly in at least two-thirds of the countries on the planet._ _ _ _ _ _ _
2015 Proves to Be Record-Breaking Year for the Military’s Secret Military
By Nick Turse
You can find them in dusty, sunbaked badlands, moist tropical forests, and the salty spray of third-world littorals. Standing in judgement, buffeted by the rotor wash of a helicopter or sweltering beneath the relentless desert sun, they instruct, yell, and cajole as skinnier men playact under their watchful eyes. In many places, more than their particular brand of camouflage, better boots, and designer gear sets them apart. Their days are scented by stale sweat and gunpowder; their nights are spent in rustic locales or third-world bars.
These men - and they are mostly men - belong to an exclusive military fraternity that traces its heritage back to the birth of the nation. Typically, they’ve spent the better part of a decade as more conventional soldiers, sailors, marines, or airmen before making the cut. They’ve probably been deployed overseas four to 10 times. The officers are generally approaching their mid-thirties; the enlisted men, their late twenties. They’ve had more schooling than most in the military. They’re likely to be married with a couple of kids. And day after day, they carry out shadowy missions over much of the planet: sometimes covert raids, more often hush-hush training exercises from Chad to Uganda, Bahrain to Saudi Arabia, Albania to Romania, Bangladesh to Sri Lanka, Belize to Uruguay. They belong to the Special Operations forces (SOF), America’s most elite troops - Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs, among others - and odds are, if you throw a dart at a world map or stop a spinning globe with your index finger and don’t hit water, they’ve been there sometime in 2015.
The Wide World of Special Ops
This year, U.S. Special Operations forces have already deployed to 135 nations, according to Ken McGraw, a spokesman for Special Operations Command (SOCOM). That’s roughly 70% of the countries on the planet. Every day, in fact, America’s most elite troops are carrying out missions in 80 to 90 nations, practicing night raids or sometimes conducting them for real, engaging in sniper training or sometimes actually gunning down enemies from afar. As part of a global engagement strategy of endless hush-hush operations conducted on every continent but Antarctica, they have now eclipsed the number and range of special ops missions undertaken at the height of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the waning days of the Bush administration, Special Operations forces (SOF) were reportedly deployed in only about 60 nations around the world. By 2010, according to the Washington Post, that number had swelled to 75. Three years later, it had jumped to 134 nations, “slipping” to 133 last year, before reaching a new record of 135 this summer. This 80% increase over the last five years is indicative of SOCOM’s exponential expansion which first shifted into high gear following the 9/11 attacks.
Special Operations Command’s funding, for example, has more than tripled from about $3 billion in 2001 to nearly $10 billion in 2014 “constant dollars,” according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). And this doesn’t include funding from the various service branches, which SOCOM estimates at around another $8 billion annually, or other undisclosed sums that the GAO was unable to track. The average number of Special Operations forces deployed overseas has nearly tripled during these same years, while SOCOM more than doubled its personnel from about 33,000 in 2001 to nearly 70,000 now.
Each day, according to SOCOM commander General Joseph Votel, approximately 11,000 special operators are deployed or stationed outside the United States with many more on standby, ready to respond in the event of an overseas crisis. “I think a lot of our resources are focused in Iraq and in the Middle East, in Syria for right now. That's really where our head has been,” Votel told the Aspen Security Forum in July. Still, he insisted his troops were not “doing anything on the ground in Syria” - even if they had carried out a night raid there a couple of months before and it was later revealed that they are involved in a covert campaign of drone strikes in that country.
“I think we are increasing our focus on Eastern Europe at this time,” he added. “At the same time we continue to provide some level of support on South America for Colombia and the other interests that we have down there. And then of course we're engaged out in the Pacific with a lot of our partners, reassuring them and working those relationships and maintaining our presence out there.”
In reality, the average percentage of Special Operations forces deployed to the Greater Middle East has decreased in recent years. Back in 2006, 85% of special operators were deployed in support of Central Command or CENTCOM, the geographic combatant command (GCC) that oversees operations in the region. By last year, that number had dropped to 69%, according to GAO figures. Over that same span, Northern Command - devoted to homeland defense - held steady at 1%, European Command (EUCOM) doubled its percentage, from 3% to 6%, Pacific Command (PACOM) increased from 7% to 10%, and Southern Command, which overseas Central and South America as well as the Caribbean, inched up from 3% to 4%. The largest increase, however, was in a region conspicuously absent from Votel’s rundown of special ops deployments. In 2006, just 1% of the special operators deployed abroad were sent to Africa Command’s area of operations. Last year, it was 10%.
