NSA’s Preference for Metadata
Editor Note: The hidden ball in the debate over the NSA’s collection of phone and e-mail metadata (vs. tapping into actual conversations with a court order) is that the NSA actually prefers the metadata approach because it strips away privacy more efficiently, says ex-NSA analyst Kirk Wiebe.
By Kirk Wiebe
Senior national security officials, from President Barack Obama on down, have made light of the National Security Agency’s intrusive monitoring of the public by saying “only” metadata about communications, not the content of those communications, are collected. One might ask, then, why is it that intelligence and law enforcement officials much prefer this metadata approach?
By Norman Solomon
American journalism has entered highly dangerous terrain.
A tip-off is that the Washington Post refuses to face up to a conflict of interest involving Jeff Bezos -- who’s now the sole owner of the powerful newspaper at the same time he remains Amazon’s CEO and main stakeholder.
The Post is supposed to expose CIA secrets. But Amazon is under contract to keep them. Amazon has a new $600 million “cloud” computing deal with the CIA.
The situation is unprecedented. But in an email exchange early this month, Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron told me that the newspaper doesn’t need to routinely inform readers of the CIA-Amazon-Bezos ties when reporting on the CIA. He wrote that such in-story acknowledgment would be “far outside the norm of disclosures about potential conflicts of interest at media organizations.”
But there isn’t anything normal about the new situation. As I wrote to Baron, “few journalists could have anticipated ownership of the paper by a multibillionaire whose outside company would be so closely tied to the CIA.”
The Washington Post’s refusal to provide readers with minimal disclosure in coverage of the CIA is important on its own. But it’s also a marker for an ominous pattern -- combining denial with accommodation to raw financial and governmental power -- a synergy of media leverage, corporate digital muscle and secretive agencies implementing policies of mass surveillance, covert action and ongoing warfare.
Digital prowess at collecting global data and keeping secrets is crucial to the missions of Amazon and the CIA. The two institutions have only begun to explore how to work together more effectively.
For the CIA, the emerging newspaper role of Mr. Amazon is value added to any working relationship with him. The CIA’s zeal to increase its leverage over major American media outlets is longstanding.
After creation of the CIA in 1947, it enjoyed direct collaboration with many U.S. news organizations. But the agency faced a major challenge in October 1977, when -- soon after leaving the Washington Post -- famed Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein provided an extensive expose in Rolling Stone.
Citing CIA documents, Bernstein wrote that during the previous 25 years “more than 400 American journalists ... have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency.” He added: “The history of the CIA’s involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception.”
Bernstein’s story tarnished the reputations of many journalists and media institutions, including the Washington Post and New York Times. While the CIA’s mission was widely assumed to involve “obfuscation and deception,” the mission of the nation’s finest newspapers was ostensibly the opposite.
During the last few decades, as far as we know, the extent of extreme media cohabitation with the CIA has declined sharply. At the same time, as the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq attests, many prominent U.S. journalists and media outlets have continued to regurgitate, for public consumption, what’s fed to them by the CIA and other official “national security” sources.
The recent purchase of the Washington Post by Jeff Bezos has poured some high-finance concrete for a new structural bridge between the media industry and the surveillance/warfare state. The development puts the CIA in closer institutionalized proximity to the Post, arguably the most important political media outlet in the United States.
At this point, about 30,000 people have signed a petition (launched by RootsAction.org) with a minimal request: “The Washington Post’s coverage of the CIA should include full disclosure that the sole owner of the Post is also the main owner of Amazon -- and Amazon is now gaining huge profits directly from the CIA.” On behalf of the petition’s signers, I’m scheduled to deliver it to the Washington Post headquarters on January 15. The petition is an opening salvo in a long-term battle.
By its own account, Amazon -- which has yielded Jeff Bezos personal wealth of around $25 billion so far -- is eager to widen its services to the CIA beyond the initial $600 million deal. “We look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA,” a statement from Amazon said two months ago. As Bezos continues to gain even more wealth from Amazon, how likely is that goal to affect his newspaper’s coverage of the CIA?
Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org
I've been involved in starting enough activist campaigns and coalitions to know when one has more potential than any other I've seen. When hundreds of people and organizations are signing up on the website before you've announced it anywhere, and nine months before you plan to officially launch, and when a large percentage of the people signing on ask how they can donate funding, and when people from other countries volunteer to translate your declaration into other languages, and when committees form of volunteer women and men to work on a dozen different aspects of the planning -- and they actually get to work in a serious way, and when none of this is due to anything in the news or any statement from anyone in government or any contrast between one political party and another, then it's time to start thinking about what you're going to help build as a movement.
In this case I'm talking about a movement to end, not this war or that war, but the institution of war as an acceptable enterprise for the human species. The declaration of peace that people and groups are signing reads, in its entirety:
"I understand that wars and militarism make us less safe rather than protect us, that they kill, injure and traumatize adults, children and infants, severely damage the natural environment, erode civil liberties, and drain our economies, siphoning resources from life-affirming activities. I commit to engage in and support nonviolent efforts to end all war and preparations for war and to create a sustainable and just peace."
This can be signed at http://WorldBeyondWar.org -- and we fully expect a million people to sign it in short order. There's a great weariness in resisting militarism piecemeal, in reforming or refining war, in banning a weapon or exposing a tactic. All of that is a necessary part of the work. This will be a campaign of numerous partial victories, and we'll be directing our efforts toward various strategic weaknesses in the military-industrial complex. But there is enthusiasm right now for stopping not just missile strikes into Syria, not just deadly sanctions and threats to Iran, but stopping also -- as part of these actions -- the thinking that assumes war must always be with us, the casual discussions of how "the next war" will be fought.
