Friday, August 31, 2012

Romney/Ryanism in Tampa


Romney/Ryanism in Tampa

by Stephen Lendman

Tampa may never be the same. Republicans left it pockmarked. At least they're gone. Residents welcomed their departure. Three days of pre-scripted hokum were featured. Romney/Ryan speeches featured revisionist history. Democrats get their turn next week.

Campaigning is in high gear. According to Bloomberg, "you'd need six months to watch every presidential campaign ad." As of August 22, 526,633 (30 or 60 second) spots were run.

By election day November 6, perhaps they'll top a million. And that's only for president. All House and 33 Senate seats are up for grabs. So are numerous others at state and local levels. They range from gubernatorial to local school boards.

A war of words hammers US voters nonstop. Relief won't come until post-election. America's campaign season never ends. Preparations begin immediately for the next cycle. Big money plans it that way. Candidates and officeholders either go along or find another line of work. Voters get betrayed every time.

Tampa was Exhibit A. Romney/Ryan represent socially destructive interests. Obama's the same. Voters are stuck between fire and brimstone.

America's political process is too dysfunctional and corrupted to fix. People should either vote independent or stay home. Both major parties are two sides of the same coin. Not a dime's worth of difference that matters separates them.

They represent money power and imperial lawlessness. People needs are spurned. Bipartisan complicity plans destroying them entirely. Social America is on the chopping block for elimination. Political Washington's vision is dark age harshness.

Obama/Biden/Romney/Ryan represent the worst of all possible worlds. Obama's con man days began in Illinois. Before entering politics, Romney parlayed grand theft into super wealth. 

As Bain Capital head, he profiteered by leveraged buyouts, asset-stripping companies, and leaving thousands of workers high and dry. As president, he'll do for America what he did to one plundered company after another. 

On August 29, Matt Taibbi headlined his Rolling Stone article "Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital."

He calls him the flip side of Che or Trotsky. He's a human wrecking machine. He's right out of predatory capitalism's central casting. He's a visionary for everything harming people.

His campaign reflects "a shimmering pearl of perfect political hypocrisy." He's kept it hidden out of sight. Ryan's his alter ego. He's "a self-righteous anal, thin-lipped, Whitest Kids U Know penny pincher who'd be honored to tell Oliver Twist" the soup bowl is empty, go hungry.

On the one hand, Romney claims "a prairie fire of debt" is ravaging America. On the other, he got super-rich by "borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back." He's one of the "most irresponsible debt creators of all time."

In Ryan, he's got "perhaps the only politician in America more pompous and self-righteous" than himself on the evils debt piled up by borrowed money. "No one in history has ever successfully run for president riding this big a lie." In November, he may become the exception that proves the rule.

He's unapologetic. He's emblematic of Wall Street fraud, greed, and indifference about human need and welfare. He's one of their own. He can be president, Treasury secretary and Fed chairman all in one. He represents everything wrong with America getting worse.

He's a dagger at humanity's heart. He's the perfect frontman for destroying decades of social progress. Give him four years and it won't exist. He endorses government of, by and for super-rich elites like himself.

He's "a new and improved version" of Gordon Gekko dressed up in better PR and more grandiose notions of wealth and power. He envisions leveraged buying out America. He'll leave everyone else to pay the tab.

His business model is scorched earth asset stripping. Expect ordinary people to be left high and dry. He wants America looking like one company after another he wrecked. He thinks it's OK as long as his hands don't look dirty.

His free market notions suck life from people. He's a brigand who discards them like trash. He believes only making money matters. He made piles the old fashioned way by stealing it. Dirty money buys as much as honest cash. Romney got lots of federal help making plenty. 

Government giveaways enriched him. So did business-friendly tax provisions. They facilitate leveraged buyout scams. They made Romney super-rich.

Before he took office, James Petras called Obama "the greatest con man in recent history." He compared him to Melville's Confidence Man. "He catches your eye while he picks your pocket." Romney one-ups him and then some. He knows every dirty trick in the book to steal, wreck human lives, and get off scot free.

He's the perfect frontman for financialized America. It uses money to make more of it without manufacturing anything. It prospers at the expense of others. It hides wealth in tax havens. It watches from the sidelines while America crumbles.

It's being transforming into Guatemala, complete with police state harshness. Come January, Romney may head the grand scheme. Obama's able to match him blow for blow. 

Imagine the state of the nation four years hence under either leader. Imagine having endless wide awake nightmares. Imagine the worst of all possible worlds. Obama/Romney assure it. They'll be no place to hide.

Take no prisoners defines their style. Romney comes off brash. Obama's more subtle. Either way they're flip sides of the same coin. Decades earlier Republicans and Democrats wouldn't recognize their modern-day successors.

Political conventions today bear little resemblance to earlier ones. Predictability replaced suspense. In 1976, Gerald Ford contested Ronald Reagan on the convention floor to become Republican nominee. 

In 1960, Jack Kennedy lacked a majority until Wyoming voted last. Everything now is pre-scripted theater. It's like watching an old film aired many previous times.

Tropical storm Isaac/turned hurricane had first say in Tampa. It shortened circus shenanigans to three days. Reactionary extremism, hokum, grandiosity, and revisionist history took center stage. Influence peddling dominated behind the scenes deal making. 

Pre-scripted bluster went off as planned. Dissembling obscured reality. Delegates were fed red meat malarkey. Tough issues were ducked. They were distorted by falsely claiming Romney/Ryan have ways to fix America. 

Today's political conventions are coronations, not nominations. Suspense and political honesty are nowhere in sight. Everything heard is predictable. 

