Review of 'Confessions of a Terrorist – A Novel'

Guest post: Anita McKone

If you have ever asked ‘Why?... How could they do this?’ in response to the latest report of terrorism, then Confessions of a Terrorist is the novel for you. But only if you genuinely want to find out the answers.

Yon Petraeus Has a Lean and Hungry Look

Gen. Petraeus: Too Big to Jail



Editor Note:  While lesser Americans face years in jail for leaking secrets – even to inform fellow citizens of government abuses – retired Gen. David Petraeus gets a misdemeanor wrist-slap for exposing covert officers and lying about it, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who was jailed just for trying to ask Petraeus a question.

By Ray McGovern

Veterans to Drone Operators: “We will help you if you decide you cannot kill.”

Veterans groups are offering support to Drone Operators and Support Personnel who decide they no longer want to participate in drone assassinations.

Veterans For Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War have joined with peace activists from around the U.S. who are camped outside of Creech AFB this week, just north of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Civil disobedience actions are being planned at Creech AFB for early Friday morning, March 6.

It is not normal or healthy for human beings to kill other human beings,” said Gerry Condon, Vice President of Veterans For Peace. “Many veterans continue to suffer from PTSD and 'moral injury' for the rest of their lives. The suicide rate for active duty GI's and veterans is extremely high.

We are here to offer a helping hand to our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters who cannot in good conscience continue to participate in killing human beings, many of them innocent civilians, half way around the globe,” continued Gerry Condon.

The message to Creech airmen says, in part:

We encourage you to think carefully about your place in the scheme of things. Can you, in good conscience, continue to participate in killing other human beings, no matter how remotely? If, after serious soul-searching, you come to believe you are against all wars, you can apply for a discharge from the Air Force as a Conscientious Objector. If you need advice, there are conscientious objector organizations that can help you.

Military personnel have the right and the responsibility to refuse to participate in war crimes, according to international law, U.S. law and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And then there are the higher moral laws.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE. If you decide to refuse illegal orders or to resist illegal wars, we are here to support you.”

In 2005, Creech Air Force Base secretly became the first U.S. base in the country to carry out remotely controlled assassinations using the MQ-1 Predator drones. In 2006, the more advanced Reaper drones were added to its arsenal. Last year, in 2014, it was leaked that the CIA's drone assassination program, officially a separate operation from the Air Force's, has been piloted all along by Creech's super-secret Squadron 17.

According to recent independent research, the identity of only one out of 28 victims of drone strikes is known beforehand. Though officials deny it, the majority of those killed by drones are civilians.

Entire Message from Veterans to Drone Operators and Support Personnel
is below:

 

Message from Veterans to Drone Operators

and Support Personnel at Creech Air Force Base

 

To our Brothers and Sisters, Sons and Daughters at Creech Air Force Base,

This week, veterans of the U.S. wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan are arriving in Nevada to join protests outside Creech Air Force Base against Drone Warfare. We are not protesting against you, the airmen (and women) who are drone operators and support personnel.

We are reaching out to you because we understand the position you that you are in. We were once in that position ourselves, some of us quite recently. We know what it feels like to be caught up in strange and brutal wars not of our own making, and not clearly in the interests of our nation. We want to share some of our hard won truths, and to offer you our support.

We know that drone operators and support personnel have a tough job. We understand that you are not playing video games, but rather engaging in life and death situations on a daily basis. You are not targeted and don't have to worry about being killed and wounded. But you are human beings with feelings who suffer nonetheless. You have a conscience too.

It is not normal or healthy for human beings to kill other human beings. Many veterans continue to suffer from PTSD and “moral injury” for the rest of their lives. The suicide rate for active duty GI's and veterans is extremely high.

No matter how you spin it, your job involves killing other human beings, thousands of miles away, who are not threatening you. No doubt you want to know who these people are. According to recent independent research, the identity of only one out of 28 victims of drone strikes is known beforehand. Though officials deny it, the majority of those killed by drones are civilians.

As veterans who have served in many wars and on many military bases, we have been educating ourselves about what goes on at Creech AFB. In 2005, Creech Air Force Base secretly became the first U.S. base in the country to carry out remotely controlled assassinations using the MQ-1 Predator drones. In 2006, the more advanced Reaper drones were added to its arsenal. Last year, in 2014, it was leaked that the CIA's drone assassination program, officially a separate operation from the Air Force's, has been piloted all along by Creech's super-secret Squadron 17.

The U.S. wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have been disasters
for the people of those countries. These wars have also been a disaster for the soldiers, marines, airmen (and women) who were forced to fight them, as well as their families.

The ISIS terrorist threat of today would not exist if the U.S. had not invaded and occupied Iraq. Likewise, the U.S. drone war in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia is creating more terrorism, not eliminating it. And, as many veterans have painfully discovered, these wars have been based on lies, and have more to do with rich men's dreams of empire than they do with the defense of our country and the well being of the common people.

So what can you do about it? You are in the military now. There are serious consequences for those who dare to question the mission. That is true. But there are also serious consequences for those who do not. We have to be able to live with ourselves.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

We encourage you to think carefully about your place in the scheme of things. Can you, in good conscience, continue to participate in killing other human beings, no matter how remotely?

If, after serious soul-searching, you come to believe you are against all wars, you can apply for a discharge from the Air Force as a Conscientious Objector.

If you need advice, there are conscientious objector organizations that can help you.

Military personnel have the right and the responsibility to refuse to participate in war crimes, according to international law, U.S. law and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And then there are the higher moral laws.

If you decide to refuse illegal orders or to resist illegal wars, we are here to support you.

Please also consider joining us to make common cause with fellow veterans who are working for peace at home and peace abroad. We welcome active duty members.

You can find out more at the websites listed below.

Veterans For Peace

www.veteransforpeace.org

Iraq Veterans Against War

www.ivaw.org

To Know Your Rights, Call the GI Rights Hotline

http://girightshotline.org/

Courage To Resist

www.couragetoresist.org

Are Pilots Deserting Washington's Remote-Control War?

A New Form of War May Be Producing a New Form of Mental Disturbance 
By Pratap Chatterjee, TomDispatch

The U.S. drone war across much of the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa is in crisis and not because civilians are dying or the target list for that war or the right to wage it just about anywhere on the planet are in question in Washington. Something far more basic is at stake: drone pilots are quitting in record numbers.

There are roughly 1,000 such drone pilots, known in the trade as “18Xs,” working for the U.S. Air Force today. Another 180 pilots graduate annually from a training program that takes about a year to complete at Holloman and Randolph Air Force bases in, respectively, New Mexico and Texas. As it happens, in those same 12 months, about 240 trained pilots quit and the Air Force is at a loss to explain the phenomenon. (The better-known U.S. Central Intelligence Agency drone assassination program is also flown by Air Force pilots loaned out for the covert missions.)

On January 4, 2015, the Daily Beast revealed an undated internal memo to Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh from General Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle stating that pilot “outflow increases will damage the readiness and combat capability of the MQ-1/9 [Predator and Reaper] enterprise for years to come” and added that he was “extremely concerned.” Eleven days later, the issue got top billing at a special high-level briefing on the state of the Air Force. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James joined Welsh to address the matter. “This is a force that is under significant stress -- significant stress from what is an unrelenting pace of operations,” she told the media.

In theory, drone pilots have a cushy life. Unlike soldiers on duty in “war zones,” they can continue to live with their families here in the United States. No muddy foxholes or sandstorm-swept desert barracks under threat of enemy attack for them. Instead, these new techno-warriors commute to work like any office employees and sit in front of computer screens wielding joysticks, playing what most people would consider a glorified video game.

They typically “fly” missions over Afghanistan and Iraq where they are tasked with collecting photos and video feeds, as well as watching over U.S. soldiers on the ground. A select few are deputized to fly CIA assassination missions over Pakistan, Somalia, or Yemen where they are ordered to kill “high value targets” from the sky. In recent months, some of these pilots have also taken part in the new war in the Syrian and Iraqi borderlands, conducting deadly strikes on militants of ISIL.

Each of these combat air patrols involves three to four drones, usually Hellfire-missile-armed Predators and Reapers built by southern California’s General Atomics, and each takes as many as 180 staff members to fly them. In addition to pilots, there are camera operators, intelligence and communications experts, and maintenance workers. (The newer Global Hawk surveillance patrols need as many as 400 support staff.)

The Air Force is currently under orders to staff 65 of these regular “combat air patrols” around the clock as well as to support a Global Response Force on call for emergency military and humanitarian missions. For all of this, there should ideally be 1,700 trained pilots. Instead, facing an accelerating dropout rate that recently drove this figure below 1,000, the Air Force has had to press regular cargo and jet pilots as well as reservists into becoming instant drone pilots in order to keep up with the Pentagon’s enormous appetite for real-time video feeds from around the world.

