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Another day, another abusive TSA experience. And why not? The government thinks it owns our thoughts, as the Big Brotheresque surveillance proves; why shouldn't it also own our bodies? These issues are all related. Yet the millions of willfully clueless out there refuse to acknoweldge it.
Mass Surveillance in America
by Stephen Lendman
It shouldn't surprise. It's longstanding policy. Post-9/11, it escalated. Previous articles said Big Brother is real. It's no longer fiction.
Mass surveillance is official US policy. It's not for national security. It's not about discovering terror or other threats. None whatever exist. Claiming otherwise doesn't wash. Big Lies substitute for vital truths.
America's Student Loan Racket: Stiffer Debt Bondage Coming
by Stephen Lendman
For growing numbers of American youths, higher education is increasingly out of reach. High tuition and fees make it unaffordable. So does a disturbing government/corporate partnership.
Millions of students need financial aid. They're exploited for profit. Providers are enriched. Higher education involves debt entrapment.
Many loyal Republicans opposed impeaching George W. Bush. So did most liberal and progressive activist groups, labor unions, peace organizations, churches, media outlets, journalists, pundits, organizers, and bloggers, not to mention most Democratic members of Congress, most Democrats dreaming of someday being in Congress, and -- toward the end of the Bush presidency -- most supporters of candidate Barack Obama or candidate Hillary Clinton.
Remarkably in the face of this opposition, a large percentage and often a majority of Americans told pollsters that Bush should be impeached. It's not clear, however, that everyone understood why impeachment was needed. Some might have supported a successful impeachment of Bush and then turned around and tolerated identical crimes and abuses by a Democrat, assuming a Democrat managed to engage in them. But this is the point: whoever followed Bush's impeachment would have been far less likely to repeat and expand on his tyrannical policies. And the reason many of us wanted Bush impeached -- as we said at the time -- was to prevent that repetition and expansion, which we said was virtually inevitable if impeachment was not pursued.
Can You Hear Me Now?
"You just hate Republicans" was the most common argument against impeachment, but there were others. "It's more important to elect someone different." "Why do you want President Cheney?" "Why do you want President Pelosi?" "Why distract from good work?" "Why put the country through trauma?" "Why not focus on ending war?" "Why not do investigations?" "Why divide the Democrats?" "Why start a process that can't succeed?" "Why destroy the Democratic Party the way impeaching Clinton destroyed the Republican Party?" We answered these questions as patiently as possible at great length and enormous repetition for years and years.
People pursued alternatives to impeachment, from spreading the word about how bad the crimes and abuses were, to pushing legislation to redundantly re-criminalize Bush's criminal behavior, to promoting supposedly lesser-evil candidates, to promoting truly good candidates, to constructing ways to drop out of society and wash one's hands of it. The trouble was that when you let a president spy without warrant, imprison without charge, torture, kill, lie, make war, operate in secret, rewrite laws, and persecute whistleblowers, you can predict -- as we predicted for years -- that the next president will adopt and build on the same policies. Nothing short of punishing the offender will deter the successor.
In fact, the new president, working with Congress and all of his other facilitators, has turned abuses into policies. The scandal and secretiveness have been replaced with executive orders and legislation. Crimes are now policy choices. Checking off lists of murder victims is official open policy. Secret laws are normal. Secretly rewritten laws are established practice. Spying in violation of the Fourth Amendment is openly defended and "legalized," with sporadic bursts of public outrage and establishment excusing, following new detailed revelations. Whistleblowing is being transformed into treason.
This moment offers certain opportunities. It is well-placed in between the election seasons that so debilitate the nation. Also, bravery and integrity seem to be spreading like a contagion. Intimidation is backfiring. Resistance is growing, and so is whistleblowing. Bradley Manning and Thomas Drake and Matthew Hoh and Coleen Rowley and John Kiriakou and Jesselyn Radack and many others are inspiring new whistleblowers like Edward Snowden (support him here!), and like the member of the Joint Special Operations Command who spoke out for the first time at our forum on the opening of the film Dirty Wars in D.C. on Saturday.
