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Alfred Nobel's will, written in 1895, left funding for a prize to be awarded to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."
Adolfo Perez Esquivel, 2011-05-19, Issue 530
In addressing you I do so fraternally, and at the same time, to express my concern and indignation after seeing the destruction and death caused in several nations in the name of ‘freedom and democracy’, two words which have been twisted and stripped of meaning. They end up justifying murder, and is cheered on as if it were a sports event.
Indignation at the attitude of some parts of the US population, of heads of state in Europe and other countries who came out in support of the assassination of bin Laden, and by your complacency in the name of supposed justice. You didn’t look to seize and judge him for his alleged crimes, which generates more doubts. The objective was to assassinate him.
The dead are mute, and the fear of the accused who could disclose inconvenient facts for the USA, was turned into assassination, to ensure that the ‘death of the dog would end the madness’, without considering that you have only increased it.
When you were granted the Nobel Prize, of which we are holders, I sent you a letter which read: ‘Barack, I was very surprised by your having been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but now that you have it, you must use it in the service of peace among peoples, you have all the possibilities of doing it, to end the wars and begin correcting the severe crisis in your own country and the world’.
Unfortunately, you have increased hatred and betrayed the principles assumed during your electoral campaign before your people, such as ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, closing the prisons in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib in Iraq. But on the contrary, you decided to start another war against Libya, backed up by NATO, and the shameful resolution of the UN to support you, when this high organisation, diminished and without its own mind, has lost its path and has been subjugated to the whims and interests of the dominant powers.
In Air America: Under the Imperial Eye, Chris Floyd reports on the recent revelation that Iraq's supposedly "sovereign airspace" is constantly under surveillance by a network of drones operated by the State Department. Apparently the only reason this news came to light is because of a publicly available government appeal for private bids on the project. Neither we nor Iraqis were meant to know:
"Iraqis were outraged this week to find they are being spied upon by a fleet of American drones hovering constantly in their supposedly sovereign skies, long after the supposed withdrawal of American forces."
When Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced 35 articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush on June 9, 2008, the 35 had been selected from drafts of nearly twice that many articles.
President Obama has accumulated his own massive list of high crimes and misdemeanors that were unavailable for Bush's list (thing's like openly murdering U.S. citizens, launching massive drone wars, selectively and abusively prosecuting numerous whistleblowers as spies, holding Bradley Manning naked in isolation, attacking Libya without so much as bothering to lie to Congress, etc.).
Nonetheless, it is instructive to review the 35 Bush articles in the Obama age. It quickly becomes apparent that Obama has either exactly duplicated or closely paralleled most of the 35. Here's what I mean:
Click the link to read the article introduced against Bush. Obama campaigned against this abuse and has routinely engaged in it as president. Worse, he has established the policy of silently relying on previous Bush or Obama signing statements rather than restating his intention to violate laws each time such intention is relevant to a bill he is signing.
Creating Secret Laws.
Obama similarly uses Department of Justice arguments to reverse the commonly understood meaning of laws (bombing Libya is neither war nor hostilities, for example). And he similarly uses arguments that are kept away from public sight. While the United Nations, foreign nations, and human rights groups have questioned the legality of drone strikes, Obama has not provided his legal defense or even felt obliged to make any assertion as to which victims were intended and which were "collateral damage." This week the ACLU sued for release of such information. In addition, Obama announced in 2009 that he would review all of Bush's signing statements and decide which ones to keep as law and which to discard, but the public has never been told the outcome of that review.
Obama did this from day one, proclaimed it in front of the Constitution in the National Archives, formalized it in an executive order, signed it into law this past New Year's Eve, and expanded the practice at Bagram.
Violation of the Posse Comitatus Act.
Obama has continued each abuse detailed here and added to them, including through his use of the military to keep journalists away from the BP oil disaster and in an effort to break a strike at the ports of the Pacific Northwest.
Obama has publicly claimed the power to continue this practice, in fact continued this practice, maintained black sites despite announcing an end to them, and worked to coverup and protect related crimes by his predecessor.
Obama has continued this practice and added to it the murdering of children, refusing to say that Abdel-Rahman Anwar al-Awlaki was not intentionally targeted or that he, Obama, does not have the legal power to murder U.S. children. Non-U.S. children continue to die in significant numbers from drone strikes and by other means (including intentional targeting from helicopter) as part of Obama's escalated war on Afghanistan.