The Air Force explains the departure of these drone pilots in the simplest of terms. They are leaving because they are overworked. The pilots themselves say that it’s humiliating to be scorned by their Air Force colleagues as second-class citizens. Some have also come forward to claim that the horrors of war, seen up close on video screens, day in, day out, are inducing an unprecedented, long-distance version of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).

But is it possible that a brand-new form of war -- by remote control -- is also spawning a brand-new, as yet unlabeled, form of psychological strain? Some have called drone war a “coward's war” (an opinion that, according to reports from among the drone-traumatized in places like Yemen and Pakistan, is seconded by its victims). Could it be that the feeling is even shared by drone pilots themselves, that a sense of dishonor in fighting from behind a screen thousands of miles from harm’s way is having an unexpected impact of a kind psychologists have never before witnessed?

Killing Up Close and Personal From Afar

There can be no question that drone pilots resent the way other Air Force pilots see them as second-class citizens. "It's tough working night shifts watching your buddies do great things in the field while you're turning circles in the sky," a drone instructor named Ryan told Mother Jones magazine. His colleagues, he says, call themselves the “lost generation.”

“Everyone else thinks that the whole program or the people behind it are a joke, that we are video-game warriors, that we're Nintendo warriors,” Brandon Bryant, a former drone camera operator who worked at Nellis Air Force Base, toldDemocracy Now.

Certainly, there is nothing second-class about the work tempo of drone life. Pilots log 900-1,800 hours a year compared to a maximum of 300 hours annually for regular Air Force pilots. And the pace is unrelenting. “A typical person doing this mission over the last seven or eight years has worked either six or seven days a week, twelve hours a day,” General Welsh told NPR recently. “And that one- or two-day break at the end of it is really not enough time to take care of that family and the rest of your life.”

The pilots wholeheartedly agree. "It's like when your engine temperature gauge is running just below the red area on your car’s dashboard, but instead of slowing down and relieving the stress on the engine, you put the pedal to the floor," one drone pilot told Air Force Times. "You are sacrificing the engine to get a short burst of speed with no real consideration to the damage being caused."

The Air Force has come up with a pallid interim “solution.” It is planning to offer experienced drone pilots a daily raise of about $50. There's one problem, though: since so many pilots leave the service early, only a handful have enough years of experience to qualify for this bonus. Indeed, the Air Force concedes that just 10 of them will be able to claim the extra bounty this year, striking testimony to the startling levels of job turnover among such pilots.

Most 18Xs say that their jobs are tougher and significantly more upfront and personal than those of the far more glamorous jet pilots. “[A] Predator operator is so much more involved in what is going on than your average fast-moving jetfighter pilot, or your B-52, B-1, B-2 pilots, who will never even see their target,” Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Black, a former Air Force drone pilot says. “A Predator pilot has been watching his target[s], knows them intimately, knows where they are, and knows what’s around them."

Some say that the drone war has driven them over the edge. "How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile? How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?" Heather Linebaugh, a former drone imagery analyst, wrote in the Guardian. "When you are exposed to it over and over again it becomes like a small video, embedded in your head, forever on repeat, causing psychological pain and suffering that many people will hopefully never experience."

"It was horrifying to know how easy it was. I felt like a coward because I was halfway across the world and the guy never even knew I was there,” Bryant told KNPR Radio in Nevada. "I felt like I was haunted by a legion of the dead. My physical health was gone, my mental health was crumbled. I was in so much pain I was ready to eat a bullet myself."

Many drone pilots, however, defend their role in targeted killings. “We’re not killing people for the fun of it. It would be the same if we were the guys on the ground,” mission controller Janet Atkins told Chris Woods of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. “You have to get to [the enemy] somehow or all of you will die.”

Others like Bruce Black are proud of their work. “I was shooting two weeks after I got there and saved hundreds of people, including Iraqis and Afghanis," he told his hometown newspaper in New Mexico. "We'd go down to Buffalo Wild Wings, drink beer and debrief. It was surreal. It didn't take long for you to realize how important the work is. The value that the weapon system brings to the fight is not apparent till you're there. People have a hard time sometimes seeing that."

Measuring Pilot Stress

So whom does one believe? Janet Atkins and Bruce Black, who claim that drone pilots are overworked heroes? Or Brandon Bryant and Heather Linebaugh, who claim that remotely directed targeted killings caused them mental health crises?

Military psychologists have been asked to investigate the phenomenon. A team of psychologists at the School of Aerospace Medicine at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio has published a series of studies on drone pilot stress. One 2011 study concluded that nearly half of them had "high operational stress." A number also exhibited "clinical distress" -- that is, anxiety, depression, or stress severe enough to affect them in their personal lives.

Wayne Chappelle, a lead author in a number of these studies, nonetheless concludes that the problem is mostly a matter of overwork caused by the chronic shortage of pilots. His studies appear to show that post-traumatic stress levels are actually lower among drone pilots than in the general population. Others, however, question these numbers. Jean Otto and Bryant Webber of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, caution that the lack of stress reports may only “reflect artificial underreporting of the concerns of pilots due to the career-threatening effects of [mental health] diagnoses, [which] include removal from flying status, loss of flight pay, and diminished competitiveness for promotion.”

Seeing Everything, Missing the Obvious

One thing is clear: the pilots are not just killing “bad guys” and they know it because, as Black points out, they see everything that happens before, during, and after a drone strike.

Indeed, the only detailed transcript of an actual Air Force drone surveillance mission and targeted killing to be publicly released illustrates this all too well. The logs recorded idle chatter on February 21, 2010, between drone operators at Creech Air Force base in Nevada coordinating with video analysts at Air Force special operations headquarters in Okaloosa, Florida, and with Air Force pilots in a rural part of Daikondi province in central Afghanistan. On that day, three vehicles were seen traveling in a pre-dawn convoy carrying about a dozen people each. Laboring under the mistaken belief that the group were “insurgents” out to kill some nearby U.S. soldiers on a mission, the drone team decided to attack.

Controller: “We believe we may have a high-level Taliban commander.”

Camera operator: “Yeah, they called a possible weapon on the military-age male mounted in the back of the truck.”

Intelligence coordinator: “Screener said at least one child near SUV.”

Controller: “Bullshit! Where? I don’t think they have kids out this hour. I know they’re shady, but come on!”

Camera operator “A sweet [expletive]! Geez! Lead vehicle on the run and bring the helos in!”

Moments later, Kiowa helicopter pilots descended and fired Hellfire missiles at the vehicle.

Controller: “Take a look at this one. It was hit pretty good. It’s a little toasty! That truck is so dead!”

Within 20 minutes, after the survivors of the attack had surrendered, the transcript recorded the sinking feelings of the drone pilots as they spotted women and children in the convoy and could not find any visual evidence of weapons.

A subsequent on-the-ground investigation established that not one of the people killed was anything other than an ordinary villager. "Technology can occasionally give you a false sense of security that you can see everything, that you can hear everything, that you know everything," Air Force Major General James Poss, who oversaw an investigation into the incident, later told the Los Angeles Times.

Of course, Obama administration officials claim that such incidents are rare. In June 2011, when CIA Director John Brennan was still the White House counterterrorism adviser, he addressed the issue of civilian deaths in drone strikes and made this bold claim: “Nearly for the past year, there hasn’t been a single collateral death, because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we’ve been able to develop.”

His claim and similar official ones like it are, politely put, hyperbolic. “You Never Die Twice,” a new report by Jennifer Gibson of Reprieve, a British-based human rights organization, settles the question quickly by showing that some men on the White House “kill list” of terror suspects to be taken out have “'died' as many as seven times."

Gibson adds, “We found 41 names of men who seemed to have achieved the impossible. This raises a stark question. With each failed attempt to assassinate a man on the kill list, who filled the body bag in his place?” In fact, Reprieve discovered that, in going after those 41 “targets” numerous times, an estimated 1,147 people were killed in Pakistan by drones. Typical was the present leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri. In two strikes against “him” over the years, according to Reprieve, 76 children and 29 adults have died, but not al-Zawahiri.

Deserting the Cubicle

Back in the United States, a combination of lower-class status in the military, overwork, and psychological trauma appears to be taking its mental toll on drone pilots. During the Vietnam War, soldiers would desert, flee to Canada, or even “frag” -- kill -- their officers. But what do you do when you’ve had it with your war, but your battle station is a cubicle in Nevada and your weapon is a keyboard?

Is it possible that, like their victims in Pakistan and Yemen who say that they are going mad from the constant buzz of drones overhead and the fear of sudden death without warning, drone pilots, too, are fleeing into the night as soon as they can? Since the Civil War in the U.S., war of every modern sort has produced mental disturbances that have been given a variety of labels, including what we today call PTSD. In a way, it would be surprising if a completely new form of warfare didn’t produce a new form of disturbance.

We don’t yet know just what this might turn out to be, but it bodes ill for the form of battle that the White House and Washington are most proud of -- the well-advertised, sleek, new, robotic, no-casualty, precision conflict that now dominates the war on terror. Indeed if the pilots themselves are dropping out of desktop killing, can this new way of war survive?