However, what failure to impeach Bush has done to legitimize his crimes is nothing compared to what it has done to delegitimize impeachment. If a tyrannical president who liberals hated and who talked funny and who didn't even pretend to be killing for some higher benevolent purpose can't be impeached, then who can? Surely not an intelligent, articulate African American who pretends to agree with us and gives speeches denouncing his own policies?
But this is the same problem as before. Making speeches against Bush's abuses was not enough. Clapping for speeches against Obama's abuses -- even speeches by Obama -- is not enough. There is a reason why people abuse power. Power corrupts them. And absolute power corrupts them absolutely. Telling a handful of Congress members who are forbidden to speak about it, and most of whom don't really give a damn, what sort of outrages you are up to is not a system of checks and balances or the rule of law.
Refusal to impeach pulls the foundation out from under representative government. Congress won't impeach for violation of subpoenas, so it avoids issuing subpoenas, and it therefore can't compel production of witnesses or documents, so it doesn't take a position on an important matter, so the unofficial U.S. state media takes no position either, and people follow the media.
Would impeaching Obama invite rightwing delusional charges? Would it send confusing signals rather than clear ones, given Bush's free pass? Not if Obama and Bush were impeached together. They've both committed many of the same high crimes. Impeachment can take place after leaving office. The time has come to restore seriousness to the serious tool the Constitution provides for checking presidential power. The time has come to impeach Bush and Obama.
By Kathy Gilberd
This Op-Ed was written for the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild and is reprinted with permission.
The military is once again in crisis over sexual assaults. In recent weeks, it has become more apparent than ever that the military’s sexual assault policy is a failure, and that sexual assault in the services has become epidemic.
Obama, Clapper and most of Congress are full of s**t: Where’s the Bullshit Repellent When We Need It?
By Dave Lindorff
Syria's Qusair Victory Matters
by Stephen Lendman
Qusair's strategically important. Western-backed death squads controlled it for over a year. On June 5, Syrian forces triumphed. Insurgent fighters were routed. Many were killed. Others were captured. Remaining elements fled.
On June 8, Buwayda village was secured. It was the final area-held insurgent position. Syria's in full control. Qusair borders Lebanon. It's in central Homs province. It's part of an important insurgent supply route.
Israeli Involvement in NSA Spying
by Stephen Lendman
It doesn't surprise. On June 8, Haaretz headlined "What was the Israeli involvement in collecting US communications intel for NSA?" More on that below.
Freedom in America: Rest in Peace
by Stephen Lendman
Political philosopher Montesquieu (1989 - 1755) once said:
"There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of law and in the name of justice."
Lots of positive honks and waves. One angry guy in an SUV. Not bad.
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By Dan DeWalt
This week, the government began their assault against private Bradley Manning. Even though he has already plead guilty to misusing classified documents and faces twenty years in prison, prosecutors want him branded as having aided the enemy, with a life sentence to go along.
Unconstitutional US Data-Mining
by Stephen Lendman
On June 5, London's Guardian reported part of it. "NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily," it headlined.
New York Times Editors Defend the Indefensible
by Stephen Lendman
It's standard Times practice. It's longstanding. On June 6, Times editors praised Obama's selection of Susan Rice and Samantha Power.
They're deplorable choices. They'll move from current capacities to new national security positions. More on that below.
By Alfredo Lopez
This past Thursday (June 6), The Guardian (the British newspaper) and the Washington Post simultaneously reported that the National Security Agency has been collecting staggering amounts of user data and files from seven of the world's most powerful technology companies.
Saturday June 8 is packed in Washington, D.C. Here's where I'll be and I hope to see you! --David Swanson
PROTEST CIA DRONE KILLS
I'll be speaking to a group of protesters of drone murder in front of CIA headquarters. We'll be there from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. You can park next door at Langley Fork Park at 6414 Georgetown Pike McLean, VA 22101. Join us!
REMEMBER THE USS LIBERTY
USS Liberty survivors and their families and friends will gather at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery at noon to remember the 34 who were killed on June 8, 1967. Memorial services will commence at 1:15 p.m. Sign up here to join us!
