Archive for the ‘State’ Category

Chomsky: From Hiroshima to Fukushima, Vietnam to Fallujah, State Power Ignores Its Massive Harm

March 12, 2014

Amy Goodman
Democracy Now/Video Report
Published: Wednesday 12 March 2014
Noam Chomsky, now 85 years old, met with Fukushima survivors, including families who evacuated the area after the meltdown: “It’s particularly horrifying when happening to children—but unfortunately, this is what happens all the time.”

World-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and MITProfessor Noam Chomsky traveled to Japan last week ahead of the three-year anniversary of the Fukushima crisis. Chomsky, now 85 years old, met with Fukushima survivors, including families who evacuated the area after the meltdown. “[It’s] particularly horrifying that this is happening in Japan with its unique, horrendous experiences with the impact of nuclear explosions, which we don’t have to discuss,” Chomsky says. “And it’s particularly horrifying when happening to children — but unfortunately, this is what happens all the time.”

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: We end our Fukushima anniversary special with the words of world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author, MIT Professor Noam Chomsky, who also traveled to Tokyo last week. Noam Chomsky is now 85 years old. He met with survivors from Fukushima, including families who evacuated the area. Their meeting was filmed by the independent online media channel, OurPlanet-TV. This is Professor Chomsky speaking in Japan. 

NOAM CHOMSKY: Particularly horrifying that this is happening in Japan, with its unique, horrendous experiences with the effect of the nuclear explosions, which we don’t have to discuss. And, of course, it’s particularly horrifying when it’s happening to children, who are defenseless and innocent. But, unfortunately, this is what happens all the time. I mean, I had two daughters about—when they were about the age of your daughter, they would come home from school telling us how in school they were taught to hide under desks in case there was a nuclear war. This was right after the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the world came very close to nuclear war. And children were very upset. I mean, I knew children who were friends of families who were sure they were never going to survive because the world was going to be destroyed by a nuclear war. But the official line was: “Don’t worry; everything is under control.” The same was true—again, my daughters, when they were about her age, we stopped feeding them milk, because the scientists, who were concerned, recognized that there was a very high level of strontium-90 in the milk that was coming from atomic explosions the U.S. was carrying out, many open-air explosions. And the government assured everyone that there was no problem, but we just—a lot of people, like us, just stopped feeding the children, gave them only powdered milk, which came from before the explosions.

It happens all the time. So, right now, for example, in Iraq, there is a city, Fallujah, which was attacked by U.S. forces using weapons that no one understands, but they leave a high level of radiation. And there’s studies by Iraqi and American doctors showing a very high level of cancer among children, far higher than before, in the whole neighborhood of Fallujah. But the government denies it. The U.S. government denies it. The Iraqi government doesn’t function. The international organizations refuse to look. So it’s all being carried out by independent organizations and citizens’ groups.

And this is simply everywhere. I mean, in 1961, the United States began chemical warfare in Vietnam, South Vietnam, chemical warfare to destroy crops and livestock. That went on for seven years. The level of poison—they used the most extreme carcinogen known: dioxin. And this went on for years. There’s enormous effects in South Vietnam. There are children today being born in Saigon hospitals, deformed children, and horrible deformations. Government refuses to investigate. They’ve investigated effects on American soldiers, but not on the South Vietnamese. And there’s almost no study of it, except for independent citizens’ groups.

It’s—can add case after case, but it’s a horrifying story, and particularly horrifying for you because you’re suffering from it. But that’s the way governments operate: They protect themselves from their own citizens. Governments regard their own citizens as their main enemy, and they have to be—protect themselves. That’s why you have state secret laws. Citizens are not supposed to know what their government is doing to them. Just to give one final example, when Edward Snowden’s revelations appeared, the head of U.S. intelligence, James Clapper, testified before Congress that no telephone communications of Americans are being monitored. It was an outlandish lie. Lying to Congress is a felony; should go to jail for years. Not a word. Governments are supposed to lie to their citizens.

AMY GOODMAN: Author and MIT Professor Noam Chomsky, speaking during his visit to Tokyo last week. Special thanks to OurPlanet-TV. You can visit our website to see our three days of coverage from Tokyo, Japan, at democracynow.org.

Well, we’re on the road again. Tonight, I’ll be speaking at UMass Amherst, at Bowker Auditorium at 7:00 p.m. On Thursday, I’ll be in Flagstaff at Northern Arizona University in Cline Library at 7:00 p.m., Friday in Santa Fe speaking at the Lensic Performing Arts Center. And on Saturday, I’ll be speaking in Denver, Colorado, at 7:00 p.m. Then to St. Louis the following Saturday, on March 29th. Check it out at all democracynow.org.

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ABOUT AMY GOODMAN

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 900 stations in North America. She is the author of “Breaking the Sound Barrier,” recently released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.

Chomsky: An Ignorant Public Is the Real Kind of Security Our Govt. Is After

March 4, 2014
AlterNet / By Noam Chomsky
comments_image 30 COMMENTS

Keeping the public in the dark is the name of the game.
March 3, 2014  |

A leading principle of international relations theory is that the state’s highest priority is to ensure security. As Cold War strategist George F. Kennan formulated the standard view, government is created “to assure order and justice internally and to provide for the common defense.”

The proposition seems plausible, almost self-evident, until we look more closely and ask: Security for whom? For the general population? For state power itself? For dominant domestic constituencies?

Depending on what we mean, the credibility of the proposition ranges from negligible to very high.

Security for state power is at the high extreme, as illustrated by the efforts that states exert to protect themselves from the scrutiny of their own populations.

In an interview on German TV, Edward J. Snowden said that his “breaking point” was “seeing Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress” by denying the existence of a domestic spying program conducted by the National Security Agency.

Snowden elaborated that “The public had a right to know about these programs. The public had a right to know that which the government is doing in its name, and that which the government is doing against the public.”

The same could be justly said by Daniel Ellsberg, Chelsea Manning and other courageous figures who acted on the same democratic principle.

The government stance is quite different: The public doesn’t have the right to know because security thus is undermined – severely so, as officials assert.

There are several good reasons to be skeptical about such a response. The first is that it’s almost completely predictable: When a government’s act is exposed, the government reflexively pleads security. The predictable response therefore carries little information.

A second reason for skepticism is the nature of the evidence presented. International relations scholar John Mearsheimer writes that “The Obama administration, not surprisingly, initially claimed that the NSA’s spying played a key role in thwarting 54 terrorist plots against the United States, implying it violated the Fourth Amendment for good reason.

“This was a lie, however. Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA director, eventually admitted to Congress that he could claim only one success, and that involved catching a Somali immigrant and three cohorts living in San Diego who had sent $8,500 to a terrorist group in Somalia.”

A similar conclusion was reached by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, established by the government to investigate the NSA programs and therefore granted extensive access to classified materials and to security officials.

There is, of course, a sense in which security is threatened by public awareness – namely, security of state power from exposure.

The basic insight was expressed well by the Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington: “The architects of power in the United States must create a force that can be felt but not seen. Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate.”

In the United States as elsewhere, the architects of power understand that very well. Those who have worked through the huge mass of declassified documents in, for example, the official State Department history “Foreign Relations of the United States,” can hardly fail to notice how frequently it is security of state power from the domestic public that is a prime concern, not national security in any meaningful sense.

Often the attempt to maintain secrecy is motivated by the need to guarantee the security of powerful domestic sectors. One persistent example is the mislabeled “free trade agreements” – mislabeled because they radically violate free trade principles and are substantially not about trade at all, but rather about investor rights.

These instruments are regularly negotiated in secret, like the current Trans-Pacific Partnership – not entirely in secret, of course. They aren’t secret from the hundreds of corporate lobbyists and lawyers who are writing the detailed provisions, with an impact revealed by the few parts that have reached the public through WikiLeaks.

As the economist Joseph E. Stiglitz reasonably concludes, with the U.S. Trade Representative’s office “representing corporate interests,” not those of the public, “The likelihood that what emerges from the coming talks will serve ordinary Americans’ interests is low; the outlook for ordinary citizens in other countries is even bleaker.”

Corporate-sector security is a regular concern of government policies – which is hardly surprising, given their role in formulating the policies in the first place.

In contrast, there is substantial evidence that the security of the domestic population – “national security” as the term is supposed to be understood – is not a high priority for state policy.

For example, President Obama’s drone-driven global assassination program, by far the world’s greatest terrorist campaign, is also a terror-generating campaign. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan until he was relieved of duty, spoke of “insurgent math”: For every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies.

This concept of “innocent person” tells us how far we’ve progressed in the last 800 years, since the Magna Carta, which established the principle of presumption of innocence that was once thought to be the foundation of Anglo-American law.

Today, the word “guilty” means “targeted for assassination by Obama,” and “innocent” means “not yet accorded that status.”

The Brookings Institution just published “The Thistle and the Drone,” a highly praised anthropological study of tribal societies by Akbar Ahmed, subtitled “How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam.”

This global war pressures repressive central governments to undertake assaults against Washington’s tribal enemies. The war, Ahmed warns, may drive some tribes “to extinction” – with severe costs to the societies themselves, as seen now in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. And ultimately to Americans.

Tribal cultures, Ahmed points out, are based on honor and revenge: “Every act of violence in these tribal societies provokes a counterattack: the harder the attacks on the tribesmen, the more vicious and bloody the counterattacks.”

The terror targeting may hit home. In the British journal International Affairs, David Hastings Dunn outlines how increasingly sophisticated drones are a perfect weapon for terrorist groups. Drones are cheap, easily acquired and “possess many qualities which, when combined, make them potentially the ideal means for terrorist attack in the 21st century,” Dunn explains.

Sen. Adlai Stevenson III, referring to his many years of service on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, writes that “Cyber surveillance and meta data collection are part of the continuing reaction to 9/11, with few if any terrorists to show for it and near universal condemnation. The U.S. is widely perceived as waging war against Islam, against Shiites as well as Sunnis, on the ground, with drones, and by proxy in Palestine, from the Persian Gulf to Central Asia. Germany and Brazil resent our intrusions, and what have they wrought?”

The answer is that they have wrought a growing terror threat as well as international isolation.

The drone assassination campaigns are one device by which state policy knowingly endangers security. The same is true of murderous special-forces operations. And of the invasion of Iraq, which sharply increased terror in the West, confirming the predictions of British and American intelligence.