In Tampa, politicians impersonated actors. Clint Eastwood played the opposite role. He fell flat and then some. He sounded more under the table than over the top.

Critics called his cameo "bizarre" and "embarrassing." At age 82, best stick to gardening. Even Republicans called it a mistake to invite him. Democrats make fools of themselves next week. Ready or not, Charlotte awaits their arrival.

They'll match Republicans blow for blow. Rhetoric alone separates them. Politics on either side of the aisle reflect flip sides of the same coin. They're lawless, merciless, inhumane, anti-labor, anti-welfare, racist, neoliberal, elitist, pro-business, pro-war, and anti-populist.

A previous article said both parties believe America's future depends on greater wealth disparity, ignoring public need, waging war on humanity, silencing truth, and cracking down on non-believers. 

On November 6, voters get to choose between either wing of America's money party. Duopoly power offers no alternative.

A Final Comment

All week, Tampa was on virtual lockdown. Hundreds of protesters showed up. Thousands of cops confronted them. Media scoundrels largely ignored them. 

They marched on the RNC's convention site. Occupy Tampa came out. Ahead of convention week, they noted an unemployment crisis, a do-nothing Congress, and other vital unaddressed issues. They complained about security protocol restrictions compromising their First Amendment rights.

Occupy the RNC was there. They're unaffiliated. They stand in solidarity with Charlotte DNC protesters. They railed against both parties. They're tied to corporate rule, war, economic injustice, and freedom extinguishing policies.

America's "entire system….is rooted in greed and power." Exploitation and oppression are prioritized. They demand better like others. They facilitated logistics for protesters.

They published Tampa Principles. They support political diversity within their struggle for social, economic, and environmental justice. They're committed to treating everyone with respect.

They oppose repressing dissent, surveillance, infiltration, disruption, police brutality, and restrictive "free speech zones" far from convention activities. They united for change not possible without sustained commitment.

Code Pink came out in force. During Romney's speech, their members stood up chanting and unfurling banners saying "People over Profits." "Democracy is not a business."

They interrupted Ryan's speech. They demanded women's rights, control over their own bodies, and healthcare, not warfare.

They stormed the streets and convention site day and night. They delivered messages saying end wars and get money out of politics. They explained America's broken electoral system. What's the point of kicking out bums for new ones.

Dressed as pink police, they staged mock citizens' arrests at every Condi Rice event. At a pro-Israeli one, they denounced its illegal occupation. They spoke out against war on Iran. With barely a chance to exhale, they're off for Charlotte and more demonstrations.

Others in Washington shut down a busy intersection as Romney was about to accept his party's nomination. They chose a spot known for activism.

They protested his politics of the rich. They held signs saying "Stop the Romney economy." "We are here to protest Romney's nomination." People need to hear disenfranchised voices.

Others must lend support. The only solution is world revolution. Change comes only from the bottom up. It's time to challenge the beast and slay it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour  

Netanyahu in New York


Netanyahu in New York

by Stephen Lendman

He's not there yet, but he's coming. Three days of torment and venomous anti-Iranian propaganda are planned. Big Apple residents will need decompression time when he leaves. 

His kind isn't welcome. He's toxic, deadly and destructive. Expect resentment to be expressed while he's there. It'll remain when he's gone.

He'll arrive on September 27. On the same day, he'll address the UN General Assembly. Why they let him in who knows. He's expected to meet Obama who'll also be there. Between them, they're a one-punch against freedom, equity, justice and peace.

He's an ambassador of hate and ill will. He's pure evil. Maligning Iran tops his agenda. He condemned Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei's important NAM summit speech.

What he said bears repeating. He spoke honestly and forthrightly. He took aim at destructive US/Israeli policies. They include torture, assassinations, gulag injustice, imperial wars, and humanity threatening malevolence. 

They spurn international law principles. Their demand their way or else. Their media disseminate lies, not truth. They promote war, not peace. America's 99% demands better. NAM solidarity against what they represent is vital. So is eliminating catastrophic weapons of mass destruction.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran considers the use of nuclear, chemical and similar weapons as a great and unforgivable sin. We proposed the idea of 'Middle East free of nuclear weapons' and we are committed to it."

All countries are entitled to develop peaceful nuclear power. Israel's nuclear arsenal menaces humanity. Iran "has never been after nuclear weapons and will never give up the right of its people to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Our motto is: 'Nuclear energy for all and nuclear weapons for none.' "

He called Palestine an "agonizing issue." European immigrants massacred defenseless people. They stole their country. Crimes continue daily. "This is one of the most important issues of the human community."

"Hardly a day passes without reports of murder, injury and arrests of the youth who stand up to defend their homeland and their honor and protest against the destruction of their farms and homes." 

"The Zionist regime, which has carried out assassinations and caused conflicts and crimes for decades by waging disastrous wars, killing people, occupying Arab territories and organizing state-sponsored terrorism in the region and in the world, labels the Palestinian people as “terrorists”, the people who have stood up to fight for their rights."

Palestine belongs to Palestinians. Occupation threatens global peace and security. Exiled diaspora Palestinians are entitled to return.

Global conditions face a "crucial historical juncture." NAM nations must bond against "insecurity, war and hegemony." Cooperating for common aims is key. So is resisting global bullies. Khamenei's comments left no ambiguity. He took direct aim at America, Israel, and rogue partners.

Netanyahu responded predictably. He called honest comments "blood libel." He'll "go to the UN to tell (his distorted version of) the truth about the terror regime of Iran which poses the greatest threat to world peace."

