Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Coming Attractions: War Without End, Amen by Chris Floyd
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
I've seen the future, baby: it is murder. -- Leonard Cohen

I. Modern Times
While our national leaders quibble and carp over just how much public money they should ladle out to Wall Street's den of thieves, and how many people should be in charge of divvying up this vast pork pie (one guy at Treasury? a panel of Establishment worthies? a couple of goobers in Congress?), the real business of the American empire -- war and rumors of war -- goes on without let or hindrance.

Even now, the masters of war down at Hell's Bottom -- the fetid swamp where they planted the Pentagon way back when -- are laying plans for decades of "persistent conflict" against a host of targets: the poor, the young, the desperate, the deprived, the Chinese, the Russians -- and the American people.

In a remarkably candid document, "The 2008 Army Modernization Strategy," the Pentagon lays out the perpetual blowback arising from the relentless pursuit of what George W. Bush once proudly hailed as "the single sustainable model of national success" -- i.e., rapacious crony capitalism backed up with state violence. This "model" -- which was once proclaimed as the "end of history," the unsurpassable apex of human development -- has been imposed -- at gunpoint, bribery and extortion -- on much of the world. The result has been, quite literally, the devouring of the earth: resources stripped bare, the climate poisoned and sent careening wildly out of balance, nations destroyed, populations dispossessed, societies rent asunder, violence run rampant, a tsunami of corruption and degradation ravaging the world.

Of course, it is not the Pentagon's job to rectify this situation or to modify the system that has in large part produced it. The boys at Hell's Bottom just do what they're told. And as the report indicates, they have obviously been told to do whatever it takes to keep the American elite floating -- in comfort and splendour -- on the surface of this blood-choked sea of suffering for as long as possible. Hence, the plans for "perpetual war" outlined in the document.

This week the Irish Times' Tom Clonan provided a succinct précis of the document, which conveys a truth universally unacknowledged by the bipartisan American elite: the "Global War on Terror" is by no means confined to slapping down religious extremists, but is designed to maintain and extend America's "unipolar domination" of world affairs -- and world resources.

Thus in addition to the usual suspects -- "a radical, ideology-based, long-term terrorist threat" -- it encompasses a number of other military targets for what Bush once called "the path of action." As Clonan notes:

Relatively new, "emerging" features are also included in the document's rationale for future threats.

"We face a potential return to traditional security threats posed by emerging near-peers as we compete globally for depleting natural resources and overseas markets."

This thinly-veiled reference to Russia and China will, perhaps, come as little surprise given recent events in Ossetia and Abkhazia. The explicit reference in this context to future resource wars, however, will probably raise eyebrows among the international diplomatic community, who prefer to couch such conflicts as human rights-based or rooted in notions around freedom and democracy.

The document, however, contains no such lofty pretences. It goes on to list as a pre-eminent threat to the security of the US and its allies "population growth - especially in less-developed countries - [which] will expose a resulting 'youth bulge'."

This youth bulge, the document goes on to state, will present the US with further "resource competition" in that these expanding populations in the developing world "will consume ever increasing amounts of food, water and energy".

The document goes on to describe in broad-strokes the manner in which its downsized military might ensure survival of the fittest for the US and its allies in future resource wars for water, food and energy.

As noted above, the report is quite open in its recognition of the fact that the "single, sustainable model" of resource-devouring crony capitalism for selected elites is in fact producing the threats that the Terror War purports to address:

An expanding, interconnected global economy supported by advancements in technology will continue to drive prosperity. However, this will also underscore wealth and power disparities between populations while providing the means to export terror and extremism around the world...Resource competition induced by growing populations and expanding economies will consume ever increasing amounts of food, water and energy. States or entities controlling these resources will leverage them as part of their security calculus.

Nor do the savants of Hell's Bottom have any illusions about the reality of global warming and its catastrophic human costs:

Climate change and natural disasters will compound already difficult positions in many developing countries, thereby increasing the potential for humanitarian crises, epidemic disease and regionally destabilizing population migrations.

It doesn't get much plainer than all this. Again, there is not the slightest indication or awareness that there might be any other way to address the immense challenges of the 21st century other than a vicious fight to the finish to retain the lion's share of the earth's dwindling spoils. Certainly, the slightly more gussied-up policy proposals of the bipartisan elite -- now represented by Barack Obama and the withered appendage of the Bush Faction known as John McCain -- envision no other alternative. For them, it's Terror War all the time, Terror War to the bitter end.

Clonan also zeroes in on another key element of the plan: the fact that these never-ending future wars will be focused to a large degree on civilian populations:

As a consequence of identifying growing populations in the developed world as a threat in itself, the strategy document highlights a number of paradigm shifts in the way future wars are to be conducted.

It predicts that "21st Century operations will require soldiers to engage among populations and diverse cultures instead of avoiding them". The document reveals that new US tactical doctrine provides a template by which air, naval and field commanders will no longer just secure traditional strategic targets such as airspace, seaports and bridgeheads, but will, of necessity, also deploy and fight amongst and against the target population itself to win wars.

The document refers to this euphemistically as "commanders employing offensive, defensive and stability or civil support operations simultaneously".

This is already the template being used in Iraq and Afghanistan, where civilian homes are bombed to bits just down the road from "reconstruction" projects, while vast armies raid homes, imprison tens of thousands of people without charges, set up hair-trigger checkpoints and sniper nests all over the "liberated" lands.

As Clonan notes, the document goes on to detail just how the Pentagon will militarize the global commons of outer space, employ advanced technologies of ever-increasing lethality, and also

create a new "networked" human soldier - the 'Future Force Warrior' - who will deploy among the target population and will operate simultaneously several remote, unmanned ground and air weapons systems.

This human engineering project is not limited to the external technologies outlined in the document. As I noted in the Moscow Times several years ago (and as Time magazine noted this month), the Pentagon is embarked on a number of research programs to alter the physical mind and bodies of its "warriors." ("Warrior" is now the term of choice for our military jargonists; obviously, the old-fashioned term "soldier" is not fearsome enough for the mighty chieftains of Hell's Bottom.)

First, from Time:

[T]he U.S. Army has just awarded a $4 million contract to begin developing "thought helmets" that would harness silent brain waves for secure communication among troops. Ultimately, the Army hopes the project will "lead to direct mental control of military systems by thought alone."

... "It'd be radio without a microphone, " says Dr. Elmar Schmeisser, the Army neuroscientist overseeing the program. "Because soldiers are already trained to talk in clean, clear and formulaic ways, it would be a very small step to have them think that way."

Dr. Mike D'Zmura, the civilian scientist in charge of the project, is quick to assure us that this brain-altering technology poses no risks; no spooky "mind control" mechanisms can ever possibly result from this research. And of course, he's right; when in the course of human history has any form of technology ever been adapted to malevolent ends?

But brain radio is just the start of what the Pentagon envisions for "future warriors," as I noted back in 2003:

[As the Daily Telegraph and Christian Science Monitor report,] the [Pentagon] "war fighter enhancement" programs -- an acceleration of bipartisan biotinkering that's been going on for years -- will involve injecting young men and women with hormonal, neurological and genetic concoctions; implanting microchips and electrodes in their bodies to control their internal organs and brain functions; and plying them with drugs that deaden some of their normal human tendencies: the need for sleep, the fear of death, the reluctance to kill their fellow human beings.

