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Privatization Madness: Now Private Companies are Collecting Our Taxes

 

By Dave Lindorff


I went into my local township building Monday to settle up my local income tax bill. I had filed for an extension of my federal and state taxes back in April because of my father’s unexpected death a few weeks before the tax filing date and the need to deal with his funeral and with arranging for care for my widowed mother, who has alzheimers, had taken up all my time.


Iraq records huge rise in birth defects

It played unwilling host to one of the bloodiest battles of the Iraq war. Fallujah's homes and businesses were left shattered; hundreds of Iraqi civilians were killed. Its residents changed the name of their "City of Mosques" to "the polluted city" after the United States launched two massive military campaigns eight years ago. Now, one month before the World Health Organisation reveals its view on the legacy of the two battles for the town, a new study reports a "staggering rise" in birth defects among Iraqi children conceived in the aftermath of the war.

Read the Rest at the Independent.

Assange Labeled an 'Enemy' of the US in Secret Pentagon Documents

 

By Dave Lindorff


An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.

Assange Labeled an 'Enemy' of the US in Secret Pentagon Documents

 

By Dave Lindorff


An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.

Assange Labeled an 'Enemy' of the US in Secret Pentagon Documents

 

By Dave Lindorff


An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.

After Years-Long Media Black-Out, The Prosecution of an American President Opens at US Theaters

After a years-long media black-out and a grueling battle to get the film shown in the US, The Prosecution of an American President, the brainchild of the Los Angeles County prosecutor who prosecuted Charles Manson, opens at theaters this week.  In its long trek to the American big screen, the movie was originally scheduled to be run on HBO before the channel dropped it at the last minute.  Bugliosi then had to go outside the country to find a producer, Windsor Ontario NAFTC Studios.

Yahoo News:

Building Bridges Instead of Imperial Wars

 

John Grant

 

“Blows that don’t break your back make it stronger.”
- Anthony Quinn in Omar Mukhtar, Lion of the Desert
 

 

For years, I’ve been working either in the journalism realm or as an antiwar veteran activist expressing the core idea that the United States of America is an “empire,” that its militarist foreign policy is “imperialistic” and that many of our perennial and current problems are rooted in the reality that, as an imperial nation, like many empires in history, we’re overextending ourselves and destroying something that is dear to all American citizens who love this country.

The US is the World's Biggest War-Monger

 

By Dave Lindorff


There is a massive deception campaign in the US, and in its global propaganda, which seeks to portray the United States as a poor set-upon nation that would like world peace but just has to keep a military stationed around the globe to “police” all the world’s “trouble spots.”


Hearts and Mines

Russell Snyder's new book is called "Hearts and Mines: With the Marines in Al-Anbar: A Story of Psychological Warfare in Iraq." It's a beautiful book and one that may move you to outraged action, but not in the way you might expect.

I got the book from its author at a Veterans For Peace convention.  I assumed it was an anti-war book.  I was startled first by the literary skill of the author, who paints a powerful picture of his time in Iraq.  I was startled second, slowly, gradually, as I waited for the author to turn against the war.  I've read many other accounts by soldiers who came to regret their actions.  They suffer from the actions they have taken.  They deeply regret having killed innocent people.  They find it almost too much to bear.  They lay down their guns.  They resist.  They go AWOL. They file for conscientious objector status. Or they receive their discharge and then denounce the institution of war, committing never to be a part of it again.

That never quite happens with Snyder.

Here's an intelligent, sensitive young man capable of describing a wide array of conflicting emotions that soldiers experience in wartime.  He enjoys the camaraderie of the military.  He respects the professionalism.  He honors the self-sacrifice.  And he resents the stupidity, fears for his life, and questions the wisdom of the entire enterprise.  Just questions.  He doesn't reject.  This is not a book aimed at moving you to demand an end to military spending.  This is a book aimed -- intentionally or not -- at moving you to seek out and struggle against the cultural habits that allow people to accept war so completely that they can recognize it as an unnecessary piece of barbarism and nonetheless take part in it with pride.

"It's a worrisome flaw humanity has yet to overcome that in our modern age we still accept the butchery of our human brothers and sisters as a means of settling our politicians' and religious leaders' disagreements," writes Snyder in the introduction.  He writes that his viewpoint evolved there.  But the narrative of the book doesn't display evolution so much as complexity and contradiction. 

