by Glenn Greenwald
‘[...] That the Obama administration is now repeatedly declaring that the “war on terror” will last at least another decade (or two) is vastly more significant than all three of this week’s big media controversies (Benghazi, IRS, and AP/DOJ) combined. The military historian Andrew Bacevich has spent years warning that US policy planners have adopted an explicit doctrine of “endless war”. Obama officials, despite repeatedly boasting that they have delivered permanently crippling blows to al-Qaida, are now, as clearly as the English language permits, openly declaring this to be so.
It is hard to resist the conclusion that this war has no purpose other than its own eternal perpetuation. This war is not a means to any end but rather is the end in itself. Not only is it the end itself, but it is also its own fuel: it is precisely this endless war – justified in the name of stopping the threat of terrorism – that is the single greatest cause of that threat.’
by Yvonne Ridley
Foreign Policy Journal
‘In what is the first ever conviction of its kind anywhere in the world, the former US President and seven key members of his administration were yesterday (Fri) found guilty of war crimes.
Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their legal advisers Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, William Haynes, Jay Bybee and John Yoo were tried in absentia in Malaysia.
The trial held in Kuala Lumpur heard harrowing witness accounts from victims of torture who suffered at the hands of US soldiers and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.’
Why is Obama Hiding 6,000-Page Report on Bush-Era Torture and Why is Torture Still Allowed? ~ All Gov
‘President Barack Obama is currently blocking the release—or allowing the CIA to block the release—of a comprehensive Senate report on the use of torture by the George W. Bush administration CIA that is said to conclude that torture was not an effective or reliable method of interrogation and that the agency repeatedly misled the White House, the Justice Department, and Congress about its interrogation efforts.
[...] Although the report validates anti-torture positions taken by Democrats, including President Obama, during the Bush years, Obama may be delaying its release over concerns about shedding negative light on his own, related, anti-terror policies that offend human rights, such as the continued use of torture at Guantánamo Bay or the predator drone assassination program. Further, the deep involvement of Obama’s hand-picked CIA Director, John Brennan, in the Bush-era torture and kidnapping programs may call Obama’s judgment about Brennan into question.’
by Sibel Edmonds
Boiling Frogs Post
‘With the approaching Finale for Syria’s Assad the Uber-Neocon architects of US foreign policy have been hard at work. Assuming (albeit knowingly) the certainty of the soon-to-come end for Assad’s government, the neocon architects are drafting and crafting their objectives for the Post-Assad regime in Syria. I know the mainstream and pseudo-alternative media use the term “Neocon” loosely and willy-nilly, but I can assure you this is not the case with my usage of “Uber-Neocons’ here. You will see that clearly after reading the following facts.’
by Michael Shank
‘A handful of Democratic and Republican senators are considering a rewrite of 60 of the most consequential words to ever pass through Congress. The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed after the attacks of 11 September 2001, and provides the legal cornerstone for the so-called US “war on terror”. Only one brave Congress member opposed it. It allows the US government to wage war at anytime, any place and on anyone deemed a threat to national security – with remarkably little evidence needed.
The consequential nature of these words is self-evident: the AUMF opened the doors to the US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya; attacks on Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Mali; the new drone bases in Niger and Djibouti; and the killing of American citizens, notably Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old noncombatant son. It is what now emboldens the hawks on the warpath to Syria, Iran and North Korea.’
by Dan Roberts
‘The lawyer who first drew up White House policy on lethal drone strikes has accused the Obama administration of overusing them because of its reluctance to capture prisoners that would otherwise have to be sent to Guantánamo Bay.
John Bellinger, who was responsible for drafting the legal framework for targeted drone killings while working for George W Bush after 9/11, said he believed their use had increased since because President Obama was unwilling to deal with the consequences of jailing suspected al-Qaida members.’
by Ian Millhiser
‘Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the conservative retired justice who provided the fifth vote to install George W. Bush as president, is now having second thoughts about that decision.
