From C-SPAN, Sen. Edward Kennedy’s speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
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Q for Obama
Day 1 @ the DNC: OBAMA IS A BALLER
From C-SPAN, Sen. Edward Kennedy’s speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Q for Obama
Day 1 @ the DNC: OBAMA IS A BALLER
by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, August 25, 2008
For the West, everything changed but stayed the same, hard-wired and in place. Things just lay dormant in the shadows during the Yeltsin years, certain to reemerge once a more resolute Russian leader took over. If not Vladimir Putin, someone else little different.
Russia is back, proud and reassertive, and not about to roll over for America. Especially in Eurasia. For Washington, it’s back to the future, the new Cold War, and reinventing the Evil Empire, but this time for greater stakes and with much larger threats to world peace. Conservatives lost their influence. Neocons are weakened but still dominant. The Israeli Lobby and Christian Right drive them. Conflict is preferred over diplomacy, and most Democrats go along to look tough on “terrorism.” Notably their standard-bearer, vying with McCain to be toughest.
Several former Warsaw Pact and Soviet Republics are part of NATO: the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. In addition, Georgia and Ukraine seek membership. Russia is strongly opposed. And now for greater reason after Poland (on August 20) formally agreed to allow offensive US “interceptor missiles” on its soil. A reported 96 short-range Patriot ones also plus a permanent garrison of US troops – 110 transfered from Germany, according to some accounts. Likely more to follow. In addition, Washington agreed to defend Poland whether or not it joins NATO, so that heightens tensions further.
The Warsaw signing followed the Czech Republic’s April willingness to install “advanced tracking missile defense radar” by 2012. In both instances, Russia strongly objected, and on August 20 said it will “react (and) not only through diplomatic protests.” Both former Warsaw Pact countries are now targets. The threat of nuclear war is heightened. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Doomsday Clock heads closer to midnight – meaning “catastrophic destruction.” It’s no joking matter.
The US media downplays the threat and hails a pact Zbigniew Brzezinski (a Polish national, former Carter National Security Advisor, and key Obama foreign policy strategist) calls a watershed in the two countries’ relationship – “This changes the strategic relationship between the US and Poland. There is a clear and explicit understanding that if there are negative consequences of stationing the missile shield, the US will come to Poland’s defense.”
On the one hand, a surprising statement from a man critical of Bush administration policies, its failure in Iraq, and the dangers of a widened Middle East war. He fully understands the heightened potential for world conflict but sounds dismissive of the threat. On the other hand, he has bigger fish to fry and apparently willing to wage big stakes on winning. The Iraq war and Iran are distractions by his calculus. The real Great Game embraces all Eurasia and assuring America comes out dominant – not Russia, not China, nor any rival US alliance.
The major media also downplay the dangers and explain nothing about the high stakes. Instead they beat up on Russia and highlight comments from Secretary Rice that missiles aren’t “aimed in any way at Russia,” or White House spokesperson Dana Perino saying: “In no way is the president’s plan for missile defense aimed at Russia. (It’s to) protect our European allies from any rogue threats” that suggests Iran, but, clearly means Russia, according to Hauke Ritz’s recent analysis in Germany’s influential Leaves for German and International Politics journal.
He explained that Iran’s missiles can’t reach Europe, and that Washington rejected Russia’s proposed Azerbaijan-based joint US-Russian anti-missile system – to intercept and destroy Iranian missiles on launch. He thus concluded that Washington’s scheme is for offense, not defense. That it targets Russia, not Iran, with Alaskan and other installations close to Russia as further proof. He wrote: “The strategic significance of the system consists of intercepting those few dozen missiles Moscow (can launch) following a first strike. (It’s) a crucial element….to develop a nuclear first strike capacity against Russia. The original plan is for….ten interceptor missiles in Poland. But once….established, their number could be easily increased.”
According to Ritz, Washington wants a missile system that “guarantee(s a) US (edge) to carry out nuclear war without (risking a) counter-strike.” It can then be used for geopolitical advantage “to implement national interests,” but it highlights the dangers of possible nuclear confrontation and the catastrophic fallout if it happens.
