Tag Archives: New York Times

The White House Has No Credibility

Don’t always agree with all Baldwin says. I am NOT a Constitutionalist but still can agree with him on issues of liberty.  The crap seems to be hiitin’ the fan for O and company. Unfortunately, the Bush cartel is still on the loose and playing their control games behind the scenes. BTW none of these politicians complaining are without guilt unless you would count those only in office  the past couple of years. They MAY NOT have blood on their hands yet. All others need to go to trial for treason-yeah right. (E)

Original article archived here: http://chuckbaldwinlive.com/Articles/tabid/109/ID/1040/The-White-House-Has-No-Credibility.aspx

Chuck Baldwin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Published: Thursday, June 20, 2013

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Holy Cow, Martha! Will miracles never cease? Chuck Baldwin and the New York Times editorial board actually agree. Are we in the Twilight Zone? Is it Freaky Friday? Is the Times editorial board reading my columns and seeing the light or am I watching CNN and MSNBC too much? I know I don’t watch those two propaganda outlets too much, and I doubt the Times editorial board pays too much attention to what I write, so what is going on?

On June 6, the editorial board of the New York Times posted a column that yours truly could have written. The column was entitled “President Obama’s Dragnet.” The editorial begins:

“Within hours of the disclosure that federal authorities routinely collect data on phone calls Americans make, regardless of whether they have any bearing on a counterterrorism investigation, the Obama administration issued the same platitude it has offered every time President Obama has been caught overreaching in the use of his powers: terrorists are a real menace and you should just trust us to deal with them because we have internal mechanisms (that we are not going to tell you about) to make sure we do not violate your rights.

“Those reassurances have never been persuasive–whether on secret warrants to scoop up a news agency’s phone records or secret orders to kill an American suspected of terrorism–especially coming from a president who once promised transparency and accountability.

“The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it. That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.”

The editorial goes on to say, “Essentially, the administration is saying that without any individual suspicion of wrongdoing, the government is allowed to know whom Americans are calling every time they make a phone call, for how long they talk and from where.

“This sort of tracking can reveal a lot of personal and intimate information about an individual. To causally permit this surveillance–with the American public having no idea that the executive branch is now exercising this power–fundamentally shifts power between the individual and the state, and it repudiates constitutional principles governing search, seizure and privacy.”

The Times editorial concludes by saying, “On Thursday, representative Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, who introduced the Patriot Act in 2001, said that the National Security Agency overstepped its bounds by obtaining a secret order to collect phone log records from millions of Americans.

“‘As the author of the Patriot Act, I am extremely troubled by the F.B.I.’s interpretation of this legislation,’ he said in a statement. ‘While I believe the Patriot Act appropriately balanced national security concerns and civil rights, I have always worried about potential abuses.’ He added: ‘Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American.’

“Stunning use of the act [Patriot Act] shows, once again, why it needs to be sharply curtailed if not repealed.”

See The New York Times editorial here:

President Obama’s Dragnet

First of all, the Patriot Act introduced by Sensenbrenner and passed into law in 2001 had been introduced before (almost word-for-word) during the Clinton administration. It was soundly defeated by Republican majorities in both the US House and Senate. Then after 9-11, these same Republicans passed the Patriot Act into law. And you read that the principal sponsor of the Act in the House, Jim Sensenbrenner, said he had “always worried about potential abuses.” Then why the heck did he and the rest of the Republicans in the House and Senate pass the darn thing? You know why. Back in 2001, a Republican was in the White House. As we have seen time and time again, party partisanship usually trumps loyalty to the Constitution on Capitol Hill.

Think about it: when Democrat Bill Clinton was President, Democrats on Capitol Hill strongly supported what became known as the Patriot Act; and Republicans opposed it. But when Republican G.W. Bush was President, Republicans supported (and passed) the Patriot Act; and Democrats opposed it. Remember: it was the same bill! What made the difference? The party occupying the White House. Yet, even the chief sponsor of the Patriot Act, Jim Sensenbrenner, said he “always worried about potential abuses.” Well, now we know his worries were justified.

Wouldn’t it be nice if just once members of Congress (from both parties) would choose to err on the side of liberty and constitutional government instead of tyranny and Big-Government?

Secondly, the abuses of power by the White House under the guise of the Patriot Act have been going on ever since the darn thing was passed. Barack Obama is no guiltier of trampling the Bill of Rights than G.W. Bush. It was Bush who pushed through, not only the Patriot Act, but the Military Commissions Act and the NDAA, all of which give the executive branch of the federal government unconstitutional authority to abuse the rights and liberties of the American people.

I even recall when G.W. Bush appeared before the United Nations shortly after ordering the invasion of Iraq and told that body the reason Iraq was invaded was for the “peace and credibility of the United Nations.”

See Bush’s speech to the UN here:

George W. Bush Addresses The UN

I didn’t know the United Nations had any credibility worth saving. Furthermore, I thought the US armed forces were supposed to fight to preserve the safety and liberty of the United States. You mean to tell me that American forces were sent into Iraq for the benefit of the “peace and credibility of the United Nations”? Egad. I wonder if Bush and Obama are using federal police powers against the American citizenry for the same reason that US troops were used against Iraq: for the “peace and credibility of the United Nations.” I think it is safe to say that anyone who would abuse US troops to fulfill the machinations of the United Nations would have no hesitation to abuse US citizens for the same reason. In other words, everything that G.W. Bush started, Barack Obama is continuing–both in regard to the wars waged in the Middle East and in the abuse of liberties in the United States.

The rubric for all of this abuse is the “War on Terror,” with the Patriot Act serving as the cornerstone piece of legislation authorizing it and the Department of Homeland Security serving as the cornerstone agency enforcing it. The net result is perpetual war abroad and a burgeoning police state at home.

The New York Times is right: the Obama White House has no credibility on this issue. Neither did the Bush White House. Then, again, it might not matter whether the White House has any credibility, as long as the United Nations has credibility. I jest, of course.

The Times is also right when it says the Patriot Act needs to be “sharply curtailed if not repealed.” I vote for the latter.

And why is it left to the New York Times to call for the repeal of the Patriot Act? Where are the so-called conservative Republicans? Where are the cable news networks? Where is the rest of the media? And where are America’s pastors and churches?

The New York Times and Chuck Baldwin preaching the same sermon: who would have ever believed it?

(c) Chuck Baldwin

 


Serious doubt cast on FBI’s anthrax case against Bruce Ivins

WEDNESDAY, FEB 16, 2011 06:17 ET

Ivins at a 2003 awards ceremony at USAMRIID

For years, the FBI believed that it had identified the perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks — former Army researcher Steven Hatfill — only to be forced to acknowledge that he wasn’t involved and thenpay him $5.8 million for the damage he sufferedfrom those false accusations.   In late July, 2008, the FBI announced that, this time, it had identified the Real Perpetrator:  Army researcher Bruce Ivins, who had just committed suicide as a result of being subjected to an intense FBI investigation.  Ivins’ death meant that the FBI’s allegations would never be tested in a court of law.

From the start, it was obvious that the FBI’s case against Ivins was barely more persuasive than its case against Hatfill had been.  The allegations were entirely circumstantial; there was no direct evidence tying Ivins to the mailings; and there were huge, glaring holes in both the FBI’s evidentiary and scientific claims.  So dubious was the FBI’s case that even the nation’s most establishment media organs, which instinctively trust federallaw enforcement agencies, expressed serious doubts and called for an independent investigation (that included, among many others, the editorial pages of The Washington PostThe New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal). Mainstream scientific sources were equally skeptical;Nature called for an independent investigation and declared in its editorial headline:  “Case Not Closed,” while Dr. Alan Pearson, Director of the Biological and Chemical Weapons Control Program at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferationrepresentative of numerous experts in the field — expressed many scientific doubts and also demanded a full independent investigation.  I devoted much time to documenting just some of the serious flaws in the FBI’s evidentiary claims, as well as the use of anonymous FBI leaks to unquestioning reporters to convince the public of their validity (see here, here, here, and here).

