Tag Archives: Pentagon

Washington’s Scandals: The Internet Works Both Ways

Original Article: http://www.thedailybell.com/29127/Washingtons-Scandals-The-Internet-Works-Both-Ways

Reuters: ‘An Increasingly Polarized Washington Is Devouring Its Own’ … Unprecedented Justice Department searches of journalists’ phone records. IRS targeting of conservative political groups. Spiraling sexual assault rates in the military. And the downplaying of the first killing of an American ambassador in 30 years. But Obama‘s failings are only part of the problem. An increasingly polarized Washington is devouring its own. Ceaseless, take-no-prisoners political warfare, not nefarious White House plots, ravages government. – Reuters

Dominant Social Theme: Government needs to work better to avoid crises and scandals.

Free-Market Analysis: On Saturday, we published an editorial with a title very similar to the one in this current Reuters editorial: “Scandal: And They Shall Eat Their Own … ”

The difference between the Daily Bell editorial and the Reuters editorial is instructive. In our editorial, we posited that a reason for the scandals might have to do with the ubiquitous nature of the modern Internet. This was not the only possibility but it was one Anthony Wile found feasible.

This Reuters editorial blames “gridlock.” The Reuters editorial wants us to believe that the current scandals inWashington, DC can be rectified by a more smoothly functioning government. We don’t think that government is much of a solution to anything. We believe such scandals could be rectified by shrinking government, not making it function more effectively.

Here’s more from the article:

In a matter of days, alarming accounts have emerged regarding the actions of five key federal government bureaucracies: the Justice Department, the Internal Revenue Service, the State Department, the CIA and the Pentagon.

For commentators on the right, the reports are final proof of the raft of conspiracy theories focused on President Barack Obama. For commentators on left, they are non-scandals that Republicans exaggerate for political gain. Our endless left-right debate – Obama the devil, Obama the angel – misses more serious problems.

… Obama came into office promising openness – but from counter-terrorism to domestic policy, his White House has been secretive, insular and controlling. Yes, Republicans are bent on destroying Obama’s presidency, but an aloof president has alienated his Democratic allies.

Congress is no better. Each two-year term seems to set new standards for political trench warfare. One-third of the committees in the Republican-controlled House are investigating the administration. Some on the far right call for Obama’s impeachment.

You see? The problems faced by the US government have to do with the bad behavior of its actors. Everyone has to shoulder some part of the blame: Obama, Congress, the Pentagon, etc.

But the problem with this logic, in our humble view, starts and ends with the size of government and the pervasiveness of monopoly central banking. It is the availability of a money machine itself that has allowed government to grow to its current dysfunctional size.

And dysfunctional – and titanic – it is. Government at levels in the US must surely spend up to US$4 trillion on, among other things, a dysfunctional public school system, a crumbling industrial infrastructure and a vast domestic spy network complemented by a hugely expensive military-industrial complex. The value of all these expenditures to individual citizens is dubious to say the least.

The system exists, nonetheless, corrupt beyond measure, authoritarian by design and obviously repressive in its actions. Gradually, however, what we call the Internet Reformation is changing this situation.

As more and more information mounts up about destructive government actions in the US – and Europe, too – we would argue it becomes harder and harder to maintain business as usual.

Now, there are probably other reasons for these US scandals to come out now, and certainly there are many competing interests that might want to generate such difficulties. But think about what has come before: a steady drip, drip, drip of revelations that have not been staunched despite the best efforts of those in government and their media enablers.

Controversial reports having to do with President Obama’s birth certificate, election rigging, the destruction of the World Trade Towers and much else have not been excised from the public consciousness with the ruthless efficiency of pre-21st century maneuverings.

It is much more difficult to keep a secret these days, or stop people from speculating about motivations and underlying realities.

Conclusion: Many fear that the Internet is giving government the tools to be more authoritarian than ever. But it works both ways.


