Puppet MastersS

Eye 2

Best of the Web: Obama grants himself license to kill: This is the power claimed by kings and tyrants

After stonewalling for more than a year federal judges and ordinary citizens who sought the revelation of its secret legal research justifying the presidential use of drones to kill persons overseas - even Americans - claiming the research was so sensitive and so secret that it could not be revealed without serious consequences, the government sent a summary of its legal memos to an NBC newsroom earlier this week.

This revelation will come as a great surprise, and not a little annoyance, to U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon, who heard many hours of oral argument during which the government predicted gloom and doom if its legal research were subjected to public scrutiny. She very reluctantly agreed with the feds, but told them she felt caught in "a veritable Catch-22," because the feds have created "a thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the executive branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws, while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret."

She was writing about President Obama killing Americans and refusing to divulge the legal basis for claiming the right to do so. Now we know that basis.

Bad Guys

The Mali blowback: More to come?

The French-led military offensive in its former colony of Mali has pushed back radical Islamists and allied militias from some of the country's northern cities, freeing the local population from repressive Taliban-style totalitarian rule. The United States has backed the French military effort by transporting French troops and equipment and providing reconnaissance through its satellites and drones. However, despite these initial victories, it raises concerns as to what unforeseen consequences may lay down the road.

Indeed, it was such Western intervention - also ostensibly on humanitarian grounds - that was largely responsible for the Malian crisis in the first place.

The 2011 NATO military intervention in Libya effort went well beyond the UN Security Council mandate to protect civilian lives, as the French, British and U.S. air forces - along with ground support by the Saudi and Qatari dictatorships - essentially allied themselves with the rebel armies. The African Union - while highly-critical of Qaddafi's repression - condemned the intervention, fearing that the resulting chaos would result in the Libya's vast storehouse of arms might fueling local and regional conflicts elsewhere in Africa and destabilize the region.

This is exactly what happened.


Test-driving Martial Law? Temporary driving ban declared in several Northeastern U.S. states 'because of the bad weather'

As of 5:00 PM EST Friday, authorities in multiple Northeastern US states have implemented martial law, due to "the weather."

Facing up to one year in jail and a $1000 fine for merely driving their own cars on public streets and highways, citizens in various areas within the New England region have been hit with executive orders, threatening residents with criminal penalties if they leave their homes and attempt to drive during the current snowstorm.

Using the color of law to impose demands on the public that can only be seen as a massive overreach of power, individuals in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts thus far have been issued bans on driving in those areas.

R.I. Gov. Lincoln Chafee, for instance, has ordered vehicles off of Routes I-95, I-195, RI-146, RI-24 and I-295, beginning at 5 p.m., according to the R.I. Emergency Management Agency.

Comment: It's rather ironic that they put a driving ban in place so snow plows could clear the road - when no one is allowed to drive on the road in the first place. Far heavier snowfalls have hit other US states in recent years, yet no driving ban was instituted. So this is very odd and seems like another example of the federal government using extreme weather to acclimatize the populace to total control by restricting their movement.


US missile defense shield flawed - classified studies

© Reuters / Peter AndrewsA U.S. soldier stands next to a Patriot surface-to-air missile battery at an army base in Morag, Poland
The planned multibillion-dollar missile shield for Europe is flawed to a degree that it might never be able to fulfill its ostensible goal - protecting the US from Iranian missiles - secret Defense Department studies reveal.

The classified studies were outlined to lawmakers in a briefing by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) which was obtained by the Associated Press.

The four-phase shield, which would be based in select NATO member states and the Mediterranean Sea, would culminate in the deployment of SM-3 Block IIB interceptors. Those interceptors would theoretically protect America and Europe from InterContinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) threats.

But it is this fourth and final stage that has now come under scrutiny. The GAO investigators said that classified reports by the Missile Defense Agency concluded that Romania was a poor location for an interceptor to protect the US. It was also revealed that the Polish site would only work if the US developed capabilities to launch interceptors which could target an Iranian missile while in its short initial phase of powered flight.

The White House has opted not to pursue that capability because it is not viewed to be feasible, said one senior defense official.

Eye 2

CIA was lying about torture even to its own staff - CIA veteran Kiriakou

President Obama adopted most of President Bush's counter-terrorism policies, argues John Kiriakou - the former CIA official who blew the whistle on the agency's torture practices and is now set to go behind bars for it.

After 9/11 Kiriakou served as the chief of counter-terrorist operations in Pakistan. Now he is heading to prison, having been sentenced to two-and-a-half years.

Despite that, he says he is proud to have played a role in outlawing torture. Voting for Obama, Kiriakou believed that it would bring positive change - but it never came, he told RT. "I never believed I would be going to prison under a President Obama. Never."

RT: You were convicted of revealing the identity of an agent to a freelance reporter who, by the way, never even published it. You said you regretted sharing the name of the agent, of the officer, that you apologized for it. But you also said it was not the reason the government went after you. Why do you think the government went after you?