VIEW SCREENING OF DIRTY WARS
Following the 2:30 screening of Jeremy Scahill's film "Dirty Wars" at E Street Cinema
Yemeni-American activist Rooj Alwazir and I will lead a discussion of the film and in particular of an imprisoned journalist whose story is told. The theater is at 555 11th St NW, Washington, DC. You'll want to buy tickets now:
Check out other screenings with other speakers
JOIN JEREMY SCAHILL TO DISCUSS DIRTY WARS
Jeremy Scahill, author of Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield and star of the film by the same name.
Rooj Alwazir, Yemeni-American activist and co-founder of SupportYemen media collective.
And a former operative with the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (name to be revealed at the event).
Join us at 5-7 p.m. at Busboys and Poets restaurant at 5th and K Streets NW, Washington, DC
SPONSORS: Amnesty International, Code Pink, Peace Action, Iraq Veterans Against the War, RootsAction, Veterans for Peace.
Busboys is a restaurant, and you can order dinner during the event.
Books will be sold and signed.
Sign up on Facebook for Busboys event:
and for opening weekend in general:
Learn more: http://dirtywars.org/screenings/details/1785/5791
By John Grant
Watching the US Senate Armed Forces Committee wrestle with the issue of rape and sexual abuse in the military opens a whole range of related issues concerning sex and war that will likely not be addressed in the Senate.
Bilderberg Conference Convenes
by Stephen Lendman
On June 5, the London Evening Standard headlined "No minutes, no press conferences - just the world's power brokers chewing the fat on the issues of the day. It's the Bilderberg conference - and it's coming to a suburb near you."
Samantha Power for UN Envoy
by Stephen Lendman
Obama's cabinet, national security team, and other close advisors reflect a virtual rogues gallery of scoundrels. Susan Rice as National Security Advisor and Samantha Power as UN envoy are on board in new capacities.
Rice shifts from UN ambassador to the White House. A previous article quoted the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity saying "she belongs in the big house, not in the White House."
Of course, old people should know these things too, and some small percentage does know them, but energy seems better invested in trying to teach them to young people who have less to unlearn in the process.
1. Obedience is extremely dangerous.
This seems like it must be either wrong or misleadingly incomplete. And that would be true if we were talking about children. If a two-year-old is about to run in front of a car, please do yell "stop!" and hope for as much obedience as possible.
But I'm talking to young people, not children.
When you grow up, your obedience should always be conditional. If a master chef appears to be instructing you to prepare a revoltingly bad dinner but wants you to obey his or her instructions on faith, you might very well choose to do so, considering the risk to be tolerable. If, however, the chef tells you to chop off your little finger, and you do it, that will be a sure sign that you've got an obedience problem.
This is not a trivial or comical danger. The majority of volunteers in experiments are willing to inflict severe pain or death on other human beings when a scientist tells them to do so for the good of science. Watch this video of such an experiment.
Had the actor in this experiment who pretended to be a scientist told the participants to cut off their little fingers, I bet they wouldn't have done it. But they were willing to do far worse to someone else. The good old Golden Rule is a counter to this deficiency, but so is resistance to blind obedience. Most suffering in the world is not created by independent individuals, but by large numbers of people obeying when they should be resisting.
We should think about how not to put ourselves in positions in which we are expected to blindly obey. It is possible to find jobs that don't include that unhealthy expectation. And we should prepare ourselves to refuse immoral instructions whenever we receive them. As we'll see below, we all do receive them all the time.
2. People in power manipulate us into acceptance
Several years ago a lot of people were protesting the U.S. war in Iraq. The president and most of Congress and most of the big media outlets were busy giving out the impression that such protests were ignored or even counter-productive. But former president George W. Bush's memoirs recall the Republican Senate Majority Leader secretly telling him the pressure was becoming too great and they'd need to end the war. Bush signed an agreement with the government of Iraq to leave in three years.