Pratap Chatterjee is executive director of CorpWatch. He is the author of Halliburton's Army: How A Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War and Iraq, Inc. His next book, Verax, a graphic novel about whistleblowers and mass surveillance co-authored by Khalil Bendib, will be published by Metropolitan Books in 2016.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2015 Pratap Chatterjee

How Did Syria Get Here?

Wars may be how Americans learn geography, but do they always learn the history of how the geography was shaped by wars? I've just read Syria: A History of the Last Hundred Years by John McHugo. It's very heavy on the wars, which is always a problem with how we tell history, since it convinces people that war is normal. But it also makes clear that war wasn't always normal in Syria.

Syria-mapSyria was shaped by and remains to this day outraged by the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement (in which Britain and France divided up things that didn't belong to either of them), the 1917 Balfour Declaration (in which Britain promised Zionists land it didn't own known as Palestine or Southern Syria), and the 1920 San Remo Conference at which Britain, France, Italy, and Japan used rather arbitrary lines to create the French Mandate of Syria and Lebanon, the British Mandate of Palestine (including Jordan), and the British Mandate of Iraq.

Between 1918 and 1920, Syria attempted to set up a constitutional monarchy; and McHugo considers that effort to be the closest Syria has come to self-determination. Of course, that was ended by the San Remo Conference at which a bunch of foreigners sat in a villa in Italy and decided that France must save Syria from the Syrians.

So 1920 to 1946 was a period of French misrule and oppression and brutal violence. The French strategy of divide and rule resulted in the separation of Lebanon. The French interests, as McHugo tells it, seem to have been profits and special benefits for Christians. The French legal obligation for the "mandate" was to help Syria reach the point of being able to rule itself. But, of course, the French had very little interest in letting the Syrians rule themselves, the Syrians could hardly have ruled themselves worse than the French did, and the entire pretense was without any legal controls on or supervision of the French. So, the Syrian protests appealed to the Rights of Man but were met with violence. The protests included Muslims and Christians and Jews, but the French remained to protect minorities or at least to pretend to protect them while encouraging sectarian division.

On April 8, 1925, Lord Balfour visited Damascus where 10,000 protesters greeted him shouting "Down with the Balfour agreement!" The French had to escort him out of town. In the mid 1920s the French killed 6,000 rebel fighters and destroyed the homes of 100,000 people. In the 1930s the Syrians created protests, strikes, and boycotts of French-owned businesses. In 1936 four protesters were killed, and 20,000 people attended their funeral before launching a general strike. And still the French, like the British in India and the rest of their empire, remained.

Toward the end of World War II, France proposed to "end" their occupation of Syria without ending it, something like the current U.S. occupation of Afghanistan that has "ended" while it continues. In Lebanon, the French arrested the president and prime minister but were forced to free them after strikes and demonstrations in both Lebanon and Syria. The protests in Syria grew. France shelled Damascus killing possibly 400. The British came in. But in 1946 the French and the British left Syria, a nation where the people refused to cooperate with foreign rule.

Bad times, rather than good, lay ahead. The British and the future-Israelis stole Palestine, and a flood of refugees headed for Syria and Lebanon in 1947-1949, from which they have yet to return. And the (first?) Cold War began. In 1949, with Syria the only nation not to have signed an armistice with Israel and refusing to allow a Saudi oil pipeline to cross its land, a military coup was executed in Syria with CIA involvement -- predating 1953 Iran and 1954 Guatemala.

But the United States and Syria could not form an alliance because the United States was allied with Israel and opposed to rights for Palestinians. Syria got its first Soviet weapons in 1955. And the U.S. and Britain began a long-term and ongoing project of drawing up and revising plans to attack Syria. In 1967 Israel attacked and stole the Golan Heights which it has occupied illegally ever since. In 1973 Syria and Egypt attacked Israel but failed to take back the Golan Heights. Syria's interests in negotiations for many years to come would focus on the return of Palestinians to their land and the return of the Golan Heights to Syria. U.S. interests in peace negotiations during the Cold War were not in peace and stability but in winning nations to its side against the Soviet Union. The mid-1970s civil war in Lebanon added to Syria's problems. Peace talks for Syria effectively ended with the 1996 election of Netanyahu as prime minister of Israel.

From 1970 to 2000 Syria was ruled by Hafez al-Assad, from 2000 to the present by his son Bashar al-Assad. Syria supported the U.S. in Gulf War I. But in 2003 the U.S. proposed to attack Iraq and declared that all nations must be "with us or against us?" Syria could not declare itself "with the United States" while the suffering of Palestinians was on TV every night in Syria and the United States was not with Syria. In fact, the Pentagon in 2001 had Syria on a list of seven countries it planned to "take out."

The chaos, violence, destitution, sectarian division, rage, and weaponry that flooded the region with the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 impacted Syria and of course led to the creation of groups like ISIS. The Arab Spring in Syria turned violent. Sectarian rivalries, the growing demand for water and resources, the arms and fighters supplied by regional and global rivalries brought Syria into a living hell. Over 200,000 have died, over 3 million have left the country, six and a half million are internally displaced, 4.6 million are living where fighting is ongoing. If this were a natural disaster, a focus on humanitarian aid would gain some interest, and at the very least the U.S. government would not be focused on adding more wind or waves. But this is not a natural disaster. It is, among other things, a proxy war in a region heavily armed by the United States, with Russia on the side of the Syrian government.

In 2013 public pressure helped prevent a massive U.S. bombing campaign on Syria, but the weapons and trainers kept flowing and no real alternative was pursued. In 2013 Israel gave a company a license to explore for gas and oil on the Golan Heights. By 2014 Western "experts" were talking about the war needing to "run its course," while the U.S. attacked certain Syrian rebels while arming others who sometimes surrendered the weapons to those the U.S. was attacking and who were also being funded by wealthy Gulf U.S. allies and fueled by fighters created out of the infernos the United States had brought to Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, etc., and who were also being attacked by Iran which the United States also opposes. By 2015, "experts" were talking about "partitioning" Syria, which brings us full circle.

Drawing lines on a map can teach you geography. It cannot cause people to lose attachments to people and places they love and live with. Arming and attacking regions of the globe can sell weapons and candidates. It cannot bring peace or stability. Blaming ancient hatreds and religions can win applause and provide a sense of superiority. It cannot explain the mass slaughter, the division, and the devastation that are in large part imported to a region cursed with natural resources desired by and vicinity to crusaders whose new holy grail is the so-called responsibility to protect but who'd rather not mention who they actually feel responsible to and what they're actually protecting.

New TCBH! poem by Gary Lindorff: 'Cape Cod 1966'

We used to have picnics on a bayside beach.

My grandmother was too frail to walk on the sand,
So we used to carry her from the car
Which made her grumble,
Which was just grandma.
We never knew how much she hated being carried
Because we were so busy feeling manly,
My brother and I.
And once we got her settled out of the breeze
She would say
“There, this is nice. . .” or something like that...


Iowa GOP Lawmaker: Rick Perry’s Involvement With Bakken Fracked Oil Pipeline “A Bad Idea”

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

By David Goodner and Steve Horn 

Everyday Iowa voters are less likely to caucus for former Texas governor and potential presidential candidate Rick Perry “because of his involvement” with a controversial oil pipeline proposal, according to an influential state lawmaker who has made eminent domain one of his signature issues in the Iowa House of Representatives.

Bobby Kaufmann Rick Perry

Photo Credit: Iowa House Republicans

“Politically speaking, I am not sure there is as much upside for him to be involved as there is downside,” Iowa state representative Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton) told DeSmogBlog. “People would likely not vote for him for being involved with the pipeline.” 

Last month, DeSmogBlog broke news that Perry’s appointment to the Board of Directors of Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) could cost him support in the Iowa Caucuses. Energy Transfer Partners is a Texas-based company whose subsidiary, Dakota Access, LLC, has petitioned the state of Iowa to build a pipeline to transport up to 575,000 barrels per day of oil obtained from North Dakota's Bakken Shale via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”)

Kaufmann’s statement to DeSmogBlog marks the first public criticism of Perry on this issue by a sitting Republican lawmaker. It also comes on the heels of Perry’s scheduled March 7 return to Iowa to speak at the Iowa Ag Summit alongside other likely Republican presidential candidates.

Kaufmann’s remarks to DeSmogBlog also come in the aftermath of Iowa’s paper of record, The Des Moines Register, releasing a poll finding that 74 percent of Iowans are opposed to the use of eminent domain to build the pipeline.

“I think any presidential candidate’s association with eminent domain could be unhelpful” to them in the Iowa Caucuses, Kaufmann said. 