These acts of aggression were, again, a matter of little concern to planners, who are guided by altogether different concepts of security. Even instant destruction by nuclear weapons has never ranked high for state authorities – a topic for discussion in the next column.

This article, the first of two parts, is adapted from a lecture by Noam Chomsky on Feb. 28 sponsored by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in Santa Barbara, Calif.

© 2014 Noam ChomskyDistributed by The New York Times Syndicate

Noam Chomsky is a professor of linguistics and philosophy at MIT.

Missing in Action

March 3, 2014
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Tom Engelhardt
TomDispatch/Op-ed
Published: Monday 3 March 2014
What Happened to War and the Imperial Drive to Organize the Planet?

There is, it seems, something new under the sun.

Geopolitically speaking, when it comes to war and the imperial principle, we may be in uncharted territory.  Take a look around and you’ll see a world at the boiling point.  From Ukraine to Syria, South Sudan to Thailand, Libya to Bosnia, Turkey to Venezuela, citizen protest (left and right) is sparking not just disorganization, but what looks like, to coin a word, de-organization at a global level.  Increasingly, the unitary status of states, large and small, old and new, is being called into question.  Civil war, violence, and internecine struggles of various sorts are visibly on the rise. In many cases, outside countries are involved and yet in each instance state power seems to be draining away to no other state’s gain.  So here’s one question: Where exactly is power located on this planet of ours right now?

There is, of course, a single waning superpower that has in this new century sent its military into action globally, aggressively, repeatedly — and disastrously.  And yet these actions have failed to reinforce the imperial system of organizing and garrisoning the planet that it put in place at the end of World War II; nor has it proven capable of organizing a new global system for a new century.  In fact, everywhere it’s touched militarily, local and regional chaos have followed.

In the meantime, its own political system has grown gargantuan and unwieldy; its electoral process has been overwhelmed by vast flows of money from the wealthy 1%; and its governing system is visibly troubled, if not dysfunctional.  Its rich are ever richer, its poor ever poorer, and its middle class in decline.  Its military, the largest by many multiples on the planet, is nonetheless beginning to cut back.  Around the world, allies, client states, and enemies are paying ever less attention to its wishes and desires, often without serious penalty.  It has the classic look of a great power in decline and in another moment it might be easy enough to predict that, though far wealthier than its Cold War superpower adversary, it has simply been heading for the graveyard more slowly but no less surely.

Such a prediction would, however, be unwise.  Never since the modern era began has a waning power so lacked serious competition or been essentially without enemies.  Whether in decline or not, the United States — these days being hailed as “the new Saudi Arabia” in terms of its frackable energy wealth — is visibly in no danger of losing its status as the planet’s only imperial power.

What, then, of power itself?  Are we still in some strange way — to bring back the long forgotten Bush-era phrase — in a unipolar moment?  Or is power, as it was briefly fashionable to say, increasingly multipolar?  Or is it helter-skelter-polar?  Or on a planet whose temperatures are rising, droughts growing more severe, and future food prices threatening to soar (meaning yet more protest, violence, and disruption), are there even “poles” any more?

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Here, in any case, is a reality of the initial 13 years of the twenty-first century: for the first time in at least a half a millennium, the imperial principle seems to be ebbing, and yet the only imperial power, increasingly incapable of organizing the world, isn’t going down.

If you survey our planet, the situation is remarkably unsettled and confusing.  But at least two things stand out, and whatever you make of them, they could be the real news of the first decades of this century. Both are right before our eyes, yet largely unseen.  First, the imperial principle and the great power competition to which it has been wedded are on the wane.  Second and no less startling, war (global, intrastate, anti-insurgent), which convulsed the twentieth century, seems to be waning as well. What in the world does it all mean?

A Scarcity of Great Powers

Let’s start with the imperial part of the equation.  From the moment the Europeans dispatched their cannon-bearing wooden ships on a violent exploration and conquest of the globe, there has never been a moment when one or more empires weren’t rising as others waned, or when at least two and sometimes several “great powers” weren’t competing for ways to divide the planetary spoils and organize, encroach upon, or take over spheres of influence.

In the wake of World War II, with the British Empire essentially penniless and the German, Japanese, and Italian versions of empire crushed, only two great powers were left.  They more or less divided the planet unequally between them.  Of the two, the United States was significantly wealthier and more powerful.  In 1991, after a nearly half-century-long Cold War in which those superpowers at least once came to the edge of a nuclear exchange, and blood was spilled in copious amounts on “the peripheries” in “limited war,” the last of the conflicts of that era — in Afghanistan — helped take down the Soviet Union. When its army limped home from what its leader referred to as “the bleeding wound” and its economy imploded, the USSR unexpectedly — and surprisingly peacefully — disappeared.

Which, of course, left one.  The superest of all powers of any time — or so many in Washington came to believe.  There had never, they were convinced, been anything like it.  One hyperpower, one planet: that was to be the formula.  Talk of a “peace dividend” disappeared quickly enough and, with the U.S. military financially and technologically dominant and no longer worried about a war that might quite literally end all wars, a new era seemed to begin.

There had, of course, been an ongoing “arms race” between great powers since at least the end of the nineteenth century.  Now, at a moment when it should logically have been over, the U.S. instead launched an arms race of one to ensure that no other military would ever be capable of challenging its forces.  (Who knew then that those same forces would be laid low by ragtag crews of insurgents with small arms, homemade roadside bombs, and their own bodies as their weapons?)

As the new century dawned, a crew led by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney ascended to power in Washington.  They were the first administration ever largely born of a think tank (with the ambitious name Project for a New American Century).  Long before 9/11 gave them their opportunity to set the American military loose on the planet, they were already dreaming of an all-American imperium that would outshine the British or Roman empires.

Of course, who doesn’t know what happened next?  Though they imagined organizing a Pax Americana in the Middle East and then on a planetary scale, theirs didn’t turn out to be an organizational vision at all.  They got bogged down in Afghanistan, destabilizing neighboring Pakistan.  They got bogged down in Iraq, having punched a hole through the heart of the planet’s oil heartlands and set off a Sunni-Shiite regional civil war, whose casualty lists continue to stagger the imagination.  In the process, they never came close to their dream of bringing Tehran to its knees, no less establishing even the most rudimentary version of that Pax Americana.

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They were an imperial whirlwind, but every move they made proved disastrous.  In effect, they lent a hand to the de-imperialization of the planet.  By the time they were done and the Obama years were upon us, Latin America was no longer an American “backyard”; much of the Middle East was a basketcase (but not an American one); Africa, into which Washington continues to move military forces, was beginning to destabilize; Europe, for the first time since the era of French President Charles de Gaulle, seemed ready to say “no” to American wishes (and was angry as hell).

And yet power, seeping out of the American system, seemed to be coagulating nowhere.  Russian President Vladimir Putin has played a remarkably clever hand. From his role in brokering a Syrian deal with Washington to the hosting of the Olympics and a winning medal count in Sochi, he’s given his country the look of a great power.  In reality, however, it remains a relatively ramshackle state, a vestige of the Soviet era still, as in Ukraine, fighting a rearguard action against history (and the inheritors of the Cold War mantle, the U.S. and the European Union).

The EU is an economic powerhouse, but in austerity-gripped disarray.  While distinctly a great economic force, it is not in any functional sense a great power.

China is certainly the enemy of choice both for Washington and the American public.  And it is visibly a rising power, which has been putting ever more money into building a regional military.  Still, it isn’t fighting and its economic and environmental problems are staggering enough, along with its food and energy needs, that any future imperial destiny seems elusive at best.  Its leadership, while more bullish in the Pacific, is clearly in no mood to take on imperial tasks.  (Japan is similarly an economic power with a chip on its shoulder, putting money into creating a more expansive military, but an actual imperial repeat performance seems beyond unlikely.)

There was a time when it was believed that as a group the so-called BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (and some added Turkey) — would be the collective powerhouse of a future multi-polar planet.  But that was before the BrazilianSouth AfricanIndian, and Turkish economies stopped looking so rosy.

In the end, the U.S. aside, great powers remain scarcer than hen’s teeth.

War: Missing in Action

Now, let’s move on to an even more striking and largely unremarked upon characteristic of these years.  If you take one country — or possibly two — out of the mix, war between states or between major powers and insurgencies has largely ceased to exist.

Admittedly, every rule has its exceptions and from full-scale colonial-style wars (Iraq, Afghanistan) to small-scale conflicts mainly involving drones or air power (Yemen, Somalia, Libya), the United States has seemingly made traditional war its own in the early years of this century.  Nonetheless, the Iraq war ended ignominiously in 2011 and the Afghan War seems to be limping to something close to an end in a slow-motion withdrawal this year.  In addition, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has just announced the Pentagon’s intention to cut its boots-on-the-ground contingent significantly in the years to come, a sign that future conflicts are far less likely to involve full-scale invasions and occupations on the Eurasian land mass.

Possible exception number two: Israel launched a 34-day war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006 and a significant three-week military incursion into the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009 (though none of this added up to anything like the wars that country fought in the previous century).

Otherwise when it comes to war — that is, to sending armies across national boundaries or, in nineteenth-century style, to distant lands to conquer and “pacify” — we’re left with almost nothing.  It’s true that the last war of the previous century between Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea straggled six months into this one.  There was as well the 2008 Russian incursion into Georgia (a straggler from the unraveling of the Soviet Union).  Dubbed the “five-day war,” it proved a minor affair (if you didn’t happen to be Georgian).

There was also a dismal U.S.-supported Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006 (and a Kenyan invasion of that mess of a country but not exactly state in 2011).  As for more traditional imperial-style wars, you can count them on one hand, possibly one finger: the 2013 French intervention in Mali (after a disastrous U.S./NATO air-powered intervention in Libya destabilized that neighboring country).  France has also sent its troops elsewhere in Africa, most recently into the Central African Republic, but these were at best micro-versions of nineteenth century colonial wars.  Turkey has from time to time struck across its border into Iraq as part of an internal conflict with its Kurdish population.

In Asia, other than rising tensions and a couple of ships almost bumping on the high seas, the closest you can get to war in this century was a minor border clash in April 2001 between India and Bangladesh.

Now, the above might look like a sizeable enough list until you consider the record for the second half of the twentieth century in Asia alone: The Korean War (1950-1953), a month-long border war between China and India in 1962, the French and American wars in Vietnam (1946-1975), the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1978; China’s invasion of Vietnam in 1979; and Indian-Pakistani wars in 1965, 1971, and 1999.  (The Bangladeshi war of independence in 1971 was essentially a civil war.)  And that, of course, leaves out the carnage of the first 50 years of a century that began with a foreign intervention in the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 and ended with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In fact, judged by almost any standard from just about any period in the previous two centuries, war is now missing in action, which is indeed something new under the sun.

