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Documents: Petraeus Fracking Field Trip Reveals ND Government, Oil, Private Equity Nexus

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

DeSmogBlog has obtained hundreds of documents portraying the blurred lines between North Dakota's government, the oil and gas industry and the private equity world. They also offer one of the first looks inside the professional life of former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus after he resigned from the agency in 2012.

The deepening police state USA: More on Washington's coordinated Occupy Crackdown, and the Dark Side of the Boston Bombing (Par

By Dave Lindorff


Part II of Dave Lindorff's interview by Kathy Swift on Santa Barbara's RadioOccupy. Lindorff continues talking about his investigation into the FBI's and Homeland Security Department's hidden campaign to crush the Occupy Movement, based upon the thousands of documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act campaign of discovery by the Partnership for Civil Justice. Lindorff also talks about his investigation into the men from Craft International, the Dallas-based mercenary firm who's personnel appear to have been hired (by someone -- likely the DHS) to be at the Boston Marathon a year ago.

Hillary Clinton: Not the Democratic Savior.

           


            The media is awash with information about a potential presidential run by Hillary Clinton. She has the overwhelming support of Democrats, unparalleled name-recognition, and the assurance of more money for her campaign than either candidate had in the historically-expensive Obama-Romney match-up of 2012. Her credentials – mastermind of her husband’s comeback campaign for Governor of Arkansas, former first lady, former senator from a heavily populated state, presidential candidate, former Secretary of State – look very impressive, if one doesn’t look too closely. However, it is high time one did so.

Look who’s calling voting ‘divisive’ and ‘illegal’: The Blood-soaked US Has No Business Opposing Sovereignty Plebiscites

By Dave Lindorff



The rot at the core of US international relations, domestic politics and the corporate media is evident in the American approach to the Ukraine crisis.


Cover-up in progress?: The Case of the Dead Brazilian Torturer Gets Murkier

By Michael Uhl


They haven't killed him yet.

Paulo Malhaes, the confessed Brazilian torturer whose death I recently reported on this site may not have been murdered after all. At least that’s what police investigating the case have been loudly proclaiming for the past week.

Killing of leaders was being planned: Exposing the Federal Government’s Plan to Crush the Occupy Movement (Part I)

By Dave Lindorff


  Listen to Dave Lindorff explain on Santa Barbara radio KCSB's Radio Occupy program how the federal government, in collusion with state and local police, and possibly with private bank and oil company security firms, planned to use "suppressed sniper fire" to assassinate the leaders of Occupy Houston, and perhaps also the leaders of other Occupy Movement actions around the country.

Drone Strikes and Transparency

           


Drone Strikes and Transparency


            The craven U.S. Senate has stripped from a bill a requirement that the president disclose casualties resulting from his murderous, almost indiscriminant drone strikes. The original wording of the bill, authorizing intelligence operations for fiscal year 2014, required an annual report stating the number of ‘combatants’ and ‘non-combatant civilians’ that were either killed or injured by drone strikes.

TCBH! Review of Losing Tim: A Mother Unravels Her Military Son’s Suicide

By John Grant


I met Janet Burroway when I was a Vietnam veteran on the GI Bill at Florida State University and I signed up for a creative writing workshop she was just hired to teach. She was a worldly, published novelist seven years older than me. She had just left an oppressive husband, a Belgian, who was an important theater director in London where she’d been to parties with the likes of Samuel Beckett. I graduate in 1973, and in a turn of events that still amazes me, I asked her out and ended up living with her for a couple years. She had two beautiful boys, Tim, 9, and Toby, 6, who I grew to love.

