Category Archives: USA

If this is what an anti-war presidency looks like to you, you’re detached from reality

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

obama clenched jawNothing sums up the warped foreign policy fantasy world in which Republicans live more than when House Speaker John Boehner recentlycalled Obama an “anti-war president” under which America “is sitting on the sidelines” in the increasingly chaotic Middle East.

If Obama is an anti-war president, he’s the worst anti-war president in history. In the last six years, the Obama administration has bombed seven countries in the Middle East alone and armed countless more with tens of billions in dollars in weapons. But that’s apparently not enough for Republicans. As the Isis war continues to expand and Yemen descends into civil war, everyone is still demanding more: If only we bombed the region a little bit harder, then they’ll submit.

In between publishing a new rash of overt sociopathic “Bomb Iran” op-eds, Republicans and neocons are circulating a new talking point: Obama doesn’t have a “coherent” or “unifying” strategy in the Middle East. But you can’t have a one-size-fits-all strategy in an entire region that is almost incomprehensibly complex – which is why no one, including the Republicans criticizing Obama, actually has an answer for what that strategy should be. It’s clear that this new talking point is little more than thinly veiled code for we’re not killing enough Muslims or invading enough countries.’

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Neocons: the Echo of German Fascism

Retired JAG Major Todd E. Pierce writes for Consortium News:

Leo Strauss, an intellectual bridge between Germany's inter-war Conservative Revolutionaries and today's American neoconservatives.With the Likud Party electoral victory in Israel, the Republican Party is on a roll, having won two major elections in a row. The first was winning control of the U.S. Congress last fall. The second is the victory by the Republicans’ de facto party leader Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel’s recent election. As the Israeli Prime Minister puts together a coalition with other parties “in the national camp,” as he describes them, meaning the ultra-nationalist parties of Israel, it will be a coalition that today’s Republicans would feel right at home in.

The common thread linking Republicans and Netanyahu’s “national camp” is a belief of each in their own country’s “exceptionalism,” with a consequent right of military intervention wherever and whenever their “Commander in Chief” orders it, as well as the need for oppressive laws to suppress dissent.

William Kristol, neoconservative editor of the Weekly Standard, would agree. Celebrating Netanyahu’s victory, Kristol told the New York Times, “It will strengthen the hawkish types in the Republican Party.” Kristol added that Netanyahu would win the GOP’s nomination, if he could run, because “Republican primary voters are at least as hawkish as the Israeli public.”

The loser in both the Israeli and U.S. elections was the rule of law and real democracy, not the sham democracy presented for public relations purposes in both counties. In both countries today, money controls elections, and as Michael Glennon has written in National Security and Double Government, real power is in the hands of the national security apparatus.’

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NY Times Article a Malicious Attempt to Undermine Iran Negotiations: Interview with Former IAEA Director Robert Kelly

‘Robert Kelly says David Sanger in the New York Times claimed Iran had backed off a commitment to ship Uranium out of the country, something that was later refuted by the U.S. State Department.’ (The Real News)

Leading U.S. Newspapers Incite “Supreme International Crime”

Jim Naureckas writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

War op-eds in NYT, WaPoAfter the New York Times printed John Bolton’s “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran” (3/26/15; FAIR Blog, 3/26/15), following the Washington Post publishing Joshua Muravchik’s “War With Iran Is Probably Our Best Option” (3/13/15), veteran investigative reporter Robert Parry made an excellent point (Consortium News, 3/28/15):

If two major newspapers in, say, Russia published major articles openly advocating the unprovoked bombing of a country, say, Israel, the US government and news media would be aflame with denunciations about “aggression,” “criminality,” “madness” and “behavior not fitting the 21st century.”

But when the newspapers are American – the New York Times and the Washington Post – and the target country is Iran, no one in the US government and media bats an eye. These inflammatory articles – these incitements to murder and violation of international law – are considered just normal discussion in the Land of Exceptionalism.

Advocating for war is not like advocating for most other policies because, as peace activist David Swanson points out, war is a crime.’

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New York Times Accidentally Undermines John Bolton “Bomb Iran” Op-Ed in Own Pages

Jon Schwarz reports for The Intercept:

The New York Times yesterday [March 26th] published an op-ed by the characteristically bellicose John R. Bolton, headlined “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” Bolton, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, was U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration.

In an unusual touch, a link added to the original online edition of Bolton’s op-ed directly undermines Bolton’s case for war:

… Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq … can accomplish what is required.

