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Corporatism and Fascism

Corporatism and Fascism

Defender of Waterboarding Hears From Critics

Defender of Waterboarding Hears From Critics
By Mark Oppenheimer | NY Times

There’s nothing unusual about partisans of the Bush administration defending waterboarding as a useful form of “enhanced interrogation.” Others will go even further, calling the technique “torture,” but saying it may be a necessary evil. What is a bit unusual is the case being made by Marc A. Thiessen, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

In “Courting Disaster: How the C.I.A. Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack,” Mr. Thiessen, a practicing Roman Catholic, says that waterboarding suspected terrorists was not only useful and desirable, but permitted by the teachings of the Catholic Church.

This does not square, to put it mildly, with the common understanding of Catholic teaching. In the past month, Catholic bloggers and writers from across the political spectrum have united to attack his views, and to defend their own: that waterboarding is torture, and that Roman Catholics are not supposed to do it.

Mr. Thiessen makes two basic arguments. First, he says that waterboarding, the simulated drowning technique used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the professed chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, and others, is not torture. “I didn’t get into the Catholic theological stuff of it until I sat down to write the book,” Mr. Thiessen said in a phone interview. So when Mr. Bush asked him, in 2006, to write a speech explaining the C.I.A.’s interrogation program, Mr. Thiessen asked himself other kinds of questions.

“There’s a standard of torture in civil law,” he said, “which is severe mental pain and suffering. I also have a common-sense definition, which is, ‘If you’re willing to try it, it’s not torture.’ ” Read more.

Congressional Democrats Nix Anti-torture Measure

Congressional Democrats Nix Anti-torture Measure
Written by Thomas R. Eddlem | New American

House Democrats have caved in to Republican pressure, removing an anti-torture provision from the Fiscal 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act (H.R. 2701). “The controversial provision,” the Washington Post reported February 26, “would have subjected intelligence officers to up 15 years in prison for interrogations that violate existing anti-torture laws, including the use of extreme temperatures, acts causing sexual humiliation or depriving a prisoner of food, sleep or medical care.”

While federal law already provides up to a 20-year penalty for inflicting torture, the Democratic measure would have expounded upon the definition to include specific forms of torture (but did not expand the overall meaning of torture) previously approved by Bush administration Justice Department lawyers. The felony torture statute already on the books merely describes torture as “severe physical or mental pain or suffering.”

Ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee Pete Hoekstra of Michigan opposed the more detailed prohibition on torture because, in his words, the "annual intelligence bill should be about protecting and defending our nation, not targeting those we ask to do that deed and giving greater protections to terrorists." Of course, it is a matter of established fact that many of those tortured under the Bush administration were not terrorists, but instead innocents picked up by greedy bounty hunters (or sold by the Pakistani government).

Perhaps the Democrats were willing to remove that provision from the bill because they had long approved of the Bush administration torture program. A recent Freedom of Information Act request by Judicial Watch revealed that — despite past denials by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — the CIA had briefed leaders of both parties on its torture program frequently. “According to the documents, previously marked 'Top Secret,' between 2001 and 2007," Judicial Watch reported, “the CIA briefed at least 68 members of Congress on the CIA interrogation program, including so-called 'enhanced interrogation techniques.'” Read more.

Reuters’ Unbelievably Bad Reporting on the Ghost Detainee FOIA

Reuters’ Unbelievably Bad Reporting on the Ghost Detainee FOIA
By emptywheel | FireDogLake

I wasn’t going to respond to this unbelievably bad reporting from Reuters on the Ghost Detainee FOIA release the other day. But just in case anyone wants my 2 cents, here it is.

As I’ve shown, the packet of information makes it crystal clear that when Michael Hayden testified before SSCI on April 12, 2007, he lied. Lied about information he had received, in preparation for the briefing, the day before. Lied about precisely whom in Congress had been briefed.

He also lied about important details of the torture program–both why they did it and when.

Yet instead of reporting that–instead of looking at Hayden’s briefing critically–Reuters reports some of the details in the briefing unquestioningly, without noting they have already been debunked. Read more.

The Shameful Sixty-Eight: CIA Papers Reveal 68 Members Knew of Torture Program

The Shameful Sixty-Eight: CIA Papers Reveal 68 Members Knew of Torture Program
By Jonathan Turley | Jonathan Turley's Blog

Ever wondered how many members it would take to be told about torture before anyone went public or cried foul? Well, we now know it is somewhere above 68. The CIA has revealed that at least 68 U.S. lawmakers between 2001 and 2007 were briefed on torture. That obviously included many Democrats who later worked to avoid investigating torture and have been relatively silent as the Obama Administration has blocked any prosecution for torture or war crimes.

Judicial Watch has the credit of forcing the documents into the open. Read more.