If nothing else, Bush v. Gore demonstrates how justices who are determined to reach a certain result are capable of bending both the law and their own prior jurisprudence in order to achieve it. In Bush, the five conservative justices held, in the words of Harvard’s Larry Tribe, that “equal protection of the laws required giving no protection of the laws to the thousands of still uncounted ballots.”’
50 Reasons You Despised George W. Bush’s Presidency: A Reminder on the Day of His Presidential Library Dedication ~ Alternet
by Steven Rosenfeld
On Thursday, President Obama and all four living ex-presidents will attend the dedication of the $500 million George W. Bush Presidential Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Many progressives will remember Bush as a contender for the “worst president ever,” saying he more aptly deserves a multi-million-dollar prison cell for a litany of war crimes.
Amazingly, the Bush library seeks to ask visitors “What would you have done?” if you were in this president’s shoes. The ex-president’s defenders are betting that the public will reconsider their judgments after a hefty dose of historical amnesia. Bush has been absent from political debates in recent years, instead making millions in private speeches. Today, his popularity is even with Obama’s; both have 47 percent approval rating.
Let’s look at 50 reasons, some large and some small, why W. inspired so much anger.
Investigators into the Boston Marathon bombings are trying to figure out what triggered two young suspects into carrying out the worst US terror attack since 9/11. The Tsarnaev brothers, who’d spent around half their lives living in the US, are believed to have carried out Monday’s twin explosions which killed 3 and wounded more than a hundred. The suspects’ family claims they had been under FBI surveillance for the past 5 years, and refuses to believe the young men carried out the atrocity. Former FBI agent Coleen Rowley joins RT studio.
by William Westhoven
Speaking at Drew University Thursday night while the manhunt continued for the Boston Marathon bombers in Boston, former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said “we are safer than we were on Sept. 10, but we are not yet safe.”
Appearing as part of the school’s 2013 Thomas H. Kean Visiting Lecturer series, Rice said the attack in Boston evoked disturbing personal memories of 9/11 and that “whatever the origin of the horrible events in Boston this week, our conception of security has been shattered because we are an open society. We cannot protect everything. America’s notion of invulnerability was shattered on that September day and we will never feel invulnerable again.”
Recalling the Secret Service “levitating” her out of the West Wing and into a bunker after the 9/11 attacks, she said “From that moment on, our conception of security would never be quite the same. That a group of stateless terrorists could have come from a failed state, Afghanistan, brought down the Twin Towers, blown a hole in the Pentagon, caused a plane to be flown into the ground in Pennsylvania and probably, at perhaps a cost of $300,000, created the worst attack on the territory of the most powerful country in the world, your conception of security would never be the same.
“For the first time we would worry more about ungoverned spaces than powerful states. The real threats would come from Afghanistan, the high mountains between Pakistan and Somalia, and Yemen, and places where terrorists could train and hide.”
John Howard, the Australian prime minister who sent troops to support U.S. and British forces in the Iraq invasion a decade ago, has criticized U.S. handling of the bloody aftermath of dictator Saddam Hussein’s overthrow.
In a speech in Sydney to mark the 10th anniversary of the fall of Baghdad on April 14, Howard said Tuesday that disbanding the Iraqi Army “was a mistake” and that efforts to remove Saddam’s Baath Party from civil service “went too far.”
The American interim administration that replaced Saddam, the Coalition Provisional Authority, “held sway for too long” and the U.S. cut troop levels too soon, Howard said.
“The post-invasion conflict, especially between Sunnis and Shiites which caused widespread bloodshed, did more damage, in my judgment, to the credibility of the coalition operation in Iraq than the failure to find stockpiles of WMDs,” Howard said in a speech released by his office that was delivered to the Lowy Institute foreign policy think-tank. He referred to Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction which the U.S.-led coalition invaded to destroy but never found.
A staunch ally of U.S. President George W. Bush, Howard angered many Australians by sending 2,000 troops to invade Iraq. The then opposition center-left Labor Party, which replaced Howard’s conservative administration at elections in 2007, had argued against military intervention without a specific United Nation’s mandate.
