Puppet MastersS


War Whore

Best of the Web: Bush's CIA Torturers Granted Final Immunity by Obama's "Justice" Department

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© Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty ImagesAnti-torture activists, wearing Guantánamo-style orange jumpsuits, demonstrate outside the White House in June 2011.
By closing two cases of detainees tortured to death, Obama has put the US beyond any accountability under the rule of law

The Obama administration's aggressive, full-scale whitewashing of the "war on terror" crimes committed by Bush officials is now complete. Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the closing without charges of the only two cases under investigation relating to the US torture program: one that resulted in the 2002 death of an Afghan detainee at a secret CIA prison near Kabul, and the other the 2003 death of an Iraqi citizen while in CIA custody at Abu Ghraib. This decision, says the New York Times Friday, "eliminat[es] the last possibility that any criminal charges will be brought as a result of the brutal interrogations carried out by the CIA".

To see what a farce this is, it is worthwhile briefly to review the timeline of how Obama officials acted to shield Bush torturers from all accountability. During his 2008 campaign for president, Obama repeatedly vowed that, while he opposed "partisan witch-hunts", he would instruct his attorney general to "immediately review" the evidence of criminality in these torture programs because "nobody is above the law." Yet, almost immediately after winning the 2008 election, Obama, before he was even inaugurated, made clear that he was opposed to any such investigations, citing what he called "a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards".

Evil Rays

Iran's International Profile Raised through Hosting NAM Summit

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© Fars News Agency
American writer and radio host Stephen Lendman believes that the successful arrangement and hosting of the 16th heads-of-state Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran was diplomatically a triumph for the Islamic Republic, which disappointed Israel and the United States and helped Iran improve its political profile on the international scene.

Lendman believes that despite the US and Israeli propaganda, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Tehran which wrapped up on Friday was a great diplomatic victory for Iran and meant a great defeat and failure for the US and the Zionist regime of Israel.

What follows is the full text of Fars News Agency's interview with Stephen Lendman in which a number of issues pertaining to the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran, the frustration of Western powers at the successful summit in Tehran, the attendance of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi at the summit, the prospects of the movement under Iran's presidency and the role it can play in fostering global peace and stability were discussed.

USA

The US Presidential Campaigns of Lies

Romney
Most Americans consider themselves to be hard-nosed realists. The reality is something else.

Just look at US politics. Particularly at the national level, it is pretty much all about image.

Successful candidates are all tall, and, when they are women, well groomed and attractive-looking. The conventions at which they are nominated, like the one just held in Tampa, Florida to nominate Mitt Romney and his vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan, and the one coming up next week to renominate Barack Obama and his running mate Joe Biden, are professionally staged and choreographed entertainment events.

Romney's even featured a schlock cameo appearance by actor Clint Eastwood, shamelessly reprising his "Dirty Harry" role by leading the swooning delegates in a collective recitation of his famous line: "Go ahead, make my day!"

What actually was said at that convention was a pack of lies. Paul Ryan, who accepted his nomination as vice presidential nominee first, as is the tradition at these events, declared that President Obama had stolen $716 billion from Medicare, the health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, using it to fund his signature health care "reform" program, derogatively dubbed "Obamacare" by Republicans.

He said the president had allowed an auto plant in Ryan's hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin to shut down. He said Obama had "done nothing" to enact budget "reforms" proposed by a bi-partisan budget commission he had earlier created. He called the $831-billion economic stimulus package of federal spending and tax cuts promoted and enacted by Obama in his first months in office nothing but "cronyism" and "patronage" that had "left out" average Americans. All of these assertions were bald-faced lies, and had already been exposed as such when Ryan and other Republicans had first made them earlier in the campaign.

Network

Desmond Tutu: Why I Had No Choice But to Spurn Tony Blair

Desmond Tutu
© Str/Reuters
I couldn't sit with someone who justified the invasion of Iraq with a lie

The immorality of the United States and Great Britain's decision to invade Iraq in 2003, premised on the lie that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, has destabilised and polarised the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history.

Instead of recognising that the world we lived in, with increasingly sophisticated communications, transportations and weapons systems necessitated sophisticated leadership that would bring the global family together, the then-leaders of the US and UK fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart. They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand - with the spectre of Syria and Iran before us.