Mind Control and Understanding Shutter Island

Mind control and understanding Shutter Island
By Bob Fitrakis | Online Journal

To understand Martin Scorsese's well-crafted psychological thriller Shutter Island, viewers should do an Internet search on the following three terms: MK-Ultra, Manchurian candidates, and Operation Paperclip. For the extended value-added search, throw in the combination of "CIA" and "LSD."

Shutter Island is being released at a very propitious time. Just look at last Saturday's front page of the New York Times. Above the fold we have two related stories, the first, under the inaccurate headline "A new report, a new verdict, in terror fight." A more accurate title would read "U.S. government and Obama administration reaffirm Bush administration commitment to torture."

The post-World War II U.S. administrations and its rising security-industrial complex covertly embraced torture and secret dosing of unsuspecting people with psychedelic drugs to control their behavior and create assets and assassins during the Red Scare. Now, overt torture done in the name of "fighting terror" has been embraced by the administration of Mr. "Hope and Change."

The Times announced that the recent government report that exonerated " . . . the lawyers who gave justification to the Bush administration's brutal interrogation tactics "officially . . . brings to a close a pivotal chapter in the debate over the legal limits of the Bush administration's fight against terrorism and whether its treatment of Qaeda prisoners amounted to torture."

This means the first modern nation that banned torture in its Constitution now officially endorses torture by redefining "cruel and unusual punishment."

J.S. Bybee, now a federal judge, and John Yoo, now a professor at the University of Califormia, Berkeley, serve in the renewed roles of Operation Paperclip Nazi war criminals brought to the United States following World War II. There is little difference between Bybee/Yoo and von Braun/Strughold. Read more.

Poll: Enhanced Interrogation Beats Torture

Poll: Enhanced interrogation beats torture | UPI

U.S. adults are somewhat more accepting of "enhanced interrogation techniques" than they are of "torture," a poll released Tuesday indicates.

More than half, 55 percent, of those surveyed by Angus Reid Public Opinion said terrorism suspects should not be tortured. But 57 percent said "enhanced interrogation techniques" are acceptable. Read more.

The Torture Lawyers

The Torture Lawyers | NY Times Editorial

As the dealings outlined in the original report underscore, the lawyers did not offer what most people think of as “legal advice.” Mr. Yoo and Mr. Bybee were not acting as fair-minded analysts of the law but as facilitators of a scheme to evade it. The White House decision to brutalize detainees already had been made. Mr. Yoo and Mr. Bybee provided legal cover.

Is this really the state of ethics in the American legal profession? Government lawyers who abused their offices to give the president license to get away with torture did nothing that merits a review by the bar?

A five-year inquiry by the Justice Department’s ethics watchdogs recommended a disciplinary review for the two lawyers who produced the infamous torture memos for former President George W. Bush, but they were overruled by a more senior Justice Department official. Read more.

Sen. Sanders & Rep. Schakowsky Introduce Legislation To Phase Out Private Security Contractors In War Zones

Stop Outsourcing Security | Press Release

WASHINGTON, February 23 – Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today introduced legislation that would phase out private security contractors in war zones.

The United States last year employed more than 22,000 hired guns in Iraq and Afghanistan. They protected diplomats, trained military and police officers, repaired and maintained weapons systems. Contractors also were involved with interrogations and intelligence gathering.

“The American people have always prided themselves on the strength, conduct, and honor of our United States military. I therefore find it very disturbing that now, in the midst of two wars and a global struggle against terrorism, we are relying more and more on private security contractors – rather than our own service members – to provide for our national defense,” Sanders said.

“The behavior of private contractors has endangered our military, hurt relationships with foreign governments, and undermined our missions overseas,” Schakowsky added.

The Stop Outsourcing Security Act would restore the responsibility of the American military to train troops and police, guard convoys, repair weapons, administer military prisons, and perform military intelligence. The bill also would require that all diplomatic security be undertaken by U.S. government personnel. The White House could seek exceptions, but those contracts would be subject to congressional oversight.

The legislation also would subject contracts exceeding $5 million to congressional oversight. Agencies with military contractors would have to report the number of contractors employed, disclose the total cost of the contracts, and make public any disciplinary actions against employees.

High pay for contract workers in war zones both burdens taxpayers and saps military morale, Schakowsky and Sanders said. While some soldiers who risk their lives for their country struggle to support their families, private security company employees are paid two or three times as much, sometimes pocketing as much as $1,000 a day.