Maybe attending leaders will greet him by walking out. He responds to justifiable criticism with lies and hate filled rhetoric. He and like-minded Israelis menace humanity.

Their agenda is corrosive, destructive, racist, extremist, undemocratic, and hateful. They espouse violence, not peaceful coexistence. 

They endorse confrontation over diplomacy. They advocate strength through militarism, intimidation, and naked aggression. They're contemptuous of ethical and moral principles. They call non-Jews unworthy lesser beings. They consider Arabs and other Muslims Untermenschen.

Netanyahu's not welcome in polite company. Too bad he won't change his mind and stay home. New Yorkers won't exhale until he leaves. Pockmarks will remain when he's gone. Imagine what Israelis put up with at home. Perhaps they'll oust him next election.

Perhaps readers will denounce hateful scoundrel media editorials. The Washington Post's editorial board publishes some of the worst. On August 30, they again targeted Iran.

Baseless accusations followed. We've heard them all before. They long ago wore thin. The Post barely stopped short of urging war. Time's running out to eliminate the Iranian threat, it claimed. 

Post editors know, but won't say, that Tehran threatens no one. Its nuclear program is peaceful. It doesn't sponsor terrorism. It denounces it. 

It promotes peace and mutual cooperation. It opposes war and divisiveness. It urges other nations bond against America's destructive agenda and house organ broadsheets endorsing it.

Pentagon Chief v. Anti-Iranian Propaganda

Baseless charges confront Iran regularly. War threats follow. Israeli bombast is worst of all. Netanyahu/Barak repeat it ad nauseam. 

Lies and fake threats regurgitated enough times get believed. Current IAEA head Yukiya Amano represents Western interests. Washington installed him to lie. He hasn't disappointed.

His latest quarterly report claims Tehran increased its uranium enrichment capacity by 30% since May. It doubled it at its fortified Fordow facility. With no evidence whatever proving it, he claimed it's moving closer to weapon-grade material. 

Mark Fitzpatrick is International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) non-proliferation and disarmament program director. He cites baseless reasons for concern about Iran's "increased tempo of enrichment, the larger stockpile of enriched uranium and, most importantly, the additional centrifuges installed in the deeply-buried facility at Fordow."

Amano heightened tensions further. He repeated previous false charges. He claims Iran's Parchin facility covertly conducts suspect explosives tests. He implied nuclear related ones. 

Panchin is a conventional military site. Washington and Israel have similar ones. IAEA reports ignore them. They say nothing about the nuclear menace both nations represent.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Washington is "closely studying the details of (the IAEA) report, but broadly speaking it is not surprising that Iran is continuing to violate its obligations."

An unnamed Israeli official said Amano's new report "corroborates what (Netanyahu) has been saying for years."

US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey downplays an Iranian risk. "I don't want to be complicit" if Israel attacks Iran, he said. He repeated the same sentiment earlier.

Attacking Iran's nuclear sites will delay, not destroy, its program, he believes. He added that he's unaware of Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Intelligence suggests no weapons development activities.

Dempsey represents Obama's position. Expect eventual war on Iran. It's longstanding US policy. Washington and Israel disagree on timing. Expect no hints until post-November. Electoral priorities come first. So does ousting Assad and isolating the Islamic Republic.

Washington's war on Syria rages. NAM's final document highlights mutual cooperation, resolving the Syrian conflict, Iran's legitimate nuclear program, Palestine, and world peace. Key is whether rhetoric becomes policy.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Anti-Iranian Rage


Anti-Iranian Rage

by Stephen Lendman

Washington and Israel wage dirty covert wars. Iran's been targeted for years. Imperial aims are prioritized. Rule of law principles don't matter. Israel wants sole regional dominance. America wants it globally. Lawless tactics continue.

They include cyber attacks, other sabotage, targeted assassinations, deadly explosions, sophisticated satellite, drone, and other spying, bogus accusations, a virtual blockade, hostile saber rattling, multiple rounds of sanctions, and attempts to cripple its central bank and oil industry.

In addition, relentless anti-Iranian propaganda substitutes malicious misinformation and bald-faced lies for accuracy and truth. 

At issue is Iranian independence. The Islamic Republic threatens no one. Its nuclear program is peaceful. It seeks cooperative international relations. It wants its sovereign rights respected. 

Regime change is planned. Belligerence is America's option of choice. It wants pro-Western governments replacing independent ones. Peace and stability are sabotaged. Pretexts are created. One war follows another. After Syria comes Iran.

Institute for Policy Studies senior scholar Andrew Levine expects war. Obama wants it avoided until post-election. He told Russia Today (rt.com) its "rationale….remains intact."

He matches Republican hawkishness. He's more hawkish on Afghanistan than Romney. Overall differences between them are like "Coke and Pepsi." Both want regime change in Syria and Iran. They'll do what it takes against both governments. Congress is supportive. Expect the worst. It's coming.

Western proxies wage war on Syria. Media scoundrels invert truth. They consider cold-blooded killers freedom fighters. They're armed, trained, funded, and directed to commit murder and other atrocities. Assad gets blamed for their crimes.

Journalist Robert Fisk visited Daraya. Days earlier, terrorists massacred dozens of civilians. Some say hundreds. Mass burials were held.

Residents he spoke to contradicted official reports. They blamed Anti-Assad terrorists. A woman named Leena saw bodies on streets before Syrian forces arrived. Government loyalists were targeted.

Home were invaded. People were kidnapped and slaughtered. Assad was wrongfully blamed. Expect a full investigation to reveal more.