If leaders may lie, then who should tell the truth? Days before George W Bush and Tony Blair ordered the invasion of Iraq, I called the White House and spoke to Condoleezza Rice, who was then national security adviser, to urge that United Nations weapons inspectors be given more time to confirm or deny the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Should they be able to confirm finding such weapons, I argued, dismantling the threat would have the support of virtually the entire world. Ms Rice demurred, saying there was too much risk and the president would not postpone any longer.

On what grounds do we decide that Robert Mugabe should go the International Criminal Court, Tony Blair should join the international speakers' circuit, bin Laden should be assassinated, but Iraq should be invaded, not because it possesses weapons of mass destruction, as Mr Bush's chief supporter, Mr Blair, confessed last week, but in order to get rid of Saddam Hussein?

Bizarro Earth

France's Foreign Policy Breakdown

François Hollande
© Bertrand Langlois/AP
The new French president, François Hollande, outlined his vision of international relations and foreign policy for his country on the occasion of the twentieth conference of French ambassadors. His speech was highly anticipated because he had never expressed himself on these issues, his experience being limited to the Socialist Party leadership and internal affairs.

Unexpectedly, he presented a synthesis of two currents within his party: on the one hand, the pro-US opportunists surrounding the former Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine and, on the other, the totally Atlantist and Zionist ideologues around the current finance minister, Pierre Moscovici.

Since the two groups do not share the same analysis, synthesis is reduced to a few points of consensus: the logic of blocs has vanished with the Soviet Union: the world has become unstable and needs to be regulated by international institutions; the Arab springs (with an "s") confirm that the momentum of history is oriented toward the spread of the Western political model. Therefore, French influence can develop in two ways. First, by playing in all circumstances the role of mediator, Paris can use its flexibility to host international institutions despite the refusal of the Russians and Chinese to play the game according to the rules laid down by the United States. Then Paris can count on the Francophonie1 to enjoy a natural sphere of influence.

Star of David

Good Question: What about Israel's nuclear weapons?

Times article isreal nuclear aresenal
© Sunday Times
Readers periodically ask me some variation on this question: "Why does the press follow every jot and tittle of Iran's nuclear program, but we never see any stories about Israel's nuclear weapons capability?"

It's a fair question. Going back 10 years into Post archives, I could not find any in-depth reporting on Israeli nuclear capabilities, although national security writer Walter Pincus has touched on it many times in his articles and columns.

I spoke with several experts in the nuclear and nonproliferation fields , and they say that the lack of reporting on Israel's nuclear weapons is real - and frustrating. There are some obvious reasons for this, and others that are not so obvious.

First, Israel refuses to acknowledge publicly that it has nuclear weapons. The U.S. government also officially does not acknowledge the existence of such a program. Israel's official position, as reiterated by Aaron Sagui, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy here, is that "Israel will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East. Israel supports a Middle East free of all weapons of mass destruction following the attainment of peace." The "introduce" language is purposefully vague, but experts say it means that Israel will not openly test a weapon or declare publicly that it has one.

According to Avner Cohen, a professor at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California who has written two books about this subject, this formulation was born in the mid-1960s in Israel and was the foundation of a still-secret 1969 agreement between Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and President Richard Nixon, reached when the United States became sure that Israel possessed nuclear bombs.

Vader

Closer Than You Think: Top 15 Things Romney and Obama Agree On

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© Unknown
Republicans and Democrats, like Romney and Obama are of one mind on many more things than they disagree about. From war and empire to their policies on Big Ag, Big Energy, "clean coal and safe nuclear power," and the war on drugs their areas of agreement are vast and troubling, and perhaps far more important than the rhetorical and stylistic differences highlighted by US political campaigns.

Too much agreement between Republicans and Democrats has always been bad news for those at the bottom of America's class and racial totem poles.

Back in 1875, Frederick Douglass observed that it took a war among the whites to free his people from slavery. What then, he wondered, would an era of peace among the whites bring us? He already knew the answer. Louisiana had its Colfax Massacre two years earlier. A wave of thousands upon thousands of terroristic bombings, shootings, mutilations, murders and threats had driven African Americans from courthouses, city halls, legislatures, from their own farms, businesses and private properties and from the voting rolls across the South. They didn't get the vote back for 80 years, and they never did get the land back. But none of that mattered because on the broad and important questions of those days there was at last peace between white Republicans and white Democrats --- squabbles around the edges about who'd get elected, but wide agreement on the rules of the game.