Doubts about the FBI’s case were fully bipartisan.  In August, 2008, The New York Times documented “vocal skepticism from key members of Congress.”  One of the two intended Senate recipients of the anthrax letters, Sen. Patrick Leahy, flatly stated at a Senate hearing in September, 2008, that he does not believe the FBI’s case against Ivins, and emphatically does not believe that Ivins acted alone.  Then-GOP Sen. Arlen Specter, at the same hearing, told the FBI they could never have obtained a conviction against Ivins in court based on their case — riddled, as it is, with so much doubt — and he also demanded an independent evaluation of the FBI’s evidence.  And in separate interviews with me, GOP Sen. Charles Grassleyand Democratic Rep. Rush Holt (a physicist who represents the New Jersey district from which the anthrax letters were mailed) expressed substantial doubts about the case against Ivins and called for independent investigations.

Despite all of this, the FBI managed to evade calls for an independent investigation by announcing that it had asked the National Academy of Sciences to convene a panel to review only the FBI’s scientific and genetic findings (but not to review its circumstantial case against Ivins or explore the possibility of other culprits).  The FBI believed that its genetic analysis was the strongest aspect of their case against Ivins — that it definitively linked Ivins’ research flask to the spores in the mailed anthrax — and that once the panel publicly endorsed the FBI’s scientific claims, it would vindicate the FBI’s case and end calls for a full-scale investigation into the accusations against Ivins.

But yesterday, the National Academy panel released its findings, and it produced a very unpleasant surprise for the FBI (though it was entirely unsurprising for those following this case).  As The New York Times put it in an article headlined “Expert Panel Is Critical of F.B.I. Work in Investigating Anthrax Letters”:  “A review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s scientific work . . . concludes that the bureau overstated the strength of genetic analysis linking the mailed anthrax to a supply kept by Bruce E. Ivins“; while the panel noted that the genetic findings are “consistent” with the claim that Ivins mailed the letters and can “support” an association, the evidence is far from “definitive,” as the FBI had long suggested.  The report, commissioned by the FBI, specifically concluded that “the scientific link between the letter material and [Ivins’] flask number RMR-1029 is not as conclusive as stated in the DOJ Investigative Summary.” This morning’s Washington Post article — headlined:  “Anthrax report casts doubt on scientific evidence in FBI case against Bruce Ivins” — noted that “the report reignited a debate that has simmered among some scientists and others who have questioned the strength of the FBI’s evidence against Ivins.”

In addition to reigniting doubts, the report has also reignited calls for an independent investigation into the entire FBI case.  Yesterday, Rep. Holt re-introduced his legislation to create a 9/11-style Commission, complete with subpoena power, with a mandate to review the entire matter.  Sen. Grassley told the Post:  “There are no more excuses for avoiding an independent review.”  Ivins’ lawyer added that the report confirms that the case against his client is “all supposition based on conjecture based on guesswork, without any proof whatsoever.”  All of that has been clear for some time, and yesterday’s report merely underscored how weak is the FBI’s case.

It is hard to overstate the political significance of the anthrax attacks.  For reasons I’ve described at length, that event played at least as much of a role as the 9/11 attacks in elevating the Terrorism fear levels which, through today, sustain endless wars, massive defense and homeland security budgets, and relentless civil liberties erosions.  The pithy version of the vital role played by anthrax was supplied by Atrios here and here; in essence, it was anthrax that convinced large numbers of Americans that Terrorism was something that could show up without warning at their doorstep — though something as innocuous as their mailbox — in the form of James-Bond-like attacks featuring invisible, lethal powder.  Moreover, anthrax was exploited in the aftermath of 9/11 to ratchet up the fear levels toward Saddam Hussein, as ABC News‘ Brian Ross spent a full week screeching to the country — falsely — that bentonite had been found in the anthrax and that this agent was the telltale sign of Iraq’s chemical weapons program, while George Bush throughout 2002 routinely featured “anthrax” as one of Saddam’s scary weapons.

That there’s so much lingering doubt about who was responsible for this indescribably consequential attack is astonishing, and it ought to be unacceptable.  Other than a desire to avoid finding out who the culprit was (and/or to avoid having the FBI’s case against Ivins subjected to scrutiny), there’s no rational reason to oppose an independent, comprehensive investigation into this matter.

Copyright ©2011 Salon Media Group, Inc.
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More Asinine Regulation From The EPA

Spilled Milk

by Thomas Sowell

Recently by Thomas Sowell: New Heroes vs. Old

 

Despite the old saying, “Don’t cry over spilled milk,” the Environmental Protection Agency is doing just that.

We all understand why the Environmental Protection Agency was given the power to issue regulations to guard against oil spills, such as that of the Exxon Valdez in Alaska or the more recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But not everyone understands that any power given to any bureaucracy for any purpose can be stretched far beyond that purpose.

In a classic example of this process, the EPA has decided that, since milk contains oil, it has the authority to force farmers to comply with new regulations to file “emergency management” plans to show how they will cope with spilled milk, how farmers will train “first responders” and build “containment facilities” if there is a flood of spilled milk.

Since there is no free lunch, all of this is going to cost the farmers both money and time that could be going into farming – and is likely to end up costing consumers higher prices for farm products.

It is going to cost the taxpayers money as well, since the EPA is going to have to hire people to inspect farms, inspect farmers’ reports and prosecute farmers who don’t jump through all the right hoops in the right order. All of this will be “creating jobs,” even if the tax money removed from the private sector correspondingly reduces the jobs that can be created there.

Does anyone seriously believe that any farmer is going to spill enough milk to compare with the Exxon Valdez oil spill or the BP oil spill?

Do you envision people fleeing their homes, as a flood of milk comes pouring down the mountainside, threatening to wipe out the village below?

It doesn’t matter. Once the words are in the law, it makes no difference what the realities are. The bureaucracy has every incentive to stretch the meaning of those words, in order to expand its empire.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has expanded its definition of “discrimination” to include things that no one thought was discrimination when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. The Federal Communications Commission is trying to expand its jurisdiction to cover things that were never included in its jurisdiction, and that have no relationship to the reason why the FCC was created in the first place.

Yet the ever-expanding bureaucratic state has its defenders in the mainstream media. When President Obama recently mentioned the possibility of reducing burdensome regulations – as part of his moving of his rhetoric toward the political center, even if his policies don’t move – there was an immediate reaction in a New York Times article defending government regulations.

Under a headline that said, “Obama May Find Useless Regulations Are Scarcer Than Thought,” the Timeswriters declared that there were few, if any, “useless” regulations. But is that the relevant criterion?

Is there any individual or business willing to spend money on everything that is not absolutely useless? There are thousands of useful things out there that any given individual or business would not spend their money on.

When I had young children, I often thought it would be useful to have a set of the Encyclopedia Britannica for them. But I never bought one. Why? Because there were other little things to spend money on, like food, clothing and shelter.

By the time I could afford to buy a set of the Encyclopedia Britannica, the kids were grown and gone. But at no time did I consider the Encyclopedia Britannica “useless.”

Weighing benefits against costs is the way most people make decisions – and the way most businesses make decisions, if they want to stay in business. Only in government is any benefit, however small, considered to be worth any cost, however large.

No doubt the Environmental Protection Agency’s costly new regulations may somewhere, somehow, prevent spilled milk from pouring out into some street and looking unsightly. So the regulations are not literally “useless.”

What is useless is making that the criterion.

February 9, 2011

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His Web site is www.tsowell.com. To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page.

Copyright © 2011 Creators Syndicate


Editorial: Time To Change Marijuana Laws

http://www.ctlawtribune.com/getarticle.aspx?id=39356

Editorial: Time To Change Marijuana Laws
Connecticut Law Tribune
Monday, January 17, 2011
Copyright 2011, ALM Properties, Inc.

 

Commentaries appearing above are produced by the Editorial Board of the Connecticut Law Tribune. The opinions are voted on and passed by at least one third of the members of the board. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of every member of the board, nor of the newspaper. 

Editorial: Time To Change Marijuana Laws

There are substantial arguments for and against legalizing the use of marijuana. Opponents of its use strongly believe that marijuana is addictive, leads to the use of hard drugs, impairs short-term memory and motor coordination, and irritates the respiratory system. Despite these objections, on balance, it’s time to seriously consider legalizing marijuana.

Proponents of the legalized use of marijuana believe the following:

Marijuana has some beneficial qualities. It relieves pain, stimulates appetite in AIDS patients, reduces nausea in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, is an antidepressant, and relieves anxiety.