Washington may replicate Syrian violence in Iran. Baseless charges continue. On August 30, Haaretz headlined the latest. Unnamed US, Israeli and UN officials were cited. Uncorroborated charges were made. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was named.

Haaretz called him a "top Iranian scientist believed to be the 'father' of Iran's nuclear weapons program…."

No evidence proves one exists. Nonetheless, baseless charges continue. Fear is generated. Public opinion is manipulated. War plans perhaps remain unchanged.

Haaretz said Fakhrizadeh's research was "apparently sidelined (for) a few years." He "resumed his work in a lab on the outskirts of Tehran…."

A UN "nuclear watchdog" called him "a key figure in suspected Iranian work to develop technology and skills needed for atomic bombs and suggested he may still play a role in such efforts."

A so-called report was cited. He's the only Iranian official named. Accusations without proof said Tehran "appear(s) to be developing nuclear weapons." How many times have we heard that before? Charges wore thin long ago. Nonetheless, they repeat. 

In November 2011, a spurious IAEA report said he headed an AMAD Plan. He was falsely accused of "carr(ying) out studies related to uranium, high explosives and the revamping of a missile cone to accommodate a warhead."

Again, no evidence corroborated charges. They're baseless or manufactured to look believable. Unidentified officials lack credibility. Iran's been falsely accused for years. Its agenda supports a nuclear free Middle East.

On August 29, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei addressed NAM leaders.

"In the recent past," he said, "we have been witness to the failure of the policies of the Cold War era and the unilateralism that followed it." 

"Having learnt lessons from this historical experience, the world is in transition towards a new international order and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) can and should play a new role."

NAM values, he said, include anti-colonialism, political, economic and cultural independence, solidarity and cooperation, world peace, and freedom from hegemonic dominance.

He accused Washington of bullying tactics. He called its Security Council control "a flagrant form of dictatorship." He said America and its "accomplices" terrorize defenseless people in the name of democracy.

They impose their will lawlessly on others. "Using their exclusive and organized media network, they disguise their lies as the truth, their falsehoods as true, and their oppression as efforts to promote justice." 

"In contrast, they brand as lies every true statement that exposes their deceit and label every legitimate demand as roguish."

America is "fully aware that Iran does not seek nuclear weapons." He condemned US and Israeli hostility. He criticized IAEA complicity with aggressive anti-Iranian policies. He also blamed UN officials for not countering US threats. He stressed Iran's commitment to end Syrian violence.

He repeated earlier calls for a nuclear free Middle East. He urged other nations for support. Nuclear disarmament is fundamental. Everyone gains. UN officials should prioritize achieving what benefits all member states.

The 16th NAM summit represents a historic opportunity. Key is transforming rhetoric into policy. As host, Iran gains prestige and support against hostile US/Israeli designs.

Israel instructed its ambassadors in all NAM member states to pressure their leaders not to attend. Washington likely did the same. Both nations have black eyes.

Bullying failed. It's a hopeful sign. Dozens of presidents, prime ministers, and other top officials showed up. Doing so expresses anti-imperial solidarity.

In response, Netanyahu lashed out. Enraged over impressive international participation, he called the summit "a disgrace and stain on humanity. So many in the international community appear to have learned nothing," he said.

He repeated earlier baseless accusations. NAM leaders likely have a belly full of arrogance they reject. Netanyahu is a world class thug. He heads Israel's worst ever government. 

He's an embarrassment to democratic values. Official policy is belligerent, racist, exploitive and rapacious. He deplores peace and stability. His nuclear and other WMDs threaten the region.

He's furious about 17 Arab IAEA members saying Israel's nuclear arsenal endangers peace. In September, its 154 members will vote on their initiative up or down. It's expected to pass. It criticizes Israeli efforts against freeing the region of weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear ones in particular were cited.

Israel is the region's only nuclear armed and dangerous state. Its secret program menaces other nations. Its arsenal is believed to include hundreds of warheads and sophisticated delivery systems.

It falsely accuses Iran. Its own capability is suppressed. It's the region's real threat. So is Washington's military presence. Iran and Syria both are targeted.

Writer Gordon Duff believes NATO secretly authorized attacking Syria after repeated denials. On August 28,  its military leaders met in Brussels. Israel, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states, and several former Soviet Republics participated by phone.

Two issues were discussed: 

(1) "How climate change in Greenland (affects) geopolitics, immigration and (EU) military affairs;" and

(2) "Syria and the potential for Russian and Chinese intervention."

Iran wasn't officially on the agenda. If Moscow and Beijing don't challenge a Syrian attack, "this will be seen as an authorization for incursions into Iran…." 

Following the meeting, "(n)o announcement was made, no plans or timetable published, simply a vote on authorization of force which passed unanimously by members and included non-member states unanimously.”

Russia and China have vital regional interests. Failure to intervene increases their own vulnerability. Both countries represent America's final frontier. Failure to confront more US aggression now makes doing so later harder.

Now's the time for drawing red lines they'll challenge if crossed. It's hard imagining they'll back off and do nothing. The best anti-war strategy is preventing it. Tough talk with teeth leaving no ambiguity may be how.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Waging War on Leaks


Waging War on Leaks 

by Stephen Lendman

On July 30, the Washington Post headlined "A bill to stop security leaks puts a plug on democracy," saying:

Journalists and others talk to officials daily. Background briefings are commonplace. Vital information is discussed. Most of it is unclassified.

On May 15, HR 5743: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 was introduced and referred to committee. On May 31, it passed.

On July 30, S. 3454: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 was introduced and reported to committee. Enactment hasn't occurred. More on it below.