Libya News - Mar 5, 2015


Oil fields burned by Islamic State militants, Libyan authorities say - EUROPE ONLINE


Airstrikes target purported Islamic State militants after they attack central Libyan oil field - Star Tribune


Libya Declares Force Majeure on Oil Fields in Central Region - WSJ


Libya asks U.N. for arms, jets, tanks to battle Islamic State: letter - Reuters


Italian Navy sending ships towards Libya's coast, energy group ENI owns offshore oil platforms and a pipeline - breitbart.com


Why Libya is ringing alarm bells in Italy - The Local


Italy rescues 1000 refugees from Mediterranean over two days, 10 people found dead - The Guardian


US official: ISIS Has Turned Libya Into New Support Base, Safe Haven (VIDEO) - foxnews.com


Libya FM: 5,000 Foreign Fighters Flock to Libya as ISIS Call for Jihadists - newsweek.com


ISIS Sets Sights on the Mediterranean - gatestoneinstitute.org


Abdelhakim Belhadj, a U.S.-backed rebel, reportedly leads Islamic State in Libya - Washington Times


PHOTO: Would that be the same Abdelhakim Belhadj that SenJohnMcCain is so chummy with? Asking for a friend - Patrick Poole on Twitter

 

Libya: clashes between army-ISIS in central Benghazi - ANSAMed.it


Another Copt Beheaded in Libya as Patriarch Meets Families of 21 Martyrs - Breitbart


The Ancient Sites Now Under Threat From ISIS in Libya - newsweek.com


Egypt gearing up for major attack on militants in Libya - Washington Times


--------------------------------------------------------

At the UN Security Council special envoy Leon warns Libya faces disintegration if political crisis is not resolved - libyaherald.com


Libya crisis ‘festering,’ UN envoy Leon warns, urging decisive action to build national unity - United Nations News Centre


Coverage of Security Council Briefing on Festering Unrest in Libya - ReliefWeb


UN announce details of Libya peace talks, will discuss the positions of prime minister and deputy prime minister in the proposed national unity government - spyghana


Anti-ISIS deal between Tripoli, Tobruk 'never closer': UN special envoy - ANSA.it


UN report paints damning picture of foreign complicity in rearming Libya - libyaherald.com


Rival forces in Libya carry out tit-for-tat strikes before UN talks - timesofmalta.com


Libya's Haftar appointed army chief for recognized government - Reuters


--------------------------------------------------------

House committee subpoenas Clinton emails in Benghazi probe, she ran her own email server while in office - The Washington Post


Using Private Email, Hillary Clinton Thwarted Record Requests - NYTimes.com


Clinton’s E-Mail System Built For Privacy Though Not Security - Bloomberg Business


Why Clinton's Private Email Server Was Such a Security Fail - WIRED


Panel's head Democrat: Make Clinton's Benghazi emails public - CNN.com


Hacked emails: Money from “wealthy Sunni Islamists in Saudi Arabia” financed Benghazi attack, Intel reportedly sent to Hillary Clinton by staffer - wnd.com


State Dept. misled on Benghazi bombing three months before the Sept. 11 attack on the same compound? Declassified Pentagon documents show no response to previous terror strike - wnd.com


VIDEO: Hillary Clinton Avoids Email Scandal at Emily's List Gala, Teases Presidential Run - YouTube

 

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General Petraeus Speaks on Afghanistan; Will be Greeted by Street Protest Over War Leadership

What: Protest & Photo Op outside speech by General David Petraeus
When: Wednesday March 4 5:30 pm - Where: New-York Historical Society, Central Park West @ 77th Street
Months ago, when the New-York Historical Society announced that General David Petraeus would speak about the U.S. war on Afghanistan, groups opposed to the U.S.

Gagged and Censored: Justice is not Served for Drone Protester in Wisconsin Court

By Joy First

In May of 2014 Bonnie Block and Jim Murphy were arrested at Volk Field, a Wisconsin Air National Guard Base that trains operators to pilot Shadow drones with cameras to do surveillance and “target acquisition” so that the Predator and Reaper drones (remotely piloted from other US military bases) can drop Hellfire missiles on presumed militants in multiple countries.  Bonnie and Jim are both part of the Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars and have been protesting drones at Volk Field every month for more than three years.

Last May Bonnie and Jim went on a bus tour of Volk Field as part of an open house to which the public was invited.  When the bus stopped at a museum on the base, they got off and tried to hand out flyers to others who were on the tour.  They were told to stop handing out their “propaganda” and leave the base.  Since they had come by the tour bus they had no way of leaving on their own and yet they were arrested for trespassing and taken to the Juneau County Jail.  They were released on bail and the ultimate charge was an ordinance violation of “trespass to land.”

In September, Jim was found guilty in a bench trial and ordered to pay a fine.

Bonnie asked for a jury trial and, in response, the Juneau County District Attorney filed a Motion in Limine, asking that Bonnie be prohibited from making “any argument that is known to be false or irrelevant to the issues before the Court” including among other things the policies of the US Government, International laws, the Charter or certain Resolutions of the United Nations, or moral or ethical strictures believed in by the defendant.  She was also prohibited from commenting in any way “that her prosecution was a violation of any Constitutional or International Right or privilege.”  This hearing was on March 3, 2015 in Mauston, WI. 

It is common for prosecutors to file a Motion in Limine when a jury will be hearing a case against protesters, and this is something that we must continue to vociferously object to.  In this case, the prosecutor had 25 points listed in his Motion, including 19 that asked the Court to prohibit Bonnie’s possible defense in some way.  It looked like he used a boilerplate document that was more applicable to a criminal trial and he actually withdrew 8 of them when Bonnie objected.  Many of the points were simple procedural issues that Bonnie didn’t object to and the judge quickly granted. 

Of course, the important matters of the motion revolved around whether Bonnie could raise Constitutional free speech issues or provide any of the reasons she has for opposing drone warfare and handing out a leaflet raising four questions about drones.  The judge also forbade Bonnie to make any reference to jury nullification i.e. asking the jury to ignore the facts and nullify the jury instructions in reaching their verdict.  He did allow that juries have this right, but Bonnie is not allowed to raise it.

In arguing for her right to speak about drones, the US Constitution, or why she was handing out leaflets, Bonnie said that she needs to be able to tell the whole truth for there to be a fair trial.  Otherwise the jury could presume she was on the base for no good reason.  Prohibiting this in a pretrial order prevents her from presenting a defense for her action.  She argued that the prosecutor can object during the trial if something is improper and the judge can make a ruling at that point.  Bonnie said that these pretrial motions are overbroad and will have a chilling effect because she will have to wonder if something inadvertent will result in her being found in contempt.

The judge responded saying that this charge is about trespass and that is all that is going to be tried.  Political beliefs are not going to be allowed.  If Bonnie talked about drones or international law or the US Constitution, it could mislead the jury.  He went on to say that there is no way they will get through the trial without referencing the leaflet that Bonnie and Jim were attempting to distribute, but neither side, nor any witness, can say anything about the actual content of that leaflet.  If these rules are not followed the judge will grant a mistrial and impose sanctions.

Bonnie said that this trial is about a constitutional free speech issue and the jury should be the ones to decide on whether she was trespassing or had a constitutional right to be on the base sharing her literature.  The judge responded that deciding about constitutional issues is not up to the jury and Bonnie will not be allowed to bring that up.

Bonnie will now be going to trial on April 1 without being able to offer a strong defense.  Her ability to do so has been taken away by the prosecutor and the judge before the trial even begins.  This happens so many times in trials for protestors and it is outrageous.  We are gagged and then we are censored.

As we consider this grave miscarriage of justice in Wisconsin, we realize it is all part of a bigger system of illegal actions by our government.  Our hearts and minds hold the images of the children, the mothers and fathers, the grandparents who have been murdered by US drone strikes, remembering that the training for this program of targeted assassination begins at places like Volk Field, and knowing for certain that the resistance must continue.

For more information contact Bonnie at blbb24@att.net or Joy at joyfirst5@gmail.com

TV ad airing in Las Vegas asks drone pilots to refuse to fly

This advertisement does a number of things in 15 seconds that U.S. television has not done before. It presents a moral case against drone murders (the U.S. government's terminology, and strictly accurate). It opposes drone murders as illegal. It shows victims. It provides the name and website of an organization opposing drone murders. And it directly asks drone "pilots" to refuse to continue. It also makes the Nuremberg argument that an illegal order need not (in fact must not) be obeyed.

This is, as far as I know, and as far as its producers know, the first anti-drone-war commercial on U.S. television, as well as -- I believe -- the first content of any sort on U.S. corporate television to do the things listed above.

This ad is airing from February 28 to March 6 on CNN, MSNBC and other networks in the Las Vegas area, just a few miles from Creech Air Force Base, a major drone operating and training facility where a major protest is underway. It will begin airing in other cities soon.

DSC07207

"We produced this spot to make the point as powerfully as possible that drone killing is horrifying, illegal and immoral," said Nick Mottern, coordinator of KnowDrones.com which sponsored the ad.