Obama has claimed the power to torture, worked to coverup and protect related crimes by his predecessor, and continued to allow torture. He has also pressured other nations, including Spain, to drop prosecutorial investigations of U.S. crimes of torture.
Obama has continued these practices and worked to coverup and protect related crimes by his predecessor.
Obama has continued these practices and worked to coverup and protect related crimes by his predecessor and guilty corporations.
Obama has continued these practices. In his most recent State of the Union speech he said, "America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal. But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible . . . if Iran changes course." When Iran recently took down a U.S. drone, Obama simply asked that it be returned.
Obama's Pentagon is no more audited or accountable, nor the routine scandals involving misplaced millions or billions of dollars less frequent. No-bid contracts have increased. Privatization has increased. Secrecy has increased. The use of Special Forces in secret non-war wars has spread to more nations. The permanent stationing of U.S. troops has spread to more nations. Secret agencies, including the CIA, have been given larger war-making roles. And Obama continued the war on Iraq long beyond the date by which he had promised to end it, and continues to maintain thousands of mercenaries in Iraq, and to use drones in the skies of Iraq. He has also worked to coverup and protect related crimes by his predecessor.
Obama's insistence on continuing this practice not just beyond 2008 but beyond 2011, combined with the Iraqi government's refusal to agree, resulted in Obama's decision to comply with the Bush-Maliki treaty to end the war on Iraq by this past New Year's Eve.
The details have to be changed to apply this article to Obama. The changes are not in Obama's favor. Obama met in secret with the CEOs of health insurance corporations and pursued a vision of healthcare reform that they had secretly influenced. In so doing, he misled Congress and the American people. He is quite open, in contrast, about his willingness to slash Medicare, as well as Medicaid.
The victims of Katrina have still not been compensated, nor the environmental and urban damage undone. Instead the BP oil disaster has been added. Obama intentionally misled the Congress and the public, downplaying the quantity of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. He allowed a clean-up operation that was nothing of the sort. No real clean-up or recovery is planned. Nor have the corporations or their supposed regulators been held accountable.
Obama's approach to systematically undermining efforts to address global climate change has included blocking possible global agreements at meetings in Denmark and South Africa, while promoting "clean coal," "natural gas," and "safe fracking."
Misprision of a Felony, Misuse and Exposure of Classified Information And Obstruction of Justice in the Matter of Valerie Plame Wilson, Clandestine Agent of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The exposing of a secret agent has not been repeated, but retribution against whistleblowers has been taken to new heights with more prosecutions under the Espionage Act than by all previous presidents combined.
We're still waiting.
Now, we come to the launching of the war on Iraq:
Falsely, Systematically, and with Criminal Intent Conflating the Attacks of September 11, 2001, With Misrepresentation of Iraq as a Security Threat as Part of Fraudulent Justification for a War of Aggression.
Invading Iraq Absent a Declaration of War.
It was too late for Obama to exactly duplicate these offenses, as the war against Iraq was already underway. But President Obama has embraced the lies that launched that war. He claimed in 2010 that the war on Iraq had been launched in order to disarm that nation. In the news around the world on the day of Obama's most recent State of the Union speech was the anger among Iraqis at the failure of the United States to hold anyone seriously accountable for the 2005 massacre in Haditha. The story was a useful reminder of how the operations of the U.S. military over the past decade have fueled hostility toward our nation. President Obama began his speech by claiming the opposite, asserting that the war on Iraq has made us safer and "more respected around the world." Obama has repeatedly used such rhetoric to pivot to promotion of his escalated war in Afghanistan or other military operations. Similarly, President Obama misled the nation about the purpose and nature of a war on Libya that has left Libya, like Iraq, in worse shape, and which has left Constitutional war powers in tatters, as the Congress declared itself opposed to the war and the war continued. Meanwhile misleading propaganda about Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other nations continues to emerge from the Obama administration. The Director of National Intelligence has just claimed that Iran is a threat to the United States. While the Iraq War may have "ended," the Authorization for the Use of Military Force has been kept in place allowing Obama to use it as a legal argument for other military operations and abuses of civil rights. Also emerging with ever greater frankness from the Obama White House and Pentagon, including from the President, is the claim of presidential prerogative to launch military attacks on sovereign nations, involving deaths to both militants and civilians, without any consideration of Congress, the Constitution, the War Powers Resolution, the United Nations or its Charter, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, or any other law.