Snyder's job was to blast loud messages in Arabic at Iraqi villages, in order to win their hearts and minds.  He notes that in shooting practice "two in the heart, one in the mind" meant two bullets to the chest and one to the head -- mocking the futility of "psy-ops."  When, in Chapter 2, Snyder puts bullets into live humans, he describes the success of the conditioning that allowed him to do so without thought.  That thoughtlessness largely remains, at least on the surface, for the rest of the book. 

Snyder describes the difficulties of "winning" an occupation of a country, the inability to trust anyone, the cycles of revenge, the brutality, the lack of understanding, the torture, the sadism, and the tricking of Iraqi children into cursing their country in English or drinking urine.  Snyder describes a remarkable number of incidents in which he could easily have died, as well as learning that someone was offering $5,000 to whoever destroyed his loudspeaker truck or killed his Iraqi translator.  This is a book with more "action" in it than most such accounts I've read -- even as it still manages to convey the deadly boredom these incidents interspersed, and the adrenaline high that drove soldiers and Marines to seek out more activity, even at the risk of death.  Snyder describes the fear of death, the resort to religion, and ultimately his attempt to believe that God saved him (while, of course, not saving thousands of others). 

Snyder disapproves of the worst attitudes and actions he recounts.  "It felt hypocritical," he writes, "that we should attempt to convince [Iraqis] security was improving and they shouldn't be worried while we Americans swaddled ourselves head to toe in armor and protective gear.  Our hosts must have sometimes regarded our argument as condescending. Since we didn't allow them to have armor or weapons, it seemed to imply their lives were not deserving of the same level of protection as our own."  At various other times, Snyder writes that his actions had the merit of possibly saving Marines' lives.  Not lives, Marines' lives. 

Snyder describes himself as torn. "My soul ached, torn between feeling a sense of contractual obligation, a desire to fulfill my duties as a soldier and to commiserate with my brothers in uniform while mourning the seemingly pointless extinction of so much innocent life.  Not only the little girls whose stiffening corpses were now rotting like refuse in the backyard, or the baby chicks that had survived two tank rounds only to succumb to the sadistic whims of bored Marines, but the countless thousands of other human lives destroyed by war and remembered only as collateral damage. . . .  Prolonging the war seemed akin to setting fire to a neighbor's house and then attempting to extinguish the flames with more fire.  I felt at once very weary, exhausted by the heavy knowledge of so much violence and needless death.  But I remained quiet as I crawled into the turret, resigned to accept my own sinful role."  In fact, the possibility of acting otherwise is never mentioned in the book -- except for others.  Snyder writes that he "lamented the state of what I imagined to be my countrymen's lack of awareness that permitted their collective conscience to embrace a war . . . ."  In reality, there is no collective in such matters.  We each have to act alone.  We each bear a different share of guilt.  But most of us at least were not taking part in what we were lamenting.  Snyder ends the book feeling more guilt over his decision not to reenlist than anything else.

It's possible that some of what Snyder has experienced and taken part in lies buried within him, threatening to erupt years or decades from now.  "I might never live," he writes, "long enough to atone for everything that troubled me, but maybe I didn't have to if I made a sincere effort to live a life that benefitted others."  In my view, what's needed is not further suffering by Russell Snyder.  More suffering benefits no one.  If he is able to move on to a productive nonviolent life, I only hope that it includes more writing.  What's needed, I think, is for the rest of us to appreciate how a book like this one already benefits others. 

Start with Snyder's condemnation of the effort underway during his time in Iraq to recruit Iraqis to take over the killing of Iraqis.  A similar effort is failing miserably in Afghanistan right now, without any alternative entering the minds of our public policy decision makers. 

Look at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's bewilderment at the Libyans' lack of appreciation for all that our bombs have done to their country.  Here's a book that could ease our national case of bewilderment as to why the recipients of our "aid" tend to show so little gratitude. 

The importance of this book is that it takes someone who largely believes (or used to believe) in U.S. propaganda and puts him into face-to-face exchanges with its victims.  These exchanges are riveting:

After Snyder's team blasts an area with an instruction to leave, they find an old man in a house with two young boys.  The old man asks where in the world he was supposed to go, the desert? 

"A tear formed in a wrinkled corner of the man's eye and sparkled down his cheek.

"'I have my son's family here too.  You shot him driving his tractor home.  He was a good man, an innocent man.'

"He pointed up the street to the burnt-out remnant of a vehicle.  The Marines had destroyed several vehicles with tank rounds during the push into the city, which they identified as potential suicide car bombs. It was pointless to wonder whose version of events was true.  The son was dead, or at the very least his father was a good actor.