The anger lingers. Around 100 anti-war and anti-Howard protesters rallied outside the venue, their chants clearly heard by Howard’s audience as he spoke.
Howard has no regrets about committing Australia to the war, but detailed mistakes made after Saddam’s defeat three weeks after the invasion.
by Greg Palast
[October 10th 2006] How did a berserker like North Korea’s Kim Jong Il get the bomb in the first place? Answer: He bought it from the Dr. Strangelove of Pakistan in 2001 — while all our President’s men ordered our intelligence agents to keep their eyes shut tight.
On November 9, 2001, BBC Television Centre in London received a call from a phone booth just outside Washington. The call to our Newsnight team was part of a complex prearranged dance coordinated with the National Security News Service, a conduit for unhappy spooks at the CIA and FBI to unburden themselves of disturbing information and documents. The top-level U.S. intelligence agent on the line had much to be unhappy and disturbed about: a “back-off” directive.
This call to BBC came two months after the attack on the Pentagon and World Trade Towers. His fellow agents, he said, were now released to hunt bad guys. That was good news. The bad news was that, before September 11, in those weeks just after George W. Bush took office, CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) personnel were told to “back off” certain targets of investigations begun by Bill Clinton. He said there were particular investigations that were effectively killed.
Which particular investigations? The agent was willing to risk his job to get this story out, but we had to press repeatedly for specifics on the directive to “back off.” The order, he said reluctantly, spiked at least one fateful operation. As he talked, I wrote in my notebook, “Killed off Conn. Labs investigation.” Connecticut Laboratories? I was clueless until my producer Meirion Jones, a weapons expert, gave me that “you idiot” look and said, “Khan Labs! Pakistan. The bomb.” Dr. A. Q. Khan is known as the “Father” of Pakistan’s atomic bomb.
He’s not, however, the ideal parent. To raise the cash for Pakistan’s program (and to pocket a tidy sum for himself), Khan sold off copies of his baby, his bomb, to Libya and North Korea—blueprints, material and all the fixings to blow this planet to Kingdom Come.
From another source inside the lab itself, we learned that Dr. Khan was persuading Pakistan to test his bomb—on India.
Why would Team Bush pull back our agents from nabbing North Korea’s bomb connection? The answer in two words: Saudi Arabia.
The agent on the line said, “There were always constraints on investigating the Saudis.” Khan is Pakistani, not Saudi, but, nevertheless, the investigation led back to Saudi Arabia. There was no way that the Dr. Strangelove of Pakistan could have found the billions to cook up his nukes within the budget of his poor nation.
We eventually discovered that agents knew the Saudis, who had secretly funded Saddam’s nuclear weapons ambitions in the eighties, apparently moved their bomb-for-Islam money from Iraq to Dr. Khan’s lab in Pakistan after Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990.
But, said the insider, our agents had to let a hot trail grow cold because he and others “were told to back off the Saudis.” If you can’t follow the money, you can’t investigate. The weapons hunt was spiked.
BBC got the call about Dr. Khan’s bomb in November 2001 and reported it that night on the tube and in the London Guardian. Over two years later, on February 11, 2004, President Bush, at an emergency press briefing, expressed his shock—shock!—at having learned that Dr. A. Q. Khan of Pakistan was running a flea market in fissionable material.
Our report on Dr. Khan’s nuclear bazaar was confirmed in 2004, not by U.S. intelligence, but by one of Khan’s customers, Muammar Gaddafi, the mischievous tyrant of Libya. It was Gaddafi’s last little bit of fun with Mr. Bush and Britain’s Prime Minister, Tony Blair. The U.S. and Britain had agreed to end their trade embargo on Libya in return
for Gaddafi’s shutting down his bomb program and, not incidentally, Gaddafi’s giving an exclusive oil drilling agreement to British Petroleum. So with Libya giving up Dr. Khan’s bomb, it appeared we had a happy ending for the safety of the planet. Unfortunately, while our President was holding hands with Saudi King Abdullah at the Crawford Ranch and kissing Pakistan’s dictator Pervez Musharraf on both cheeks, Khan had given the secret of the bomb, hardware included, to Kim of North Korea, a despot in a leisure suit a little less stable than Charles Manson.