Our present laws are out of date. That is because too many people wish to use marijuana and we know Prohibition didn’t work. The reason Prohibition didn’t work is because an overwhelming number of otherwise law-abiding citizens wished to drink, and government couldn’t afford to stop them. When a very significant percentage of the population wishes to do something, which is not inherently harmful to anyone else, then government is facing a losing battle.

Save the enforcement money and tax it. The economy would be strengthened if government saved the money they spend on enforcement of our marijuana laws, and taxed it just as they do alcohol. Jeff Mirren, a Harvard economist, has calculated that marijuana could generate approximately $8.7 billion in national tax revenue per year if legalized. He also calculated that approximately $8 billion is spent trying to fight marijuana. Those numbers can be debated, but it is clear that state governments, and the federal government, spend billions of dollars enforcing our marijuana laws and they don’t tax it (unless they catch someone who has an unreported income). That $17 billion could be better spent on other government programs. In signing a new California law that greatly reduces penalties for people possessing small amounts of marijuana, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger stated: “In this time of drastic budget cuts, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, and the courts cannot afford to expend limited resources prosecuting a crime that carries the same punishment as a traffic ticket.” In other words, it is too expensive to enforce the present anti-marijuana laws.

Its use is not morally wrong. The use of marijuana is no more morally wrong than the use of alcohol. Therefore, it should not be a crime. It should not even be a misdemeanor. Each year approximately 750,000 Americans are arrested for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The only valid reason for its criminalization is that government needs to protect people from themselves. Statistically, it is difficult to determine what percentage of the people who use marijuana need protecting because they eventually move on to hard drugs, but one generally recognized range is between 2 percent and 9 percent. That is 2 to 9 percent of new users, because present users are still there even if it isn’t legal. Assuming that this is true, part of the tax revenue raised from the legalization of marijuana could be used for the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction.

Marijuana laws are not enforced equitably. According to Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, blacks and Latino men are more likely than whites to be stopped and searched, and when drugs are found, they are prosecuted. He claims that in Los Angeles black men are arrested for marijuana possession seven times more frequently than whites. It is doubtful that blacks use marijuana seven times as much as whites.

Our present marijuana laws empower gangs and violence. The wars in Mexico are an example. Of course, these drug wars also deal with hard drugs, but eliminating marijuana from the illegal drug trade would make these wars less worthwhile. There is no sense encouraging drug cartels or violence.

The time has come to treat marijuana like alcohol, tax it like alcohol, and sell it either in state-controlled stores or in private stores, like liquor or drug stores. Control of our marijuana laws should be returned to the states with the federal government having a limited role, as it does now, with alcohol.

Some states or towns may continue to make marijuana illegal or control it through zoning laws. That would be up to them. But changing the law would not be difficult since government could simply add marijuana to its alcohol statutes and regulations. Once this is accomplished, the states and the federal government could tax it as they see fit. Let’s not kid ourselves. Government has lost this argument as they did with the Volstead Act. It’s time to learn our lesson. •


On Guarding the Public’s Right to Ignorance and Meeting With Julian Assange

From Taki’s Magazine

by Charles Glass

January 12, 2011

 

We must hang together, gentlemen…else, we shall most assuredly hang separately.
—Benjamin Franklin

 

 

When a journalist disappears in Russia or is murdered in Iraqi Kurdistan, his or her colleagues in safer climes stand up to be counted. No one should be killed, tortured, or imprisoned for publishing information or opinions that the powerful find inconvenient. Organizations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists, Article 19, and PEN regard it as their duty to defend writers’ and publishers’ rights, as PEN famously did for Arthur Koestler against Nazi tyranny in the 1930s. Index on Censorship, a publication with an honorable pedigree, came into existence to publish the samizdat articles and stories of writers who risked the gulag for expressing themselves.

In journalism schools, they teach aspiring reporters it is their duty to ferret out information the state and other power centers conceal that affects ordinary people’s lives. Bringing information to the governed about their governors is the breath of democracy, the exposure that animates liberty’s spirit, and a necessary check against the world’s imbalances in wealth and power. When Upton Sinclair revealed the way meat was packaged in America in The Jungle, when Lincoln Steffens told the truth about municipal government corruption, when Ida Tarbell exposed the Standard Oil Company to public scrutiny, when I. F. Stone published the truth behind the Gulf of Tonkin lies that Lyndon Johnson used as an excuse to escalate the war against Vietnam (the Weapons of Mass Destruction of its time), when Seymour Hersh reported the American massacre at My Lai, when Ray Coffey of the Chicago Daily News broke the story of America’s illegal bombing of Laos, did their colleagues rise as one to defend them?

The hell they did. A few stood with the investigators, but most condemned them. Hearst columnists and other guardians of the public’s right to ignorance railed against the muckrakers for betraying American values. Who could be against Rockefeller and Standard Oil apart from a traitor? The good burghers of the popular press turned on them like a pack of hounds for questioning the wisdom of duly (albeit corruptly) elected rulers and daring to publish documents that God had deigned as comprehensible only to a bureaucratic inner circle.

Journalistic guard dogs of power, the most likely hacks to climb the ladder for the Purina Dog Chow of corporate-media op-ed columns, talk shows, and editorships, have turned against WikiLeaks. Julian Assange has committed the crime for which we, from the safety of time’s passage, honor Steffens, Tarbell, Stone, and Hersh. It is no surprise that a pseudo-journalist such as Bill Kristol at The Weekly Standard calls for Washington to employ “various assets to harass, snatch or neutralize Julian Assange and his collaborators.” But it is more difficult to excuse the distance that real journalists, many of whom published the documents and videos that WikiLeaks made available to them, are putting between themselves and Assange. The Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Broadcasters, and The New York Times’ opinion pages have run for cover as fast as politicians during a police raid on a whorehouse.

The New York Times, along with The Washington Post, had the honorable distinction of publishing the Pentagon Papers. They received those documents from Daniel Ellsberg, who was pilloried in his time just as Assange is today. The Nixon Administration, in a precursor to the Watergate break-in, raided his psychiatrist’s office and circulated stories that Ellsberg was insane. The argument was not unknown in the Soviet Union: If you are against us, you must be crazy. Now they are turning on Assange over his sex life, his alleged imperiousness, and his supposed recklessness.

I understand why the Pentagon, the State Department, and the White House hate Assange and WikiLeaks. He broke into their cozy little circle of lies and turned on the lights. We’ve seen the amusement of helicopter pilots and gunners as they blew away journalists in Iraq. We’ve read how Hillary Clinton illegally suborned UN diplomats to spy on their colleagues. We’ve had a look into secret discussions where the US tried to persuade the Japanese to shut down the anti-whaling Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. We have read that Israeli border guards have been trying to shake down American companies such as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and Westinghouse for bribes to let them send their products into the Gaza Strip.

We have seen all of this, while Assange’s critics tell us (1) nothing he has revealed is of any significance and (2) what he has revealed is so significant he must be prosecuted or terminated with prejudice. Let the government fight its corner, fair enough. But does the press, which collaborated with WikiLeaks in bringing so much information to public scrutiny, need to condemn him? In the battle between the state and the free press, I stand with the free press.

This is an easy decision, and I made it well before I met Assange last weekend. He seemed to me to be neither arrogant nor deceptive. He is, however, single-minded and determined to fight for his corner. He has accepted his predicament with good grace, having endured nine days in Wandsworth Prison in solitary confinement. The terms of his bail, while he awaits a possible extradition to Sweden for alleged crimes that carry no sentence other than a small fine, require him to remain inside the Norfolk farmhouse of his friend Vaughan Smith, a brave former Grenadier Guards officer and combat cameraman. Julian may leave the house only for daily visits to the local police station. When we wanted to smoke outside, in deference to Pranvera Smith’s understandable concern about the air around her beautiful little daughters being fouled by tobacco, Julian had to stand inside the doorway. I was free to pace the garden with my cigar, the absurdity of which was obvious to us both.

He spends most of his time working on WikiLeaks and preparing his legal defense, showing no sign of the tension that would break most of us. But making this a battle about his personality misses the point: The issue is freedom to publish information without fear of intimidation, imprisonment, and death. Where are my colleagues? Many have stood up honorably to defend him and to guarantee his bail in Britain. Others have turned on him, including the two English-language newspapers (The Guardian in London and The New York Times) that published documents they could have obtained only from him. It was ever thus, as Julien Benda reminded us in La Trahison des Clercs:

Our age has seen priests of the mind teaching that gregarious[ness] is the praiseworthy form of thought, and that independent thought is contemptible. It is moreover certain that the group which desires to be strong has no use for a man who claims to think for himself.