War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery … and Fighting Back is “Aggression”

Repost from: http://baltic-review.com/2012/01/war-is-peace-freedom-is-slavery-and-fighting-back-is-aggression/

By  | 14.01.2012 | 0:37 ET in Europe

The US Department of Defense recently promulgated a new “defense” guidance document: “Sustaining US Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense.” I use scare quotes because it just doesn’t seem quite right to use “defense” to describe a document that — like its predecessors — envisions something like an American Thousand-Year Reich

The greatest shift in emphasis is in the section “Project power despite Anti-Access/Area Denial Challenges.” The “threat” to be countered is that China and Iran “will continue to pursue asymmetric means to counter our power projection capabilities.”

That refers to a long-standing phenomenon: What Pentagon analysts call ”Assassin’s Mace” weapons — cheap, agile weapons that render expensive, high-tech, weapons systems ineffective at a cost several orders of magnitude cheaper than the Pentagon’s gold-plated turds. In the context of “area denial,” they include cheap anti-ship mines, surface-to-air missiles, and anti-ship missiles like the Sunburn (which some believe could destroy or severely damage aircraft carriers).

Thus the Pentagon defines as a “threat” a country’s ability to defend itself effectively against attack or to prevent an enemy from putting offensive forces into place to attack it. Yes, you read that right: To the American national security establishment, it’s considered threatening when you prepare to defend yourself against attack by the United States. It’s the perspective of a Family Circus character: ”Mommy, he hit me back!” That kind of double standard is pretty common in the National Security State’s assessment of the world.

What can one say of a situation in which America runs a military budget equal to the rest of the industrialized world put together, maintains military bases in half the countries around the globe, routinely intervenes to overthrow governments, rings China with military bases — then solemnly announces that China’s military establishment is “far larger than called for by its legitimate defensive needs?”

Considering that the U.S. considers its “legitimate defensive needs” to encompass outspending the other top ten military powers in the world combined and maintaining the ability to preemptively attack any other country in the world, it’s hard to guess what the Pentagon’s criterion is for determining China’s “legitimate defensive needs.” But it’s safe to say “legitimate” defensive forces don’t extend to the ability for China to defend its territory against attack from the main actual threat facing it: A global superpower trying to turn China’s neighborhood into a battlefield.

And how about attacking Saddam for “making war on his own neighbors” – when the U.S. actively supported his invasion of Iran in the 1980s? Not to mention the U.S. Marines waltzing in and out of most of America’s Caribbean “neighbors” throughout the middle of the 20th century. Did they have “incubator babies” in Nicaragua and Costa Rica back in the 1930s?

To Washington, any country capable of resisting American attack, or of ”defying” American commands (whether under a UN Security Council figleaf or not) is by definition a “threat.” And any country inflicting significant losses on U.S. military forces, in the process of defending itself against American military attack, is guilty of aggression (against U.S. attempts to “defend our freedom,” one presumes).

American perceptions of “self-defense” and “aggression” are as distorted as those of Nazi Germany. When the only way you can “defend yourself” against another country’s “threat” is to go to the other side of the world to fight it, because it lacks the logistical capability to project military force more than a few hundred miles outside its own borders — and the main “threat” is its ability to fight back when you attack it — you know something’s pretty messed up.

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C4SS (c4ss.org) Research Associate Kevin Carson is a contemporary mutualist author and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. Carson has also written for such print publications as The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty and a variety of internet-based journals and blogs, including Just Things, The Art of the Possible, the P2P Foundation and his own Mutualist Blog.

Kevin Carson

Kevin Carson


Obama officials caught deceiving about WikiLeaks

From: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/01/19/wikileaks/index.html

WEDNESDAY, JAN 19, 2011

BY GLENN GREENWALD

 

AP Thorny issues: Obama and Bush in November 2008.

 

(updated below)

Whenever the U.S. Government wants to demonize a person or group in order to justify attacks on them, it follows the same playbook:  it manufactures falsehoods about them, baselessly warns that they pose Grave Dangers and are severely harming our National Security, peppers all that with personality smears to render the targeted individuals repellent on a personal level, and feeds it all to the establishment American media, which then dutifully amplifies and mindlessly disseminates it all.  That, of course, was the precise scheme that so easily led the U.S. into attacking Iraq; it’s what continues to ensure support for the whole litany of War on Terror abuses and the bonanza of power and profit which accompanies them; and it’s long been obvious that this is the primary means for generating contempt for WikiLeaks to enable its prosecution and ultimate destruction (an outcome the Pentagon has been plotting since at least 2008).