In case the pilots viewing the ad fail to grasp the sincerety of its producers, they might consider reading this letter:

To: James Cluff, Commander, Creech AFB

Dear Commander Cluff,

It is our intention to reach out to you and appeal to your humanity to stop the drone killing. Your first responsibility is to uphold laws, regardless of your orders. Aerial bombardment of innocent civilians is in violation of the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, the Hague Conventions and the principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal.   Drones are not making us any safer. More and more young men in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia are joining groups that are retaliating against the US for the murder of their loved ones.

I'm sure you can see at the base that there is low morale among the drone pilots, because it is impossible to sustain any level of enthusiasm for intelligence, surveillance and reconaissance. Although the Airforce throws incentive dollars to your pilots they are still resigning in great numbers, and those that stay turn to drugs and alcohol to numb and detach emotionally to perform this dehumanizing work. While sitting in a cockpit, gazing at their screens, don't your pilots see mothers and fathers with children, kids playing soccer? Consider the effect of drone strikes on these mothers and children. Children suffer intense trauma when they witness the death of their parents or are themselves victims of airstrikes. How can you justify fighting a telewar? Do the pilots really reap joy with their joysticks from killing unarmed civilians?

Do you really believe that you're protecting Americans from terrorists? You can see that dropping missiles on suspected terrorists isn't working, isn't reducing the number of terrorist cells, instead it is taking precious resources and diverting them from the very programs that could truly keep Americans safe. Can't you see that you are caught up in a system of domination that maintains that our survival depends on our threat and domination of others? And that it is this system that objectifies and separates you from people of other nations.

Commander Cluff, you have sadly forgotten who you are and are living in denial of your humanity. You can try but never succeed at legitimizing the violence of drone airstrikes. This job has dehumanized you and caused your indifference to the suffering of the people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

It is still possible to stop the killing, to change and take the risk of another way of life.

STOP THE KILLING, END DRONE WARFARE!

Jackie Barshak
CODEPINK
Women for Peace

Protest at Petraeus Speech Tonight in NYC

General Petraeus Speaks Tonight on Afghanistan; Will be Greeted by Street Protest Over War Leadership

What: Protest & Photo Op outside speech by General David Petraeus
When: Wednesday March 4 5:30 pm
Where: New-York Historical Society, Central Park West @ 77th Street

Months ago, when the New-York Historical Society announced that General David Petraeus would speak about the U.S. war on Afghanistan, groups opposed to the U.S. wars in the Middle East announced they would protest outside the speech tonight.

Petraeus was head of the U.S. military's Central Command; led the "surge" in Iraq; commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan during the highest period of civilian casualties, and briefly led the CIA until resigning in scandal. These actions led War Criminals Watch to highlight Petraeus as a "war criminal in illegitimate, immoral, unjust wars, whose actions should be exposed and visibly protested, rather than commended."

Yesterday, The Washington Post reported that Petraeus will likely plead guilty to a misdemeanor for mishandling classified materials, receiving a fine and probation, but no felony conviction or prison time, for giving secret information to his biographer.

Upon learning of the Department of Justice’s “preferential option for the poor” regarding Petraeus, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern labeled this a classic case of “prosecutorial indiscretion” and made this statement:

            When former CIA officer John Kiriakou was sent to prison for inadvertently revealing the name of one Agency official cognizant of Agency torture, here’s what Neil MacBride, US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia said: "The government has a vital interest in protecting the identities of those involved in covert operations. Leaks of highly sensitive, closely held and classified information compromise national security and can put individual lives in danger."

            At which point Petraeus, then CIA director, sent a memo to Agency employees applauding Kiriakou's conviction and noting, “It marks an important victory for our agency ...  there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws that protect our fellow officers and enable American intelligence agencies to operate with the requisite degree of secrecy."

            Consequences for Kiriakou, but now, demonstrably, NOT for Petraeus, who reportedly gave what MacBride considers "highly sensitive" information to his mistress, including the names of all the U.S. covert agents in Afghanistan – and then lied about it to FBI investigators, which I think you're also not supposed to do.

 Mr. McGovern is available for interview.

Sponsored by War Criminals Watch, World Can't Wait.  Endorsed by Veterans for Peace Chapter 34 NYC and CodePink.

VIETNAM: THE POWER OF PROTEST

Flyer PDF.

SAVE THE DATES: Friday evening, May 1 and all-day Saturday, May 2

Telling the Truth, Learning the Lessons

The Pentagon has a ten-year plan (funded by a $60 million appropriation from Congress) to use the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War as an opportunity to re-write the history of the war. Some of us have gotten together to push back, as reported in a front page article in the NY Times in October. We have to build a strong and sustained effort to tell the truth about the war, the role of the anti-
war movement in ending it, the war’s lessons for today and the war’s consequences for the Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians, as well as many American veterans. May 2nd is the kick-off for this effort.

All of us who opposed the Vietnam War and more recent ones, plus speakers including major leaders from the anti-Vietnam War movement.

A full day of talks, workshops and a march on Saturday, plus cultural events on Friday and  Saturday evenings.

New York Avenue Presbyterian Church
1313 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

For more information, contact Terry Provance at 202.686.7483 and terryprovance@gmail.com or Barbara Helmick at 202.462.6702 and helmick.b.a@gmail.com.

To make a contribution, please make your check out to our 501c3 fiscal sponsor, the Center for International Policy, 2000 M Street NW,  Suite 720, Washington DC 20036. Please note that the contribution is for the Vietnam Peace Commemoration project. Thank you.

Ukraine/Russia News - Mar 4, 2015


In Bid To Halt Devaluation, Inflation Ukraine Raises Key Rate to World’s Highest Amid Hryvnia Rout - Bloomberg Business


Analyst: Ukraine unofficially has 272 percent inflation - The Washington Post


Ukraine central bank declares fourth-largest lender insolvent, it closed thirty banks last year and declared ten bankrupt since 2015 - Reuters


Ukraine agrees tough austerity package to gain $17.5bn IMF bailout, budget sees drastic pension cuts and energy bills tripling (VIDEO) - RT


VIDEO: 'Budget of genocide'? Ukraine makes amendments to meet IMF demands - RT


Ukrainian Economic Reforms are Humiliation for Populace: Putin - Sputnik International


Ukraine ranked fourth among world’s most miserable economies - irishtimes.com


Ukraine's economy is starting to disintegrate: Polish Deputy PM - Reuters


Ukrainians are seeing signs the economy is cracking under the weight of war and the risk of default - Bloomberg


Ukraine Economy Crisis: Rebels Reportedly Open Donetsk Banks Amid Economic Collapse, Growing Black Market For Cash - ibtimes.com


The Other Ukrainian Crisis: While most of the West focuses on Russia's next moves, it may be Ukraine's internal politics that determine the future of the region - Stratfor


Russia, Ukraine Reach Gas Deal For The Month Of March - rferl.org


Russia and Ukraine Agree to Discuss Summer Gas Package - The Moscow Times


Ukraine is trying to end its dependence on Russian gas at the worst possible time - Business Insider


Russia Bans Crop Imports From Ukraine - Financial Tribune Daily


Russia, EU officials to discuss Ukraine-EU association agreement implementation - TASS


Ukraine: Ukraine Imposed Additional 5-10 Percent Duties on Import - USDA Foreign Agricultural Service


More on Ukraine additional import charge - Lexology


VIDEO: Watch Ukrainian Rada erupt in mass brawl - YouTube


---------------------------------------------------------

Three servicemen dead as Kiev accuses Ukraine rebels of shelling - Reuters


EU, U.S. ready to step up sanctions if Ukraine ceasefire violated - Yahoo News


Obama extends for one year some sanctions against Russia, related to crisis in Ukraine - TASS


White House Notice: Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Ukraine - The White House


Top US military officer Dempsey backs arming Ukraine against separatists 'in the context of NATO allies’ - Yahoo News


Director of National Intelligence Clapper: Give Ukraine ‘Lethal Defensive Weapons’ - foreignpolicy.com


US Soldiers Readying for Deployment to Train Ukrainian Forces - defensenews.com


Russia Warns NATO: Any Threat in Ukraine Could Warrant Military Response - Russia Insider


NATO Says Russia Moving Its Weapons Systems In Crimea - ibtimes.com


Russia stepping up nuclear exercises amid events in Ukraine: NATO deputy chief - interfax.com


Ukraine to take part in the NATO crisis management exercise CMX15 - MFA of Ukraine


Ukraine's neighbor Romania to host Portuguese troops for NATO policing mission in May - Star Tribune


Passenger planes dodged Russian bombers in Irish-controlled airspace - BreakingNews.ie


Some 12,000 Russian soldiers in Ukraine supporting rebels: U.S. commander Hodges - Reuters


Nemtsov's 'Evidence of Russian Troops in Ukraine' Taken by Police - newsweek.com


The story of a Russian soldier's war in Ukraine: "We all knew what we had to do and what could happen” - Euromaidan Press |


'It Is a Government Crime': The Coffins of Russia's Ghost Soldiers In Ukraine Are Coming Home - VICE News


VIDEO: Killed in "Unknown Circumstances": Russia's Ghost Army in Ukraine (Part 1) - VICE News


VIDEO: Russia’s Ghost Army in Ukraine (Part 2) - VICE News


Russia’s 17th Humanitarian Aid Convoy Leaves for Ukraine’s Donbas: EMERCOM - Sputnik International


To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

 

To unsubscribe reply with “unsubscribe” in the subject line.