During America’s war in Vietnam, Noam Chomsky referred to the journalistic and academic defenders of the aggression as the “secular priesthood.” Their heirs worship at the same altar of power, even when it means sending one of their own to prison for a “crime” they only pretend to commit: speaking truth to and about power.

 


Wikimania and the First Amendment

by Ralph Nader

Thomas Blanton, the esteemed director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University described Washington’s hyper-reaction to WikiLeaks‘ transmission of information to some major media in various countries as “Wikimania.”

In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last Thursday, Blanton urged the Justice Department to cool it. WikiLeaks and newspapers like The New York Timesand London’s Guardian, he said, are publishers protected by the First Amendment. The disclosures are the first small installment of a predicted much larger forthcoming trove of non-public information from both governments and global corporations.

The leakers inside these organizations come under different legal restrictions than those who use their freedom of speech rights to publish the leaked information.

The mad dog, homicidal demands to destroy the leaders of WikiLeaks by self-styled liberal Democrat and Fox commentator, Bob Beckel, the radio and cable howlers and some members of Congress, may be creating an atmosphere of panic at the politically sensitive Justice Department. Attorney General Eric Holder has made very prejudicial comments pursuant to his assertion that his lawyers considering how they may prosecute Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks leader.

Mr. Holder declared that both “the national security of the United States” and “the American people have been put at risk.” This level of alarm was not shared by the public statements of defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of States Hillary Clinton who downplayed the impact of these disclosures.

The Attorney General, who should be directing more of his resources to the corporate crime wave in all its financial, economic and hazardous manifestations, is putting himself in a bind.

If he goes after WikiLeaks too broadly using the notorious Espionage Act of 1917 and other vague laws, how is he going to deal with The New York Times and other mass media that reported the disclosures?

Consider what Harvard Law Professor Jack Goldsmith, who was head of the Office of Legal Counsel in George W. Bush’s Justice Department just wrote:

“In Obama’s Wars, Bob Woodward, with the obvious assistance of many top Obama administration officials, disclosed many details about top secret programs, code names, documents, meetings, and the like. I have a hard time squaring the anger the government is directing towards WikiLeaks with its top officials openly violating classification rules and opportunistically revealing without authorization top secret information.”

On the other hand, if Mr. Holder goes the narrow route to obtain an indictment of Mr. Assange, he will risk a public relations debacle by vindictively displaying prosecutorial abuse (i.e. fixing the law around the enforcement bias.) Double standards have no place in the Justice Department.

WikiLeaks is also creating anxiety in the corporate suites. A cover story in the December 20, 2010 issue of Forbes magazine reports that early next year a large amount of embarrassing material will be sent to the media by WikiLeaks about a major U.S. bank, followed by masses of exposé material on other global corporations.

Will these releases inform the people about very bad activities by drug, oil, financial and other companies along with corruption in various countries? If so, people may find this information useful. We can only imagine what sleazy or illegal things our government has been up to that have been covered up. Soon, people may reject those who would censor WikiLeaks. Many people do want to size up what’s going on inside their government in their name and with their tax dollars.

Wasn’t it Jefferson who said that “information is the currency of democracy” and that, given a choice between government and a free press, he’ll take the latter? Secrecy-keeping the people and Congress in the dark-is the cancer eating at the vitals of democracy.

What is remarkable about all the official hullabaloo by government officials,who leak plenty themselves, is that there never is any indictment or prosecution of government big wigs who continually suppress facts and knowledge in order to carry out very devastating actions like invading Iraq under false pretenses and covering up corporate contractors abuses. The morbid and corporate-indentured secrecy of government over the years has cost many American lives, sent Americans to illegal wars, bilked consumers of billions of dollars and harmed the safety and economic well-being of workers.

As Cong. Ron Paul said on the House floor, why is the hostility directed at Assange, the publisher, and not at our government’s failure to protect classified information? He asked his colleagues which events caused more deaths, “Lying us into war, or the release of the WikiLeaks papers?”

Over-reaction by the Obama administration could lead to censoring the Internet, undermining Secretary Clinton’s Internet Freedom initiative, which criticized China’s controls and lauded hacktivism in that country, and divert attention from the massive over classification of documents by the Executive Branch.

A full throttle attack on WikiLeaks is what the government distracters want in order to take away the spotlight of the disclosures on their misdeeds, their waste and their construction of an authoritarian corporate state.

Professor and ex-Bushite Jack Goldsmith summed up his thoughts this way: “The best thing to do….would be to ignore Assange and fix the secrecy system so this does not happen again.”

That presumably is some of what Peter Zatko and his crew are now trying to do at the Pentagon’s famed DARPA unit. That secret initiative may ironically undermine the First Amendment should they succeed too much in hamstringing the Internet earlier advanced by that same Pentagon unit.

December 24, 2010

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. Visit his website.

Copyright © 2010 Ralph Nader

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Playing by the Rules

FROM: Mises Daily:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010 by 

Andrew Bacevich’s new book, Washington Rules, illuminates the post–World War II Washington foreign-policy consensus and gives a history of its evolution. This is a key piece of history, and it can also provide larger lessons about the operations of the state. In order to be a player in foreign policy in Washington, one must accept the rules, which consist of a “credo that inspires consensus and the trinity in which it finds expression” (p. 16). The consensus defines the terms of debate and the limits of acceptable opinion, privileging those who agree with it and banishing any other arguments. Players (institutions and their leaders) must play by the rules and stay relevant to the consensus. The consensus also allows change, so long as the change is relevant to supporting the consensus or defending against threats to it. Bacevich shows that the Washington rules may benefit the elite, but they are failing the country in the long term by harming the country’s power and prestige as well as hurting it economically and morally.

What Are the Washington Rules?

The rules are hidden and not consciously discussed, because they are the basic assumptions for foreign-policy discussions: “This postwar tradition combines two components, each one so deeply embedded in the American collective consciousness as to have all but disappeared from view” (p. 12). These two components are the credo and the trinity, which taken together mean that it is up to America to change the world, whether it likes it or not.

The Credo

The credo is global leadership.

The United States and the United States alone must “lead, save, liberate, and ultimately transform the world” (p. 12). Under the Washington rules, in order to be considered for high office you must respectfully allude to “America’s responsibility to lead,” (as well as to God and “the troops.”) There must be “engagement” by the United States. This is what “The American Century” — as Henry R. Luce called it — is all about. Luce called on Americans to “accept wholeheartedly our duty to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit” (p. 12). The United States cannot be “isolated.”

There are four subrules of US “responsibility” for global leadership:

  1. The world must be organized, or “chaos will surely reign” (p. 20).
  2. The United States does the organizing. Only the United States is able to “prescribe and enforce such a global order” (p. 20). No one else can be trusted, and the United States must constantly shoulder new obligations.
  3. The United States defines the principles of the global order. These principles are American and also universal. Evolving American principles on anything, be it nuclear weapons, noncombatant casualties, or women’s rights, are always universal. The world must adopt the latest American attitudes.
  4. World leaders want the United States to lead the global order, and they stay up at night worrying that the United States may abdicate its responsibility to do so.

The Trinity

America chooses the means, not just the ends, of global leadership. There are three fundamental assumptions about the means:

  • global military presence
  • global power projection
  • global interventionism

While much has changed in the US military in the last 60 years, this trinity apparently remains too holy to be questioned (p. 14). In line with this, the term “full spectrum dominance” means that the United States should be globally dominant in all areas: space, nuclear, naval, air, army, covert operations, etc.

Note the emphasis on “global.” The United States must have a forward presence everywhere. It must be set up to project its power globally, whether that means boots on the ground, bombs from the sky, or knives in the dark. Able to intervene anywhere on the globe, the United States must have a policy of doing so.

The corollary of this is that the United States exempts itself from norms that it expects others to comply with. Bacevich gives the example of how outraged Americans and the world would be if China had a defense budget that matched all the great powers’ except the United States’, created garrisons around the world including in Latin America, appointed People’s Liberation Army generals responsible for different parts of the globe (including one for North America and one for Europe), conducted war games globally, and created a global strike force (pp. 23–24). In reality, American policy is far more expansive than the hypothetical Chinese example. Because Americans are the good guys, they are surprised when others are outraged.