There is no quantitative way to measure whether Obama's additions to the presidential powers accumulated by Bush and Bush's predecessors equals or exceeds those added by Bush. But measured against the pre-Bush baseline, or against the written rule of law, Obama's power abuses far outstrip Bush's, while in the category of immediate death count Bush retains a significant lead.
Would Romney or Gingrich be even worse? That's quite likely. If we continue to self-censor on these matters, Obama Part II will also be significantly worse. A popular movement against these abuses could make any White House occupant better than the current one, even if it's the same individual. Remember what Howard Zinn taught: It's not who is sitting in the White House; it's who is doing the sit-ins.
By Dave Lindorff
Let’s see now. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence who oversees both the FBI and the CIA, is warning that Iran’s leaders have “changed their calculus” and, as the Wall Street Journal puts it, “now appear willing to conduct an attack within the US.”
Speaking at a Join Intelligence Committee hearing in Congress, the aptly-named Clapper said that Iranian leaders, “probably including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei” are “now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States as a response to real or perceived actions that threaten the regime.”
Well gee, that sure should come as a shocker.
Imagine if a bunch of the craziest war-hungry Republicans in the House filmed themselves in a nutty bat-guano video packed with lies addressed to the President of the United States. And then imagine President Barack Obama almost immediately agreeing with them. I can think of two ways in which such a series of events could go unnoticed, as it just has.
First, it could be about something insignificant. But this was about undoing the automatic cuts to the military mandated by the failure of the Supercommittee (remember, the top news story of a few months back?). The military, across various departments, swallows over half of federal discretionary spending, and there's no greater obsession in the corporate media than the great Spending vs. Cuts issue. This is NOT insignificant.
Second, it could be about something that the elites of both major parties agree on, the media therefore ignores, most Republican voters love, and Democratic voters pretend not to notice because the President is a Democrat and an election is less than a year away.
If you're guessing the second option, you are right. (Tell them what they've won, Leon!) You are now the proud owners of the most expensive military ever seen, plus coming increases that will be presented as "cuts."
When the Supercommittee failed, automatic federal budget cuts were to kick in -- half to things we need and half to the bloated military. The military cuts would take us back to 2004 spending. We seem to have survived 2004 and the years preceding it OK.
The Pentagon claims to be making other cuts already, but they are "cuts" to dream budgets resulting in actual budget increases -- and that's not even counting increased war spending through other departments.
House Republicans have sent President Obama this crazy video opposing military cuts and introduced legislation to slash 10% of non-military government jobs instead. In the Senate, John McCain is said to be working on a similar bill.
Meanwhile "Defense" Secretary Leon Panetta has just announced the Obama Administration's position: They will oppose the automatic cuts, or any other actual cuts, to the military. This will mean severe cuts to education, transportation, and -- as President Obama indicated in his State of the Union speech -- to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
At last Thursday's press conference the first question following Panetta's remarks was:
"Mr. Secretary, you talked a little bit on this, but over the next 10 years, do you see any other year than this year where the actual spending will go down from year to year? And just to the American public more broadly, how do you sort of explain what appears to be contradictory, as you talk about, repeatedly, this $500 billion in cuts in a Defense Department budget that is actually going to be increasing over time?"
Panetta had no substantive answer. And he didn't need one. The media almost unanimously put out the false story that the military was undergoing serious cuts. That first year's cut, by the way, is 1%, to be followed by nine years of larger increases.
You might have forgotten that in 2008, three times in three presidential debates, Senator John McCain proposed cutting the military, while Senator Obama campaigned on increasing it -- one promise he has actually kept.
Lately supporters have been saying that the President will become the Obama of our Dreams once he's a lame duck. But the history and the logic of lame duck officials is that they become less, not more, representative of the public will. And the public will is strongly in favor of major cuts to the military.
Others may be inclined to suggest that while Obama and Panetta are increasing the military and calling it "cuts," they are actually cutting the budget for wars. Some may have been misled by this line in the State of the Union: "Take the money we're no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home."
