May 182013
 
There is clear evidence that he has broken the law on multiple occasions. And not even Republicans seem to care.

The Atlantic
Conor Friedersdorf

obama full full full.jpg

Reuters

Prompted by Peggy Noonan’s claim in The Wall Street Journal that “we are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate,” Andrew Sullivan steps forward to defend Pres. Obama’s honor. “Can she actually believe this?,” he asks incredulously. “Has this president broken the law, lied under oath, or authorized war crimes? Has he traded arms for hostages with Iran? Has he knowingly sent his cabinet out to tell lies about his sex life? Has he sat by idly as an American city was destroyed by a hurricane? Has he started a war with no planning for an occupation? Has he started a war based on a lie, and destroyed the US’ credibility and moral standing while he was at it, leaving nothing but a smoldering and now rekindled civil sectarian war?”

An Obama critic, having overplayed her hand, gave Sullivan an opening to respond with what amounts to, “It isn’t as bad as Watergate, nor as bad as George W. Bush.” Let’s concede those points. I don’t much care what Obama’s Republican critics say about him. The scandals they’re presently touting, bad as two of them are, aren’t even the worst of Team Obama’s transgressions.

I have a stronger critique. Sullivan hasn’t internalized the worst of what Obama’s done, because his notion of scandal is implicitly constrained by whatever a president’s partisan opponents tout as scandalous. If they criticize Obama wrongly, he defends Obama proportionately.

To see what he’s forgotten as a result, let’s run once more through the first questions in Sullivan’s latest Obama apologia.

Has this president broken the law, lied under oath, or authorized war crimes?

Yes, President Obama has broken the law on multiple occasions. Despite clearly stating, in a 2008 questionnaire, that  the commander-in-chief is not lawfully empowered to ignore treaties duly ratified by the Senate, Obama has willfully failed to enforce the torture treaty, signed by Ronald Reagan and duly ratified by the Senate, that compels him to investigate and prosecute torture. As Sullivan put it earlier this year, “what Obama and Holder have done (or rather not done) is illegal.”

Obama also violated the War Powers Resolution, a law he has specifically proclaimed to be Constitutionally valid, when committing U.S. troops to Libya without Congressional approval.  Or as Sullivan put it in 2011, “I’m with Conor. The war in Libya becomes illegal from now on. And the imperial presidency grows even more powerful.”

On the subject of war crimes, Sullivan wrote that “Obama and attorney-general Eric Holder have decided to remain in breach of the Geneva Conventions and be complicit themselves in covering up the war crimes of their predecessors – which means, of course, that those of us who fought for Obama’s election precisely because we wanted a return to the rule of law were conned.” In a separate entry, he went so far as to say that Obama is “a clear and knowing accessory to war crimes, and should at some point face prosecution as well, if the Geneva Conventions mean anything any more.” That seems rather farther than Noonan went in her column.

Obama has not, as Sullivan points out, traded arms for hostages with Iran, or started a war with no planning for the inevitable occupation that would follow. But there are different questions that could be asked about Obama that would perhaps be more relevant to his behavior.

Has he ordered the assassination of any American citizens in secret without due process? Did he kill any of their teenage kids without ever explaining how or why that happened?

Has he refused to reveal even the legal reasoning he used to conclude his targeted killing program is lawful?

Has he waged an unprecedented war on whistleblowers?

Has he spied on millions of innocent Americans without a warrant or probable cause?

Does he automatically count dead military-aged males killed by U.S. drones as “militants”?

Did he “sign a bill that enshrines in law the previously merely alleged executive power of indefinite detention without trial of terror suspects”?

There is more, as Sullivan knows, and it all amounts to a scandalous presidency, even if it happens that few Republicans care about the most scandalous behavior, and have instead spent almost a year* now obsessing about Benghazi. The IRS scandal and Department of Justice leak-investigation excesses are worrisome, but the biggest scandals definitely go all the way to the top, and are still largely ignored even by commentators who have acknowledged that they’re happening. Sullivan has noted the stories as they broke, and seemed, for fleeting moments, to confront their gravity, noting the violation of very serious laws, and even once stating that Obama deserves to be prosecuted! Yet in response to Noonan, he writes, “So far as I can tell, this president has done nothing illegal, unethical or even wrong.” How inexplicably they forget.

And Sullivan is hardly alone. At the New York Times, Mother Jones, The New Yorker, and beyond, exceptional journalists take great care to document alarming abuses against the rule of law, the separation of powers, transparency, and human rights perpetrated by the Obama Administration. On a given subject, the coverage leaves me awed and proud to be part of the same profession. But when it comes time for synthesis, bad heuristics take over. Confronted with the opportunism and absurdity of the GOP, Obama’s sins are forgiven, as if he should be graded on a curve. His sins are forgotten, as if “this president has done nothing illegal, unethical or even wrong.”