Failure to accept the Washington rules means relegation to outside Washington. Even if you’re important on domestic questions, you won’t be taken seriously among the players dominating foreign policy, i.e., the upper echelons of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, and the leaders of the State Department, Homeland Security, and Defense Department, not to mention the law-enforcement and intelligence communities. These institutions include think tanks and interest groups, lobbyists, lawyers, retired officers, and former officials in good standing. Beyond the beltway, they include big banks, defense contractors, elite media such as the New York Times, and such institutions as the Council on Foreign Relations and the Kennedy School of Government (p. 15).

The Rules Mean Change

The implications of this are fascinating. America has the ability, right, and duty to change the world however it wants and by whatever means. The use of the term “engagement” is revealing. For example, according to the State Department, a large power grid failure in Brazil on November 10, 2009, created “opportunities for engagement … including DOD, DHS, FCC, TDA.”[1]

Bacevich can discern no particular objective for this duty to change the world or standard by which change can be measured. In fact, he particularly mentions that the rest of the world must fall in line every time the United States changes its mind (p. 21). Presumably, what unites members of the consensus is either a vague neoliberal idea of state capitalism, or, more likely, the idea that American leadership can help bring about whatever fantasy world each member may hold in his heart. As long as everyone who counts agrees to the necessity of the system, it doesn’t matter if what the system actually does is incoherent. Again, Bacevich seems to find no consistent principle for all this intervention, only the belief that chaos would reign without American leadership.

If the core rule is simply that the United States can change the rules, and the corollary of the Washington rules is that the United States exempts itself from norms that it expects others to comply with, other countries will logically see US leadership as the exercise of power. If there is no particular standard at the end of the day that anyone can be expected to comply with, there is no rule of law. Foreigners might understandably be concerned that change is coming for them. Especially as change always seems to involve the use of guns and bombs on their soil.

Obama talked about “change” coming to America. While some things may change, Bacevich shows throughout that the principle of US global leadership or dominance still remains the same in 2010. That doesn’t change. Power remains, and power corrupts everything else and slowly destroys itself from within.

Evolution within the Washington Rules — 1948 to 2010

Bacevich shows how foreign policy and the US military have operated and evolved within the fixed framework of the Washington rules from World War II to the present Obama administration in 2010. Important players try to demonstrate to other players that the public (or private) institution or subinstitution they represent is relevant and therefore deserving of funding and power. Those exercising “soft power” make their claims; and those exercising the various forms of “hard power” make their claims.

Bacevich starts off by showing that when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton took office in 2009 their rhetoric was within the Washington rules of American global leadership (p. 19). Similarly, their policy choices were constrained. As Bacevich has pointed out, the Obama administration was presented with limited choices: to either send more troops to Afghanistan or publicly take responsibility for a US defeat. Not surprisingly, Obama sent more troops. There was no time to first ask questions about why the United States was there, what it hoped to accomplish, what victory would look like, or if it was likely to be achieved (pp. 214–20). The consensus was preserved. The cost was that Obama wasn’t allowed to talk about what the grand strategy was.

Bacevich’s story really begins about 1948, but it seems like there is room for a further book to explain the origin of the Washington rules prior to World War II, and certainly Bacevich is aware of US intervention and power structures prior to the scope of his book. He mentions that Truman was constrained in his choices about the atomic bomb (p. 31). Certainly the “credo” of American global leaderships goes back to at least the Progressive era. President Wilson, never one to let facts get in the way of romantic ideas, once proclaimed that the United States should “serve” and “show mankind the way to liberty,” and with other nations “guarantee peace and justice throughout the world.”

“American principles,” Wilson concluded, “are the principles of mankind and must prevail.”

Chapter 1

In charting the evolution of institutions, Bacevich starts with 1948 to 1960 in chapter 1, which is about the “semiwarriors” who run the military-industrial complex of perpetual semiwar. The two key players are powerful examples of the institutional gains for following Washington rules. In this period, Allen Dulles expanded the CIA’s covert operations, and General Curtis LeMay expanded the Strategic Air Command’s nuclear bomber force. Both institutions came from essentially nothing and symbiotically provided global reach for US power. In return, Congress gave them control of huge budgets and authority. They were at the height of their power and were perceived as the only two players with global capabilities. Although they technically reported to the executive branch, they were very independent and very relevant.

In this period, there was little resistance to the Washington rules. While Eisenhower understood the dangers of the military-industrial complex and gave a fantastic speech on it, he basically permitted its growth under his watch, and he never explained why he waited till the end to protest (p. 33).

Chapter 2

At the end of the Eisenhower administration, the army’s General Maxwell Taylor started a drive to make the army more relevant. The army would fill the part of the spectrum between nuclear war and covert operations, giving the United States a “flexible response.”

Nuclear war was now increasingly perceived to be obviously futile almost by definition. The limited ability of the CIA was increasingly evidenced in the early ’60s in Cuba and Vietnam. In this gap the army was able to claim relevance for conventional forces for “flexible-response” intervention around the world. Somebody new had to step up to the plate if everyone else was striking out.

But the US debacle in Vietnam showed that this flexible response of the army (supported by the Navy’s and Air Force’s airpower) didn’t work very well either, and led to serious degradation of the army as an organization. A similar failure of intervention was eliminating South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem. Taylor believed that in killing Diem, the United States turned out to have eliminated a key player who was probably the only person holding South Vietnam together (p. 94–95).

Taylor establishing the relevance of the army was not unique. Relevance is something all of the bureaucracies wanted. The US Navy over time evolved from carrier battle groups to a strike force. There were no real navies to fight, so the Navy became more floating airbases for ground-attack aircraft. There was a rise in the last few decades of the importance of the field commanders and four-star generals who head the six regional theater commands (pp. 206–7). The Joint Chiefs of Staff became less relevant. Interestingly, special operations in 1987 was given its own four-star special operations command, joining the six other commands at the table (p. 157). This is a good example of the development of a powerful subinstitution. By contrast, the Strategic Air Command no longer exists.

Bacevich devotes a lot of detail to Kennedy, in part because of the many people who speculate as to what would have happened if he’d lived. Bacevich sees Kennedy as a cold warrior who never fundamentally changed, and he gives plenty of evidence of this up to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Bacevich states that after the crisis, Kennedy then suspended the Washington rules, but only temporarily. American involvement in Vietnam still increased under Kennedy’s watch (p. 90). Bacevich points out that Kennedy’s allies McNamara, Bundy, and Taylor all went along with Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War. Certainly the administration as a whole was following the Washington rules. The other implication of all this of course is that if Kennedy really had changed his mind, then he would have been totally outside the Washington rules. His close allies would all have deserted him, and he would have lost relevance.

Chapter 3

The Foreign-Policy Elite React

After Vietnam, there was the brief possibility that the Washington rules might be reevaluated. This was not to be. Some in the American elite reacted like the elite of World War I Germany — employing a “stabbed-in-the-back theory” that blamed treachery at home for failure abroad. Others simply tried to move on. Kissinger, for instance, said there was remarkably little to be learned from Vietnam (p. 137). It was just a unique event. There were no systemic problems or defective principles — no need to ask serious questions.

But some elites seemed to be questioning the consensus, and the people were undermining the authority of institutions. This simply would not do. It might lead to irresponsible behavior defined as “isolationist,” or what others term noninterventionist. Anthony Lake feared that the United States might turn to “a mean-spirited foreign policy” and that the prointervention Munich analogy would be replaced by the anti-intervention Vietnam analogy (p. 132–33).

So in 1976, Lake assembled a CFR publication The Vietnam Legacy, a book of essays by 24 foreign-policy observers evaluating Vietnam. To Bacevich, the writers and their views seem “clubby” and “homogenous.” They could be counted on to avoid rocking the boat. They had a common analytical framework that viewed Vietnam as an anomaly and the problem as one of a loss of “consensus, control, and legitimacy” (p. 131). While there was no evidence US policy had nipped any problems in the bud or kept the peace, Lake was a true believer in the Washington rules (p. 133). The Vietnam Legacy quite intentionally reenforced the shaky consensus of US leadership and intervention.