The Night of the Generals: When Brazilians were Tortured and Disappeared

By Michael Uhl


“The Face of Evil,” flashed the eye catching headline in Brazil’s major daily on a morning late this March, and the accompanying photo of Army lieutenant-colonel Paulo Malhaes, retired, could not have portrayed a more convincing ogre had it been photo shopped by central casting. Malhaes, a self-described torturer and murderer operated in the early 1970′s, the most repressive period in Brazil’s harsh era of prolonged military rule,

Taking the low road to war: Washington and the Corporate Media are in Full Propaganda Mode on Ukraine

By Dave Lindorff


The lies, propaganda and rank hypocrisy emanating from Washington, and echoed by the US corporate media regarding events in Ukraine are stunning and would be laughable, but for the fact that they appear to be aimed at conditioning the US public for increasing confrontation with Russia – confrontation which could easily tip over the edge into direct military conflict, with consequences that are too dreadful to contemplate.


End the Drug War: Happy Pot Legalization Day!

A Special Report today on the issue of ending Marijuana Prohibition and the massively destructive War on Drugs, by TCBH! collective journalist Linn Washington, Jr. and three students in his Temple University journalism class:


Marijuana: Facts and Falacies, by Linn Washington


The bigger threat is the National Security Agency: Despite Heart Bleed, the Internet’s Alive and Well!

By Alfredo Lopez


Some are calling it a "worst nightmare". There have been dire predictions that it represents the end of the Internet or that there is, in fact, no real Internet security or that Free and Open Source Software is dangerous to use.

One thing is sure. The week-old saga of the Heart Bleed flaw (or bug) and its potential exploits has shown more light on the Internet and its security issues than anything else in recent memory.

Fury punches out early: Striking a Blow for Disarmament in Maine Shipyard

By Dave Lindorff

 

Let us pause to honor Charles Fury.

A program to take over human communications?: The Drones of Facebook (and the NSA)

By Alfredo Lopez

 

"Connectivity," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a CNN interview last year, "is a human right."

A program to take over human communications?: The Drones of Facebook (and the NSA)

By Alfredo Lopez

 

"Connectivity," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a CNN interview last year, "is a human right."

What are they hiding?: Some Serious Problems with the FBI’s Killing of a Witness in Florida

By Dave Lindorff


In the voluminous report issued by Florida State’s Attorney Jeff Ashton’s Office on the killing in Orlando last May 22 of a witness/suspect under interrogation by the FBI -- an investigation that concluded that the shooting was “justified” -- there is not a single mention of the bruise and contusion on the left side of Todashev’s head.


Florida State’s Attorney takes a dive on FBI slaying probe Two Law Enforcement Officers, Two Stories of a Witness Killing: Who’

By Dave Lindorff

 

The Florida State’s Attorney for the Orlando region, Jeffrey Ashton, today released his conclusion at the end of a 10-month investigation into the FBI slaying of Ibragim Todashev, a suspected witness in the Boston bombing case, saying that he will not be prosecuting the agent. Ashton ruled that the killing, in which the agent, at the end of a nearly 5-hour May 21 interrogation in Todashev’s Orlando apartment, fired seven bullets into Todashev, killing him justifiably, after being attacked.


Did the FBI Snuff a Boston Marathon Bombing Witness? Dark Questions About a Deadly FBI Interrogation in Orlando

By Dave Lindorff


(This article was written as an exclusive for Counterpunch magazine, where the full story can be read, along with photos of the crime scene)


World Has No Idea How U.S. Decides on Wars

People from Yemen and Pakistan and elsewhere have told me, and have testified in the U.S. Congress, that they have a hard time convincing their neighbors that everyone in the United States doesn't hate them.  There are buzzing killer robots flying over their houses night and day and every now and then blowing a bunch of people up with a missile with very little rhyme or reason that anyone nearby can decipher.  They don't know where to go or not go, what to do or not do, to be safe or keep their children safe.  Their children have instinctively taken to crouching and covering their heads just like U.S. children in the 1950s were taught to do as supposed protection from Soviet nuclear weapons.