Globetrotting is SOCOM’s stock in trade and, not coincidentally, it’s divided into a collection of planet-girding “sub-unified commands”: the self-explanatory SOCAFRICA; SOCEUR, the European contingent; SOCCENT, the sub-unified command of CENTCOM; SOCKOR, which is devoted strictly to Korea; SOCPAC, which covers the rest of the Asia-Pacific region; SOCSOUTH, which conducts missions in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean; SOCNORTH, which is devoted to “homeland defense”; and the ever-itinerant Joint Special Operations Command or JSOC, a clandestine sub-command (formerly headed by Votel) made up of personnel from each service branch, including SEALs, Air Force special tactics airmen, and the Army's Delta Force that specializes in tracking and killing suspected terrorists.
The elite of the elite in the Special Ops community, JSOC takes on covert, clandestine, and low-visibility operations in the hottest of hot spots. Some covert ops that have come to light in recent years include a host of Delta Force missions: among them, an operation in May in which members of the elite force killed an Islamic State commander known as Abu Sayyaf during a night raid in Syria; the 2014 release of long-time Taliban prisoner Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl; the capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala, a suspect in 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya; and the 2013 abduction of Anas al-Libi, an al-Qaeda militant, off a street in that same country. Similarly, Navy SEALs have, among other operations, carried out successful hostage rescue missions in Afghanistan and Somalia in 2012; a disastrous one in Yemen in 2014; a 2013 kidnap raid in Somalia that went awry; and - that same year - a failed evacuation mission in South Sudan in which three SEALs were wounded when their aircraft was hit by small arms fire.
Because we are at war, friends.
Deep in war activities all over the globe.
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I've admired James Fetzer's fortitude for years.
He lays out the evidence once again that explains the muddled thinking running amuck among the American ignorati.
Good luck with this, James.
. . . when she was interrogated, his wife, Marina, stated that Lee admired JFK and bore him no malice. During his recent “Conspiracy Theory” program on the assassination, broadcast on TruTV on Friday, 19 November 2010, Jesse Ventura had the opportunity to talk with Marina, who did not want her face shown on television because she lives in fear for the life of her children – nearly 50 years later.
Jesse had 2.5 hours to talk with her, however, and she said that, although at one time she had thought Lee had done it, she was now convinced he was innocent and had been working undercover for the government. This conjecture had even been confirmed by the Attorney General for Texas, Waggoner Carr, who had launched his own investigation and found that Lee was working as an informant for the FBI, had been assigned informant number 179, and was being paid $200 per month right up to the time of the assassination. That may be why his W-2 forms have never been released, as if the IRS couldn’t get hold of them, which is a unique event in American history!
Still scared of Kissinger?
He's turned out to be the vampire you feared was under your bed or in your closet.
But much more dangerous.
From one of my favorite sources at Lawyers, Guns and Money we learn the truth:
[ 13 ] September 30, 2015 | Scott Lemieux
A long-standing sycophant of Niall Ferguson and Henry Kissinger was commissioned by the "NYT Book Review" to review Niall Ferguson’s hagiography of Henry Kissinger. (By the way, is there anything more pathetic than being a sycophant of Niall Ferguson?) The results may not surprise you:
This Sunday, the "New York Times Book Review" will publish a review of the first volume of Niall Ferguson’s authorized biography of Henry Kissinger, Kissinger: The Idealist. The reviewer is Andrew Roberts.
Roberts brings an unusual level of familiarity to the subject: It was Roberts whom Kissinger first asked, before turning to Ferguson, to write his authorized biography. In other words, the "New York Times" is having Kissinger’s preferred authorized biographer review Kissinger’s authorized biography.
So how is the review itself? Contrary to the bet that an opinionated yet informed expert might turn in an exciting piece, Roberts’s essay is ponderous, and, if possible, even more hagiographic than the authorized biography itself.
“Kissinger’s official biographer,” writes the man Kissinger first asked to be his official biographer, “certainly gives the reader enough evidence to conclude that Henry Kissinger is one of the greatest Americans in the history of the republic, someone who has been repulsively traduced over several decades and who deserved to have a defense of this comprehensiveness published years ago.”Henry Kissinger: greatest American of the last century, or greatest American ever?
[ 30 ] September 30, 2015 | Erik Loomis
I have no idea why the right has so demonized Saul Alinsky as the greatest evil of all time, although that was really more a 2008-12 demon than today. But in any case, his organizing strategies were certainly influential. But there’s a strong critique to made against them from the left and the radical historian and colleague of Alinksy, Staughton Lynd, makes it. It’s not an easy thing to excerpt, so I would recommend just reading it for Lynd’s stories of trying to work in an Alinsky organization after 1968 and h(ow) quickly it all fell apart.