U.S. and Israeli politicians often claim that Israel’s bombing of Iraq in 1981 significantly set back an already-existing Iraqi nuclear weapons program. The truth is almost exactly the opposite.’

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Bizarre incident at NSA HQ leaves one dead, dozens of questions

‘One man has been killed and two have been injured following a strange scene at the National Security Agency headquarters located in Fort Meade, Maryland, when two men dressed as women tried to ram a Ford Escape SUV into the building after an attempt at breaching the entrance. Ameera David reports from the scene.’ (RT America)

Jon Gold interviews Jonathan Kay, author of “Among the Truthers”

Jonathan Kay - Among the Truthers A Journey Through America's Growing Conspiracist Underground.jpegJonathan Kay is a Canadian journalist. He is the editor-in-chief of The Walrus and former comment pages editor, columnist and blogger for the Toronto-based Canadian daily newspaper National Post. He is also a book author and editor, a public speaker, and a regular contributor to Commentary Magazine and the New York Post. His freelance articles have been published in a variety of US publications including Newsweek, The New Yorker, Salon.com, The New Republic, Harper’s Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The Weekly Standard, The Literary Review of Canada, The National Interest and The New York Times.  Books he has written are The Volunteer: A Canadian’s Secret Life in the Mossad which was co-written by Michael Ross, and Among The Truthers.’ (We Were Lied to About 9/11)

TSA Checklist Exposed: “Suspicious Signs” Include Throat Clearing, Whistling and “Exaggerated Yawning”

‘Next time you are at an airport, you may not want to gaze down at your feet. But also be careful not to stare at anyone with your eyes wide open. Both of these behaviors are listed on a “suspicious signs” checklist used by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. The Intercept obtained the confidential document from a source concerned about the quality of the program. The document shows how the TSA identifies potential terrorists based on behaviors that it thinks indicate stress or deception, including “fidgeting,” “whistling” and “throat clearing.” The checklist is part of the TSA’s controversial program known as the “Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques.” It employs specially trained officers, known as behavior detection officers, to watch and interact with passengers going through screening. The TSA has trained and deployed thousands of these officers, spending more than $900 million on this program since its inception in 2007. However, the Government Accountability Office has found there is no evidence to back up the claim that “behavioral indicators … can be used to identify persons who may pose a risk to aviation security.” We are joined by Cora Currier, staff reporter for The Intercept, whose new article co-written with Jana Winter, is “TSA’s Secret Behavior Checklist To Spot Terrorists.”‘ (Democracy Now!)

White House Isn’t Ruling Out U.S. Involvement In Yemen

‘Yemen has become a major front in the battle between the main factions of Islam. Saudi Arabia has evacuated dozens of foreign and Saudi diplomats from the port city of Aden in Southern Yemen, and the UN has evacuated staff from Sanaa, the capital. President Obama spoke on the phone with the King of Sunni Saudi Arabia, which is conducting air attacks on Shiite rebels in Yemen. Julianna Goldman reports on the chaos.’ (CBS This Morning)

Saudi Arabia’s Airstrikes in Yemen Are Fuelling the Gulf’s Fire

Patrick Cockburn, author of The Rise of the Islamic State, writes for The Independent:

‘Foreign states that go to war in Yemen usually come to regret it. The Saudi-led military intervention so far involves only air strikes, but a ground assault may follow. The code name for the action is Operation Decisive Storm, which is probably an indication of what Saudi Arabia and its allies would like to happen in Yemen, rather than what will actually occur.

In practice, a decisive outcome is the least likely prospect for Yemen, just as it has long been in Iraq and Afghanistan. A political feature common to all three countries is that power is divided between so many players it is impossible to defeat or placate them all for very long. Saudi Arabia is backing President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi but the humiliating speed of his defeat shows his lack of organised support.

The threat of further intervention by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council may be intended to redress the balance of power in Yemen and prevent the Houthis winning a total victory. But Saudi actions and those of the Sunni coalition will be self-fulfilling if the Houthis – never previously full proxies of Iran – find themselves fighting a war in which they are dependent on Iranian financial, political and military backing.

Likewise, the Houthis, as members of the Zaidi sect, were not always seen by Shia in other countries as part of their religious community. But by leading a Sunni coalition Saudi Arabia will internationalise the Yemen conflict and emphasise its sectarian Sunni-Shia dimension.’