Yes. He. Has. Continue reading »

Mar 312013
 

SANA

PRAGUE, (SANA)- Ex-CNN reporter Amber Lyon revealed that during her work for the channel she received orders to send false news and exclude some others which the US administration did not favor with the aim to create a public opinion in favor of launching an aggression on Iran and Syria.

Lyon was quoted by the Slovak main news website as saying that the mainstream US media outlets intentionally work to create a propaganda against Iran to garner public opinion’s support for a military invasion against it.

She revealed that the scenario used before launching the war on Iraq is being prepared to be repeated where Iran and Syria are now being subject to constant ‘demonization’.

The former reporter clarified that the CNN channel manipulates and fabricates news and follows selectiveness when broadcasting news, stressing that the Channel receives money from the U.S. government and other countries’ governments in exchange for news content.

H. Said

Continue reading »

Mar 032013
 

The Daily Bell

‘Smart borders’: enhancing mobility and security … The EU is moving towards a more modern and efficient border management by using state-of-the-art technology. Today, the Commission proposed a ‘smart border package’ to speed-up, facilitate and reinforce border check procedures for foreigners travelling to the EU. The package consists of a Registered Traveller Programme (RTP) and an Entry/Exit System (EES) that will simplify life for frequent third country travellers at the Schengen external borders and enhance EU border security. – European Commission Press Release

Dominant Social Theme: “I’m from the EU and I’m here to help.”

Free-Market Analysis: As we have mentioned numerous times, the ultimate goal of the current security regime seems to be to create a two-tier travel system in which some people – with government approved credentials – will be able to travel with relative ease while others will not.

We have in various articles catalogued US programs that allow one to be “pre-approved” and thus avoid the long lines of those who are yet, apparently, to be considered potential terrorists. Eventually, such system will turn into something more difficult, of course – as the emphasis shifts from the approved to the non-approved.

In other words, eventually those who are not approved to travel may have trouble taking advantage of modern travel conveniences such as planes, trains, buses and eventually automobiles.

This is the logical outcome of the kind of regulatory state that is now being constructed using the war on terror as a pretext. It is apparently a prelude to global (centralized) governance and must be instituted since most people don’t want to live in a single world construct and therefore need to be herded – forcefully – in that direction. Travel restrictions are a useful tool.

If such a scenario is to be realized, it must be effective not just in the US but throughout the West and perhaps worldwide. Now in a press released, we are informed the EU is taking steps to harmonize its travel program with the US’s and other powers.

For now, of course, it’s pitched as a convenience. Here’s a further excerpt from the press release:

“The use of new technologies will enable smoother and speedier border crossing for third country citizens who want to come to the EU. Our aim is to facilitate the access of foreign travellers to the EU. This will not only be in the interest of the travellers but also the European economy. It has been estimated that in 2011 alone foreign travellers made a €271 billion contribution to our economy. Modernising our systems will also lead to a higher level of security by preventing irregular border crossings and detecting those who overstay’, said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.

Regulation on an EU Registered Traveller Programme (RTP)

1. A Registered Traveller Programme (RTP) will allow frequent travellers from third countries to enter the EU using simplified border checks, subject to pre-screening and vetting. It is estimated that 5 million legitimate non EU-travellers per year will make use of this new program. The RTP will make use of automated border control systems (i.e. automated gates) at major border crossing points such as airports that make use of this modern technology. As a result, border checks of Registered Travellers would be much faster than nowadays.

2. Business travellers, workers on short term contracts, researchers and students, third country nationals with close family ties to EU citizens or living in regions bordering the EU are all likely to cross the borders several times a year. Making it as easy as possible for them to come to the EU would ensure that Europe remains an attractive destination and help boosting economic activity and job creation.

Regulation on an EU Entry/Exit system

1. An Entry/Exit System (EES) will record the time and place of entry and exit of third country nationals travelling to the EU. The system will calculate the length of the authorised short stay in an electronic way, replacing the current manual system, and issue an alert to national authorities when there is no exit record by the expiry time. In this way, the system will also be of assistance in addressing the issue of people overstaying their short term visa.
Continue reading »

Feb 282013
 

Selected Articles

Global Research
Julie Lévesque

CIA Hollywood

“One of the most pervasive trends in 21st century western culture has become somewhat of an obsession in America. It’s called “Hollywood history”, where the corporate studio machines in Los Angeles spend hundreds of millions of dollars in order to craft and precisely tailor historical events to suit the prevailing political paradigm.” (Patrick Henningsen, Hollywood History: CIA Sponsored “Zero Dark Thirty”, Oscar for “Best Propaganda Picture”)

Black Hawk Dawn, Zero Dark Thirty and Argo, those are only a few major recent productions showing how today’s movie industry promotes US foreign policy. But the motion picture has been used for propaganda since the beginning of the 20th century and Hollywood’s cooperation with the Department of Defense, the CIA and other government agencies is no modern trend.