Like Douglass, the shallow talking heads who cover the 2012 presidential campaign on corporate media have noticed out loud the remarkable absence of disagreement between Republican and Democratic candidates on many matters. They usually mention what the establishment likes to call "foreign policy." But the list of things Republicans and Democrat presidential candidates agree on, from coddling Wall Street speculators, protecting mortgage fraudsters and corporate wrongdoers to preventing Medicare For All to so-called "foreign policy," "free trade," "the deficit" "clean coal and safe nuclear power" and "entitlement reform," is clearly longer and more important than the few points of mostly race and style, upon which they disagree.

Handcuffs

Democratic National Convention security rules raise fears of unconstitutional police state crackdown

Police patrol
© Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFPPolice patrol the Uptown area before the start of the Democratic National Convention September 1, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
As the Democratic National Convention nears, people in Charlotte could face arrest for carrying water bottles, socks, markers, and other seemingly unthreatening items, triggering worries over free speech violations and warrantless searches.

­Guests and protesters of the DNC have expressed concern that law enforcement could violate their constitutional rights in the name of public safety. A new city rule for "extraordinary events" also bans the possession of handbags, backpacks, soda cans, drink coolers, scarves, bike helmets, baby strollers, and non-service animals.

The rules are vague, causing concern among citizens who don't know if the items they carry will land them in jail, the Associated Press reported. A "container or object of sufficient weight to be used as a projectile" can be interpreted in many ways to include objects like digital cameras.

Not included in the list of banned items, however, are handguns and rifles. The state's laws grant anyone the right to carry firearms in public places. The firearms can only be concealed with a license.

Sherlock

TIME: U.S. Weakening Support for Iran Strike? Military Exercise with Israel Scaled Back

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© Abir Sultan/EPAIsraeli soldiers are seen during a military exercise in Golan Heights, Aug. 21, 2012. Israeli Armed Forces have been conducting maneuvers amid raising tensions in the region.
A smaller U.S. contingent may make it more difficult for the Israeli government to launch a pre-emptive strike on Tehran's nuclear program.

Seven months ago, Israel and the United States postponed a massive joint military exercise that was originally set to go forward just as concerns were brimming that Israel would launch a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. The exercise was rescheduled for late October, and appears likely to go forward on the cusp of the U.S. presidential election. But it won't be nearly the same exercise. Well-placed sources in both countries have told TIME that Washington has greatly reduced the scale of U.S. participation, slashing by more than two-thirds the number of American troops going to Israel and reducing both the number and potency of missile interception systems at the core of the joint exercise.

"Basically what the Americans are saying is, 'We don't trust you,'" a senior Israeli military official tells TIME.

The reductions are striking. Instead of the approximately 5,000 U.S. troops originally trumpeted for Austere Challenge 12, as the annual exercise is called, the Pentagon will send only 1,500 service members, and perhaps as few as 1,200. Patriot anti-missile systems will arrive in Israel as planned, but the crews to operate them will not. Instead of two Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense warships being dispatched to Israeli waters, the new plan is to send one, though even the remaining vessel is listed as a "maybe," according to officials in both militaries.

Wall Street

Banksters excited as Fed chairman signals possibility of more free money

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Helicopter Ben rides to the rescue of the Fed's banking clients once again
US central bank chief Ben Bernanke sparked a surge in share values on Friday after he signalled his willingness to embark on a third phase of money creation to boost the US economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed the day with a gain of 90 points after the chairman of the Federal Reserve gave a robust defence of past central bank interventions, which, traders said, prepared the ground for a third round of quantitative easing should the economic picture worsen. France's CAC and the German DAX closed up 1%.

In his much anticipated a speech in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Bernanke described the current economic situation as "far from satisfactory". He said that high rates of unemployment were a "grave concern, not only because of the enormous suffering and waste of human talent it entails, but also because persistently high levels of unemployment will wreak structural damage on our economy that could last for years".