The U.S. government missed discovering Dr. Khan’s radioactive fire sale because our agents were hard at work ignoring the Saudi money trail. If the agencies had not been told to “back off” the Saudis and Dr. Khan, would the U.S. have uncovered the nuclear shipments in time to stop them? We can’t possibly know, but, to paraphrase Yogi Berra, it’s amazing what you don’t see when you’re told not to look.
Now, in 2006, comes what the spook-world calls, “blow-back,” the ugly consequences of playing hide-and-don’t-seek with the Saudis five years ago. Kim has finally decided to unwrap his gift from Pakistan — and our President is, once again, in that toxic mood we all know so well: both befuddled and belligerent.
Well, I suppose George can do what he usually does in a crisis: offer Kim a big fat tax cut.
America’s post-9/11 conflicts have been wars of corruption, a point surprisingly seldom made in the mainstream media. Keep in mind that George W. Bush’s administration was a monster of privatization. It had its own set of crony corporations, including Halliburton, KBR, Bechtel, and various oil companies, as well as a set of mercenary rent-a-gun outfits like Blackwater, DynCorp, and Triple Canopy that came into their own in this period. It took the plunge into Iraq in March 2003, sweeping those corporations and an increasingly privatized military in with it. In the process, Iraq would become an example not of the free market system, but of a particularly venal form of crony capitalism (or, as Naomi Klein has labeled it, “disaster capitalism”).
Add in another factor: in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration began pouring money into the Pentagon, into, that is, an organization whose budget has never been able to pass an audit. There was so staggeringly much money to throw around then — and hubris to spare as well. Among the first acts of L. Paul Bremer III, the new American proconsul in Baghdad, was the disbanding of Saddam Hussein’s army (creating an unemployed potential insurgent class) and the closing down of a whole range of state enterprises along with the privatization of the economy (creating their unemployed foot soldiers). All of this, in turn, paved the way for a bonanza of “reconstruction” contracts granted, of course, to the administration’s favorite corporations to rebuild the country. There were slush funds aplenty; money went missing without anyone blinking; and American occupation officials reportedly “systematically looted” Iraqi funds.
In April 2003, when American troops entered Baghdad, it was already aflame and being looted by its own citizens. As it turned out, the petty looters soon enough went home — and then the real looting of the country began. The occupiers, thanks to the U.N., fully controlled Iraq’s finances and no one at the U.N. or elsewhere had the slightest ability to exercise any real supervision over what the occupation regime did or how it spent Iraq’s money. Via a document labeled “Order 17,” Bremer granted every foreigner connected to the occupation enterprise the full freedom of the land, not to be interfered with in any way by Iraqis or any Iraqi political or legal institution. He gave them all, that is, an official get-out-of-jail-free card.
Who could be surprised, then, that the massive corporate attempt to rebuild Iraq would result in a plague of overbilling, remarkable amounts of shoddy or useless work, and a blown $60 billion “reconstruction” effort that would leave the country with massive unemployment and without reliable electricity, water, or sewage systems? Could there be a sadder story of how war making and corruption were being wedded on a gigantic scale in an already fading new century? As it turned out, the answer to that question was: yes.
Iraqi corruption was no anomaly of war, as TomDispatch regular Dilip Hiro makes clear today. Just consider the way Washington turned the “liberation” of Afghanistan into another field day for corruption.
Washington has vociferously denounced Afghan corruption as a major obstacle to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. This has been widely reported. Only one crucial element is missing from this routine censure: a credible explanation of why American nation-building failed there. No wonder. To do so, the U.S. would have to denounce itself.
Corruption in Afghanistan today is acute and permeates all sectors of society. In recent years, anecdotal evidence on the subject has been superseded by the studies of researchers, surveys by NGOs, and periodic reports by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). There is also the Corruption Perceptions Index of the Berlin-based Transparency International (TI). Last year, it bracketed Afghanistan with two other countries as the most corrupt on Earth.