With Michelle Obama awarding Ben Affleck’s Argo the Oscar for best movie, the industry showed how close it is to Washington. According to Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, Argo is a propaganda film concealing the ugly truth about the Iranian hostage crisis and designed to prepare the American public for an upcoming confrontation with Iran:

Foreign policy observers have long known that Hollywood reflects and promotes U.S. policies (in turn, is determined by Israel and its supporters).   This fact was made public when Michelle Obama announced an Oscar win for “Argo” – a highly propagandist, anti-Iran  film.  Amidst the glitter and excitement, Hollywood and White House reveal their pact and send out their message in time for the upcoming talks surrounding Iran’s nuclear program […]

Hollywood has a long history of promoting US policies.   In 1917, when the United States entered World War I, President Woodrow Wilson’s Committee on Public Information (CPI) enlisted the aid of America ’s film industry to make training films and features supporting the ‘cause’.  George Creel, Chairman of the CPI believed that the movies had a role in “carrying the gospel of Americanism to every corner of the globe.”

The pact grew stronger during World War II […] Hollywood ’s contribution was to provide propaganda. After the war, Washington reciprocated by using subsidies, special provisions in the Marshall Plan, and general clout to pry open resistant European film markets […]

As Hollywood and the White House eagerly embrace “Argo” and its propagandist message, they shamelessly and deliberately conceal a crucial aspect of this “historical” event.  The glitter buries the all too important fact that the Iranian students who took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran , proceeded to reveal Israel ’s dark secret to the world.  Documents classified as “SECRET” revealed LAKAM’s activities.  Initiated in 1960, LAKAM was an Israeli network assigned to economic espionage in the U.S. assigned to “the collection of scientific intelligence in the U.S. for Israel ’s defense industry” (Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich Oscar to Hollywood’s “Argo”: And the Winners are … the Pentagon and the Israel Lobby)

For a real account of the Iranian hostage crisis, a CIA covert operation, Global Research recommends reading Harry V. Martin’s article published in 1995: The Real Iranian Hostage Story from the Files of Fara Mansoor:

Fara Mansoor is a fugitive. No, he hasn’t broken any laws in the United States. His crime is the truth. What he has to say and the documents he carries are equivalent to a death warrant for him, Mansoor is an Iranian who was part of the “establishment” in Iran long before the 1979 hostage taking. Mansoor’s records actually discount the alleged “October Surprise” theory that the Ronald Reagan-George Bush team paid the Iranians not to release 52 American hostages until after the November 1980 Presidential elections […]

With thousands of documents to support his position, Mansoor says that the “hostage crisis” was a political “management tool” created by the pro-Bush faction of the CIA, and implemented through an a priori Alliance with Khomeini’s Islamic Fundamentalists.” He says the purpose was twofold:

Zero Dark Thirty is another great silver screen propaganda piece which spurred outrage earlier this year. It exploits the horrific events of 9/11 to present torture as an effective and necessary evil:

Zero Dark Thirty is disturbing for two reasons. First and foremost, it leaves the viewer with the erroneous impression that torture helped the CIA find bin Laden’s hiding place in Pakistan. Secondarily, it ignores both the illegality and immorality of using torture as an interrogation tool.

The thriller opens with the words “based on first-hand accounts of actual events.” After showing footage of the horrific 9/11 attacks, it moves into a graphic and lengthy depiction of torture. The detainee “Ammar” is subjected to waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation, and confined in a small box. Responding to the torture, he divulges the name of the courier who ultimately leads the CIA to bin Laden’s location and assassination. It may be good theater, but it is inaccurate and misleading. (Marjorie Cohn, “Zero Dark Thirty”: Torturing the Facts)

Earlier this year the Golden Globe awards made some analysts criticize Hollywood’s dark “celebration of the police state” and argue that the real Golden Globe winner  was the military-industrial complex:

Homeland won best TV series, best TV actor and actress. It IS a highly entertaining show which actually portrays some of the flaws of the MIIC system.

Argo won best movie and best director. It glorifies the CIA and Ben Affleck spoke with the highest praise for the CIA.

And best actress went to Jessica Chastain of Zero Dark Thirty, a movie that has been vilified for propagandizing the use of torture.

***

The Military Industrial Intelligence Complex is playing a more and more pervasive role in our lives.  In the next few years we’ll be seeing movies that focus on the use of drone technology in police and spy work in the USA. We’ve already been seeing movies that show how spies can violate every aspect of our privacy– of the most intimate parts of our lives. By making movies and TV series that celebrate these cancerous extensions of the police state Hollywood and the big studios are normalizing the ideas they present us with– lying to the public, routinely creating fraudulent stories as covers for what’s really going on. (Rob Kall cited in Washington’s Blog, The CIA and Other Government Agencies Dominate Movies and Television)

All these troublesome Hollywood connections have been examined in an in-depth report Global Research published in January 2009: Lights, Camera… Covert Action: The Deep Politics of Hollywood. The article lists a great number of movies in part scripted for propaganda purposes by the Defense Department, the CIA and other government agencies. It is interesting to note that this year’s Oscar-winning director Ben Affleck cooperated with the CIA in 2002 as he starred in The Sum of All Fears.