So, we've set up an online center for addressing the concerns of the anyone who thinks we might need to keep war around or who thinks war will stay around regardless of what we do. We address a number of myths, including the myths that war is inevitable, and war is necessary, and war is beneficial. Then we provide a number of reasons for ending war, including these:
We've also provided an explanation of how nonviolent tools are more effective in resisting tyranny and oppression and resolving conflicts and achieving security than violence is, in other words how we can be more secure without war and without preparations for war.
This movement to abolish war, will be a movement to create a better world in which we are better able to address real crises, such as those in the earth's natural environment, rather than manufactured crises, such as the urgent need to drop missiles on Syria -- which vanishes the moment we block that proposal.
Our plan is to announce on the International Day of Peace, September 21, 2014, a broader, wider, more mainstream and more international movement for peace and nonviolence than we've seen in a while, and a coalition capable of better uniting those doing good work toward that end in various corners of the globe and of our societies.
But we've only just begun to work out our plans, and we'd like everyone's input. If you go to http://WorldBeyondWar.org and sign the declaration, it will ask you to indicate how you might like to be involved beyond that. You can check any of a number of ways or invent your own. You can get involved in shaping our thinking and our plans and activities. You can also enter a brief statement of your own. Here are a few of the many entered already:
"I support this proposal and agree with this great and important initiative to abolish militarism and war. I will continue to speak out for an end to the institution of militarism and war and for institutions built on international law and human rights and nonviolent conflict resolution." — Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate
"As a 29 year veteran of the US Army/Army Reserves, retiring as a Colonel and having served as a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and resigning in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war, I firmly believe war does not resolve political issues. We must work diligently to force the governments of our nations to use diplomacy, not weapons." —Ann Wright
"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it." — Noam Chomsky
"It is so inspiring to see a new group coming together not to focus on a particular war or weapons system, but on all war--everywhere. And it's great to have such beautifully crafted arguments about why war is not inevitable and how war contributes to so many other global ills. This coalition is worthy of Martin Luther King's call to end violence and instead put our energies and resources into 'life-affirming activities.' Bravo!" —Medea Benjamin
"We must work to end all war because: 1. In war there are no winners, only losers. 2. To thrive, humans need peace, which cannot be created by war. 3. We need all our ingenuity, creativity, technology and will to find a solution to runaway climate change. We cannot afford the military-industrial complex." — Sally Reynolds, Abingdon Peace Group
"The abolition of war is an idea whose time has come. We are at a transformative moment in history. Our Mother Earth is under siege from destructive global warming and industrialization. It is essential that we mobilize to save our planet. War is a cruel and untenable distraction, draining trillions of dollars and incalculable losses of intellectual firepower away from the essential work that needs to be done to create a livable future for humanity." — Alice Slater, Global Council of Abolition 2000
"War is a crime against humanity. When 90% of the casualties of war are civilians including children, its time to End ALL WARS! The world badly needs the resources to meet human and environmental needs. Wars are not making us more secure, but creating more enemies. There are more effective means of achieving security than war and killing other people's children. As former President Eisenhower said, 'I like to believe that the people of the world will want peace so much that governments will have to get out of the way and let them have it.' When the people of the world decide to end war, we can end it. At least 99% of the world's people do not benefit at all from all the wars our governments are waging. The time is NOW. Please join us." —David Hartsough
On January 25, 2012, 17 people were arrested for symbolically blocking the gates at Hancock National Air Guard Base which is a site where MQ 9 Reaper drones are piloted over Afghanistan, and the domestic center for training MQ9 Reaper pilots and technicians. They stood in front of the gates with banners and and signs calling for an end to drone warfare, and read an Indictment for Crimes Against Peace and attacks on civilians that are illegal under international war.
After more than two hours outside the gates, the protesters were arrested and arraigned on charges of Trespass and Disorderly Conduct, both violations. The protesters were also issued Orders of Protection for Col Earl Evans which require them to stay away from the base. Violating these OOPs, as they call them, carries potential misdemeanor or even felony charges.
On January 2nd of this year (2014) the Hancock 17 went to trial in DeWitt, NY. Fifteen defendants are going before the court Pro Se, i.e. they are representing themselves before the court. They have prepared a defense based on the fact that they were not at the base to break the law, but rather to uphold the law. The way the drones are used in Afghanistan violates Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law. There is little coverage of Afghan casualties in the mainstream news but according to a report by Press TV, there were 500 drone attacks in Afghanistan in the last year.
After 12 hours in the courtroom on January 2nd and 6th, the prosecution case is nearly complete. The defendants had an opportunity to cross examine Col Evans, a civil engineer responsible for material operations at the base, and the Security Chief at some length. There were a number of questions about the handling of events occurring outside the Military Installation (denoted by the fence) of the Base and in the Easement which includes a public thoroughfare.
It is expected that the defense case will begin on January 23 and continue on the 24th. The defendants' case is supported by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Mary Ellen O'Connell of Notre Dame who is an expert on Drones and International Law, and by witness from an Afghan youth whose brother-in-law was killed in a drone strike in Maidan Shahr Wardak, Afghanistan.
