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YouTube – George Carlin: The Illusion Of Choice

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Obama @ the UN: The Overwhelming Arrogance of American Imperialism

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From WSWS.org

Obama at the UN: The arrogant voice of imperialism

By Bill Van Auken
24 September 2010

President Barack Obama used his speech at the United Nations General Assembly Thursday to defend US wars and state terror abroad and to proclaim that the economic crisis has been resolved thanks to his Wall Street bailout.

The US president received a noticeably tepid response from the assembled UN delegates. While in his first address to the body last year, he was able to pose as a fresh alternative to the crimes carried out by the Bush administration, by now it has become clear to most on the international stage that his administration’s policies are largely in continuity with those of its predecessor.

In its tone and its content, the Obama speech was the authentic and arrogant voice of US imperialism.

Parroting remarks delivered by George W. Bush from the same podium, Obama began by invoking September 11, 2001, once again exploiting the terrorist attacks of that day to justify the acts of military aggression committed by both US administrations in the intervening nine years.

In the same breath, he referred to Wall Street’s financial meltdown of September 2008, as an event that “devastated American families on Main Street,” while “crippling markets and deferring the dreams of millions on every continent.”

These two events were presented as the source of the core challenges confronting the US administration. Supposedly in response to the first, the Obama administration has continued and escalated wars in Iraq and Afghanistan-Pakistan, while reaffirming Washington’s “right” to carry out unilateral military aggression anywhere on the planet.

In response to the second, the administration continued the massive bailout begun under Bush, committing more than $12 trillion to propping up the US banks and financial institutions, while holding none of those involved responsible for the criminal forms of speculation practiced on Wall Street.

Obama claimed that the so-called Wall Street reform legislation passed by his administration would ensure “that a crisis like this never happens again.” It does nothing of the kind, placing no serious limits on the speculative activities and profitability of the big banks and leaving Wall Street to continue with “business as usual.”

“The global economy has been pulled back from the brink of a depression,” Obama told his UN audience. This statement flies in the face of the grim conditions confronting working people on every continent. This includes the US itself, where the official unemployment rate remains near 10 percent, the unemployed and underemployed account for 17 percent of the workforce, some 30 million people, and one out of every seven Americans is living below the poverty line.

While profits have returned to pre-crisis levels, the reality is that none of the underlying contradictions that have given rise to the deepest world economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s has been resolved. They have only grown in intensity. The response of the ruling classes throughout the world has been to redouble their attacks on the working class in an attempt to force it to pay for this crisis.

Obama followed his assertion about the economy being pulled back from “the brink” with an even more absurd claim that he would not “rest until these seeds of progress grow into a broader prosperity, not only for all Americans, but for peoples around the globe.”

In the US, throughout Europe and in much of the rest of the world, governments are pursuing unprecedented austerity policies that are ripping up basic social rights and dramatically lowering the living standards of working people. Meanwhile, Obama himself spoke before a global poverty summit the day before his speech, warning the world’s poorest that Washington was determined to break their cycle of “dependency.”

The US president’s lies about the economy were followed by the fraudulent claim that the military operations his administration is pursuing abroad are aimed at upholding “our common security.”

Obama said that he is “winding down the war in Iraq” and will pull out all of its occupation troops by the end of next year. At the same time, he declared Washington’s intention to forge “a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people,” by which he means maintaining a US protectorate over the oil-rich country in order to advance the geo-strategic interests of American capitalism.

He said that the drawing down US troops in Iraq had allowed the US military to be “refocused on defeating al Qaeda and denying its affiliates a safe haven” in Afghanistan. This is another lie. US military and intelligence officials acknowledge that there are no more than 100 al Qaeda members in all of Afghanistan. The nearly 100,000 US troops deployed in that country are not combating “terrorism,” but asserting US neo-colonial control in a bid to advance Washington’s quest for hegemony in Central Asia.

In one of the speech’s more chilling passages, Obama bragged that “from South Asia to the Horn of Africa, we are moving toward a more targeted approach” in the war on terror, that did not require “deploying large American armies.” In other words, while constrained in its ability to carry out another major military occupation, US imperialism is pursuing its policies by means of assassinations, drone missile attacks and the deployment of elite killing squads, and has arrogated to itself the right to target and kill its perceived opponents anywhere on the planet.

Obama used the speech to once again threaten Iran. Only days before his appearance at the UN, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a speech urging elements within the Iranian ruling elite to carry out regime change in the country. He reiterated the vow made in his speech last year that Iran “must be held accountable” for its alleged violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

At least a quarter of Obama’s address was dedicated to the US-brokered Israeli-Palestinian “peace talks” that appear to be on the brink of yet another breakdown in the face of Israeli intransigence and provocation.

For all the hackneyed rhetoric about the “Holy Land” and “our common humanity,” the Obama administration is pursuing these negotiations as a means of solidifying support among the Arab regimes for its escalating threats of aggression against Iran and to further its domination of the Middle East.

The content of the speech made clear the US administration’s unwavering complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. Obama urged that a limited moratorium declared by the Israeli government be extended beyond September 26, when it is set to expire. He said Israel should do this because it “improved the atmosphere for talks,” not because the entire settlement activity in the Israeli-occupied West Bank is a violation of international law and multiple UN resolutions. In the same breath, the US president asserted that “talks should press on until completed,” presumably regardless of what Israel does.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has insisted that his government will not extend the moratorium, while Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had initially insisted that his delegation would be forced to walk out if it does not. An ever-pliant servant of Washington, Abbas has since indicated that he might back down on this threat.

The rest of Obama’s remarks on the Israeli-Palestinian question had an Orwellian flavor, in which Israel was presented as the victim. “The slaughter of innocent Israelis is not resistance—it’s injustice,” Obama declared. He made no mention of the slaughter of 1,400 Palestinians in the US-backed siege of Gaza in 2008-2009 or the criminal attack on the Gaza aid flotilla that killed nine Turkish civilians last May. The day the US president spoke, the UN issued a report charging that Israel’s actions were illegal and employed an “unacceptable level of brutality,” meriting war crimes prosecution.

The US president concluded his speech with an exaltation of “democracy” and “human rights,” which again echoed similar language employed by his predecessor, George W. Bush.

In Bush’s case, this phony democratic rhetoric was employed to justify US imperialism’s drive for dominance in the Middle East, where Washington demonstrated its commitment to “human rights” by carrying out mass killings, the detention of tens of thousands without charges or trial, and the infamous acts of torture at Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantánamo.

In Obama’s case, the posturing as the global champion of democratic rights is no less contemptible. The target, however, appears to have shifted.

The Council on Foreign Relations, the establishment thinktank that enjoys close ties to the administration and the State Department, spelled this out. Noting Obama’s “full-throated endorsement of democracy as the best form of government,” it commented: “Yet the appeal of such an idea faces challenges at bodies like the UN. This is not, for example, the future world that Chinese leaders envision.”

Indeed, Obama followed his celebration of democracy by calling attention to his upcoming trip to Asia, ticking off the countries he will visit—India, Indonesia, Korea, Japan—and praising each for having promoted “democratic principles in their own way.” The itinerary includes the four largest countries that US strategists envision as bulwarks against the expansion of Chinese influence.