Authors Matthew Alford and Robbie Graham explain that compared to the CIA, the Department of Defense “has an ‘open’ but barely publicized relationship with Tinsel Town” which, “whilst morally dubious and barely advertised, has at least occurred within the public domain.” Alford and Graham cite a 1991 CIA report revealing the sprawling influence of the agency, not only in the movie business but also in the media where it “has relationships with reporters from every major wire service, newspaper, news weekly, and television network in the nation.” It was not until 1996 that the CIA announced it “would now openly collaborate on Hollywood productions, supposedly in a strictly ‘advisory’ capacity”:

The Agency’s decision to work publicly with Hollywood was preceded by the 1991 “Task Force Report on Greater CIA Openness,” compiled by CIA Director Robert Gates’ newly appointed ‘Openness Task Force,’ which secretly debated –ironically– whether the Agency should be less secretive. The report acknowledges that the CIA “now has relationships with reporters from every major wire service, newspaper, news weekly, and television network in the nation,” and the authors of the report note that this helped them “turn some ‘intelligence failure’ stories into ‘intelligence success’ stories, and has contributed to the accuracy of countless others.” It goes on to reveal that the CIA has in the past “persuaded reporters to postpone, change, hold, or even scrap stories that could have adversely affected national security interests” […]

Espionage novelist Tom Clancy has enjoyed an especially close relationship with the CIA. In 1984, Clancy was invited to Langley after writing The Hunt for Red October, which was later turned into the 1990 film. The Agency invited him again when he was working on Patriot Games(1992), and the movie adaptation was, in turn, granted access to Langley facilities. More recently,The Sum of All Fears (2002) depicted the CIA as tracking down terrorists who detonate a nuclear weapon on US soil. For this production, CIA director George Tenet gave the filmmakers a personal tour of the Langley HQ; the film’s star, Ben Affleck also consulted with Agency analysts, and Chase Brandon served as on-set advisor.

The real reasons for the CIA adopting an “advisory” role on all of these productions are thrown into sharp relief by a solitary comment from former Associate General Counsel to the CIA, Paul Kelbaugh. In 2007, whilst at a College in Virginia, Kelbaugh delivered a lecture on the CIA’s relationship with Hollywood, at which a local journalist was present. The journalist (who now wishes to remain anonymous) wrote a review of the lecture which related Kelbaugh’s discussion of the 2003 thriller The Recruit, starring Al Pacino. The review noted that, according to Kelbaugh, a CIA agent was on set for the duration of the shoot under the guise of a consultant, but that his real job was to misdirect the filmmakers, the journalist quoted Kelbaugh as saying […] Kelbaugh emphatically denied having made the public statement. (Matthew Alford and Robbie Graham, Lights, Camera… Covert Action: The Deep Politics of Hollywood)

During the Cold War the CIA’s Psychological Strategy Board (PSB) agent Luigi G. Luraschi was a Paramount executive. He “had secured the agreement of several casting directors to subtly plant ‘well dressed negroes’ into films, including ‘a dignified negro butler’ who has lines ‘indicating he is a free man’”. The purpose of these changes was “to hamper the Soviets’ ability to exploit its enemy’s poor record in race relations and served to create a peculiarly anodyne impression of America, which was, at that time, still mired in an era of racial segregation.” (Ibid.)

The latest award-winning movie productions show that the Manichean view of the world put forward by the US foreign policy agenda has not changed since the Cold War. The Hollywood-CIA alliance is alive and well and still portrays America as the “leader of the free world” fighting “evil” around the world:

The interlocking of Hollywood and national security apparatuses remains as tight as ever: ex-CIA agent Bob Baer told us, “There’s a symbiosis between the CIA and Hollywood” […] Baer’s claims are given weight by the Sun Valley meetings, annual get-togethers in Idaho’s Sun Valley in which several hundred of the biggest names in American media –including every major Hollywood studio executive– convene to discuss collective media strategy for the coming year. (Ibid.)

Global Research offers its readers a list of articles on this topic.

Contrary to the Hollywood film industry, Global Research is not subject to any influence from the US intelligence apparatus and works to provide you the truth rather than fiction and propaganda.

We rely only on the support of our readers to continue the fight for truth and justice. If you want to contribute to independent research become a Global Research member or make a Donation! Your support is very much appreciated.