None of these documents, however, refers to the single most important fact when it comes to corruption: that it’s Washington-based. It is, in fact, rooted in the massive build-up of U.S. forces there from 2005 onward, the accompanying expansion of American forward operating bases, camps, and combat outposts from 29 in 2005 to nearly 400 five years later, and above all, the tsunami of cash that went with all of this.
Federal investigators said Wednesday that as much as $700 million in federal aid intended to help some 24,000 Louisiana families elevate their homes after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 may have been misspent.
A report by the Housing and Urban Development Department’s inspector general said some homeowners who got grants of up to $30,000 used the money for something else, and that others didn’t provide sufficient documents to state officials to show that the work was done.
“The state did not have conclusive evidence” that $698.5 million in disaster recovery aid was used to elevate homes, the auditors wrote.
In response, HUD officials said the state is responsible for making sure the money was spent properly. But after seeing similar results in previous audits, department officials helped Congress put tighter reins on the program in distributing aid to victims of last fall’s Superstorm Sandy in the Northeast.
Mr. President, what a high bar you have set for yourself in assuring us that you are no Dick Cheney when it comes to drones.
Wow, the country must feel so comfortably numb with your glowing self-assessment.
But actually Mr. President, you are probably worsethan Dick Cheney.
Because with Cheney, the Democrats screamed and yelled (ok, more like ineffectively grumbled and mumbled) about Cheney’s unconstitutional power grabs. Yes, with Cheney at least there was a modicum of pushback, a scintilla of oversight — even if it was only due to partisan politics.
With you Mr. Obama, indeed, the halls of Congress, the media, and the provocateurs of the prattle-sphere are mostly silent. And that’s what’s so dangerous.
Because who could believe that the first African-American President — a former Con-law professor, no less! — could so thoughtlessly, recklessly throw our Constitution under the bus?
Who would have imagined that such a man like Barack would have maintained a kill list that would please even the staunchest, most hawkish Republicans?
Who would ever think that a Democratic President would task his legal team for over two years to find the language and loopholes necessary to assassinate US citizens — even innocent 16-year-old citizens?
Tell me Mr. President, is your current aversion towards any oversight surrounding your drone program a faculty of your own lack of conviction in having killed all these people (allegedly a sum of more than 4700) or simply that you feel you are above the law? Because humbly, I think we are entitled to know.
And by the way Mr. President, glad to see you picked up Cheney’s idea of using minders when it comes to protecting WH arse. It works quite well in cover-ups. I should know, since Cheney used it with regard to the 9/11 Commission investigation. But again, you’re nothing like him, are you.
For me, it’s quite clear. You have gone from a Senator who allegedly believed in transparency, oversight, and the balance of powers — notably all requisite things in a d-e-m-o-c-r-a-c-y — and erased them from your memory banks. Not because you have cogent, intelligent reasons that reveal any sort of deep conviction on your own behalf, but rather because you’ve tasted power.
Should I expect you to take up fly-fishing on the Snake River in the near future just to be more like Dick?
Respectfully, Mr. President, perhaps there is one thing that separates your Administration from that of Bush/Cheney, at least they returned phone calls and told you — to your face — when they were going to stab you in the back.
by David Corn (Dec. 1, 2010)
In its first months in office, the Obama administration sought to protect Bush administration officials facing criminal investigation overseas for their involvement in establishing policies the that governed interrogations of detained terrorist suspects. A “confidential” April 17, 2009, cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid to the State Department—one of the 251,287 cables obtained by WikiLeaks—details how the Obama administration, working with Republicans, leaned on Spain to derail this potential prosecution.
The previous month, a Spanish human rights group called the Association for the Dignity of Spanish Prisoners had requested that Spain’s National Court indict six former Bush officials for, as the cable describes it, “creating a legal framework that allegedly permitted torture.” The six were former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; David Addington, former chief of staff and legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney; William Haynes, the Pentagon’s former general counsel; Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense for policy; Jay Bybee, former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel; and John Yoo, a former official in the Office of Legal Counsel. The human rights group contended that Spain had a duty to open an investigation under the nation’s “universal jurisdiction” law, which permits its legal system to prosecute overseas human rights crimes involving Spanish citizens and residents. Five Guantanamo detainees, the group maintained, fit that criteria.