In general the foreign-policy establishment fully reentrenched itself and imposed the Washington rules as a form of political correctness; in fact “the range of acceptable opinion” is an “order of magnitude larger” in the faculty lounges of “tenured radicals” in academia. One could not discuss the idea that Vietnam was, as Martin Luther King said, “but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit” (pp. 133–34).

Madeline Albright

Madeline Albright is mentioned at the end of chapter 3 as a key figure who encapsulated the consensus in rhetoric without adding anything particularly new. Bacevich gives four key examples, all of which are very interventionist (pp. 140–43):

  1. “My mind-set is Munich. Most of my generation’s is Vietnam.” Translation — Albright sees the dangers of appeasement where others see the dangers of intervention. Certainly, Bacevich claims that the foreign-policy establishment’s mindset in Albright’s generation was Munich.
  2. “If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further … into the future.” This is how the elite really see themselves.
  3. “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” Said to Colin Powell, this question summed up the foreign-policy elite’s problem with how the army was rebuilt.
  4. When asked about the death of 500,000 Iraqi children, Albright replied, “I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it.” She did not dispute the question.

Chapters 4 and 5

The Army Elite React

The army learned from Vietnam that it should rebuild itself according to the Powell Doctrine: it should fight wars it could win, i.e., the first Gulf War. However the problem was that these wars didn’t create substantive change. Gulf War I changed nothing, it kept the status quo. People in the foreign-policy establishment questioned the relevance of an army with the Powell Doctrine. Both sides were correct, and the army ended up being put in a war it couldn’t win.

The RMA and COIN

In a quest to stay relevant and support the Washington rules, the army then changed again — twice in fact in the 2000s.

First was the Revolution in Military Affairs, or RMA. Rumsfeld did want radical change. Speed, visibility, and precision targeting on the battlefield would allow the army to dominate and to inflict less civilian damage and casualties. Wars would be over quickly, and the United States could intervene everywhere, liberating the natives. This naturally failed as soon as the natives decided they needed liberating from the US Army, and the army had no idea what the targets were.

The RMA failed, so to keep relevance the army needed a new idea.

As long as one stays within the Washington rules, all kinds of changes are possible. No one had ever really sold the United States on the idea of a long war. Yet now the idea was cropping up that the United States was in just such a war (p. 183). (Similarly the Democrats criticizing Bush objected to, not the Washington rules, but bad execution and the use of “hard power” at the expense of “soft.”)

With the end of the Bush administration and the takeover by the Democrats, there were several developments. One was that the United States was adrift. The second was that military activity seemed purposeless. To mask this, the idea of Counter-Insurgency or COIN was taken off the shelf to replace “Shock and Awe.” Though irrelevant for solving the ostensible problem of anti-Western jihad, COIN created the “appearance of purposefulness,” and it solved a very real problem of relevance (p. 186). The Washington rules survived despite the aimlessness of the long war.

Ironically, counterinsurgency previously had been seen as exactly the type of ill-fated liberal Democratic social engineering idea that conservative Republican’s didn’t believe in. The officer corps as well had no interest, being busy with creating a finely tuned force to fight other armies. They wanted to fight short wars they could win. As the army was bogged down fighting nonarmies this wasn’t a very relevant viewpoint anymore.

Petraeus spearheaded the counterinsurgency idea as a replacement. Petraeus wrote his Princeton PhD dissertation on Vietnam. He agreed with the officer consensus that counterinsurgency was a bad idea, because public perception of long involvement was negative. But he also got from Vietnam the corollary idea that one could and should manage public perceptions (pp. 193–94). Changing perception meant changing reality.[2]

Bacevich sees COIN as a repackaging of the failed Vietnam idea of “flexible response.” The perception problem was that “Victory had essentially become indefinable and the benefits accruing to Americans were at best obscure” (p. 189). While the 2003 Iraq invasion was part of a strategy, however misguided, there was no real strategy after that. To solve the problem, Petraeus’s key achievement was managing the public’s perceptions so that they didn’t view the long involvement, the long war, as failure. COIN and later GCOIN or Global COIN became how the United States shows leadership and helps other countries. This involved demolishing the idea of the army as something that fought and won wars. “Petraeus’s purpose in revising U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine was not to evaluate COIN but to sell it” (p. 197). Petraeus seemed to have achieved perpetual public support and perpetual funding for perpetual war (p. 209).

Conclusion

The Washington rules still seem clearly in place. Evolution has taken place within a fixed boundary, leading to the rise and fall of different institutions and subinstitutions that meet the system’s needs. The system appears to have temporarily achieved perpetual lavish funding.

Bacevich and others can see clear problems ahead. The United States, like other Western states, is running out of money and cannot meet all its future obligations. Even the Council on Foreign Relations admits that US spending is unsustainable.[3] Eventually the public support and funding will break down. Prolonged combat occupation slowly degrades armies. But since World War II, the leaders’ failure and recklessness so far haven’t really cost them anything, in the way failure cost Germany for example, so there isn’t yet any real incentive to change a system that they believe benefits them.

Bacevich suggests that we tend our garden before it is too late. His vision is an America that leads by example. A republic that solves its own problems will once again be an inspiration to the rest of the world. Troops should be immediately withdrawn from abroad, especially where the cost is high and the potential gain is invisible, i.e., in the Muslim world. Bacevich says that unfortunately it is easy to simply blame our leaders, but it is also the American people who let them get away with it, because too many Americans believe in the credo and trinity of Washington rules.

Anders Mikkelsen is a cost-management consultant in New York City. Send him mail. See Anders Mikkelsen’s article archives.

Notes

[1] This quotation was found not by research but by reading a random cable in Wikileaks. Little globally is outside the purview of the United States — or even of US domestic agencies.

[2] In this vein, Petraeus did well in Iraq partly by appeasement, buying off insurgents, and subtly proclaiming victory.

[3] “It is fiscal, economic, and political failures at home that are threatening the ability of the United States to exert the global influence that it could and should. In other words, it is not reckless American activity in the world that jeopardizes American solvency but American profligacy at home that threatens American power and security.” Roger C. Altman and Richard N. Haas, “American Profligacy and American Power,” Foreign Affairs, 2010.

 


Wikileaks Spreads The Love or In Government We Distrust-One Can Hope!

At the bottom of this story is a link to a mirror connector provided by Lew Rockwell‘s site. Please use it. It will use an available mirror site. Each time I have clicked on it I have been sent through a different mirror. If you have concerns about your government tracking where you link, and they likely are,  use a proxy. There are hundreds out there-just google it. (E)

http://www.slate.com/

Why I Love WikiLeaks

For restoring distrust in our most important institutions.

By Jack Shafer
Updated Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010, at 5:48 PM ET
Julian Assange. Click image to expand.

Julian Assange

International scandals—such as the one precipitated by this week’s WikiLeaks cable dump—serve us by illustrating how our governments work. Better than any civics textbook, revisionist history, political speech, bumper sticker, or five-part investigative series, an international scandal unmasks presidents and kings, military commanders and buck privates, cabinet secretaries and diplomats, corporate leaders and bankers, and arms-makers and arms-merchants as the bunglers, liars, and double-dealers they are.

The recent WikiLeaks release, for example,shows the low regard U.S. secretaries of state hold for international treaties that bar spying at the United Nations. Both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, systematically and serially violated those treaties to gain an incremental upper hand. And they did it in writing! That Clinton now decries Julian Assange’s truth-telling as an “attack” on America but excuses her cavalier approach to treaty violation tells you all you need to know about U.S. diplomacy.

As WikiLeaks proved last summer, the U.S. military lied about not keeping body counts in Iraq, even though the press asked for the information a million times. Indeed, the history of scandal in America is the history of institutions and individuals routinely surpassing our darkest assumptions of their perfidy.

Whenever scandal rears its head—Charles Rangel’s financial dealings, the subprime crash, the Valerie Plame affair, Jack Abramoff and Randy Cunningham‘s crimes, Bernie Kerik’s indiscretions, water-boarding, Ted Stevens’ convictions, the presidential pardon of Marc Rich, the guilty pleas of Webster Hubbell, the Monica Lewinsky thing, the Iran-contra scandal, the Iran-contra pardons, the savings-and-loan fiasco, BCCI, and so on—we’re hammered by how completely base and corrupt our government really is.*

We shouldn’t be surprised by the recurrence of scandals, but, of course, we always are. Why is that? Is it because when scandal rips up the turf, revealing the vile creepy-crawlies thrashing and scurrying about, we’re glad when authority intervenes to quickly tamp the grass back down and re-establish our pastoral innocence with bland assurances that the grubby malfeasants are mere outliers and one-offs who will be punished? Is it because our schooling has left us hopelessly naïve about how the world works? Or do we just fail to pay attention?