Continue reading »

Feb 212013
 

That the US is objectively “the greatest country ever to exist” is as irrational as it is destructive, yet it maintains the status of orthodoxy

The Guardian
Glenn Greenwald

A US flag waves within the razor wire-lined compound of Camp Delta prison at Guantánamo Bay in 2006

A US flag waves within the razor wire-lined compound of Camp Delta prison at Guantánamo Bay in 2006.

(updated below)

Last week, North Korea tested a nuclear weapon, and the US – the country with the world’s largest stockpile of that weapon and the only one in history to use it – led the condemnation (US allies with large nuclear stockpiles, such as Britain and Israel, vocally joined in). Responding to unnamed commentators who apparently noted this contradiction, National Review’s Charles Cooke voiced these two assertions:

cooke tweetHe followed that with this:

cooke tweetNobody can reasonably dispute that North Korea is governed by a monstrous regime and that it would be better if they lacked a nuclear weapons capability. That isn’t what interests me about this. What interests me here is that highlighted claim: that the US “is the greatest country in world history”, and therefore is entitled to do that which other countries are not.

This declaration always genuinely fascinates me. Note how it’s insufficient to claim the mere mantle of Greatest Country on the Planet. It’s way beyond that: the Greatest Country Ever to Exist in All of Human History (why not The Greatest Ever in All of the Solar Systems?). The very notion that this distinction could be objectively or even meaningfully measured is absurd. But the desire to believe it is so strong, the need to proclaim one’s own unprecedented superiority so compelling, that it’s hardly controversial to say it despite how nonsensical it is. The opposite is true: it has been vested with the status of orthodoxy.

What I’m always so curious about is the thought process behind this formulation. Depending on how you count, there are 179 countries on the planet. The probability that you will happen to be born into The Objectively Greatest One, to the extent there is such a thing, is less than 1%. As the US accounts for roughly 5% of the world’s population, the probability that you will be born into it is 1/20. Those are fairly long odds for the happenstance of being born into the Greatest Country on Earth.

But if you extend the claim to the Greatest Country that Has Ever Existed in All of Human History, then the probability is minute: that you will happen to be born not only into the greatest country on earth, but will be born at the precise historical time when the greatest of all the countries ever to exist is thriving. It’s similar to winning the lottery: something so mathematically improbable that while our intense desire to believe it may lead us on an emotional level wildly to overestimate its likelihood, our rational faculties should tell us that it is unlikely in the extreme and therefore to doubt seriously that it will happen.

Do people who wave the Greatest Country in All of Human History flag engage that thought process at all? I’m asking this genuinely. Given the sheer improbability that it is true, do they search for more likely explanations for why they believe this?

In particular, given that human beings’ perceptions are shaped by the assumptions of their culture and thus have a natural inclination to view their own culture as superior, isn’t it infinitely more likely that people view their society as objectively superior because they’re inculcated from birth in all sorts of overt and subtle ways to believe this rather than because it’s objectively true? It’s akin to those who believe in their own great luck that they just happened to be born into the single religion that is the One True One rather than suspecting that they believe this because they were taught to from birth.

At the very least, the tendency of the human brain to view the world from a self-centered perspective should render suspect any beliefs that affirm the objective superiority of oneself and one’s own group, tribe, nation, etc. The “truths” we’re taught to believe from birth – whether nationalistic, religious, or cultural – should be the ones treated with the greatest skepticism if we continue to embrace them in adulthood, precisely because the probability is so great that we’ve embraced them because we were trained to, or because our subjective influences led us to them, and not because we’ve rationally assessed them to be true (or, as in the case of the British Cooke, what we were taught to believe about western nations closely aligned to our own).

That doesn’t mean that what we’re taught to believe from childhood is wrong or should be presumed erroneous. We may get lucky and be trained from the start to believe what is actually true. That’s possible. But we should at least regard those precepts with great suspicion, to subject them to particularly rigorous scrutiny, especially when it comes to those that teach us to believe in our own objective superiority or that of the group to which we belong. So potent is the subjective prism, especially when it’s implanted in childhood, that I’m always astounded at some people’s certainty of their own objective superiority (“the greatest country in world history”).

It’s certainly true that Americans are justifiably proud of certain nationalistic attributes: class mobility, ethnic diversity, religious freedom, large immigrant populations, life-improving technological discoveries, a commitment to some basic liberties such as free speech and press, historical progress in correcting some of its worst crimes. But all of those virtues are found in equal if not, at this point, greater quantity in numerous other countries. Add to that mix America’s shameful attributes – its historic crimes of land theft, genocide, slavery and racism, its sprawling penal state, the company it keeps on certain human rights abuses, the aggressive attack on Iraq, the creation of a worldwide torture regime, its pervasive support for the world’s worst tyrannies – and it becomes not just untenable, but laughable, to lavish it with that title.