Soon after the request was made, the US embassy in Madrid began tracking the matter. On April 1, embassy officials spoke with chief prosecutor Javier Zaragoza, who indicated that he was not pleased to have been handed this case, but he believed that the complaint appeared to be well-documented and he’d have to pursue it. Around that time, the acting deputy chief of the US embassy talked to the chief of staff for Spain’s foreign minister and a senior official in the Spanish Ministry of Justice to convey, as the cable says, “that this was a very serious matter for the USG.” The two Spaniards “expressed their concern at the case but stressed the independence of the Spanish judiciary.”
Two weeks later, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and the embassy’s charge d’affaires “raised the issue” with another official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The next day, Zaragoza informed the US embassy that the complaint might not be legally sound. He noted he would ask Cándido Conde-Pumpido, Spain’s attorney general, to review whether Spain had jurisdiction.
On April 15, Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), who’d recently been chairman of the Republican Party, and the US embassy’s charge d’affaires met with the acting Spanish foreign minister, Angel Lossada. The Americans, according to this cable, “underscored that the prosecutions would not be understood or accepted in the US and would have an enormous impact on the bilateral relationship” between Spain and the United States. Here was a former head of the GOP and a representative of a new Democratic administration (headed by a president who had decried the Bush-Cheney administration’s use of torture) jointly applying pressure on Spain to kill the investigation of the former Bush officials. Lossada replied that the independence of the Spanish judiciary had to be respected, but he added that the government would send a message to the attorney general that it did not favor prosecuting this case.
The next day, April 16, 2009, Attorney General Conde-Pumpido publicly declared that he would not support the criminal complaint, calling it “fraudulent” and political. If the Bush officials had acted criminally, he said, then a case should be filed in the United States. On April 17, the prosecutors of the National Court filed a report asking that complaint be discontinued. In the April 17 cable, the American embassy in Madrid claimed some credit for Conde-Pumpido’s opposition, noting that “Conde-Pumpido’s public announcement follows outreach to [Government of Spain] officials to raise USG deep concerns on the implications of this case.”
Still, this did not end the matter. It would still be up to investigating Judge Baltasar Garzón—a world-renowned jurist who had initiated previous prosecutions of war crimes and had publicly said that former President George W. Bush ought to be tried for war crimes—to decide whether to pursue the case against the six former Bush officials. That June—coincidentally or not—the Spanish Parliament passed legislation narrowing the use of “universal jurisdiction.” Still, in September 2009, Judge Garzón pushed ahead with the case.
The case eventually came to be overseen by another judge who last spring asked the parties behind the complaint to explain why the investigation should continue. Several human rights groups filed a brief urging this judge to keep the case alive, citing the Obama administration’s failure to prosecute the Bush officials. Since then, there’s been no action. The Obama administration essentially got what it wanted. The case of the Bush Six went away.
Back when it seemed that this case could become a major international issue, during an April 14, 2009, White House briefing, I asked press secretary Robert Gibbs if the Obama administration would cooperate with any request from the Spaniards for information and documents related to the Bush Six. He said, “I don’t want to get involved in hypotheticals.” What he didn’t disclose was that the Obama administration, working with Republicans, was actively pressuring the Spaniards to drop the investigation. Those efforts apparently paid off, and, as this WikiLeaks-released cable shows, Gonzales, Haynes, Feith, Bybee, Addington, and Yoo owed Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thank-you notes.
William Kristol (shown) accused Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) of “running to the left of the Obama administration” during an appearance this weekend on Fox News Sunday.
Kristol’s latest lashing out is likely in response to Senator Paul’s victory in the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) 2013 straw poll. By a narrow margin, Paul bested fellow Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in that contest.