The research is "very aggressive and wide open," says Admiral Stephen Baker of the Center for Defense Information. Indeed, the U.S. Special Operations Command envisions the creation of "iron bodied and iron willed personnel" who can "resist the mental and physiological effects of sleep deprivation" while relying on "ergogenic substances" to "manage" the "environmental and mentally induced stress" of the battlefield. Their bodies juiced, their brains swaddled in Prozacian haze, the enhanced warfighters can churn relentlessly, remorselessly toward dominion.

And the term "creation" is not just fanciful rhetoric: Some of the research now under way involves actually altering the genetic code of soldiers, modifying bits of DNA to fashion a new type of human specimen, one that functions like a machine, killing tirelessly for days and nights on end. These mutations will "revolutionize the contemporary order of battle" and guarantee "operational dominance across the whole range of potential U.S. military employments," the [Pentagon] wizards enthuse...

[The Pentagon] remains undeterred in its bold quest to "push the limits of human input/output," advance the "symbiotic relationship between man and machine," and customize "pharmaceutical technology" to "embolden the warfighter and his superiors," as military scientists declared at a Pentagon-sponsored conference on future warfare.

Mutant soldiers waging "perpetual war" against desperate, deprived people in heavily-populated civilian areas -- welcome to the 21st century. Like the man said: It's murder, baby!

II. Bringing It All Back Home
But you shouldn't think that all these fun and games are designed just for foreigners. No indeed; the home folk too are in the cross-hairs of the Pentagon's perpetual conflict machine. In fact, Americans have just gotten the very first active combat unit aimed exclusively at them, as Arthur Silber reports.

Silber notes an Army Times article which spells it out plainly and with no addition: a battle-hardened combat team -- honed by 35 months of occupation duty in the killing fields of Iraq -- has now been assigned to bring those specialized skills back to the Homeland. From the Army Times:

Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the [3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team] will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.

...this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities....

They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control...The 1st BCT’s soldiers also will learn how to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.

“It’s a new modular package of nonlethal capabilities that they’re fielding. They’ve been using pieces of it in Iraq, but this is the first time that these modules were consolidated and this package fielded, and because of this mission we’re undertaking we were the first to get it.”

This "non-lethal" package includes the copious use of tasers, that remarkably effective -- and often lethal -- weapon of repression whose growing use Silber has documented so well. It also features the ability "to stand up hasty roadblocks" and establish those hair-trigger checkpoints that have lead to countless fatal "incidents" for innocent Iraqis.

Silber puts this development in its immediate context -- the accelerating deterioration of American society under the hammer blows of economic collapse, authoritarian rule, endless war and resource scarcity:

You're not crazy if...you've begun to have waking nightmares about what might be coming as the economy worsens and signs of "normalcy" (of what?) begin to vanish from our lives. Many more people without jobs and homeless, tent cities springing up here and there, perhaps regular power outages and growing shortages of goods that had once been plentiful...the list goes on and on.

And what, you might wonder, is our beneficent, all-caring government doing to prepare for this multitude of possibilities? After all, some of those poor, jobless, homeless, starving people might get unruly.

One answer, says Silber, is the good old battle-tested 1st BCT, and all the other resources of the "Northern Command." Silber then focuses on an essential point:

If and when the order comes to fire on American citizens, what happens then? I don't think we want to find out. Many of these individuals are overly familiar with killing innocent people -- as indeed, our criminal war in Iraq is nothing but an operation dedicated to killing innocent people in ungraspably huge numbers -- so a new kind of target probably won't deter them for long, if at all.

Add in all the private mercenary forces now available to the government, and, well...

So if you lose your home, lose your job, lose your family, lose your health -- while Wall Street fraudsters lick molasses from the federal spoon -- for God's sake, don't get riled up. Bow your head, bend your back and keep it yourself. The future is now.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Welcome to the Asylum by Arthur Silber

Strolling here and there on the interdolts, I read this:
The Bush administration on Saturday formally proposed to Congress what could become the largest financial bailout in United States history, requesting unfettered authority for the Treasury Department to buy up to $700 billion in mortgage-related assets.

The proposal, not quite three pages long, was stunning for its stark simplicity. It would raise the national debt ceiling to $11.3 trillion. And it would place no restrictions on the administration other than requiring semiannual reports to Congress, granting the Treasury secretary unprecedented power to buy and resell mortgage debt.


The ambitious effort to transfer the bad debts of Wall Street, at least temporarily, into the obligations of American taxpayers, was first put forward by the administration late last week, after a series of bold interventions on behalf of ailing private firms seemed unlikely to prevent a crash of world financial markets.

A $700-billion expenditure on distressed mortgage-related assets would be roughly what the country has spent so far in direct costs on the Iraq war and more than the Pentagon’s total yearly budget appropriation. Divided across the population, it would amount to more than $2,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States.

Whatever is spent will add to a budget deficit already projected at more than $500 billion next year. And it comes on top of the $85-billion government rescue of the insurance giant, American International Group, and a plan to spend up to $200 billion to shore up the mortgage finance giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
You feeling lucky? You should be. It's not every serf who enjoys the overwhelming honor of paying off his rulers' idiotically stupid bad debts, thus ensuring that his rulers maintain their incredibly privileged position among the wealthiest and most powerful of Americans. You lucky dog! I just love that "at least temporarily." You falling for that one again? You dog, you!

Earlier in my travels through the interdolts, I had looked at the proposal that "was stunning for its stark simplicity." No kidding. All of it is mindboggling, but it was when I saw this provision that my eyes started to fall out of their sockets:
Sec. 10. Increase in Statutory Limit on the Public Debt.

Subsection (b) of section 3101 of title 31, United States Code, is amended by striking out the dollar limitation contained in such subsection and inserting in lieu thereof $11,315,000,000,000.
It's hardly as if I had never thought about this issue before, but it takes on added, terrible meaning in light of this week's events. Make real to yourself all the implications of that short statement. Try to make real to yourself the enormity of that debt figure. You can't make it real to yourself. I certainly can't. How in the world does any adult -- any adult who is not suffering fatal impairment of his cognitive faculties -- convince himself that this kind of make-believe can continue indefinitely? The United States government is completely broke and drowning in debt that extends through the next three, five, ten, who knows how many generations. Finished. Washed up. Oh, yes, it might take a long time for the unwinding to occur, and the lives of many Americans may continue pretty much as they are for quite a while. Or, depending on events, the fantasy might begin to disintegrate at a much faster pace and very quickly turn into a nightmare. There are so many factors involved that it's impossible to predict exactly how it will play out.

And Congress will quickly approve this plan or one like it in its essentials. After all, they have to do something! And it's an election year! They have to show they're in charge! They're taking care of business! And they want to get out of Washington so they can rush back home and make sure they're reelected -- so they can continue their work of destroying what little remains of this country.

As Mike Whitney said:
Not a dime of public money is provided for over-extended mortgage-owners trying to stay in their homes. Not one congressman or senator at Thursday's meeting rejected the bailout plan or called for a criminal investigation to establish whether laws were broken in the sale of fraudulent securities which have clogged the global system; pushed banks, hedge funds, insurance companies and homeowners into default, and precipitated the greatest financial crisis in the nation's 230 year history.