In 1961 the USSR was withdrawing from a moratorium on nuclear testing. A protest at the White House urged President Kennedy not to follow suit. Posters read "Kennedy, Don't Mimic the Russians!" One protester recalled their action for decades as having been pointless and futile, until he found an oral history interview with Adrian Fisher, deputy director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Fisher said that Kennedy had delayed resuming testing because of the protest.
A delay in a policy we oppose is not as good as a permanent ban, but if those protesters had known they were being listened to they would have come back day after day and brought their friends and possibly achieved that permanent ban. That they imagined they weren't being listened to appears ridiculous if you read enough history. People are always listened to, but those in power go to great lengths to give the impression of not paying any serious attention.
Lawrence Wittner interviewed Robert "Bud" McFarlane, President Ronald Reagan's former national security advisor, asking him whether the White House had paid much attention to protests demanding a "freeze" in nuclear weapons building. "Other administration officials had claimed that they had barely noticed the nuclear freeze movement," Wittner said. "But when I asked McFarlane about it, he lit up and began outlining a massive administration campaign to counter and discredit the freeze -- one that he had directed . . . . A month later, I interviewed Edwin Meese, a top White House staffer and U.S. attorney general during the Reagan administration. When I asked him about the administration's response to the freeze campaign, he followed the usual line by saying that there was little official notice taken of it. In response, I recounted what McFarlane had revealed. A sheepish grin now spread across this former government official's face, and I knew that I had caught him. 'If Bud says that,' he remarked tactfully, 'it must be true.'"
It's funny: even when protesting government lies or government secrecy, people tend to fall for the lie that the government is ignoring you. Yet, in 2011, when a relatively tiny movement began to take to the streets under the banner of "Occupy," the government rolled out a massive effort of infiltration, eavesdropping, harassment, brutality, and propaganda -- while, of course, claiming to have noticed nothing and done nothing about something so unworthy of notice.
Those in power don't restrict themselves to directing you toward inaction. They also work on moving you toward doing lots of things that seem effective but aren't. The way to keep the nation safe, they say, is to go shopping! Or lobby for this watered-down pathetic piece of legislation! Or devote all your activist energy to election campaigning, and then go home and collapse in exhaustion as soon as the election is over -- exactly when you should be gearing up to demand actions out of whoever won the election. These activities that have little impact are depicted as serious and effective, while activities that historically have had tremendous real impact (organizing, educating, demonstrating, protesting, lobbying, heckling, shaming, nonviolently resisting, producing art and entertainment, creating alternative structures) are depicted as disreputable and ineffective and lacking in seriousness.
Of course, being active is much more fun than not. Of course, the influence you have is always possible even if undetected (you might inspire a child who goes on to do great things years later, or slightly win over an opponent who takes a few more years to see the light). Of course, we have a moral duty to do everything we can regardless of the ease of success. But I'm convinced we'd see a lot more activism if people knew how much they are listened to. So tell them! And let's remember to keep telling ourselves.
3. Doing nothing is obeying a deadly order
Imagine writing a story about a village that faces possible destruction, and for the most part the people don't do anything to prevent it.
That's not how stories are written.
That's the world we live in and fail to recognize.
We are being instructed to sit at a desk and zap the earth to death, and we're compliantly zapping away. Only the zapping doesn't look like zapping, it looks like living. We work and eat and sleep and play and garden and buy junk at the store and watch movies and go to baseball games and read books and make love, and we don't imagine we can possibly be destroying a planet. What are we, the Death Star?
But a sin of omission is morally and effectively equivalent to a sin of commission. We need to be saving the earth and we're not doing so. We're allowing global warming and other major environmental destruction to roll ahead. We're allowing militarization and warmaking to advance. We're watching the concentration of wealth. We see the division of society into castes. We know we're building prisons and drones and highways and pipelines while closing schools and condemning our grandparents to poverty. We are aware that we're funding multi-billionaires with our hard work while fueling mass suffering, bitterness, rage, frustration, and violence.
We see these worsening cycles and we sit still.
Don't sit still.
Sitting still is mass-murder.
Don't obey anyone who tells you to sit still.
Don't search for a leader.
Don't sell your conscience to a group or a slogan or a political party.
Don't listen to me unless something I say makes sense.