In an August 20 Veterans of Foreign Wars convention address, Bush was essentially on this theme in focusing on “terrorism” and saying: “We’re at war against determined enemies, and we must not rest until that war is won.” Georgia “stands for freedom around the world, now the world must stand for freedom in Georgia” – clearly linking Russia’s response with “terrorism” and suggesting from his September 2001 address to a joint session of Congress and the America people that: “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Any that are “will be regarded….as a hostile state.” Clearly, Russia is on his mind just as Moscow is carefully evaluating his threat.
The BBC echoed the US media, covers all the bases, mentioned the Iranian threat, singles out Russia, obfuscates facts about the conflict, sides with Washington and Poland on the new missile deal, and quoted Polish President Lech Kaczynski saying: “no one (with) good intentions towards us and (the West) should” fear the missiles. It also cited a miraculous turnaround in sentiment saying two-thirds of Poles now favor them. Astonishing since overwhelming opposition was recently evident, so it’s hard imagining it shifted so fast.
High-Octane Russia Bashing – The Dominant US Media
The Wall Street Journal asserted that Poles “see the US as their strongest ally” given “two centuries of invasions and partitioning by Russia” and other European powers. It also highlighted Russia’s “nuclear threat” (not Iran’s) in a Gabriel Schoenfeld article painting Russia as an aggressor and America aiding its European allies.
Schoenfeld (a senior editor of the hawkish, pro-Israeli Commentary magazine) cites “Moscow’s willingness to crush Georgia with overwhelming force (and claims) the Kremlin has 10 times as many tactical (short-range) warheads as the US.” The “shift in the nuclear imbalance….helped embolden the bear.” He ignores America’s overall nuclear superiority, but it hardly matters as both countries combined have around 97% of these weapons (an estimated 27,000 world total) according to experts like Helen Caldicott – more than enough to destroy the planet many times over.
Nonetheless, Schoenfeld supports the Polish agreement in the face of a “pugnacious Russia (determined to acquire) economic and military power (and) not afraid to use threats and force to get (its) way (with) nuclear weapons central to the Russian geopolitical calculus.” It’s reminiscent of “the dark days of communist yore (and captures the threat of what) we and Russia’s neighbors are up against.”
For the moment, anti-Iranian rhetoric has subsided with Russia the new dominant villian. En route to the NATO Brussels August 18 meeting, Secretary Rice called Russia’s action against Georgia a “very dangerous game and perhaps one the Russians want to reconsider.” Russian “aggression” is the buzzword, and the media dutifully trumpet it.
So do the presidential candidates. John McCain was especially belligerent in denouncing “Russian aggression” and calling on Moscow to “immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory.” He called for emergency Security Council and NATO meetings in hopes condemnation would follow and “NATO (can act) to stabiliz(e) this very dangerous situation.” He also wants Russia expelled from the G-8 nations and an end to 10 years of partnership and cooperation.
Barak Obama first said that Russia’s “aggression” must not stand and denounced “Russian atrocities.” He then softened his tone somewhat with: “Now is the time for action – not just words….Russia must halt its violation of Georgian airspace and withdraw its ground forces from Georgia, with international monitors to verify that these obligations are met.” But expect those comments to harden as Democrats meet in Denver, and the party’s nominee will likely match his opponent’s tough stance. Or at least try under a slogan of “Securing America’s Future” to advance the nation’s interests in the world. Beating up on Russia is now fair game and made easier with lockstep media support.
The Wall Street Journal is more hostile than most, and practically frothed in its August 16 – 17 weekend edition. It called for “Making Putin Pay (and) Turning Russia’s Georgian rout into a political defeat.” It cited Russian aggression “to remove President Saakasvili from the office to which he was elected in 2004 (and to) overthrow a democratic government.”
It called on “western authorities (to) explore the vulnerability of Russian assets abroad (or) at least make life difficult for the holders of those assets.” The Journal might remember the billions of US fixed income and other investments Russia holds – although the country’s Central Bank reported late July that it pared its $100 billion in US “mortgage bonds” to $50 billion early in the year. The US Treasury reports that Russia holds around $36 billion of Treasury securities with considerably more in private hands.