But in reality, Obama and Panetta are proposing to cut the war budget by only $27 billion. Meanwhile, the $27 billion has already been spent elsewhere in the Pentagon budget. Plus military spending is on the rise in other departments. Plus any new wars and confrontations -- like in Iran or Syria -- will offer the opportunity for supplemental bills. And less expensive but more secretive and equally deadly wars are underway, investment will increase in drones and special forces, and I have doubts we could rebuild our nation here at home for $13.5 billion even if we had it, while continuing to dump over $1 trillion into preparations for the crime of war year after year.
We do have the option to resist.
By John Grant
The State Department has threatened to withdraw the $1.3 billion it sends every year to Egypt because the Egyptians are holding US citizens connected with pro-democracy groups the Egyptians claim have instigated the Tahrir Square movement.
Specifically, the Egyptian military government prevented a half dozen Americans -- including Sam LaHood, director of the US International Republican Institute in Cairo -- from leaving the country. LaHood is the son of US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. The State Department’s goal in supporting groups like Mr LaHood’s is to encourage democracy friendly to the US.
By Dave Lindorff
Say it loud and say it proud: We’re Number 47! We’re Number 47! Boo-yah!
If you want to know why the US -- beacon of freedom, land of the First Amendment -- is now ranked number 47th (out of 179) in terms of freedom of the press in the annual ranking put out by Reporters Without Borders, below South Africa, Botswana, South Korea and Comoros, and just above Argentina, Romania and Latvia, you could ask Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire mayor of New York and himself owner of a huge news organization, or his Chief of Police Raymond Kelly.
In the news around the world and even in the United States on Tuesday was the anger among Iraqis at the failure of the United States to hold anyone seriously accountable for the 2005 massacre in Haditha. The story was a useful reminder of how the operations of the U.S. military over the past decade have fueled hostility toward our nation.
President Obama began his State of the Union speech Tuesday night by absurdly claiming the exact opposite, asserting that the war on Iraq has made us safer and -- I kid you not -- "more respected around the world." He later equated the war on Iraq to World War II, a surefire way to put anything beyond criticism in the United States, provided you can get people to fall for it.
It’s three years since President Obama promised to close Guantánamo.
Remind President Obama of his promise. Sign the petition on the White House’s “We the People” website urging him to honor his promise. 25,000 signatures are needed by February 6 to secure a response, so please sign up, and please spread the word.
What happened to President Obama’s bold promise?
Three years ago, on January 22, 2009, President Obama issued an executive order promising to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay within a year, but he did not move swiftly to implement his promise, and Congress then stepped in with onerous restrictions on the release of prisoners or their transfer to the US mainland for any reason, even to be tried or imprisoned.
Instead of being closed, Guantánamo still holds 171 men, even though 89 of these men were cleared for release more than two years ago by the interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force (PDF), which was established by the President after taking office.
By Dave Lindorff
The Iraq war may be over, at least for US troops, but the cover-up of the atrocities committed there by American forces goes on, even in retrospectives about the war. A prime example is reporting on the destroyed city of Fallujah, where some of the heaviest fighting of the war took place.
On March 31, 2004, four armed mercenaries working for the firm then known as Blackwater (now Xe), were captured in Fallujah, Iraq’s third largest city and a hotbed of insurgent strength located in Anbar Province about 40 miles west of Baghdad. Reportedly killed in their vehicle, which was then torched, their charred bodies were strung up on a bridge over the Euphrates River.
From Naked Capitalism:
The story did not outline terms, but previous leaks have indicated that the bulk of the supposed settlement would come not in actual monies paid by the banks (the cash portion has been rumored at under $5 billion) but in credits given for mortgage modifications for principal modifications. There are numerous reasons why that stinks. The biggest is that servicers will be able to count modifying first mortgages that were securitized toward the total. Since one of the cardinal rules of finance is to use other people’s money rather than your own, this provision virtually guarantees that investor-owned mortgages will be the ones to be restructured. Why is this a bad idea? The banks are NOT required to write down the second mortgages that they have on their books. This reverses the contractual hierarchy that junior lienholders take losses before senior lenders. So this deal amounts to a transfer from pension funds and other fixed income investors to the banks, at the Administration’s instigation.
Another reason the modification provision is poorly structured is that the banks are given a dollar target to hit. That means they will focus on modifying the biggest mortgages. So help will go to a comparatively small number of grossly overhoused borrowers, no doubt reinforcing the “profligate borrower” meme.