On Sunday, April 7, 2013, H. Candace Gorman esq., former CIA analyst Ray McGovern and former National Security Administration executive and whisteblower Thomas Drake spoke at the Third National Conference of Historians Against the War called "The New Faces of War," which was held at Towson University. Gorman participated on a panel called "Indefinite Detention and War Against Iran: How Are These Strands of US Foreign Policy Connected?" These videos were produced by Stephen Roblin and Spencer Compton.
Check the videos out at:
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On Saturday, Day 115 of the prisoners’ hunger strike, we heard that the US had released a prisoner from Bagram, and two from Guantanamo back to their home country of Mauritania. We soon learned that only the prisoner in Bagram went home. Other than Omar Khadr (a child when he was captured and sent to GTMO), who was sent to Canada in 2012, no prisoners have been released since August of 2010. See Andy Worthington's stories of the Mauritanian prisoners, still waiting for justice.
by Debra Sweet US Government Begins 12 Week Military Trial of Bradley Manning Read reports, view photos/videos from protests around the country. Saturday, we gathered at Ft.
We’ve only been telling you this for years. And now the DHS Inspector General is saying it, too.
The TSA’s so-called “behavior detection program” is an expensive, risible failure. Or as we like to call it, voodoo.
Susan Rice for National Security Advisor
by Stephen Lendman
Previous articles discussed her. Calling her controversial stops short of accurately characterizing her. Moral depravity explains best. Vishay Prashad calls her the "queen of interventionist hawks."
South African journalist Getahune Bekele said she's a "consummate ally of grubby despots."
Anti-Syrian Blame Game Escalates
by Stephen Lendman
Since early 2011, ongoing blame game strategy holds Syria responsible for Western-enlisted death squad crimes.
In August 2011, the Human Rights Council (HRC) appointed a so-called Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria (COI). Paulo Pinheiro heads it.
If we think at all about our government's military depopulating territory that it desires, we usually think of the long-ago replacement of native Americans with new settlements during the continental expansion of the United States westward.
Here in Virginia some of us are vaguely aware that back during the Great Depression poor people were evicted from their homes and their land where national parks were desired. But we distract and comfort ourselves with the notion that such matters are deep in the past.
Occasionally we notice that environmental disasters are displacing people, often poor people or marginalized people, from their homes. But these incidents seem like collateral damage rather than intentional ethnic cleansing.
If we're aware of the 1,000 or so U.S. military bases standing today in some 175 foreign countries, we must realize that the land they occupy could serve some other purpose in the lives of those countries' peoples. But surely those countries' peoples are still there, still living -- if perhaps slightly inconvenienced -- in their countries.
Yet the fact is that the U.S. military has displaced and continues to displace for the construction of its bases the entire populations of villages and islands, in blatant violation of international law, basic human decency, and principles we like to tell each other we stand for. The United States also continues to deny displaced populations the right to return to their homelands.
At issue here are not the bombings or burnings of entire villages, which of course the United States engages in during its wars and its non-wars. Nor are we dealing here with the millions of refugees created by wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan or by drone wars like the one in Pakistan. Rather, the following are cases of the intentional displacement of particular populations moved out of the way of base construction and left alive to struggle as refugees in exile.
In the Philippines, the United States built bases on land belonging to the indigenous Aetas people, who "ended up combing military trash to survive."
During World War II the U.S. Navy seized the small Hawaiian island of Koho'alawe for a weapons testing range and ordered its inhabitants to leave. The island has been devastated.
In 1942, the Navy displaced Aleutian Islanders.
President Harry Truman made up his mind that the 170 native inhabitants of Bikini Atoll had no right to their island. He had them evicted in February and March of 1946, and dumped as refugees on other islands without means of support or a social structure in place. In the coming years, the United States would remove 147 people from Enewetak Atoll and all the people on Lib Island. U.S. atomic and hydrogen bomb testing rendered various depopulated and still-populated islands uninhabitable, leading to further displacements. Up through the 1960s, the U.S. military displaced hundreds of people from Kwajalein Atoll. A super-densely populated ghetto was created on Ebeye.