On the same day that Obama delivered his speech, the New York Times published a front-page article on the increasingly tense US-China relationship that was clearly based on the perspective of the US administration. The Times reported that “rising frictions between China and its neighbors in recent weeks over security issues have handed the United States an opportunity to reassert itself—one the Obama administration has been keen to take advantage of.”

It noted that Washington has inserted itself into territorial disputes between China and Southeast Asian countries, organized provocative joint military exercises with South Korea near Chinese waters and has solidified its alliance with Japan, largely in opposition to China’s influence.

Under conditions of rising conflicts between Washington and Beijing over currency and trade relations, Obama’s praise for “democracy” at the UN represents a thinly veiled threat of new and far more catastrophic eruptions of American militarism.

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Obama’s Speech Defects

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Empire Burlesque

Speech Defect: Emissions of Evil From the Oval Office

Posted: 01 Sep 2010 01:47 AM PDT

On Tuesday night, Barack Obama gave a speech from the Oval Office on Iraq that was almost as full of hideous, murderous lies as the speech on Iraq his predecessor gave in the same location more than seven years ago.

After mendaciously declaring an “end to the combat mission in Iraq” — where almost 50,000 regular troops and a similar number of mercenaries still remain, carrying out the same missions they have been doing for years — Obama delivered what was perhaps the most egregious, bitterly painful lie of the night:

“Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility.”

“We have met our responsibility!” No, Mister President, we have not. Not until many Americans of high degree stand in the dock for war crimes. Not until the United States pays hundreds of billions of dollars in unrestricted reparations to the people of Iraq for the rape of their country and the mass murder of their people. Not until the United States opens its borders to accept all those who have been and will be driven from Iraq by the savage ruin we have inflicted upon them, or in flight from the vicious thugs and sectarians we have loosed — and empowered — in the land. Not until you, Mister President, go down on your knees, in sackcloth and ashes, and proclaim a National of Day of Shame to be marked each year by lamentations, reparations and confessions of blood guilt for our crime against humanity in Iraq.

Then and only then, Mister President, can you say that America has begun — in even the most limited, pathetic way — to “meet its responsibility” for what it has done to Iraq. And unless you do this, Mister President — and you never will — you are just a lying, bloodsoaked apologist, accomplice and perpetrator of monstrous evil, like your predecessor and his minions — many of whom, of course, are now your minions.

I really don’t have anything else to say about this sickening spectacle — which is being compounded in Britain, where I live, by the sight today of Tony Blair’s murder-tainted mug plastered on the front of the main newspapers, as he makes the rounds pushing his new book, doling out “exclusive interviews” full of crocodile tears for the soldiers he had murdered in the war crime he committed and the “great suffering” of the Iraqi people which, goodness gracious, he never foresaw and feels, gosh, really bad about. All this laced with venomous comments about his former colleagues — those who, like Gordon Brown, sold their souls to advance Blair’s vision of aggressive war abroad and corporate rapine at home — along with, of course, earnest protestations of his God-directed good intentions, and his unwavering belief that killing a million innocent human beings in Iraq was “the right thing to do.” Pol Pot could not have been more blindly self-righteous than this wretched moral cretin.

I will say again what I have said here many, many times before: What quadrant of hell is hot enough for such men?

Words might fail me, but wise man William Blum has a few that put the “end of combat operations in Iraq” in their proper perspective. Let’s give him the last word here [the ellipses are in the original text]:

No American should be allowed to forget that the nation of Iraq, the society of Iraq, have been destroyed, ruined, a failed state. The Americans, beginning 1991, bombed for 12 years, with one excuse or another; then invaded, then occupied, overthrew the government, killed wantonly, tortured … the people of that unhappy land have lost everything — their homes, their schools, their electricity, their clean water, their environment, their neighborhoods, their mosques, their archaeology, their jobs, their careers, their professionals, their state-run enterprises, their physical health, their mental health, their health care, their welfare state, their women’s rights, their religious tolerance, their safety, their security, their children, their parents, their past, their present, their future, their lives … More than half the population either dead, wounded, traumatized, in prison, internally displaced, or in foreign exile … The air, soil, water, blood and genes drenched with depleted uranium … the most awful birth defects … unexploded cluster bombs lie in wait for children to pick them up … an army of young Islamic men went to Iraq to fight the American invaders; they left the country more militant, hardened by war, to spread across the Middle East, Europe and Central Asia … a river of blood runs alongside the Euphrates and Tigris … through a country that may never be put back together again.

II. Same Question, Same Answer
The piece below was written in the first few weeks after the invasion. Its scene is the same Oval Office where Barack Obama spoke last night. And the choice offered to the leader in this piece is the same one that Obama has been offered — and his decision has been the same one taken here, not only for Iraq, but for Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and many other places around the world.

The Karamazov Question
Variation on a theme by Dostoevsky

A man appeared in the doorway of the Oval Office. He wasn’t noticed at first, in the bustle around the desk of the president, where George W. Bush was preparing to announce to the world that the “decapitation raid” he had launched on Baghdad a few hours before was in fact the beginning of his long-planned, much-anticipated invasion of Iraq.

A woman fussed with the president’s hair, which had been freshly cut for the television appearance. A make-up artist dabbed delicate touches of rouge on the president’s cheeks. Another attendant fluttered in briefly to adjust the president’s tie, which, like the $6,000 suit the president was wearing, had arrived that morning from a Chicago couturier. As for the president’s $900 designer shoes – which, as a recent news story had pointed out playfully, were not only made by the same Italian craftsman who supplied Saddam Hussein with footwear, but were also the same size and make as those ordered by the Iraqi dictator – they had been carefully polished earlier by yet another aide, even though they would of course be out of sight during the broadcast.

In addition to all of this activity, the president’s political advisors and speechwriters were also making last-minute adjustments to the brief speech, while giving the president pointers about his delivery: “Keep your gaze and your voice steady. Project firmness of purpose. Confidence, calmness, character. And short phrases, lightly punched. Don’t worry, the breaks and stresses will be marked on the teleprompter.”

It’s little wonder that no one saw the man as he advanced slowly to the center of the room. He stood there silently, until the sense of his presence crept up on the others. One by one, they turned to look at him, this unauthorized figure, this living breach of protocol. He was, in almost every sense, non-descript. He wore a plain suit of indeterminate color; his features and his skin betrayed no particular race. He had no badge, no papers; how had he come to be here, where nothing is allowed that is not licensed by power?

Then, more astonishing, they saw his companion: a two-year-old girl standing by his side. A mass of tousled hair framed her face; a plain red dress covered her thin body. She too was silent, but not as still as the man. Instead, she turned her head this way and that, her eyes wide with curiosity, drawn especially by the bright television lights that shone on the president.

A Marine guard reached for his holster, but the man raised his hand, gently, and the guard’s movement was arrested. The aides and attendants stepped back then stood rooted, as if stupefied, their ranks forming a path from the man at the room’s center to the president’s desk. The president, brilliant in the light, alone retained the freedom to move and speak. “Who are you?” he asked, rising from his chair. “What do you want?”

The man put his hand tenderly on the back of the girl’s head and came forward with her. “I have a question for you, and an opportunity,” the man replied. “I’ve heard it said that you are righteous, and wish to do good for the world.”