A Senate amendment to S. 3454 permits only the director, deputy director, or public affairs representative of an intelligence agency to provide "background or off-the-record information regarding intelligence activities."

Lower level personnel perhaps with contrary views are prohibited from stating them. At issue is government transparency, press freedom, and the public's right to know. 

Independent investigative journalism will be compromised. So will press and other First Amendment freedoms. At issue are provisions listed below.

(1) Requiring Congress to be notified when intelligence related information is publicly disclosed. In addition, maintaining a record of all authorized disclosures is mandated.

(2) Establishing formal leak investigation procedures.

(3) Assessing their effectiveness by expanded polygraph testing despite its unreliability and inadmissibility in court.

(4) Prohibiting cleared personnel from serving as paid consultants or commentators for up to a year after government service.

(5) Letting only designating intelligence community officials communicate with the media.

(6) Requiring all media contacts be reported.

(7) Requiring the attorney general and director of national intelligence (DNI) to report to Congress on improving procedures governing leak investigations.

(8) Punishing unauthorized leakers by rescinding their federal pension benefits.

(9) Prohibiting security clearances for unauthorized leakers.

The Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) calls the measure dangerous and "sloppily" written. It goes way beyond stopping classified information leaks. Passage will enact a new layer of secrecy and coverup. The bill's problems are "extensive and severe."

A New York Times editorial called it "A Pernicious Drive Toward Secrecy," saying:

"(M)misguided legislation….would severely chill news coverage of national security issues. Drafted in secret without public hearings," enactment will undermine democracy.

Debate on vital issues will be compromised. Issues like government spying, torture, and war won't be discussed.

Whistleblowers will be targeted more than now. Discussing truths too important to conceal will be compromised. Mostly unclassified information is affected.

The measure "draws no distinction between information that is properly classified and the vast pile of information that poses no national risk but has been deemed secret thanks only to a dysfunctional system of over-classification of government documents."

Enactment compromises constitutional rights. It passed the Senate Intelligence Committee with one dissenting vote. Former officials, civil liberties groups, and outspoken journalists denounce it. 

Don't count on Obama to stop it. He routinely supports police state measures. He's targeted whistleblowers more aggressively than all his predecessors combined. House and Senate approval assures enactment.

Classification expert Steven Aftergood documented worrisome bill provisions. What's "unauthorized disclosure," he asked? Clarity about what constitutes the media is absent. Professional journalists are fourth estate members. What about independent writers, bloggers, and social network contributors?

Classified information isn't defined. "Merely being classified  (doesn't) warrant exemption from disclosure under FOIA." A court ordered the US trade representative to release a classified document not properly classified. So far the government refused.

The concept of unauthorized disclosure is ill-defined. Interpretations differ. Most bill provisions apply to elements of the intelligence community. Section 501 affects the executive branch. It requires notification of authorized information releases.

FOIA provisions exempt classified information provided it's "properly classified."

EFF calls the Senate measure troubling, "given that the government's secrecy system has ballooned to absurd proportions."

Secrecy was always excessive. However, "2011 was particularly egregious." Washington classified 77 million documents, 40% more than the previous year.

Government employees with security clearances number 4.2 million. Air Force families are prohibited from accessing WikiLeaks. The Air Force also bars service members in war theaters from reading The New York Times.

Guantanamo detainee lawyers are prohibited from reading WikiLeaks files pertaining to their clients. Some were publicly released. Numerous other examples show troubling secrecy level annual increases.

Virtually everything in government related to national security and foreign policy is now classified. Doing so is often out of line and improper. It's done to hide embarrassing truths, government waste, corruption, other criminality, and serious constitutional violations.

Former US classification czar, J. William Leonard, calls the system "dysfunctional." It "clearly lacks the ability to differentiate between trivial information and that which can truly damage our nation's well-being."

Bureaucratic overkill stamps virtually everything secret. Leonard was Bush's secrecy chief. He's now a vocal critic. The new Senate measure is another attempt to subvert democracy and conceal wrongdoing through secrecy. 

Whistleblowers are especially at risk. The Times article said FBI investigations into leaks are "casting a distinct chill over press coverage of national security issues as agencies decline routine interview requests and refuse to provide background briefings."

If enacted, new anti-leaks legislation may permanently alter the way  journalists interact with government officials. Doing so deals democracy another blow. 

EFF calls the most disturbing issue the fact that Congress proposed the measure. According to Steven Aftergood:

"(T)there is something incongruous, if not outrageous, about the whole effort by Congress to induce stricter secrecy in the executive branch, which already has every institutional incentive to restrict public disclosure of intelligence information."

Investigations followed previous leaks. "Substantive" Congressional oversight followed. In contrast, post-9/11, Congress and officials in two administrations targeted whistleblowers with a vengeance.

For example, New Yorker contributor Steve Coll addressed Newsweek reporter Daniel Klaidman's book on Obama's drone strike policy. 

He discusses "the first instance in American history of a sitting President speaking of his intent to kill a particular US citizen without that citizen having been charged formally with a crime or convicted at trial." 

When the New York Times discussed cyberattacks on Iran (based on leaks), The Times said doing so was unprecedented. It compared doing so to "the first use of atomic weapons" against Japan.

These and other issues demand open unobstructed debate and scrutiny. Criminalizing it is unconscionable. Everyone has a right to know. Independent journalists especially serve a vital service. They go where mainstream ones won't dare. They do it because it's the right thing to do. Anything less falls short. Free and open societies depend on them.

Secrecy, lack of oversight, and unaccountability prevent the public from knowing what's most important.