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US war on terror has claimed over 80,000 lives in Pakistan, says Body Count report

Khaleej Times reports:

The report titled “Body Count: Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the War on Terror” was released by the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War along with Physicians for Social Responsibility and Physicians for Global Survival, The Express Tribune reported today.

The report, dealing with the conflict from 2004 until the end of 2013, shows that a total of 81,325 to 81,860 persons — including 48,504 civilians, 45 journalists, 416-951 civilians killed by drones, 5,498 security personnel and 26,862 militants — lost their lives in the US-led war on terror.

It also said that around 1.3 million people were directly and indirectly killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as a result of US-led wars in the regions during the the same period.’

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The Rapid Decline of Christianity In America

Amanda Marcotte writes for AlterNet:

There’s been a lot of media attention recently to the changing demographics of the United States, where, at current rates, people who identify as “white” are expected to become a minority by the year 2050. But in many ways, the shift in national demographics has been accelerated beyond even that. New data from the American Values Atlas shows that while white people continue to be the majority in all but 4 states in the country, white Christians are the minority in a whopping 19 states. And, nationwide, Americans who identify as Protestant are now in the minority for the first time ever, clocking in at a mere 47 percent of Americans and falling.’

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U.S. military wants to spend billions on new Air Force One

‘The Air Force is in the market for a few very special planes. The current planes are getting old, and the Pentagon wants to buy new ones. The Air Force gave CBS News extraordinary, behind-the-scenes access to learn how that may come about.’ (CBS This Morning)

ISIS “Aggressively” Recruiting From Minnesota, USA

‘ISIS and Al-Shabaab successfully recruited dozens of teens and young adults from Minnesota. Poppy Harlow finds out why and what’s being done to stop it.’ (CNN)

In Mexico, Firing of Journalist Highlights Rising Pressures on News Media

Elisabeth Malkin reports for The New York Times:

When Carmen Aristegui, Mexico’s most famous radio personality, was abruptly fired this month, nobody expected her to go quietly. But anger over her dismissal has been rising steadily, and it has turned up the heat in this country’s charged political atmosphere.

Conspiracy theories have abounded since a dispute between Ms. Aristegui and her employer, MVS Communications, ended in her departure. She has become an emblem of press freedom under siege, and social media has lighted up with demands for her return to the airwaves.

Even her critics, who point to a lack of reportorial rigor in many of her stories, argue that her dismissal removed one of the few broadcast journalists in Mexico who openly challenge authority. Many journalists contend that Ms. Aristegui’s case is part of a broader attempt by the government to check aggressive news coverage.’

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DoJ Watchdog Report: DEA agents had “sex parties” with prostitutes hired by drug cartels

Sari Horwitz and Carol D. Leonnig report for The Washington Post:

Drug Enforcement Administration agents allegedly had “sex parties” with prostitutes hired by local drug cartels overseas over a period of several years, according to a report released Thursday by the Justice Department’s watchdog.

The report did not specify the country where the parties occurred, but a law enforcement official familiar with the matter identified it as Colombia.

Seven of the 10 DEA agents alleged to have participated in the gatherings — most of which took place at an agent’s “quarters” leased by the U.S. government — admitted to having attended the parties, the report found. The agents, some of whom had top-secret security clearances, received suspensions of two to 10 days.’

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Flat CO2 Emissions Not Enough to Curb Climate Change, Experts Say

Shannon Hall reports for Live Science:

‘Global emissions of carbon dioxide — one of the leading causes of global warming — stalled in 2014, marking the first time in 40 years that there was no climb in CO2 emissions during a time of economic growth. The results suggest that efforts to reduce emissions may be on the upswing, but experts say the situation is not so simple.

In fact, some scientists say that the findings, announced last week by the International Energy Agency (IEA), represents only one data point and that the overall trend in carbon dioxide emissions is continuing upward.’

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U.S. Army Special Operations Command pushes back against martial law claims regarding upcoming Jade Helm 15 exercise

Jon Harper reports for Stars & Stripes:

Jade Helm 15 area of operations. Image Source: Department of DefenseU.S. Army Special Operations Command is pushing back against alarmist claims that an upcoming U.S. military exercise is a preparation for imposing martial law or subduing right-leaning groups and individuals.

Conspiracy theories about the exercise, known as JADE HELM 15, appeared online this week. Some commentators railing against the event referred to an online slide show allegedly created by USASOC, which outlined a special operations exercise slated to take place across multiple states, outside the confines of U.S. military bases. In the slide show, a map of the southwest region of the United States labels Texas and other territory as “hostile” or “insurgent pocket.” The document also refers to coordination with law enforcement agencies.

[…] Army Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria, a USASOC spokesman, confirmed that there is an upcoming exercise called Jade Helm 15 which is scheduled to take place this summer at locations in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, California and Nevada. But he denied the event is preparation for some sort of military takeover.’

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Colombian Report on US Military’s Child Rapes Not Newsworthy to US News Outlets

Adam Johnson reports for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

Telesur: US Military Sexually Abused at Least 54 Colombian Children‘An 800-page independent report commissioned by the US-friendly Colombian government and the radical left rebel group FARC found that US military soldiers and contractors had sexually abused at least 54 children in Colombia between 2003 and 2007 and, in all cases, the rapists were never punished–either in Colombia or stateside–due to American military personnel being immune from prosecution under diplomatic immunity agreements between the two countries.

The report was part of a broader historical analysis meant to establish the “causes and violence aggravators” of the 50-year-long conflict between the government and rebels that’s presently being negotiated to an end.

[…] Thus far, however, these explosive claims seem to have received zero coverage in the general US press, despite having been reported on Venezuela’s Telesur (3/23/15), the British tabloid Daily Mail (3/24/15) and Russian RT (3/25/15).’

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The Neoconservative Cursus Honorum

Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi writes for The American Conservative:

Having experienced several more weeks of mainstream media jingoism about the “Iranian threat,” culminating in the outrageous Joshua Muravchik op-ed advocating war with Iran as the “best option” for dealing with that country, one has to ask why it is that a gaggle of self-proclaimed “experts” has been able to capture the foreign-policy narrative so completely, in spite of the fact that they have been wrong about nearly everything?

Neoconservatives have two core beliefs. First is their insistence that the United States has the right or even the responsibility to use its military and economic power to reshape the world in terms of its own interests and values. Constant war thus becomes the new normal. As Professor Eliot Cohen, a former State Department adviser under George W. Bush, put it, “For the great mass of the American public … and for their leaders and elites who shape public opinion ‘war weariness’ is unearned cant, unworthy of a serious nation… .”’

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Pentagon Keeps Losing ‘Sensitive’ Explosives Gear, Then Finding It For Sale On Ebay

Tim Cushing reports for Techdirt:

‘The Pentagon may not know where some very sensitive equipment has disappeared to, but a variety of private resellers seem to have some idea where it might be found. A leaked US Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) document obtained by The Intercept details the agency’s inability to keep track of its explosives-detecting equipment, bequeathed to it by the Defense Department’s Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO).

While it did manage to track down some of its missing equipment at various equipment resellers (the document lists a variety of URLs, including ebay.com and craigslist.org), it still has no idea how much of it is still in the military’s possession.’

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In Washington, the Real Power Lies With the Spooks, Eavesdroppers and Assassins

Matthew Harwood reviews Michael Glennon’s “National Security and Double Government” for Medium:

[…] If you’ve noticed that the national security policies of Pres. Barack Obama’s administration are almost indistinguishable from those of the previous Republican administration and wondered why, Glennon has a “disquieting explanation” for you.

There are two governments — a double government — operating today in the realm of national security. There’s the one the voting public thinks they control when they go to the polls — what Glennon refers to as the “Madisonian institutions.” Congress, the courts and the presidency.

And there’s the “Trumanite network,” the labyrinthine national security apparatus that encompasses the military, intelligence and law enforcement communities that Pres. Harry Truman created when he signed the National Security Act of 1947.’

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Endless War: As U.S. Strikes Tikrit and Delays Afghan Pullout, “War on Terror” Toll Tops 1.3 Million

‘As the United States begins bombing the Iraqi city of Tikrit and again delays a withdrawal from Afghanistan, a new report has found that the Iraq War has killed about one million people. The Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and other groups examined the toll from the so-called war on terror in three countries — Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The investigators found “the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around one million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan. Not included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen. The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware. … And this is only a conservative estimate.” The true tally, they add, could be more than two million. We are joined by two guests who worked on the report: Hans von Sponeck, former U.N. assistant secretary-general and U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, who in 2000 resigned his post in protest of the U.S.-led sanctions regime; and Dr. Robert Gould, president of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.’ (Democracy Now!)

My Lai Revisited: 47 Years Later, Seymour Hersh Travels to Vietnam Site of U.S. Massacre He Exposed

Editor’s Note: Below are excerpts from Seymour Hersh’s interview with Democracy Now!. You can listen to the full interview here.

