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Obama as a Third World strongman
President Barack Obama entered office as a “hope and change” candidate who promised to be far different from his predecessor George W. Bush. However, in his fifth year in office, Obama has taken on the trappings of a “strongman,” a leader found more often in Africa, the land of Obama’s paternal lineage, and in Asia, from where his step-father hailed.
Obama has not only maintained unprecedented “unitary executive” powers amassed up by Bush and his vice president, Dick Cheney, but in the area of surveillance and press restrictions, Obama has gone far beyond the preceding administration . . .
Many Obama supporters believed that the first African-American president and a former constitutional law professor would ring to the presidency an appreciation for not only the rule of law and America’s traditions of free speech, a free press, and a belief on privacy but also an understanding that the United States is but one of some two hundred nations, many in Africa and Asia, that Washington must learn to live with in peace.
But after five years in office, an ominous shadow has emerged over the United States. Obama has instituted an unprecedented system of surveillance of the phone calls, e-mails, and Internet transactions of Americans, including eavesdropping operations directed against journalists and their sources. Associated Press president Gary Pruitt recently told the National Press Club in Washington that the wire service’s “longtime trusted sources” have stopped speaking to AP reporters as a result of the Obama administration’s wiretapping of journalists and their sources, as well as unprecedented criminal charges pursuant to the 1917 Espionage Act being brought to bear on government whistleblowers.
Obama’s dalliance with fascism is part and parcel of a troubling trend among first generation American politicians who have a parent or parents that came to America from nations lacking a strong tradition and history of democratic rule. This appears particularly true among first generation Hispanics, individuals like Florida’s Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, whose parents come from nations like Cuba, Mexico, Honduras, and other nations that have suffered from military junta after junta and who adhere to the right-wing line of bolstering U.S. national security at all costs, the Bill of Rights be damned. These Latino and Latina leaders also support with U.S. aid and military advice right-wing regimes in Honduras, Colombia, Paraguay, and Guatemala, and right-wing opposition groups in Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, and other countries. Moreover, the goals of America’s political “caudillo class” in Latin America and elsewhere are supported wholeheartedly by Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. Moreover, Bush-era Justice Department officials like John Yoo and Viet Dinh, champions of the Patriot Act, hail from South Korea and South Vietnam, respectively. These nations have hardly had strong democratic traditions and values.
Amid all the drama over Edward Snowden‘s flight from "justice" – the media stakeout at a Moscow airport, the smear campaign aimed not only at Snowden but at Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who broke the PRISM/eavesdroppingstory, and the obsessive media focus on Snowden as a personality – the really interesting aspect of all this is how it will impact our politics.
This is what made the Sunday talk shows illuminating, for a change – aside from the fact that neither John McCain nor Lindsey Graham was to be seen or heard that morning. While Greenwald’s appearance on "Meet the Press," and his priceless smackdown of regimist spokesman David Gregory, has gotten all the attention, that same day over at ABC, George Stephanopoulos was giving the neocons their turn at bat in the person of Dan Senor, former spokesman for George W. Bush and now a big wazoo over a the Foreign Policy Initiative, successor to Bill Kristol’s infamous Project for a New American Century.
It was a cozy little Sunday morning coffee klatch, with ABC foreign affairs correspondent Martha Raddazt – she who was so helpful to then-candidate Biden during the last vice presidential debates – commiserating with Council on Foreign Relations mandarin Richard Hass and Senor over the alleged damage done to the US by the revelations. While Haas was furious over what he characterized as Beijing’s grasping of a "short-term gain" at the expense of China’s longterm developing relationship with the US, Senor’s focus was on the domestic political consequences of the Snowden affair, and he was decidedly more optimistic about the benefits accrued to the Regimist cause:
"Snowden’s, you know, interviews that he gave, and documents he released to the Chinese press, obviously puts us in a very uncomfortable position. But I think domestically, the U.S., I think this further strengthens the center on national security. I think there was a real risk over the last couple weeks that there would be this left/right coalition that would backlash against the United States government, sort of libertarian uprising. And I think Snowden just traveling around the world, flying to these anti-American capitals, behaving the way he’s doing further strengthens–I think the center is holding right now in the US, and I think that’s a positive development."