A firestorm of criticism got Senate Intelligence Committee Chairperson Dianne Feinstein to consider bill revisions. A committee aide said she and other senators were "reviewing comments." They'll consider changes "as the bill moves forward."

Modifications are likely before the full Senate votes. Even Bush was less restrictive than Obama. He's more secretive and draconian than any previous president. He want total control over what's secret and what's not.

EFF condemned him and congressional supporters, saying:

Vital information secrecy, coverup, and obstruction "have no place in a democracy that values government transparency and prides itself on press freedom and justice under the law."

Obama and those around him are going all out to destroy them. Failure to stop them assures tyranny. It's already perilously close to full-blown. 

Inattention and indifference means accepting the worst of all possible worlds. No one should tolerate them. Resistance, not acquiescence, is essential.  

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Media Scoundrels Promote Permanent Wars


Media Scoundrels Promote Permanent Wars

by Stephen Lendman

Real journalists report issues responsibly. Scoundrels operate by different rules. They play lead US imperial roles. Without them, pretexts for war wouldn't matter. Selling them depends on widespread dissemination. Messages not heard don't exist. 

Regurgitating official lies legitimizes attacking one nonbelligerent nation after another. Responsible parties share guilt with war planners. 

Blood drenches their hands. Peace and stability are rejected. So are rule of law principles and democratic values. Global barbarism defines their thinking. It shows in what they endorse. 

Perhaps mass slaughter and destruction energize them. They're paid to lie. They support imperial war lords. Truth and full disclosure are verboten. They willingly promote the unconscionable. 

They endorse different moral standards than most people. Their world isn't fit to live in. Perhaps they'll go too far and help destroy it. Imagine it because it's possible.

Real news and information are suppressed. Iran's Press TV, Russia Today, Voice of Russia, and the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) provide them. They promote truth, stability, democratic values,  sovereign independence, cooperative international relations, and peace.

They reject war, interfering in other nations' internal affairs, and bullying them to support policies against their own interests. 

Press TV quoted Iranian President on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement's (NAM) summit, saying:

"Today, the global conditions are changing drastically and independent nations should stand by each other to achieve justice and humanity."

He added than Iran won't cave under Western pressure. "(H)egemons never seek benevolence and justice. (Their) policies have always brought war, oppression and discrimination."

Media scoundrels point fingers the wrong way. Victims are blamed for Western crimes. On August 29, SANA headlined "Mercenary Terrorists Continue Killing and Terrorist Acts against Syrians," saying:

Complicit neighboring states help them slip through porous borders. They're trained in Turkey, Jordan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other regional countries. They're led by Western and regional special forces. Foreign intelligence elements are also involved.

They're sent to kill and destroy. Civilians, state security forces, and government loyalists are prime targets.

Mohamad Ali Ahmad was captured. He admitted belonging to "an armed terrorist group along with" other like-minded extremists.

Bilhaj Ahmad appeared on Syrian television. He came to Syria via Tunis, Libya, and Turkey. He was trained to use Kalashnikovs, RBGs, PKCs, and Dushka machineguns. He spent time in Egypt with Al Qaeda elements.

A separate report headlined “Terrorists Slaughter Civilians in Zamalka to Incite World Public Opinion against Syria,” saying:

Mercenaries slaughtered civilian men and women. Bodies were placed inside a booby-trapped mosque. Blowing it up is planned on the eve of the Security Council’s August 30 ministerial meeting. 

Expect headlines to blame Assad. France called for the session. At issue is discussing Syria. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov won’t attend.

Russia’s Kommersant newspaper predicts failure. It said perhaps only France will show up.

Syria's Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem called Washington the lead anti-Syrian belligerent. Other nations are "instruments" it controls.

America doesn't fight international terrorism, he said. It instigates and supports it. He accused "foreign elements" of hijacking Syrian peace and stability.

"I don't accept as a citizen to return back centuries to a regime which can bring Syria backwards," he added. "In principle….no government in the world can accept an armed terrorist group, some of them coming from abroad, controlling streets and villages in the name of jihad."

At Tehran's NAM summit, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and others urged resolving Syria's conflict through dialogue without foreign intervention or interference.

Washington, key NATO partners, regional allies, and supportive media scoundrels want Syrian violence ended by more of it before moving on against Iran. 

Red lines are drawn. Pretexts are created. Threats head closer to policies. Regional war looms. The worst of all possible worlds may follow.

War hawks aren't deterred. Neither are media scoundrels. They support what they should condemn. Syria and Iran are prime targets.

Launched in October 2011, the NY Times eXaminer (NYTX) is "An antidote to the 'paper of record.' " It advocates responsible journalism, factual reporting, honest commentaries, and telling readers what they most need to know.

It's about holding irresponsible NYT contributors accountable, exposing their misinformation, and explaining what they suppress.

It's what "journalism" is supposed to be. It's about telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing else. As America's most influential broadsheet, the NYT matters most. Its reports circulate globally. 

On vital issues, it fails on all counts. Wealth and power interests are served. Readers are betrayed. Instead of condemning American imperialism, it lends supports.

Millions die. Many more suffer. One war segues to another. Syria and Iran are prime targets. On August 29, NYTX headlined "Iran's Call for Nuclear Abolition by 2025 is Unreported by the New York Times," saying:

The Times supports war with Iran. Its Pentagon handout reporting promoted attacking Iraq. It ignored Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi's plea. Addressing NAM summit officials, he urged elimination of nuclear arsenals in 13 years or less.