By Dave Lindorff
On my Yahoo home page today, there was a picture of the globe, and an instant poll asking me to check one of two choices: Yes or No, Do you believe global warming is a real threat?
I don’t usually waste my time on these things, but there was that tantalizing link to “See the results,” and you had to vote to see them, so I voted.
By Michael Collins
It's official. The crazies have arrived for the 2012 presidential race, florid in their deviant and repulsive rhetoric. Andrew B. Adler, editor of The Atlanta Jewish Times, called on Israel's President Benjamin Netanyahu to "Order a hit on a president in order to preserve Israel's existence." This reference to President Barack Obama appeared in the print edition of the paper on January 13 and was first published online by Gawker on the 20th (alternate links here and here).
Right wing Republican Mike O'Neal, speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives, forwarded an email referring to the president that quoted (approximately) Psalm 109.8: “Let his days be few and brief; and let others step forward to replace him." The Lawrence Journal World noted that the very next verse, 109.9, indicates how the president should be replaced: "Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow." (Image SND)
The First Amendment is ignored when reactionary mayors want to stop the free speech and assemblies of Occupy Wall Street. However, free speech is expanded beyond the limits of the law when religious extremists in Atlanta and Kansas step well outside of the boundaries of U.S. Code.
By John Grant
Hugo Chavez is at it again, sticking his thumb into the eye of the overbearing United States of America. And, true to imperial historical form, the US is playing the outraged hemispherical nanny and blustering back.
Chavez is currently playing a round of the game my-enemy’s-enemy-is-my-friend and is hosting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Caracas. The Iranian president is on a tour of friendly leftist regimes in Latin America, while the leaders of our great nation whistle and look at the ceiling when Israeli agents murder Iranian scientists in broad daylight.
By Charles M. Young
On Thursday, January 5, I was waiting for the elevator in the lobby of my building when I was joined by a woman who lives up the hall from me. She was carrying a grocery bag with The New York Times poking out the top. “Why did you buy it?” I asked. “They just raised the price to $2.50. Who can afford that for a daily newspaper?”
“I have a very large birdcage,” she said. “It’s the only newspaper that fits the bottom of my birdcage.”
My neighbor is a classical musician who makes a living at it. She pays attention to politics and votes. She buys things. She’s a little older than the actors playing obedient yuppies in the NYT commercials that beg for subscriptions, but is otherwise their ideal reader.
White House and State Department are in No Position to Issue Credible Denials Regarding Spying Charges
By Dave Lindorff
I wouldn’t want to be Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, the 28-year-old former US Marine just recently sentenced to death by a court in Iran after being convicted of being an American spy.
Hekmati, who was born in Arizona to Iranian exile parents, and who grew up in Michigan, is being defended by President Obama, whose White House spokesman Tommy Vietor, declared, “Allegations that Mr. Hekmati either worked for, or was sent to Iran by the CIA are false.” The White House, not content with that denial, went on to trash the Iranian government and legal system, with Vietor adding, “The Iranian regime has a history of falsely accusing people of being spies, of eliciting forced confessions, and of holding innocent Americans for political reasons.”
By Charles Davis and Medea Benjamin
In an age when U.S. power can be projected through private mercenary armies and unmanned Predator drones, the U.S. military need no longer rely on massive, conventional ground forces to pursue its imperial agenda, a fact President Barack Obama is now acknowledging. But make no mistake: while the tactics may be changing, the U.S. taxpayer – and poor foreigners abroad – will still be saddled with overblown military budgets and militaristic policies.
Speaking January 5 alongside his Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the president announced a shift in strategy for the American military, one that emphasizes aerial campaigns and proxy wars as opposed to “long-term nation-building with large military footprints.” This, to some pundits and politicians, is considered a tectonic shift.
In yesterday's speech, President Obama publicly unveiled elements of the strategy that his administration has quietly been pursuing for some time:
- Shifting its #1 priority to threatening China, including a major naval build-up (the Navy got the lion's share of extra procurement funds in recent years) and new bases;
- JSOC's global "targeted killing" program (under JSOC command in Afghanistan and Somalia, and CIA command in at least 13 more countries);
Here's the new plan that was announced today. Check out the play by play on my twitter feed.
This is from Common Dreams using Institute for Public Accuracy:
US stoking fears for public to support "the next wild burgeoning arms race in the Pacific."