A "libertarian uprising" is the neocons’ worst nightmare because it would put an end to their empire-building project and the Surveillance State they’ve been advocating all along. It would also put an end to their control of the GOP – their only route to power. Their paranoia in this regard is justified: many conservatives, faced with the imminent bankruptcy of the country they love, are in open rebellion against the horrifically costly foreign policy of global intervention. The neocons’ worst case scenario: Sen. Rand Paul captures the GOP presidential nomination in 2016 by fusing a rising libertarian Republican movement with independent and younger voters – and then going on to duplicate his victory in November.
In his book Propaganda, published in 1928, Edward Bernays wrote: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.
“Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”
The American nephew of Sigmund Freud, Bernays invented the term “public relations” as a euphemism for state propaganda. He warned that an enduring threat to the invisible government was the truth-teller and an enlightened public.
In 1971, the whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg leaked US government files known as the Pentagon Papers, which showed that the invasion of Vietnam was based on systematic lying. Four years later, Frank Church conducted sensational hearings in the Senate: one of the last flickers of American democracy. These laid bare the extent of the invisible government: the domestic spying and subversion and warmongering by intelligence and “security” agencies and the backing they received from big business and the media, both conservative and liberal.
Speaking about the National Security Agency (NSA), Senator Church said: “I know the capacity that there is to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law . . . so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”
Cyberwar, NSA Spying, and US-China Relations: James Corbett on RT
Fighting Terrorism by Arming Terrorists
The Obama administration appears to be moving toward arming rebels in Syria, though the White House has only publicly confirmed an increase in the “scope and scale” of its military support.
By one estimate, seven of nine key rebel combatant groups are Islamist. “As the civil war has dragged on, the rebels have become more Islamist and extreme,” the Economist reports. Thus the administration’s decision to arm only the non-Islamist rebels may soon resemble O.J. Simpson’s search for the “real killers.”
Arms shipments approved by the Obama administration have already ended up in the hands of jihadists in Libya. “The weapons and money from Qatar strengthened militant groups in Libya,” reported the New York Times, “allowing them to become a destabilizing force since the fall of the Qaddafi government.”
Operation Fast and Furious meets American foreign policy.
In his apparent Syria about-face, the president has been egged on by the Clintons. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had already proposed arming the Syrian rebels, only to see cooler heads prevail. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, has also clamored for greater U.S. involvement.
Inside Fort Meade, Maryland, a top-secret city bustles. Tens of thousands of people move through more than 50 buildings—the city has its own post office, fire department, and police force. But as if designed by Kafka, it sits among a forest of trees, surrounded by electrified fences and heavily armed guards, protected by antitank barriers, monitored by sensitive motion detectors, and watched by rotating cameras. To block any telltale electromagnetic signals from escaping, the inner walls of the buildings are wrapped in protective copper shielding and the one-way windows are embedded with a fine copper mesh.
This is the undisputed domain of General Keith Alexander, a man few even in Washington would likely recognize. Never before has anyone in America’s intelligence sphere come close to his degree of power, the number of people under his command, the expanse of his rule, the length of his reign, or the depth of his secrecy. A four-star Army general, his authority extends across three domains: He is director of the world’s largest intelligence service, the National Security Agency; chief of the Central Security Service; and commander of the US Cyber Command. As such, he has his own secret military, presiding over the Navy’s 10th Fleet, the 24th Air Force, and the Second Army.
Alexander runs the nation’s cyberwar efforts, an empire he has built over the past eight years by insisting that the US’s inherent vulnerability to digital attacks requires him to amass more and more authority over the data zipping around the globe. In his telling, the threat is so mind-bogglingly huge that the nation has little option but to eventually put the entire civilian Internet under his protection, requiring tweets and emails to pass through his filters, and putting the kill switch under the government’s forefinger. “What we see is an increasing level of activity on the networks,” he said at a recent security conference in Canada. “I am concerned that this is going to break a threshold where the private sector can no longer handle it and the government is going to have to step in.”
In its tightly controlled public relations, the NSA has focused attention on the threat of cyberattack against the US—the vulnerability of critical infrastructure like power plants and water systems, the susceptibility of the military’s command and control structure, the dependence of the economy on the Internet’s smooth functioning. Defense against these threats was the paramount mission trumpeted by NSA brass at congressional hearings and hashed over at security conferences.