“I am,” said the president. “I wish only to do God’s will, as He in His wisdom reveals it to me. In His will is the whole good of the world. What is your question, what is your opportunity? Be quick; I have mighty business at hand.”

The man nodded. “If tonight you could guarantee the good of the world – peace and freedom, democracy and prosperity, now and forever; if tonight, you could relieve the suffering of all those who labor under tyranny and persecution, all those who groan in poverty and disease; if tonight, you could redeem the anguish of creation, past and future, now and forever; if tonight, you could guarantee such a universal reconciliation, by the simple expedient of taking this” – here the man suddenly produced a black pistol and held it out to the president – “and putting a bullet through the brain of this little one here, just her, no one else: would you do it? That is my question, this is your opportunity.”

With firmness of purpose, the president grasped the pistol and walked around the desk. With confidence, calmness, and steady hand, he pressed the barrel to the girl’s head and pulled the trigger. Her eyes, which had grown even wider with her smile at the approach of the nicely dressed man and his rosy cheeks, went black with blood in the instant shattering of her skull. Her body spun round from the force of the shot – once, twice, three times in all – then fell, her mutilated head flailing wildly, in a heap on the floor of the Oval Office.

At that moment, the man faded, like a dream, into nothingness. The aides and attendants, unfrozen, stepped back into their tasks. The room was again a whirl of activity, like a hive. The president – the dematerialized gun no longer in his hand – strode confidently back to his chair. He winked at a nearby aide and pumped his fist: “Feel good!” he exulted.

The speech went off without a hitch. The hair was perfect, the voice steady, the phrases short and lightly punched. No one saw the blood and bits of brain that clung to the president’s $900 designer shoes; they were, of course, out of sight during the broadcast.

First published in The Moscow Times on April 20, 2003.

Fred Branfman: 5 Million Iraqis Killed, Maimed, Tortured, Displaced | Sabbah Report

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Written by chinarose

June 25, 2010 at 4:46 am

Wikileaks hero, American whistleblower Bradley Manning has been arrested; Pentagon hunting WikiLeak’s Assange

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Phillip Shenon, The Daily Beast

BS Top - Shenon Bradley Manning

An Army intel analyst charged with leaking classified materials also downloaded sensitive diplomatic cables. Are America’s foreign policy secrets about to go online?

The State Department and American embassies around the world are bracing for what officials fear could be the massive, unauthorized release of secret diplomatic cables in which U.S. diplomats harshly evaluate foreign leaders and reveal the inner-workings of American foreign policy.

Diplomatic and law-enforcement officials tell The Daily Beast their alarm stems from the arrest of a 22-year-old Army intelligence analyst based in Iraq who has reportedly admitted that he downloaded 260,000 diplomatic cables from government computer networks and was prepared to make them public.

“If he really had access to these cables, we’ve got a terrible situation on our hands,” said an American diplomat.

Specialist Bradley Manning of Potomac, Maryland, who is now under arrest in Kuwait, is also accused of having leaked—to Wikileaks, a secretive Internet site based in Sweden—an explosive video of an American helicopter attack in Baghdad in 2007 that left 12 people dead, including two employees of the news agency Reuters. The website released the video in April.

“If he really had access to these cables, we’ve got a terrible situation on our hands,” said an American diplomat. “We’re still trying to figure out what he had access to. A lot of my colleagues overseas are sweating this out, given what those cables may contain.”

• Philip Shenon: Pentagon ManhuntHe said Manning apparently had special access to cables prepared by diplomats and State Department officials throughout the Middle East regarding the workings of Arab governments and their leaders.

The cables, which date back over several years, went out over interagency computer networks available to the Army and contained information related to American diplomatic and intelligence efforts in the war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq, the diplomat said.

He added that the State Department and law-enforcement agencies are trying to determine whether, and how, to approach Wikileaks to urge the site not to publish the cables, given the damage they could do to diplomatic efforts involving the United States and its allies.

Wikileaks, a website based in Sweden, that promotes itself as a global champion of whistleblowers, did not reply to emails from The Daily Beast.

In a comment on the social networking website Twitter, Wikileaks said that allegations that “we have been sent 260,000 classified U.S. embassy cables are, as far as we can tell, incorrect.” Wikileaks said it did not know the identity of the source who provided it with the 2007 video from Iraq. If Manning did leak the video, the site said, he is “a national hero.”

The State Department’s chief spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, said Monday that the department was involved in the Pentagon-led investigation to try to track down any cables that Manning may have stolen from interagency computer networks.

“These are classified documents,” he said. “We take their release seriously.” He said the public release of diplomatic cables could do damage to national security since they could reveal the  “source and methods” used by the United States to gather intelligence overseas.

As feds hunt for Wikileaks’ Julian Assange in hopes of preventing him  from publishing diplomatic secrets, Samuel P. Jacobs talks with Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg about why he should stay out of America—and why some things should be kept secret.

Government officials tell The Daily Beast that they are searching for Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, whom they believe is in possession of State Department secrets leaked to him by an Army intelligence specialist now under arrest. As Assange, the Australian champion of whistleblowers cancelled a public appearance in Las Vegas Friday night, The Daily Beast talked with Daniel Ellsberg, the legendary leaker of the Pentagon Papers about Assange’s safety and what he would do if he were in possession of the State Department’s confidential traffic. Since standing trial for providing state secrets to newspapers—he was acquitted in 1973—Ellsberg has become an author and activist.

Having read a hell of a lot of diplomatic cables, I would confidently make the judgment that very little, less than one percent, one percent perhaps, can honestly be said to endanger national security.

The Daily Beast: Could the release of the diplomatic cables said to be in the possession of Wikileaks endanger national security?

Daniel Ellsberg: Any serious risk to that national security is extremely low. There may be 260,000 diplomatic cables. It’s very hard to think of any of that which could be plausibly described as a national security risk. Will it embarrass diplomatic relationships? Sure, very likely—all to the good of our democratic functioning. The embarrassment would be our awareness that we are supporting and facilitating dictators and corrupt and murderous governments, and we are quite aware of their nature.

• Exclusive: The Pentagon Manhunt for Wikileaks’ Julian AssangeAn example would be surrounding a visit of Hamid Karzai to this country…where he is given a special audience with the president. We know that privately he is seen realistically. We know that because of the leak, which I think started out of this investigation. We know that because of the leak from Ambassador Eikenberry. He describes him as irredeemably corrupt, not an appropriate partner for a pacification program, and cannot change.

They would regard this as very embarrassing, [since publicly they’ve been] saying, he is a perfectly suitable partner for pacification, working on corruption…Ha ha….Bullshit.

Do you think Assange is in danger?

I happen to have been the target of a White House hit squad myself. On May 3, 1972, a dozen CIA assets from the Bay of Pigs, Cuban émigrés were brought up from Miami with orders to “incapacitate me totally.” I said to the prosecutor, “What does that mean? Kill me.” He said, “It means to incapacitate you totally. But you have to understand these guys never use the word ‘kill.’”

Is the Obama White House anymore enlightened than Nixon’s?