When WikiLeaks in mid-2010 published documents detailing the brutality and corruption at the heart of the war in Afghanistan, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullenheld a Press Conference and said of WikiLeaks (and then re-affirmed it on his Twitter account) that they “might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family.”  This denunciation predictably caused the phrase “blood on their hands” to be attached to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, in thousands of media accounts around the world.  But two weeks later, the Pentagon’s spokesman, when pressed, was forced to admit that there was no evidence whatsoever for that accusation:  “we have yet to see any harm come to anyone in Afghanistan that we can directly tie to exposure in the WikiLeaks documents,” he admitted.  Several months later, after more flamboyant government condemnations of WikiLeaks’ release of thousands of Iraq War documents, McClatchy‘s Nancy Youssef — in an article headlined:  “Officials may be overstating the danger from WikiLeaks” — reported that “U.S. officials concede that they have no evidence to date” that the disclosures resulted in the deaths of anyone, and she detailed the great care WikiLeaks took in that Iraq War release to protect innocent people.

The disclosure of American diplomatic cables triggered still more melodramatic claims from government officials (ones faithfully recited by its servants and followers across the spectrum in Washington), accusing WikiLeaks of everything from “attacking” the U.S. (Hillary Clinton) and “plac[ing] at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals” and “ongoing military operations” (Harold Koh) to being comparable to Terrorists (Joe Biden).  But even Robert Gates was unwilling to lend his name to such absurdities, and when asked, mocked these accusations as “significantly overwrought” and said the WikiLeaks disclosures would be “embarrassing” and “awkward” but would have only “modest consequences.”

Since then, it has become clear how scrupulously careful WikiLeaks has been in releasing these cables in order to avoid unnecessary harm to innocent people, as the Associated Press reported how closely WikiLeaks was collaborating with its newspaper partners in deciding which cables to release and what redactions were necessary.  Indeed, one of the very few documents which anyone has been able to claim has produced any harm — one revealing that the leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition privately urged U.S. officials to continue imposing sanctions on his country — was actually released by The Guardiannot by WikiLeaks.

To say that the Obama administration’s campaign against WikiLeaks has been based on wildly exaggerated and even false claims is to understate the case.  But now, there is evidence that Obama officials have been knowingly lying in public about these matters.  The long-time Newsweekreporter Mark Hosenball — now at Reuters — reports that what Obama officials are saying in private about WikiLeaks directly contradicts their public claims:

 

Internal U.S. government reviews have determined that a mass leak of diplomatic cables caused only limited damage to U.S. interests abroad, despite the Obama administration’s public statements to the contrary.

A congressional official briefed on the reviews said the administration felt compelled to say publicly that the revelations had seriously damaged American interests in order to bolster legal efforts to shut down the WikiLeaks website and bring charges against the leakers. . . .

“We were told (the impact of WikiLeaks revelations) was embarrassing but not damaging,” said the official, who attended a briefing given in late 2010 by State Department officials. . .

But current and former intelligence officials note that while WikiLeaks has released a handful of inconsequential CIA analytical reports, the website has made public few if any real intelligence secrets, including reports from undercover agents or ultra-sensitive technical intelligence reports, such as spy satellite pictures or communications intercepts. . . .

National security officials familiar with the damage assessments being conducted by defense and intelligence agencies told Reuters the reviews so far have shown “pockets” of short-term damage, some of it potentially harmful. Long-term damage to U.S. intelligence and defense operations, however, is unlikely to be serious, they said. . . .

Shortly before WikiLeaks began its gradual release of State Department cables last year, department officials sent emails to contacts on Capitol Hill predicting dire consequences, said one of the two congressional aides briefed on the internal government reviews.

However, shortly after stories about the cables first began to appear in the media, State Department officials were already privately playing down the damage, the two congressional officials said.