Dear Drone Commander, We Know You're Human

To: James Cluff, Commander, Creech AFB

Dear Commander Cluff,

It is our intention to reach out to you and appeal to your humanity to stop the drone killing. Your first responsibility is to uphold laws, regardless of your orders. Aerial bombardment of innocent civilians is in violation of the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, the Hague Conventions and the principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal.   Drones are not making us any safer. More and more young men in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia are joining groups that are retaliating against the US for the murder of their loved ones.

I'm sure you can see at the base that there is low morale among the drone pilots, because it is impossible to sustain any level of enthusiasm for intelligence, surveillance and reconaissance. Although the Airforce throws incentive dollars to your pilots they are still resigning in great numbers, and those that stay turn to drugs and alcohol to numb and detach emotionally to perform this dehumanizing work. While sitting in a cockpit, gazing at their screens, don't your pilots see mothers and fathers with children, kids playing soccer? Consider the effect of drone strikes on these mothers and children. Children suffer intense trauma when they witness the death of their parents or are themselves victims of airstrikes. How can you justify fighting a telewar? Do the pilots really reap joy with their joysticks from killing unarmed civilians?

DSC07207

Do you really believe that you're protecting Americans from terrorists? You can see that dropping missiles on suspected terrorists isn't working, isn't reducing the number of terrorist cells, instead it is taking precious resources and diverting them from the very programs that could truly keep Americans safe. Can't you see that you are caught up in a system of domination that maintains that our survival depends on our threat and domination of others? And that it is this system that objectifies and separates you from people of other nations.

Commander Cluff, you have sadly forgotten who you are and are living in denial of your humanity. You can try but never succeed at legitimizing the violence of drone airstrikes. This job has dehumanized you and caused your indifference to the suffering of the people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

It is still possible to stop the killing, to change and take the risk of another way of life.

STOP THE KILLING, END DRONE WARFARE!

Jackie Barshak
CODEPINK
Women for Peace

Talk Nation Radio: Spring Rising - An Antiwar Intervention March 21 in DC

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-spring-rising-an-antiwar-intervention-march-21-in-dc

This show is a call to action to become part of Spring Rising: An Antiwar Intervention in Washington, D.C., March 18-21, 2015, with the big rally and march on Saturday March 21. See http://SpringRising.org

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive[not working at moment] or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Is it imminent? It’s everpresent: Venezuela’s Continuous Coup

By Alfredo Lopez

 

When Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma was arrested last week, charged with organizing and leading a coup, the U.S. State Department's spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: "The allegations made by the Venezuelan government that the United States is involved in coup plotting and destabilization are baseless and false. The United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means."

Admit that torture does not work

To: Keifer Sutherland and Kathryn Bigelow

Admit awareness of the fact that torture does not work in real life. Sign the petition.

Admit that torture does not work

Why is this important?

The popularity and acceptability of torture have soared in the United States and around the world. This is not simply because the United States has tortured. The U.S. government, many of its policies, its wars, and key torture supporters have not seen similar boosts in popularity.

A major contributor to torture's improved image has been Hollywood, led by two productions that have popularized the false belief that torture can produce life-saving information. The U.S. Senate report's summary makes clear that torture has not worked in the real world. In fact, torture has generally not been used to stop an imminent attack, and has been used in some cases to compel agreement with lies about Iraqi links to al Qaeda -- lies aimed at starting a war.

The fantasy situation in which a torturer knows his victim has life-saving information that cannot be obtained elsewhere, and that his victim won't lie, and that torture will work better than legal interrogation exists only in fiction. But belief in it creates acceptance of torture.

Experts agree on this, but people need to hear it from the fictional experts they've heard of for it to seem real to them. People need to hear Keifer Sutherland, star of "24," and Kathryn Bigelow, director of "Zero Dark Thirty," admit that torture does not work in real life.

Sutherland and Bigelow don't need to criticize or apologize for their art. They don't need to begin self-censoring. They just need to admit that they are aware of the facts, that torture did not help find Osama bin Laden, that torture has not prevented deaths or destruction -- quite the contrary.

U.S. torture has been a recruiting bonanza for anti-U.S. terrorist groups. This fact is trumpted most loudly by defenders of torture and opponents of releasing reports, photos, or videos of what was done. The open secret that we need key public figures to acknowledge is that there's no up-side to weigh against the harm done.

On March 1, 2015, the Independent claimed to change everything with this headline: "Revealed: How torture was used to foil al-Qaeda 2010 plot to bomb two airliners 17 minutes before explosion." The claims in the article are not well documented and quite possibly entirely false. There is no evidence that questioning without torture wouldn't have worked as well or better than torturing. The bomb in the story may have been planted in the first place as retaliation for torture. And the serious argument against torture is not "It's just wrong" but that allowing it creates its widespread use and contributes to other brutal policies including war that kill and injure countless people driving forward vicious cycles of violence.

Torture creates enemies, causes horrific suffering, and dehumanizes the torturers including those who passively allow it. A torturer cannot know that someone has lifesaving information and is most likely to reveal it under torture. And once we pretend that a torturer might know that, we cannot stop the torturers from torturing large numbers of people.

Sign the petition.

Learn more with:

Gareth Porter: How the CIA Covered Up Its Lie on Torture and bin Laden

Patrick Cockburn: CIA Torture Report: It Didn't Work Then, It Doesn't Work Now

Donald Canestraro: Experienced Interrogator: Torture Doesn't Work

The Nuclear Nine

By Richard Greve © -- February 2015
They are the Nuclear Nine – the ones with the Bomb.
They can trigger The End
at any time.
A mad leader, a mistake, miscalculation
buttons are pushed, and, well,
there it isn't. Gone.

Fast death for some,
slow for others.
Those with money might go underground
or maybe New Zealand if the wind
hasn't shifted. Hoping against hope.

Those in the cities have a few minutes to panic
and melt.
In the hinterlands long struggles
with a slower demise,
poisoned milk, nuclear winters
where crops will not grow.
Oh what a deed these mushrooms will do.

 Kids under desks won't be saved
 in their schools,
 nor will they be saved by
fast running moms.

Why Do We Fear Challenging Authority?

Have you ever noticed your own inclination, or that of other people, to believe what you/they are told by someone seen to be in authority?

For example, did you know that there is overwhelming scientific evidence that the 911 destruction of the World Trade Center buildings 1, 2 and 7 was a false flag operation? That is, 911 was organised by the US and/or Israeli elite(s) and their agents in order to enable them to manipulate public opinion to support their subsequently initiated perpetual war in the Middle East and elsewhere.

ISIS Derangement Syndrome

Here's Time Magazine's David von Drehle: "The greatest threat that ISIS poses -- even to the poor souls living under ISIS rule -- is the unintended damage that might follow from the effort to eradicate the group. . . . As dangerous as it is to have a terrorist kingdom in the middle of the world's geopolitical tinderbox, ousting ISIS will be every bit as dangerous."

Drehle goes from there immediately into the debate over whether U.S. troops or local troops should do the job. His article is followed by Max Boot arguing for U.S. ground troops and Karl Vick arguing for U.S. bombing with local ground troops. All three writers seem to be aware that ISIS wanted U.S. bombing and wants U.S. ground troops even more, that ISIS recruitment climbs in response to U.S. military action. All three can't help but be aware that terrorist kingdoms like Saudi Arabia already exist in the region with the blessing of the U.S. government (and of magazine writers who seek to please the U.S. government). All three are fairly condescending toward local troops, eager to (somehow) get Sunnis to attack Sunnis, and wary of allowing Iranian "death squads" to get involved in the, you know, mass killing they are proposing.

None of the three have one word to say about the great many innocents already killed in the latest U.S. bombings, but all three seem to grasp that the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 was necessary for the creation of ISIS, all three seem to understand that fighting ISIS is counterproductive, and yet all three strive to place the need to attack ISIS beyond the range of any debate. The question is not whether to make the disaster worse, but exactly how to do it.

What, after all, makes the region a global tinderbox? Israel's nukes? Certainly not, those are not supposed to be mentioned or even thought about. Well then, all the other weapons? But over 80% of those are supplied by the United States, so that can't be it. Perhaps the violent overthrows and devastation of so many governments and countries? But it was the U.S. and friends who destroyed Iraq and made Libya what it is and who have done what they're still doing to Afghanistan. It is the U.S. that has ruined Yemen. It is the U.S. that arms and supports Israel's wars. It is the U.S. that props up the terrorist states in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and Egypt. Surely what makes the region a tinderbox (rather than a region rich in oil about which greedy earth-destroying interests might be concerned) is something unthinkable or nonsensical or inscrutable, something ethnic or religious or unworthy of consideration.