This is more than just an intellectual exercise. This belief in America’s unparalleled greatness has immense impact. It is not hyperbole to say that the sentiment expressed by Cooke is the overarching belief system of the US political and media class, the primary premise shaping political discourse. Politicians of all types routinely recite the same claim, and Cooke’s tweet was quickly re-tweeted by a variety of commentators and self-proclaimed foreign policy experts from across the spectrum.

Note that Cooke did not merely declare America’s superiority, but rather used it to affirm a principle: as a result of its objective superiority, the US has the right to do things that other nations do not. This self-affirming belief – I can do X because I’m Good and you are barred from X because you are Bad – is the universally invoked justification for all aggression. It’s the crux of hypocrisy. And most significantly of all, it is the violent enemy of law: the idea that everyone is bound by the same set of rules and restraints. Continue reading »

Feb 202013
 

Green Left
Duncan Roden

February 23 marks the 1000th day in which alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower, 24-year-old US Army intelligence officer Bradley Manning, has been jailed by US authorities without trial.

A pre-trial hearing in January in the case of Manning, concluded that his defence would be restricted to arguing motive during his trial, scheduled for June 3.

Manning has been accused of leaking thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, which revealed a wide range of US war crimes, as well as evidence of corruption and lying by a range of governments.

BradleyManning.org said Manning is “accused of releasing the Collateral Murder video, that shows the killing of unarmed civilians and two Reuters journalists, by a US Apache helicopter crew in Iraq. He is also accused of sharing the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and a series of embarrassing US diplomatic cables.

“These documents … illuminated such issues as the true number and cause of civilian casualties in Iraq, along with a number of human rights abuses by U.S.-funded contractors and foreign militaries, and the role that spying and bribes play in international diplomacy.

“Given the war crimes exposed, if PFC Bradley Manning was the source for these documents, he should be given a medal of honor.”

The US government, however, responded to the leaked evidence of serious US crimes by charging Manning with several offences, alleging that he “aided the enemy”. Judge Army Colonel Denise Lind’s January 17 ruling, like previous rulings in Manning’s case, remains unavailable to the public. Information can only be gleaned from reporters who were present at the hearings.

Kevin Gosztola, a journalist who has been diligently covering Manning’s case, was present at the hearings. He said the ruling means the defence cannot discuss whether Manning had “good faith” when arguing against charges that he “wrongfully and wantonly cause[d] to be published on the internet intelligence belonging to the United States government”.

Nor can the defence use the argument in relation to charges where the government has to prove he had “reason to believe such information could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation”.

However, the defence can discuss motive when addressing charges that Manning aided the enemy, to put the case that he did not know passing information to WikiLeaks would constitute “dealing with the enemy”.

It will also be allowed for sentencing, in which case he will have already been found guilty of very serious crimes that carry the potential for life imprisonment, or even potentially the death penalty. The question of motives could, at best, be used only to appeal for leniency in sentencing.

Manning’s defence team hoped to argue that he had the motive to “select information he believed could not be used by the enemy to harm the US”. However, the judge ruled that Manning’s subjective conclusions were “immaterial”.

This means that what Manning believed when carrying out the alleged offences will not be considered, only what is “objective”. As Gosztola points out: “What would an objective person know about classified information that would be kept secret for twenty-five years?”

The ruling also closed off the defence’s attempt at having damage assessment reports allowed in the trial. These are reports conducted by US security agencies that investigated damage caused by the leaked documents.

The reports concluded that there was no or very little harm caused, so the government prosecutors are eager to keep the reports out of the trial. Lind determined that Manning could not have known what measures agencies of government would have taken to mitigate damage so such evidence was not relevant.

These rulings greatly limit the defence’s line of argument. Gosztola described the primary line of defence for Manning as “odd”. Defence will argue that the military let Manning down by not practising good information security and also pointing to Manning’s mental health issues and claiming that the military was derelict in providing care.

This is a “litigious” defence, he says, which isn’t actually aimed at saying Manning is not guilty, but rather trying to get the charges thrown out.

The hearing has also renewed interest in how the final judgement will impact the mainstream press’ publication of the leaks.

Scott Shane in the New York Times quoted an exchange where “Colonel Lind, the judge, asked a prosecutor a hypothetical question: If Private Manning had given the documents to The New York Times rather than to WikiLeaks, would he face the same charges?” The prosecutor answered yes.

The NYT, along with many other mainstream publications, published hundreds of the documents that Manning allegedly leaked to WikiLeaks. The Justice Department continues its investigation into whether WikiLeaks head Julian Assange and his associates can be charged over publishing secret US cables.

Hearings also considered the defence’s charge that Manning’s rights had been violated due to unjustified delay of the trial. If the judge rules in the defence’s favour, there is the potential for the charges to be dropped.

Manning was first jailed on May 27, 2010. The defence put forward examples of when they believed the government had failed to act or acted improperly.