On Vieques, off Puerto Rico, the Navy displaced thousands of inhabitants between 1941 and 1947, announced plans to evict the remaining 8,000 in 1961, but was forced to back off and -- in 2003 -- to stop bombing the island.
On nearby Culebra, the Navy displaced thousands between 1948 and 1950 and attempted to remove those remaining up through the 1970s.
The Navy is right now looking at the island of Pagan as a possible replacement for Vieques, the population already having been removed by a volcanic eruption. Of course, any possibility of return would be greatly diminished.
Beginning during World War II and continuing through the 1950s, the U.S. military displaced a quarter million Okinawans, or half the population, from their land, forcing people into refugee camps and shipping thousands of them off to Bolivia -- where land and money were promised but not delivered.
In 1953, the United States made a deal with Denmark to remove 150 Inughuit people from Thule, Greenland, giving them four days to get out or face bulldozers. They are being denied the right to return.
The story of Diego Garcia is superbly told in David Vine's book, Island of Shame. Between 1968 and 1973, the United States and Great Britain exiled all 1,500 to 2,000 inhabitants from this island in the Indian Ocean. On orders from, and with funding from, the United States, the British forced the people onto overcrowded ships and dumped them on docks in Mauritius and the Seychelles -- foreign and distant and unwelcoming lands for this indigenous population that had been part of Diego Garcia for centuries. U.S. documents described this as "sweeping" and "sanitizing" the island.
Those responsible for the displacement of the people of Diego Garcia knew that what they were doing was widely considered barbaric and illegal. They devised ways of creating "logical cover" for the process. They persuaded the ever-compliant Washington Post to bury the story. The Queen of England and her Privy Council bypassed Parliament. The Pentagon lied to Congress and hid its payments to the British from Congress. The planners even lied to themselves. Having originally envisioned a communications station, they concluded that advances in technology had rendered that unhelpful. So, Navy schemers decided that a fueling station for ships might offer a "suitable justification" for building a base that was actually a purposeless end in itself. But the Pentagon ended up telling a reluctant Congress that the base would be a communications station, because that was something Congress would approve.
Those plotting the eviction of the island's people created the fiction that the inhabitants were migrant workers not actually native to Diego Garcia. Sir Paul Gore-Booth, Permanent Under Secretary in the Foreign Office of the U.K., dismissed the island's people as "some few Tarzans or Men Fridays whose origins are obscure." This stood in contrast to the respect and protection given to some other islands not chosen for bases because of the rare plants, birds, and animals resident there.
On January 24, 1971, remaining inhabitants of Diego Garcia were told they'd need to leave or be shot. They were allowed to take a small box of possessions, but had to leave their homes, their gardens, their animals, their land, and their society. Their dogs were rounded up and killed in a gas chamber as they watched, waiting to themselves be loaded on ships for departure. Arriving in Mauritius, they were housed in a prison. Their fate has not much improved in the decades since. David Vine describes them as very forgiving, wishing nothing but to be permitted to return.
Diego Garcia is purely a military base and in some ways more of a lawless zone than Guantanamo. The United States has kept and may be keeping prisoners there, on the island or on ships in the harbor. The Red Cross and journalists do not visit. The United States has de facto control of Diego Garcia, while the U.K. has technical ownership. The Pentagon is not interested in allowing the island's people to return.
The South Korean government, at the behest of the U.S. Navy, is in the process of devastating a village, its coast, and 130 acres of farmland on Jeju Island with a massive military base. This story is best told in Regis Tremblay's new film The Ghosts of Jeju. This is not a tragedy from the past to be remedied but a tragedy of this moment to be halted in its tracks. You can help. Tremblay's film examines the history of decades of abuse of the people of Jeju, and the resistance movement that is currently inspiring other anti-base efforts around the globe. The film begins somber and ends joyful. I highly recommend creating an event around a screening of it.
We should not neglect to note here that the United States funds and arms and protects the Israeli government's ongoing displacement of Palestinians and denial of the right to return.
"The past is never dead. It's not even past," wrote William Faulkner.