We’ve now been told by Dennis Blair, the late head of intelligence here, that President Obama has authorized the killing of American citizens overseas, who are suspected of involvement in terrorism. Assange is not American, so he doesn’t even have that constraint. I would think that he is in some danger. Granted, I would think that his notoriety now would provide him some degree of protection. You would think that would protect him, but you could have said the same thing about me. I was the number one defendant. I was on trail but they brought up people to beat me up.

You believe he is in danger of bodily harm, then?

Absolutely. On the same basis, I was….Obama is now proclaiming rights of life and death, being judge, jury, and executioner of Americans without due process. No president has ever claimed that and possibly no one since John the First.

What advice would you give Assange?

Stay out of the U.S. Otherwise, keep doing what he is doing. It’s pretty valuable…He is serving our democracy and serving our rule of law precisely by challenging the secrecy regulations, which are not laws in most cases, in this country.

He is doing very good work for our democracy. If [the alleged leaker, Bradley Manning] has done what he is alleged to have done, I congratulate him. He has used his opportunities very well. He has upheld his oath of office to support the Constitution. It so happens that enlisted men also take an oath to obey the orders of superiors. Officers don’t make that oath, only to the Constitution. But sometimes the oath to the Constitution and oath to superiors are in conflict.

Massive Underwater Oil (and chemical) Cloud May Destroy All Life in the Gulf of Mexico & lead to Further Catastrophes

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By Mike Adams, Natural News

From DProgram.net

http://tinyurl.com/27mbp7e

(NaturalNews) – Over a week ago, I published an article here on NaturalNews questioning the media spin on the massive oil spill in the Gulf. That story, entitled Is Gulf oil rig disaster far worse than we’re being told? (http://www.naturalnews.com/028749_G…), stated the following:

“It’s hard to say exactly what’s going on in the Gulf right now, especially because there are so many conflicting reports and unanswered questions. But one thing’s for sure: if the situation is actually much worse than we’re being led to believe, there could be worldwide catastrophic consequences. If it’s true that millions upon millions of gallons of crude oil are flooding the Gulf with no end in sight, the massive oil slicks being created could make their way into the Gulf Stream currents, which would carry them not only up the East Coast but around the world where they could absolutely destroy the global fishing industries.”

Now, barely one week later, it turns out that the oil slick is FAR worse than what we were being told.

USA Today now reports:

Researchers warned Sunday that miles-long underwater plumes of oil from the spill could poison and suffocate sea life across the food chain, with damage that could endure for a decade or more. (http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation…)

That same article also explained:

“Researchers have found more underwater plumes of oil than they can count from the blown-out well, said Samantha Joye, a professor of marine sciences at the University of Georgia. She said careful measurements taken of one plume showed it stretching for 10 miles, with a 3-mile width.”

The Christian Science Monitor also reports now that as much as 3.4 million gallons of oil may be leaking into the Gulf every day!

“The oil that can be seen from the surface is apparently just a fraction of the oil that has spilled into the Gulf of Mexico since April 20, according to an assessment the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology. Significant amounts of oil are spreading at various levels throughout the water column… Scientists looking at video of the leak, suggest that as many as 3.4 million gallons of oil could be leaking into the Gulf every day – 16 times more than the current 210,000-gallon-a-day estimate, according to the Times.”(http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/0…)

The New York Times also chimed in on the topic over the weekend with some absolutely shocking (and disturbing) revelations:

“Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given.

Scientists studying video of the gushing oil well have tentatively calculated that it could be flowing at a rate of 25,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil a day. The latter figure would be 3.4 million gallons a day. But the government, working from satellite images of the ocean surface, has calculated a flow rate of only 5,000 barrels a day.”(http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/16/u…)

In other words, while the government has been telling us the leak is only 5,000 barrels a day, the true volume could be more like 80,000 barrels a day.

Wiping out the Gulf

It hardly needs to be stated that 80,000 barrels of oil a day leaking into the Gulf of Mexico could destroy virtually all marine life in the region.

Oxygen levels have already fallen by 30 percent in waters near the oil. When water loses its oxygen content, it quickly becomes a so-called “dead zone” because marine species simply can’t live there anymore. (Fish and other aquatic creatures need oxygen to live, obviously.)

With this volcano of oil still erupting through the ocean floor, we could be witnessing the mass-murder of virtually all marine life in the Gulf of Mexico.

And yet we’re faced with a virtual blackout of truly accurate news on the event. Both the oil industry and the Obama administration are desperately trying to limit the videos, photos and stories about the spill, spinning everything to make it seem like it’s not really much of a problem at all.

It’s much like the media coverage of the War in Iraq, where all video footage had to be vetted by the Pentagon before being released to the public. Remember the uproar over the leaked photos of coffins draped in American flags? That’s what the Obama administration no doubt hopes to avoid by suppressing photos of dead dolphins and sea birds in the Gulf of Mexico.

The truth, as usual, is being suppressed. It’s just too ugly for the public to see.

Of course, the truth has always been suppressed in the oil industry. Even the inspections on this particular oil rig were, well, rigged. It turns out the rig wasn’t even inspected on schedule (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100516…).

It also turns out that the Obama administration actually gave the Deepwater Horizon an award for its history of safety! That was before the whole thing literally blew up in their faces.

Corruption in Washington leads to catastrophe

The oil industry, you see, is just like every other industry that’s regulated by the federal government: It has a cozy relationship with regulators.

It’s the same story with Big Pharma and the FDA, or the meat industry and the USDA. Wall Street and the SEC. Every industry that’s regulated eventually turns the tables on its regulators and ends up rewriting the rules for its own benefit.

The oil industry has been able to get away with so many exemptions and loopholes that the regulatory environment is now lenient at best. The Deepwater Horizon, for example, was given all sorts of exemptions to engage in risky drilling operations without following proper safety procedures. And who granted it these exemptions? The U.S. federal government, of course!

So now the U.S. government is just as guilty as the oil industry in this mass-murder of life in the Gulf of Mexico. It is the government that allowed the series of events that led to catastrophe in the first place. And now, this catastrophe could lead to a near-total wipeout of marine life throughout the Gulf (and possibly beyond).

In a worst-case scenario, this could destroy some percentage of life in oceans all around the world. It could be the one final wound to Mother Earth who bleeds her black blood into the oceans for ten thousand years, destroying life as we know it on this planet.

All for profit, of course. Let nothing stand in the way of another billion dollars in oil company profits! (Regulators? Bah!)

Collusion between government and industry always leads to disaster

I hope BP can find a way to suction some of that oil out of the ocean. If they can manage such a solution, they should then turn around and dump the entire slick across the landscape of Washington D.C. to coat all the bureaucrats in the black slimy shame they no doubt deserve. This isn’t about some random accident, you see: It’s about a failure of federal regulators to enforce safe drilling practices.

The fishing industries in and around the Gulf of Mexico could be devastated for decades. The diversity of life in the marine ecosystems there may soon find itself on the verge of collapse. And still there is no real solution for stopping the volcano of oil that continues to gush out of this gaping wound in the Earth herself.

I can only wonder what kind of hare-brained ideas these oil men are coming up with now to stop the flow. A nuke bomb expert has reportedly been sent to the area by the Obama administration as part of some sort of “dream team” of super smart people to find a solution.