 

In response to Hosenball’s story, Obama officials naturally tried to salvage the integrity of their statements, insisting that “there has been substantial damage” and that there were unspecified “specific cases where damage caused by WikiLeaks’ revelations have been assessed as serious to grave.”  But the only specific cases anyone could identify were ones where the U.S. was caught by these documents lying to its own citizens or, at best, concealing vital truths — such as the far greater military role the U.S. is playing in Yemen and Pakistan than Obama officials have publicly acknowledged.

And this, of course, has been the point all along:  the WikiLeaks disclosuresare significant precisely because they expose government deceit, wrongdoing and brutality, but the damage to innocent people has been deliberately and wildly exaggerated — fabricated — by the very peoplewhose misconduct has been revealed.  There is harm from the WikiLeaks documents, but it’s to wrongdoers in power, which is why they are so desperate to malign and then destroy the group.

Just as was true in 2003 — when the joint, falsehood-based government/media demonization campaign led 69% of Americans tobelieve that Saddam Hussein participated in the planning of the 9/11 attacks(the Bush era’s most revealing fact about American politics) — this orgy of anti-WikiLeaks propaganda has succeeded, with polls reliably showing the American public largely against the group and even favoring its prosecution (citizens in countries not subjected to this propaganda barrageview the group far more favorably).  As has been demonstrated over and over, when the U.S. Government and its media collaborate to propagandize, its efficacy is not in doubt.  And as Marcy Wheeler notes, these lies were told not only to distort public opinion and justify prosecuting WikiLeaks for doing nothing more than engaging in journalism, but also to coerce private corporations (MasterCard, Amazon, Visa, Paypal) to cut all services to the group.

The case against WikiLeaks is absolutely this decade’s version of the Saddam/WMD campaign.  It’s complete with frivolous invocations of Terrorism, grave public warnings about National Security negated by concealed information, endlessly repeated falsehoods, a competition among political and media elites to advocate the harshest measures possible, a cowardly Congress that (with a few noble exceptions) acquiesces to it all on a bipartisan basis and is eager to enable it, and a media that not only fails to subject these fictions to critical scrutiny, but does the opposite:  it takes the lead in propagating them.  One might express bewilderment that most American journalists never learn their lesson about placing their blind faith in government claims, but that assumes — falsely — that their objective is to report truthfully.

 

UPDATE:  Kevin DrumDan Drezner and Daniel Larison all cite this report as evidence that the WikiLeaks disclosures have been insignificant.  They seem to equate a finding of “no harm to national security” with “nothing of significance,” but not only are those two concepts not the same, they’re hardly related.  Many revelations are very significant even though they do not harm national security.

When The New York Times revealed that the Bush administration was eavesdropping on Americans’ communications without the warrants required by law, that revelation was extremely important even though it entailed no national security harm.  The same is true of The Washington Post‘s exposure of the CIA “black site” program, or David Barstow’s exposé on the Pentagon’s propaganda program, and countless other investigative reports.  The WikiLeaks disclosures — like most good investigative journalism — harm those in power who do bad things (by exposing their previously secret conduct), but do not harm the national security of the United States.  I’d be interested in hearing anyone who wants to argue that the WikiLeaks disclosures contain “nothing new” dismiss the actual revelations (here and here).

As for the comparison of this deceit to Saddam/WMD:  obviously, the magnitude of the consequences are not similar, but the misleading tactics themselves — for the reasons I enumerated — are.  Moreover, prosecution of WikiLeaks would hardly be inconsequential; it would likely be the first time in history that a non-government employee is convicted of “espionage” for publishing government secrets and, as such, would constitute one of the greatest threats to press freedom in the United States in a long time.

 

 


Rape rampant in US military

Statistics and soldiers’ testimonies reveal a harrowing epidemic of sexual assault in the US military.
Dahr Jamail Last Modified: 21 Dec 2010 13:22 GMT

Sexual assault within the ranks of the military is not a new problem. It is a systemic problem that has necessitated that the military conduct its own annual reporting on the crisis.