At a news briefing at the Pentagon today, President Obama revealed today his strategy for a new defense strategy.
In the preamble to the new plan, Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense, Obama writes:
As we end today's wars and reshape our Armed Forces, we will ensure that our miltary is agile, flexible, and ready for the full range of contingencies. In particular, we will continue to invest in the capabilities critical to future success, including intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; counterterrorism; countering weapons of mass destruction; operating in anti-access environments; and prevailing in all domains, including cyber.
While media has focused on fiscal tightening creating defense budget cuts, some experts question whether austerity measures have really hit the military.
Catherine Lutz, chair of the department of anthropology at Brown University, stated:
[T]he new proposal for Department of Defense base budget reductions over the next five years represents only a 4 percent decline in real, or inflation-adjusted, terms, according to the Project on Defense Alternatives. And the Pentagon’s budget will remain far larger than it was ten years ago. On top of this, all of these calculations exclude, as they should not, billions in funding for the current wars.
The new defense plan also calls for an increased presence in Asia/Pacific region. From the plan:
U.S. economic and security interests are inextricably linked to developments in the arc extending from the Western Pacific and East Asia into the Indian Ocean region and South Asia, creating a mix of evolving challenges and opportunities. Accordingly, while the U.S. military will continue to contribute to security globally, we will of necessity rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region.
Alice Slater, the New York Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and member of the coordinating committee of Abolition 2000, a disarmament coalition, stated today:
On a recent trip to Australia, Obama opened a new military base there that will grow to 2,500 troops and promised that ‘we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region.’ A Pentagon report warned Congress that China was increasing its naval power and investing in high-tech weaponry to extend its reach in the Pacific and beyond. What did we expect? And now having provoked China to beef up its military assets the warmongers in the U.S. can frighten the public into supporting the next wild burgeoning arms race in the Pacific and what appears to be the threat of endless war.
The strategy outlined also entails an increase in the use of drones. “This ‘slimmed down’ plan continues the trend to rely increasingly on fighting the two wars with technology (drones) and ‘precision’ strategic bombing," stated Beau Grosscup, professor of international relations at California State University in Chico.
Slater also stated:
It seems that we are moving to a more mechanized war-fighting posture cutting out military forces below the previously planned cuts from 570,000 to 520,000 to an Army of 490,000 troops. However we will be increasing our reliance on drone attacks, that have now been used by Obama in several countries — Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.
Daryl G. Kimball and Tom Z. Collina writing for the Arms Control Association note that the strategy says nothing about the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal. They write:
Panetta said that the plan will maintain a “safe and effective nuclear deterrent,” but did not explain how many nuclear weapons will be required for deterrence or how much we can afford to keep spending to maintain and modernize that force.
However, the strategy document “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense” clearly says that “It is possible that our deterrence goals can be achieved with a smaller nuclear force, which would reduce the number of nuclear weapons in our inventory as well as their role in U.S. national security strategy.”
From Robert Scheer:
Not only has Obama been a savior of the banking conglomerates that so generously financed his campaign, but he also has proved to be equally as solicitous of the needs of the military-industrial complex. He entered his re-election year by signing a $662 billion defense authorization bill that strips away some of our most fundamental liberties and keeps military spending at Cold War levels, and by approving a $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia.
Actually higher than Cold War levels.
By Dave Lindorff
According to news reports, 15-year-old eighth-grader Jaime Gonzalez, who was shot and killed yesterday by police in his middle school in Brownsville, TX, was hit three times: twice in the chest and once “from the back of the head.”
Police say they were called by school authorities because Gonzalez was carrying a gun, which turned out to be a realistic-looking pellet gun, a weapon that uses compressed air to fire a metal pellet which, while perhaps a threat to the eye, does not pose a serious threat to life.
By John Grant
Ever since George W. Bush lost the popular vote by 500,000 souls and was selected President by a right-leaning Supreme Court, the United States has seemed to me devoted to a twisted fate of slow-motion Armageddon.
What seems to guarantee this is one of our most characteristic American traits: We don’t learn from the past; instead, we choose to officially forget embarrassing history so we can move on from our debacles without losing an ounce of glory. We all know how it goes: Sure, mistakes were made, but we need to keep our eye on the ball and move forward. The costs are paid in slow motion and out of sight.
Let me be clear.