For more information, please go to http://upstatedroneaction.org/
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We at TSA News have written before about the particularly egregious violations perpetrated upon the disabled (or, more precisely, those who with the assistance of medical devices function quite well) by the TSA.
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Vowing to “Make Guantanamo History,” human rights advocates from around the country marked the beginning of the thirteenth year of torture and indefinite detention at the prison camp with a dramatic protest at the National Museum of American History. 150 activists occupied the atrium of the crowded museum for more than two hours, speaking out against torture and calling for Guantanamo to close.
The activists hung banners, stood in stress positions in hoods and jumpsuits, spoke to the tourists, and with their bodies and voices revised the museum’s “Price of Freedom” exhibit to include twelve years of torture and indefinite detention as the bitter cost of the United States’ misguided pursuit of “national security.”
In a booming chorus, members of Witness Against Torture and other groups read from a statement that closed with the lines: “to honor freedom and justice and the struggles of Americans for these things, we must end torture, close the prison and make Guantanamo history.”
Chantal deAlcuaz, a Witness Against Torture activist from Anchorage, Alaska spent the two hours in an orange jumpsuit and black hood. She reflected that: “We came here today because we want to see Guantanamo relegated to a museum — to be shuttered and condemned, but also understood as an example of where fear, hatred and violence can take us.”
The museum protest followed a robust and spirited rally at the White House that featured speeches from grassroots activists, Guantanamo attorneys and representatives of national human rights organizations.
“It was so great to see the spirit of hope at the White House, in the streets of DC and at the museum,” said Chris Knestrick, a divinity student form Chicago. “We definitely moved closer to our goal of closing Guantanamo today. And the work will continue!!”
Since Monday, January 6, Witness Against Torture activists from throughout the country have gathered in Washington, D.C. to engage in street theater, demonstrations, fasting and direct action to demand that Guantanamo be closed immediately. There were also anti-Guantanamo protests and vigils throughout the country, including in Los Angeles, CA, Boston MA, Chicago IL, Santa Monica, CA Erie, PA, and Cleveland, OH.
Witness Against Torture is a grassroots movement that came into being in December 2005 when 24 activists walked to Guantanamo to visit the prisoners and condemn torture policies. Since then, it has engaged in public education, community outreach, and non-violent direct action. January 2014 is the eighth year the group has gathered annually in Washington, DC to call for justice and accountability. To learn more, visit www.witnesstorture.org
By John Grant
US military history from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan is too often a combination of destructive stumbling around followed by an effort to sustain and project forward the notion of US power and exceptionalism. To forge another narrative is very difficult.
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Fundamentalism is a widespread problem. It often manifests in a religious context - making it highly visible - but there are plenty of secular fundamentalists too. If we are to understand fundamentalism we should not view it as a religious problem: It is a psychological one.
What is a fundamentalist? A fundamentalist is usually considered to be a person who adheres strictly to a doctrine, viewpoint or set of principles that are considered original and ‘pure’; this doctrine might be theological in nature. For the fundamentalist, many of their beliefs and the behaviours that arise from them will, at least in theory, be derivative of their fundamental doctrine. For the fundamentalist, there is no room to consider views that are at variance with their accepted doctrine and contrary views will usually either be dismissed out-of-hand or resisted with considerable vigour and, often, violence.
- Criticism in the memoirs of former secretary of defence Robert M. Gates of President Barack Obama’s lack of commitment to the Afghan War strategy of his administration has generated a Washington debate about whether Obama was sufficiently supportive of the war.
But the Gates account omits two crucial historical facts necessary to understanding the issue. The first is that Obama agreed to the escalation only under strong pressure from his top national security officials and with very explicit reservations. The second is that Gen. David Petraeus reneged on his previous commitment to support Obama’s 2009 decision that troop withdrawal would begin by mid-2011.
Gates makes only the most glancing reference in the newly published “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War” to the issue of the beginning of troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The former defence secretary refers to “suspicion and distrust of senior military officers” by both Obama and vice president Joe Biden. And he describes a Mar. 3, 2011 National Security Council meeting in the White House situation room which Obama opened by criticising the military for “popping off in the press” and vowing to push back against any military delay in beginning the withdrawal.
Gates quotes Obama as saying, “ If I believe I am being gamed . . .” and says he left the sentence “hanging there with the clear implication the consequences would be dire.”
Gates writes that he was “pretty upset,” because he thought “implicitly accusing Petraeus” of “gaming” him at a big meeting in the Situation Room was “inappropriate, not to mention highly disrespectful of Petraeus.”
“As I sat there,” Gates recalls, “I thought: the president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand [Afghanistan President Hamid] Karzai, doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out.”
But Obama’s distrust of Petraeus was clearly related to the sequence of events related to Obama’s policy decision on Afghanistan and Petraeus’s signaling his desire to undermine it – all of which Gates omits from his account.
Obama was extremely wary of the military’s request for 40,000 more troops for Afghanistan on basic geopolitical grounds from the start, as documented by notes of National Security Council meetings used for Bob Woodward’s accounts of those meetings in “Obama’s Wars” and in an earlier account by Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter.
Both Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden argued in the meetings in September and October 2009 that the primary U.S. concern should be Pakistan, not Afghanistan, whereas Petraeus and Adm. Mike Mullen were insistent that Afghanistan be the priority, according to Woodward’s account.