Defence and the judge seemed to agree that there was no case in military justice history that took so long to go to trial. If the defence succeeds in pushing this argument, all the charges against Manning could be dismissed due to the speedy trial violations. Lind is due to make her ruling before the next hearing begins on February 26.

Meanwhile, Manning languishes in solitary confinement in Fort Levenworth, Kansas. The Bradley Manning Support Network reports events are being planned around the world, including the US, Germany, Canada, Britain and Italy on February 23, to mark Manning’s 1000th day of jail.

[For more information, visit www.bradleymanning.org.] Continue reading »

Feb 102013
 

The Daily Bell

Thomas Herbrich: “The Truth About the Moon Landing” satirical take … For his project, Herbrich, whose work will be on view in March at the Circulation(s) Festival in Paris, wanted to concoct his own hoax not about the moon landing itself but about the photographs documenting the famous first steps on the moon. Herbrich invented a character, the fictitious “Uncle Stanley,” to insert into the events surrounding the moon landing as a starting point for the story. The premise of the series is that Uncle Stanley is behind the photos of the astronauts first landing and walking on the moon (including the famous photo of Neil Armstrong’s footprint on the moon’s surface). Stanley was, allegedly, one of rocket scientist Wernher von Braun’s friends and co-workers at NASA. In addition to staging the moon landing photos, Uncle Stan purportedly came up with the 10-seconds-to-launch countdown. – Slate

Dominant Social Theme: These fellows have bigger tin foil hats than anyone.

Free-Market Analysis: Doubts about NASA’s landing on the moon persist despite everything that NASA and its enablers and supporters do to stamp them out.

Various satires (see above) and the odd video continue to emerge on a regular basis to combat outbreaks of disbelief by those who increasingly don’t believe the official story. See also our article on a recent video, “Why the US Moon Landing Was Not Faked.”

Recent polls have shown that up to 30 percent of those questioned on the issue have considerable doubts that man reached the moon. The frustration is almost palpable among those who support the official narrative and we understand why this should be so.

The various landings on the moon are among humankind’s most significant accomplishments – assuming they are as reported – and are also a resonant triumph for the modern US … as leviathan and empire.

The moon landings, in fact, are a most significant elite dominant social theme. They act as a metaphor for the regnant State, a justification for big government, a signifier for empire.

Everything about the moon landings supports the current scenario of the Western paradigm. NASA is a gigantic bureaucracy; the astronauts worked for the US military; the political wing of the US empire provided the funding.

If the moon landings are a hoax, then a basic anchor of the military-industrial complex is unmoored.

This is why the moon-landing hoax won’t go away, why the “hoax-ers” are taken so seriously by the Anglo-American Establishment and why so much time and energy is devoted to attacking them and “debunking the debunkers.”

In the excerpted report article above posted at Slate, we can see yet another attempt at mocking those who doubt. Slate, a certifiable elite mouthpiece with leftist inclinations, is just one more outlet that can provide us with coverage of what “sensible” people think of the loons who don’t believe NASA’s presentation of the facts.

We’ve carried plenty of articles about NASA’s moon landings and indicated our skepticism of the current official narrative. And debunking videos and articles are posted all over the Internet – as are rebuttals. It is a fierce argument that, like the 9/11 debate, refuses to die.

Other debunking arguments have been given life by what we call the Internet Reformation. The shootings of John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy as well as the assassination of Martin Luther King.

The reason there are increasing – not decreasing – doubts about official stories on almost any controversial topic is because we are today in possession of a narrative that was not available before the advent of electronic communications.

Today, we can see the sweep of modern Western history – official history – and compare it to another narrative that has been patiently constructed over the past two decades by emergent alternative media.

The alternative narrative is both shocking and compelling. It postulates the existence of a small group of impossibly wealthy individuals funded by the Internet who seek world government and are manipulating historical events to gain it.

These people use Money Power to create directed history – always with the end goal of global governance in mind. War, depression and regulatory democracy are all manipulated toward one end: the centralization of power.

Keeping this narrative in mind, it is perfectly understandable that those who doubt the official story about the moon landings should emerge and continue to voice their difficulties with the official story.

What is driving the moon doubters is not so much the particulars of the explanations as the larger view of how the power elite has operated over the past century or more.

The ramifications are sociological, political and, of course, economic. As trust erodes in the current moorings of monetary and fiscal policy, significant sums of money are at stake. If the current central banking paradigm is jeopardized as a result of doubts generated elsewhere, then a social breakdown can take place – one that can jeopardize the very fabric of economy.

And yet the doubts persist and even expand. One can argue, in fact, that the rise and continuance of moon landing skepticism already serve as a kind of metaphor for a larger cultural breakdown.