John Kiriakou: I've never believed that my case was about a leak. I've always believed my case is about torture. When I went on ABC News in December 2007 and I said that not only was the CIA torturing prisoners, but that the torture policy was an official US Government policy that was approved at the very top, by the President of the United States himself, the CIA filed what's called "a crimes report" against me the next day with the Justice Department. The Justice Department never stopped investigating me from December of 2007 until I was finally arrested in January 2012. So to say that this case is a result of a name that was found in attorney's brief at Guantanamo is just simply not true.


Los Angeles cop at center of rape investigation now being sued for police brutality

© AFP Photo / Joe KlamarPolice officers stand guard in Los Angeles, California
An LA police officer under investigation over claims he threatened women with jail time if they refused to have sex with him is now being sued by a man he and another officer beat nearly to death after trying to extort money from him last May.

Officer James Nichols is included with the City of Los Angeles, the LAPD, the police union and John Miller, another officer, in a $20 million lawsuit brought by Brian Mulligan, a former finance executive. Mulligan alleges that Nichols and Miller nearly killed him last year.

Mulligan's lawsuit claims that in addition to the beating, the LAPD and its union engineered a smear campaign against him that resulted in him losing his job.
Mulligan "suffered a broken shoulder blade and facial fractures requiring several surgeries at the hands of police officers after they stopped him in the city's Highland Park neighborhood and forced him to check into a local motel and stay there against his will," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Che Guevara

Assange to Maher: Americans should know how easily their government can kill them

Friday night on "Real Time with Bill Maher," Maher's first guest was Julian Assange, founder of the website Wikileaks and the author of the book Cypherpunks. Assange was appearing by video from the Ecuadoran embassy in London, where he is living as a virtual prisoner for fear of extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted on charges of sexual assault.

Assange, said Maher, is afraid that if he gets extradited to Sweden, he will then get turned over to the U.S., where officials are angry with the Wikileaks founder for leaking thousands of secret documents and diplomatic communiques to the world.

Maher asked Assange why the Swedish government is so eager to cooperate with the U.S. government.

Assange replied that the Swedish government has changed, that once it was quite liberal under the leadership of Prime Minister Olaf Palme, who was assassinated in 1986. Sweden has made a dramatic turn to the right since then.


Obama administration wants to put Algerian militant on secret 'kill' list

© AFP PhotoMokhtar Belmokhtar
Senior members of President Barack Obama's administration want to put the mastermind of last month's attack on an Algerian natural-gas facility on a secret "kill" list, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Adding Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar to a US list for targeted killing would entail a significant US military expansion into northwestern Africa, the newspaper said, citing unnamed US officials.

It would mean extending drone strikes and other lethal counterterrorism operations to the region, the paper added.

Thirty-seven foreign hostages, including three Americans, were killed when gunmen last month stormed the In Amenas gas plant and the Algerian army launched a military assault in response. One Algerian and 29 of the insurgents were also killed.


Bill Moyers: 'Obama's cold-blooded use of drones' shows 'seeming indifference' to 'innocent bystanders'

Bill Moyers criticized the government's drone program in a video essay as he discussed a new "chilling account" of the "indiscriminate" attacks.

On Feb. 5, The New York Times published an article on Obama's choice to lead the CIA, John Brennan, which began with the story of cleric Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber. He openly denounced Al Qaeda - but was killed in a drone strike during a meeting with Al Qaeda leaders, which they had requested with the cleric.

Moyers argued that that the attacks are "killing the innocent and driving their enraged families and friends straight into the arms of the very terrorists we're trying to eradicate."

Bizarro Earth

The global water grab

© Image credit: Ankur Paliwal/CSE For-profit companies have begun setting up pre-paid water kiosks (or water ATMs) that dispense units of water upon the insertion of a pre-paid card.
Writing in National Geographic in December 2012 about "small-scale irrigation techniques with simple buckets, affordable pumps, drip lines, and other equipment" that "are enabling farm families to weather dry seasons, raise yields, diversify their crops, and lift themselves out of poverty" water expert Sandra Postel of the Global Water Policy Project cautioned against reckless land and water-related investments in Africa. "[U]nless African governments and foreign interests lend support to these farmer-driven initiatives, rather than undermine them through land and water deals that benefit large-scale, commercial schemes, the best opportunity in decades for societal advancement in the region will be squandered."

That same month, the online publication Market Oracle reported that "[t]he new 'water barons' - the Wall Street banks and elitist multibillionaires - are buying up water all over the world at unprecedented pace." The report reveals two phenomena that have been gathering speed, and that could potentially lead to profit accumulation at the cost of communities and commons - the expansion of market instruments beyond the water supply and sanitation to other areas of water governance, and the increasingly prominent role of financial institutions.