Information conduits like Julian Assange shock us out of that complacency. Oh, sure, he’s a pompous egomaniac sporting a series of bad haircuts and grandiose tendencies. And he often acts without completely thinking through every repercussion of his actions. But if you want to dismiss him just because he’s a seething jerk, there are about 2,000 journalists I’d like you to meet.

The idea of WikiLeaks is scarier than anything the organization has leaked or anything Assange has done because it restores our distrust in the institutions that control our lives. It reminds people that at any given time, a criminal dossier worth exposing is squirreled away in a database someplace in the Pentagon or at Foggy Bottom. Assange’s next stop appears to be Wall Street. According to the New York TimesDealBook, WikiLeaks has targeted Bank of America. Assange foreshadowed this scoop by tellingComputerworld in 2009 of the five gigabytes of data he’d acquired from a B of A executive’s hard drive; this month he toldForbes of an “ecosystem of corruption” he hopes to uncover. Today, he reiterated his intention to take on banks in an interview with Time.

As Assange navigates from military and diplomatic exposés to financial ones this year, his Wall Street targets won’t be able to shield their incompetence and misconduct with lip music about how he has damaged national security and violated the Espionage Act of 1917 and deserves capital punishment. But I’m sure they’ll invoke trade secrets, copyright, privacy, or whatever other legal window dressing they find convenient. Rather than defending their behavior, they’ll imitate Clinton and assail Assange’s methods and practices.

As the Economist put it yesterday, “secrecy is necessary for national security and effective diplomacy.” But it “is also inevitable that the prerogative of secrecy will be used to hide the misdeeds of the permanent state and its privileged agents.”

Assange and WikiLeaks, while not perfect, have punctured the prerogative of secrecy with their recent revelations. The untold story is that while doing the United States’ allies, adversaries, and enemies a favor with his leaks, he’s doing the United States the biggest favor by holding it accountable. As I.F. Stone put it, “All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.”

© Copyright 2010 Washington Post.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC

Wikileaks Mirror Connector

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WikiLeaks and Assange Honored

From Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence
October 24, 2010

Editor’s Note: WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange have received the 2010 Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence award for releasing secret U.S. military reports on the Iraq and Afghan wars.
The award from the group – named after legendary CIA analyst Sam Adams – was presented to Assange on Saturday in London where he was speaking about WikiLeaks’ recent release of almost 400,000 classified battlefield reports from Iraq. The award reads as follows:

It seems altogether fitting and proper that this year’s award be presented in London, where Edmund Burke coined the expression “Fourth Estate.” Comparing the function of the press to that of the three Houses then in Parliament, Burke said:

“… but in the Reporters Gallery yonder, there sits a Fourth Estate more important far then they all.”

The year was 1787 — the year the U.S. Constitution was adopted. The First Amendment, approved four years later, aimed at ensuring that the press would be free of government interference. That was then.

With the Fourth Estate now on life support, there is a high premium on the fledgling Fifth Estate, which uses the ether and is not susceptible of government or corporation control. Small wonder that governments with lots to hide feel very threatened.

It has been said: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” WikiLeaks is helping make that possible by publishing documents that do not lie.

Last spring, when we chose WikiLeaks and Julian Assange for this award, Julian said he would accept only “on behalf of our sources, without which WikiLeaks’ contributions are of no significance.”

We do not know if Pvt. Bradley Manning gave WikiLeaks the gun-barrel video of July 12, 2007 called “Collateral Murder.” Whoever did provide that graphic footage, showing the brutality of the celebrated “surge” in Iraq, was certainly far more a patriot than the “mainstream” journalist embedded in that same Army unit. He suppressed what happened in Baghdad that day, dismissed it as simply “one bad day in a surge that was filled with such days,” and then had the temerity to lavish praise on the unit in a book he called The Good Soldiers.

Julian is right to emphasize that the world is deeply indebted to patriotic truth-tellers like the sources who provided the gun-barrel footage and the many documents on Afghanistan and Iraq to WikiLeaks. We hope to have a chance to honor them in person in the future.

Today we honor WikiLeaks, and one of its leaders, Julian Assange, for their ingenuity in creating a new highway by which important documentary evidence can make its way, quickly and confidentially, through the ether and into our in-boxes. Long live the Fifth Estate!

Presented this 23rd day of October 2010 in London, England by admirers of the example set by former CIA analyst, Sam Adams.

Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence is a movement of former CIA colleagues and other associates of former intelligence analyst Sam Adams, who hold up his example as a model for those in intelligence who would aspire to the courage to speak truth to power. Sam did precisely that, and in honoring his memory, SAAII confers an award each year to a member of the intelligence profession exemplifying Sam Adam’s courage, persistence, and devotion to truth — no matter the consequences.

It was Adams who discovered in 1967 that there were 500,000 Vietnamese Communists under arms — more than twice the number that our military in Saigon would admit to in the “war of attrition.”  Gen. William Westmoreland had put an artificial limit on the number that Army intelligence was allowed to carry on its books. And Gen. Creighton Abrams specifically warned Washington that the press would have a field day if Adam’s numbers were released, and that this would weaken the war effort.

Westmoreland’s figures were shown to be bogus in January/February 1968, when Communist troops mounted a surprise countrywide offensive in numbers that proved that Adams’ analysis had been correct. But because Sam was reluctant to go “outside channels,” the CIA and Army were able to keep the American people in the dark.

After the Tet offensive, however, Daniel Ellsberg learned that Westmoreland had asked for 206,000 more troops to widen the war into Cambodia, Laos, and North Vietnam — right up to the border with China, and perhaps beyond. In his first such act, Ellsberg leaked Sam Adams’ data to the then-independent New York Times on March 19, 1968. Dan’s timely truth telling, and that of the Times’ Neil Sheehan, won the day.

On March 25, President Johnson complained to a small gathering, “The leaks to the New York Times hurt us…We have no support for the war. This is caused by the 206,000 troop request [by Westmoreland] and the leaks…I would have given Westy the 206,000 men.” On March 31, Johnson introduced a bombing pause, opted for negotiations, and announced that he would not run for another term in November 1968.

Sam Adams continued to press for honesty and accountability but stayed “inside channels” — and failed. He was not able to see that the supervening value of ending unnecessary killing trumped the secrecy agreement he had signed as a condition of employment. Nagged by remorse, Adams died at 55 of a sudden heart attack. He could not shake the thought that, had he not let himself be diddled, the entire left wall of the Vietnam memorial would not exist. There would have been no new names to chisel into such a wall.

In the past, the annual Sam Adams Award has been given to truth tellers Coleen Rowley of the FBI; Katharine Gun of British Intelligence; Sibel Edmonds of the FBI; Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan; former US Army Sgt. Sam Provance, who told the truth about Abu Ghraib; and Maj. Frank Grevil of Danish Army Intelligence, who exposed his government’s eagerness to conspire with the Bush administration in advertising non-existent weapons of mass destruction in order to “justify” the invasion of Iraq — and went to prison for it; and Larry Wilkerson, Col., US Army (ret.), former chief of staff to Secretary Colin Powell at the State Department, who exposed the powers behind many of the crimes of the Bush administration — first and foremost what he called the “Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal;” in Washington, DC.


Wikileaks releases nearly 400,000 new secret Iraq docs, with help from news orgs

A U.S. Soldier from the Nemesis troop, 3rd Squ...

Image via Wikipedia

AGAIN-It is Time to put an end to the madness and bring our troops home. If we don’t, we deserve whatever retribution, from those we have needlessly attacked, that is forthcoming.

I love this country but it’s government is completely out of control

BTW-notice the pic hanging on the wall behind this ravager of women and children. More evidence that this is about control and power and not islamic terrorists! (E)


Xeni Jardin at 1:58 PM Friday, Oct 22, 2010


IMAGE: Each death noted in the Iraq war logs released today by Wikileaks is mapped with Google Maps, by the Guardian.


Wikileaks has just published The Iraq War Logs, described as “the largest classified military leak in history.”