The Journal then compared Russia to China and managed a slap at both. It said: “In the world of global commerce….China calculated that….staging an Olympic extravaganza (could enhance its) ambivalent reputation….By contrast, the Putin government….seems to believe its power grows in sync with its reputation as an international pariah, an outsider state,” and George Bush added that “Russia has damaged its credibility and its relations with the nations of the free world” – with the Journal writer hardly blinking at such brazen hypocrisy.
Nor did Journal editorial board member Matthew Kaminski in his headlined piece: “Russia Is Still a Hungry Empire” without a hint about the Soviet Union’s bloodless 1991 dissolution now down the memory hole in light of today’s inflammatory headlines.
Kaminski highlights “Russian tanks rolling through Georgia (with) images of Chechnya in 1994 and ’99, Vilnius ’91, Afghanistan ’79, Prague ’68, Hungary ’56” and before that Poland, the Baltics and other Eastern European states. “The war in Georgia marks an easy return to territorial expansion and attempted regional dominance.”
Boris Yeltsin “tried to give Russians an alternative narrative. (He) put forward democracy as a unifying and legitimizing idea for the new Russian state.” But that was swept away when “Putin took over.” He’s unresponsive to the idea of “partnership with the West and freedom at home.” He aims to force “young democracies around Russia….back into Moscow’s sphere of influence….The worldview of a Russian nationalist is hard for outsiders to comprehend,” and for Kaminski one that mustn’t be allowed to stand.
Nor for other Journal contributors daily (in op-eds and editorials) with some of the most outlandish attack journalism heard since before Gorbachev. Claims that “Kremlin capitalism is a threat to the West….by using its market strength in oil and gas resources to strong-arm its neighbors and outmaneuver the US and EU.” And that Russia’s real aim “is to replace a pro-western government with a new Russian satellite….reminiscent of the Brezhnev doctrine. (It’s) part of a broader campaign (to annex new territory, expand the Russian empire, conduct) cyber attacks against the Baltic states, (assassinate enemies, and use) economic intimidation (through) cutoffs of Russian oil and gas shipments to Ukraine and the Czech Republic….It is important that Moscow pays a concrete and tangible price for its latest aggression, at least comparable to (what) it paid for the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan.”
The New York Times is more measured but, on August 19, highlighted “Survivors in Georgia Tell of Ethnic Killings” with suggestions of “ethnic cleansing” – a practice that “haunted the borderlands of the old Soviet bloc.” Villages were “burned and houses broken; unburied bodies lay rotting; fresh graves were dug in gardens and basements….most victims interviewed (were) ethnic Georgians….(In central Georgian) villages, some killings were carried out for revenge….some (involved) theft (and still others) seemed to be that the power balance was shifting, away from ethnic Georgians to the Ossetian separatists and their Russian backers.”
Independent reporters on the ground contradicted The Times and similar US media accounts. One wrote: “Georgians living in several of the villages said the Russians occupying their land had treated them well, done nothing to encourage them to leave and offered the only protection available from the South Ossestian militias they feared most” and perhaps their own army in an effort to inflict harm and blame it on Russia.
On August 21, The Times headlined: “US Sees Much to Fear in a Hostile Russia (by) usher(ing) in a sustained period of renewed animosity with the West….problems extend(ing) far beyond (arms deals with) Syria and the mountains of Georgia.” Others with “anti-American states like Iran and Venezuela.” Pressuring US “military bases in Central Asia….counterterrorism, Hamas” and numerous other issues. Obama’s chief Russia advisor, Stanford University professor Michael McFaul, was quoted saying Russia appears intent on “disrupt(ing) the international order” and can do it. They’re “the hegemon in that region and we are not and that’s a fact.”
“Russia has all the leverage,” according to Carnegie Moscow Center’s Masha Lipman (with) potential for causing headaches” if it chooses – in the region, the UN, on Iran, Zimbabwe, and to halt “any kind of coercive actions, like economic sanctions or anything else,” according to former National Security Council advisor Peter Feaver. An old post-Cold War concern is now arisen. Russia is now “a spoiler.”
An August 21 AP report cites an example in its headlined piece” “Russia blocks Georgia’s main (oil) port city” of Poti and continues to hold positions around Gori and Igoeti….30 miles west of….Tbilisi.”