A 2003 Air Force Academy sexual assault scandal prompted the department of defense to include a provision in the 2004 National Defense Authorization Act that required investigations and reports of sexual harassment and assaults within US military academies to be filed. The personal toll is, nevertheless, devastating.

Military sexual trauma (MST) survivor Susan Avila-Smith is director of the veteran’s advocacy group Women Organizing Women. She has been serving female and scores of male clients in various stages of recovery from MST for 15 years and knows of its devastating effects up close.

“People cannot conceive how badly wounded these people are,” she told Al Jazeera, “Of the 3,000 I’ve worked with, only one is employed. Combat trauma is bad enough, but with MST it’s not the enemy, it’s our guys who are doing it. You’re fighting your friends, your peers, people you’ve been told have your back. That betrayal, then the betrayal from the command is, they say, worse than the sexual assault itself.”

On December 13, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups filed a federal lawsuit seeking Pentagon records in order to get the real facts about the incidence of sexual assault in the ranks.

The Pentagon has consistently refused to release records that fully document the problem and how it is handled. Sexual assaults on women in the US military have claimed some degree of visibility, but about male victims there is absolute silence.

Pack Parachute, a non-profit in Seattle, assists veterans who are sexual assault survivors. Its founder Kira Mountjoy-Pepka, was raped as a cadet at the Air Force Academy. In July 2003 she was member of a team of female cadets handpicked by Donald Rumsfeld, at the time the secretary of defense, to tell their stories of having been sexually assaulted. The ensuing media coverage and a Pentagon investigation forced the academy to make the aforementioned major policy changes.

Report reveals alarming statistics

Mountjoy-Pepka often works with male survivors of MST. She stated in a telephone interview that four per cent of men in the military experience MST. “Most choose not to talk about it until after their discharge from the military, largely because the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in over 60 percent of MST cases is too overwhelming,” she informed Al Jazeera.

Last week the Pentagon released its “annual report on sexual harassment and violence at the military service academies”. At its three academies, the number of reports of sexual assault and harassment has risen a staggering 64 percent from last year.

The report attributes the huge increase to better reporting of incidents due to increased training and education about sexual assault and harassment. Veteran’s Administration (VA) statistics show that more than 50 percent of the veterans who screen positive for MST are men.

According to the US Census Bureau, there are roughly 22 million male veterans compared to less than two million female vets.

In Congressional testimony in the summer of 2008, Lt. Gen. Rochelle, the army chief of personnel, reported the little known statistic that 12 percent (approximately 260) of the 2,200 reported rapes in the military in 2007 were reported by military male victims.

Due to their sheer numbers in the military, more men (at a rough estimate one in twenty), have experienced MST than women.

Shamed into silence

Billy Capshaw was 17 when he joined the Army in 1977. After being trained as a medic he was transferred to Baumholder, Germany. His roommate, Jeffrey Dahmer, by virtue of his seniority ensured that Capshaw had no formal assignment, no mail, and no pay. Having completely isolated the young medic, Dahmer regularly sexually assaulted, raped, and tortured him.

Dahmer went on to become the infamous serial killer and sex offender who murdered 17 boys and men before being beaten to death by an inmate at Columbia Correction Institution in 1994.

Capshaw reflects back, “At that young age I didn’t know how to deal with it. My commander did not believe me. Nobody helped me, even though I begged and begged and begged.”

The debilitating lifelong struggle Capshaw has had to face is common among survivors of military sexual assault.

Later during therapy he needed to go public. Since then he says, “I’ve talked to a lot of men, many of them soldiers, who are raped but who won’t go public with their story. The shame alone is overwhelming.”

In 1985 Michael Warren enlisted in the navy and for three years worked as a submarine machinist mate on a nuclear submarine. One day he awoke to find another soldier performing fellatio on him.

He recollects with horror, “I was paralyzed with fear. I was in disbelief… shame. When I reported it to the commander he said it was better for me to deal with it after being discharged. Nobody helped me, not even the chaplain. The commander at the processing centre wouldn’t look me in the face. When I filled out my claim later they didn’t believe me. It’s so frustrating.”

Armando Javier was an active duty Marine from 1990 to 1994. He was a Lance Corporal at Camp Lejeune in 1993 when he was raped.

Five Marines jumped Javier and beat him until he was nearly unconscious, before taking turns raping him. His sexual victimization narrative reads, “One of them, a corporal, pulled down my shorts and instructed the others to ‘Get the grease’. Another corporal instructed someone to bring the stick. They began to insert the stick inside my anus. The people present during this sadistic and ritual-like ceremony started to cajole, cheer, and laugh, saying “stick em’ – stick-em’.”

Extreme shame and trauma compelled him not to disclose the crime to anyone except a friend in his unit. He wrote in his account, “My experience left me torn apart physically, mentally, and spiritually. I was dehumanized and treated with ultimate cruelty, by my perpetrators… I was embarrassed and ashamed and didn’t know what to do. I was young at that time. And being part of an elite organization that values brotherhood, integrity and faithfulness made it hard to come forward and reveal what happened.”

The reality of being less equal

Women in America were first allowed into the military during the Revolutionary War in 1775 and their travails are as old. Drill instructors indoctrinate new recruits into it at the outset by routinely referring to them as “girl,” “pussy,” “bitch,” and “dyke.”

A Command Sergeant Major told Catherine Jayne West of the Mississippi National Guard, “There aren’t but two places for women – in the kitchen or in the bedroom. Women have no place in the military.”

She was raped by fellow soldier Private First Class Kevin Lemeiux, at the sprawling Camp Anaconda, north of Baghdad. The defense lawyer in court merely wanted to know why, as a member of the army, she had not fought back.

The morning after the rape, an army doctor gave her a thorough examination. The army’s criminal investigation team concluded her story was true. Moreover, Lemeiux had bragged about the incident to his buddies and they had turned him in. It seemed like a closed case, but in court the defense claimed that the fact that West had not fought back during the rape was what incriminated her. In addition, her commanding officer and 1st Sergeant declared, in court, that she was a “promiscuous female.”

In contrast, Lemeiux, after the third court hearing of the trial, was promoted to a Specialist. Meanwhile his lawyer entered a plea of insanity.

He was later found guilty of kidnapping but not rape, despite his own admission of the crime. He was given three years for kidnapping, half of which was knocked off.

The long term affects of MST

Jasmine Black, a human resources specialist in the Army National Guard from June 2006 to September 2008 was raped by another soldier in her battalion when she was stationed in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. She reported it to her Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) and the Military Police, but the culprit was not brought to book.

After an early discharge due to MST and treatment at a PTSD Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program (PRRTP) facility, she was raped again by a higher-ranking member of the air force in February 2009.

Administrator for a combat engineering instruction unit in Knoxville, Tennessee, Tracey Harmon has no illusions. “For women in the military, you are either a bitch, a dyke, or a whore. If you sleep with one person in your unit you are a whore. If you are a lesbian you are a dyke, and if you don’t sleep with other soldiers you are a bitch.”

Maricela Guzman served in the navy from 1998 to 2002 as a computer technician on the island of Diego Garcia. She was raped while in boot camp, but fear of consequences kept her from talking about it for the rest of her time in the military. “I survived by becoming a workaholic and was much awarded as a soldier for my work ethic.”

On witnessing the way it treated the native population in Diego Garcia, she chose to dissociate from the military. Post discharge, her life became unmanageable. She underwent a divorce, survived a failed suicide attempt and became homeless before deciding to move in with her parents. A chance encounter with a female veteran at a political event in Los Angeles prompted her to contact the VA for help. Her therapist there diagnosed her with PTSD from her rape.

The VA denied her claim nevertheless, “Because they said I couldn’t prove it … since I had not brought it up when it happened and also because I had not shown any deviant behavior while in the service. I was outraged and felt compelled to talk about what happened.”

While it will go to any length to maintain public silence over the issue, the military machine has no such qualms within its own corridors. Guzman discloses, “Through the gossip mill we would hear of women who had reported being raped. No confidentiality was maintained nor any protection given to victims. The boys’ club culture is strong and the competition exclusive. That forces many not to report rape, because it is a blemish and can ruin your career.”

The department of defence reported that in fiscal year 2009, there were 3,230 reports of sexual assault, an increase of 11 percent over the prior year.

However, as high as the military’s own figures are of rape and sexual assault, victims and advocates Al Jazeera spoke with believe the real figures are sure to be higher.

Veteran April Fitzsimmons, another victim of sexual assault, knows what an uphill battle it is for women to take on the military system. “When victims come forward, they are ostracized and isolated from their communities. Many of the perpetrators are officers who use their ranks to coerce women to sleep with them. It’s a closely interwoven community, so they are safe and move fearlessly amongst their victims.”

Her advice to women considering joining the US military?

“The crisis is so severe that I’m telling women to simply not join the military because it’s completely unsafe and puts them at risk. Until something changes at the top, no woman should join the military.”


Research support was provided by the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.


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Who’s Afraid of Bradley Manning?

From: http://www.lewrockwell.com/kwiatkowski/kwiatkowski253.html

by Karen Kwiatkowski

Recently by Karen Kwiatkowski: Contempt of State – An Indispensable Virtue

U.S. Secretary Robert Gates has stated that WikiLeaks has “moral culpability” for potentially deadly repercussions in Afghanistan and presumably Iraq. Gates said, “The Taliban can glean a lot about U.S. tactics and sources from the documents.”

I’m delighted that Gates has brought up the topic of morality. He, son of the Midwest, an Eagle Scout, a trusted CIA operative, and … oops. I should have stopped at Boy Scout.

We easily recognize corruption and immorality in our elected officials – we lap up stories of seat haggling by glossy-haired pols in Chicago, we thrill at the sexcapades of prosecutors and presidents. We marvel at the sheer criminality of Congressional members and their staffs, even as we shudder fearfully at its mighty collective lawlessness.

As constituents, we can look at their crimes early and often. We can check to see if they vote with or against the Constitution, be it state or federal. We can contact them and even speak to them about what we care about, and when that has no effect, we can campaign against them, put in a different criminal, or step away from electoral politics altogether. But we will not be confused as to what is lacking in our elected representatives. They have a law to follow – the Constitutions of various states and of the federal government – and these public documents guide them regardless of creed or party. With rare exceptions, elected officials will fail to follow the basic rules they swore to uphold. We are informed, and entertained.

On the other hand, civil servants, particularly at the federal level, have been given a full pass in the ethics and morality department. We have been told basically that a professional government workforce was created from the void and that it is very good. We hear this even of the CIA, an organization with which Gates is quite familiar. We hear it of the Pentagon, Gates’ current area of responsibility.

Since its inception, much has been written on the extra-legal activities of the CIA. This history exists – and is ongoing, as the more recent role of the CIA in rendition and torture is public knowledge. I’m sorry. Rendition is kidnapping people, including Americans, and holding them for years without charges, without evidence, and without legal representation – and lying about it. Torture, as you may have heard, is something the United States government does not do, even as its agents systematically drug, deprive, waterboard, psychologically abuse, physically rough up, maim, wound, rape, threaten and lie to those we have rendered.

Bob Gates, as a career government civil servant knows all of this, and far, far more. He shares responsibility for the evolution of the CIA even as he escaped the heaviest stench of Iran-Contra. A senior CIA official as the Cold War ended and a new mission needed to be found, under George Herbert Walker Bush, Gates was an indispensable servant. The demonization and manipulation of former CIA asset and Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein fit the bill, and it simply boggles the mind the decisions and actions that Bob Gates was knowledgeable of and involved in between 1986 and 1993. The Iran-Contra Independent Counsel, with a little help from grand Jury secrecy rules, predictably found that prosecution of Gates was not warranted. His role in creating storylines to sell the first Persian Gulf War, in hiding or adjusting evidence to play the world, and in managing state secrets is undeniable, and largely unexamined. He was the ultimate trusted agent – the first CIA career civil servant to ever rise to Director.