But it begs the question: If we were so smart, why are we still running the world on fossil fuels in the first place? There’s enough sunlight energy striking the deserts of Arizona to power the entire nation indefinitely! Free energy technology continues to be suppressed in large part by oil company interests (and the arrogant scientific community), and renewable energy technology has received virtually no government support whatsoever.

If we were really smart, we wouldn’t be drilling holes in the ocean floor and hoping we can cope with whatever comes gushing out. We’d be installing Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) installations across the deserts of America or building more wind power generators. We’ve be investing in electric cars and alternative fuels rather than burning up our future with fossil fuels.

The smartest thing we could do right now — after capping the volcano of oil, of course — would be to make a commitment to end our world’s dependence on fossils fuels forever. But that goes against the financial interests of the oil companies who all want to keep us trapped in their system of fossil fuel dependence no matter what the cost to the environment.

And so we plug along, handcuffed to an outdated fuel source and still running our ridiculously historical internal combustion engines which should have been phased out decades ago and replaced with electric motors.

Humans are slow learners, it turns out. Our modern civilization isn’t really that “modern,” and it only seems to learn from catastrophe rather than intelligent planning.

The question remains: How much more damage can our planet handle from Man’s arrogant pollution? At what point does all the chemical contamination, fertilizer runoff, carbon emissions and runaway oil pollution of the ocean add up to a global extinction event?

We’re playing a global game of Russian Roulette right now with the future of human civilization… and the oil companies just can’t stop pulling the trigger. There’s little question where we’re all going to end up if we don’t change our ways and find a cleaner way to power our infantile civilization.

Source: Natural News


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US & Israel Criminality – and Impunity – Threatens the World with Annihilation

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Israel’s massacre at sea

3 June 2010

The Israeli military’s killing of nine civilians and wounding of scores more on a ship carrying humanitarian supplies in international waters was an act of cold-blooded murder and a war crime.

For millions of people around the world, this military assault on an aid convoy carrying wheelchairs, cement, water purification systems, children’s toys and notebook paper to Gaza—all items barred by Israel’s blockade of the occupied territory—epitomizes the role played by Israel, as well as that of its US sponsor, in global affairs.

As always in the aftermath of such atrocities, the Israeli government has blamed its victims. In a televised speech Wednesday, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu described the aid convoy as a “flotilla of terror supporters” and praised the slaughter on the high seas as an act of self-defense by besieged Israeli commandos.

Those who engaged in self-defense were the passengers on the ship, and they had every right to do so. The fact that nine of them were killed, while the Israel Defense Force (IDF) commandos suffered not a single fatality, is evidence as to who was the aggressor.

This is a regular pattern. The massacre in the Mediterranean comes just a year and a half after Operation Cast Lead, the far greater slaughter that the Israeli regime unleashed against the suffering people of Gaza. Claiming then as now to act in “self defense,” in December 2008 and January 2009 Israel rained bombs, missiles and tank and automatic weapons fire upon Gaza, killing over 1,400 Palestinians, the overwhelming majority of them unarmed men, women and children. This one-sided war by one of the world’s most powerful military machines against a relatively defenseless civilian population claimed just 13 Israeli lives, all but three of them soldiers.

The aid convoy was a response to the barbaric blockade that has subjected an entire population of 1.5 million people in Gaza to hunger, disease and misery.

Since the tightening of the blockade in 2007, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the number of Gazan refugees living in abject poverty has tripled.

The UN reported at the end of 2009 that “insufficient food and medicine is reaching Gazans, producing a further deterioration of the mental and physical health of the entire civilian population since Israel launched Operation Cast Lead against the territory.” Among the starkest expressions of Israel’s deliberate starvation of an entire population was a finding by the Food and Agriculture Organization last year that 65 percent of babies between the ages of nine and 12 months suffer from anemia.

Israel is able to carry out this kind of medieval siege as well as piracy and murder not merely because of its own military might, but thanks to the unwavering patronage and funding of Washington. This latest mass killing has only underscored that—as with so much else—the advent of the Obama administration has effected no significant change in US policy.

While issuing a hypocritical expression of “deep regret at the loss of life,” the Obama administration is doing everything it can to assure that Israel bears neither blame nor consequences for these killings. It quashed any criticism of Israel’s action at the UN Security Council and has implicitly adopted the Zionist state’s justification for the massacre.

Israel’s criminality and Washington’s role as its unconditional enabler both have a long history. It is worth recalling another Israeli attack on a vessel in international waters that took place 43 years ago. In that attack, 34 sailors aboard the USS Liberty were killed by Israeli napalm, missiles and machine-gun fire, while another 171 while wounded—the worst casualties suffered by the US Navy in a hostile action since World War II.

An intelligence ship, the Liberty was attacked off the Sinai Peninsula on June 8, 1967 in the midst of the Six-Day War. While Israel called it a tragic “mistake,” ample evidence emerged that the Zionist state attacked the ship because it wanted to stop Washington from listening in to its communications. Intercepts flatly contradicted Tel Aviv’s claim that it was acting in self-defense and revealed that Israel wanted to conceal evidence of its aggressive intentions as it moved to seize Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights, all of which remain under illegal occupation to this day.

Much of the criticism of this week’s attack on the aid convoy, including within Israel itself, has treated it as a “botched” operation, an excessive use of force and a public relations fiasco. But this is not a matter of a government losing its head. The Netanyahu regime’s policies are directed to a definite socio-political base, composed of religious extremists, right-wing settlers and the most politically reactionary layers within Israeli society. Its orientation is personified by the fascistic background and ideology of its foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman.

Deeply reactionary and in deep political crisis, the Israeli government is driven more and more to act as a global pyromaniac, threatening renewed wars against Syria and Lebanon and, according to a report in the London Times this week, sending submarines armed with nuclear missiles to the waters off Iran.

The unconditional support and approximately $3 billion in annual aid to Israel bestowed by Washington—and continued under Obama—pose a mortal danger to people across the globe.

This is not a matter merely of a single outlaw regime, but of a general descent of world affairs into a state of criminality and the disintegration of any semblance of international law, with Israel’s main patron setting the pattern.

The Obama administration continues two wars of aggression initiated under Bush and has maintained intact a police state apparatus of unlawful detentions, rendition and torture. It has now earned the ignominious designation as the number one practitioner of “targeted killings”—assassinations—through CIA drone attacks that have killed “many hundreds of people” in Pakistan, according to a United Nations report released Wednesday. The report condemned Washington for claiming a “license to kill without accountability.”

The behavior of the US and other governments as if they were the state incarnation of Murder Inc., acts of state terrorism and piracy like that committed by Israel this week, and the constant threats of new aggression have created a global climate that bears ever closer resemblance to the conditions that prevailed on the eve the Second World War.

These developments are driven by the mortal crisis of world capitalism and will not be reversed by either protests or pacifism. Only by uniting the working class, including both Jewish and Arab workers in the Middle East, in a common struggle to put an end to the profit system can a new global conflagration be prevented.