Part V: Overcoming the Divide and Conquer Strategy — The Economic Elite Vs. The People of the USA

Part V: Overcoming the Divide and Conquer Strategy — The Economic Elite Vs. The People of the USA
By David DeGraw | AmpedStatus Report

This is the fifth-part of a six-part report. Click on the links below to view earlier parts. Part six will be posted Thursday. To be notified via email, subscribe to our newsletter here.
——-I: Casualties of Economic Terrorism, Surveying the Damage
——-II: The Rise of the Economic Elite

——-III: Exposing Our Enemy - Meet the Economic Elite
——-IV: The Financial Coup d’Etat
——-V: Overcoming the Divide and Conquer Strategy
——-VI: How to Fight Back and Win: Common Ground Issues That Must Be Won

V: Overcoming the Divide and Conquer Strategy

“The conflicting propaganda of opposing parties is essentially what leads to political abstention. But this is not the abstention of the free spirit which asserts itself; it is the result of resignation, the external symptom of a series of inhibitions. Such a man has not decided to abstain; under diverse pressures, subjected to shocks and distortions, he can no longer (even if he wanted to) perform a political act. What is even more serious is that this inhibition not only is political, but also progressively takes over the whole of his being and leads to a general attitude of surrender.” — Jacques Ellul, Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes

 Overcoming the Divide and Conquer Strategy -- Economic Elite Vs. The PeopleThe primary reason why the Economic Elite have gained such dominance is their commitment to psychological operations that divide-and-conquer the US public. They use their overwhelming influence over mainstream media outlets and political candidates in very clever ways to divide us.

It is known among political scientists that powerful forces always seek to gain control of pre-existing social and political institutions so they can usurp their powers. The Economic Elite gained control of both the Democratic and Republican political parties because they knew that hardworking Americans loyally followed these parties, and we believed these parties were looking out for our best interests. We have, for the most part, been lifelong Republicans or lifelong Democrats, but until we see that our favored party has been seized by power and greed addicted interests, we will all continue to lose. These are extremely hard truths to face, but until we face them, we will continue our decline.

With half the US population loyal to Democrats and the other half loyal to Republicans, gaining control of both these parties meant total control for them. The past decade is testament to their total control of both parties.

Airport Security: Welcome to Scannergate - Terror Scares A Boon for Security Grifters

Airport Security: Welcome to Scannergate Terror Scares A Boon for Security Grifters
By Tom Burghardt | Global Research

Call them what you will: bottom feeders, corporate con-men, flim-flam artists, peddlers of crisis, you name it.

You can't help but marvel how enterprising security firms have the uncanny ability to sniff-out new opportunities wherever they can find, or manufacture, them.

After all, nothing sells like fear and in "new normal" America fear is an industry with a limitless growth potential.

While Republicans and Democrats squabble over who's "tougher" when it comes to invading and pillaging other nations (in the interest of "spreading democracy" mind you), a planetary grift dubbed the "War on Terror," waiting in the wings are America's new snake-oil salesmen.

Welcome to Scannergate!

With airport security all the rage, companies that manufacture whole body imaging technologies and body-scanners stand to make a bundle as a result of last December's aborted attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253.

Like their kissin' cousins at the Pentagon, poised to bag a $708 billion dollar windfall in the 2011 budget, securocrats over at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stand to vacuum-up some $56.3 billion next year, a $6 billion increase.

According to the agency's February 1 budget announcement, funding requirements will prioritize "efforts to enhance security measures that protect against terrorism and other threats ... reflecting the Department's commitment to fiscal discipline and efficiency."

In keeping with America's unstoppable slide to the right, President Obama created a commission on Thursday by executive order promising to "fix" the yawning budget deficit by establishing--what else!--a "bipartisan fiscal commission."

Part IV: The Financial Coup d’Etat — The Economic Elite Vs. The People of the United States of America

Part IV: The Financial Coup d’Etat — The Economic Elite Vs. The People of the United States of America
By David DeGraw | AmpedStatus Report
This is the fourth-part of a six-part report. Part one can be viewed here, part two here, three here. Part five will be posted Tuesday. To be notified via email, subscribe to our newsletter here.

——-I: Casualties of Economic Terrorism, Surveying the Damage
——-II: The Rise of the Economic Elite
——-III: Exposing Our Enemy - Meet the Economic Elite
——-IV: The Financial Coup d’Etat
——-V: Overcoming the Divide and Conquer Strategy
——-VI: How to Fight Back and Win: Common Ground Issues That Must Be Won

IV: The Financial Coup d’Etat
 The Financial Coup d'Etat -- Economic Elite Vs. The PeopleAlthough most of the Economic Elite live and operate inside the US, they are not concerned for our future. To them, the entire world is theirs and they work intimately with other elites throughout the world against the interests of the US public. Ever since the days of Henry Ford, the Economic Elite have needed a thriving US middle class to increase growth and profits, but now, in the global economy, they view the US middle class as obsolete. They increasingly look globally for profits and they would rather pay cheap labor in countries like China and India. On top of the millions of jobs they have already shipped overseas to increase profits at our expense, they are planning to ship an additional 25% of current US jobs overseas as well.