According to reports from the CPAC convention, there were “many attendees” donning “I Stand with Rand” t-shirts, a slogan made popular on Twitter during Paul’s 13-hour filibuster earlier this month.
More specifically, Kristol probably saw himself reflected in Paul’s CPAC comment, “The GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered. I don’t think we need to name any names here, do we?” “The new GOP — the GOP that will win again — will need to embrace liberty in both the economic and personal sphere,” he added.
Kristol heard the bell tolling for him and his ilk and decided to strike a vengeful note in response.
The Fox News Sunday commentary isn’t the first time Kristol has bad-mouthed Paul in the press.
Abby Martin takes a short look back at the events leading up the US led invasion of Iraq, calling out the lies told by the government and the corporate media’s complicity in perpetuating these falsehoods.
Fresh evidence has been revealed about how MI6 and the CIA were told through secret channels by Saddam Hussein’s foreign minister and his head of intelligence that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction.
Tony Blair told parliament before the war that intelligence showed Iraq’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programme was “active”, “growing” and “up and running”.
A special BBC Panorama programme aired on Monday night details how British and US intelligence agencies were informed by top sources months before the invasion that Iraq had no active WMD programme, and that the information was not passed to subsequent inquiries.
It describes how Naji Sabri, Saddam’s foreign minister, told the CIA’s station chief in Paris at the time, Bill Murray, through an intermediary that Iraq had “virtually nothing” in terms of WMD.
Sabri said in a statement that the Panorama story was “totally fabricated”.
However, Panorama confirms that three months before the war an MI6 officer met Iraq’s head of intelligence, Tahir Habbush al-Tikriti, who also said that Saddam had no active WMD. The meeting in the Jordanian capital, Amman, took place days before the British government published its now widely discredited Iraqi weapons dossier in September 2002.
Lord Butler, the former cabinet secretary who led an inquiry into the use of intelligence in the runup to the invasion of Iraq, tells the programme that he was not told about Sabri’s comments, and that he should have been.
Butler says of the use of intelligence: “There were ways in which people were misled or misled themselves at all stages.”
When it was suggested to him that the body that probably felt most misled of all was the British public, Butler replied: “Yes, I think they’re, they’re, they got every reason think that.”
The programme shows how the then chief of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, responded to information from Iraqi sources later acknowledged to be unreliable.
One unidentified MI6 officer has told the Chilcot inquiry that at one stage information was “being torn off the teleprinter and rushed across to Number 10″.
Another said it was “wishful thinking… [that] promised the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow”.
The programme says that MI6 stood by claims that Iraq was buying uranium from Niger, though these were dismissed by other intelligence agencies, including the French.
It also shows how claims by Iraqis were treated seriously by elements in MI6 and the CIA even after they were exposed as fabricated including claims, notably about alleged mobile biological warfare containers, made by Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, a German source codenamed Curveball. He admitted to the Guardian in 2011 that all the information he gave to the west was fabricated.
Panorama says it asked for an interview with Blair but he said he was “too busy”.
Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense under President George W. Bush, admitted in an interview published Sunday that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was marked by many failures that ultimately “spiralled out of control.”
Speaking with The Sunday Times to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Wolfowitz conceded that there “should have been Iraqi leadership from the beginning” as opposed to a 14-month American occupation.
He added, “The most consequential failure was to understand the tenacity of Saddam’s regime.”
Wolfowitz hailed the so-called troop surge that was implemented in 2007, two years after he left the Pentagon, which he said brought stability to a situation that had spiralled out of control and we’d had sectarian war.”
Long thought of as one of the chief architects of the Bush administration’s Iraq policy, Wolfowitz quibbled with the distinction, asserting that the war “wasn’t conducted according to my plan.”
Abby Martin speaks with independent journalist, and co-host of Media Roots Radio, Robbie Martin, about the recent revelations of former vice president Dick Cheney lying to the 9/11 commission, and what larger implications this could have.
President Barack Obama’s defense to Democratic senators complaining about how little his administration has told Congress about the legal justifications for his drone policy: Dick Cheney was worse.