The military leaders argued that the Taliban would welcome Al-Qaeda back to Afghanistan unless it was defeated. But Biden, acting with Obama’s encouragement, repeatedly attacked the argument and got CIA official Peter Lavoy to admit that there was no evidence to support it. Obama challenged another key argument by the military, asking why a long-term U.S. military presence in Afghanistan would not harm Pakistan’s stability.
It was clear to the officials supporting ISAF Commander Stanley A. McChrystal’s request for 40,000 more troops that the White House was not going to agree unless something was done to tip the scales in the other direction.
In a White House meeting on Oct. 5, Petraeus argued again that the Taliban movement would invite Al-Qaeda back if it took over, and Mullen, Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton all spoke up in support of that general theme, according to Woodward.
Six days later, McClatchy newspapers reported the White House had been “minimizing warnings from the intelligence community, the military and the State Department about the risks of adopting a limited strategy focused on al Qaida”. The story cited interviews with 15 “mid-level or senior military, intelligence and diplomatic officials” who said they agreed with what were described as “new intelligence assessments” that if the Taliban were to return to power, it would allow Al-Qaeda back into the country.
In fact the intelligence community had not prepared any national intelligence estimate on that issue. Obama’s principal national security officials were putting their own twist on intelligence reporting.
The leaking to the news media of a politically damaging version of internal debate between the White House and the coalition pushing for a major escalation was nothing less than shot across the bow from Obama’s principal national security officials, including Petraeus, Mullen, Gates and Clinton. They were signaling to the president that he would incur a significant political cost if he rejected the McChrystal request.
In November 2009, Obama compromised with his national security team. He agreed to 30,000 troops instead of the 40,000 that McChrystal had requested, but not for a national counter-insurgency campaign to defeat the Taliban as Petraeus had wanted. The military effort would be only to “degrade” the Taliban.
And crucially, an evaluation in July 2011 would determine not whether a withdrawal and transfer of responsibility could begin but what it’s “slope” would be, according to the meeting notes cited by Woodward. Obama even insisted that the military not occupy any area that could not be turned over to the Afghan government.
On Nov. 29, Obama met with Gates, Mullen, and Petraeus to get their formal agreement to the compromise plan. Mullen pledged that he would “fully support” the decision. Petraeus said he would do “everything possible” to get the troops on the ground “to enable…the transfer [to Afghans] to begin in July 2011.”
But danger signs appeared almost immediately that the pro-escalation coalition would seek to alter the policy in their favour. The day after Obama publicly announced in a speech at West Point Dec. 1, 2009 that U.S. troops would begin to withdraw in July 2011, Gates and Clinton suggested in Senate Armed Services Committee testimony that the president was not locked into beginning a withdrawal in mid-2011.
Obama responded by insisting that his press secretary tell CBS News that the July 2011 withdrawal was “etched in stone”. After hearing about that Obama comment, Petraeus told Sen. Lindsey Graham that was “a problem” and said, “You need to fix that,” according to Woodward. Petraeus added that he would let Gates and Clinton “deal with this one”.
After taking command of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan in mid-2010, Petraeus was asked on Meet the Press on Aug. 15 whether he might tell Obama that the drawdown should be delayed beyond mid-2011. “Certainly, yes,” Petraeus responded, openly threatening to renege on his agreement with Obama.
In September 2010, John Nagl, a retired colonel who had been on Petraeus’s staff and now headed the Centre for New American Security, told IPS that Obama would be forced by Republican pressure to “put more time on the clock”. And in December, Petraeus revealed to Obama’s main White House adviser on the war, Gen. Douglas Lute, “All we have to do is begin to show progress, and that’ll be sufficient to add time to the clock and we’ll get what we need,” according to Woodward.
Whatever Petraeus did in the early weeks of 2011 to raise the ire of Obama in regard to the withdrawal issue, it was against the backdrop of repeated indications that Petraeus was hoping to use both his alliances with Gates and Clinton and pressures from the Republicans in Congress to push back the previously agreed date for beginning withdrawal and handoff of responsibility to the Afghan government.
Gates knew, therefore, that Obama was reacting to a history of having already been “gamed” not only by Petraeus himself but also by his bureaucratic allies maneuvering to remove the restrictions on the Afghan War that Obama had imposed. The self-serving Gates account conceals the dishonest tactics employed to get Obama’s agreement to the Afghan War escalation.
Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan. His new book “Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare”, will be published in February 2014.
By Alfredo Lopez
On this website, we've speculated that one outcome of the flood of NSA-centered revelations has been to desensitize U.S. citizens and diminish outrage at what is actually revealed. We are becoming conditioned to the horror story that is the National Security Administration.
Baraa Shiban, an investigator in Yemen for human rights charity Reprieve, received an anonymous death threat yesterday (Thursday) relating to his investigation of a US drone strike which killed 12 wedding guests and injured 14 others in al-Baydah province, on December 12, 2013.
The anonymous caller demanded that Mr. Shiban abandon his investigation of the drone strike and then threatened his life.
The investigation to which the caller referred exposed that the drone strike had hit a wedding procession, rather than Al-Qaeda militants as the US and Yemeni governments had initially claimed. The findings of Reprieve’s investigation, which were broadcast on the US network NBC on Tuesday, have sparked the US administration to launch an internal investigation.
Reprieve has written to governmental officials calling on them to investigate the threat and take any steps required by Yemeni law. Reprieve Legal Director Kat Craig said: “Our primary concern is, of course, for the safety of our colleague. We have asked President Hadi to take a stand to protect Baraa and other human rights advocates who are so vital to Yemen’s democratic transition. But the nature of the threat, and the proximity of it to the high profile coverage of this recent strike procured by Baraa, only makes us more determined to continue our work to expose the unlawfulness of drones in Yemen, how they are killing civilians and terrorising entire communities. We hope that the Yemeni and international community will continue to assist our colleague in his brave work.”