Because otherwise we might have to consider cease fires and arms embargoes and diplomacy and humanitarian aid as possible alternatives to the usual choices of (1) do nothing, or (2) make it all worse with more of what caused much of the problem in the first place. We might have to consider that it isn't ISIS that's posing the greatest threat in the form of "the effort to eradicate the group."

Skipping The Speech for All the Wrong Reasons

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to hear that Congress members will skip Netanyahu's speech no matter what reason they offer. Here are some of them:

It's too close to Netanyahu's election. (That doesn't persuade me. If we had fair, open, publicly funded, un-gerrymandered, verifiably counted elections, then "politics" wouldn't be a dirty word and we would want politicians to show themselves doing things to try to please us before, during, and after elections. I want them acting that way now, even with our broken system. I don't want the U.S. interfering in Israeli elections, but allowing a speech is hardly the same as backing coups in Ukraine and Venezuela or giving Israel billions of dollars worth of weapons every year.)

The Speaker didn't ask the President. (This is likely the big reason that Democrats are promising to skip the speech. I'm actually amazed more of them haven't made that promise. Netanyahu seemed to me to miss the extent to which the United States has become a term-limited monarchy. Congress typically wants to pass the buck on wars to the President. The President typically controls one of the two parties quite tightly. But do I actually care that Congress didn't consult the President? Hell no! Imagine if, during the run-up to the 2003 attack on Iraq, Congress had offered a joint-session microphone to El Baradei or Sarkozy or Putin or, indeed, Hussein to denounce all the bogus claims about WMDs in Iraq? Would you have been outraged by the impoliteness toward President Bush or delighted that a million people might not get killed for no damn reason?)

These kinds of reasons do have a practical weakness: they lead to calls for postponing the speech, rather than canceling it. Some other reasons have more serious flaws.

The speech damages bipartisan U.S. support for Israel. (Really? A slim minority of the President's party skips the speech for a laundry list of lame excuses and suddenly the United States is going to stop providing all the free weapons and vetoing every attempt at legal accountability for the crimes of the Israeli government? And that would be a bad thing if it actually happened?)

The speech hurts the critical effort of negotiations to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. (This is the worst of the bad reasons. It pushes the false idea that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon and threatening to use it. It plays right into Netanyahu's fantasies of poor helpless nuclear Israel the victim of Iranian aggression. In reality, Iran has not attacked another nation in modern history. If only Israel or the United States could say as much!)

As I said, I'm glad anyone's skipping the speech for any reason. But I find it deeply disturbing that an enormously important and deeply moral reason to skip the speech is obvious and known to every member of Congress, and while most are acting against it, those acting in accordance with it refuse to articulate it. The reason is this: Netanyahu is coming to spread war propaganda. He told Congress lies about Iraq in 2002 and pushed for a U.S. war. He has been lying, according to leaks this week of his own spies' information and according to the understanding of the U.S. "intelligence" services, about Iran. It is illegal to spread war propaganda under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Israel is a party. Congress is struggling to keep up with the wars President Obama is continuing, launching, and risking. Here's one war Obama seems not to want, and Congress is bringing in a foreign leader with a record of war lies to give them their marching orders. Meanwhile, an agency of that same foreign government, AIPAC, is holding its big lobby meeting in Washington.

Now, it is true that nuclear energy facilities create dangerous targets. Those drones flying around French nuclear plants scare the hell out of me. And it is true that nuclear energy places its possessor a short step away from nuclear weaponry. Which is why the U.S. should stop spreading nuclear energy to countries that have no need of it, and why the U.S. should never have given nuclear bomb plans to Iran or sentenced Jeffrey Sterling to prison for allegedly revealing that act. But you can't accomplish good by using horrific mass murder to avoid horrific mass murder -- and that's what Israeli-U.S. aggression toward Iran means. Stirring up a new cold war with Russia in Syria and Ukraine is dangerous enough without throwing Iran into the mix. But even a war that confined itself to Iran would be horrifying.

Imagine if we had one Congress member who would say, "I'm skipping the speech because I'm opposed to killing Iranians." I know we have lots of constituents who like to think that their progressive Congress member secretly thinks that. But I'll believe it when I hear it said.

The True Nobel Candidates for the true Nobel Peace Prize 2015

Source: http://www.nobelwill.org/index.html?tab=7

The Norwegian Nobel Committee ignores the testament of Nobel. They claim that the “champions of peace” Nobel described in his will no longer exist. To end this charade we have seen no alternative to lifting the curtain of secrecy they hide their waywardness behind.

The Nobel Committee has pursued its own ideas and failed to see how the expressions Nobel used and the promise he gave to Bertha von Suttner to “do something big for the movement” (italics added) leave no room for doubt what “champions of peace” Nobel intended to support. Expressed in modern language:

When Nobel wished to support the “champions of peace,” he meant the movement and the persons who work for a demilitarized world, for law to replace power in international politics, and for all nations to commit to cooperating on the elimination of all weapons instead of competing for military superiority.

This is the content of the prize and as the legally binding scope of all selections it was presented to the Nobel Committee 7 years ago. The committee has never contested this description of the purpose of Nobel, just used their power to ignore it. We think the peace idea of Nobel is of imperative urgency in the world today, and that everyone should know these ideas and be able to see and discuss them. That is why we have decided to publish the following list of qualified candidates.

Below is the list of those we know who are nominated AND qualified, under a wide understanding of the purpose of Nobel, either
1) by direct work for the global disarmament plan Nobel had in mind, or
2) by peace work with high utility and relevance to realizing the Nobel “uniting of disarmed nations,” particularly the work to abolish nuclear weapons, and to promote non-violence, conflict resolution and prevention, develop international law and institutions, etc.
3) by contributing new ideas and research, develop new methods for civilized, non-violent interrelation between peoples that enables a demilitarization of international relations.

The list is not final. We welcome information of nominations we are not aware of or of candidates that we – based on the Nobel purpose – should have included in our list. If you miss certain “champions of peace” in the list this year, please take steps to have them included among the nominations for 2016 – deadline: Feb 1, 2016. The Nobel Peace Prize is happy to give advice and guidance in the hope of realizing Nobel´s true purpose and idea. Contact us


LIST – VALID CANDIDATES FOR THE TRUE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE 2015

Abolition 2000, Global network organization

Article 9, Japan

Bolkovac, Kathryn, USA

Bryn, Steinar, Norway

Ellsberg, Daniel, USA

Falk, Richard, USA

International Assosiation of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms, IALANA, (NY, Geneva, Colombo)

Juristen und Juristinnen gegen atomare, biologische und chemische Waffen , Germany

Krieger, David , USA

Lindner, Evelin, main basis Norway

Mayor, Federico, Spain

Nansen Dialogue Network

Nihon Hidankyo, Japan

Oberg, Jan, Sweden

Snowden, Edward, USA

Swanson, David, USA

Mr. Taniguchi, Sumiteru, Japan

Ms. Thurlow, Setsuko, Canada

UNESCO culture of peace program (Paris)

Ware, Alyn, New Zealand

Weiss, Peter, USA

Women´s international League for Peace and Freedom, WILPF (Geneva)
 

Waiting list - Insufficient information

The following appear to be nominated, but we have not been able to get
the actual nomination. The list of valid candidates will be supplemented
as soon as we get additional valid nominations.

The International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear arms, ICAN

Manning, Chelsea, USA

Sharp, Gene, USA

Focus: Hillary Clinton - Feb 27, 2015


Foreign governments gave millions to foundation while Clinton was at State Dept. - The Washington Post


Green groups divided on Hillary Clinton's oil interest ties - Reuters


Hillary Clinton Won’t Talk About Keystone. And Greens Are OK With That. - NationalJournal.com


Hillary Clinton’s Complex Corporate Ties - WSJ


Clinton foundation received up to $81m from clients of controversial HSBC bank - The Guardian


Hillary Clinton paid $300,000 for her Silicon Valley speech to explain what ails the middle class (VIDEO) - Yahoo Finance


No Crudités, but Hillary Clinton Still Has a Long List of Demands for Speeches - NYTimes.com


Hillary’s State Department OK’d Bill Clinton’s big-money speeches - POLITICO


U.S. State Department spokeswoman Psaki defends Clinton Foundation donation - The Washington Post


VIDEO: Psaki: Ethics Deal Broken By The Clinton Foundation? No problem - whitehousedossier


White House dodges questions on Clinton Foundation donations - Washington Times


VIDEO: White House spokesman dodges questions on Clinton Foundation donations - YouTube


Carly Fiorina criticizes Clinton over foundation money - Yahoo News


VIDEO: Carly Fiorina Ramps Up Hillary Clinton Attacks - YouTube


Clinton Foundation: 2010 donation broke Obama administration agreement - CNN.com


----------------------------------------------------

POLL: Clinton leads big in Iowa, new poll finds - Bradenton Herald


POLL: Hillary Clinton leading all of her potential Republican candidates - Public Policy Polling