But there is a flip side to this equation that is rarely mentioned: The military has for years been developing offensive capabilities, giving it the power not just to defend the US but to assail its foes. Using so-called cyber-kinetic attacks, Alexander and his forces now have the capability to physically destroy an adversary’s equipment and infrastructure, and potentially even to kill. Alexander—who declined to be interviewed for this article—has concluded that such cyberweapons are as crucial to 21st-century warfare as nuclear arms were in the 20th.
Army can't link Bradley Manning to WikiLeaks video
The United States of America: A four-branch-police state
Last Thursday, a long-known but long-covered up report on the extent of NSA’s illegal spying on millions of Americans was made public. Interestingly this outrageous American scandal was revealed and reported not by an American media outlet but by one outside the United States. That alone should tell you a lot.
The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.
The Open Borders Lobby, both “Left” and “Right,” has one implicit theme when it comes to labor and immigration—traditional Americans don't count.
Thus, just as for years the government has been “disappearing” crime, it has also been “disappearing” unemployment. The official unemployment rate is now “only” 7.6 percent (11.8 million), the real combined rate of unemployment and underemployment, according to Shadowstats’ John Williams, is 22.9 percent (over 30 million?).
My mom is a Depression baby, born two months after Black Tuesday. Her view is that a “recovery” meant that the jobless had found work again.
Bradley Manning Is Guilty of ‘Aiding the Enemy’ – If the Enemy Is Democracy
Of all the charges against Bradley Manning, the most pernicious—and revealing—is “aiding the enemy.”
A blogger at The New Yorker, Amy Davidson, raised a pair of big questions that now loom over the courtroom at Fort Meade and the entire country:
“Would it aid the enemy, for example, to expose war crimes committed by American forces or lies told by the American government?”
“In that case, who is aiding the enemy—the whistleblower or the perpetrators themselves?”
When the deceptive operation of the warfare state can’t stand the light of day, truth-tellers are a constant hazard. And culpability must stay turned on its head.
That’s why accountability was upside-down when the U.S. Army prosecutor laid out the government’s case against Bradley Manning in an opening statement: “This is a case about a soldier who systematically harvested hundreds of thousands of classified documents and dumped them onto the Internet, into the hands of the enemy—material he knew, based on his training, would put the lives of fellow soldiers at risk.”
White House Freaks Out Over Online Petition To Charge Sen. Feinstein
Iraq Collapse Shows Bankruptcy of Interventionism
May was Iraq’s deadliest month in nearly five years, with more than 1,000 dead — both civilians and security personnel — in a rash of bombings, shootings, and other violence. As we read each day of new horrors in Iraq, it becomes more obvious that the U.S. invasion delivered none of the promised peace or stability that proponents of the attack promised.
Millions live in constant fear, refugees do not return home, and the economy is destroyed. The Christian community, some 1.2 million persons before 2003, has been nearly wiped off the Iraqi map. Other minorities have likewise disappeared. Making matters worse, U.S. support for the Syrian rebels next door has drawn the Shi’ite-led Iraqi government into the spreading regional unrest and breathed new life into extremist elements.
The invasion of Iraq opened the door to al-Qaeda in Iraq, which did not exist beforehand, while simultaneously strengthening the hand of Iran in the region. Were the “experts” who planned for and advocated the U.S. attack really this incompetent?
Ryan Crocker, who was U.S. ambassador to Iraq from 2007 to 2009, still speaks of the Iraqi “surge” as a great reconciliation between Sunni and Shi’ite in Iraq. He wrote recently that “[t]hough the United States has withdrawn its troops from Iraq, it retains significant leverage there. Iraqi forces were equipped and trained by Americans, and the country’s leaders need and expect our help.” He seems alarmingly out of touch with reality.
It is clear now that the “surge” and the “Iraqi Awakening” were just myths promoted by those desperate to put a positive spin on the U.S. invasion, which the late Gen. William Odom once called “the greatest strategic disaster in American history.” Aircraft were loaded with $100 bills to pay each side to temporarily stop killing U.S. troops and each other, but the payoff provided a mere temporary break. Shouldn’t the measure of success of a particular policy be whether it actually produces sustained positive results?