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The arrest and subsequent execution of a prominent Saudi terrorist in Lebanon has awoken the world to the murderous policies of the Saudi regime. Majed Al Majed, the head of Abdulla Azzam battalions, which is affiliated to Al Qa’ida, was arrested by Lebanese authorities on 26th December. It is widely believed that he worked for the Saudi intelligence networks. His group had claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut last month that claimed the lives of at least 23 people. But before the Americans or the Iranians could question him, he was swiftly liquidated after Saudi Arabia paid $US billions to the Lebanese government. This is one of the most outrageous episodes of espionage, terrorism and corruption attributed to the Saudi regime. Al Majed would have become the “smoking gun” that would have implicated the Saudis in the terrorist campaign which is being waged in the name of Al Qa’ida. It is clear that the world is now pay ing the price of its silence on the Saudi invasion and occupation of Bahrain in mid-March 2011.
In a major setback to the Alkhalifa dictators, South Korea decided to stop the shipment of tear gas canisters to Bahrain. South Korea’s Defence Acquisition Program Administration, which oversees the country’s military trade, told two companies that sought approval to export to Bahrain in October and November to suspend shipments. Lee Jung-geun, a spokesman for the defence agency, said the decision had been made because of the “unstable politics in the country , people’s death due to tear gas and complaints from human rights groups”. Bahrain’s interior ministry in June solicited bids for 1.6m tear gas projectiles, 90,000 tear gas grenades and 145,000 stun grenades, according to a tender document leaked to Bahrain Watch, an advocacy group. The order would have been of a similar magnitude to the 2m tear gas projectiles that activists estimate were fired by the security forces since pro-democracy protests swept the strategic island in Februa ry 2011. “This is also a clear message to any other countries considering supplying tear gas to Bahrain that profiting from repression is unacceptable,” Bahrain Watch said in a statement.
Despite the international rebuke of the Alkhalifa regime, it continued human rights abuses at an alarming rate. In the first week of the New Year 40 Bahrainis were arbitrarily detained without arrest warrants, according to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights. On Monday 6th January Mohammad Jawad Me’raj and his brother, Ali, were arrested during a raid on their home. The same day Abbas Ali, from Maqaba Town, was arrested and taken to the torture dungeons. He had just been released last month. The regime decided to detain the well-known athlete, Ahmad Hamza, for sixty days, at the Dry Dock torture centre, pending investigation. He is a member of Bahrain’s National Volleyball team. On 2nd of January, Mohammad Kadhem Al Halwachi, was detained as he landed at the airport, and taken to an unknown location. Sayed Ali Sayed Hadi was also detained at the airport.
Among the detainees in recent days are: Abdul Nabi Hassan Mahdi who was detained at a checkpoint near his town, Sadad. From Hamad town Hussain Al Mesbah and his brother, Amin were arrested yesterday. From Jannusan, Fadhel Ali Abdul Aziz was taken by members of Death Squads to the torture chambers. From Duraz Town, 12 youths were arrested on Monday including; Aamer Baddao, Ahmed Mohammad Habib, Jalal Al Anfooz, Ali Al Matrook, Mohsin Al Marzooq and Hassan Alao. Images of their homes show extensive damage inflicted by Alkhalifa agents during the raids. They did not only arrest the youths but wreaked havoc on their homes. Under international pressure The Juvenile Prosecution ordered on 26 December that 13-year-old cousins Sayed Tameem Majed Ahmad Majed and Sayed Hashim Alwai Ahmad Majed should be released on bail. Both are still facing charges of “illegal gathering” and “throwing Molotov cocktails at a police patrol”. But he replaced t hem with two other children; Jihad, 10 and Abdulla, 13 who had to remain at the torture centre until 6th January.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
8th January 2014
By Dave Lindorff
The US Department of “Justice” has a distinctly nuanced concept of that term, taking a tough, no-holds-barred stance when it comes to individuals -- especially little people without much power or influence -- and trying at all costs to avoid prosecution when it comes to the powerful, and to big corporations -- especially big financial corporations. That schizoid approach to prosecution is personified in the recent actions--and inaction--of the DOJ’s man in Manhattan, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara.
By Jeff Bachman
I was shocked when I saw the recent Win/Gallup International poll. Can you believe that 24 percent of those polled in 65 countries named the United States as the greatest threat to peace in the world today? That’s right. This poll alleges that, with 193 countries to choose from, nearly one-fourth of all respondents chose the U.S. The runner-up? Pakistan at 8 percent.
I would expect this from Russia and China, where 54 percent and 49 percent of respondents view the United States as the greatest threat to peace, but I just cannot accept that Bosnia (49 percent), Argentina (46 percent), Greece (45 percent), Turkey (45 percent), Mexico (37 percent), Brazil (26 percent), and Peru (24 percent) would do the same.
Tomas Magnusson, Former President IPB
Fredrik S. Heffermehl, Former Vice President IPB
Nominate them for the Nobel, the "Lay down your arms" prize, by Feb. 1
Few today have the specific ambitions of the “champions of peace” to whom Nobel dedicated a prize in his will of 1895. Even in the peace movement it is rare to advocate the total abolition of military force and forces. The hope of the two who sign this email is to identify the still remaining advocates of Nobel´s peace vision and to have them nominated for the 2014 Nobel - by Feb. 1.