"'I'm sorry to hear of your loss, but sometimes there are accidents in war.  You fought against Iran, did you not?  You know things like this happen.  There are bad people here, people who want to kill us.  We have to protect ourselves.  It is our job to make Iraq safer, and sometimes that means making hard decisions.  Maybe sometimes the wrong people do get caught in the middle.  We try to be careful, believe me.  The terrorists will stop at nothing, even killing children, but we Americans do our best to avoid unnecessary violence.  We follow the Geneva Conventions.  We want to help you.  That doesn't bring your son back, I know, but we are only trying to do our job.'

"The man rebutted my statement, morosely shaking his head in disbelief that I could be so wrong.

"'Iraq was safe before you came.  My town was quiet before you bombed it.  Now I cannot even go outside.  We don't have water.' He sighed. 'If you can just let me go to the water valve down the street, I can maybe turn the water back on.'

"'I can't make that decision.  Our commander wants everyone to stay home.  It's better if you stay inside, safer.  We can bring you water later.'

"I turned to Sonny. 'Ask him if he has ever seen strangers here.'

"I looked back in the old man's eyes. 'Has he seen foreign fighters here.'

"Sonny paused.  'He says, "Just you."'

"I squeezed my eyes shut at the old man's audacity and pinched the bridge of my nose.  It was a true statement, from his perspective, that I was a foreign fighter, but not the answer I looked for.

"'There are dead Africans in the street up there.  He never saw anyone like that?'

"The man shook his head.

"'He didn't know there was a torture dungeon just down the road, where they kept captured border guards?  He never heard a scream? They didn't think it was safe here.'

"I carefully watched the man's reaction to the news there had been such crimes committed so close to his home.  He showed no surprise.

"'If you say so,' the old man replied. 'I don't know anything.'"

It's Not Just the LAPD: The Big Lie About Police Brutality is That it's Not Rampant

 

By Dave Lindorff


Police brutality is in the news, thanks to the widespread availability of amateur video.

We've seen scene after scene of police beating the crap out of, and even shooting and killing unarmed or minimally dangrous students, women, old men and crazy people, many of them after they have been handcuffed and checked for weapons.

Dear Syria, Please Consider What a Paradise We've Made Iraq

Iraqis wait to see gains from oil boom

By Adam Schreck - The Associated Press

BAGHDAD — Iraq is fast becoming an oil producing powerhouse, but you’d never know that by looking at the faded Unknown Soldier gas station in downtown Baghdad. There’s no repair garage or mini-mart, just a cramped office with tattered vinyl couches. Horns blare as a string of waiting cars backs up into busy Sadoun Street, slowing traffic.

Electricity from the power grid is available only for a few hours a day, so a noisy generator burns through 200 liters (53 gallons) of fuel daily just to keep the lights on and pumps running. That eats into what little profit is left over after government-imposed price caps, says manager Anmar Abdul-Sattar.

We Don’t Need No Bloody Treaties: Britain Blows a Fuse over Ecuador’s Asylum Grant to Wikileaks’ Assange

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

The concerted and orchestrated campaign to capture Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and ultimately to hand him over to the tender mercies of a kangaroo court in the US, where he would likely be tried for spying and other possibly capital offenses, continues as Britain threatens the Ecuadoran Embassy with a police assault.

 

Democracies Don't Start Wars, But Fake Democracies Sure Do!

 

 

By Dave Lindorff


We’ve all heard it said by our teachers when we were in school, we’ve all heard it said by politicians, including presidents: “Democracies don’t start wars.”


Soldiers Who Refuse to Kill

One of the most inspiring events thus far at the Veterans For Peace National Convention underway in Miami was a presentation on Thursday by several veterans who have refused to participate in war. Typically, they have done this at the risk of significant time in prison, or worse. In most cases these resisters avoided doing any time. Even when they did go behind bars, they did so with a feeling of liberation.

Gerry Condon refused to deploy to Vietnam, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, escaped from Fort Bragg, left the country, and came back campaigning for amnesty. President Jimmy Carter pardoned resisters as his first act in office. Condon never "served" a day, in either the military "service" or prison.

America a Democracy? Really?

By Dave Lindorff

This article was originally written forPressTV

We Americans are taught it in school. The propaganda put out by Voice of America repeats the idea ad nauseum around the globe. Politicians refer to it in every campaign speech with the same fervor that they claim to be running for office in response to God’s call: America is a model of democracy for the whole world.

But what kind of democracy is it really that we have here? 