Obama has always claimed the power to wage war on anyone anywhere, to search, seize, imprison, rendition, torture, or murder anyone. He has in fact openly murdered US citizens, among many other human beings.
Obama asked Congress to legislate the power for U.S. presidents to imprison anyone without any trial or any legal-looking process whatsoever, and to not make an exception for U.S. citizens.
Obama came close to getting what he wanted.
He got the power to imprison without trial.
Obama then engaged for the umpteenth time in an abuse as dangerous in itself as any other. He rewrote the law as he signed it. In doing so, Obama gave himself the power to imprison without even military kangaroo courts and without even the formality of pretended "status review hearings."
And the vast majority of organizations and individuals who would have raised hell and resisted this had Obama been a Republican, did not do a god damned thing about it.
Of course, for most of them, the opposition they would have exercised had Obama been a Republican, would have been shallow and phony and motivated by an immediate interest in generating negative press. Any actual concern over Republican presidents possessing these outrageous powers would, of course, have led to opposition to Obama seizing them, since what Obama seizes will remain for each of his successors.
For details on what was going on during the football games and drinking of New Year's Eve go here.
Hell of a way to start a year, people.
Let's step it up a bit, huh?
OK, she's talking about Wilson, but it's the same thing:
If, after the declaration of his foreign policy, it seemed to our group that desire and achievement were united in one able protagonist, the philosopher become king, so to speak, this state of mind was destined to be short lived, for almost immediately the persistent tendency of the President to divorce his theory from the actual conduct of state affairs threw us into a state of absolute bewilderment. During a speaking tour in January, 1917, he called attention to the need of a greater army, and in St. Louis openly declared that the United States should have the biggest navy in the world.
These were among the complaints registered the last time this nation had a king:
"He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
"He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
"He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
"He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
"He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
"He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
"He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
"For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
"For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
"For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
"For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
"He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation."
To prevent the U.S. government from behaving like a king, the drafters of the U.S. Constitution empowered an elected legislature to write every law, to declare every war, and to remove its executive from office. To further prevent the abuse of individuals' rights, those authors wrote into the Constitution, even prior to the Bill of Rights, the right to habeas corpus and the right never to be punished for treason unless convicted in an open court on the testimony of at least two witnesses to an overt act of war or assistance of an enemy.
President Barack Obama waited until New Year's Eve to take an action that I suspect he wanted his willfully deluded followers to have a good excuse not to notice. On that day, Obama issued an unconstitutional signing statement rewriting a law as he signed it into law, a practice that candidate Obama had rightly condemned. The law that Obama was signing was the most direct assault yet seen on the basic structure of self-governance and human rights that once made all the endless U.S. shouting of "We're number one!" significantly less ludicrous. The National Defense Authorization Act is not a leap from democracy to tyranny, but it is another major step on a steady and accelerating decade-long march toward a police-and-war state.
President Obama has claimed the power to imprison people without a trial since his earliest months in office. He spoke in front of the Constitution in the National Archives while gutting our founding document in 2009. President Obama has claimed the power to torture "if needed," issued an executive order claiming the power of imprisonment without trial, exercised that power on a massive scale at Bagram, and claimed and exercised the power to assassinate U.S. citizens. Obama routinely kills people with unmanned drones.
The bill just signed into law, as sent to the President, said this:
"Nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force."
In other words, Congress was giving its stamp of approval to the unconstitutional outrages already claimed by the President. But then, why create a new law at all? Well, because some outrages are more equal than others, and Congress had chosen to specify some of those and in fact to expand some of them. For example:
"Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)) pending disposition under the law of war."
"The disposition of a person under the law of war as described in subsection (a) may include the following: (1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force."
Jon Stewart explained when those detained without trial under the law might be released: "So when the war on terror ends, and terror surrenders and is no longer available as a human emotion, you are free to go."
An exception for U.S. legal residents and citizens was kept out of the bill at President Obama's request.
So why did Obama threaten to veto the bill initially and again after it passed the Senate? Well, one change made by the conference committee was this (note the crossed-through text):
Secretary of DefensePresident may , in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence,waive the requirement of paragraph (1) if the SecretaryPresident submits to Congress a certification in writing that such a waiver is in the national security interests of the United States."
The reference here is to military tribunals. The President — that is, the current one and future ones — need not hand someone over even to a military tribunal if . . . well, if he (or she) chooses not to.