The Norwegian awarders of the prize have a legally binding obligation to reward the specific people Nobel had in mind, not make a prize for “peace” entirely of their own design. Nobel described “the champions of peace” as the persons working for a global “abolition or reduction of standing armies (military forces),” and “creating the (disarmed) brotherhood of (all) nations” that the “peace congresses” of the period sought to realize.
See attached Memo on the peace movement and the Nobel prize.
Please nominate persons who in a major way pursue the Nobel aim of global disarmament. Nominations must be sent by Feb. 1, by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by snailmail posted to: The Nobel Committee, Henrik Ibsens gt. 51, N-0255 Oslo, Norway. People all over the world may nominate, if they are parliamentarians, certain professors (law, history, political science, theology, etc.), former laureates etc. - see nobel.no. More on the struggle to “reclaim the Nobel” at nobelwill.org.
We have plans in progress to establish a file of qualified candidates and help those designated in the will to actually win. Please send us information on champions of peace and information on possible nominations by email to: email@example.com. For contact/questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Oslo/Gothenburg, Jan. 9, 2014
Fredrik S. Heffermehl, Tomas Magnusson
THE PEACE MOVEMENT AND THE NOBEL PRIZE
By his will in 1895 Nobel addressed a fundamental choice between two roads forward for humanity. His prize took a stand, he wished all nations to end their reliance on force and arms and unite in co-operation on global law, global institutions and abolition of their military forces. Only by doing this humanity would enjoy common prosperity and security. With his prize Nobel backed the broad and strong political call for universal disarmament that died when the cannons started to thunder in 1914.
In 2014 it is time for the whole peace movement to take a fresh look at the bold, innovative and pointed peace plan Nobel in his will called "creating a brotherhood of nations" and for which he established his prize for "the champions of peace." The people Nobel intended to support would have global disarmament as aim and their peace work would make a substantial contribution toward that aim.
In 2014 (hundred years after the passing of Bertha von Suttner) peace activists should take a fresh look at Nobel´s specific peace plan and the types of peace people Nobel described in his will. Their work is entitled by law to one million Euros every year. Can we accept that this money for decades has been spread in all possible directions, more and more often to winners directly opposed to the peace ideas Nobel wished to support? To embrace the Nobel vision of a world without military force and forces would mean to have a goal in common and confer synergy, credibility and strength to all parts of a very diverse movement.
We all have people and causes we would like to receive Nobel´s prestige and money. But if we permit ourselves to read whatever we like into Nobel´s will, what shall then stop the Norwegian committee from continuing to do the same? The Norwegian politicians in Parliament and on the Nobel committee have through six years proved staunchly unwilling to pay even the least attention to Nobel and his legally binding description of a prize for peace through global disarmament.
Shall we forever tolerate that the friends of the forces manage Nobel´s prize for the friends of peace?
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Another in our continuing series, Psychopath of the Week. It's always a tough call, because there are so many of them. This week, however, there's no contest.
Because we have the smarmiest of the smarmy, the personification of a sophist, which is to say someone who twists language and meaning and decency and his own soul beyond limits to justify the unjustifiable:
By Norman Solomon
To: Martin Baron, Executive Editor, and Kevin Merida, Managing Editor, The Washington Post
Dear Mr. Baron and Mr. Merida:
On behalf of more than 25,000 signers of a petition to The Washington Post, I’m writing this letter to request a brief meeting to present the petition at a time that would be convenient for you on Jan. 14 or 15.
Here is the text of the petition, launched by RootsAction.org:
from Scarry Thoughts
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International Scholars, Peace Advocates and Artists Condemn Agreement to Build New U.S. Marine Base in Okinawa
Leading scholars, peace advocatesand artists from the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia today released the attached statement opposing the construction of the new U.S. Marine base at Henoko, Okinawa, planned by the US and Japanese governments as a replacement facility of Futenma airbase located in the middle of Ginowan City. Their statement urges “support for the people of Okinawa in their struggle for peace, dignity, human rights, and protection of the environment.”
Initial signers of the statement include linguist Noam Chomsky, academy award winning film maker Oliver Stone,Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire, historian John Dower, former U.S. military officer and diplomat Ann Wright, and United Nations Special Rapporteur for Palestine Richard Falk. (See complete list of initial signers on statement. Additional names are being added.)
Speaking for the signers, Joseph Gerson of the American Friends Service Committee, who has worked with Okinawan base opponents and initiated the 1996 “Statement of Outrage and Remorse” following the kidnapping and rape of an Okinawan schoolgirl by U.S. servicemen, said the statement is intended to “ rally international support for Okinawans in their inspiring and essential nonviolent campaign to end seventy years of military colonization, to defend their dignity and human rights, and to ensure peace and protect their environment.”
Professor Peter Kuznick of American University, who co-authored TheUntold History of the United States with Oliver Stone, decried Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s betrayal of Okinawan voters. “During the campaign, Nakaima promised to work for the relocation of Futenma base outside Okinawa. According to the polls, 72.4 percent of Okinawans see the governor’s decision as a ‘breach of his election pledge,’” Kuznick said, “The deal was made at the behest of the United States and of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. It tramples the rights of the Okinawan people to advance Obama’s Asian ‘pivot.’”