Iraq: Britain's War Against Truth

http://dissidentvoice.org/2012/08/iraq-britains-war-against-truth/#more-45399

   Iraq: Britain’s War Against Truth

I think most people who have dealt with me think I am a pretty straight sort of guy, and I am.

— Tony Blair, November 2007

In the last several days, the shreds of Britain’s threadbare claim to democracy have been ripped away.

The refusal by the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government to disclose documents integral to the decision to join the US in invading, occupying, destroying and dismantling the entire civil authority and infrastructure of the very State of Iraq, follows their Labour predecessors, the invasion’s co-architects.

The Iraq Inquiry findings under Sir John Chilcot’s Chairmanship will now be delayed for over another year.

Video: Greg Muttitt on the Untold Story of the War on Iraq for Oil

Greg Muttitt Speaks About His Book "Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq"
Charlottesville, VA
July 24, 2012
Random Row Books

Will Downing St. Memo Recur on Iran?

By Annie Machon and Ray McGovern, Consortium News

Recent remarks by Sir John Sawers, who heads Britain’s MI6 (the Secret Intelligence Service that is Britain’s CIA counterpart), leave us wondering if Sawers is preparing to “fix” intelligence on Iran, as his immediate predecessor, Sir John Scarlett, did on Iraq.

Greg Muttitt in Charlottesville, VA, on Tuesday, July 24th

Greg Muttitt, visiting from the U.K., is the author of the brand new book on Iraq that is making a lot of news.  It's called Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq.

"Nothing short of a secret history of the war" -- Naomi Klein.

Democracy Now aired this interview of Greg this week.

Greg will speak and answer your questions:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012, 7 p.m.

Random Row Books
315 West Main Street 
Charlottesville, VA 22902
(434) 295-2493
Map

Please sign up and spread the word on FaceBook!

Please email and tell everyone you know!

About Fuel on the Fire:

The departure of the last U.S. troops from Iraq at the end of 2011 left a broken country and a host of unanswered questions. What was the war really about? Why and how did the occupation drag on for nearly nine years, while most Iraqis, Britons, and Americans desperately wanted it to end? And why did the troops have to leave?

Now, in a gripping account of the war that dominated US and UK foreign policy over the last decade, investigative reporter and activist Greg Muttitt takes us behind the scenes to answer some of these questions and reveals the previously untold story of the oil politics that played out
through the occupation of Iraq.

Drawing upon hundreds of unreleased government documents and extensive interviews with senior American, British, and Iraqi officials, Muttitt exposes the plans and preparations that were in place to shape policies in favor of American and British energy interests. But he also tells the inspiring story of how Iraqi trade unions organized not only to defend their members’ rights, but also to thwart many of the USA’s oil plans  -- with remarkable success. Through their stories, we begin to see a very different Iraq from the one our politicians have told us about.

In light of the Arab revolutions, the war in Libya, and renewed threats against Iran, Fuel on the Fire provides a vital guide to the lessons from Iraq and of the global consequences of our persistent oil addiction.

"Excellent... a textbook example of how international pressures are put on politicians to get them to buckle" - The Guardian

"Set to turn our understanding of the war on its head" - The Independent

"Will trouble the most ardent liberal interventionist" -
Petroleum Economist

"The Iraqi civil society voices resound with dignity in this brilliant, comprehensive account" - New Internationalist

About Face

Are Drones Moral Killing Machines? NY Times National Security Journalist Says Yes

 

By Dave Lindorff


Are weaponized drone aircraft more moral than the more traditional killing machines used in warfare? In an opinion published in Sunday’s New York Times, the paper’s national security reporter, Scott Shane, argues that they are.


Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq

Published July 2012 by the New Press

"Nothing short of a secret history of the war"
- Naomi Klein

Tour dates (details):
WASHINGTON, DC: Tuesday, July 10
NEW YORK: Thursday, July 12
MADISON, Wisconsin (TBC): Tuesday, July 17
PORTLAND, Oregon: Wednesday, July 18
SAN FRANCISCO: Thursday, July 19 AND Sunday, July 22
BOSTON: Thursday, July 26

The departure of the last U.S. troops from Iraq at the end of 2011 left a broken country and a host of unanswered questions. What was the war really about? Why and how did the occupation drag on for nearly nine years, while most Iraqis, Britons, and Americans desperately wanted it to end? And why did the troops have to leave? Now, in a gripping account of the war that dominated US and UK foreign policy over the last decade, investigative journalist Greg Muttitt takes us behind the scenes to answer some of these questions and reveals the previously untold story of the oil politics that played out through the occupation of Iraq.