This is surely the reason for the amount of pushback that moon-hoax believers receive from mainstream sources. The debunking Websites and the energy generally devoted to maintaining the official moon narrative is startling. It is as vehement and persistent as debunking rhetoric itself.

We are continually surprised by these mainstream arguments, as we know of only a few other elite memes that attract as much defensive energy. Perhaps no others.

Conclusion: Within this context we can perhaps paraphrase Shakespeare: “”The lady doth protest too much …” (Hamlet)

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Feb 072013
 

Global Research
John Kozy

money (2)

How quickly best laid plans become passé. New world orders come, it seems, as frequently as eclipses.

The old world order (ancien régime), along with 16 million people, died during the Great European War which began on June 28, 1914 when the Austrian heir to the throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated by a Serb nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, in Sarajevo. (Today he would be called a terrorist.) This assassination sent nations that had no desire to go to war into the most destructive war the world had yet experienced.

Europe at the beginning of 1914 consisted of six major empires and an assortment of minor states that the major empires didn’t care much about. The six major empires, (the Austro-Hungarian, French, German, British, Ottoman, and Russian) were ensnared in military alliances (much like the US is today) which were formed to keep the peace. The diplomats, like those today, believed that forming alliances that balanced the powers of different groups would keep them from attacking each other. The Central Powers consisted of Austro-Hungary, Germany, and the Ottoman Empire; the Triple Entente consisted of the other three. Peace, the diplomats thought was assured. What happened?

When the archduke was assassinated, the Austrians, confident in their military prowess (as Americans are today), decided to punish Serbia which was attacked on July 28. But the Serbs ambushed the Austrians at the battles of Cer and Kolubara. The Austrians were thrown back with heavy losses. Russia came to the aid of its ethnically related Serbs, and Germany invaded France through Belgium and Luxembourg. Britain came to the defense of France and the Ottoman Empire joined the war in the Balkans on the side of the Central Powers. The alliances that were to ensure the peace changed a single assassination into a massive war. When it was over, the Austro-Hungarian, the German, the Ottoman, and the Russian Empires had vanished and the United States, which joined the war late on the side of the Triple Entente had become a world player. The old world order was gone!

Woodrow Wilson, the American President, sought to create a new old world order by proposing his Fourteen Points. Wilson wanted to create separate nations out of former colonies and ensure the peace by creating a League of Nations (another peace by treaty scheme). Territorial reductions were made to Germany and Austria, a slew of new and revived nations were created in Eastern Europe, while France and Britain carved up the Ottoman Empire to suit themselves. The new old world order was just a reconfigured old world order. It didn’t last and it didn’t ensure the peace. So much for the best laid plans of diplomats.

Germany was reborn in 1933 when Adolph Hitler became Chancellor. He, too, sought to create a new world order, one dominated by a Thousand Year Reich (Empire). To that end, his policies were aimed at seizing Lebensraum (living space) for the German people by extending Germany’s borders. Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia were annexed and Poland was invaded. But alas, Poland had a mutual defense treaty (another alliance formed to ensure the peach) with Great Britain and France, so the invasion of Poland started World War II.

When it was over, Germany again was destroyed and Great Britain and France, for the most part, had had their empires diminished. The United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Russia) found themselves at the top of another new old world order.

The victorious powers, the US, the USSR, China, Great Britain, and France tried again to ensure the peace by creating the United Nations which they attempted to keep firmly in their control by making themselves rulers of the Security Council which had a veto on all UN Activities all five nations didn’t give unanimous approval to. That was to be the new old world order. But it began to come unglued immediately. China was not represented by mainland China which had become Communist but by “Nationalist” China whose government had fled to Taiwan. Communist China soon took the Chinese seat and the two Communist nations formed a bloc while the remaining three Capitalist nations formed another. The United Nations became the Disunited Nations and has remained so to this day. This new old world order was stillborn.

Sometime after 1950 (because of secrecy, the exact date is unknown) the Bilderbergers, realizing that the old world ancient régime and all of these new old world orders were founded on nation states that kept going to war with each other, began an attempt to create a truly new world order. David Rockefeller writes,

“We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. . . . It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries.”

“For more than a century ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it”

If there were no nation states, no wars could erupt between them!

Some believe that these international bankers have succeeded in taking over the world, but it has never succeeded in abolishing nation states. In fact, there is some evidence that nation states may be disintegrating into smaller ones. Scotland is going to hold a referendum on withdrawing from England, Catalonia is talking about withdrawing from Spain, Czechoslovakia has broken up into the Czech and Slovak republics, there is talk again of secession in the US, and no one quite knows what is really happening in the Arab world. A new world order ruled by one government? Not hardly!

But things began to break down in the 1950s. Until then, wars were fought between armies supported by nation states, and their endings were foreseeable. A war ended when one army, either voluntarily or on command, surrendered. That era appears to have ended. Old world order warfare appears to have become passé.
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