That was the most power Obama could have transferred to the White House in this bill. But it was not absolute power, and was therefore not good enough. Hence the signing statement, the relevant portion of which begins:
"Moving forward, my Administration will interpret and implement the provisions described below in a manner that best preserves the flexibility on which our safety depends and upholds the values on which this country was founded."
This is Bush-Cheneyspeak for "I will not comply with the following sections of this law despite signing it into law."
After having persuaded the Congress to remove an exception for U.S. legal residents, Obama has the nerve in the signing statement to assert, not that the law makes any such exception, but that he personally will choose to do so, at least for U.S. citizens. Future presidents may lock U.S. citizens up without trials, but Obama won't do so. He promises:
"I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation. My Administration will interpret section 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law."
The first two sentences above are highly unusual if not unprecedented. Most, if not all, of Bush and Obama's law-altering signing statements up to this point have not sought to clarify what a particular administration would choose to do. Rather, they have focused on declaring parts of the laws invalid. Usually this is done in a manner misleadingly similar to the third sentence above. By claiming the power to interpret a law in line with the Constitution, Bush and Obama have each on numerous occasions asserted the view that the Constitution grants presidents far-reaching powers that cannot be restricted by legislation. If Obama had wanted to deny that this law could be applied to U.S. citizens (or legal residents), the above paragraph would look very different, although equally unusual in that it would then be rejecting power rather than claiming it.
Also note, as Marcy Wheeler has already pointed out, Section 1021 applies to any detention, and Obama promises only not to subject U.S. citizens to indefinite military detention. While locked away forever without a trial you'll be able to take comfort that yours is a non-military imprisonment.
Also, remember that Obama claims and exercises the power to kill U.S. citizens or anyone else (arguably at least as serious a violation of rights as imprisonment!), and for that he will use the military if he sees fit, or even allow the military to operate freely.
Also notice that legal residents are not included in the category of citizens.
Next, Obama declares Section 1022 on military custody "ill-conceived." His personal right to a waiver, won through the conference committee, was not enough. Obama insists on also erasing this section of law: "I reject," he writes,
"any approach that would mandate military custody where law enforcement provides the best method of incapacitating a terrorist threat. While section 1022 is unnecessary and has the potential to create uncertainty, I have signed the bill because I believe that this section can be interpreted and applied in a manner that avoids undue harm to our current operations. I have concluded that section 1022 provides the minimally acceptable amount of flexibility to protect national security. Specifically, I have signed this bill on the understanding that section 1022 provides the executive branch with broad authority to determine how best to implement it, and with the full and unencumbered ability to waive any military custody requirement, including the option of waiving appropriate categories of cases when doing so is in the national security interests of the United States. … I will therefore interpret and implement section 1022 in the manner that best preserves the same flexible approach that has served us so well for the past 3 years and that protects the ability of law enforcement professionals to obtain the evidence and cooperation they need to protect the Nation."
Obama goes on to reject several other sections of the law, including restrictions on his unlimited power to rendition prisoners to other countries. Among the notable rejections is this:
"Sections 1023-1025 needlessly interfere with the executive branch's processes for reviewing the status of detainees. Going forward, consistent with congressional intent as detailed in the Conference Report, my Administration will interpret section 1024 as granting the Secretary of Defense broad discretion to determine what detainee status determinations in Afghanistan are subject to the requirements of this section."
In other words, U.S. prisoners held in Afghanistan will not be given even any formal pretense of a legalistic review of their status unless Obama and his Secretary of "Defense" see fit.
I've just been editing a forthcoming book in which one of the contributors writes:
"In 1971, Congress passed the Anti-Detention Act, 18 U.S.C. § 4001(a), which states that "no person shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress." Fred Koramatsu, who had brought the unsuccessful case before the Supreme Court, was eventually awarded the Medal of Honor. Congress apologized and provided for limited reparations for this heinous act."
The author is referring to the unconstitutional indefinite detention of Japanese and Japanese-Americans during World War II. This type of criminal abuse for which Congress had to apologize and pay reparations, and for which there is a misleadingly pro-war-looking memorial hidden between the U.S. Capitol and Union Station, has now been effectively sanctioned by our Constitutional Scholar in Chief.
My chief regret is that we have not seen the major resistance we could have, and without any doubt would have, seen to this if only Obama were a Republican.