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Archive for the ‘abuse of power’ Category

“In other words, the CIA is lying.” –Sen. Mark Udall

Posted by Charles II on December 11, 2014

You can see his speech regarding the CIA torture report here.

He also had some choice words about Obama’s failure to discipline Brennan for lying and refusing to submit to oversight.

Udall was one of the few people willing to tell the truth. So, of course, he had to be driven from office.

Posted in abuse of power, CIA, torture | 2 Comments »

A neocon -staged resignation at RT? Stage-managed journalism everywhere?

Posted by Charles II on December 10, 2014

As regular readers know, I encourage media viewers not to trust any outlet, and to be aware of the biases of each outlet. Russia Today (RT) is state-run TV. So is BBC. So is Al Jazeera. And, due to a certain history, so–to some degree– is the New York Times. None of them should be believed credulously. Instead, the reader/viewer has to sift through the biases and figure what topics each source lies about and which ones it tends to be truthful about.

Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek, Truthdig:

For her public act of protest against Russia Today’s coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory and supposedly advancing the agenda of Vladimir Putin in Washington, D.C., previously unknown news anchor Liz Wahl has suddenly become one of the most famous unemployed people in America. After her on-air resignation from the cable news channel, Wahl appeared on the three major American cable news outlets—CNN, Fox News, MSNBC—to denounce the heavy-handed editorial line she claims her bosses imposed on her and other staffers.

Behind the coverage of Wahl’s dramatic protest, a cadre of neoconservatives was celebrating a public relations coup.

At the center of the intrigue is a young neoconservative writer and activist who helped craft Wahl’s strategy and exploit her resignation to propel the agenda of a powerful pro-war lobby in Washington.

[James] Kirchick acknowledged having been in contact with Wahl since August, but cast himself as a passive bystander to the spectacle….
So who was Kirchick, and what sort of commitment did he maintain to “objectivity and the truth?”

In fact, Kirchick was a senior fellow at FPI, the neoconservative think tank that had hyped up Wahl’s resignation minutes before she quit. Launched by Weekly Standard founder William Kristol and two former foreign policy aides to Mitt Romney, Dan Senor and Robert Kagan (the husband of Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland), FPI grew directly out of the Project for a New American Century that led the public pressure campaign for a unilateral U.S. invasion of Iraq after the Bin Laden-orchestrated 9/11 attacks.

Now, I stumbled across this in a very interesting piece by Margarita Simonyan of RT on how that network has been trashed by American media in the service of undermining its Ukraine reporting. In the wake of that effort everyone “knows” that RT is a propaganda outlet–as well I know from the trashing that I saw at the Daily Kos of anyone who dared link RT. There’s no question that Russia is an interested party in Ukraine–they regard it as an existential issue– and that their state-run media reflect that. But one need only mention Judith Miller to recall that our media also serve as stenographers to government. So RT’s reporting should be questioned. But look at what they have presented in defending their journalistic integrity (Simonyan):

* Evidence that one of their employees was bought off or pressured into resigning by well-known neoconservatives
* Evidence that CNN censored its own relentlessly hostile interview of an RT journalist to avoid confronting Christiane Amanpour’s conflict of interest (she’s married to Jamie Rubin of the State Dept.)
* A statement (confirmed in The Guardian) that they were threatened with closure by the British government because their reporting wasn’t truthful (as if this standard has ever been applied to a Murdoch property)
* A claim that even The Guardian has been running an unusual number of stories hostile to RT (See, for example, here)

This is unsettling to anyone who understands that we get at the truth by sifting through the lies that different self-interested parties tell. Even The Guardian, which should be the beacon for press freedom, can publish a piece of trash like Nick Cohen‘s purely ad hominem bashing of RT. Even Christiane Amanpour, who has done a lot of courageous frontline reporting, can be used as a tool by her network to try to discredit another network. Even the British press office, Ofcom, can make an Orwellian threat to silence a news outlet because it says that it lies by contradicting the British government.

If RT is silenced, it will give our own government much more freedom to lie.

Posted in abuse of power, Media machine, propaganda, Russia | 3 Comments »

Watch it

Posted by Charles II on October 21, 2014

Kill the Messenger is worth watching. Aside from the story itself, which is moving, it points to a broader feature of modern American life: we can no longer handle the truth. We have lost that sense of honor that demands that when we have made a mistake, we should acknowledge it and correct it. We imagine that we can become the image of ourselves that we create, independent of reality. And so we crash into reality, and are injured by that collision much more deeply than we ever would be by embracing the truth.

Gary Webb, we miss you.

Posted in abuse of power, CIA, colonial wars, media, Media machine, War On Some Drugs | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

You might want to sign this petition

Posted by Charles II on October 16, 2014

I hate liars. From Luke Brinker of Salon:

Debate moderater Kyle Clark to GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner] “So let’s instead talk about what this entire episode may say about your judgment more broadly,” Clark said. “It would seem that a charitable interpretation would be that you have a difficult time admitting when you’re wrong and a less charitable interpretation is that you’re not telling us the truth. Which is it?”