Ironically, the very people who created this mess, are the ones who will decide how to resolve it; the Federal Reserve and the US Treasury. Where else, but Washington would such massive failure be rewarded with more power and authority.
As I wrote last week:
What you have seen over the last six months and more, and what you will see in the coming months and years, is the same phenomenon in the realm of economic policy [as has occurred with regard to foreign policy]. All of the solons who led us into this abyss of mounting debt, worthless securities, failing financial institutions, economic contraction and collapse ... and all the rest, will now instruct us as to how we should "solve" the crisis that they have created. The crisis may be ameliorated to a degree, and the worst of the consequences may be postponed for a while. But whatever "solutions" are implemented, whatever reorganization and reregulation is imposed, it will all be done in accordance with the ruling class's desires and goals. It will all be to protect their own wealth and power to whatever extent is possible, and to expand their wealth and power still more...
It's like the lousiest, most moronic sitcom ever made, crossed with the goriest, most nauseating slasher movie ever imagined. A stupidly grinning idiot wielding an axe in one hand and a butcher's knife in the other, as he dismembers the millions of bodies spread before him.

This is America today, a sickening joke run by people who are incapable of understanding the most rudimentary facts, drunk on power, and who perform only one action in a fully convincing manner: demonstrating their absolute determination to make their ignorance total and irreversible, as the blood of their victims rises around them.

Welcome to the asylum for the homicidally insane.
posted by Arthur Silber at 1:01 PM

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Furnace Seal'd: The Wondrous Death Squads of the American Elite
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
Terror the Human Form Divine
And Secrecy the Human Dress
-- William Blake

Another way station on our plunge into darkness was passed last week with the publication of Bob Woodward's new book, The War Within. Along with the usual backstairs gossip dished out by self-serving insiders eager to plant their spin on events, Woodward revealed -- or, rather, confirmed -- the existence of what he called the key element to the "success" of Bush's escalation of the war crime in Iraq: a "secret killing program" aimed at assassinating anyone arbitrarily deemed a "terrorist" by the leaders of the foreign forces occupying the conquered land.

In a TV appearance to puff the book, Woodward celebrated the arbitrary murder, by methods unknown, of people designated "terrorists," by criteria unknown, as "a wonderful example of American ingenuity solving a problem in war, as we often have." The White House acknowledged the existence of the assassination program, but insisted that it was the "surge" of troops that was mainly responsible for the drop in violence from the howling hell of 2006 to today's level, which, as Juan Cole has pointed out, is still greater than some of the most horrific civic conflicts of the last century. (It is a strange country indeed that can celebrate the creation of a blood-gushing sinkhole of violence and destruction as a "success beyond our wildest dreams," to use Barack Obama's new take on the surge.)

Of course, Woodward, the consummate Beltway courtier, embraces this bipartisan conventional wisdom about the success of the surge. And he is certainly right, at least from one point of view, as we noted here recently:

The "surge" -- which in addition to an influx of troops included the ruthless ethnic cleansing of Baghdad, the walled ghettoization of vast swathes of the city, and the arming and funding of violent sectarian militias across the land -- certainly succeeded in extending the duration of the murder, suffering and chaos engendered by America's armed and belligerent presence in Iraq. So it is indeed a great "success" ... in the same way that, say, Albert Speer's miraculous efforts to keep the Nazi war machine going from 1943 to 1945 -- resulting in the deaths of millions of people, including the worst ravages of the Holocaust -- was a "success."

But beyond this little insider quibble over the most effective element in the prolongation of the war -- Woodward, a former military intelligence officer, naturally plumps for the covert op, while the White House ballyhoos the high-profile presidential directive to increase troop levels -- what is most noteworthy about the "revelations" is that they have provoked no controversy at all. The United States admits that it is operating secret death squads in Iraq, and this barely rates a passing mention in the press, and certainly no comment whatsoever on the campaign trail, no debate among the national leadership. And this despite the fact that, as Woodward makes clear, the targets of the American death squads are not merely "terrorists," as the general public broadly understands the term -- i.e., religious extremists in the al Qaeda mold -- but anyone arbitrarily designated an "insurgent" or a leader in "the resistance."

That is, anyone who resists the invasion and occupation of his native land is deemed a legitimate target for a secret death squad. For execution without charges, without trial, without evidence. And this, to Woodward, is "wonderful" and "amazing." By this logic, of course, the Nazis were fully justified in murdering leaders of the French resistance in World War II. The British would certainly have been justified in sneaking into George Washington's house and killing the insurgent leader in his bed. (And his wife too, no doubt, as an acceptable level of "collateral damage.") In fact, Woodward sternly warns members -- members, mind you, not just leaders -- of "the resistance" to "get your rear end out of town;" i.e., leave your native land or else be murdered in your bed by secret assassins of the occupying power.

This is the heroic, honorable stance of the American elite in the 21st century. What the Nazis did, we do, and for the same reason: to secure the forcible occupation of a land we conquered through an unprovoked war of aggression. It is indeed wonderful and amazing that such a state of affairs -- such an abyss of depravity -- is accepted so calmly by the great and good among us....and by tens of millions of our fellow citizens.

But as noted above, there is really nothing new about Woodward's "revelations." I've been writing here, and elsewhere, for several years about the "global death squad" of the Terror War. These reports were based not on any insider knowledge but on universally accessible stories from the most staid and respectable media sources: mainstream papers, news agencies, leading magazines, etc.

And of course, it began long before the war crime in Iraq. As I noted in 2005:

On September 17, 2001, George W. Bush signed an executive order authorizing the use of "lethal measures" against anyone in the world whom he or his minions designated an "enemy combatant." This order remains in force today. No judicial evidence, no hearing, no charges are required for these killings; no law, no border, no oversight restrains them. Bush has also given agents in the field carte blanche to designate "enemies" on their own initiative and kill them as they see fit.
The existence of this universal death squad – and the total obliteration of human liberty it represents – has not provoked so much as a crumb, an atom, a quantum particle of controversy in the American Establishment, although it's no secret. The executive order was first bruited in the Washington Post in October 2001. I first wrote of it in my Moscow Times column in November 2001. The New York Times added further details in December 2002. That same month, Bush officials made clear that the dread edict also applied to American citizens, as the Associated Press reported.

The first officially confirmed use of this power was the killing of an American citizen in Yemen by a CIA drone missile on November 3, 2002. A similar strike occurred in Pakistan this month, when a CIA missile destroyed a house and purportedly killed Abu Hamza Rabia, a suspected al Qaeda figure. But the only bodies found at the site were those of two children, the houseowner's son and nephew, Reuters reports. The grieving father denied any connection to terrorism. An earlier CIA strike on another house missed Rabia but killed his wife and children, Pakistani officials reported.

But most of the assassinations are carried out in secret, quietly, professionally, like a contract killing for the mob. As a Pentagon document unearthed by the New Yorker in December 2002 put it, the death squads must be "small and agile," and "able to operate clandestinely, using a full range of official and non-official cover arrangements to…enter countries surreptitiously."

The dangers of this policy are obvious, as a UN report on "extrajudicial killings" noted in December 2004: " Empowering governments to identify and kill 'known terrorists' places no verifiable obligation upon them to demonstrate in any way that those against whom lethal force is used are indeed terrorists… While it is portrayed as a limited 'exception' to international norms, it actually creates the potential for an endless expansion of the relevant category to include any enemies of the State, social misfits, political opponents, or others."