The good news is that, of course, we don't all hate Yemenis or Pakistanis or Somalis or Afghans or Libyans or any of the other people who might suspect us of it.  The bad news -- and the news that I'm afraid would be almost incomprehensible to many millions of people around the world -- is that most of us have only the vaguest idea where any of those countries are, some of us don't know that they ARE countries at all, and we pay far greater attention to our sports and our pets than to whom exactly our government is killing this Tuesday.

This obliviousness comes into sharpest relief perhaps when we elect the officials who are legally called on to decide on our wars.  The extent to which Congress has handed war making over to presidents is also brought out by observing Congressional elections.  It is not at all uncommon for U.S. Congressional candidates' platforms to entirely ignore all questions of war and peace, and to win support from either Democrats or Republicans despite this omission -- despite, in particular, taking no position on the area funded by 57% of the dollars they will vote on if elected, namely wars and war preparations.

Here in Virginia's Fifth Congressional District, a man named Lawrence Gaughan recently announced as a Democratic candidate for Congress.  I'd never heard of him, so I took a look at the "Issues" section of his website.  Not only WAS there such a section (some candidates campaign purely on their biography without taking positions on anything), but Gaughan's site had clear forthright statements on a number of important issues.  He backed labor unions despite their virtual nonexistence in his district.  He admitted the existence of climate change.  He backed Eisenhower era tax rates (!!).  And his statements made commitments: "I will not vote for any tax cuts for those making over 250,000 dollars a year." "I support the Dream Act." "I would vote for any legislation that would bring back jobs in construction, manufacturing and production." Either this guy had real principles or he was just too new for anyone to have explained to him how to make his promises vague enough not to commit himself to any specific actions.

All too typically, however, when I scrolled through the "Issues," I noticed a gap.  I sent this note off to the candidate's staff:

"Your candidate has some of the best and clearest positions on domestic issues that I've seen, and dramatically superior to Congressman Hurt's, but judging by his website as it stands today he seems to have no position on foreign policy whatsoever, or even on that 57% of discretionary spending that, according to the National Priorities Project, goes to militarism.  For people who support domestic social justice AND peace in the world in this district, we are put in a bind by our history. Congressman Perriello voted for every war dollar he could, and has made a career of pushing for new wars since leaving office.  Congressman Hurt is a disaster on other issues but listened to us and took a stand against missile strikes on Syria. He even listened to us on lawless imprisonment and voted against a "Defense" Authorization Act on one occasion. Helpful as it is to know what Lawrence Gaughan thinks of 43% of the budget, some of us are really going to have to know what he thinks of the larger part.  Would he cut military spending? Would he oppose new wars? Does he oppose drone strikes? Would he repeal the authorization to use military force of '01 and that of '03? Would he support economic conversion to peaceful industries on the model now set up in Connecticut? Would he advance a foreign policy of diplomacy, cooperation, actual aid, and nonviolent conflict resolution? Are there any foreign bases he would close?  Does he think having U.S. troops in 175 nations is too many, too few, or just right? Does he support joining the ICC? Thanks for your time!"

A couple of days later, Gaughan called me on the phone.  We talked for a while about foreign policies, wars, peace, militarism, the economic advantages of converting to peaceful industries, the danger of handing war powers over to presidents.  He said he opposed wars. He said he wanted to take on the influence of the military industrial complex.  He didn't seem particularly well informed, but he seemed to be coming from a fairly good place or to at least be willing to get there. 

He proposed allowing military veterans to never pay any taxes.  That's not exactly the sort of resistance to militarism that President Kennedy had in mind when he wrote that wars would continue until the conscientious objector has the honor and prestige of the soldier.  Gaughan offered no tax cuts for conscientious objectors.  Still, he said he'd get some good statements on foreign policy added to his website right away. He also said he'd be willing to debate the other candidates, including the incumbent, on foreign relations, should peace groups create such a forum and invite him.