The statement reviews theoppression andexploitation of Okinawa-- first by Japanese rulers with invasion and annexation,and then by the United States to support its hegemonic interests in the Pacific. It points to the unjust concentration of 73.8% of exclusively U.S. military bases in Japan on less than 1% of the country’s land mass. Signers also point to the painful irony that for seven decades Okinawans “have suffered what the signers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence denounced as ‘abuses and usurpations,’ including the presence of foreign ‘standing armies without consent of our legislature.’”
Professor Gavan McCormack of the Australian National University, and co-author with Satoko Norimatsu of Resistant Islands: Okinawa Confronts Japan and the United States, described the intrusions of militarism that threaten Okinawans’ lives and health, " from military accidents, crimes including sexual violence for which U.S. forces are not held fully accountable, to intolerable military aircraft noise and chemical pollution.” He said that “Okinawans’ courageous and unrelenting struggle to finally end the military occupation and to enjoy real security deserves the support of people around the world.”
We oppose construction of a new US military base within Okinawa, and support the people of Okinawa in their struggle for peace, dignity, human rights and protection of the environment
We the undersigned oppose the deal made at the end of 2013 between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Governor of Okinawa Hirokazu Nakaima to deepen and extend the military colonization of Okinawa at the expense of the people and the environment. Using the lure of economic development, Mr. Abe has extracted approval from Governor Nakaima to reclaim the water off Henoko, on the northeastern shore of Okinawa, to build a massive new U.S. Marine air base with a military port.
Plans to build the base at Henoko have been on the drawing board since the 1960s. They were revitalized in 1996, when the sentiments against US military bases peaked following the rape of a twelve year-old Okinawan child by three U.S. servicemen. In order to pacify such sentiments, the US and Japanese governments planned to close Futenma Marine Air Base in the middle of Ginowan City and move its functions to a new base to be constructed at Henoko, a site of extraordinary bio-diversity and home to the endangered marine mammal dugong.
Governor Nakaima’s reclamation approval does not reflect the popular will of the people of Okinawa. Immediately before the gubernatorial election of 2010, Mr. Nakaima, who had previously accepted the new base construction plan, changed his position and called for relocation of the Futenma base outside the prefecture. He won the election by defeating a candidate who had consistently opposed the new base. Polls in recent years have shown that 70 to 90 percent of the people of Okinawa opposed the Henoko base plan. The poll conducted immediately after Nakaima’s recent reclamation approval showed that 72.4 percent of the people of Okinawa saw the governor’s decision as a “breach of his election pledge.” The reclamation approval was a betrayal of the people of Okinawa.
73.8 percent of the US military bases (those for exclusive US use) in Japan are concentrated in Okinawa, which is only .6 percent of the total land mass of Japan. 18.3 percent of the Okinawa Island is occupied by the US military. Futenma Air Base originally was built during the 1945 Battle of Okinawa by US forces in order to prepare for battles on the mainland of Japan. They simply usurped the land from local residents. The base should have been returned to its owners after the war, but the US military has retained it even though now almost seven decades have passed. Therefore, any conditional return of the base is fundamentally unjustifiable.
The new agreement would also perpetuate the long suffering of the people of Okinawa. Invaded in the beginning of the 17th century by Japan and annexed forcefully into the Japanese nation at the end of 19th century, Okinawa was in 1944 transformed into a fortress to resist advancing US forces and thus to buy time to protect the Emperor System. The Battle of Okinawa killed more than 100,000 local residents, about a quarter of the island’s population. After the war, more bases were built under the US military occupation. Okinawa “reverted” to Japan in 1972, but the Okinawans’ hope for the removal of the military bases was shattered. Today, people of Okinawa continue to suffer from crimes and accidents, high decibel aircraft noise and environmental pollution caused by the bases. Throughout these decades, they have suffered what the U.S. Declaration of Independence denounces as “abuses and usurpations,” including the presence of foreign “standing armies without the consent of our legislatures.”
Not unlike the 20th century U.S. Civil Rights struggle, Okinawans have non-violently pressed for the end to their military colonization. They tried to stop live-fire military drills that threatened their lives by entering the exercise zone in protest; they formed human chains around military bases to express their opposition; and about a hundred thousand people, one tenth of the population have turned out periodically for massive demonstrations. Octogenarians initiated the campaign to prevent the construction of the Henoko base with a sit-in that has been continuing for years. The prefectural assembly passed resolutions to oppose the Henoko base plan. In January 2013, leaders of all the 41 municipalities of Okinawa signed the petition to the government to remove the newly deployed MV-22 Osprey from Futenma base and to give up the plan to build a replacement base in Okinawa.
We support the people of Okinawa in their non-violent struggle for peace, dignity, human rights and protection of the environment. The Henoko marine base project must be canceled and Futenma returned forthwith to the people of Okinawa.