 

The 391,832 reports document the war and occupation in Iraq, from 1st January 2004 to 31st December 2009 (except for the months of May 2004 and March 2009) as told by soldiers in the United States Army. Each is a ‘SIGACT’ or Significant Action in the war. They detail events as seen and heard by the US military troops on the ground in Iraq and are the first real glimpse into the secret history of the war that the United States government has been privy to throughout. The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66,081 ‘civilians’; 23,984 ‘enemy’ (those labeled as insurgents); 15,196 ‘host nation’ (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 ‘friendly’ (coalition forces). The majority of the deaths (66,000, over 60%) of these are civilian deaths.That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six year period.

The Guardian is among the first news orgs to publish analysis, and leads with the statement that the files show how the US turned a blind eye to torture in Iraq, and “expose serial abuse of detainees, 15,000 previously unknown deaths, and a full toll of Iraq’s five years of carnage.”

The archive is alleged to have been sourced from Pfc. Bradley Manning, the same US army intelligence analyst who is believed to have also leaked a smaller cache of 90,000 logs chronicling incidents in the Afghan war. According to the Guardian’s early analysis, the new logs detail how:

• US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.

• A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.

• More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.

Guardian’s full coverage here, with an infographic mapping every death here.

As of 1:46pm PT, Al Jazeera’s coverage is live online and on-air. Here is their inforgraphic/data-mapping effort. A statement regarding redactions ends with an indication of which other news orgs were granted early access by Assange: “But working alongside the New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, and the UK’s Channel 4 TV, Al Jazeera is clear that releasing the Iraq files – despite their secret nature – is vital to the public interest.”

In a tweet posted around 145pm PT today, @wikileaks (presumably Julian Assange) wrote, “Al Jazeera have broken our embargo by 30 minutes. We release everyone from their Iraq War Logs embargoes.”

So, which other news organizations had embargoed access to the documents? Again, from @wikileaks: “TBIJ, IBC, Guardian, Spiegel, NYT, Le Monde, Al Jazeera, Chan4, SVT, CNN, BBC and more in the next few hours. We maximise impact.”

Update, 2:05pm PT: The New York Times coverage is now live in multiple parts. An A-1 placement story is due in Saturday’s paper edition, and a profile of Assange is due out over the weekend as well. From the NYT overview:

A close analysis of the 391,832 documents helps illuminate several important aspects of this war:¶ The deaths of Iraqi civilians — at the hands mainly of other Iraqis, but also of the American military — appear to be greater than the numbers made public by the United States during the Bush administration.

¶ While the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by Americans, particularly at the Abu Ghraib prison, shocked the American public and much of the world, the documents paint an even more lurid picture of abuse by America’s Iraqi allies — a brutality from which the Americans at times averted their eyes.

¶ Iran’s military, more than has been generally understood, intervened aggressively in support of Shiite combatants, offering weapons, training and sanctuary and in a few instances directly engaging American troops.

¶ The war in Iraq spawned a reliance on private contractors on a scale not well recognized at the time and previously unknown in American wars. The documents describe an outsourcing of combat and other duties once performed by soldiers that grew and spread to Afghanistan to the point that there are more contractors there than soldiers. [An article on this topic is scheduled to appear in The New York Times on Sunday.]

Update, 2:08pm PT: Le Monde‘s infographic and full coverage is now live.

Update, 215pm PT: Swedish television network SVT’s data visualization effort goes live.

Update, 220pm PT: The “Bureau of Investigative Journalism”, aka iraqwarlogs.com, goes live with their treatment. Is this just an alternate url maintained by Wikileaks? Unclear.

Update, 230pm PT: BBC items are going up now. Blog coverage at the BBC about Pentagon reaction here. And Der Spiegel‘s infographic package is now up, here. Notably, nothing of substance is up yet at CNN, Fox News, Washington Post, or Wired; all were presumably left out of early access by Wikileaks.

Update, 3:10pm PT: In a press release pre-dated for tomorrow, Amnesty International demands that the US investigate how much military commanders knew of torture documented in the leaked secret documents.

Update, 3:17pm PT: CNN publishes an “exclusive interview” with Assange, in which the Wikileaks founder says the leaks contain “compelling evidence of war crimes” committed by U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi government forces.

Update, 414pm PT: Wired News analysis is here.


The State’s ‘Inception’ Fails

by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

Two years ago, the economy was seriously dragged down amidst an amazing banking crisis that spread throughout the world. The illusion created by loose credit – that housing could go up in price forever and we could enjoy permanent prosperity due to monetary expansion – was shattered by events. Reality had dawned. We found ourselves in the midst of an economic depression.

At that point in policy, we were at a fork in the road. The wise direction was to let the depression happen. Let the bad investments wash out of the system. Let housing prices fall. Let banks go broke. Let wages fall and permit the market to reallocate all resources from bubble projects to projects that make economic sense. That was the direction chosen by the Reagan administration in 1981, and by the Harding administration in 1921. The result in both cases was a short downturn followed by recovery.

The Bush administration, in a policy later followed by the Obama administration, instead attempted a tactic of dream incubation as portrayed in the recent film Inception. The idea was to inject artificial stimulus into the macroeconomic environment. There were random spending programs, massive buyouts of bad debt using phony money, gargantuan tax tricks, incentive programs for throwing good money after bad, and hiring strategies to weave illusions about how all is well.

In the movie, the goal of the dream incubation was to implant an idea into an unsuspecting subject’s head that would cause him to act differently than he otherwise would have. In the real life version of inception, the state tried to implant in all our heads the idea that there was no depression, no economic collapse, no housing crisis, no push back on real estate prices, and really no serious problem at all that the state cannot fix provided we are obedient subjects and do what we are told.

In the movie version, the attempted inception is on a time clock. The dream weavers can only keep the subject in a state of slumber so long. In the real life version, things are much messier. The headlines have spoken about the impending recovery every day for all this time, and yet the evidence has never really been there. All the stimulus really did was forestall events a bit longer, but it hasn’t prevented them.

Now, with the stock markets melting and the near-universal consensus that we are back in recession, everyone is awake. It is pretty clear that the inception did not take. The unemployment data look absolutely terrible. As the Wall Street Journal points out, only 59% of men age 20 and over have a full-time job (in the 1950s, that figure was 85%). Only 61% of all people over 20 have any kind of job now.

That’s only the most conspicuous problem. No one really knows just how much further the real estate market would fall under market-clearing conditions. The actual status of the car industry is anyone’s guess. Business borrowing is going nowhere. Total industrial and commercial loans are actually at their lowest point of the whole depression. Payrolls generally are still sweeping downwards.

With an economy like ours, and a population to support with its long-held expectations of material investment, an environment like this can produce despair. People are talking about the death of the American dream, perhaps even the collapse of the American empire along the lines of Rome in days of old. Evidence is emerging by the day, as municipalities shut down street lamps and cut back on the hours at public schools. Governments that do not have access to the printing press are curbing everything.

Meanwhile, the state, as if it is trying to keep us hooked up to its failed machine, has its central bank trying to pump in more money and credit, with interest rates nearly zero. No matter how much this tactic has failed, our money masters still can’t seem to face the fact that it is not working. There are very few takers these days for the phony-money loans. There is a widespread perception that inflation is on a hair trigger, so that if the expansion campaign ever really does stick, we could find ourselves in a ghastly disaster of hyperinflation.

The only really good trends exist in two worlds right now. In the digital world, we see growth and expansion and progress. This sector is not as heavily hooked up to manipulations of the Keynesian elite, and its development has proceeded at a clip even in a depression.

The other sector that shows great improvement is the intellectual sector. The Austrian School of economics is sweeping away Keynesian fallacies. The Keynesians took on this depression and they have lost the battle. That much is obvious to everyone but the most dedicated New York Times economics columnist. For anyone with an open mind, the economics of the Austrian School has become the prevailing mode of thinking for our time.

I wish Murray Rothbard were around to see this. Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, and Henry Hazlitt, too. Their ideas on economics were forged against great resistance of the mainstream. Today, they are becoming the new mainstream among anyone who is not engaged in lucid dreaming of prosperity, made possible by the printing press.

August 21, 2010

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. [send him mail], former editorial assistant to Ludwig von Mises and congressional chief of staff to Ron Paul, is founder and chairman of the Mises Institute, executor for the estate of Murray N. Rothbard, and editor of LewRockwell.com. See his books.

Copyright © 2010 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

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