Lo and behold, the next day, this appeared on Gaughan's website:

"Military

"We have strayed from our constitution when it comes to the defense of our nation and declaration of war. I was opposed to the war in Iraq for many reasons.  The enormous price paid by our brave men and women as well as the huge financial debt that we incurred was not necessary.  Republicans in Congress continue to defer those costs on our military personnel and our veterans through the sequester and other austerity measures.

"Not withstanding the government shutdown, the Republican budget proposals that my opponent, Robert Hurt, has voted for over the past three years, have forced the Pentagon into reductions that have taken a tremendous toll on enlisted personnel right here in our district. These political policies are also causing reductions to TriCare, active duty health benefits, and to retired military pensions. As the greatest nation on earth, it is unacceptable that we have homeless veterans or military families who struggle to pay the bills.

"We owe so much to the men and women who serve. Instead of laying off soldiers and cutting funding for the VA, we could begin by eliminating the ongoing fraud by military contractors. Fraud committed by dozens of irresponsible military industry corporations have cost taxpayers more than $1.1 trillion. Eliminating this fraud would offset most of the estimated $1.2 trillion in policy savings required over the next decade in order to realize the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated $1.4 trillion in deficit reduction without 'gutting our military'. Furthermore, as a component of tax reform, there should be a tax exemption status for veterans written into the tax code."


His topic, all too typically -- people around the world should understand -- is not how to relate to the 95% of humanity that is not in the United States, but how to treat "The Military." 

His first sentence echoes our discussion of the past three-quarters century of undeclared wars, but doesn't spell it out.  Will he oppose wars that lack a Congressional declaration or not? 

He picks one past war to oppose without stating his position on future wars.  He describes the costs of a war that killed some million Iraqis and destroyed a nation as all being paid by the U.S. and its soldiers. 

He blames the sequester agreement on only one of the two parties that agreed to it, and buys into the myth that it has resulted in cuts to the military.  (True, Democrats in the Senate recently put up a token effort to fund veterans' needs and were blocked by Republicans.)  Gaughan claims that we owe "so much" to members of the military who "serve."  What exactly do we owe them? Can he name something that we owe them? He doesn't want soldiers to be "laid off," as if employing them is a make-work jobs program. 

In my view we owe veterans housing, healthcare, education, a clean environment, and a healthy society because they are human beings -- and we owe it equally to every other human being.  But we shouldn't pretend that the military's so-called "service" isn't making us hated around the world.  We shouldn't try to produce more veterans as if there were something noble about murdering people.

Gaughan almost closes on an up note.  He acknowledges fraud by military contractors.  He even calls them "military," rather than using the misleading term "defense."  But then he makes clear that he doesn't want to cut the military. He wants to create efficiency to avoid cuts while saving money. 

Would he repeal authorizations to use military force? Who knows. Would he back future wars? Who can tell? Does he believe U.S. troops should be in 175 nations? Perhaps.  But if they were in 182 would he then think 182 was the right number?  Does he favor allowing presidents to murder people with missiles from drones or by any other means?  Does he think antagonizing Russia and China and Iran should remain the focus of U.S. foreign policy?  Does he want the occupation of Afghanistan ended? Who knows. 

He brought up a Department of Peace on our phone call, but it didn't make the website yet.  One can hope that Gaughan's website is a work in progress.  There's certainly a chance he'll become a far better candidate and Congress member than this district has had in a long time. 

But this, dear world, is more or less how the world's largest-ever killing machine operates.  It turns its eyes away from the machine's work and, if pushed, debates the care of the machine itself -- maintaining more or less complete obliviousness to the horrors the machine produces in those far away places where you live and die.

Ego trumps principle: Sen. Feinstein Finally Goes after the CIA, but not for Lying to and Spying on Us

By Dave Lindorff


Of all the people to come to the rescue of the Constitution, who would have thought it would be Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA).

Feinstein, after all, as head of the Senate Intelligence Committee since 2009, has yet to see an NSA violation of the Constitution, an invasive spying program or a creative “re-interpretation” of the law that she hasn’t applauded as being lawful and “needed” to “keep people safe.”