It's hard to believe that any genuine democracy would accept a claim by its leader that he could have anyone killed simply by labeling them an "enemy." It's hard to believe that any adult with even the slightest knowledge of history or human nature could countenance such unlimited, arbitrary power, knowing the evil it is bound to produce. Yet this is what the great and good in America have done.

And this is what they continue to do, to this very day, this very hour, as the non-response to Woodward's macabre and freakish celebration of covert murder demonstrates so clearly.

(Continued after the jump.)
In Iraq, the death squads were in operation almost from the start. For example, one of the earliest reports about the American formation of "paramilitaries" and "commando squads" to "track down" insurgents came from the Washington Post in December 2003:

Two weeks ago, the U.S. occupation authority decided to form a paramilitary unit to track down insurgents. The unit, composed of Iraqi militiamen from the country's five largest political parties, will work with U.S. Special Forces soldiers, and their operations will be overseen by U.S. military commanders. Since the summer, the CIA has recruited and trained some former Iraqi intelligence agents to help identify the insurgents...

An even earlier Post report, in August 2003, also noted the hiring of Baathist operatives to hunt "insurgents." As I put it in the Moscow Times that month:

Here's a headline you don't see every day: "War Criminals Hire War Criminals to Hunt Down War Criminals."

Perhaps that's not the precise wording used by the Washington Post this week, but it is the absolute essence of its story about the Bush Regime's new campaign to put Saddam's murderous security forces on America's payroll.

Yes, the sahibs in Bush's Iraqi Raj are now doling out American tax dollars to hire the murderers of the infamous Mukhabarat and other agents of the Baathist Gestapo – perhaps hundreds of them. The logic, if that's the word, seems to be that these bloodstained "insiders" will lead their new imperial masters to other bloodstained "insiders" responsible for bombing the UN headquarters in Baghdad – and killing another dozen American soldiers while Little George was playing with his putts during his month-long Texas siesta.

Naturally, the Iraqi people – even the Bush-appointed leaders of the Potemkin "Governing Council" – aren't exactly overjoyed at seeing Saddam's goons return, flush with American money and firepower. And they're certainly not reassured by the fact that the Bushists have also re-opened Saddam's most notorious prison, the dread Abu Ghraib, and are now, Mukhabarat-like, filling it with Iraqis – men, women and children as young as 11 – seized from their homes or plucked off the street to be held incommunicado, indefinitely, without due process, just like the old days. As The Times reports, weeping relatives who dare approach the gleaming American razor-wire in search of their "disappeared" loved ones are referred to a crude, hand-written sign pinned to a spike: "No visits are allowed, no information will be given and you must leave." Perhaps an Iraqi Akhmatova will do justice to these scenes one day.

So here -- in August 2003 -- the leading newspaper in the nation's capital is openly reporting that goon squads are being sent to take care of insurgents and "terrorists," while the leading newspaper in the capital of America's war ally, Britain, is openly reporting that the notorious Abu Ghraib prison is being glutted with new captives -- including children -- sealed off behind American razor wire. The seedbed of the whole panalopy of the horrors to come was already there, in the open, from the very beginning.

And so it went on. As I noted early last year:

As Sy Hersh has reported ("The Coming Wars," New Yorker, Jan. 24, 2005), after his re-election in 2004, George W. Bush signed a series of secret presidential directives that authorized the Pentagon to run virtually unrestricted covert operations, including a reprise of the American-backed, American-trained death squads employed by authoritarian regimes in Central and South America during the Reagan Administration, where so many of the Bush faction cut their teeth – and made their bones.

"Do you remember the right-wing execution squads in El Salvador?” a former high-level intelligence official said to Hersh. "We founded them and we financed them. The objective now is to recruit locals in any area we want. And we aren’t going to tell Congress about it." A Pentagon insider added: "We’re going to be riding with the bad boys." Another role model for the expanded dirty war cited by Pentagon sources, said Hersh, was Britain's brutal repression of the Mau Mau in Kenya during the 1950s, when British forces set up concentration camps, created their own terrorist groups to confuse and discredit the insurgency, and killed thousands of innocent civilians in quashing the uprising.

Bush's formal greenlighting of the death-squad option built upon an already securely-established base, part of a larger effort to turn the world into a "global free-fire zone" for covert operatives, as one top Pentagon official told Hersh. For example, in November 2002 a Pentagon plan to infiltrate terrorist groups and "stimulate" them into action was uncovered by William Arkin, then writing for the Los Angeles Times. The new unit, the "Proactive, Pre-emptive Operations Group," was described in the Pentagon documents as "a super-Intelligence Support Activity" that brings "together CIA and military covert action, information warfare, intelligence and cover and deception."

Later, in August 2004, then deputy Pentagon chief Paul Wolfowitz appeared before Congress to ask for $500 million to arm and train non-governmental "local militias" to serve as U.S. proxies for "counter-insurgency and "counterterrorist" operations in "ungoverned areas" and hot spots around the world, Agence France Presse (and virtually no one else) reported at the time. These hired paramilitaries were to be employed in what Wolfowitz called an "arc of crisis" that just happened to stretch across the oil-bearing lands and strategic pipeline routes of Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America...

Brazen daylight raids by "men dressed in uniforms" of Iraqi police or Iraqi commandos or other Iraqi security agencies swept up dozens of victims at a time. For months, U.S. "advisers" to Iraqi security agencies – including veterans of the original "Salvador Option" – insisted that these were Sunni insurgents in stolen threads, although many of the victims were Sunni civilians. Later, the line was changed: the chief culprits were now "rogue elements" of the various sectarian militias that had "infiltrated" Iraq's institutions.

But as investigative reporter Max Fuller has pointed out in his detailed examination of information buried in reams of mainstream news stories and public Pentagon documents, the vast majority of atrocities then attributed to "rogue" Shiite and Sunni militias were in fact the work of government-controlled commandos and "special forces," trained by Americans, "advised" by Americans and run largely by former CIA assets. As Fuller puts it: "If there are militias in the Ministry of Interior, you can be sure that they are militias that stand to attention whenever a U.S. colonel enters the room."

...With the Anglo-American coalition so deeply embedded in dirty war – infiltrating terrorist groups, "stimulating" them into action," protecting "crown jewel" double-agents no matter what the cost, "riding with the bad boys," greenlighting the "Salvador Option" – it is simply impossible to determine the genuine origin of almost any particular terrorist outrage or death squad atrocity in Iraq. All of these operations take place in the shadow world, where terrorists are sometimes government operatives and vice versa, and where security agencies and terrorist groups interpenetrate in murky thickets of collusion and duplicity. This moral chaos leaves "a kind of blot/To mark the full-fraught man and best indued/With some suspicion," as Shakespeare's Henry V says.

Or as Blake put it:

The Human Dress is forged Iron
The Human Form a fiery Forge
The Human Face a Furnace Seal'd
The Human Heart its hungry Gorge

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Vampire, Struck by Sunlight
Arthur Silber

September 15, 2008

Simplicity and directness would appear to be advisable, as we are all buried in a torrent of irrelevancies, self-justifications, explanations which explain nothing and serve only to confuse everyone (which is precisely their aim), and an unending stream of lies and half-truths. Perhaps it would be easier to think of it in the following terms, for vampire stories are very popular. The economy of the United States is disintegrating in the same way a vampire does when exposed to sunlight, and for the same reason. Having sucked the blood out of all the living creatures unfortunate enough to be nearby, the vampire becomes intoxicated with what he perceives as his own power. Heedless of the warnings screamed at him from the few sane voices that remain, the vampire frolics and gambols long past the appointed time for his return to the soil of reality, so drunk is he on the glory of his being. The sun has been slowly rising for quite a while. Anyone who is looking can see it. Anyone who knows the relevant facts is fully aware of what will happen when the sun's rays strike the vampire. But almost no one is looking at the sun, and anyone who states the relevant facts is ignored.

Finally and now inevitably, the sun strikes the vampire. Within minutes, the vampire no longer exists. This is not a surprise. This is what happens -- this is the only thing that happens -- in these circumstances, given the nature and characteristics of the sun and the vampire.

Here are a few simple principles to keep in mind. Given the propaganda spewed by the ruling class, all of which is eagerly gulped down by most Americans, I should rephrase that: here are a few simple principles to understand, perhaps for the first time.

One: You can't get something from nothing.

Didn't your parents teach you this when you were four or five? Did you forget it? Or perhaps you never actually believed it. After all, most people want to believe they will win the big lottery. Fools, that's what they are. If the description applies to you, put that shoe on, sister or brother.

Mike Whitney:

The funny thing about capitalism is that you need capital to play. When the bank-vault is full of nothing but worthless mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and overvalued junk bonds; the whole thing goes belly-up fast. That appears to be the case with Lehman Bros, the century-old Wall Street warhorse that has joined the long procession of underwater banking establishments now hurtling towards the cliff. Lehman had a great go of it during the boom times when all it took to make oodles of money was a predictable flood of low interest credit from the Fed and a compliant ratings agency that would stamp every crappy securitized pool of mortgages with a big Triple A before hawking it to some gullible investor in Shanghai or Heidelberg.

Lehman travails are not much different from anyone else in the banking fraternity. The problem is that the entire system is under-capitalized and over-leveraged. When Bear Stearns went down last year, it was levered at a ratio of 26 to 1. When Hedgie Carlyle Capital blew up, it was levered at 32 to 1. And when Fannie and Freddie were finally taken over by the US Treasury; the two behemoths were levered at 80 to 1, which is to say that they had a one dollar capital cushion for every $80 they had loaned out.
A major part (perhaps the major part) of the U.S. economy has treated debts as assets for a long time. The best and brightest made it appear sophisticated and smart: they took debts and securitized them, chopped them up, repackaged them, recombined them, splintered them some more, repackaged and sold those, and on and on it went. This process doesn't turn nothing into something: it spreads the nothing among more and more institutions and makes the entire system increasingly vulnerable. Everyone pretends that the nothing is backed by something, but it isn't. To be more precise, as in the case of Fannie and Freddie, for example, there is $1 of something for every $80 of nothing. In fact, there's much more nothing, when you add in the repackaging, recombining, splintering, selling and reselling. That's a lot of nothing, and almost no something.

This is how con games work. Your parents probably explained this to you, many years ago. You forgot, or you didn't believe it. Believe it now.

Two: You, the "ordinary" American, are the one who finally pays for all of this. You are the ultimate sucker.

My only criticism of Whitney's latest article is that he buries the most critical sentence in the middle of a longer explanation:
Keep in mind, the biggest source of American power is its access to cheap capital via the US taxpayer.
Read that sentence again. Once more. Again. One more time.

You pay for all the depredations of empire: for the endless criminal wars of aggression abroad, and for the feast of the vampires here at home. It's your blood that kept them going all this time -- and it's your blood that will still keep them going. The ruling class rigged the game a century ago. Short of leaving the country or dropping out of the system altogether, you can't go somewhere else. There isn't anywhere else to go. The system is designed by and for the benefit of the ruling class, and for no one else.

Now look at that sentence in the context of the longer passage:
When the net foreign purchases of US financial assets begin to slow; the game is over. The Fed will be forced to raise interest rates to attract foreign capital which will put downward pressure on the economy and accelerate the housing crash. Paulson's decision to provide unlimited capital to Fannie and Freddie, will stack more and more debt atop the faltering dollar and US Treasuries. It is the equivalent of lashing the greenback to an anvil and tossing it overboard. Paulson's attempts to stave off a systemic banking crisis ensures that the federal government will undergo an unprecedented funding crisis sometime in the near future. There will be higher taxes for the battered middle class and higher interest rates for businesses and consumers. This will trigger a protracted economic slowdown and weaker growth. Credit will get tighter, banks will default, unemployment will soar and GDP will shrivel. A negative feedback loop will develop from the faltering financial system to the real economy; a vicious circle ending in massive layoffs, weakening demand, falling stock prices, and withering consumer confidence. Welcome to Soup kitchen USA.

Presently, Paulson and New York Fed chief Timothy Geithner are pressing Wall Street banking elites to pony-up enough money to buy up Lehman's devalued real estate assets. The Fed's proposal is similar to Greenspan's rescue of Long-Term Management LP (LTCM) which roiled financial markets in the late 1990s. Paulson has signaled that there be NO government bailout like Bear Stearns when the Fed bought up $29 billion in mortgage-related assets. The Fed is tapped out, having already committed half of its balance sheet -- nearly $500 billion -- in repos through its "auction facilities" which have recently skyrocketed to record highs of $19 billion per week for the last 3 weeks. The crisis is deepening by the day. Similarly, the Treasury has hitched its wagon to Fannie and Freddie which expands the National Debt by another $5.2 trillion and seriously undermines the "full faith and credit" of the US in the process. Keep in mind, the biggest source of American power is its access to cheap capital via the US taxpayer. Paulson has now put that source of revenue at risk by nationalizing the housing industry and burdening the taxpayer with (potentially) astronomical future obligations, even though he knows full-well that the market could drop another 15 to 20 per cent before the end of 2010. Paulson's recklessness has doomed the country to years of struggle
You've been conned, and the con is killing you and everyone you know. Whatcha gonna do about it? Not a damned thing, that's what.

Three: As with every other crisis, the ruling class, which created the crisis in the first place, will tell us how to "solve" it.

As I wrote in, "Psst -- While You Were Gibbering, the Ruling Class Rigged the Game and Won Everything":
This election campaign will be especially awful for anyone still capable of the most minimal kind of rigorous thought, in significant part because we have the triple- or quadruple-twist of the Obama lies on top of all the lies that are regularly trotted out every four years (and on a lesser scale, every two). We are told about how "important" it is that we vote -- although for many of us (including me, since I live in California), our votes are altogether meaningless on the presidential level, to say nothing of newer voting methods, which make one wonder if all of this is nothing but a charade for idiots -- and we are told of the glories of "participatory democracy" and how splendiferous it is to hear "the people's voice."

These are the idiotically empty cliches and slogans of our civic religion, which serve to drug "the people" into apathy, into granting the ruling class still more power, into taking part in these vacuous exercises in "democracy," and into colluding in a massive coverup of the truth of what has transpired over more than a century and is now set in stone: this is government of the ruling class, by the ruling class, and for the ruling class. Barring severe economic collapse (more than possible), widespread global war (also more than possible), repeated natural catastrophes (similarly more than possible), it shall not perish from the earth -- until it implodes as the result of its own rot and corruption, as have all similar systems in the past. Assuming disasters on a massive scale don't occur, it's probably here for your lifetime at least.


This amalgamation of major business interests with state power, this system of oligopoly and governance of, by and for the ruling class, has metastasized beyond imagining since the Progressive era. It has expanded in every direction and subsumed virtually every industry and business in America, large and small. It is this system of "political capitalism" that dictates domestic and foreign policy, including a foreign policy of endless war, preparation for war, and various forms of "cleaning up" after war. You the ordinary citizen, you "the people," figure nowhere in this -- except to provide the necessary labor and, when required, your blood and your life.


[T]his "transformation of the American political narrative" was essentially completed during and immediately following the Progressive era, and then enshrined by the New Deal and World War II. We were fucked a very long time ago. What's tragic is that it is only now that a few more people are beginning to notice -- and even now, it is still only a very few additional people. These are truths that no politician will tell you, and that almost no commentators or bloggers will mention. Lies are what sustain you, lies are what you live on, lies are what you demand, and lies are what you'll get and all you'll get. If you keep this up, the lies without end will kill you, and a lot of other people as well.
Those people who have followed the foreign policy catastrophes of recent years are repeatedly struck by this phenomenon: all the "experts" who are supposedly so knowledgeable in this area -- that is, all the "experts" who led us into the catastrophes and who were grievously, bloodily, murderously wrong about every significant matter -- remain entrenched in the foreign policy establishment. Moreover, they are precisely the people to whom everyone turns for the "solution" to the disasters that engulf us, both now and the disasters likely to come. This is what it means to have a ruling class. As I have said, the ruling class rules. The ruling class exercises a lethal monopoly on the terms of public debate, just as it exercises a lethal monopoly on the uses of state power.

What you have seen over the last six months and more, and what you will see in the coming months and years, is the same phenomenon in the realm of economic policy. All of the solons who led us into this abyss of mounting debt, worthless securities, failing financial institutions, economic contraction and collapse, rising taxation, and all the rest, will now instruct us as to how we should "solve" the crisis that they have created. The crisis may be ameliorated to a degree, and the worst of the consequences may be postponed for a while. But whatever "solutions" are implemented, whatever reorganization and reregulation is imposed, it will all be done in accordance with the ruling class's desires and goals. It will all be to protect their own wealth and power to whatever extent is possible, and to expand their wealth and power still more, if that remains at all feasible. And it probably will be feasible: your taxes can increase. They can increase a lot. You still have some blood that can be drained. And/or, if Obama is elected, you can look for his adoration of "voluntary" service to switch seamlessly to mandatory service very quickly, especially if the crisis deepens sufficiently. Almost no one will complain. Almost no one will remember the bloody history of those past regimes, of both left and right, that relied on mandatory national service.

The ruling class is the state. The state exists to serve the interests of the ruling class, and only the interests of the ruling class. They may promise you greater unemployment benefits, better health care, and a host of other government benefits -- all benefits also paid for by you, please note (the ruling class does have a sense of humor, after all; vampires are often crudely funny creatures) -- and those promises will cause most Americans to fall for the con still one more time.

Whatcha gonna do? Not a goddamned thing. Vote for McCain! Vote for Obama! It doesn't matter. The ruling class wins either way. The ruling class always wins. That's how the system was designed, and that's how it works. For the ruling class, it works very admirably.

Whatcha gonna do?

Laugh. Laugh a lot. Fuck the bastards.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Another Day, Another Gate of Hell Swings Open
Friday, 12 September 2008 www.chris-floyd.com
This week another gate swung open in the multi-chambered hell that is the "War on Terror." George W. Bush has authorized the invasion of Pakistan by American ground forces, and the armed incursions have already begun. The implications of this move -- which largely corresponds with the strategy that Barack Obama has said he would employ in the region -- are disturbing in the extreme.

William Pfaff takes up this subject with his usual clarity and good sense in a new article at Truthdig. In a telling insight, he produces the historical analogy most relevant to the current situation:

The United States has just invaded Cambodia. The name of Cambodia this time is Pakistan, but otherwise it’s the same story as in Indochina in 1970.

An American army, deeply frustrated by its inability to defeat an anti-American insurgent movement despite years of struggle, decides that the key to victory lies in a neighboring country. In 1970, the problem was the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Cambodia. Today it is Taliban and al-Qaida bases inside Pakistan, which the United States has been attacking from the air for some time, with controversial “collateral damage.”...

Washington’s decision was made known just in time for the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that opened the first phase of the “war on terror,” after which “nothing could ever be the same.” We no doubt have now begun phase two.

Pfaff notes that the result of that previous "surge" was not a happy one:

The eventual outcome of the American intervention in Cambodia in 1970 was Communist overthrow of the American-sponsored military government in that country, followed by genocide....

In the Vietnamese case, the American military command held that it could win the war by invading Cambodia to cut the so-called Ho Chi Minh Trail, along which supplies and arms for the Viet Cong Communist insurrection were being transported. The argument made was that cutting this route would starve the Viet Cong of supplies.

Initially, the unhappy Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia, desperately trying to keep his country out of the Vietnam War, was persuaded to turn a blind eye to U.S. bombing of the trail. A military coup followed in 1970, installing an American puppet general. B-52 saturation bombing ensued, without the desired military effect, but killing many Cambodians.

The joint U.S. and South Vietnamese “incursion” to cut the trail came in April 1970; it simply pushed the supply operations deeper into Cambodia. Richard Nixon said he acted to prove that the United States was not “a second-rate power.” “If, when the chips are down, the world’s most powerful nation acts like a pitiful helpless giant, the forces of totalitarianism and anarchy will threaten free nations and free institutions throughout the world.”

Or to translate this into our modern idiom: "The terrorists would win." To forestall the terrible fate of looking like a "second-rate power" -- a persistent anxiety of our national leaders; which is not surprising, given how second-rate they are -- Nixon opted for the usual method employed by presidents in such circumstances: mass murder. As I noted in a piece written a few years ago:

It's 1970. Nixon is angry: The Air Force is not killing enough people in Cambodia, the country he has just illegally invaded without the slightest pretence of Congressional approval. The flyboys are doing "milk runs," their intelligence-gathering is too by-the-book: There are "other methods" of getting intelligence, he tells Kissinger. "You understand what I mean?" "Yes, I do," pipes the loyal retainer.

Nixon then orders Kissinger to send every available plane into Cambodia -- bombers, fighters, helicopters, prop planes -- to "crack the hell out of them," smother the entire country with deadly fire: "I want them to hit everything." Kissinger tells his own top aide, General Alexander Haig, to try to implement the plan: "He wants a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia," Kissinger says. "It's an order, it's to be done. Anything that flies on anything that moves."

That's how the system works, beneath the mask. A blustering fool issues an order, and thousands upon thousands of innocent people die. An entire country is ripped to shreds, and into the smoking ruins steps a fanatical band of crazed extremists -- the Khmer Rouge -- who murder two million more.

Years later, of course, George W. Bush -- another little second-rater anxious about his manhood -- would "crack the hell" out of Iraq: an operation that is already nearing Khmer Rouge proportions, with more than a million dead so far. The new Bush-McCain-Obama move into Pakistan could presage an even greater orgy of death and ruin, especially if Pakistan's nuclear arsenal comes into play. As Pfaff notes:

The future consequences in (nuclear-armed) Pakistan await. There is every reason to think they may include civil protest and disorder in the country, political crisis, a major rise in the strength of Pakistan’s own Islamic fundamentalist movement and, conceivably, a small war between the United States and the Pakistan army, which is the central institution in the country, has a mind of its own and is not a negligible military force.

Pfaff also references one of the most salient -- and almost universally ignored -- facts about the current crisis: Washington's direct hand in creating it:

Pakistan’s military intelligence services created the Taliban while they were collaborating with the CIA to form the mujahadeen that drove the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan. Many in the service still support the Taliban as a useful instrument against India, and to keep Afghanistan out of the hands of more dangerous enemies.

Indeed. As we noted here a few months ago:

Those Taliban and al Qaeda sanctuaries that threaten American forces would not exist if Afghanistan was not a massively failed state, ravaged to pieces by 30 years of sectarian war. And that sectarian war would not have raged so long and so virulently if the American government (and its allies in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) had not decided to arm, train, fund and organize the world's most violent, retrograde religious extremists into a worldwide movement. And why did Washington do such a "notably wrong-headed" thing? Because the American elite -- stung and emasculated by their defeat in Indochina -- wanted to "give the Soviets their own Vietnam," in the words of Zbigniew Brzezinski. And so Jimmy Carter -- yes, mild-mannered ole Jimmuh -- greenlighted the covert op to build up a jihad army that would destabilize the secular government of Afghanistan and provoke the Soviets to intervene to save their clients there.

The fact that America's support of violent religious extremists in Afghanistan pre-dated the Soviet invasion there -- and was actually a cause of the invasion -- is of course virtually unknown in the land of the free (free of any useful information about what their overlords are getting up to, that is). At almost every turn, American policies have created more violence and more extremism in the region, either by design, or through neglect, or as the inevitable result of heavy-handed, blood-sodden massive military intervention.

Expanding the war to Pakistan...would certainly be in keeping with the long, bipartisan tradition of American policy there. And it would undoubtedly produce the same bitter fruit: more decades of hatred, extremism, poverty, ruin and suffering.

Now that expansion has begun. It will doubtless continue no matter who is president next year, for both major candidates and their running mates have enthusiastically pledged their allegiance to the Terror War -- despite the fact, as I wrote more than two years ago:

...What matters most now is ending the so-called "war on terror," this dance of death led by two small factions whose ambitions and principles are depraved, inhuman and obscene.

Naturally, we should apprehend anyone who commits a crime--murder, destruction, looting, extortion, intimidation--and subject them to the rule of law. And this should of course be done no matter what kind of organization the criminal belongs to: a religious sect, a mafia clan, a corporation--or a national government. All such criminals should be subjected to the judicial process--either domestically, in the countries where they commit their crimes, or internationally--no matter what grand abstraction they claim as "justification" for their misdeeds: "freedom and democracy," "national security," "defense of the ummah," "God's will."

"Stateless criminals" like the terrorists of al Qaeda are just that: criminals. They should be dealt with as criminals, and not inflated and glorified into gigantic figures of world-historical import. The perpetrators of state terrorism are somewhat different, because they are far more powerful and wreak far more damage than the freebooters on the fringe of society. But of course they too should be held accountable, as individuals, not only for the crimes they commit, but also for the crimes they order to be committed, and the crimes that arise indirectly from circumstances they have deliberately created with their great power.

Both sides need the other in this insane global conflict--but ironically, only one side can actually stop the "war." Only the United States can cease to respond with massive military force all over the world to provocations from criminals on the fringe. Only the United States can say, "We are not fighting a war; we are dealing with criminal actions as they arise--while working feverishly on the diplomatic, social, political, cultural and economic fronts to address the conditions in which the particular set of crimes known as 'terrorism' are apt to arise. It is a complicated business, to be sure: hard work, often unrewarding, full of pitfalls and reverses--but we are wise enough and strong enough as a nation to see it through."

But this course--the only sensible, and only genuinely effective response to criminal actions of extremist groups -- will never be undertaken by the Bush Faction, no matter who heads it. Nor by anyone else, of whatever political stripe, who buys into the militarist philosophy of an American dominance imposed on the world by force (either directly or through the more subtly implied but ever-present threat of force favored by "liberal" advocates of "soft power").

As long as the Bush Regime -- or some other permutation of "Bushism" [which, as we can see in 2008, includes the Obama-Biden Terror War ticket] -- is in power, the "war on terror" will never end. It will go on spawning new wars, real wars... This blood-dimmed tide will keep rising: thousands, perhaps millions (if the hard-Right's dream of nuking Iran comes true) will be struck down by death and grief, and we will all keep falling deeper into the pit of a lamed and brutal life.

So when they ask why you are so "angry," why you are so "strident" and "shrill," tell them you've been vexed to nightmare by the foul embrace of the "war on terror" factions. Tell them you've had enough of the blood and filth, the power games, the talk of God from murderers' lips. Tell them the war is over -- the war is over -- and you'll have no more senseless killing in your name.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Cave Dwellers: Biden Backs Down From Any Pursuit of Bush Crime
Sunday, 07 September 2008

There was a flurry and flutter of hope among many of the progressive faithful last week after reports of a declaration by Joe Biden that an Obama administration might pursue criminal charges against top Bush officials. The happy cry went up: At last, the Democrats are laying it on the line, standing up to defend the Constitution, the rule of law and common human decency againt a vicious gang of mass murderers and tyrannical thugs! Fightin' Joe will lead the way!

But by week's end, Fightin' Joe was caving and cratering in the time-honored Democratic fashion. As Raw Story reports, Biden went on what is rapidly becoming the Dem ticket's favorite venue -- Fox News -- and heatedly denied an interviewer's allegation that "if you guys are elected...you're actually going to pursue criminal charges against President Bush's administration and different people that served there."

"That's not true," Biden immediately replied. "I don't know where that report's coming from. What is true is the United States Congress is trying to preserve records on questions that relate to whether or not the law has been violated by anyone. Anybody should be doing that."

Biden emphasized that "no one's talking about President Bush. ... I've never heard anybody mention President Bush in that context." He noted that "there's been an awful lot of unsavory stuff that's gone on ... but I have no evidence of any of that. No one's talking about pursuing President Bush criminally."

Biden concluded his comments by explaining that possible misdeeds are "being looked into now, just so it never happens again in any other administration. ... The Obama-Biden administration is not going to start off saying, 'God, let's go take a look at what this --.' The American people want to know what we're going to do, not what happened."

There you have it. The only reason that the Democrats might, conceivably, look into some "possible misdeeds" is to make sure that "they don't happen again," not -- God forbid! -- in order to prosecute anyone for flagrant violations of the law. (Although exactly how you will prevent future abuses by never, ever punishing a past abuse according to the law of the land is not entirely clear.)

And Lord have mercy, nobody in the Democratic camp has the slightest suspicion that George W. Bush himself has ever done anything remotely criminal! Biden has never heard anyone even mention Bush in such a context -- a statement which, if taken at face value (which of course it shouldn't be), means that he has never read the editorial pages of the New York Times or the bill of impeachment introduced into Congress by a former presidential candidate of his own party. Nope. Never heard anyone anywhere ever say anything about any crimes that good old George might have committed. It's unthinkable!

And anyway, nobody cares about "what happened" -- that is, nobody cares that a million Iraqis have been murdered and tens of thousands of American soldiers have been killed or mutilated for life; nobody cares that captives held without charges in secret prisons have been tortured and beaten to death; nobody cares that the Constitution has been raped by authoritarian cretins who openly and proudly proclaim their disdain for the law. Nobody cares about that, says Biden; people just want to hear about all the magic ponies that he and Obama are going to bestow upon each and every one of us.

In other words, Barack Obama and Joe Biden will uphold the machtpolitik principle that has replaced Constitutional government in the United States: leaders cannot be punished for even the most egregious high crimes -- aggressive war, torture, tyranny. Not one of the principal perpetrators of the crimes that we have all seen committed before our eyes in the last few years will be punished, or face even the slightest discomfort or dishonor. Not one.

How much clearer can they make it? The "surge" -- the escalation of a massive war crime -- is a "wild success," says Obama. The "War on Terror" must be expanded. And no one will be prosecuted for launching a war of aggression on false pretenses, for authorizing the systematic use of torture (a capital crime under U.S. law), for spying on the American people, or any other "possible misdeed."

This is what Obama and Biden themselves are saying, directly, in their own words, at every opportunity. No one is forcing them to say it. And given the fact that more than 70 percent of the American people openly despise Bush and his administration, and more than half believe that this gang has committed impeachable offense -- i.e., high crimes -- it is not even political expedience that compels such statements.

It can only be their own sincere agreement with Bush, McCain and Palin on the fundamental principles that now inform governance of the American state, no matter which faction temporarily holds office: militarism, "unipolar domination" of world affairs by violence and the threat of violence, and authoritarian rule -- however rouged and lipsticked by ritualistic displays of the trapping of a long-vanished republic, as in the days of Rome's first Caesars.

9/11’s Accomplices vie for US Presidency
Obama and McCain campaigns fan "war on terrorism" hysteria

By Larry Chin

Global Research, September 7, 2008

In his much-ballyhooed acceptance speech, Barack Obama declared that he would "finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11". If Obama wishes to be true to his promise, he could begin with his own running mate, Senator Joe Biden.

Biden and the ISI chief

Biden was one of several top Washington officials who met with Lieutenant General Mahmoud Ahmad, the head of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) on and around September 11, 2001.

The ISI is a foreign branch of the CIA. "Al-Qaeda" is a covert operation that is managed by Anglo-American military-intelligence. Ahmad, the "9/11 money man" who delivered funds to alleged lead suicide hijacker Mohammed Atta prior to the attacks, met personally with Biden on September 13, 2001.

This case, detailed in Michel Chossodovsky’s Political Deception: Missing Link Behind 9/11, remains one of hundreds of smoking guns revealing direct US connections to 9/11, for which Biden has never provided a credible explanation.

At the same time that he was meeting with a man directly connected to the alleged hijackers, Biden was among the loudest and most bellicose voices joining Bush-Cheney for the bombing of Afghanistan, in retaliation for 9/11. Biden expressed an interest in "personally shooting Osama bin Laden". Not surprisingly, John McCain expressed the same post-9/11 bloodlust, in his infamous editorial, "War is hell. Let's get on with it."

Biden’s tune has remained unchanged, to this day. He wants to "finish the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban", and (in language that appears to be the new neoliberal "talking point") "take out the ones who actually attacked us on 9/11".

The fact that Biden and McCain, two major shills for the "war on terrorism" lie, are vying for White House power speaks for itself.

When recently confronted by an independent journalist about his meeting with Mahmoud Ahmad, Biden offered a series of non-sequitors, and then had his security guards escort the inquiring individual away.

Biden the insider

Dirty politics and back-door deals are nothing new for Biden, the perfect neoliberal establishment insider who has made a career of opportunism, obstruction, and political cover-up.

Biden, the senator of Delaware, the largest tax haven for corporations in the US, has played a key role in virtually every major US policy decision over the past two decades. Every military conflict. Supreme Court confirmations. Cabinet confirmations. Judiciary appointments. Congressional probes (cover-ups) of major political scandals.

Biden, a longtime Council on Foreign Relations stalwart, is a leading architect of "Homeland Security". He considers his "national security credentials" to be "unimpeachable".

Joe Biden and his longtime Senate colleague and war criminal/Keating Five "friend" McCain are as responsible for the current world crisis as anyone else alive.

Obama’s bombastic deception

If Barack Obama genuinely wishes to "take out" those who "actually attacked us" on 9/11, he would "take out" the legions of elite sponsors who have made his own rise to power possible.

He could begin with his own foreign policy guru, super-elite Zbigniew Brzezinski, the virtual creator of Islamic terrorism during the Carter administration, who suggested that a Pearl Harbor-like attack, a "massive and widely perceived external threat" would be useful; the man whose vision of "American primacy" and destablization across the Eurasian "Grand Chessboard" has been a lifelong obsession.

Obama might also "take out" the Clintons, and other neoliberal bigwigs supporting his campaign, given the fact that they were instrumental in sowing the seeds of 9/11 throughout the 1990s. Obama should "take out" members of Bush-Cheney, and members of Reagan and George H.W. Bush presidencies, and a worldwide legion of covert operatives, policy advisors, think tank figures (Project for a New American Century, etc.), and oil executives who "lit the match". He might also tell the truth about the global war for oil.

Obama, of course, will do nothing of the sort. (And Bush-Cheney will not be prosecuted, no matter what he and Biden say on the campaign trail to the contrary.)

Obama will do nothing. He will leave intact the abomination of the Patriot Act, permit illegal surveilliance, torture and renditions. He will endorse the cover-up of the 9/11 Commission, and deepen the militarization of the US homeland.

The winner of the 2008 election: the Big Lie

In the book The Iran-Contra Connection: Secret Teams and Covert Operations in the Reagan Era by Jonathan Marshall, Peter Dale Scott, and Jane Hunter, the authors describe how the combination of government recalcitrance and public acquiescence hampered attempts to limit presidential power and CIA abuses in the 1970s and 1980s.

One telling passage quotes Joe Biden:

"And when legislators tried to write a new CIA charter to limit presidential powers and check abuses, [President Jimmy] Carter’s people fought every inch of the way. Exhausted liberals caved in. To complaints from the American Civil Liberties Union, that the proposed charter was too permissive, Senator Joseph Biden (D-Del) said, "Let me tell you something, fellas. The folks don’t care. The average American could care less right now about any of this. You keep talking about public concern. There ain’t none."

Today, Bush-Cheney and the respective presidential campaigns hold the people of the world in even greater contempt.

The election is already over.

The bipartisan consensus responsible for the "war on terrorism" lie has never been more ironclad. The next presidential administration will be a continuation of the Bush-Cheney nightmare---in substance, if not in style.

The only thing left to be decided (besides the exact choreography of the final electronic vote fraud) is which lie about "change", which brand of poison to pour down the throats of the American populace.

Will it be the classic neoliberal establishment deception of Obama-Biden?

Or the more overt insult and slap in the face, and the most cynical appeal to the lowest of lowest common denominators: the insane and deeply corrupt John McCain, and the deeply corrupt insane, willfully stupid (George W. Bush-like), vitriol-spewing psychopath Sarah Palin (whose chief qualification appears to be her direct criminal ties to Alaskan energy interests)?

The "Big Lie" comes with both.


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