12/27/2014 Syria and US policy:
Current US policy in Syria is showing serious flaws.
According to Reuters:
"...Syria's disintegration continues, a process that seems to benefit one player above all: Islamic State..."
Alternative remedies for Syria* still exist
and appear flexible enough for tailoring to regional change. In any case conquest and confiscation are outmoded US foregn policy goals.
Hopefully one day the responsible exercise of power will dislodge DC's militarized snake oil salesmen in favor of the
"generosity and beneficence" mentioned below toward building "trust, prosperity, and the groundwork for peace".
*dead commondreams.org link replaced 02/11/2017
12/23/2014 generosity and beneficence:
Here's a marvelous article written by world-class economist Jeffery Sachs which incidentally poses questions analogous to those frequently implicitly asked by this web site:: "We face, most importantly, choices for our time. Will we use power cynically and to dominate, believing that territory, Nato's long reach, oil reserves, and other booty are the rewards of power? Or will we exercise power responsibly, knowing that generosity and beneficence builds [sic] trust, prosperity, and the groundwork for peace? In each generation, the choice must be made anew."***edited 11:11CST 12/23/2014 12/21/2014 Afghan vindications:
Irrespective of one's whistleblowing beliefs, significant humanitarian benefits continue to unfold thanks to the efforts of Bradley Manning and Wikileaks. One such benefit is yesterday's belated release of Shawali Khan from US custody in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba—more than 12 years after his ill-advised detention in what might be successfully argued as US human trafficking. In 2002 US agents in Afghanistan paid the Taliban $10,000 for this prisoner without knowing anything at all about him. Purchasing alleged terrorists from the Taliban in this fashion was official US policy and analogous policies apparently were used worldwide—Alex Gibney's award winning documentary Taxi to the Dark Side notes that only about 7% of Gitmo detainees were actually captured by US forces. In any case Leonard Goodman, a Khan defense attorney, eventually would be told there was evidence against Khan however the defense could not see it because of security classifications. Visit "A Broken Writ, A Kangaroo Court" at In These Times online to get Goodman's writing from March 2012. It's a great read about contemporary US justice. And if you have not yet watched Taxi to the Dark Side buy yourself a copy for Christmas and host a neighborhood viewing.
12/17/2014 Cuban reprieve:
It's about time and better late than never. In calling for the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba POTUS was reported by multiple outlets in essence saying that Americans cannot keep doing the same thing expecting different results. Contradictorily Senator Marco Rubio seems too far out in right field this time. As Reuters has said: "A strong majority of Americans—and an even greater percentage of Floridians—support normalizing relations with Cuba". ***edited 7:11CST 12/18/2014
12/12/2014 more about torture:
The treaty-based Geneva Conventions were ratified by almost 200 countries in 1949 and defined generally accepted wartime rights of military prisoners non-exhaustively including protections for non-combatants and the wounded as well. Humane treatment of off-battlefield persons appears to have been a primary goal in the backwash of the Third Reich. Accordingly torture is nowadays considered war crime.
Short years later, early in the 1950s, the US CIA began researching and developing prisoner interrogation techniques which eventually ran a gamut including in-part hypnosis, drugs, and extrasensory assaults. Alex Gibney's award-winning 2007 work "Taxi to the Dark Side" briefly features that CIA endeavor in documenting the US military's torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay where CIA-pioneered techniques obviously were employed with gusto and embellishment by DoD personnel. In that film POTUS MISLEADUS, the US' de facto Grand Inquisitor, claims that following 9/11 the US held over 3,000 individuals worldwide for interrogation and it seems disingenuous to suggest the CIA would not use in-house-pioneered techniques while participating in an ill-advised intra-planetary inquisition. ..
According to DailyMail.com* the CIA chief yesterday
was "defending the overall post-9/11 interrogation program for stopping attacks and saving lives" implicitly and predictably raising the specter of American
exceptionalism in the face of Geneva Conventions. The Director did not confess agency torture however it was inferable that successful interrogations could in
the minds of our nominal American leaders mitigate the use of torture irrespective of agreed treaties and the CIA director did not rule out future use of
methodologies now euphemistically called enhanced interrogation techniques. Disturbingly the first few pages following the foreword in the
executive summary** of the Senate's final Study on the CIA's Detention and
Interrogation Program also could possibly be construed to imply a latent sanction of torture if accompanied by interrogation success.
*dead ABCnews link replaced 12/07/2015
**dead senate link replaced 12/07/2015
In any case torture or enhanced interrogation techniques nowadays are incidentally associated with the leader of the free world's perennially tarnished global image. In depicting that image in the prologue to Nemesis back in 2007 Chalmers Johnson cited May 2004 entries from the web site of a "courageous, anonymous young Iraqi woman" something like this: "I don't understand the 'shock' Americans claim to feel at the lurid [Abu Ghraib] pictures. You've seen the troops...terrify women and children...shoot civilians in cold blood...bomb cities and towns...burn cars and humans using tanks and helicopters...Fine. Today's lesson don't rape, don't torture, don't kill, and get out while you can...just take your puppets, your tanks, your smart weapons, your dumb politicians, your lies, your empty promises, your rapists, your sadistic torturers and go".
Now roughly a decade later there's still no better advice to be found.
After that, accountability is the next step.