That’s part of what two senators in the room recounted of Obama’s response when, near the outset of his closed-door session with the Senate Democratic conference on Tuesday, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) confronted the president over the administration’s refusal for two years to show congressional intelligence committees Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel memos justifying the use of lethal force against American terror suspects abroad.
Obama recently allowed members of those panels to see the memos, but only after senators in both parties threatened to hold up the confirmation of John Brennan as Central Intelligence Agency director. Brennan was confirmed last week, but lawmakers not on one of the intelligence panels are still being denied access to the memos and several are steamed over being frozen out.
In response to Rockefeller’s critique, Obama said he’s not involved in drafting such memos, the senators told POLITICO. He also tried to assure his former colleagues that his administration is more open to oversight than that of President George W. Bush, whom many Democratic senators attacked for secrecy and for expanding executive power in the national security realm.
“This is not Dick Cheney we’re talking about here,” he said, according to Democratic senators who asked not to be named discussing the private meeting.
Two Obama administration officials, who asked not to be named, confirmed Rockefeller raised the drone oversight issue with the president at the session. The White House had no comment on Obama’s alleged reference to the former vice president.
‘A Period of Persistent Conflict’: Will The United States Never Again Have A Peacetime President? ~ Foreign Policy
by Micah Zenko
[...] Since September 11, 2001, the president has been able to threaten or use military force to achieve a range of foreign policy objectives with few checks and balances or sustained media coverage — to an extent unprecedented in U.S. history. It is unlikely that the United States will ever have a peacetime president again.
The primary reason for this stems from how policymakers in Washington perceive the world — a perception that bridges partisan divisions. According to most officials, the international security environment is best characterized by limitless, complex, and imminent threats facing the United States. Those threats require the military to be perpetually on a wartime footing and the president to frequently authorize the use of lethal force. As a Pentagon strategy document first noted in 2010, the United States has entered “a period of persistent conflict.”
In response to this world of grave uncertainty and looming threats, the United States has invested heavily in offensive military capabilities [including drones, special operations forces, and cyberattacks] that the president leverages with speed, secrecy, and minimal oversight.
Supporting the increased use of drones, special operations, cyberattacks, and other covert military programs has been the tremendous growth in the size and cost of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). In 2012, the IC [spent] $75.4 billion for all of its national and military intelligence programs, the scope of which is astonishing. As reported in 2010: “1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.” This sprawling U.S. intelligence apparatus is estimated to require 210,000 governmental employees and 30,000 private contractors.
The Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. has found that fewer Americans than ever trust the decisions made by the government.
Data collected from a survey taken in January of this year indicates that all demographics and partisan groups experienced an increasing lack of faith in government leadership, according to a release posted on the Pew Research website late last week.
“However, there are disparities,” the official summary noted. “[M]ore than twice as many Hispanics as whites (44 percent vs. 20 percent) trust the federal government, and more blacks (38 percent) than whites trust the government.”
Researchers additionally observed that younger Americans trust the government more than their older counterparts, and that more liberals believe in the administration of President Barack Obama than either independents or Republicans.
Conversely, distrust of federal government is presently at 73 percent. Earlier on in the Obama administration, it reportedly hit a record high of 80 percent, according to a graph constructed and presented by researchers at Pew.
Public perception of federal government has also gone down during Obama’s presidency – particularly among Democrats.
“Since Barack Obama’s first year in office, public assessments of the federal government dropped nine points,” the release stated, citing findings from a survey conducted in April of 2012. “Most of the change was among Democrats and independents, as the level of favorable views of government among Republicans was already low.”
Trust during President George W. Bush’s time in office was not much higher – and fell far more significantly during his eight years as Commander-in-Chief.
According to Pew, almost 60 percent of people in the United States had confidence in the federal government before President Bill Clinton left office. When Bush left, national trust was down to about 25 percent of the nation’s people.
Past presidents fared far better in the minds and eyes of the American populace. Trust was reportedly especially high when President John F. Kennedy was in office.