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Interview with WikiLeaks soldier Ethan McCord

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US Soldier in WikiLeaks Video: I Relive this Every Day

By Bill Van Auken, wsws.org

28 April 2010

Kent McCord

Iraq war veteran Ethan McCord, who is seen running with an Iraqi child in his arms in the video posted by WikiLeaks of a July 2007 massacre of civilians in Baghdad, talked to the World Socialist

Web Site about the impact of this and similar experiences in Iraq. The video, which records the shocking deaths of at least 12 individuals including two Iraqi journalists employed by Reuters, has

been viewed more than 6 million times on the Internet. [US soldiers Josh Stieber and McCord wrote a] “Letter of Reconciliation” to the Iraqi people taking responsibility for their role in this incident

and other acts of violence. Both soldiers deployed to Iraq in 2007 and left the Army last year. In the letter, McCord and Stieber said, “…we acknowledge our part in the deaths and injuries of your

loved ones.” They insisted that “the acts depicted in this video are everyday occurrences of this war: this is the nature of how US-led wars are carried out in this region.”

The night before giving speaking to the WSWS, Ethan McCord had learned that the widow of one of the dozen men killed — the father of the two children he tried to rescue — had forgiven him and

Stieber for their role in the incident. Ahlam Abdelhussein Tuman, 33, told the Times of London: “I can accept their apology, because they saved my children and if it were not for them, maybe my

two little children would be dead.” Her husband, Saleh Mutashar Tuman, had arrived on the scene of the carnage caused by a US Apache helicopter firing into a crowed and attempted to aid the

wounded. The helicopter opened fire again, killing him and at least one wounded man and wounding his two children, who were sitting in his van. The widow urged the two former soldiers to

continue to speak out. “I would like the American people and the whole world to understand what happened here in Iraq. We lost our country and our lives were destroyed.”

Can you explain why you and Josh Stieber wrote the “Letter of Reconciliation” to the Iraqi people?

We originally wanted it to go to the family members of those involved that day in the WikiLeaks video. Then in turn we wanted it to be more along the lines of to all Iraqi people as well. We wanted

the Iraqi people to know that not everybody sees them as being dehumanized and that there are plenty of Americans and other people who care for them as human beings and wish for them to live

long and happy lives and don’t agree with the war and the policies behind it. I just found out last night that the letter was shown to the family, the children and the mother as well. She has forgiven

myself and Josh and is very happy to see the work that Josh and I are doing. There was a London Times reporter who went there to see what they felt about the letter. And there is one comment from

the mother that she could forgive me because if it wasn’t for me her children might be dead.

That must make you feel pretty good.

Definitely, but it doesn’t stop there for me or for Josh. We are definitely going to continue speaking out on this and do everything we can to have our voices heard about the policies, the rules of

engagement and the war. As well, we are hoping to set up a trust fund for the children, as we know that they’ve had a pretty rough life afterward due to the injuries and whatnot. Hopefully, it will get

them some medical care.

Could you describe the events of that day and what your platoon was doing?

It was much like many of the days in Iraq. The neighborhood we were in was pretty volatile; at least it was on the rise, with IED emplacements and with our platoons being shot at with RPGs and

sniper fire. We didn’t know who was attacking us. It was never actually really clear, at least in my eyes, who the supposed “enemy” was. We were conducting what were called knock-and-searches,

where we would knock on the doors of the homes and search for documents pertaining to militias or any weapons they weren’t supposed to have or any bomb-making materials. We didn’t really

find anything at all. We were getting ready to wrap up at about one o’clock in the afternoon. We started to funnel into an alleyway and started to take small arms fire from rooftops from AK-47s. We

didn’t know what was happening with the Apache helicopters. They were attached to us from another unit to watch over us for this mission, which was called “Ranger Dominance.”  We could hear

them open fire, but those of us who were on the ground, outside of the vehicles, had no idea what was taking place. We couldn’t hear the radio chatter and we were pretty caught up in our own

situation. When that situation was neutralized, we were told to walk up onto the scene. I was one of about six soldiers who were dismounted to first arrive on the scene.

What did you see when you got there?

It was pretty much absolute carnage. I had never seen anybody shot by a 30-millimeter round before, and frankly don’t ever want to see that again. It almost seemed unreal, like something out of a

bad B-horror movie. When these rounds hit you they kind of explode — people with their heads half-off, their insides hanging out of their bodies, limbs missing. I did see two RPGs on the scene as

well as a few AK-47s. But then I heard the cries of a child. They weren’t necessarily cries of agony, but more like the cries of a small child who was scared out of her mind. So I ran up to the van

where the cries were coming from. You can actually see in the scenes from the video where another soldier and I come up to the driver and the passenger sides of the van. The soldier I was with, as

soon as he saw the children, turned around, started vomiting and ran. He didn’t want any part of that scene with the children anymore. What I saw when I looked inside the van was a small girl,

about three or four years old. She had a belly wound and glass in her hair and eyes. Next to her was a boy about seven or eight years old who had a wound to the right side of the head. He was laying

half on the floorboard and half on the bench. I presumed he was dead; he wasn’t moving. Next to him was who I presumed was the father. He was hunched over sideways, almost in a protective

way, trying to protect his children. And you could tell that he had taken a 30-millimeter round to the chest. I pretty much knew that he was deceased. I grabbed the little girl and yelled for a medic.

Me and the medic ran into the houses behind where the van crashed to check whether there were any other wounds. I was trying to take as much glass out of her eyes as I could. We dressed the

wound and then the medic ran the girl to the Bradley. You can hear in the video where he says, “there’s nothing else I can do here; we need to evacuate the child.” I then went back outside and went

to the van. I don’t know why. I thought both of them were dead, but something told me to go back. That’s when I saw the boy move with what appeared to be a labored breath. So I stated screaming,

“The boy’s alive.” I grabbed him and cradled him in my arms and kept telling him, “Don’t die, don’t die.” He opened his eyes, looked up at me. I told him, “It’s OK, I have you.” His eyes rolled

back into his head, and I kept telling him, “It’s OK, I’ve got you.” I ran up to the Bradley and placed him inside. My platoon leader was standing there at the time, and he yelled at me for doing what

I did. He told me to “stop worrying about these motherfucking kids and start worrying about pulling security.”  So after that I went up and pulled security on a rooftop.

Did you face further repercussions for what you did that day?

After coming back to the FOB [forward operating base], nobody really talked about what had happened that day. Everybody went to their rooms; they were tired. Some of them went to make phone

calls. And I was in my room because I had to clean the blood off of my IBA [body armor] and my uniform — the blood from these children. And I was having a flood of emotions and having a real

hard time dealing with having seen children this way, as I’m sure most caring human beings would. So I went to see a staff sergeant who was in my chain of command and told him I needed to see

mental health about what was going on in my head. He told me to “quit being a pussy” and to “suck it up and be a soldier.” He told me that if I wanted to go to mental health, there would

be repercussions, one of them being labeled a “malingerer,” which is actually a crime in the US Army. For fear of that happening to me, I in turn went back to my room and tried to bottle up as much

emotion as I could and pretty much just suck it up and drive on.

You had another nine months or more still to go in your tour then?

That’s right. It was a pretty long time with having to deal with the emotions, not only of that, but of many other days. What happened then was not an isolated incident. Stuff like that

happens on a daily basis in Iraq.

Are there other incidents that took place in the following months of your tour that bear this out?

Yes. Our rules of engagement were changing on an almost daily basis. But we had a pretty gung-ho commander, who decided that because we were getting hit by IEDs a lot, there would be a new

battalion SOP [standard operating procedure]. He goes, “If someone in your line gets hit with an IED, 360 rotational fire. You kill every motherfucker on the street.”  Myself and Josh and a lot

of other soldiers were just sitting there looking at each other like, “Are you kidding me? You want us to kill women and children on the street?” And you couldn’t just disobey orders to shoot, because

they could just make your life hell in Iraq. So like with myself, I would shoot up into the roof of a building instead of down on the ground toward civilians. But I’ve seen it many times, where people

are just walking down the street and an IED goes off and the troops open fire and kill them.

During this period were you conscious that you were suffering from post-traumatic stress?

Yes I knew, because I would be angry at everyone and everything and at myself even more. I would watch movies and listen to music as much as possible just to escape reality. I didn’t really talk to

many people. The other problem I had is that before the incident shown in the WikiLeaks video, I was the gung-ho soldier. I thought I was going over there to do the greater good. I thought my job

over there was to protect the Iraqi people and that this was a job with honor and courage and duty. I was hit by an IED within two weeks of my being in Iraq. And I didn’t understand why people

were throwing rocks at us, why I was being shot at and why we’re being blown up, when I have it in my head that I was here to help these people. But the first real serious doubt, where I could no

longer justify to myself being in Iraq or serving in the Army, was on that day in July 2007.

How did you come to join the military?

I had always wanted to be in the military, even as a child. My grandfather and my uncles were military. Then September 11 happened, and I decided it was my duty as an American to join the

military, so that’s what I did in 2002. I joined the Navy. In 2005, when the Army had what they called “Operation Blue to Green,” pulling sailors and airmen into the Army with bigger bonuses, I

made a lateral transfer. I had pretty much had it in my head that I was going to make a career out of the military. But going to Iraq and dealing with the Army completely changed my outlook.

What was your reaction when you saw the WikiLeaks video?

Shock. I had dropped my children off at school one morning, came home and turned on MSNBC, and there I am running across the screen carrying a child. I knew immediately it was me. I know

the scene. It is burned into my head. I relive it almost every day. It was just a shock that that it was up there, and it angered me. I was angry because it was in my face again. I had actually started to

get a little bit better before the tape was released. I wasn’t thinking about it as often; it was getting a little bit easier to go to sleep. But then everything that I had buried and pushed away came

bubbling back to the surface. And the nightmares began again, the anger, the feeling of being used. It all came back. It wasn’t a good feeling; it was like a huge slap in the face.

Do you think that the way you were told to forget about the kids and suck it up is indicative of the general culture in the military?

Yes, there is such a stigma placed on soldiers seeking mental health. It’s like you’re showing a huge sign of weakness for needing to speak about things or for seeking help even for getting to sleep.

There’s fear of being chastised or being made fun of. So you end up self-medicating on alcohol. And as you probably know, alcohol is a depressant and just makes it worse. I was self-medicating

when I came home, and I was hospitalized in a mental institute by the Army because of my problems with PTSD and self-medication. There were many times when I felt that I could no longer take

what was going on in my head and the best thing for me to do would be to put a bullet in my head. But each time I thought about that, I would look at the pictures of my children and think back

on that day and how the father of those children was taken away and how horrible it must be for them. And if I were to do that, I would be putting my children in the same position.

Do you think that the pressure to bury these problems is driven by a fear that if you are allowed to question your own experiences, it can call into question the nature of the war itself?

I was not able to talk about it, not able to get answers to like how I was feeling about this, why were we doing this, what are we doing here? It was just straight up, “You’re going to do this, and

you’re going to shut up about it.” Soldiers aren’t mindless drones. They have feelings. They have emotions. You can’t just make them go out and do something without telling them, this is why we’re

doing it. And the pressure just builds up. You hear in the video the Apache helicopter crew saying some things that are pretty heart-wrenching and cold. I’m guilty of it too. We all are. It’s kind of a

coping mechanism. You feel bad at the time for what you did and you take those emotions and push them down. That’s what the Army teaches you to do, just push them down. And in a sense it

works. It helps you get through the hard times. But unfortunately, there’s no outlet for that anymore, once you get out of the Army. When you get back home, there’s no one to joke around with,

nobody you can talk to about these instances. What happens to that soldier? He’s going to blow up. And when he blows up, more than likely it’s going to be on his family, his close friends

or on himself. So I think that’s why soldiers end up killing themselves.

So a terrible price is being paid for this war in the US itself?

Yes, I feel that just as the Iraqis, the soldiers are victims of this war as well. Like we say in our letter to the Iraqis, the government is ignoring them and it is also ignoring us. Instead of people

being upset at a few soldiers in a video who were doing what they were trained to do, I think people need to be more upset at the system that trained these soldiers.

They are doing exactly what the Army wants them to do. Getting angry and calling these soldiers names and saying how callous and cold-hearted they are isn’t going to change the

system.

What do you think drives this system? Why are they sent to do this?

As far as the hidden agenda behind the war, I couldn’t even begin to guess what that is. I do know that the system is being driven by some people with pretty low morals and values, and they attempt

to instill those values in the soldiers. But the people who are driving the system don’t have to deal with the repercussions. It’s the American people who have to deal with them. They’re the ones who

have to deal with all of these soldiers who come back from war, have no outlets and blow up. I still live with this every day. When I close my eyes I see what happened that day and many other

days like a slide show in my head. The smells come back to me. The cries of the children come back to me. The people driving this big war machine, they don’t have to deal with this.

They live in their $36 million mansions and sleep well at night.

Were you hopeful that with the 2008 election these kinds of things would be brought to a halt. Were you disappointed that they have continued and escalated?

I am not part of any party. Was I hopeful? Yes. Was I surprised that we are still there? No. I’m not surprised at all. There’s something else lying underneath there. It’s not Republican or

Democrat; it’s money. There’s something else lying underneath it where Republicans and Democrats together want to keep us in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I am hopeful that the video and our speaking out will help. There’s the old adage that war is hell, but I don’t think people really understand just what a hell war is. Until you see it first-hand, you

don’t really know what’s going on. Like I said, this video shows you an every-day occurrence in Iraq, and I can only assume, in Afghanistan. So I hope people wake up and see the actual hells of

war.

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Bruce Cockburn: If I Had A Rocket Launcher, ca 1971 [free speech era]

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Bloody Barack: Murder is the New Torture

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The Accomodationists: Memo to Liberals on the White House Death Warrants PDF Print E-mail
WRITTEN BY CHRIS FLOYD
THURSDAY, 08 APRIL 2010 16:12
(UPDATED BELOW)

Let us hear no more excuses for Barack Obama. Let us hear no more defenses, no more special pleading, no more extenuations. Let us have no more reciting of the “pressures” he is under, of the “many obstacles” that balk him in his quest to do us good, of the “bad advisors” who are swaying him to unworthy acts against his will. Let us be done at last with all these wretched lies, these complicitous self-deceptions that are facilitating atrocity and tyranny on a monstrous scale.

Barack Obama has ordered the murder of an American citizen, without trial, without due process, without the production of any evidence. All it takes to kill any American citizen in this way is Barack Obama’s signature on a piece of paper, his arbitrary designation of the target as a “suspected terrorist.” In precisely the same way — precisely the same way — Josef Stalin would place a mark by a name in a list of “suspected terrorists” or “counterrevolutionaries,” and the bearer of that name would die. This is the system we have now, the same as the Soviets had then: a leader with the unchallengeable power to kill citizens without due process.

That this power has not been used on the same scale in the American system as in the Stalinist state — yet — does not alter the equivalence of this governing principle. In both cases, the leader signs arbitrary death warrants; the security services carry out the task; and the ‘great and good’ of society accept this draconian power as necessary and right.

This is what you support when you support Barack Obama. It does not matter if you think his opponents in the factional infighting to control a bloodsoaked empire and its war machine are “worse” than he is in some measure. When you support him, when you defend him, when you excuse him, it is arbitrary murder that you are supporting. It is the absolute negation of every single principle of enlightenment and human rights professed by liberals, progressives — indeed, by honorable people of every political stripe — for centuries.

There is nothing particularly remarkable about Obama’s order to kill an American citizen without trial or evidence, of course. George W. Bush claimed the same powers. As I have noted here and elsewhere for many years, our American presidents now claim the right to kill any person on earth whom they arbitrarily designate as an enemy — or even a suspected enemy — of the United States. Barack Obama embraced this power as soon as he took office, ordering a “surge” in the “targeted killings” on “suspected terrorists” in Pakistan. Hundreds and hundreds of innocent human beings have been murdered in these drone attacks; many thousands more have been driven from their homes, and terrorized into lives of mental anguish, their psyches lamed by trauma, upheaval and the ever-present dread of death raining down on them from the skies.

And of course, thousands of innocent people continue to die in the wars of dominion and profiteering that Obama has so eagerly embraced. In Afghanistan, they die directly at the hands of American forces — including secret assassins who raid villages by night, often slaughtering civilians, even those cooperating with the military occupation. As Obama’s hand-picked commander in the region, Stanley McChrystal, has openly admitted: “We have shot an amazing number of people [at checkpoints and on the roads], but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat.” And in Iraq — the scene of the abominable, Nazi-like war crime of military aggression whose continuation by Bush’s “surge” was hailed by Obama as “an extraordinary achievement” — innocent people continue to die in droves at the hands of the vicious and violent forces unleashed and empowered by the American invasion and occupation, while they wait to see which brutal “hard man” will seize power over their riven and ruined society.

No, the only remarkable thing about Obama’s direct order to murder his fellow American citizen, Anwar al-Alwaki, is its openness. A few weeks ago, he sent his intelligence chieftain, Dennis Blair, to Congress to openly proclaim the president’s “right” to kill American citizens arbitrarily. Bush had kept this claimed power obscured, letting it out in dribs and drabs of directed leaks, and hints and winks in public statements; but Obama has taken us beyond that, to the open declaration and institutional entrenchment of the principle of death without due process for citizens. This indeed is “change” — with a vengeance.

(And to think that only a few years ago, capital punishment — with its vast and cumbersome legal machinery — was banished in America as too unjust and arbitrary in its application; now a president need not trouble himself with the slightest bit of legal process if he wants to have someone killed. I suppose this too is “progress”: more streamlined, more efficient, quicker, more modern — like wireless broadband. It’s simply there all the time at the president’s pleasure.)

Now, there can be no shuffling, no waffling on the matter. Obama has made it crystal clear for even the most avidly self-duping progressive: He will murder his fellow citizens without trial or evidence if he sees fit. The state can murder whom it pleases. This is the system we have. This is what you support when you support Barack Obama. You cannot escape this logic, this judgment. If you support Obama now, in this, then there is no crime he can commit that you will not support.

And thus you become one of those people that we all used to puzzle over, the accomodationists to brutal tyranny: “How did all those people go along with the Nazis? Why wasn’t there more opposition to Stalin? How could they countenance all those obvious abominations? What kind of people were they?”

Now you know. They were you. You are them.

**
NOTE 1: I should make it clear that I do not think that it is somehow more heinous for the American government to target and kill its own citizens, as opposed to killing foreigners by the thousands, which it has done, on a bipartisan basis, for many a year. I am merely laying out the case in this way so that American “progressives” — almost of all whom are deeply marinated in their own brand of American exceptionalism — can see that even by the standards of this exceptionalism, which puts American lives and ‘values’ above all else, Barack Obama is acting — undeniably — in a criminal, tyrannical manner.

NOTE 2: While I was writing this piece, I got the welcome news that Arthur Silber was back, after a long hiatus due to his chronic ill health. And, as usual, his insights cut straight to the heart of the matter. As I noted here the other day, Silber was one of the very few writers who saw through the shining cloud that surrounded the Obama campaign to the corroded core within. He also noted the greatest danger of an Obama presidency: that it would confirm, entrench, expand — and normalize — the worst aspects of the American imperium, precisely because the system’s crimes and atrocities would now be presented in a more pleasing package, with all “progressive” opposition to them completely disarmed by partisan adherence to their standard-bearer.

Ironically, one of Silber’s most incisive pieces on this subject was provoked by what many people — and almost all “progressives” — still consider Obama’s finest moment during the campaign: his speech calling for a “national dialogue on race” — part of a particularly brutal effort to knife his long-time friend, mentor and pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, deeply and repeatedly in the back.

Go read the new piece now, and follow the links, which provide chilling chapter and verse to underscore the insights. But here is brief excerpt, one of the conclusions that Silber draws today from that early speech:

If one truly and comprehensively understood Obama’s speech on race — the unending, deadly lies on which it was based, and the terrible consequences to which those lies have led and the devastation they will continue to cause — that speech told you everything you needed to know about Obama.

That is not hyperbole, not if you understood all of that: it told you everything. .. And what has already occurred during the Obama presidency is very far from all or the worst of the destruction that can reasonably be expected to transpire over the coming years.

UPDATE: David Swanson at Counterpunch nails the situation well: “Murder is the new torture,” indeed. As Swanson notes, now that torture — always with us, but previously shrouded — has been mainstreamed, acceptance of outright murder is the logical next step. And as Swanson observes, it is actually a much more efficient tool of imperial policy:

President Obama has ordered the murder of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki. Like the innocent but tortured Abu Zubayda (innocent at least of any of the crimes he was accused of), Awlaki is now the mastermind terrorist of the universe. And once he’s dead, who’s to say he wasn’t? Who can demand a trail or access to documents? He’ll be dead. See the beauty of it?

If the top mastermind is in Yemen, what the hell are we doing building a quagmire in Afghanistan? Don’t ask. But notice this: we have dramatically increased the use of missile strikes to assassinate in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And we have increased the use of murderous night-time raids to such an extent that we now kill more civilians in that way than we do with drones. They’re the “wrong people,” or neighbors who came to help, or family members clinging to loved ones. Sometimes they’re young students with their hands tied behind their backs. Accidents will happen. But no U.S. officials’ future book tours are going to be interrupted by protesters, since there’s no torture involved. Civilization is on the march!