Reports from Other Sources
On August 21, Russia Today reported that “Abkhazia rallie(d) for independence (and) the Abkhazian Parliament has approved an official appeal to Russia to recognize its independence.” Tens of thousands rallied in support, and on August 23, Reuters reported that South Ossetia did as well and its president, Eduard Kokoity, plans to ask Russia and the international community for recognition. Russia’s Deputy Federation Council Speaker, Svetlana Orlova, told the rally that “Russia is always with you and will never leave you in the lurch.”
On August 23, The New York Times reported that “the Kremlin is nearing formal recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, possibly as early as next week.” Apparently likely according to Russian Regional Development Minister, Dmitry Kozak, who told Itar-Tass “support is likely (and) that after all the events that have occurred, one should not expect otherwise.”
On August 21, Abkhazian President Sergey Bagapsh “appealed to Russia and to governments of other countries to recognize Abkhazia’s independence,” for both his province and South Ossetia. On August 20, Interfax reported that the Russian Federation Council (Russia’s upper House of parliament) is prepared to recognize both provinces’ independence if their people “express such a will….and if the Russian president makes a relevant decision on this score,” according to Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov.
On August 25, Russia Today reported that (in emergency session) the Federation Council unanimously voted to ask President Medvedev to recognize Abkhazian and South Ossetian independence. Both province presidents addressed the chamber and “again said they will never agree to remain within Georgia” and are more entitled to independence than Kosovo. Konstantin Zatulin, deputy head of the Duma Committee for International Affairs in Russia’s State Duma, its lower chamber, stated that his body “most probably” will go along.
At the same time, tensions remain high. Both sides continue hostile accusations. Russia maintains it’s conducting an orderly withdrawal “in accordance with the international agreements (to their) previous (places) of deployment,” according to Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of Russia’s General Staff. US military officials at first said they saw no significant pullback. On August 22 with a clear withdrawal underway, the International Herald Tribune reported that the “US and France say Russia is not complying” with the cease fire.
Russia is observing a 1999 joint Russian-S. Ossetian-N. Ossetian-Georgian agreement prepared by the Joint Control Commission, an international South Ossetian monitoring body. It lets Russian troops secure a corridor five miles beyond either side of South Ossetia’s border that extends into Georgia. It also allows Russian peacekeepers to operate under the auspices of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
On August 23, RIA Novosti reported that Nogovitsyn said Russian forces will patrol Georgia’s Black Sea Poti port as “envisaged in the international agreement. Poti is outside of the security zone,” he said, “but that does not mean we will sit behind a fence watching them riding around in Hummers.” Nor allow Georgia to rearm for more aggression as Russia suspects, and that Georgia’s deputy defense minister, Batu Kutelia, admitted doing initially. On August 22, he told the Financial Times that his government attacked the S. Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, and attempted to seize it.
On August 22, Nogovitsyn heightened tensions by claiming Georgia is now preparing for new military action against Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “We have registered an increase in (Georgian) reconnaissance activities and preparations for armed actions in the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict zone.” As a result, he said that Russia reserves the right to maintain peacekeepers in both provinces. For its part, RIA Novosti reports that America now refuses to participate with Russia in “NATO’s Operation Active Endeavour naval antiterrorism exercise,” according to a Russian Black Sea Fleet source. The announcement came after Russia’s NATO envoy, Dmitry Rogozin, said his country was “temporarily suspending military cooperation with NATO until a political decision on relations” between the two nations had been resolved.
Also on August 22, the Israeli Ynetnews.com published a Russian daily Kommersant interview with Washington’s new Moscow ambassador, John Beyrle, sure to embarrass his superiors. He called Russia’s response justified after its troops came under attack. “Now we see Russian forces which responded to attacks on Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia, legitimately….” He went on to criticize Russia’s over-reaction and warned about its impact on US – Russia relations as well as investor confidence. Nonetheless, his first comment is telling and quite contrary to everything from Washington and biting anti-Russian media responses.