If they drop these charges, why not all of them?: Crowd-Sourcing, Crowd Support and Barrett Brown's Partial Victory

By Alfredo Lopez

 

Federal prosecutors last week dropped several of the most significant charges facing Internet activist and journalist Barrett Brown -- charges that could have drawn a jail sentence of 105 years.

The New Crimean War: Balls, Brains and History

By John Grant


Making political sense out of the events in Ukraine and Crimea has become great sport. Does it mean a new Cold War? Is Vladimir Putin a better, more “potent” man than Barack Obama? Who has bigger balls?

An Honest Article About Military Spending and Corruption Gets Printed by Associated Press

Chris Rickert: Bipartisanship sets sail aboard the USS Defense Spending


CHRIS RICKERT | Wisconsin State Journal | crickert@madison.com | 608-252-6198
Published: Today

Forget about national tragedies, Olympic success or sitting down over a couple of beers.

Nothing brings people together like military spending.

What else could get the thumbs-up from a tea party debt hawk, a cheerleader for “new politics,” one of the most liberal Democrats in the Senate, and a massive, left-leaning educational bureaucracy?

Last month, three Wisconsin members of Congress criticized plans from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to curtail production of the Navy’s littoral combat ship, which is made in Alabama and Wisconsin’s own Marinette Marine.

Then last week, UW-Madison backed a bill in the state Legislature that would end a ban on federally funded classified research - including military research - in the UW System and make UW-Madison one of only three Big Ten universities to allow it.

When not proposing $1.4 trillion in federal spending cuts and producing episodes in his “victims of government” series, Sen. Ron Johnson seeks to explain his support for the LCS program as a matter of military readiness, not love of the government contract.

“Sen. Johnson supports the building of the ships and the LCS program,” spokeswoman Melinda Schnell said, “but he by no means feels it is within his role as a U.S. senator to tell the Navy how many of these ships it needs.”

U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, whose district includes Marinette, takes a similar tack. His chief of staff said the ship is needed, wanted and comparatively cheap.

Ribble, incidentally, is part of a bipartisan effort called No Labels, which touts itself as “dedicated to a new politics of problem solving.” I guess “new politics” still includes the military-industrial complex.

Speaking of which, in a Feb. 4 statement, Sen. Tammy Baldwin - “a long-time supporter of the LCS program in Wisconsin” -says the LCS program has a “ripple effect across the state, boosting our Made in Wisconsin economy.” No word on whether her support will cause waves among her many peacenik supporters.

In Madison - where college students once rioted against recruiters from napalm-making Dow Chemical - a spokeswoman for today’s student government said the organization is not taking a position on the possible return of classified national security research some 40 years after opposition to the Vietnam War led the UW System to ban it.

The university and the lobbying arm of its Faculty Senate are behind the effort, though, which I suppose is no surprise given the university’s soft spot for secrecy.

Under the original version of the classified research bill, the university lobbied for a provision that would have exempted a broader swath of research from the state’s open records law. That idea was ultimately dropped.

For, well, obvious reasons, peace-minded, military-wary liberals should support curbs to the LCS program and oppose academic research on waging war.

You’d think conservatives would support calls to reduce spending. And secret military research is a little too reminiscent of black helicopters and jackbooted government thugs not to give libertarian-minded conservatives pause.

But principles stand little chance when federal largesse is on the line.

Pentagon Calls Climate Change Impacts "Threat Multipliers," Could Enable Terrorism

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The U.S. Department of Defense released the 2014 version of its Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) yesterday, declaring the threat of climate change impacts a very serious national security vulnerability that, among other things, could enable further terrorist activity. 

Released every four years, the QDR is a broad outline of U.S. military strategy discussing how to maintain global U.S. military hegemony. Like the 2010 document, the 64-page 2014 QDR again highlights the threats posed to national security by ever-worsening global climate disruption.

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