‘Fifty years after the U.S. ground invasion of Vietnam began, we look back at the 1968 My Lai massacre, when American troops killed hundreds of civilians. Journalist Seymour Hersh broke the story of the massacre and cover-up, winning a Pulitzer Prize for his work. But Hersh never actually went there — he interviewed soldiers stateside. Forty-seven years later, he recently traveled to My Lai for the first time, which he documents in a new article for The New Yorker, “The Scene of the Crime: A Reporter’s Journey to My Lai and the Secrets of the Past.” Hersh joins us to discuss how he exposed the massacre nearly five decades ago and what it was like to visit My Lai for the first time.’ (Democracy Now!)

U.S. Closes Key Drone Base and Withdraws Forces as U.N. Warns of Civil War in Yemen: Interview with Iona Craig

‘After touting its “successful” counterterrorism model in Yemen, the United States has evacuated its remaining personnel, including 100 special operations forces from a military base seen as key in the drone war against al-Qaeda. This comes amidst worsening violence between government forces and Shia Houthi rebels, and an attack claimed by the Islamic State that killed dozens of worshipers at two mosques. The United Nations has warned Yemen is on the brink of an “Iraq-Libya-Syria”-type civil war. We are joined by Iona Craig, a journalist who was based in Sana’a for four years as the Yemen correspondent for The Times of London.’ (Democracy Now!)

Big Bank’s Analyst Worries That Iran Deal Could Depress Weapons Sales

Lee Fang writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Big Bank’s Analyst Worries That Iran Deal Could Depress Weapons SalesCould a deal to normalize Western relations with Iran and set limits on Iran’s development of nuclear technology lead to a more peaceful and less-weaponized Middle East?

That’s what supporters of the Iran negotiations certainly hope to achieve. But the prospect of stability has at least one financial analyst concerned about its impact on one of the world’s biggest defense contractors.

The possibility of an Iran nuclear deal depressing weapons sales was raised by Myles Walton, an analyst from Germany’s Deutsche Bank, during a Lockheed earnings call this past January 27th. Walton asked Marillyn Hewson, the chief executive of Lockheed Martin, if an Iran agreement could “impede what you see as progress in foreign military sales.” Financial industry analysts such as Walton use earnings calls as an opportunity to ask publicly-traded corporations like Lockheed about issues that might harm profitability.’

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The NSA’s plan: improve cybersecurity by hacking everyone else

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

nsa hackingThe National Security Agency want to be able to hack more people, vacuum up even more of your internet records and have the keys to tech companies’ encryption – and, after 18 months of embarrassing inaction from Congress on surveillance reform, the NSA is now lobbying it for more powers, not less.

NSA director Mike Rogers testified in front of a Senate committee this week, lamenting that the poor ol’ NSA just doesn’t have the “cyber-offensive” capabilities (read: the ability to hack people) it needs to adequately defend the US. How cyber-attacking countries will help cyber-defense is anybody’s guess, but the idea that the NSA is somehow hamstrung is absurd.

The NSA runs sophisticated hacking operations all over the world. A Washington Post report showed that the NSA carried out 231 “offensive” operations in 2011 – and that number has surely grown since then. That report also revealed that the NSA runs a $652m project that has infected tens of thousands of computers with malware.’

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Convicted Leaker David Petraeus Still Advising White House

‘William Doyle who interviewed Petraeus discusses how Petraeus’ career came to a halt when he was caught leaking classified information to his mistress.’ (CNN)

U.S. fears Islamic State is making serious inroads in Libya

Mark Hosenball reports for Reuters:

The United States is increasingly concerned about the growing presence and influence of the Syria-based Islamic State movement in Libya, according to U.S. officials and a State Department report.

The officials said what they called “senior” Islamic State leaders had travelled to the country, which is whacked by civil war, to help recruit and organize militants, particularly in the cities of Derna and Sirte.

Since late January, Islamic State militants have carried out attacks, including a car bombing and siege at the Corinthia, a luxury hotel in Tripoli, and an attack on the Mabruk oilfield south of Sirte, according to a report circulated this week by the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Bureau.’

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Obama: I Should’ve Closed Gitmo on Day One

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

[…] Obama announced his intention to close the facility within a year, a non-controversial position at the time. Within a few months, however, Congressional hawks started opposing the move. Obama admitted the “path of least resistance was to just keep it open.

This admission is in stark contrast to what the White House has been saying all along, that the president had been working hard to close the facility and still intended to get it done.’

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