Petition to Denver Post to retract endorsement of crackpot Cory Gardner against sane person Mark Udall.

Posted in abortion, abuse of power, hypocrites, liars, Republicans as cancer, rightwing moral cripples | Leave a Comment »

Another war prevented accidentally by electing a Democrat

Posted by Charles II on October 1, 2014

As much as I criticize Barack Obama for his overuse of military force, I am pretty sure it would be a lot worse if John McCain or Mitt Romney were in charge. Here’s a bit of history that should scare us all:

Washington, DC, October 1, 2014 — Secretary of State Henry Kissinger ordered a series of secret contingency plans that included airstrikes and mining of Cuban harbors in the aftermath of Fidel Castro’s decision to send Cuban forces into Angola in late 1975, according to declassified documents made public today for the first time. “If we decide to use military power it must succeed. There should be no halfway measures,” Kissinger instructed General George Brown of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during a high-level meeting of national security officials on March 24, 1976, that included then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. “I think we are going to have to smash Castro,” Kissinger told President Ford. “We probably can’t do it before the [1976 presidential] elections.” “I agree,” the president responded.

The story of Kissinger’s Cuban contingency planning was published today in a new book, “Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana,” co-authored by American University professor William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh, who directs the National Security Archive’s Cuba Documentation Project.

The Cubans, you may recall, were in Angola to resist the brutal South African invasion of that country, an invasion intended to squelch any resistance to apartheid.

Our leaders are insane. Especially, most especially, the Republicans. Ironic that both Kissinger and Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize. Maybe next year we can award it to Vladimir Putin.

Posted in abuse of power, Africa, Cuba, Richard Nixon | 6 Comments »

Because we’re the good guys

Posted by Charles II on September 17, 2014

James Bamford, NYT (via Atrios):

IN Moscow this summer, while reporting a story for Wired magazine, I had the rare opportunity to hang out for three days with Edward J. Snowden. …

Among his most shocking discoveries, he told me, was the fact that the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization known as Unit 8200. This transfer of intercepts, he said, included the contents of the communications….

Mr. Snowden stressed that the transfer of intercepts to Israel contained the communications — email as well as phone calls — of countless Arab- and Palestinian-Americans whose relatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories could become targets based on the communications.
….
It appears that Mr. Snowden’s fears were warranted. Last week, 43 veterans of Unit 8200 — many still serving in the reserves — accused the organization of startling abuses. In a letter to their commanders, to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to the head of the Israeli army, they charged that Israel used information collected against innocent Palestinians for “political persecution.” In testimonies and interviews given to the media, they specified that data were gathered on Palestinians’ sexual orientations, infidelities, money problems, family medical conditions and other private matters that could be used to coerce Palestinians into becoming collaborators or create divisions in their society.

The veterans of Unit 8200 declared that they had a “moral duty” to no longer “take part in the state’s actions against Palestinians.” An Israeli military spokesman disputed the letter’s overall drift but said the charges would be examined.

But of course it’s ok, because we’re the good guys. Jodi Rudoren, NYT:

For a 29-year-old captain whose eight years in the unit ended in 2011, the transformational moment came in watching “The Lives of Others,” a 2006 film about the operations of the East German secret police.

“I felt a lot of sympathy for the victims in the film of the intelligence,” the captain said. “But I did feel a weird, confusing sense of similarity, I identified myself with the intelligence workers. That we were similar to the kind of oppressive intelligence in oppressive regimes really was a deep realization that makes us all feel that we have to take responsibility.”

Posted in abuse of power, israel, NSA eavesdropping | Comments Off

Juan Cole made the Bush White House Enemies’ List

Posted by Charles II on December 9, 2013

Congratulations, Juan! And thank you, James Risen (via Eschaton):

Glenn L. Carle, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was a top counterterrorism official during the administration of President George W. Bush, said the White House at least twice asked intelligence officials to gather sensitive information on Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who writes an influential blog that criticized the war.

Posted in abuse of power, Bush, Busheviks, Juan Cole | Comments Off

Allegation that BP may be harassing, issuing death threats against critics

Posted by Charles II on November 21, 2013

Dahr Jamail, Al Jazeera (via t/o):

[Through international PR company Ogilvy & Mather,] BP has been accused of hiring internet “trolls” to purposefully attack, harass, and sometimes threaten people who have been critical of how the oil giant has handled its disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

[On the BP America Facebook page,] when people posted comments that were critical of how BP was handling the crisis, they were often attacked, bullied, and sometimes directly threatened.

Threats included identifying where somebody lived, an internet troll making reference to having a shotgun and making use of it, and “others just being more derogatory”, according to [Government Accountability Project investigator Shanna] Devine. “We’ve seen all this documentation and that’s why we thought it was worth bringing to the ombudsman’s office of BP, and we told them we thought some of it even warranted calling the police about.”