They now see us as the biggest obstacle to their continued consolidation of wealth and resources. This is why they have stepped up their attack on us.

If you want further proof of this, all one needs to do is study the Wall Street bailout. The entire bailout is strategically designed to eliminate the US middle class. Every time you hear the word “bailout,” you should think “coup d’état.” Here is the definition of coup d’état:

“A coup d’état or coup for short, is the sudden unconstitutional deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment… to replace the deposed government with another…. A coup d’état succeeds when the usurpers establish their legitimacy if the attacked government fail to thwart them, by allowing their (strategic, tactical, political) consolidation and then receiving the deposed government’s surrender; or the acquiescence of the populace and the non-participant military forces.

Typically, a coup d’état uses the extant government’s power to assume political control of the country. In Coup d’État: A Practical Handbook, military historian Edward Luttwak says: ‘A coup consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder’, thus, armed force (either military or paramilitary) is not a defining feature of a coup d’état.”

The bailout was a financial coup, an intelligence operation to seize control of the US economy and tax system. It is similar to what the Economic Elite have done through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in many other countries throughout the world. It is clearly a case of economic imperialism. When financial coups are carried out in other countries, they call it a Structural Adjustment Program (SAP). The end result is the theft of working class wealth, the privatization of public functions and resources, rising unemployment, the elimination of the middle class and increasing taxation and debt that turns the overwhelming majority of the nation into a peasant class. This is exactly the track we are on now.

DOJ Finds That Its Torture Lawyeres Engaged In Professional Misconduct by Advocating Torture During The Bush Administration

Department Of Justice Finds That Its Torture Lawyers Engaged In Professional Misconduct By Advocating Torture During The Bush Administration | Velvet Revolution
Help Us Hold Them Accountable — Join Our Campaign!

Late Friday, the Department of Justice issued its long awaited report on the actions of the DoJ lawyers who authored the infamous legal memos authorizing torture. The report consisted of two parts: the first is a 300-page report from the DoJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility concluding that the attorneys, specifically John Yoo and Jay Bybee, engaged in “professional misconduct.” The second is a 69-page cover letter from career Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis finding that the lawyers exercised “poor judgment.” The OPR finding would under normal circumstances require transmittal to the state bar for disciplinary proceedings. However, Mr. Margolis, a 17-year employee of the DoJ who was in a supervisory position when the legal memos were written, has specifically refused to allow the OPR report to be transmitted.

The good news: We can. And we will.
On Monday, February 22, our campaign attorney will file the DoJ/OPR findings with the various state bar disciplinary committees. These committees are already reviewing the complaints we filed last summer against 15 of the most culpable torture lawyers as part of our work to ensure accountability for their heinous actions. We are asking that disbarment proceedings proceed quickly in light of these reports.
We will also be taking the following actions in the coming weeks:

  • Working with the House and Senate to hold hearings on torture and whether political pressure entered into the Margolis decision
  • Launching a campaign for lawyers in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where Jay Bybee is a judge, to file to disqualify him from any cases to which he is assigned
  • Working with jurisdictions outside the U.S. to indict the torture lawyers and others like Dick Cheney for violating the UN Convention Against Torture
  • Increasing pressure for torture accountability through an aggressive media campaign
  • Seeking legal counsel to file a Writ of Mandamus to compel prosecution of torturers as required by the UN Convention Against Torture
  • Teaming with even more organizations to help multiply the effect of our work
If 1,000 of our members donate to this campaign, we can really push this issue forward and hold these torture lawyers accountable. CONTRIBUTE NOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE 

Torture Bored: How We've Erased The Legal Lines Around Torture And Replaced Them With Nothing

Torture Bored: How we've erased the legal lines around torture and replaced them with nothing
By Dahlia Lithwick | Slate

The rule of law requires that there be a floor. For decades most of us believed that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions was such a floor. Its bar against "[o]utrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment," was clearly meant to apply not just to POWs or battlefield soldiers in uniform but to all captives. Common Article 3 was intended to be the lowest we went, as Aziz Huq has written: "the point beyond which no nation can go without losing its claim to dignity and honor." But then along came the Bush lawyers, and they managed to saw into the floorboards. A sub-basement for prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo opened beneath us, and our dignity and honor disappeared into it.

We in this country have known for decades that water-boarding is torture. The United States has long treated water-boarding as a war crime and prosecuted Japanese soldiers for water-boarding U.S. soldiers during World War II. The torture tactic violates the U.N. Convention Against Torture, the U.S. Constitution, and domestic law. As Scott Horton has explained, "Section 2340A of the federal criminal code makes it an offense to torture or to conspire to torture. Violators are subject to jail terms or to death in appropriate cases, as where death results from the application of torture techniques." Eric Holder testified at his confirmation hearing that water-boarding is torture. John McCain agrees. So do members of the military. But among Bush lawyers such as John Yoo and Jay Bybee and David Addington, the legality of both torture and water-boarding were parsed and redefined so that where once there was a floor now there is none. Read more.