Driving With the Lights Off

So an imperial era is on the wane, war in absentia, and no rising great power contenders on the horizon.  Historically speaking, that’s a remarkable scorecard in an otherwise appalling world.

Of course, the lack of old-style war hardly means no violence.  In the 13 years of this new century, the scorecard on internal strife and civil war, often with external involvement, has been awful to behold: Yemen (with the involvement of the Saudis and the Americans), Syria (with the involvement of the Russians, the Saudis, the Qataris, the Iranians, Hezbollah, the Iraqis, the Turks, and the Americans), and so on.  The record, including the Congo (numerous outside parties), South Sudan, Darfur, India (a Maoist insurgency), Nigeria (Islamic extremists), and so on, couldn’t be grimmer.

Moreover, 13 years at the beginning of a century is a rather small sampling.  Just think of 1914 and the great war that followed.  Before the present Ukrainian crisis is over, for instance, Russian troops could again cross a border in force (as in 2008) along the still fraying edges of the former Soviet Union.  It’s also possible (though developments seem to be leading in quite a different direction) that either the Israelis or the Americans could still launch an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, increasing the chaos and violence in the Middle East.  Similarly, an incident in the edgy Pacific might trigger an unexpected conflict between Japan and China.  (Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently compared this moment in Asia to the eve of World War I in Europe and his country and China to England and Germany.)  And of course there are the “resource wars” expected on an increasingly devastated planet.

Still, for the moment no rising empire and no states fighting each other.  So who knows?  Maybe we are off the beaten path of history and in terra incognita.  Perhaps this is a road we’ve never been down before, an actual new world order.  If so, we’re driving it with our headlights off, the wind whipping up, and the rain pouring down on a planet that may itself, in climate terms, be heading for uncharted territory.

See Tom Engelhardt’s response here.

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ABOUT TOM ENGELHARDT

Tom Engelhardt created and runs the Tomdispatch.com website, a project of The Nation Institute where he is a Fellow. He is the author of a highly praised history of American triumphalism in the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture, and of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing, as well as a collection of his Tomdispatch interviews, Mission Unaccomplished. Each spring he is a Teaching Fellow at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Comment: Imperial rule is too costly ethically, mentally, materially, militarily, financially, environmentally, etc. More and more people and the planet itself go against it. We must have the paradigm shift from artificial unidirectional pyramidal system to natural cyclical Indra-net system.

Anatomy of the Deep State: Beneath Veneer of Democracy, The Permanent Ruling Class

February 25, 2014
Published on Monday, February 24, 2014 by Moyers & Company

(Photo: AP)”Rome lived upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face. Industry is the only true source of wealth, and there was no industry in Rome. By day the Ostia road was crowded with carts and muleteers, carrying to the great city the silks and spices of the East, the marble of Asia Minor, the timber of the Atlas, the grain of Africa and Egypt; and the carts brought out nothing but loads of dung. That was their return cargo.” –The Martyrdom of Man by Winwood Reade (1871)

There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol. The former is traditional Washington partisan politics: the tip of the iceberg that a public watching C-SPAN sees daily and which is theoretically controllable via elections. The subsurface part of the iceberg I shall call the Deep State, which operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power. [1]

During the last five years, the news media has been flooded with pundits decrying the broken politics of Washington. The conventional wisdom has it that partisan gridlock and dysfunction have become the new normal. That is certainly the case, and I have been among the harshest critics of this development. But it is also imperative to acknowledge the limits of this critique as it applies to the American governmental system. On one level, the critique is self-evident: In the domain that the public can see, Congress is hopelessly deadlocked in the worst manner since the 1850s, the violently rancorous decade preceding the Civil War.

“Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose.”

As I wrote in The Party is Over, the present objective of congressional Republicans is to render the executive branch powerless, at least until a Republican president is elected (a goal that voter suppression laws in GOP-controlled states are clearly intended to accomplish). President Obama cannot enact his domestic policies and budgets: Because of incessant GOP filibustering, not only could he not fill the large number of vacancies in the federal judiciary, he could not even get his most innocuous presidential appointees into office. Democrats controlling the Senate have responded by weakening the filibuster of nominations, but Republicans are sure to react with other parliamentary delaying tactics. This strategy amounts to congressional nullification of executive branch powers by a party that controls a majority in only one house of Congress.

Despite this apparent impotence, President Obama can liquidate American citizens without due processes, detain prisoners indefinitely without charge, conduct dragnet surveillance on the American people without judicial warrant and engage in unprecedented — at least since the McCarthy era — witch hunts against federal employees (the so-called “Insider Threat Program”). Within the United States, this power is characterized by massive displays of intimidating force by militarized federal, state and local law enforcement. Abroad, President Obama can start wars at will and engage in virtually any other activity whatsoever without so much as a by-your-leave from Congress, such as arranging theforced landing of a plane carrying a sovereign head of state over foreign territory. Despite the habitual cant of congressional Republicans about executive overreach by Obama, the would-be dictator, we have until recently heard very little from them about these actions — with the minor exception of comments from gadfly Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Democrats, save a few mavericks such as Ron Wyden of Oregon, are not unduly troubled, either — even to the extent of permitting seemingly perjured congressional testimony under oath by executive branch officials on the subject of illegal surveillance.

These are not isolated instances of a contradiction; they have been so pervasive that they tend to be disregarded as background noise. During the time in 2011 when political warfare over the debt ceiling was beginning to paralyze the business of governance in Washington, the United States government somehow summoned the resources to overthrow Muammar Ghaddafi’s regime in Libya, and, when the instability created by that coup spilled over into Mali, provide overt and covert assistance to French intervention there. At a time when there was heated debate about continuing meat inspections and civilian air traffic control because of the budget crisis, our government was somehow able to commit $115 millionto keeping a civil war going in Syria and to pay at least £100m to the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters to buy influence over and access to that country’s intelligence. Since 2007, two bridges carrying interstate highways have collapsed due to inadequate maintenance of infrastructure, one killing 13 people. During that same period of time, the government spent $1.7 billion constructing a building in Utah that is the size of 17 football fields. This mammoth structure is intended to allow the National Security Agency to store a yottabyte of information, the largest numerical designator computer scientists have coined. A yottabyte is equal to 500 quintillion pages of text. They need that much storage to archive every single trace of your electronic life.

Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose. My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an “establishment.” All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched. Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State’s protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude. [2]

How did I come to write an analysis of the Deep State, and why am I equipped to write it? As a congressional staff member for 28 years specializing in national security and possessing a top secret security clearance, I was at least on the fringes of the world I am describing, if neither totally in it by virtue of full membership nor of it by psychological disposition. But, like virtually every employed person, I became, to some extent, assimilated into the culture of the institution I worked for, and only by slow degrees, starting before the invasion of Iraq, did I begin fundamentally to question the reasons of state that motivate the people who are, to quote George W. Bush, “the deciders.”

Cultural assimilation is partly a matter of what psychologist Irving L. Janiscalled “groupthink,” the chameleon-like ability of people to adopt the views of their superiors and peers. This syndrome is endemic to Washington: The town is characterized by sudden fads, be it negotiating biennial budgeting, making grand bargains or invading countries. Then, after a while, all the town’s cool kids drop those ideas as if they were radioactive. As in the military, everybody has to get on board with the mission, and questioning it is not a career-enhancing move. The universe of people who will critically examine the goings-on at the institutions they work for is always going to be a small one. As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

A more elusive aspect of cultural assimilation is the sheer dead weight of the ordinariness of it all once you have planted yourself in your office chair for the 10,000th time. Government life is typically not some vignette from an Allen Drury novel about intrigue under the Capitol dome. Sitting and staring at the clock on the off-white office wall when it’s 11:00 in the evening and you are vowing never, ever to eat another piece of takeout pizza in your life is not an experience that summons the higher literary instincts of a would-be memoirist. After a while, a functionary of the state begins to hear things that, in another context, would be quite remarkable, or at least noteworthy, and yet that simply bounce off one’s consciousness like pebbles off steel plate: “You mean the number of terrorist groups we are fighting is classified?” No wonder so few people are whistle-blowers, quite apart from the vicious retaliation whistle-blowing often provokes: Unless one is blessed with imagination and a fine sense of irony, growing immune to the curiousness of one’s surroundings is easy. To paraphrase the inimitable Donald Rumsfeld, I didn’t know all that I knew, at least until I had had a couple of years away from the government to reflect upon it.

The Deep State does not consist of the entire government. It is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department. I also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street. All these agencies are coordinated by the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council. Certain key areas of the judiciary belong to the Deep State, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose actions are mysterious even to most members of Congress. Also included are a handful of vital federal trial courts, such as the Eastern District of Virginia and the Southern District of Manhattan, where sensitive proceedings in national security cases are conducted. The final government component (and possibly last in precedence among the formal branches of government established by the Constitution) is a kind of rump Congress consisting of the congressional leadership and some (but not all) of the members of the defense and intelligence committees. The rest of Congress, normally so fractious and partisan, is mostly only intermittently aware of the Deep State and when required usually submits to a few well-chosen words from the State’s emissaries.

I saw this submissiveness on many occasions. One memorable incident was passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act of 2008. This legislation retroactively legalized the Bush administration’s illegal and unconstitutional surveillance first revealed by The New York Times in 2005 and indemnified the telecommunications companies for their cooperation in these acts. The bill passed easily: All that was required was the invocation of the word “terrorism” and most members of Congress responded like iron filings obeying a magnet. One who responded in that fashion was Senator Barack Obama, soon to be coronated as the presidential nominee at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. He had already won the most delegates by campaigning to the left of his main opponent, Hillary Clinton, on the excesses of the global war on terror and the erosion of constitutional liberties.