There is a heavily promoted myth that professional civil servants, whether in uniform or in dress suits, are somehow more bound to the constitution and law and ethics than are politicians, and insultingly, more ethical than the average doctor, lawyer or car mechanic. But of course, they are not. Practically speaking, why would they be? Civil servants are extraordinarily hard to get rid of. Poor performance, lack of ethics, incompetence, immorality – none of these will generally get a civil servant fired, and often, these behaviors produce promotions. Now, these tolerated behaviors may be used to remove a civil servant – but only as needed to make a point of loyalty, as in the case of Rumsfeld’s persecution of Air Force Lt General Fiscus, who had the audacity to suggest that the law must limit Rumsfeld’s desires to detain and torture.

Civil servants – including members of the military – are part of a loyalty-based crime family, led largely by the executive level and his appointees, controlled by executive sponsors, backers and funders, and loyalty is demanded no less seriously than it is demanded by the dons of any crime syndicate. In this environment, just following orders is not only an acceptable excuse, it is all that the bosses ever wish to hear.

Professional civil servants and military members know this. They embrace doublespeak, as Orwell defined it:

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself – that was the ultimate subtlety; consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.

The small minority of civil servants and military who cannot take the doublespeak, or over time, find that it is becoming harder to take, self-eliminate. Sometimes they do so by finding another job where the doublespeak is less offensive, and sometimes they leave the institution entirely. Sometimes they self-medicate, or morally or functionally degenerate to the point where the institution is forced to isolate or expel them. Sometimes they talk it out, debate, argue and actually try to change things from within the institution. As the great Daniel Ellsberg discovered, and many before and after him, introducing ethics and honesty in a system that runs on carefully constructed lies is quite a challenge. In spite of the fact that this will predictably destroy your career, possibly your ability to get a job anywhere, and subject you to scurrilous attacks and storytelling, the only honest and workable thing to do is to try and expose the lies to the light of day.

Creating this light of day is the mission of WikiLeaks, and the basic goal of independent media everywhere. But as Daniel Ellsberg experienced, and as whistleblowers in the 21st century from Sibel Edmonds, to Joe Darby, Jim Massey, and Sam Provance, from Joe Wilson and many more who sacrificed careers to speak morally and honestly have all found that the institution is like an angry grizzly, insulted that one man or one woman has the audacity to be sane. How dare they?

The institutionalized barbarism we see in the WikiLeaks “Collateral Murder” was made possible because a 22-year-old soldier could not lie. He was unable to effectively doublethink, and for some reason of upbringing, character, intelligence or basic goodness, could not bear the evilness he saw all around him – in American military behavior, in the institution’s lawlessness, in the immorality of war.

For his innocence and lack of ethical “sophistication,” Brad Manning is held in isolation, under a 24-hour suicide watch. For providing a ray of hot light on the carefully constructed lies of our government, those associated with WikiLeaks are being monitored and harassed, and even threatened by various agents of the federal government, and its allies. Bob Gates suggests that Brad Manning is a traitor and that WikiLeaks is morally culpable in sharing information with Afghans that they can use against us.

As made clear by Julian Assange and others, the Afghans – while certainly victims of Washington, DC imperialism – are not victims of our institutional doublethink. They see what we do, how we do it, and they have relatively accurate theories as to why we are doing it. And unlike our generals, Afghans and their neighbors and friends, have developed and are developing a wide variety of effective strategies to get us to go away.

Instead of keeping us safe, prosperous and free, our government demands that we stay uninformed and obedient, and keeps its professional servants in a strict and constant state of doublethink. Gates and Obama and Petraeus are nervous, with their curious doublespeaking mantra that “The leaks are deadly dangerous, but not all that serious.” Perhaps they know an open secret: Regular Americans – newly aware, sharply analytical, financially pragmatic and deeply moral – are nearing their potential to become the most fearsome enemy of American empire on the planet.

August 3, 2010

LRC columnist Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send her mail], a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, blogs occasionally at Liberty and Power and The Beacon. To receive automatic announcements of new articles, click here or join her Facebook page.

Copyright © 2010 Karen Kwiatkowski

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