Bybee’s Lawyer: Bybee Distracted From Torture Memo Because Protecting Cheney’s Energy Task Force

Bybee’s Lawyer: Bybee Distracted from Torture Memo because Protecting Cheney’s Energy Task Force | emptywheel

I’ll have more on Maureen Mahoney’s first response on behalf of Jay Bybee to the OPR report later today. But I wanted to draw attention to a footnote she includes to–apparently–explain that Jay Bybee was a very busy man at the time when he was supposed to be overseeing John Yoo’s attempts to legalize torture in the summer of 2002. (This is on PDF page 19)

Judge Bybee’s role in reviewing the memo began in earnest around mid-July, roughly two weeks before he signed them.5

5 During the summer of 2002, in addition to his work on national security issues, Judge Bybee, as head of OLC, was also heavily involved in a number of other difficult and pressing legal matters. Of particular note, Judge Bybee was engaged in the district court litigation in Walker v. Cheney, No. 02-340 (DD.C.). Read more.

Facing Forcelosure, Man Screws Bank by Bulldozing Home

Facing Forcelosure, Man Screws Bank by Bulldozing Home
By Joshua Holland | Alternet

Like many people, Terry Hoskins has had troubles with his bank. But his solution to foreclosure might be unique.

Hoskins said he’s been in a struggle with RiverHills Bank over his Clermont County home for nearly a decade, a struggle that was coming to an end as the bank began foreclosure proceedings on his $350,000 home.

“When I see I owe $160,000 on a home valued at $350,000, and someone decides they want to take it – no, I wasn’t going to stand for that, so I took it down,” Hoskins said. Read more.

Philly Rampage Shows Social Media's Potential: Youthful Rage, Instead of Ineffectual, Could be Potent

By Dave Lindorff

City leaders and the downtown business community in Philadelphia are wringing their hands and calling for “tough action” against a horde of some 150 high school kids from eight of the city’s decrepit and failing high schools who rampaged late Tuesday afternoon through the Center City district’s shops, from the Gallery mall at 10th Street to Macy’s near City Hall, frightening tourists and suburban shoppers, and knocking over shopping displays.

By evening, police had reportedly locked up 15 kids who were charged with violent offenses, such as beating other kids or bystanders, or destroying property (Macy’s claimed damages to its flagship store totalling $700). Some of these kids were held overnight on lesser charges such as shoplifting or disturbing the peace.

I’m not going to diminish the seriousness of the incident. Nobody should be trashing stores or stealing things, and certainly nobody should be hurting other people.

Selling Out America to Wall Street

Selling Out America to Wall Street
By Stephen Lendman

"The (US) economy has reached its debt limit and is entering its insolvency phase. We are not in a cycle but (at) the end of an era. The old world of debt pyramiding to a fraudulent degree cannot be restored..."

Project Censored's top 2010 story was "US Congress Sells Out to Wall Street," highlighting that since 2001, "eight of the most troubled firms have donated $64.2 million to congressional candidates, presidential candidates and the Republican and Democratic parties." It's no surprise that they own them, what Wall Street showed in a March 2009 Essential Information and Consumer Education Foundation report titled,"Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America."

The accompanying press release said:

Over the past decade, "$5 billion in political contributions bought Wall Street freedom from regulation, (and) restraint." From 1998 - 2008, "Wall Street investment firms, commercial banks, hedge funds, real estate companies and insurance conglomerates (the FIRE sector)" spent over $1.7 billion in political contributions and another $3.4 billion on lobbyists, in return for which:

  • they were freed from regulation;
  • could speculate on financial derivatives and an alphabet soup of securitized garbage, including asset-backed securities (ABSs), mortgage-backed securities (MBSs), collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs), collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), collateralized bond obligations (CBOs), credit default swaps (CDSs), and collateralized fund obligations (CFOs) - combined, sliced, diced, packaged, repackaged, and sold in tranches to sophisticated and ordinary investors, many unwittingly through mutual funds, 401(k)s, pensions, and the like;
  • could merge commercial and investment banking and insurance operations;
  • bilk investors and the public through fraudulent schemes; and
  • get trillions of bailout dollars when the economy crashed.

Part III: Exposing Our Enemy - Meet the Economic Elite

Part III: Exposing Our Enemy - Meet the Economic Elite
By David DeGraw | AmpedStatus | Friday, February 19th, 2010

This is the third-part of a six-part report. Part one can be viewed here, part two here. Part four will be posted Sunday. To be notified via email, subscribe to our newsletter here.