One troll using the name “Griffin” makes several allusions to gun violence, while another, named “Ken Smith” also harassed and threatened users, even going so far as to edit a photo of a BP critic’s pet bird into the crosshairs of a gunsight, before posting the photo online – along with photos of an arsenal of semi-automatic weapons.

Another instance occurred involving “Griffin” and an environmentalist who posted a picture of a rendition of Mother Earth saying “Mother Earth Has Been Waiting for Her Day in Court, BP”. “Griffin” posted a comment to the picture that read, “A few rounds from a .50 cal will stop that b**ch”.

According to Marie, Lockman and GAP, BP’s “astroturfing” efforts and use of “trolls” have been reported as pursuing users’ personal information, then tracking and posting IP addresses of users, contacting their employers, threatening to contact family members, and using photos of critics’ family members to create false Facebook profiles, and even threatening to affect the potential outcome of individual compensation claims against BP.

Linda Hooper Bui, an associate professor of entomology at Louisiana State University, experienced a different form of harassment from BP while working on a study about the impact of the oil disaster on spiders and insects.

“BP was desperately trying to control the science, and that was what I ran into,” Bui told Al Jazeera. According to her, BP’s chief science officer “tried to intimidate me”, and the harassment included BP “bullying my people” who were working in the field with her on her study that revealed how “insects and spiders in the oiled areas were completely decimated”.

While collecting data for the study, Bui and her colleagues regularly ran into problems with BP, she said.

“Local sheriffs working under the auspices of BP, as well as personnel with Wildlife and Fisheries, the US Coast Guard – all of these folks working under BP were preventing us from doing our job,” Bui explained. “We were barred from going into areas to collect data where we had previous data.”

Bui said personnel from the USCG, Fish and Wildlife, and even local sheriffs departments, always accompanied by BP staff, worked to prevent her from entering areas to collect data, confiscated her samples, and “if I’d refused to oblige they would have arrested me” – despite her having state permits to carry out her work.

Posted in abuse of power, astroturf, corporatists, Flying Monkey Right, Oil | Comments Off

Stateless in Gaza

Posted by Charles II on October 15, 2013

Max Blumenthal, TomDispatch (via t/o)

[Israeli PM Benjamin] Netanyahu has updated the smokescreen strategy….his government was preparing to implement the Prawer Plan, a blueprint for the expulsion of 40,000 indigenous Bedouin citizens of Israel from their ancestral Negev Desert communities that promised to “concentrate” them in state-run, reservation-style townships. Authored by Netanyahu’s planning policy chief, Ehud Prawer, and passed by a majority of the members of the mainstream Israeli political parties in the Knesset, the Prawer Plan is only one element of the government’s emerging program to dominate all space and the lives of all people between the river (the Jordan) and the sea (the Mediterranean).

The products of continuous dispossession, many of these [Bedouin] communities are surrounded by petrochemical waste dumps and have been transformed into cancer clusters, while state campaigns of aerial crop destruction and livestock eradication have decimated their sources of subsistence.

Although residents like al-Ahmed carry Israeli citizenship, they are unable to benefit from the public services that Jews in neighboring communities receive. The roads to unrecognized villages like Umm al-Hiran are lined with electric wires, but the Bedouins are barred from connecting to the public grid. Their homes and mosques have been designated “illegal” constructions and are routinely marked for demolition.

The Bedouin are comparable to Native Americans, living in the southern (Negev) desert in the general vicinity of Gaza. Israel appears to have discovered the same “solution” as the US government.

Posted in abuse of power, Conflict in the Middle East | Comments Off

Thumbing through your dossier

Posted by Charles II on September 29, 2013

Laura Poitras and James Risen have published a story in the NYT that comes close to saying that the government has a dossier on every citizen (via Bob Swern at DK):

Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.

The spy agency began allowing the analysis of phone call and e-mail logs in November 2010 to examine Americans’ networks of associations for foreign intelligence purposes….

The agency was authorized to conduct “large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness” of every e-mail address, phone number or other identifier, the document said.

N.S.A. officials declined to say how many Americans have been caught up in the effort, including people involved in no wrongdoing.

The agency did say that the large database of Americans’ domestic phone call records… was excluded.

In the 2011 memo explaining the shift, N.S.A. analysts were told that they could trace the contacts of Americans as long as they cited a foreign intelligence justification. That could include anything from ties to terrorism, weapons proliferation or international drug smuggling to spying on conversations of foreign politicians, business figures or activists. [emphasis added]

Why construct a dossier if you have all the data? Then you can use a search program to compile a dossier on any individual in nanoseconds, and deny you are keeping a dossier on anyone besides “suspects.” When anyone’s past actions can be compiled at will, everyone is a suspect, if only a future one.

By the way, I added the bolding because that’s a point that analysts like Bob Swern and Marcy seem to have missed. What conceivable legitimate function does targeting people based on their conversations with otherwise non-criminal businessmen, politicians, or activists have?

Posted in abuse of power, totalitarianism, wiretapping | 1 Comment »

 
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