Before his death in 2010 Chalmers Johnson argued that the CIA had become a private army for POTUS. As an example here, it is offered that although the new 2009 administration banned CIA detention authority and limited interrogation techniques to those approved in the Army Field Manual, CIA initiated drone strikes continued alongside DoD drone strikes and probably continue to this day. Contemporary DoD interrogation techniques which incidentally constitute torture in violation of rules established by the Geneva Convention are not germane to a report targeting the CIA, traditionally a civilian organization only with heavy de facto military ties. Nevertheless recently fashionable DoD torture is graphically and poignantly well-documented by Alex Gibney's award winning 2007 work entitled Taxi to the Dark Side. Overall it might be successfully argued that POTUS MISLEADUS' ill-elected administration brought ill-advised policies and consequent irreparable international stigma and shame to the nation and its citizens. Too many of those militarized policies have been continued with gusto by the current administration.
In any case one of the more disturbing aspects of this CIA torture story page is that Diane Feinstein's 2015 replacement at head of the Senate Intelligence Committee may be even less overseer and more intelligence pimp that she has been. Ink was barely dry on the 6,000 page report when, according to BBC, Senators Mitch McConnell and Saxby Chambliss said in a joint statement, "Claims included in this report that assert the contrary [to the senators' beliefs] are simply wrong"—presumably said in haste without studying the 6,000 pages they criticize, and most assuredly a politically motivated announcement perhaps another ultimately futile attempt to protect their party's most revered albeit symbolically convicted war criminal2. To others, by and large congressional non-members, it appears that shuttering intelligence bureaucracies would not attenuate national security at any level yet would save enormous revenues for better use while eliminating vested constitutional enemies—perhaps eventually restoring some currently missing constitutional protections as well as lost national pride.
Regardless anyone expecting Republican control of both houses of Congress to bring objectivity or lucidity into congressional decision making is apt to be sorely disappointed, and somewhat tortured by that reality.
2domain criminalisewar.org no longer available 02/11/2017 - links removed.
12/08/2014 don't miss:
Senator Rand Paul on current administration and federal policies.
12/05/2014 humanity scorned:
Any casual observer can readily see how US enforcers have been incrementally militarized over the past 20 years. What lame-stream is currently missing is that increasing disregard for citizenries by law enforcement is not limited to minority citizens or geographic locations. Even the current Director of the FBI seems to believe he is at war with the general public. Recently he defended the use of military equipment by law enforcement—without addressing the core issue of law enforcement accountability—militarily stating "Our paramount wish as leaders of law enforcement is that our people come home after each tour"—what tour and whatever happened to "protect and serve? Do you really want to put the general public in significant danger as long as law enforcement is unharmed? That's a battlefield. Like soldiers, contemporary law enforcement shoots first and questions later knowing there will be no ramifications. .
The undesirable transformation of US policing seems to have gained impetus in 1988 when US Code was modified to require the Secretary of Defense, "in cooperation with the Attorney General, to conduct annual briefings of law enforcement personnel of each State (including law enforcement personnel of the political subdivisions of each State) regarding information, training, technical support, and equipment and facilities available to civilian law enforcement personnel from DOD"—arguably unconstitutional long-term policies encouraging integration of military tools, methodology, and training into civilian law enforcement.
Once the US Code was modified, it took less than four years to experience the frightful results of militarization at both Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas, where no law enforcement personnel experienced reasonable punishment. Militarization continues with momentum. The Department of Homeland Security now hawks surplus military gear to US enforcement agencies everywhere—sometimes providing federal grants—yet only the minority communities seem to complain. The militarized Boston lockdown for example was ludicrous nonetheless without inescapable public outcry.
The realities of today's forefront issues are that a teenager was ordered off a street and ended up dead, a smaller child with a toy gun was killed in a playground, and a grown man with medical problems was throttled in public despite pleas regarding his medical condition. Skin color might have increased the likelihood of unsatisfactory outcomes in these cases but probably was incidental. Thank goodness minorities have rallied enough to gain attention. Nevertheless mental health is a root core issue. It's like grieving Mexican poet Javier Sicilia told In These Times editor Joel Bleifuss several years ago: "I'm very pessimistic about the prospects of mankind. There's a blindness, a deafness, a need to protect political interests, and a scorn for humanity. I'm hardly optimistic."
12/01/2014 Citizenfour [initially posted 11/29]:
Back in June of 2013 skilled documentarian Laura Poitras and two UK journalists met in Hong Kong for the first time together with Edward Snowden, US government spook turned whistleblower then employed by a major US military-industrial contractor. Their meetings unfolded over several days and resulted in public knowledge of arguably unconstitutional and ostensibly tyrannical US intelligence community policies first revealed in June of 2013 by UK's The Guardian newspaper and subsequently the US' Washington Post newspaper. The Guardian journalists involved were Glenn Greenwald and Ewen Macaskill. Last month Ms. Poitras' documentary film Citizenfour was released to theaters1. It chronicles those meetings as well as a few related activities through mid 2014.
Ms. Poitras presents facts recorded on video in Hong Kong hotel rooms and from other reliable works.
There is little if any orchestrated innuendo indigenous to the film and audiences apparently are expected to
draw their own conclusions after viewing what actually transpired. Irrespective of one's opinion of Edward Snowden this is a must see film
for anyone interested in preserving citizens' protections under US constitutional law in what US intelligence officials expediently
tout as a very dangerous post 9/11 era. See it only with a strong constitution because watching ambitious US intelligence officials
lie to Congress with enthusiasm and without compunction could break your heart.
Locally the movie played Thanksgiving week [maybe still playing] at the AMC theaters located in Destin Commons. If possible don't miss it.
1bad link replaced 12/23/2016.
12/01/2014 restoring constitutional protections:
The most important agenda before Congress is restoration of constitutional protections for US citizens. Repeal of AUMF, PATRIOT, and the detention provisions of NDAA 2012 are the single most important issues that Congress can address in order to preserve and ensure the longevity of traditional American values. Curtailing questionable US intelligence-gathering techniques is ethically and constitutionally mandatory.