Hillary Clinton Will Run 'As a Female Candidate' in 2016 - Reason.com


The maps that show why Hillary Clinton is likely to continue talking about gender - The Washington Post


Hillary Clinton calls Silicon Valley out for gender inequality, says women still can’t seem to access equal pay as men - The Michigan Chronicle


As senator, Clinton paid women 72 cents for each dollar paid to men - Washington Free Beacon


VIDEO: Fox News Covers Free Beacon Report on Hillary's Equal Pay Hypocrisy - YouTube


Hillary Clinton dinged for 'All Madam President's Men,' her near all-male staff - Washington Times


-----------------------------------------------------

Officials: Hillary Clinton's war on Libya damaged U.S. intelligence, Gadhafi helped U.S. target Qaeda figures and thwart attacks - Washington Times


Hillary Clinton takes fire from Democrats as Libya chaos creates terrorist safe haven - Washington Times


Director of National Intelligence James Clapper: Libya a 'magnet' for terrorism - Washington Times


Libya: Hold Policymakers Accountable For Another Washington War Gone Bad - forbes.com


State Dept Documents Reveal Top Hillary Clinton Advisers Knew Immediately That Assault on Benghazi Was Armed Attack - Judicial Watch


Full Text of the State Department Benghazi Documents Obtained by Judicial Watch - Judicial Watch


Judicial Watch Forces Obama Administration to Release Pentagon Benghazi Attack Documents - Judicial Watch


Full Text of the Pentagon Benghazi Attack Docs - Judicial Watch


Judicial Watch: Pentagon knew truth on Benghazi at start and tied attack to Qaeda affiliate, Clinton did not take any steps to coordinate with the military and protect the killed Americans (VIDEO) - newsmax


VIDEO: Judicial Watch president talks ‘smoking gun’ emails on Benghazi - TheBlaze.com


Rand Paul: Hillary Clinton Won't Be 'Considered For The Higher Office' Because Of Benghazi (VIDEO) - Huffington Post


London mayor: Hillary Clinton thinks Europe is being ‘wimpy’ against Putin - The Washington Post


Hillary Clinton: Can 'never condone' what Edward Snowden did - Washington Times


Dissident lawyer flatly contradicts Hillary Clinton’s account of rescuing him from house arrest in China - National Post

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

 

To unsubscribe reply with “unsubscribe” in the subject line.

Did Berkeley Just Save Us From Drones or Target Us With Drones?

Cities and states across the United States have been taking various actions against drones, while the federal government rolls ahead with project fill the skies.

Robert L. Meola has been working for years now to get Berkeley to catch up with other localities and claim its usual spot at the forefront of movements to pass good resolutions on major issues. Now Berkeley has acted and Meola says "This is NOT what I/we asked for."

Here's what they asked for:

Establishing a Two Year Moratorium on Drones in Berkeley
From: Peace and Justice Commission
Recommendation: Adopt a Resolution adopting a two year moratorium on drones in Berkeley.
Financial Implications: Unknown

And what they got:

Action: 11 speakers.  M/S/C (Bates/Maio) to: 1) adopt a one-year moratorium on the use of unmanned aircraft systems, or “drones” by the Berkeley Police Department, 2) ask the Council to develop a policy for police use of drones, and 3) to authorize the use of drones by the Berkeley Fire Department for disaster response purposes. Vote: Ayes – Maio, Moore, Anderson, Arreguin, Capitelli, Wengraf, Bates; Noes – Droste; Abstain – Worthington.

Meola responds:

"They adopted a ONE year moratorium on POLICE use of drones.  The police have not been interested in getting a drone, according to the last official word from the chief.  But they AUTHORIZED use by the Fire Department, who also has not asked to have a drone.  And if they get one, will it ONLY be used by the Fire Dept. for disaster response purposes??--Maybe.     And they say they will develop a policy for Police USE of drones.  How nice of them.  We have asked for NO DRONES, NO POLICE USE OF DRONES, and their moratorium entails coming up with a policy for POLICE USE OF DRONES while they still haven't tackled the issues around a comprehensive drone policy for Berkeley.  I spoke.  Others spoke. The ACLU spoke.   The Mayor is slick.  He started out saying two years and ended up with one.  They had a whole list of exceptions that got exchanged for this crappy policy. 

"So, if no one is paying attention to the details, the propaganda sounds good:  BERKELEY PASSES ONE YEAR MORATORIUM ON DRONES  Wow! Groovy!   Better maybe not to have done anything!  Kriss Worthington abstained because this doesn't sound better than doing nothing once you read the details of what they actually passed.  

"They ignored all the good stuff in our recommendation re not using info obtained by a drone in  state and federal criminal investigations without a valid warrant based on probable cause.   They ignored asking the state to establish a two year moratorium.  

"My time would be better spent organizing for Nonviolent Anarchist Revolution, don't you think?  Instead I am asking for them to make a law!  And this is the result!  HELP!

"No faith n the system, not even in Berkeley.

"LONG LIVE ANARCHY!"

Hey, Berkeley, your people sure seem to love you. I've received several emails today from random people in Berkeley on the theme of how useless your Police Review Commission is. And I live nowhere near Berkeley and hadn't inquired.

Wouldn't keeping killer spy robots out of the skies have been an easy way to do something positive?

Republicans and Many Democrats are on the attack: If We’re Going to Defend Social Security We Need to Understand It

By Dave Lindorff


The Republican-dominated Congress, with the help of a cadre of sell-out conservative Democrats in both chambers, are gearing up to attack Social Security again, under the guise of “saving” the program.


CIA Evidence from Whistleblower Trial Could Tilt Iran Nuclear Talks

By Norman Solomon

A month after former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was convicted on nine felony counts with circumstantial metadata, the zealous prosecution is now having potentially major consequences -- casting doubt on the credibility of claims by the U.S. government that Iran has developed a nuclear weapons program.

With negotiations between Iran and the United States at a pivotal stage, fallout from the trial’s revelations about the CIA’s Operation Merlin is likely to cause the International Atomic Energy Agency to re-examine U.S. assertions that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.

In its zeal to prosecute Sterling for allegedly leaking classified information about Operation Merlin -- which provided flawed nuclear weapon design information to Iran in 2000 -- the U.S. government has damaged its own standing with the IAEA. The trial made public a treasure trove of information about the Merlin operation.

Last week Bloomberg News reported from Vienna, where the IAEA is headquartered, that the agency “will probably review intelligence they received about Iran as a result of the revelations, said the two diplomats who are familiar with the IAEA’s Iran file and asked not to be named because the details are confidential.”

The Bloomberg dispatch, which matter-of-factly referred to Merlin as a “sting” operation, quoted a former British envoy to the IAEA, Peter Jenkins, saying: “This story suggests a possibility that hostile intelligence agencies could decide to plant a ‘smoking gun’ in Iran for the IAEA to find. That looks like a big problem.”

After sitting through the seven-day Sterling trial, I don’t recall that the government or any of its witnesses -- including 23 from the CIA as well as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- ever referred to Operation Merlin as a “sting.” Instead, it was consistently portrayed as an effort to send Iran down the wrong technical path. In fact, over the years, Operation Merlin may have been both.

Near the end of the Clinton administration, CIA documents released at the trial show, Merlin was a botched effort to screw up Iran’s nuclear program. (There is no evidence that Iran’s government took the bait.) But documents also show that Merlin continued for years, with the CIA considering plans to widen the operation beyond Iran.

As a matter of fact, one CIA document was not redacted sufficiently to hide evident interest in also trying a similar tactic against Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. History certainly tells us that the Bush-Cheney administration would be capable of seeking to cite fabricated evidence in a push to justify military action against a targeted country.

Investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler, my colleague at ExposeFacts, has written an extensive analysis of the latest developments. The article on her EmptyWheel blog raises key questions beginning with the headline “What Was the CIA Really Doing with Merlin by 2003?

An emerging big irony of United States of America v. Jeffrey Alexander Sterling is that the government has harmed itself in the process of gunning for the defendant. While the prosecution used innuendos and weak circumstantial evidence to obtain guilty verdicts on multiple felonies, the trial produced no actual evidence that Sterling leaked classified information. But the trial did provide abundant evidence that the U.S. government’s nuclear-related claims about Iran should not be trusted.

In the courtroom, one CIA witness after another described Operation Merlin as a vitally important program requiring strict secrecy. Yet the government revealed a great deal of information about Operation Merlin during the trial -- including CIA documents that showed the U.S. government to be committed to deception about the Iranian nuclear program. If, as a result, the International Atomic Energy Agency concludes that U.S. assertions about an alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program lack credibility, top officials in Washington will have themselves to blame.

______________________________

Norman Solomon is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and the author of “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He is a co-founder of RootsAction.org.

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