III: Exposing Our Enemy - Meet the Economic Elite

 Exposing Our Enemy - Meet the Economic Elite

The Great Bi-Partisan Deception

The Great Bi-Partisan Deception
By Shamus Cooke | Counter Punch

To ensure the Democrats' fall, a final prop must be removed. Labor unions and community groups must refuse future support to this corporate-owned party. In the meantime, these groups must unite in opposition to the above bi-partisan agenda. A massive education campaign is needed to inform workers about the coming assault on their long-cherished social programs. Social Security, Medicare, and public education, etc., must be saved by ending wars and bank bailouts, and by raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

Some cancer is too aggressive even for chemotherapy. The US political system is infected with such a disease; and we may be witnessing the first death spasms. In a country ravaged by war and economic crisis, with tens of millions of people suffering, politicians are capable of doing absolutely nothing to help ordinary people. The only two “achievements” of the Democrat’s super majority in the Senate — over the course of five months — were an ineffectual stimulus package and a “surge” of troops in Afghanistan.

Now the two party system is reshuffling to pursue a joint mission. Policies that the corporate elite have been planning for decades are in the process of being implemented. The recession is being used as the ultimate excuse to gut Medicare, Social Security, public education and other social services while expanding war, corporate tax breaks and corporate health care.

Typically, the Republicans leave the really dirty work to the Democrats, who enforce pro-corporate policies by exploiting their political capital with labor and community groups — while somehow managing to emerge “the lesser of two evils.” This is why Bill Clinton was left with the task of “reforming” welfare and implementing NAFTA. In regards to “reforming” Social Security, Bush looked into the abyss and got scared; better to let the Democrats play with that fire.

Obama, then, is being left to perform the dirtiest of missions. He refuses to do it alone. This is the motive behind his never-ending plea for “bi-partisan cooperation.” While the Democrats had a super majority in the Senate and huge House majority, Obama never stopped begging the Republicans to join him. And, yes, Obama understands that the Republicans hate him, insult him in public, and are betting high stakes on his failure. Still, he needs them to bear some of the political weight that comes with attacking popular social programs. The Republicans will likely meet Obama in the middle over many of these key issues; they don’t want to miss this historic opportunity to implement ideas they’ve been advancing for years through right-wing think tanks. Read more.

Cheney’s Choice: Torture

Cheney’s Choice: Torture
By Missy Comley Beattie

I watch very little television these days, so I didn’t see ABC News’ broadcast of the Dick Cheney declaration: “I was a big supporter of waterboarding. I was a big supporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques…” Later, I read the transcript and watched a video clip of the former vice president’s admission.

Dick Cheney must derive vicarious pleasure from images of physical abuse. Probably, photographs of victims from Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and Bagram wallpaper his bedroom, bathroom, and dining room. Probably, he DNAs into his whitey tighties when he thinks or speaks of “waterboarding.” And, probably, pictures of sexual humiliation and hooded and shackled prisoners kept in small cages are so stimulating that Cheney no longer requires a pacemaker to regulate his heart.

Okay, enough of these visuals.

My objective was to examine the acknowledgment—uttered with pride to a national audience from this man-like, malevolent fusion of cells that lied us into war and insisted on fixing intelligence to secure support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, a devastation that has killed and injured thousands of our own and over a million Iraqis—and uncover a why.

Ruling: No Court Can Hear Abuse and Wrongful Death Claims from Guantanamo

Ruling: No Court Can Hear Abuse and Wrongful Death Claims from Guantanamo | Press Release

February 17, 2010, New York – Yesterday evening, the district court in Washington, D.C. ruled against two men who died in Guantanamo in June 2006 and their families in a case seeking to hold federal officials and the United States responsible for the men’s torture, arbitrary detention and ultimate deaths at Guantánamo.

Following a two-year investigation, the military concluded that the men had committed suicide. Recent first-hand accounts by four soldiers stationed at the base at the time of the deaths, however, raise serious questions about the cause and circumstances of the deaths, including the possibility that the men died as the result of torture.

In dismissing the case, the district court ruled that the deceased’s constitutional claims that it was a violation of due process and cruel treatment to detain them for four years without charge while subjecting them to inhumane and degrading conditions of confinement and violent acts of torture and abuse, could not be heard in federal court. The men were held on the basis of an “enemy combatant” finding by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal later found by the Supreme Court itself to be inadequate.

The district court held that the claims were barred by a jurisdiction-stripping provision of the 2006 Military Commissions Act that bars any challenge by a Guantánamo detainee to their treatment, conditions, or any other aspect of their detention, while failing to address the plaintiffs’ arguments about the unconstitutionality of the provision itself. The court also dismissed the deceased’s claims under the Alien Tort Claims Act, following a holding by the D.C. Circuit Court in another detainee case that found that even torture or seriously criminal conduct can fall within the proper “scope of employment” of a government actor. Last, the court failed to consider the merits of plaintiffs’ claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act, including for emotional distress by the families, by holding that the U.S. military base at Guantánamo is still a “foreign country” for the purposes of the Act.