He called it a reasonable timetable. Weapons this destructive shouldn't exist. The Times ignored his plea. It's given readers scant NAM coverage. It's dismissive of a major world event, its peace agenda, and other vital themes responsible journalists would report.

Instead of supporting Tehran's ban the bomb initiative, Times articles, commentaries, and editorials invent a nonexistent threat. On August 27, it headlined "Iran's Nuclear Quest," saying:

Iran's moving closer to producing "bomb-grade fuel. This is unsettling news….Iran’s continuing activity violates United Nations Security Council demands to halt enrichment…."

Why should it? Doing so complies fully with NPT provisions. Dozens of other nations do the same thing. Only Tehran draws criticism. Clearly something besides nuclear power is at issue. Times editorial writers know but won't say.

Instead, they're pushing Obama "to act against Iran soon." So far they've stopped short of urging war. Incrementally they're moving closer.

They call this week's NAM summit "a major blow." Doing so denounces global peace. Iran's agenda is maliciously distorted.

NAM gives "Tehran the perfect propaganda opportunity to play the victim and defend a nuclear program that is indefensible."

According to TimesThink, Washington should prevent Iran's legitimate use of nuclear energy. It's only a matter of time before war is urged.

On August 28, The Times targeted Syria. An editorial headlined "A Refugee Disaster in the Making." Fingers pointed the wrong way. What's going on wasn't explained.

It noted increasing bloodshed. Victims are blamed for death squad crimes. People "are fleeing (Assad's) desperate and escalating efforts to hang on to power."

It called foreign invaders civil war. It claimed growing opposition strength. They're being routed from one location after another. They're murdering civilian men, women and children along the way. Assad is blamed, not them.

Stiffer sanctions, a no-fly zone and/or humanitarian corridor are urged. Imposed sanctions are illegal. Controlling Syria's air space and/or ground areas means war.

Washington must reassess its role, says The Times. Without saying so, endorsing more war creeps closer.

Washington Post is similar. On August 27, its editorial headlined "Syria's escalating slaughter," saying:

"EVIDENCE IS emerging of yet another horrific massacre by the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, this time in the suburbs of Damascus."

Western-recruited death squads were responsible. Russia Today reported people killed by sniper fire. Others were shot "execution-style in house-to-house raids." Gruesome video footage aired on Syrian television.

Assad condemned the killings. He denied responsibility. Syria's Ath-Thawra newspaper said government forces "cleared the town of Daraya of the remnants of armed terrorist groups which committed crimes that traumatized (its residents) and destroyed public and private property."

Activists and independent observers blame insurgents, not Assad. Residents welcome Syrian forces when they're routed. Previous massacres and this one bear similar fingerprints. No ambiguity prevents knowing who's responsible.

The Post's Editorial Board lied. It wants war. It calls less aggressive action "morally bankrupt." It feeds readers similar opinions on Iran. It won't likely stop until the entire region and beyond is embroiled.

Perhaps a few million more corpses will satiate its appetite. The Times and other media sources also want blood. Apologies won't follow later evidence proving what they endorsed was wrong. Scoundrels don't admit errors or say they're sorry.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Israeli Soldiers Break Silence


Israeli Soldiers Break Silence

by Stephen Lendman

Breaking the Silence (BTS) is an organization comprised of Israeli combat veterans. They served since the start of the second Intifada. They refuse any longer to stay silent.

Their testimonies expose "the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories." Their purpose is to stimulate public debate. They revealed abuses too gruesome to hide.

They include "looting and destruction of property." Many other crimes and abuses are much worse. In their own words, they reveal the deplorable immorality of Israel's militarized occupation.

Most Israelis ignore it. They turn a blind eye to what's done in their name. "In order to become civilians again, soldiers are (also) forced to ignore what they have seen and done."

BTS members have been revealing disturbing truths for years. A previous article discussed them, saying:

"We, reserve officers and soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)....have always served in the front lines" (We) were first to carry out any mission, light or heavy, (and we did it) to protect the State of Israel and strengthen it."

"We....served....long weeks every year, in spite of dear cost to our personal lives, have been on reserve duty all over the Occupied Territories, and were issued commands and directives that had nothing to do with the security of our country (but were only given to perpetuate) our control over the Palestinian people." 

"We('ve)....seen the bloody toll this Occupation exacts from both sides."

"The commands issued to us in the Territories (have) destroy(ed) all the values (we learned) growing up in this country."

"The (way) the Occupation (undermines the) IDF's human character and (exposes) the corruption of the entire Israeli society."

"We....know that the Territories are not Israel, and that all settlements are bound to be evacuated in the end."

"We hereby declare that we shall not continue to fight this War of the Settlements."

"We shall not continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people."

"We hereby declare that we shall continue serving the Israel Defense Forces in any mission that serves Israel's defense."

"The missions of occupation and oppression do not serve this purpose - and we shall take no part in them."

Women soldiers also speak out. Their testimonies match their male counterparts. They condemn the corrupt state of Israel's military. They want no further part of horrific crimes committed in their name.

To date, BTS collected over 700 testimonies. Soldiers from all segments of Israeli society supplied them. They're frank, bold, revealing, and courageous. Those published were "meticulously researched" for accuracy.

Facts are cross-checked with additional eyewitness evidence, as well as archival material from human rights organizations.

Most soldiers remain anonymous for their own safety. They're concerned about IDF recrimination and societal pressures they'll face otherwise. Israel doesn't take criticism lightly.  

It wants no one obstructing or denigrating military or government policies. Doing so can be hazardous. Being Jewish doesn't grant immunity. Soldiers bearing witness to horrific crimes have special concerns. They have smoking gun proof of Israeli lawless.