As the indemnification vote showed, the Deep State does not consist only of government agencies. What is euphemistically called “private enterprise” is an integral part of its operations. In a special series in The Washington Post called “Top Secret America,” Dana Priest and William K. Arkin described the scope of the privatized Deep State and the degree to which it has metastasized after the September 11 attacks. There are now 854,000 contract personnel with top-secret clearances — a number greater than that of top-secret-cleared civilian employees of the government. While they work throughout the country and the world, their heavy concentration in and around the Washington suburbs is unmistakable: Since 9/11, 33 facilities for top-secret intelligence have been built or are under construction. Combined, they occupy the floor space of almost three Pentagons — about 17 million square feet. Seventy percent of the intelligence community’s budget goes to paying contracts. And the membrane between government and industry is highly permeable: The Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, is a former executive of Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the government’s largest intelligence contractors. His predecessor as director, Admiral Mike McConnell, is the current vice chairman of the same company; Booz Allen is 99 percent dependent on government business. These contractors now set the political and social tone of Washington, just as they are increasingly setting the direction of the country, but they are doing it quietly, their doings unrecorded in the Congressional Record or theFederal Register, and are rarely subject to congressional hearings.

Washington is the most important node of the Deep State that has taken over America, but it is not the only one. Invisible threads of money and ambition connect the town to other nodes. One is Wall Street, which supplies the cash that keeps the political machine quiescent and operating as a diversionary marionette theater. Should the politicians forget their lines and threaten the status quo, Wall Street floods the town with cash and lawyers to help the hired hands remember their own best interests. The executives of the financial giants even have de facto criminal immunity. On March 6, 2013, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder stated the following: “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.” This, from the chief law enforcement officer of a justice system that has practically abolished the constitutional right to trial for poorer defendants charged with certain crimes. It is not too much to say that Wall Street may be the ultimate owner of the Deep State and its strategies, if for no other reason than that it has the money to reward government operatives with a second career that is lucrative beyond the dreams of avarice — certainly beyond the dreams of a salaried government employee. [3]

The corridor between Manhattan and Washington is a well trodden highway for the personalities we have all gotten to know in the period since the massive deregulation of Wall Street: Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers, Henry Paulson, Timothy Geithner and many others. Not all the traffic involves persons connected with the purely financial operations of the government: In 2013, General David Petraeus joined KKR (formerly Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) of 9 West 57th Street, New York, a private equity firm with $62.3 billion in assets. KKR specializes in management buyouts and leveraged finance. General Petraeus’ expertise in these areas is unclear. His ability to peddle influence, however, is a known and valued commodity. Unlike Cincinnatus, the military commanders of the Deep State do not take up the plow once they lay down the sword. Petraeus also obtained a sinecure as a non-resident senior fellow at theBelfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. The Ivy League is, of course, the preferred bleaching tub and charm school of the American oligarchy. [4]

Petraeus and most of the avatars of the Deep State — the White House advisers who urged Obama not to impose compensation limits on Wall Street CEOs, the contractor-connected think tank experts who besought us to “stay the course” in Iraq, the economic gurus who perpetually demonstrate that globalization and deregulation are a blessing that makes us all better off in the long run — are careful to pretend that they have no ideology. Their preferred pose is that of the politically neutral technocrat offering well considered advice based on profound expertise. That is nonsense. They are deeply dyed in the hue of the official ideology of the governing class, an ideology that is neither specifically Democrat nor Republican. Domestically, whatever they might privately believe about essentially diversionary social issues such as abortion or gay marriage, they almost invariably believe in the “Washington Consensus”: financialization, outsourcing, privatization, deregulation and the commodifying of labor. Internationally, they espouse 21st-century “American Exceptionalism”: the right and duty of the United States to meddle in every region of the world with coercive diplomacy and boots on the ground and to ignore painfully won international norms of civilized behavior. To paraphrase what Sir John Harrington said more than 400 years ago about treason, now that the ideology of the Deep State has prospered, none dare call it ideology. [5] That is why describing torture with the word “torture” on broadcast television is treated less as political heresy than as an inexcusable lapse of Washington etiquette: Like smoking a cigarette on camera, these days it is simply “not done.”

After Edward Snowden’s revelations about the extent and depth of surveillance by the National Security Agency, it has become publicly evident that Silicon Valley is a vital node of the Deep State as well. Unlike military and intelligence contractors, Silicon Valley overwhelmingly sells to the private market, but its business is so important to the government that a strange relationship has emerged. While the government could simply dragoon the high technology companies to do the NSA’s bidding, it would prefer cooperation with so important an engine of the nation’s economy, perhaps with an implied quid pro quo. Perhaps this explains the extraordinary indulgence the government shows the Valley in intellectual property matters. If an American “jailbreaks” his smartphone (i.e., modifies it so that it can use a service provider other than the one dictated by the manufacturer), he could receive a fine of up to $500,000 and several years in prison; so much for a citizen’s vaunted property rights to what he purchases. The libertarian pose of the Silicon Valley moguls, so carefully cultivated in their public relations, has always been a sham. Silicon Valley has long been tracking for commercial purposes the activities of every person who uses an electronic device, so it is hardly surprising that the Deep State should emulate the Valley and do the same for its own purposes. Nor is it surprising that it should conscript the Valley’s assistance.

Still, despite the essential roles of lower Manhattan and Silicon Valley, the center of gravity of the Deep State is firmly situated in and around the Beltway. The Deep State’s physical expansion and consolidation around the Beltway would seem to make a mockery of the frequent pronouncement that governance in Washington is dysfunctional and broken. That the secret and unaccountable Deep State floats freely above the gridlock between both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue is the paradox of American government in the 21st century: drone strikes, data mining, secret prisons and Panopticon-like control on the one hand; and on the other, the ordinary, visible parliamentary institutions of self-government declining to the status of a banana republic amid the gradual collapse of public infrastructure.

The results of this contradiction are not abstract, as a tour of the rotting, decaying, bankrupt cities of the American Midwest will attest. It is not even confined to those parts of the country left behind by a Washington Consensus that decreed the financialization and deindustrialization of the economy in the interests of efficiency and shareholder value. This paradox is evident even within the Beltway itself, the richest metropolitan area in the nation. Although demographers and urban researchers invariably count Washington as a “world city,” that is not always evident to those who live there. Virtually every time there is a severe summer thunderstorm, tens — or even hundreds — of thousands of residents lose power, often for many days. There are occasional water restrictions over wide areas because water mains, poorly constructed and inadequately maintained, have burst[6] The Washington metropolitan area considers it a Herculean task just to build a rail link to its international airport — with luck it may be completed by 2018.

“The Deep State is the big story of our time. It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure and political dysfunction.”

It is as if Hadrian’s Wall was still fully manned and the fortifications along the border with Germania were never stronger, even as the city of Rome disintegrates from within and the life-sustaining aqueducts leading down from the hills begin to crumble. The governing classes of the Deep State may continue to deceive themselves with their dreams of Zeus-like omnipotence, but others do not. A 2013 Pew Poll that interviewed 38,000 people around the world found that in 23 of 39 countries surveyed, a plurality of respondents said they believed China already had or would in the future replace the United States as the world’s top economic power.

The Deep State is the big story of our time. It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure and political dysfunction. Washington is the headquarters of the Deep State, and its time in the sun as a rival to Rome, Constantinople or London may be term-limited by its overweening sense of self-importance and its habit, as Winwood Reade said of Rome, to “live upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face.” “Living upon its principal,” in this case, means that the Deep State has been extracting value from the American people in vampire-like fashion.

We are faced with two disagreeable implications. First, that the Deep State is so heavily entrenched, so well protected by surveillance, firepower, money and its ability to co-opt resistance that it is almost impervious to change. Second, that just as in so many previous empires, the Deep State is populated with those whose instinctive reaction to the failure of their policies is to double down on those very policies in the future. Iraq was a failure briefly camouflaged by the wholly propagandistic success of the so-called surge; this legerdemain allowed for the surge in Afghanistan, which equally came to naught. Undeterred by that failure, the functionaries of the Deep State plunged into Libya; the smoking rubble of the Benghazi consulate, rather than discouraging further misadventure, seemed merely to incite the itch to bomb Syria. Will the Deep State ride on the back of the American people from failure to failure until the country itself, despite its huge reserves of human and material capital, is slowly exhausted? The dusty road of empire is strewn with the bones of former great powers that exhausted themselves in like manner.

But, there are signs of resistance to the Deep State and its demands. In the aftermath of the Snowden revelations, the House narrowly failed to pass an amendment that would have defunded the NSA’s warrantless collection of data from US persons. Shortly thereafter, the president, advocating yet another military intervention in the Middle East, this time in Syria, met with such overwhelming congressional skepticism that he changed the subject by grasping at a diplomatic lifeline thrown to him by Vladimir Putin. [7]

Has the visible, constitutional state, the one envisaged by Madison and the other Founders, finally begun to reassert itself against the claims and usurpations of the Deep State? To some extent, perhaps. The unfolding revelations of the scope of the NSA’s warrantless surveillance have become so egregious that even institutional apologists such as Senator Dianne Feinstein have begun to backpedal — if only rhetorically — from their knee-jerk defense of the agency. As more people begin to waken from the fearful and suggestible state that 9/11 created in their minds, it is possible that the Deep State’s decade-old tactic of crying “terrorism!”every time it faces resistance is no longer eliciting the same Pavlovian response of meek obedience. And the American people, possibly even their legislators, are growing tired of endless quagmires in the Middle East.

But there is another more structural reason the Deep State may have peaked in the extent of its dominance. While it seems to float above the constitutional state, its essentially parasitic, extractive nature means that it is still tethered to the formal proceedings of governance. The Deep State thrives when there is tolerable functionality in the day-to-day operations of the federal government. As long as appropriations bills get passed on time, promotion lists get confirmed, black (i.e., secret) budgets get rubber-stamped, special tax subsidies for certain corporations are approved without controversy, as long as too many awkward questions are not asked, the gears of the hybrid state will mesh noiselessly. But when one house of Congress is taken over by tea party Wahhabites, life for the ruling class becomes more trying.

If there is anything the Deep State requires it is silent, uninterrupted cash flow and the confidence that things will go on as they have in the past. It is even willing to tolerate a degree of gridlock: Partisan mud wrestling over cultural issues may be a useful distraction from its agenda. But recent congressional antics involving sequestration, the government shutdown and the threat of default over the debt ceiling extension have been disrupting that equilibrium. And an extreme gridlock dynamic has developed between the two parties such that continuing some level of sequestration is politically the least bad option for both parties, albeit for different reasons. As much as many Republicans might want to give budget relief to the organs of national security, they cannot fully reverse sequestration without the Democrats demanding revenue increases. And Democrats wanting to spend more on domestic discretionary programs cannot void sequestration on either domestic or defense programs without Republicans insisting on entitlement cuts.

So, for the foreseeable future, the Deep State must restrain its appetite for taxpayer dollars. Limited deals may soften sequestration, but agency requests will not likely be fully funded anytime soon. Even Wall Street’s rentier operations have been affected: After helping finance the tea party to advance its own plutocratic ambitions, America’s Big Money is now regretting the Frankenstein’s monster it has created. Like children playing with dynamite, the tea party and its compulsion to drive the nation into credit default has alarmed the grown-ups commanding the heights of capital; the latter are now telling the politicians they thought they had hiredto knock it off.

The House vote to defund the NSA’s illegal surveillance programs was equally illustrative of the disruptive nature of the tea party insurgency. Civil liberties Democrats alone would never have come so close to victory; tea party stalwart Justin Amash (R-MI), who has also upset the business community for his debt-limit fundamentalism, was the lead Republican sponsor of the NSA amendment, and most of the Republicans who voted with him were aligned with the tea party.

The final factor is Silicon Valley. Owing to secrecy and obfuscation, it is hard to know how much of the NSA’s relationship with the Valley is based on voluntary cooperation, how much is legal compulsion through FISA warrants and how much is a matter of the NSA surreptitiously breaking into technology companies’ systems. Given the Valley’s public relations requirement to mollify its customers who have privacy concerns, it is difficult to take the tech firms’ libertarian protestations about government compromise of their systems at face value, especially since they engage in similar activity against their own customers for commercial purposes. That said, evidence is accumulating that Silicon Valley is losing billions in overseas business from companies, individuals and governments that want to maintain privacy. For high tech entrepreneurs, the cash nexus is ultimately more compelling than the Deep State’s demand for patriotic cooperation. Even legal compulsion can be combatted: Unlike the individual citizen, tech firms have deep pockets and batteries of lawyers with which to fight government diktat.

This pushback has gone so far that on January 17, President Obama announced revisions to the NSA’s data collection programs, including withdrawing the agency’s custody of a domestic telephone record database, expanding requirements for judicial warrants and ceasing to spy on (undefined) “friendly foreign leaders.” Critics have denounced the changes as a cosmetic public relations move, but they are still significant in that the clamor has gotten so loud that the president feels the political need to address it.

When the contradictions within a ruling ideology are pushed too far, factionalism appears and that ideology begins slowly to crumble.Corporate oligarchs such as the Koch brothers are no longer entirely happy with the faux-populist political front group they helped fund and groom. Silicon Valley, for all the Ayn Rand-like tendencies of its major players, its offshoring strategies and its further exacerbation of income inequality, is now lobbying Congress to restrain the NSA, a core component of the Deep State. Some tech firms are moving to encrypt their data. High tech corporations and governments alike seek dominance over people though collection of personal data, but the corporations are jumping ship now that adverse public reaction to the NSA scandals threatens their profits.

The outcome of all these developments is uncertain. The Deep State, based on the twin pillars of national security imperative and corporate hegemony, has until recently seemed unshakable and the latest events may only be a temporary perturbation in its trajectory. But history has a way of toppling the altars of the mighty. While the two great materialist and determinist ideologies of the twentieth century, Marxism and the Washington Consensus, successively decreed that the dictatorship of the proletariat and the dictatorship of the market were inevitable, the future is actually indeterminate. It may be that deep economic and social currents create the framework of history, but those currents can be channeled, eddied, or even reversed by circumstance, chance and human agency. We have only to reflect upon defunct glacial despotisms such as the USSR or East Germany to realize that nothing is forever.

Throughout history, state systems with outsized pretensions to power have reacted to their environments in two ways. The first strategy, reflecting the ossification of its ruling elites, consists of repeating that nothing is wrong, that the status quo reflects the nation’s unique good fortune in being favored by God and that those calling for change are merely subversive troublemakers. As the French ancien régime, the Romanov dynasty and the Habsburg emperors discovered, the strategy works splendidly for a while, particularly if one has a talent for dismissing unpleasant facts. The final results, however, are likely to be thoroughly disappointing.

The second strategy is one embraced to varying degrees and with differing goals, by figures of such contrasting personalities as Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Charles de Gaulle and Deng Xiaoping. They were certainly not revolutionaries by temperament; if anything, their natures were conservative. But they understood that the political cultures in which they lived were fossilized and incapable of adapting to the times. In their drive to reform and modernize the political systems they inherited, their first obstacles to overcome were the outworn myths that encrusted the thinking of the elites of their time.

As the United States confronts its future after experiencing two failed wars, a precarious economy and $17 trillion in accumulated debt, the national punditry has split into two camps. The first, the declinists, sees a broken, dysfunctional political system incapable of reform and an economy soon to be overtaken by China. The second, the reformers, offers a profusion of nostrums to turn the nation around: public financing of elections to sever the artery of money between the corporate components of the Deep State and financially dependent elected officials, government “insourcing” to reverse the tide of outsourcing of government functions and the conflicts of interest that it creates, a tax policy that values human labor over financial manipulation and a trade policy that favors exporting manufactured goods over exporting investment capital.

All of that is necessary, but not sufficient. The Snowden revelations (the impact of which have been surprisingly strong), the derailed drive for military intervention in Syria and a fractious Congress, whose dysfunction has begun to be a serious inconvenience to the Deep State, show that there is now a deep but as yet inchoate hunger for change. What America lacks is a figure with the serene self-confidence to tell us that the twin idols of national security and corporate power are outworn dogmas that have nothing more to offer us. Thus disenthralled, the people themselves will unravel the Deep State with surprising speed.

[1] The term “Deep State” was coined in Turkey and is said to be a system composed of high-level elements within the intelligence services, military, security, judiciary and organized crime. In British author John le Carré’s latest novel, A Delicate Truth, a character describes the Deep State as “… the ever-expanding circle of non-governmental insiders from banking, industry and commerce who were cleared for highly classified information denied to large swathes of Whitehall and Westminster.”  I use the term to mean a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process.

[2] Twenty-five years ago, the sociologist Robert Nisbet described this phenomenon as “the attribute of No Fault…. Presidents, secretaries and generals and admirals in America seemingly subscribe to the doctrine that no fault ever attaches to policy and operations. This No Fault conviction prevents them from taking too seriously such notorious foul-ups as Desert One, Grenada, Lebanon and now the Persian Gulf.” To his list we might add 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

[3] The attitude of many members of Congress towards Wall Street wasmemorably expressed by Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), the incoming chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, in 2010: “In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.”

[4] Beginning in 1988, every US president has been a graduate of Harvard or Yale. Beginning in 2000, every losing presidential candidate has been a Harvard or Yale graduate, with the exception of John McCain in 2008.

[5] In recent months, the American public has seen a vivid example of a Deep State operative marketing his ideology under the banner of pragmatism. Former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates — a one-time career CIA officer and deeply political Bush family retainer — has camouflaged his retrospective defense of military escalations that have brought us nothing but casualties and fiscal grief as the straight-from-the-shoulder memoir from a plain-spoken son of Kansas who disdains Washington and its politicians.

[6] Meanwhile, the US government took the lead in restoring Baghdad’s sewer system at a cost of $7 billion.

[7] Obama’s abrupt about-face suggests he may have been skeptical of military intervention in Syria all along, but only dropped that policy once Congress and Putin gave him the running room to do so. In 2009, he went ahead with the Afghanistan “surge” partly because General Petraeus’public relations campaign and back-channel lobbying on the Hill for implementation of his pet military strategy pre-empted other options. These incidents raise the disturbing question of how much the democratically elected president — or any president — sets the policy of the national security state and how much the policy is set for him by the professional operatives of that state who engineer faits accomplis that force his hand.

© 2014 Bill Moyers Media
Mike Lofgren
Mike Lofgren is a former congressional staff member who served on both the House and Senate budget committees. His book about Congress, The Party is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted, appeared in paperback on August 27, 2013.

Pete Seeger: Beating Flagpoles into Ploughshares

January 29, 2014
Published on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 by Common Dreams

Not only was it sad to hear the news this morning of Pete Seeger’s passing but startling to realize that it was 45 long years ago that we first met. It was in 1969, at Georgetown University, when I was a callow college freshman and he already was a legend among folk music lovers and political activists.Pete Seeger in 1955 (Photo: Frank Palumbo/Library of Congress)

I knew his songs, had many of his records and played them all the time, especially a concert album with the great Bernice Johnson Reagon, founder of Sweet Honey in the Rock, and the Rev. Frederick Douglass Kirkpatrick, the Baptist minister in charge of folk culture for Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

There was another album I loved called “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy and Other Love Songs.” It wasn’t so much the folk music revival of the fifties and sixties that first drew me to Seeger, but that title song. “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” told the story of a captain ordering a platoon to cross a river despite his sergeant’s warning that the water was too deep and treacherous.

It was an explicit metaphor for the quagmire of Vietnam and the escalation policy of President Lyndon Johnson, each verse but the last ending with the bitter, “The big fool said to push on.” When Seeger first tried to sing it on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, CBS network executives censored it from the broadcast but relented under pressure and he returned to perform it in late February 1968; coincidentally, less than a month after the attacks of the Tet offensive took US forces in South Vietnam by surprise and radically changed American public opinion about the war.

In the years after, Seeger and his music would float in and out of my life like a warm summer breeze, that unique combination of laid back and earnest always in his light tenor voice. I’d see him from a distance or we’d talk backstage at concerts and rallies. That first time, at Georgetown, was the Friday afternoon before the massive Moratorium March on Washington on November 15, 1969. Kids from around the country had come to DC for the anti-Vietnam protest and Georgetown had reluctantly opened its dorms and other buildings so they’d have an indoor place to sleep, one of several times in those years that the school would become a de facto Day’s Inn for protesters.

One of the rooms that had been opened to we, the rabble, was a lecture space off the main campus at the foreign service school called the Hall of Nations — so named because the walls were lined with the national flags of UN members. That weekend, the university removed all the flags, apparently fearing theft, desecration or students from Vanderbilt or Ohio State huddled under the banner of Ethiopia for warmth. But they left the shiny metal flagpoles in place, each of which, for some unknown reason was sharpened at the top end to a fine point.

I was sent to the main gate of the campus to gather Pete and bring him to the Hall of Nations so he could briefly entertain the students camping out there. We chatted on the short walk over and when we arrived, Pete’s eyes widened as he approached the stage and saw the flagpoles arrayed in rows like deadly weapons about to be seized and carried into battle.

He paused, then exclaimed, “Look at all the spears!”

There was laughter and applause. Pete shouted, “Let’s beat ‘em into ploughshares!” And he began to sing and play his five-string banjo, asking, as he always did, for everyone to join in.

The next day, a quarter of a million or more gathered around the Mall and the Washington Monument on a cold but sunny Saturday. Pete led the crowd singing a new song by John Lennon called, “Give Peace a Chance.”

Four decades later, many of us were back at the Washington Monument on another chilly afternoon two days before Barack Obama’s inauguration, looking down the Reflecting Pool to the Lincoln Memorial, where Pete and Bruce Springsteen performed “This Land Is Your Land,” our alternative national anthem by Pete’s good friend Woody Guthrie. They even sang the “forbidden” verse:

“In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?”

Still a good question. Pete Seeger, RIP and God bless. As you used to say, take it easy, but take it.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Michael Winship

Michael Winship, senior writing fellow at Demos and president of the Writers Guild of America-East, is senior writer for Bill Moyers’ new weekend show Moyers & Company.

Inside the Saudi 9/11 Coverup

December 19, 2013

Robert Peraza kneels by his son's name on the 9/11 memorial wall. (photo: Justin Lane/AP)
Robert Peraza kneels by his son’s name on the 9/11 memorial wall. (photo: Justin Lane/AP)

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By Paul Sperry, The New York Post

18 December 13

 

fter the 9/11 attacks, the public was told al Qaeda acted alone, with no state sponsors.

But the White House never let it see an entire section of Congress’ investigative report on 9/11 dealing with “specific sources of foreign support” for the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudi nationals.

It was kept secret and remains so today.

President Bush inexplicably censored 28 full pages of the 800-page report. Text isn’t just blacked-out here and there in this critical-yet-missing middle section. The pages are completely blank, except for dotted lines where an estimated 7,200 words once stood (this story by comparison is about 1,000 words).

A pair of lawmakers who recently read the redacted portion say they are “absolutely shocked” at the level of foreign state involvement in the attacks.

Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) can’t reveal the nation identified by it without violating federal law. So they’ve proposed Congress pass a resolution asking President Obama to declassify the entire 2002 report, “Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.”

Some information already has leaked from the classified section, which is based on both CIA and FBI documents, and it points back to Saudi Arabia, a presumed ally.

The Saudis deny any role in 9/11, but the CIA in one memo reportedly found “incontrovertible evidence” that Saudi government officials – not just wealthy Saudi hardliners, but high-level diplomats and intelligence officers employed by the kingdom – helped the hijackers both financially and logistically. The intelligence files cited in the report directly implicate the Saudi embassy in Washington and consulate in Los Angeles in the attacks, making 9/11 not just an act of terrorism, but an act of war.

The findings, if confirmed, would back up open-source reporting showing the hijackers had, at a minimum, ties to several Saudi officials and agents while they were preparing for their attacks inside the United States. In fact, they got help from Saudi VIPs from coast to coast:

LOS ANGELES: Saudi consulate official Fahad al-Thumairy allegedly arranged for an advance team to receive two of the Saudi hijackers – Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi – as they arrived at LAX in 2000. One of the advance men, Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi intelligence agent, left the LA consulate and met the hijackers at a local restaurant. (Bayoumi left the United States two months before the attacks, while Thumairy was deported back to Saudi Arabia after 9/11.)

SAN DIEGO: Bayoumi and another suspected Saudi agent, Osama Bassnan, set up essentially a forward operating base in San Diego for the hijackers after leaving LA. They were provided rooms, rent and phones, as well as private meetings with an American al Qaeda cleric who would later become notorious, Anwar al-Awlaki, at a Saudi-funded mosque he ran in a nearby suburb. They were also feted at a welcoming party. (Bassnan also fled the United States just before the attacks.)

WASHINGTON: Then-Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar and his wife sent checks totaling some $130,000 to Bassnan while he was handling the hijackers. Though the Bandars claim the checks were “welfare” for Bassnan’s supposedly ill wife, the money nonetheless made its way into the hijackers’ hands.

Other al Qaeda funding was traced back to Bandar and his embassy – so much so that by 2004 Riggs Bank of Washington had dropped the Saudis as a client.

The next year, as a number of embassy employees popped up in terror probes, Riyadh recalled Bandar.

“Our investigations contributed to the ambassador’s departure,” an investigator who worked with the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington told me, though Bandar says he left for “personal reasons.”

FALLS CHURCH, VA.: In 2001, Awlaki and the San Diego hijackers turned up together again – this time at the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center, a Pentagon-area mosque built with funds from the Saudi Embassy. Awlaki was recruited 3,000 miles away to head the mosque. As its imam, Awlaki helped the hijackers, who showed up at his doorstep as if on cue. He tasked a handler to help them acquire apartments and IDs before they attacked the Pentagon.

Awlaki worked closely with the Saudi Embassy. He lectured at a Saudi Islamic think tank in Merrifield, Va., chaired by Bandar. Saudi travel itinerary documents I’ve obtained show he also served as the ­official imam on Saudi Embassy-sponsored trips to Mecca and tours of Saudi holy sites.

Most suspiciously, though, Awlaki fled the United States on a Saudi jet about a year after 9/11.

As I first reported in my book, “Infiltration,” quoting from classified US documents, the Saudi-sponsored cleric was briefly detained at JFK before being released into the custody of a “Saudi representative.” A federal warrant for Awlaki’s arrest had mysteriously been withdrawn the previous day. A US drone killed Awlaki in Yemen in 2011.

HERNDON, VA.: On the eve of the attacks, top Saudi government official Saleh Hussayen checked into the same Marriott Residence Inn near Dulles Airport as three of the Saudi hijackers who targeted the Pentagon. Hussayen had left a nearby hotel to move into the hijackers’ hotel. Did he meet with them? The FBI never found out. They let him go after he “feigned a seizure,” one agent recalled. (Hussayen’s name doesn’t appear in the separate 9/11 Commission Report, which clears the Saudis.)

SARASOTA, FLA.: 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta and other hijackers visited a home owned by Esam Ghazzawi, a Saudi adviser to the nephew of King Fahd. FBI agents investigating the connection in 2002 found that visitor logs for the gated community and photos of license tags matched vehicles driven by the hijackers. Just two weeks before the 9/11 attacks, the Saudi luxury home was abandoned. Three cars, including a new Chrysler PT Cruiser, were left in the driveway. Inside, opulent furniture was untouched.

Democrat Bob Graham, the former Florida senator who chaired the Joint Inquiry, has asked the FBI for the Sarasota case files, but can’t get a single, even heavily redacted, page released. He says it’s a “coverup.”

Is the federal government protecting the Saudis? Case agents tell me they were repeatedly called off pursuing 9/11 leads back to the Saudi Embassy, which had curious sway over White House and FBI responses to the attacks.

Just days after Bush met with the Saudi ambassador in the White House, the FBI evacuated from the United States dozens of Saudi officials, as well as Osama bin Laden family members. Bandar made the request for escorts directly to FBI headquarters on Sept. 13, 2001 – just hours after he met with the president. The two old family friends shared cigars on the Truman Balcony while discussing the attacks.

Bill Doyle, who lost his son in the World Trade Center attacks and heads the Coalition of 9/11 Families, calls the suppression of Saudi evidence a “coverup beyond belief.” Last week, he sent out an e-mail to relatives urging them to phone their representatives in Congress to support the resolution and read for themselves the censored 28 pages.

Astonishing as that sounds, few lawmakers in fact have bothered to read the classified section of arguably the most important investigation in US history.

Granted, it’s not easy to do. It took a monthlong letter-writing campaign by Jones and Lynch to convince the House intelligence panel to give them access to the material.

But it’s critical they take the time to read it and pressure the White House to let all Americans read it. This isn’t water under the bridge. The information is still relevant ­today. Pursuing leads further, getting to the bottom of the foreign support, could help head off another 9/11.

As the frustrated Joint Inquiry authors warned, in an overlooked addendum to their heavily redacted 2002 report, “State-sponsored terrorism substantially increases the likelihood of successful and more ­lethal attacks within the United States.”

Their findings must be released, even if they forever change US-Saudi relations. If an oil-rich foreign power was capable of orchestrating simultaneous bulls-eye hits on our centers of commerce and defense a dozen years ago, it may be able to pull off similarly devastating attacks today.

Members of Congress reluctant to read the full report ought to remember that the 9/11 assault missed its fourth target: them.

 

Terror vs. Surveillance? Keeping Americans Safe in Two Simple Steps

June 25, 2013
ROBERT JENSEN
OCCUPY.COM/Op-ed
Published: Tuesday 25 June 2013
Their argument goes something like this: No one wants to die in a terrorist attack.

In the frenzy over Edward Snowden’s leak of classified information about government data-mining surveillance, public officials and pundits have tried to lock us into a narrowly defined and diversionary discussion that ignores the most important question we face about terrorism.

Their argument goes something like this: No one wants to die in a terrorist attack. This kind of spying is necessary to prevent terrorist attacks. So, stop whining about how information is being collected, used, and potentially misused—it’s better than dying.

Let me be clear: I do not want to die in a terrorist attack. But before I am bullied into accepting intrusive government surveillance that is open to politicized abuse, I have another question: Are there other ways we could reduce the risk of U.S. citizens, at home or abroad, being targeted by terrorists? Two possibilities come to mind.

 

First, stop creating new terrorists. Critics of the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have long argued that those destructive conflicts have deepened resentment against the United States. People in those countries who previously had no reason to attack U.S. military personnel or civilians are understandably unhappy with aggressive wars that destroy their homes and kill their people. 

 

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For example, in the new book and film “Dirty Wars,” reporter Jeremy Scahill and director Rick Rowley have documented how the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command—our so-called secret warriors—have indeed been killing terrorists, along with pregnant women, children, and lots of other non-combatants, deepening many people’s resentment of the United States. Much of the criticism has focused on the use of drones, not only in Afghanistan but also “secretly” in Pakistan, but Scahill and Rowley show how the whole strategy is misguided. 

Second, let’s recognize that it is unlikely that the terrorism of Al Qaeda and others would have happened if not for nearly seven decades of a failed U.S. policy in the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Muslim world more generally. Since the United States filled the imperial void left by the weakening of Great Britain and France after World War II, our Middle East policy has been primarily aimed at maintaining a flow of oil and—just as important—a flow of oil profits that is advantageous to U.S. economic interests, especially as defined by elites.

That doesn’t mean that every single U.S. action in those regions has been evil, or that there has been a single clear policy in every moment. But we have routinely ignored the aspirations of the people of the Middle East in favor of “stability,” which doesn’t translate into stability for people but instead for the interests of those elites. Saddam Hussein was an ally or a monster depending not on the crimes he committed against his own people or threats he posed to other states, but on whether he was in line with U.S. policy. When he killed Iraqi Kurds (about whom U.S. policymakers don’t care much) and Iranians (an official U.S. enemy), that was okay. When he threatened Saudi Arabia (an official U.S. ally, despite that country’s history of human right abuses), we had to destroy him.

People in the Arab and Muslim world pay attention. I may disagree with the politics and theology of many of those who critique U.S. policy, but I can’t argue when they point out U.S. mendacity and hypocrisy.

magine that the United States had pursued a different policy in the last half of the 20th century, aiding the struggling movements in the Arab and Muslim world that wanted to expand the scope and freedom and democracy. If we had chosen that path, would we be the targets of terrorists today?

More than a decade after 9/11, the United States political culture still is asking the wrong question (“why do they hate us,” as if our opponents are fueled only by irrational anger) and coming up with the wrong answer (“because we stand for freedom,” as if that has actually been our policy). It’s time for us to grow up, buck up, and face reality. If we want to be safe in the world, we should end the economic, diplomatic, and military policies that give people around the world ample reasons to resent our misuse of power.

When we have done that—when we have narrowed the gap between our self-righteous proclamations of inherent benevolence and the self-serving policies that ignore the aspirations of others—I’ll be happy to talk about how much of my privacy and political freedom I am willing to sacrifice to be safe. But if we were to face our mistakes and change our policies, I’m not sure that conversation will be necessary.

ABOUT ROBERT JENSEN

 

Robert Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin. His latest books are Arguing for Our Lives: A User’s Guide to Constructive Dialogue, and We Are All Apocalyptic Now: On the Responsibilities of Teaching, Preaching, Reporting, Writing, and Speaking Out,in print and on Kindle.

Jensen is also the author of All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice, (Soft Skull Press, 2009); Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity (South End Press, 2007); The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege (City Lights, 2005); Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (City Lights, 2004); and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream (Peter Lang, 2002). Jensen is also co-producer of the documentary film “Abe Osheroff: One Foot in the Grave, the Other Still Dancing” (Media Education Foundation, 2009), which chronicles the life and philosophy of the longtime radical activist.  An extended interview Jensen conducted with Osheroff is online.

Jensen can be reached at rjensen@austin.utexas.edu and his articles can be found online. To join an email list to receive articles by Jensen, go here. Twitter: @jensenrobertw.

 

Reporter Matthieu Aikins on New Report: “The Doctor, the CIA, the Blood of Bin Laden”

December 22, 2012

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez

Democracy Now/ Video Interview
Published: Saturday 22 December 2012
“Pakistan continues to face the fallout from the raid that led to the capture and killing of bin Laden in May 2011.”
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Today we look at the capture of Osama bin Laden — the focus of the controversial new movie, “Zero Dark Thirty,” which was released this week. Billed as “the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man,” the film has come under harsh criticism from Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin for its depiction of torture. Meanwhile, Pakistan continues to face the fallout from the raid that led to the capture and killing of bin Laden in May 2011. Eight health workers have been killed this week during a nationwide anti-polio drive, as opposition to such immunization efforts in parts of country has increased after the fake CIA hepatitis vaccination campaign that helped locate bin Laden last year. Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic. Pakistani clerics said medical workers should not pay the price for those who collaborated with the CIA. For more, we’re joined by Matthieu Aikins, who just returned from two months in Pakistan researching what led to the capture and killing of bin Laden. His most recent article for GQ magazine is called “The Doctor, the CIA, and the Blood of Bin Laden.”

Transcript:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We begin today’s show with a look at the capture of Osama bin Laden, which is the focus of the controversial new movie, Zero Dark Thirty, released this week. Billed as “the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man,” the film has come under harsh criticism from Republican Senator John McCain for its depiction of torture. McCain, a formerPOW who was tortured for years at the hands of Vietnamese captors, joined Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin in writing a letter to the chief executive of Sony Pictures, which backed the film, and they said, quote, “We believe the film is grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Usama bin Laden. As you know, the film graphically depicts CIA officers repeatedly torturing detainees and then credits these detainees with providing critical lead information on the courier that led to Usama bin Laden.” The letter goes on to say the film, quote, “clearly implies that the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques were effective in eliciting important information related to a courier for Usama bin Laden. We have reviewed CIArecords and know that [this] is incorrect.”

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, Pakistan continues to face the fallout from the raid that led to the capture and killing of bin Laden in May 2011. Eight health workers have been killed this week during a nationwide anti-polio drive, as opposition to such immunization efforts in parts of the country has increased after the fake CIAhepatitis vaccination campaign that helped locate bin Laden last year. Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic. Pakistani clerics said medical workers should not pay the price for those who collaborated with the CIA.

TAHIR ASHRAFI: [translated] Whatever Shakil Afridi did was treason against his country and against his profession, but that certainly does not mean that you can kill innocent people to avenge that or that you can say that we would much rather let our children become cripples.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more, we’re joined now by Matthieu Aikins, who has just returned from two months in Pakistan, where he examined what led to the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden. Matthieu Aikins is a journalist based in Kabul, written for Harper’sGQ and The Atlantic. His most recent piece is for GQ, called “The Doctor, the CIA, and the Blood of Bin Laden.”

Before we talk about your piece, well, let’s talk about something that relates to it: Pakistan continuing to face the fallout of the raid with eight health workers being killed this week during a nationwide anti-polio drive. Explain what’s going on and how that relates to your research, Matt.

MATTHIEU AIKINS: Sure. Well, the background for this is that, as part of the campaign to find bin Laden, the CIA employed this doctor, Dr. Shakil Afridi, to conduct a fake vaccination campaign in the Pakistani town where they believed that bin Laden was hidden. And they wanted to do that in order to get some of hisDNA, right? So, when that came out, obviously, it cast a great deal of suspicion on anyone who was, you know, conducting medical programs or humanitarian programs in the tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan, particularly anyone who was, you know, associated with a Western NGO or taking money from Western programs. So, that’s essentially the background to this. Now, of course, the first responsibility for killing these aid workers lies with the people who did it, but there’s a lot of criticism in Pakistan that the CIA using humanitarian workers as a front for an assassination mission, you know, obviously does tremendous damage and puts the lives of these workers in jeopardy.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, earlier this year, Pakistani authorities ordered Save the Children’s international workers to leave the country over suspicions that a doctor used the aid agency as a cover for a CIA operation. A Pakistani report linked the organization to the Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi, who was allegedly recruited by the CIA to help track down Osama bin Laden. Save the Children spokeswoman Ishbel Matheson told Al Jazeera’s Inside Story the organization had no significant ties with Dr. Afridi.

ISHBEL MATHESON: We absolutely deny any of those allegations. Dr. Afridi, the doctor in question, never worked for us. He was never employed by us. We didn’t run a vaccination program in Abbottabad. And any allegations of links between us and Dr. Afridi in this respect are absolutely untrue.

Just one thing to be clear, though, he did attend a couple of our training programs a few years ago. He was a local health official. We ran regular health training programs across Pakistan. Tens of thousands of Pakistanis have attended those. He was one of those who attended those two programs. But that’s absolutely the only connection we can find between Dr. Afridi and Save the Children. We absolutely deny those allegations that are circulating in the media.

And we’re trying very hard to speak to the Pakistani government and to try and get to understand a little bit better how we can overcome this problem, because we’ve been in Pakistan for 30 years. We’ve worked really well and very closely with the Pakistan government, both national level and local authority level. We help many, many people across the country, the poorest children and families in Pakistan.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And also Doctors Without Borders has sharply condemned the use of health officials by the CIA, by the U.S. government, to try to elicit information. But your article seems to suggest that in Pakistan there’s a great fear that this is widespread throughout the country, the attempt to develop networks of information by the CIA with local officials.

MATTHIEU AIKINS: That’s right. Well, I mean, the story is fundamentally about a Pakistani asset, right? a source paid by the CIA, and what happened to him after the mission was over. He was thrown in jail, sort of made an example out of by Pakistan’s military.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Dr. Afridi.

MATTHIEU AIKINS: This is Dr. Afridi, yeah, the doctor who may have helped get the DNA of bin Laden’s daughter, Maryam bin Laden. It’s not clear whether he actually did. But the—yeah, this is—you know, this—the Raymond Davis case, where a CIA contractor was caught in Lahore after killing two men in an unclear altercation, has led to a very intense suspicion, paranoia even, about foreigners, about anyone connected with them. And you could see the results of that in the fact that these aid workers, who are doing something that’s desperately needed in an incredibly impoverished area of the country, are being murdered.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Matthieu, you went to track Dr. Afridi, what he did leading up to Osama bin Laden’s murder. Explain the story, as you understand it now.

MATTHIEU AIKINS: Well, Dr. Afridi was sort of a shady character. He was a bit of a hustler. He was living in this milieu in Khyber Agency near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where it was rife with drug smuggling and militancy and spy games and all sorts of, you know, shady dealings, and he was kind of a player in that. And at some point, you know, the Pakistani government alleges that it was via a Save the Children seminar—but of course Save the Children has denied that—he became an asset for the CIA and started visiting a safe house in Islamabad, taking money to conduct this vaccination program in Abbottabad. And, you know, the interesting thing I found in looking into the story and trying to unwrap, you know, the multiple layers of half-truths and propaganda is that despite the fact that, you know, this incident has played out in front of the whole world—I mean, there’s movies about it, there’s books, there’s tons of news reports—there’s still a lot we don’t know.

 

AMY GOODMAN: He went there with two nurses? 

MATTHIEU AIKINS: He went there with a team of nurses, but he actually went to the door of bin Laden’s house with two nurses and knocked on the door and tried to get in.

AMY GOODMAN: And then what happened?

MATTHIEU AIKINS: Well, what happened next isn’t entirely clear. The nurses have claimed subsequently that they actually never got into the house, but I was able to find someone who had spoken to them earlier, before they were arrested, and they said they did. They had been there earlier on a polio vaccination campaign a couple years before and had vaccinated the children, some of whom were bin Laden’s children, some of whom were children of the two al-Qaeda couriers who were sort of taking care of him in this house. And so, the question is—what we don’t know is whether he brought back a blood sample from the daughter of bin Laden, Maryam bin Laden.

But the timing is very tantalizing, because when that sample would have gotten back—what we know from the documents and the reports that have come out and interviews that I conducted, we know that the—by the time results from a DNAsample would have gotten back when he went there, that arrived—I mean, on April 28th, you had a meeting at the White House where, you know, president and Joe Biden—I mean, they reviewed all the evidence. Joe Biden said, you know, “No, there’s not enough evidence that bin Laden is there for such a risky mission.” Obama himself put the chances at 50-50. That’s on the 28th. So the samples would have arrived—the results of the samples would have arrived on the 29th. And that’s the morning when President Obama made the order to go ahead with the mission.

AMY GOODMAN: And those samples were of who?

MATTHIEU AIKINS: It was—he was doing a vaccination campaign for hepatitis for women between the age of 15 and 49. And before you do that, you do a screen where you scratch and take a drop of blood to do a rapid test to see if they already have hepatitis, in which case you can’t vaccinate them. So that was the trick, was to bring back those blood samples. So, it would have been—they were trying to get one of the children of bin Laden who was in the house, so that they could at least establish whether someone who is genetically related to him was there.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Now, your article also—because Dr. Afridi, shortly after the killing of bin Laden, is then arrested by Pakistani authorities and essentially disappeared for a while—

MATTHIEU AIKINS: Right.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —you went back to track down his family members. And also, you discovered an interesting history of the family, in terms of other Western powers in the region.

MATTHIEU AIKINS: Yeah, absolutely. It was a good reminder of how long the history of, you know, Western imperial involvement in the frontier regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan has been. Shakil Afridi’s maternal grandfather won the Victoria Cross fighting for the British in the trenches of Ypres in Belgium during World War I, and so that was the first, you know, world-famous hero in his family. And the brother of Mir Dast, Shakil Afridi’s maternal grand-uncle, led the first recorded defection to British—to German lines during World War I. So he had this world-famous traitor and this world-famous hero in his family in the past.

AMY GOODMAN: Then the question is, what happened to Afridi afterwards? In May, two top lawmakers warned Pakistan over the sentencing of Dr. Shakil Afridi, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for setting up the vaccination effort in an effort to get DNA from the bin Laden family. In a statement, Senators John McCain of Arizona, Carl Levin of Michigan, the ranking members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Afridi’s imprisonment could, quote, “diminish Congress’s willingness to provide financial assistance to Pakistan.” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland was questioned on the Obama administration’s handling of Afridi’s case.

REPORTER: If he was helping the U.S. on various matters and theCIA, how come you left him to die or to be imprisoned, to sentenced by the Pakistanis on treason, on other charges? How come you didn’t give him some kind of protection, or just like the Chinese—Chen, Mr. Chen, just like him, to bring him some or give him some safe haven, rather than leaving him behind?

VICTORIA NULAND: I think we’ve said that we don’t see any basis for what’s happened here, and so, you know, we will continue to make those representations to the government of Pakistan.

AMY GOODMAN: That was State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland. Matthieu?

MATTHIEU AIKINS: Well, of course, you know, I think, in any country in the world, when a citizen of that country cooperates with a foreign intelligence agency to carry out an assassination on that country’s soil, there is going to be legal consequences. Now, the U.S. would probably like to buy Afridi’s freedom, you know, as a way of showing other potential future sources that they’ll—they’ll back them up. I don’t think they care—are particularly sentimental about Afridi’s fate. So, we’ll see—we’ll see what happens with that, because it’s pretty politically sensitive football on both sides. But I mean, you know, this just—

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But what was he actually convicted of? It wasn’t of cooperating with the CIA, was it?

MATTHIEU AIKINS: No, I mean, like everything to do with his case, it’s actually a really complicated story. But they basically found a law under the frontier regulations—frontier crimes regulations, which is a British-era colonial law that basically—I mean, the tribal areas of Pakistan are still ruled by British-era colonial laws that provide no right of representation, or, you know, you can’t even be present at your own trial. There’s no real appeal. So, they found a way to try Afridi under these circumstances just because it was a way to quietly deal with the case, because it was obviously—you know, trying him for treason for helping an enemy of the state, the U.S., would bring up all sorts of uncomfortable questions as to what the real relationship between the United States and Pakistan is.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn to Noam Chomsky for his comments. We spoke to him in May—of course, the professor of linguistics and philosophy atMIT, where he taught for over half a century. These are his comments on the CIAoperation against Osama bin Laden.

NOAM CHOMSKY: [So, take, say,] the assassination of Osama bin Laden. I mean, I’m a small minority of people who think that was a crime. I don’t think you should have a right to invade another country, apprehend a suspect—remember, he’s a suspect, even if you think he’s guilty—apprehend him, after he’s apprehended and defenseless, assassinate him and throw his body into the ocean. Yeah, civilized countries don’t do that sort of thing. But—and notice that it was undertaken at great risk. The Navy SEALs were under orders to fight their way out, if there was a problem. If they had had to fight their way out, they would have gotten air cover and probably intervention. We could have been at war with Pakistan. Pakistan has a professional army. They’re dedicated to protecting the sovereignty of the state, very dedicated to it, and they wouldn’t take this lightly. A war with Pakistan would be an utter disaster. It’s one of the huge nuclear facilities, laced with radical Islamic elements. They’re not a big part of the population, but they’re all over. But they did it anyway. Then, right after it, when Pakistan was, you know, totally outraged, we carried out more drone attacks in Pakistan, almost—you know, it’s kind of astonishing when you look at the planning, quite apart from the criminality.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Noam Chomsky commenting on the assassination of Osama bin Laden. Matthieu Aikins?

MATTHIEU AIKINS: Well, what’s interesting about the whole mission—you know, that it was a unilateral mission, so it was done without Pakistan’s knowledge or consent—is that the Obama administration felt that it was so necessary to keep the Pakistanis from it, when in fact—I mean, there are very legitimate concerns about Pakistan’s relationship with militant groups, and there have been operations in the past, and they’ve gone after the Taliban, where it seems like they’ve been tipped off, you know, because of joint—they were sharing intelligence with the Pakistanis. But almost all of the high-profile al-Qaeda suspects, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, were apprehended in joint operations. And that’s one thing the Pakistanis were quite effective at and incentivized to be effective, through cash payments, was hunting down these al-Qaeda guys, who they were interested, for the most part, in getting, too. So, in Pakistan, when I went there and spoke with—whether they were politicians, in the military or civil society, there was a lot of bafflement as to why the U.S. needed to go alone. And I think it’s just part of the sort of arrogant and bullying approach that the Obama administration has taken to Pakistan, sort of getting tough.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you about the film that we referred to earlier, the new Hollywood movie about the CIA’s hunt for Osama bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty. In an unusual congressional critique of Hollywood movie making, three United States senators on Wednesday criticized the film. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, and Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona said the film is, quote, “grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location” of the terrorist leader. This is a clip from the film’s trailer.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We are still no closer to defeating our enemy.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Twenty detainees recognize that photo.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No birth certificate, no cellphone—the guy is a ghost.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: He’s right in the inner circle.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The whole world is going to want to know this.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I want targets.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Where was the last time you saw bin Laden?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That’s a clip from Zero Dark Thirty. Your sense of the impact of the film on the national debate over the use of torture in these cases?

MATTHIEU AIKINS: Right, well, I mean, it’s like how the film series 24 probably did more to justify torture to the ordinary Americans than any sort of, you know, evidence that was presented in books like Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side. So, I’m kind of taking my cues off actually, you know, experts like her and the senators who’ve had access to classified information.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s right. Leon Panetta, the defense secretary, just gave—wrote to Senator McCain—

MATTHIEU AIKINS: Sure.

AMY GOODMAN: —to say that, unequivocally, Osama bin Laden’s—the locating of Osama bin Laden was not based on confessions gotten through torture. And yet that’s how the film opens, with a nonstop interrogation, torture, that clearly the film doesn’t even question that actually that’s how information was gotten.

MATTHIEU AIKINS: Right, they get that—they get that wrong. They also portray torture as this sort of straightforward mechanism to extract information, when most of the evidence, psychological evidence, the studies that we’ve had, show that people break in unreliable ways, and the information that you extract is often useless, and it’s very difficult to tell whether it’s genuine information or not.

But there’s also like, I think, a deeper and more interesting thing at work here, because the filmmakers, you know, they’re very close to the Obama administration. They’re not—actually not trying to push a particular agenda, you know, from the Bush era or anything like that. But it’s just this fascination on the part of, you know, American media, and probably, you know, unfortunately, a large part of the American public, with this sort of unlimited use of power, you know, even the most despicable kinds of power, that if done skillfully and precisely can lead to, you know, something for the greater good. And, of course, this is the argument used by despots and terrorists for a very long time. And it’s what’s being used—I mean, the last time I was on the show, we were talking about an ally in Afghanistan who was torturing—I had documented a campaign of torture and extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses.

AMY GOODMAN: An Afghan warlord.

MATTHIEU AIKINS: An Afghan warlord in southern Kandahar, General Abdul Raziq, who’s still there, who’s still receiving U.S. funding, and who’s still leading, you know, a police force that we equipped. So, that sort of language of, you know, moral justification of this kind of behavior, I think, is linked to like some of the just like shady moralities that we’ve had to engage in for this war on terror.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you, Matthieu Aikins, for being with us. We’ll link to all of your pieces at democracynow.org. Matthieu Aikins, journalist based in Kabul, who has written for Harper’sGQThe Atlantic. His most recent piece forGQ just came out, “The Doctor, the CIA, and the Blood of Bin Laden.” Back in a minute.

Author pic
ABOUT AMY GOODMAN

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 900 stations in North America. She is the author of “Breaking the Sound Barrier,” recently released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.

Celente-Goldman Sachs Gang Has Hi Jacked Washington #1%

April 6, 2012

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMbIs1gOpas

________________________________________

Comment: State is now only fictitious “Status” to delude

people for the pyramidal power system, casino system

to exploit people (99.9%) and enrich power (0.1%). We

need system shift from the artificial pyramidal power

system to natural cyclical life system.

 

Pearl Harbor mother of all conspiracies

January 14, 2012

Pearl Harbor mother of  all conspiracies

http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/pearl/www.geocities.com/Pentagon/6315/pearl.html


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