Norman Birnbaum, Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University
Herbert Bix, Emeritus Professor of History and Sociology, State University of New York at Binghamton
Reiner Braun, Co-presidentInternational Peace Bureau and Executive Director of International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms
Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
John W. Dower, Professor Emeritus of History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Alexis Dudden, Professor of History, University of Connecticut
Daniel Ellsberg, Senior Fellow at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, former Defense and State Department official
John Feffer, Co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus (www.fpif.org) at the Institute for Policy Studies
Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
Joseph Gerson(PhD), Director, Peace & Economic Security Program, American Friends Service Committee
Richard Falk, Milbank Professor of International law Emeritus, Princeton University
Norma Field, Professor Emerita, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago
Kate Hudson(PhD), General Secretary, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Catherine Lutz, Professor of Anthropology and International Studies, Brown University
Naomi Klein, Author and journalist
Joy Kogawa, Author of Obasan
Peter Kuznick, Professor of History, American University
Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace laureate
Kevin Martin, Executive Director, Peace Action
Gavan McCormack, Professor Emeritus, Australian National University
Kyo Maclear, Writer and Children’s author
Michael Moore, Filmmaker
Steve Rabson, Professor Emeritus, Brown University/ Veteran, United States Army, Henoko, Okinawa, 1967-68
Mark Selden, a Senior Research Associate in the East Asia Program at Cornell University
Oliver Stone, Filmmaker
David Vine, Associate Professor of Anthropology, American University
The Very Rev. the Hon. Lois Wilson, Former President, World Council of Churches
Lawrence Wittner, Professor Emeritus of History, State University of New York/Albany
Ann Wright, Retired US Army Colonel and former US diplomat
(In the alphabetical order of family names, as of January 7, 2014)
Days Before Casselton Oil Train Explosion, Obama Signed Bill Hastening Fracking Permits on ND Public Lands
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
On December 20, both chambers of the U.S. Congress passed a little-noticed bill to expedite permitting for hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") on public lands in the Bakken Shale basin, located predominantly in North Dakota. And on December 26, President Obama signed the bill into law.
When it comes to war, the American public is remarkably fickle.
The responses of Americans to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars provide telling examples. In 2003, according to opinion polls, 72 percent of Americans thought going to war in Iraq was the right decision. By early 2013, support for that decision had declined to 41 percent. Similarly, in October 2001, when U.S. military action began in Afghanistan, it was backed by 90 percent of the American public. By December 2013, public approval of the Afghanistan war had dropped to only 17 percent.
In fact, this collapse of public support for once-popular wars is a long-term phenomenon. Although World War I preceded public opinion polling, observers reported considerable enthusiasm for U.S. entry into that conflict in April 1917. But, after the war, the enthusiasm melted away. In 1937, when pollsters asked Americans whether the United States should participate in another war like the World War, 95 percent of the respondents said “No.”
And so it went. When President Truman dispatched U.S. troops to Korea in June 1950, 78 percent of Americans polled expressed their approval. By February 1952, according to polls, 50 percent of Americans believed that U.S. entry into the Korean War had been a mistake. The same phenomenon occurred in connection with the Vietnam War. In August 1965, when Americans were asked if the U.S. government had made “a mistake in sending troops to fight in Vietnam,” 61 percent of them said “No.” But by August 1968, support for the war had fallen to 35 percent, and by May 1971 it had dropped to 28 percent.
Of all America’s wars over the past century, only World War II has retained mass public approval. And this was a very unusual war – one involving a devastating military attack upon American soil, fiendish foes determined to conquer and enslave the world, and a clear-cut, total victory.
In almost all cases, though, Americans turned against wars they once supported. How should one explain this pattern of disillusionment?
The Bush regime filled the off-shore prison at Guantanamo Bay by rendering men seized from around the globe into indefinite captivity, employing and legally justifying a program of torture they called "enhanced interrogation." Even Bush's team slowly began to release hundreds of prisoners for whom no case could be fabricated to justify prison. When Barack Obama was elected, he quickly promised to close it within a year... five years ago. It's still open, with new infrastructure added, and more personnel than ever. Most people in the U.S. have no idea there are still 82 prisoners there who were cleared for release years ago; 45 who the President says will never be charged or released; and "military commissions" trials are designed to cover the torture inflicted on the prisoners, depriving of them rights the U.S. has claimed to cherish.
This show opens with an awesome poem about drones by Misty Rowan.
Edward S. Herman says that Desmond Tutu is wrong to support the International Criminal Court, given its bias for prosecuting only Africans and only those Africans not working with the United States. Herman is a Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, where he gave courses in micro- and macro-economics and financial regulation for 30 years. He also taught courses on The Political Economy of the Mass Media and on The Analysis of Media Bias at the Annenberg School of Communication at Penn for a decade. He has a regular "Fog Watch" column in the monthly Z Magazine and has published numerous articles on economics, finance, foreign policy, and media analysis in a wide array of professional and popular journals. Among his published books are The Political Economy of Human Rights (2 vols, with Noam Chomsky, South End Press, 1979); Corporate Control, Corporate Power (Cambridge University Press, 1981); Demonstration Elections: U.S.-Staged Elections in the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and El Salvador (with Frank Brodhead, South End Press, 1984); Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (with Noam Chomsky, Pantheon, 1988, revised editions 2002, 2008); The "Terrorism" Industry (with Gerry O'Sullivan, Pantheon, 1990); and most recently, The Politics of Genocide (with David Peterson, Monthly Review Press, 2010); and an edited volume, The Srebrenica Massacre: Evidence, Context, Politics (Alphabet Soup, 2011).
Total run time: 29:00
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Producer: David Swanson.
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NSA Insiders Reveal What Went Wrong
January 7, 2014
Ediitor Note: In a memo to President Obama, former National Security Agency insiders explain how NSA leaders botched intelligence collection and analysis before 9/11, covered up the mistakes, and violated the constitutional rights of the American people, all while wasting billions of dollars and misleading the public.
January 7, 2014
MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Former NSA Senior Executives/Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Input for Your Decisions on NSA