“These men were tortured and detained for four years on the basis of an arbitrary designation of ‘enemy combatant’ and died in the custody of the United States military. They and their families should have the right to have their claims heard at the very least,” said Pardiss Kebriaei, staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “The court’s decision is all the more troubling in light of recent information that seriously undermines the official account of how these men died, and creates an even greater urgency for transparency and accountability.”

America’s Global Weapons Monopoly: Don’t Call It “the Global Arms Trade”

America’s Global Weapons Monopoly: Don’t Call It “the Global Arms Trade”
By Frida Berrigan |

From TomDispatch this afternoon, a striking account of how the United States has captured the global market in advanced weapons sales and why that's not news in this country: Frida Berrigan, "America's Global Weapons Monopoly, Don't Call It 'the Global Arms Trade'"

When the media focus on the export of weaponry to the world -- and it's seldom a big story -- they invariably write about "the global arms trade" and "competition." Tom Dispatch regular Frida Berrigan, senior program associate with the New America Foundation’s Arms and Security Initiative, suggests that the language is all wrong. As it happens, the U.S. has a near stranglehold on the "trade" -- "If we’re looking at the figures for that 'trade' in a clear-eyed way," she writes, "there is really just one seller and so many buyers." After all, the U.S. controls nearly 70% of global arms exports today and the nearest "competitor," Italy (not Russia or China), a mere 9%. Imagine that.

It used to be that the United States exported goods, products, and machinery of all sorts in prodigious quantities: cars and trucks, steel and computers, and high-tech gizmos. But those days are largely over. Now, what we successfully export are things that go boom in the night -- and the Pentagon is working hard to insure that U.S. weapons makers are even more "competitive" by relaxing what export controls on weaponry now exists.

Berrigan concludes, speaking of recent multi-billion dollar U.S. arms deals: "Such deals are staggering. They contribute more bang and blast to a world already bristling with particularly lethal weaponry. They are a striking American success story in a time filled with failures. Put in the lurid but everyday terms of a nation weaned on reality television, the Pentagon is pimping for the U.S. weapons industry. The weapons industry, for its part, is a pusher for every kind of lethal technology. The two of them together are working to ensure that more of the same will flow out of the U.S. in ever easier and more lucrative ways.

"Global arms trade? Send that one back to the Department of Euphemisms. Pimps and pushers with a lucrative global monopoly on a killing drug -- maybe that’s the language we need. And maybe, just maybe, it’s time to launch a 'war on weapons.'”

America’s Global Weapons Monopoly
Don’t Call It “the Global Arms Trade”

By Frida Berrigan | TomDispatch

On the relatively rare occasions when the media turns its attention to U.S. weapons sales abroad and shines its not-so-bright spotlight on the latest set of facts and figures, it invariably speaks of “the global arms trade.”

Let’s consider that label for a moment, word by word:

*It is global, since there are few places on the planet that lie beyond the reach of the weapons industry.

*Arms sounds so old-fashioned and anodyne when what we’re talking about is advanced technology designed to kill and maim.

*And trade suggests a give and take among many parties when, if we’re looking at the figures for that “trade” in a clear-eyed way, there is really just one seller and so many buyers.

How about updating it this way: “the global weapons monopoly.” Read more.

Part II: The Rise of the Economic Elite — Economic Elite Vs. The People

Part II: The Rise of the Economic Elite — Economic Elite Vs. The People
By David DeGraw | Amped Status

This is the second-part of a six-part report. Part one can be viewed here, part three will be posted on Friday. To be notified via email, subscribe to our newsletter here.

——-I: Causalities of Economic Terrorism, Surveying the Damage
——-II: The Rise of the Economic Elite
——-III: Exposing Our Enemy: Meet the Economic Elite
——-IV: The Financial Coup d’Etat
——-V: Overcoming the Divide and Conquer Strategy
——-VI: How to Fight Back and Win: Common Ground Issues That Must Be Won

II: The Rise of the Economic Elite

“The war against working people should be understood to be a real war…. Specifically in the U.S., which happens to have a highly class-conscious business class…. And they have long seen themselves as fighting a bitter class war, except they don’t want anybody else to know about it.” — Noam Chomsky

As a record number of US citizens are struggling to get by, many of the largest corporations are experiencing record-breaking profits, and CEOs are receiving record-breaking bonuses. How could this be happening; how did we get to this point?

The Economic Elite have escalated their attack on US workers over the past few years; however, this attack began to build intensity in the 1970s. In 1970, CEOs made $25 for every $1 the average worker made. Due to technological advancements, production and profit levels exploded from 1970 - 2000. With the lion’s share of increased profits going to the CEOs, this pay ratio dramatically rose to $90 for CEOs to $1 for the average worker.