Their testimonies are damning. They reveal the real Israel. They destroy the myth of a free, open, and equitable democratic state. Throughout its history, ruthlessness defines policy. 

Militarism is a way of life. Arabs are considered lesser beings. Occupied Palestinians are persecuted for not being Jewish.

Edward Said explained it powerfully. His books, articles, and outspokenness bear witness to decades of horrific treatment.

He described "Sharonian evil." Among other crimes, he massacred children. He turned Palestine into an isolated prison. He used tanks and F-16s against civilians. 

He, his predecessors, and successors committed virtually every imaginable atrocity. Netanyahu exceeds his extremism. He, Barak, and likeminded hardliners represent consummate evil.

Palestinians are persecuted and oppressed for their faith, ethnicity and presence. An endless cycle of violence, depravation, and degradation targets them. In Gaza, slow-motion genocide is policy.

In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israeli soldiers operate like storm troopers. Hitler had a Jewish problem. Israel has a Palestinian one. They can't get rid of them, so they're brutalized mercilessly.

BTS soldiers want shocking truths revealed. Everyone has a right to know. Israelis need to know what type society they live in. Change depends on exposing it to the light of day. 

US media scoundrels suppress it. So do European ones most often. Exceptions are rare. They prove the rule. London Guardian writer Harriet Sherwood headlined "Former Israeli soldiers disclose routing mistreatment of Palestinian children," saying:

BTS members described "beatings, intimidation, humiliation, verbal abuse, night-time arrests and injury."

Children most often face stone-throwing charges. Usually they did nothing. At most they caused no harm. They can face prison and torture either way. They're horrifically treated like adults. Sherwood gave graphic examples of soldier testimonies.

So did London Independent writer Donald MacIntyre. He headlined "Israel breaks silence over army abuses," saying:

As a teenager, "Hafez Rajabi was marked for life by his encounter with" Israeli soldiers. His scars bear testimony to their abuse. They terrorized and brutalized him. He was "certain that he was going to" be killed.

He's one of countless thousands. One boy was "beat(en) to a pulp."  So were others. In custody they're tortured to confess even if innocent. British lawyers accused Israel of "serial breaches of international law in its military's handling of children in custody."

Kids young as 10 or younger are traumatized. Some never recover. Most are entirely innocent. Being Palestinian puts them at risk. Soldiers get habituated to violence. Commanders order it. 

Dehumanization, brutalization, humiliation, and harassment are commonplace.Unaccountability is policy. Institutionalized cruelty goes unnoticed. So does murder and virtually every other type abuse.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant. BTS soldiers took full advantage. Others are encouraged to join them. Below are examples of what they said. Multiply each one by thousands if all soldiers spoke freely. 

Growing up in Palestine means living with threatened state terror. Few kids escape it directly or indirectly. They face it growing up and as adults. Militarized occupation assures it.

A Hebron-based soldier said:

"You never know their names, you never talk with them, they always cry, shit in their pants….There are those annoying moments when you're on an arrest mission, and there's no room in the police station, so you just take the kid back with you, blindfold him, put him in a room and wait for the police to come and pick him up in the morning. He sits there like a dog …"

According to another soldier:

One kid lay on the ground "begging for his life. (He) was actually nine years old, I mean, a kid has to beg for his life? A loaded gun is pointed at him and he has to plead for mercy? This is something that scars him for life. But I think if we hadn't entered the village at that point, then stones would be thrown the next day and perhaps the next time someone would be wounded or killed as a result."

Another:

"We were sort of indifferent. It becomes a kind of habit. Patrols with beatings happened on a daily basis. We were really going at it. It was enough for you to give us a look that we didn't like, straight in the eye, and you'd be hit on the spot. We got to such a state and were so sick of being there."

Another:

"The commander said to (her): 'Keep away!' Came close, cocked his gun. She got scared. (He shouted): 'Anyone gets close, I kill him. Don't annoy me. I'll kill him. I have no mercy.' He was really on the edge. Obviously (the boy) had been beaten up. Anyway, he told them: 'Get the hell out of here!' and all hell broke loose. His nose was bleeding. He had really been beaten to a pulp."

Another:

"We'd often provoke riots (in Hebron). We'd be on patrol, walking in the village, bored, so we'd trash shops, find a detonator, beat someone to a pulp, you know how it is. Search, mess it all up. Say we'd want a riot? We'd go up to the windows of a mosque, smash the panes, throw in a stun grenade, make a big boom, then we'd get a riot."

"Every time we'd catch Arab kids. You catch him, push the gun against his body. He can't make a move - he's totally petrified. He only goes: 'No, no, army.' You can tell he's petrified. He sees you're mad, that you couldn't care less about him and you're hitting him really hard the whole time." 

"And all those stones flying around. You grab him like this, you see? We were mean, really. Only later did I begin to think about these things, that we'd lost all sense of mercy."

Over 700 other testimonies read like these. If made public, thousands of others could replicate them. These are serious, unprovoked crimes. Prosecutions rarely happen. Punishments are no more than wrist slaps. Commanders have total absolution.

Israeli rule of law says Palestinians don't matter. They're kicked around like rag dolls. Stray dogs wouldn't be treated as abusively. Israeli soldiers have virtual carte blanche to do what they please. 

Impunity protects them. Commanders order them to be tougher. So do extremist rabbis. BTS soldiers bear witness to Israel's dark side. It's the only side Palestinians endure daily.

Read the entire BTS report and know why.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour