Welcome to Sott.net
Sun, 04 Dec 2022
The World for People who Think

Puppet Masters
Map

Vader

Pentagon Papers lawyer on Obama, secrecy and press freedoms: 'worse than Nixon'

Image
© AP
Career First Amendment and transparency advocate James Goodale sounds the alarm about the current president

In 1971, when the New York Times decided to publish the Pentagon Papers leaked to it by Daniel Ellsberg, it knew it was triggering a major fight with the secrecy-obsessed Nixon administration. As expected, the Nixon administration sued the NYT in an attempt to ban it from publishing the documents, but the US Supreme Court, in a landmark decision for press freedom, ruled the prior restraint unconstitutional. The paper's general counsel at the time, James Goodale, said that he counseled the paper to publish despite "the more likely scenario that everyone feared was the fact that they could have gone to jail," and he subsequently became an outspoken defender of press freedoms. He now has a new book entitled "Fighting for the Press" in which he argues, as the Columbia Journalism Review puts it, that "Obama is worse for press freedom than former President Richard Nixon was."

CJR has an amazing interview with Goodale, some relevant excerpts from which relate to many topics written about here:

Let's talk about some of the challenges to press freedom now.
The biggest challenge to the press today is the threatened prosecution of WikiLeaks, and it's absolutely frightening. . . .

"The one case that is troublesome and is still out there as we speak is the case of James Risen, who was a journalist who was leaked national security information in respect to the warrantless wiretapping program, which was disclosed by The New York Times.

"He's won his case, but most people are going to be surprised if he can win it on appeal. It's been sitting on appeal for a year. Now what's going to happen - if the shoe drops and we're back to Judy Miller, it means Risen goes to jail. And if in fact it doesn't turn out that way and it turns out well, we'll have the question of whether the government will go to the Supreme Court and we will always have the question whether it will turn out well for the next Risen. And who's behind this one? Obama."

War Whore

Iraq War vet pens 'last letter' to Bush and Cheney accusing them of war crimes, "plunder" and "the murder of thousands of young Americans - my fellow veterans - whose future you stole."

Image
© Truthdig.com
Tomas Young
An Iraq War veteran who joined the U.S. Army two days after 9/11 has written a powerful open letter to former President George W. Bush and ex-Vice President Dick Cheney accusing them of war crimes, "plunder" and "the murder of thousands of young Americans - my fellow veterans - whose future you stole."

Tomas Young, who was shot and paralyzed during an insurgent attack in Sadr City in 2004, five days into his first deployment, penned the letter from his Kansas City, Mo., home, where he's under hospice care.
"I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney," Young wrote in the letter published on Truthdig.com. "I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans - my fellow veterans - whose future you stole."
The 33-year-old, who was the subject of Phil Donahue's 2007 documentary "Body of War," continued:
I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to "liberate" Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called "democracy" in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq's oil revenues.
Young believes he was injured fighting the wrong war:
I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

Bad Guys

The FBI's anticipatory prosecution of Muslims to criminalize free speech

Image
© AP
US-born Hamid Hayat was sentenced to 24 years in prison for allegedly attending a terrorist training camp when he was 19
A court ruling in one of the most abusive prosecutions yet highlights the dangers posed by this familiar tactic

One of the major governmental abuses denounced by the 1976 final report of the Church Committee was the FBI's domestic counter intelligence programs (COINTELPRO). Under that program, the FBI targeted political groups and individuals it deemed subversive and dangerous - including civil rights activists (such as the NAACP and Martin Luther King), black nationalist movements, socialist and communist organizations, anti-war protesters, and various right-wing groups - and infiltrated them with agents who, among other things, attempted to manipulate members into agreeing to commit criminal acts so that the FBI could arrest and prosecute them. This program was exposed only because a left-wing group, the so-called "Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI", broke into an FBI office in Pennsylvania, stole the files relating to the program, and sent them to various newspapers.

What made the program so controversial was that the FBI was attempting to create and encourage crimes rather than find actual criminals - all in order to punish those whose constitutionally protected political activism the US government found threatening. As Noam Chomsky wrote in a comprehensive 1999 article on the program: "During these years, FBI provocateurs repeatedly urged and initiated violent acts, including forceful disruption of meetings and demonstrations on and off university campuses, attacks on police, bombings, and so on." Once the program was exposed, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover insisted that there was no centralized authority for it and that it had ended, while the Church Committee's final report made clear just how illegal and threatening it was:

Image

Image

Image

Image

War Whore

Who did you rape in the war, daddy?

Image
© Photo courtesy Everett Collection
An American soldier at a Viet Cong base camp
A Question for Veterans that Needs Answering

On August 31, 1969, a rape was committed in Vietnam. Maybe numerous rapes were committed there that day, but this was a rare one involving American GIs that actually made its way into the military justice system.

And that wasn't the only thing that set it apart.

War is obscene. I mean that in every sense of the word. Some veterans will tell you that you can't know war if you haven't served in one, if you haven't seen combat. These are often the same guys who won't tell you the truths that they know about war and who never think to blame themselves in any way for our collective ignorance.

The truth is, you actually can know a lot about war without fighting in one. It just isn't the sort of knowledge that's easy to come by.

There are more than 30,000 books on the Vietnam War in print. There are volumes on the decision-making of Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, grand biographies of Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh, rafts of memoirs by American soldiers -- some staggeringly well-written, many not -- and plenty of disposable paperbacks about snipers, medics, and field Marines. I can tell you from experience that if you read a few dozen of the best of them, you can get a fairly good idea about what that war was really like. Maybe not perfect knowledge, but a reasonable picture anyway. Or you can read several hundred of the middling-to-poor books and, if you pay special attention to the few real truths buried in all the run-of-the-mill war stories, you'll still get some feeling for war American-style.

Heart - Black

Blocking medicine to Iran

Image
© Ellen Weinstein
Patients in Iran are dying of treatable diseases because of shortages in life-saving medicines. The past year has been nothing short of catastrophic for the Iranian health-care sector: Imports from American and European drug makers in 2012 were down by an estimated 30 percent since 2011, and they continue to fall.

Over the past three months, I led a group of independent business consultants with expertise in Iran to evaluate the problem. After conducting extensive interviews in Tehran and Dubai with Iranian importers and manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment and their Western counterparts, we concluded that even though in theory the sanctions regime imposed on Iran by the United States and the European Union is supposed to allow humanitarian trade, in reality it impairs the delivery of drugs and medical equipment to Iran.

Although the Iranian government deserves firm criticism for incompetence in handling the crisis, poor allocation of scarce foreign currency resources and failing to crack down on corrupt practices, the main culprit are the U.S. and European sanctions that regulate financial transactions with Iran.

Red Flag

Family says New Jersey overreacted to boy's gun photo

Image
© AP Photo/Shawn Moore
This undated photo provided by Shawn Moore shows his son Josh, 10, holding a rifle his father gave him for his 11th birthday, at their home in Carneys Point, N.J. The Moore family claims this photo, posted on Facebook, led the state’s child welfare agency to the family’s house, Friday, March 15, 2013, demanding to be let inside to inspect their guns.
The ruddy-cheeked, camouflage-clad boy in the photo smiles out from behind a pair of glasses, proudly holding a gun his father gave him as a present for his upcoming 11th birthday.

The weapon in the photo, posted by his dad on Facebook, resembles a military-style assault rifle but, his father says, is actually just a .22-caliber copy. And that, the family believes, is why child welfare case workers and police officers visited the home in Carneys Point last Friday and asked to see his guns.

New Jersey's Department of Children and Families declined to comment specifically on the case but says it often follows up on tips. The family and an attorney say father Shawn Moore's Second Amendment rights to bear arms were threatened in a state that already has some of the nation's strictest gun laws and is considering strengthening them after December's schoolhouse massacre in Connecticut.

In this case, the family believes someone called New Jersey's anonymous child abuse hotline.

Shawn Moore said he gave his son Josh the gun as a present to use on hunting trips. The elder Moore was at a friend's house when his wife called, saying state child welfare investigators, along with four local police officers, were at the house, asking to inspect the family's guns.

Eye 1

Cyprus banks 'may never reopen' threatens German Finance Minister

Wolfgang Schaeuble
© Clemens Bilan/dapd
German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble fired a warning shot over Cyprus' economic status
Germany's finance minister has warned that it is unclear whether the banks in Cyprus will ever be able to open again.

Banks in Cyprus have been shut since Saturday to avoid a run while the tiny Mediterranean country tries to negotiate a rescue for its economy.

Wolfgang Schaeuble said two of Cyprus's big banks are being propped up solely by emergency liquidity from the European Central Bank that is contingent on all sides agreeing on a rescue package.

"Someone needs to explain this to the Cypriots," Mr Schaeuble told German public television ZDF.

Politicians in Cyprus have voted to reject a bailout deal that would have seized up to 10% of bank deposits to prevent a collapse of the country's banks.

Ambulance

Nevada military depot mortar explosion kills seven Marines

Image
© REUTERS/Google Earth/Handout
Hawthorne Army Depot in western Nevada is seen in this August 30, 2010 satellite image courtesy of Google Earth.
A mortar explosion at a U.S. Army munitions depot in Nevada killed seven Marines from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and injured seven other service members during a live-fire training exercise, military officials said on Tuesday.

A Marine Corps official said a 60mm mortar round exploded prematurely Monday night during training at the Hawthorne Army Depot in western Nevada. The cause was under investigation.

"The Marines were conducting live fire and maneuver training at the Hawthorne Army depot," Brigadier General Jim Lukeman told a news conference in North Carolina. "A mortar round exploded in the mortar tube, causing the deaths of seven and injuring seven others. We don't know yet what caused this malfunction."

The blast was among the deadliest such training accidents on U.S. soil in recent years. Last February, seven Marines were killed when two helicopters collided during an exercise along the California-Arizona border.

Pistol

Ten years on, Iraq lies in ruins as new evidence confirms U.S. government used Death Squads to manufacture 'Civil War'

Image

The 'democratization' of Iraq - March 19th, 2003
Ten years ago, more or less to the day, I wrote the following on the then Signs of the Times page:
"As I sit here, a motion in the UK House of commons has been defeated by some 415 votes to 149. Not that any other result would have stopped the US, yet it signifies a full green light for the attack on Iraq. Bush's 'ultimatum' to Saddam expires at midnight (GMT) Thursday (7pm EST). "Shock and Awe" (read "death and destruction") may come at any time between now and then. We have at most one day, one day left to ponder at the edge of the abyss before the coming darkness engulfs us all.

As if to mock those who are against this illegal invasion and the lies and deceit that have been used to justify it, Ari Fleishcer today stated that, even if Saddam went into exile now, the US would still invade. It's not about WMD, it's about domination and the destructive principle. Perhaps Ari feels he can be more truthful now that it is a 'done deal', now that Cheney, Rumsfeld and Blair have told the peace-loving people of the world to go f**k themselves. It must have been hard for Fleischer to stand up in front of the world's media every day and lie so profusely. (Then again, maybe not).

It's hard for me to describe the feelings I have right now; there is an enormous sense of impending doom, mixed with anger at being made to feel so helpless in the face of such rampant psychopathy. Who are these men that they can simply decide to throw the world and its inhabitants into "war without end", and who are we that they could, for so long, fool us with such pathetic and barely-disguised lies and know that we would just roll over and let them get away with it?"
Ten years ago today, the US and British military (with a posse of cowed 'allies' in tow) launched 'Operation Iraqi Freedom' aka 'Shock and Awe' aka, 'Operation Destroy the Critical Infrastructure of Iraq and Initiate an Overt Decade-long Attack on - and Occupation of - the Iraqi People.' To date, at least 1.5 million Iraqi civilians have been murdered, and at least 5 million displaced from their homes as a direct result of 'liberation'. This on top of millions killed and impoverished by US-led economic sanctions in the preceding decade. Deadly car bombings continue to this day. Suffice to say, Iraq was not liberated: it was destroyed, and destroyed deliberately.

USA

Cops: U.S. law should require logs of your text messages

Image
© U.S. House of Representatives
House subcommittee chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (center) will preside over today's hearing to discuss updating a 1986 privacy law. A proposal backed by Google, Apple, Twitter, Facebook, and other companies is scheduled to be discussed along with law enforcement-backed proposals.
Silicon Valley firms and privacy groups want Congress to update a 1986-era electronic privacy law. But if a law enforcement idea set to be presented today gets attached, support for the popular proposal would erode.

AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and other wireless providers would be required to capture and store Americans' confidential text messages, according to a proposal that will be presented to a congressional panel today.

The law enforcement proposal would require wireless providers to record and store customers' SMS messages -- a controversial idea akin to requiring them to surreptitiously record audio of their customers' phone calls -- in case police decide to obtain them at some point in the future.

"Billions of texts are sent every day, and some surely contain key evidence about criminal activity," Richard Littlehale from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will tell Congress, according to a copy (PDF) of his prepared remarks. "In some cases, this means that critical evidence is lost. Text messaging often plays a big role in investigations related to domestic violence, stalking, menacing, drug trafficking, and weapons trafficking."

Littlehale's recommendations echo a recommendation that a constellation of law enforcement groups, including the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, the National District Attorneys' Association, and the National Sheriffs' Association, made to Congress in December, which was first reported by CNET.

They had asked that an SMS retention requirement be glued onto any new law designed to update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act for the cloud computing era -- a move that would complicate debate over such a measure and erode support for it among civil libertarians and the technology firms lobbying for a rewrite.