As ridiculous as that seems, an in-depth study in 2004 on the explosion of CEO pay revealed that, including stock options and other benefits, CEO pay is more accurately $500 to $1.

Paul Buchheit, from DePaul University, revealed, “From 1980 to 2006 the richest 1% of America tripled their after-tax percentage of our nation’s total income, while the bottom 90% have seen their share drop over 20%.” Robert Freeman added, “Between 2002 and 2006, it was even worse: an astounding three quarters of all the economy’s growth was captured by the top 1%.”

Due to this, the United States already had the highest inequality of wealth in the industrialized world prior to the financial crisis. Since the crisis, which has hit the average worker much harder than CEOs, the gap between the top one percent and the remaining 99% of the US population has grown to a record high. The economic top one percent of the population now owns over 70% of all financial assets, an all-time record.

MK-ULTRA: The CIA's Mind Control Program

MK-ULTRA: The CIA's Mind Control Program
By Stephen Lendman

Note: MK-ULTRA and Ruhullah's story will be featured on the Progressive Radio News Hour this Thursday, February 18 at 10AM US Central time on The Progressive Radio Network. Listen live or later through archives.

MK-ULTRA was the code name for a secret CIA mind control program, begun in 1953, under Director Allen Dulles. Its purpose was multifold, including to perfect a truth drug for interrogating suspected Soviet spies during the Cold War. It followed earlier WW II hypnosis, primitive drugs research, and the US Navy's Project Chatter, explained by its Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request as follows:

It began "in the fall of 1947 focusing on the identification and testing of drugs (LSD and others) in interrogations and the recruitment of agents. The research included laboratory experiments on both animal and human subjects. The program ended shortly after the Korean War in 1953."

It was run under the direction of Dr. Charles Savage of the Naval Medical Research Institute, Bethesda, MD from 1947 - 1953, after which CIA's Office of Scientific Intelligence continued it under the name Project Bluebird, its first mind control program to:

  • learn how to condition subjects to withstand information from being extracted from them by known means;
  • develop interrogation methods to exert control;
  • develop memory enhancement techniques; and
  • establish ways to prevent hostile control of Agency personnel.

VR Celebrates 5-Year Anniversary By Exposing Chamber of Commerce's Campaign for Corporate Takeover of America

VR’s Five Year Anniversary:Help Us Celebrate With Ads Exposing The Chamber Of Commerce’s Campaign For The Corporate Takeover Of America
Join Our Stop The Chamber Campaign

This week, thanks to all your participation, VR celebrates its five year anniversary of grassroots activism and government accountability. We look forward to the next five years with more campaigns and greater citizen involvement. Let’s start with a full page ad in Washington and Internet ads exposing the Chamber of Commerce for its billion dollar campaign to put elections in the hands of corporations rather than the American people.

Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money to manipulate elections. The driving force behind this decision was the Chamber of Commerce and its army of corporate bad guys. Since the decision, we have learned that the Chamber spent $144 million for lobbying in 2009 — more than either the Democrats or Republicans. The Chamber has announced plans to spend more than ever in 2010 to elect candidates that support polluters and robber barons.

Two weeks ago, Congress held hearings on ways to blunt the Chamber’s takeover of all branches of government. The Brennan Center testified about the Chamber’s shameful and illegal practice of laundering money for big corporations in order to avoid disclosure requirements, comparing it to people using Swiss bank accounts to avoid paying US taxes.

We want to expose the Chamber’s illegal, unethical and opaque practices with a full page print ad in Washington and ads across the Internet. Our last print ad drew lots of attention from the mainstream media, with Fox News and Rush Limbaugh calling us out for taking on big corporations, and their fans warning us to back off of the Chamber. We had to complain to the FBI to stop the threats.

Let’s let them know that we are not intimidated and we will continue to expose the Chamber’s corruption. Our ads will call on Congress and the Department of Justice to investigate the Chamber’s money laundering operation with full subpoena power, grand jury action and public hearings. We need your help.

Please help us with a donation and pass this on to your friends. We need to stop the Chamber’s assault on democracy so make sure to join our StopTheChamber campaign at

Remember: Become a Fan of Velvet Revolution on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Save Free Speech and Free Elections for People, not Corporations

  Stop the Chamber

Our campaign is moving forward to create a Constitutional Amendment that will protect free speech and free elections for people, not corporations. In less than a month, we've formed coalitions and seen an amendment introduced in Congress that now has 12 cosponsors.

Additional amendments and legislation have been introduced in Congress and in state legislatures. Resolutions urging amendments have been introduced at the state and local levels. Campaigns have been launched to organize shareholders to press for reforms. A comprehensive and constantly updated overview of all of these efforts is abailable online.

Click the four logos above to get involved!

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