Drawing upon hundreds of unreleased government documents and extensive interviews with senior American, British, and Iraqi officials, Muttitt exposes the plans and preparations that were in place to shape policies in favor of American and British energy interests. We follow him through a labyrinth of clandestine meetings, reneged promises, and abuses of power; we also see how Iraqis struggled for their own say in their future, in spite of their dysfunctional government and rising levels of violence. Through their stories, we begin to see a very different Iraq from the one our politicians have told us about. In light of the Arab revolutions, the war in Libya, and renewed threats against Iran, Fuel on the Fire provides a vital guide to the lessons from Iraq and of the global consequences of our persistent oil addiction.

www.fuelonthefire.com

The Longest War: Overcoming Lies and Indifference

by Kathy Kelly
(first published by the Mobilizing Ideas website)

In April of 2003, I returned from Iraq after having lived there during the U.S. Shock and Awe bombing and the initial weeks of the invasion.  Before the bombing I had traveled to Iraq about two dozen times and had helped organize 70 trips to Iraq, aiming to cast light on a brutal sanctions regime, with the “Voices in the Wilderness” campaign.  As the bombing had approached, we had given our all to helping organize a remarkable worldwide peace movement effort, one which may have come closer than any before it to stopping a war before it started.  But, just as, before the war, we’d failed to lift the vicious and lethally punitive economic sanctions against Iraq, we also failed to stop the war, and the devastating civil war that it created. 

One Nobel Laureate Blasts Another -- And They’re Both Americans

 

By Dave Lindorff


There are two US presidents who have won the Nobel Peace Prize. Now one of those Nobel laureate leaders is accusing the other, though without naming him, of actions that qualify as war crimes and impeachable crimes against the US Constitution.


Drones of Love

 

By Gary Lindorff

 

Let us bomb your neighborhood,

Let us target your neighbor

Out of our love and concern –

 

Not you, not your children.

Drones of love!

 

Won’t you love us

After the dust settles?

After the evil has been exploded?

After the crater in the market-place

Has been filled in and paved

We will explode our way into your hearts!

 

We might miss our intended target;

The Vietnam War and the Struggle For Truth

 

By John Grant


Vietnam, a story of virtually unmitigated disasters that we have inflicted on ourselves and even more on others.

           -Bernard Brodie, 1973
 

This Memorial Day Let’s Start Caring for Our Nation’s Veterans: No More Ducking the Real Cost of US Wars!

 

By Dave Lindorff


Whether he ever said it or not, I’m going to borrow from a quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln and alter it a bit to say: “American politicians must love war veterans -- they keep making so many more of them.”


MEMORIAL DAY 2012: A Lesson Not Yet Learned

 


by WALTER BRASCH


 


Today is Memorial Day, the last day of the three-day weekend. Veterans and community groups will remember those who died in battle and, as they have done for more than a century, will place small flags on graves.


But, for most of America, Memorial Day is a three-day picnic-filled weekend that heralds the start of Summer, just as Labor Day has become a three-day picnic-filled weekend that laments the end of Summer. 


 There will be memorial concerts and parades. The media, shoving aside political and celebrity news, will all have stories. Among those who will be the first to patriotically salute those who died in battle are those who enthusiastically pushed for them to go to war.

Americans Love a Good Killer

 

 

By John Grant

 

The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic and a killer.
- D.H. Lawrence

The realist in murder writes of a world in which gangsters can rule nations … where a judge with a cellar full of bootleg liquor can send a man to jail for having a pint in his pocket … where no man can walk down a dark street in safety because law and order are things we talk about but refrain from practicing.
- Raymond Chandler
 
 
American pop culture is certainly not unique in having a love affair with killers. Since the first cave man cracked his neighbor’s head open to control a water hole, eliminating others has been top on the list of problem-solving techniques.

Colin Powell's Tangled Web

“I get mad when bloggers accuse me of lying -- of knowing the information was false. I didn’t.” -- Colin Powell.

Can you imagine having an opportunity to address the United Nations Security Council about a matter of great global importance, with all the world's media watching, and using it to… well, to make shit up – to lie with a straight face, and with a CIA director propped up behind you, I mean to spew one world-class, for-the-record-books stream of bull, to utter nary a breath without a couple of whoppers in it, and to look like you really mean it all? What gall. What an insult to the entire world that would be.

Colin Powell doesn't have to imagine such a thing. He has to live with it. He did it on February 5, 2003. It's on videotape.

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