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Archive for January 18th, 2013

When is it ok to intervene?

Posted by Charles II on January 18, 2013

If one is curious about just how the US meddles abroad, the NS Archive released some documents from a lawsuit filed by a man who has been jailed by the Cuban government. The documents released by Peter Kornbluh describe providing “support to the Cuban people in hastening transition:

The U.S. government has “between five to seven different transition plans” for Cuba, and the USAID-sponsored “Democracy” program aimed at the Castro government is “an operational activity” that demands “continuous discretion,” according to documents filed in court this week, and posted today by the National Security Archive. The records were filed by Development Alternatives Inc (DAI), one of USAID’s largest contractors, in response to a lawsuit filed by the family of Alan Gross, who was arrested in Cuba in December 2009 for attempting to set up satellite communications networks on the island, as part of the USAID program.

In an August 2008 meeting toward the end of the George W. Bush administration, according to a confidential memorandum of conversation attached to DAI’s filing, officials from the “Cuba Democracy and Contingency Planning Program,” as the Democracy effort is officially known, told DAI representatives that “USAID is not telling Cubans how or why they need a democratic transition, but rather, the Agency wants to provide the technology and means for communicating the spark which could benefit the population.” The program, the officials stated, intended to “provide a base from which Cubans can ‘develop alternative visions of the future.'”

There’s a useful conversation to be had about how the US government should respond to authoritarian states. Alan Gross was jailed simply for providing communications equipment to Cuban Jews, a jailing which seems manifestly unfair…unless it was part of a campaign to destabilize the Cuban government.

If we supplied communications equipment to the Arab Spring or to the Syrian rebels to resist dictatorial censorship, most Americans would probably approve. We would never do the same thing to a rival like Russia or China, since it would have serious diplomatic consequences. So part of the judgment about what is ok is actually based on what we can get away with. And we would never intervene in an authoritarian state whose government we support like, say, Saudi Arabia. In the case of Cuba, the rest of the world has concluded that we are obsessed with Castro and that we are behaving like bullies.

We need a consistent policy, one that doesn’t vary depending on how strong or weak authoritarian states are, or whether we support the government or not.

One other interesting angle is that one can find the quality of partner the USG is using to learn about Cuba, like The Babalu Blog which relies on FrontPage Mag and Judicial Watch for its reality, as well as The Cuban Triangle. Really, if this is what the USAID is using to find out about Cuba, they are very confused.


Posted in eedjits, State Department | 3 Comments »

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on January 18, 2013

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging | 2 Comments »

Gambling mogul Adelson’s wife used non-profit for political donations/Story retracted by Truthout (updated x 3)

Posted by Charles II on January 18, 2013

Update, 1/31/13. I have received an e-mail from Dina Rasor of Truthout stating that this story has been “retracted.” I asked to have a statement I could link to at Truthout to close this issue. I have not yet received a response. She informs me that Truthout published a retraction but only kept it up for one day. However, our readers should be aware that apparently Truthout does not stand behind the statement that political contributions came from the Adelson Clinic [added: or The Las Vegas Sands Corporation]. Therefore, there is no reason to think that the philanthropic mission of the clinic was compromised or that any laws or regulations are broken.

Danny Weil, t/o

According to, The Adelson Clinic for Drug Abuse Treatment and Research was the fourth largest contributor to right-wing political action committees (PACs), political parties and outside spending groups in the nation in 2012; the organization contributed over $24 million to these groups.

Online news site, reported in 2012 that Dr. Miriam Adelson and the Adelson Clinic contributed $22.5 million to the following political actions committees: $12.5 million to Winning Our Future, $5 million to Restore Our Future, $ 2.5 million to Young Guns Action Fund, and $2.5 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund.

Although the clinic is a stated non-profit organization, it makes massive contributions to conservative political groups that raise questions about its philanthropic mission.

Mrs. Adelson and the Clinic have declined to respond to inquiries about how a non-profit could be a political funding vehicle.
As discussed in comments below, the story has disappeared from Truthout’s archive. An attempt to contact Truthout has gone unanswered.

As also discussed in comments, does indeed list The Adelson Drug Clinic as the source of millions of dollars of contributions. However, looking at the OpenSecrets data in more detail, I am persuaded that this is a misreading of the data. OpenSecrets lists $24,086,600 of contributions for the 2012 cycle. It indicates that these came from individuals, not from PACs. A search by individual for Adelson, Miriam of Nevada comes up with $42,122,900 in contributions. It looks as if the first query aggregates by organization. So it seems likely to me that Truthout mis-read the OpenSecrets data.

Naturally, this can’t be regarded as fully resolved until Truthout issues a correction or re-affirms the story. And the main thrust of the story–that one individual can pour tens of millions of dollars into political campaigns, thereby making a mockery of American democracy– stands. Regrettably, it is entirely legal for the political process to be corrupted in this manner, or so says the Supreme Court. That doesn’t make it right.

I’ll continue to follow this and add information as it becomes available.
Update, 1/29: I have again contacted Truthout. As far as I can tell, they have not yet issued a retraction or correction. If and when they do, or when they respond to my inquiry, I will add that information.

Posted in Republicans acting badly | 7 Comments »

Asked again: Will the US intervene in Mali?

Posted by Charles II on January 18, 2013

Since I quickly put together a post titled The Yellowcake War on whether the US would intervene in Mali, the following have emerged:

* The US is not permitted to directly aid the Malian government, such as it is, because it was formed through a coup.
* The US is permitted to do whatever it wants because the Islamists have chosen to include Al Qaeda in their name (no, I am not kidding)
* The US is absolutely committed to making sure that the Islamists don’t establish a base of operations in Mali
* Ryan Crocker, who frequently expresses DoD thinking, has all but said the US needs to intervene.
* there are lots of good reasons not to get involved

At present, the rationale being presented to the public is that it wouldn’t do to give Al Qaeda free rein. And this is true. Given uninterrupted access to Mali’s uranium properties, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb would figure out how to make yellowcake and produce the material for a dirty bomb. And, of course, it would be a base to strike into Niger, where a number of other Tuaregs live and which is home to a well-developed nuclear industry essential to Europe’s energy security. But no one has mentioned the role of uranium in this story. After all, minus the uranium, the Maghreb is pretty much like Tattoine.

I see it as likely that the US will intervene because it’s unlikely that France can deal with the Salafis, much less the Tuaregs; because US troops are coming free thanks to winding down Iraq and Afghanistan; because Niger’s uranium is both crucial to Europe’s energy security; and because keeping the Salafis away from uranium over the longer period is critical.

Posted in Africa, terrorism | Comments Off on Asked again: Will the US intervene in Mali?

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