Finally on August 23, Russia Today reported that the “local (S. Ossetian and Abkhazian) population (said) they fear Georgia might repeat its regional aggression. They also (want) Russian troops to stay in the area to shield them from any possible attacks.” Russia has set up 18 S. Ossetia peacekeeping posts and plans a similar number in Abkhazia “to deter looters and the transportation of arms and ammunition.”
All the News Not Fit to Print
Not a major media hint that Georgia is a US vassal state. That its military is an extension of the Pentagon. That its aggression was manufactured in Washington. That it’s well-supplied and trained by America and Israel. That pipeline geopolitics is central. Beating up on Russia as well. Diverting Moscow from any planned intervention against Iran. Even enlisting Russia’s cooperation – not to sell Iran sophisticated S-300 air defense missile systems and agreeing to tougher sanctions in return for perhaps Washington deferring on Georgian and Ukrainian NATO admission and recognizing S. Ossetian and Abkhazian independence. Perhaps more as well to put off greater confrontation for later under a new administration.
Clearly, however, the fuse is lit. It has been for some time. It relates to everything strategic about this vital area with its immense energy and other resources as well neutralizing Russia’s power as America’s top rival and key Eurasian competitor.
Controlling the region’s oil and gas is crucial and what Michel Chossudovsky explains in his August 22 article titled: “The Eurasian Corridor: Pipeline Geopolitics and the New Cold War.” He calls the Caucasus crisis “intimately related to the control over energy pipeline and transportation corridors (and cites) evidence that the Georgian (August 7) attack….was carefully planned (in) High level consultations (between) US and NATO officials” months in advance. On August 23, RIA Novosti said a Russian security source accused Georgia of involvement a year ago in “coordinat(ion) with NATO’s plans to strengthen its (Black Sea) naval presence.”
Chossudovsky discusses America’s (1999) “Silk Road Strategy: The Trans-Eurasian Security System (as) an essential building block of (post-Cold War) US foreign policy.” Proposed in House legislation but never enacted, it was for “an energy and transport corridor network linking Western Europe to Central Asia and eventually to the Far East.” It aims to integrate South Caucasus and Central Asian nations “into the US sphere of influence.” It involves “militariz(ing) the Eurasian corridor,” much like Security and Prosperity Partnership plans are for North America.
Efforts are largely directed against Russia, China and Iran as well as other Eastern-allied states. It’s to turn all Eurasia into a “free market” paradise, secure it for capital, assure US dominance, control its resources, exploit its people, transform all its nations into American vassals, and likely aim to dismantle Russia’s huge landmass if that idea ever comes to fruition.
Russia, however, isn’t standing idle and is partnered in two strategic alliances:
— the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) since June 2001 along with China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan with Iran in observer status. It defines its goals as: “good neighborly relations;” promoting “effective cooperation in politics, trade and economy, science and technology” and more as well as “ensur(ing) peace, security and stability in the region.” Given NATO’s potential threat, its main purpose is military; and
— the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) since 2003 “in close liaison with the SCO” with a heavy emphasis on security against NATO Eurasian expansionism; its members include: Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
The stakes are huge as both sides prepare to confront them. All part of the new Cold War and Great Game. Reinventing the Evil Empire and beating up on Russia as part of it. Risking a potential nuclear confrontation as well and what a new US president will inherit with no assurance a Democrat will be any more able than a Republican. And with a global economic crisis unresolved, either one may resort to the age old strategy of stoking fear, going to war, hoping it will stimulate the economy, and be able to divert public concerns away from lost jobs, home foreclosures, and a whole array of other unaddressed issues.
In early 2003, it worked. Will 2009 be a repeat? Will it deepen what author Kevin Phillips calls “the global crisis of American capitalism?” Will the Doomsday Clock strike midnight? It moved two minutes closer on January 17, 2007 to five minutes to the hour. It cited 27,000 nuclear weapons, 2000 ready to launch in minutes. It said: “We stand at the brink of a second nuclear age. Not since….Hiroshima and Nagasaki has the world faced such perilous choices.” It said the situation is “dire.” It called for immediate preventive action. Its message went unheeded, and conditions today have worsened. The high Eurasian stakes up things further, and neither side so far is blinking.
Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site at www.sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM – 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening.
© Copyright Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9933
Watch more episodes here: funwithwarcrimes.com
Episode 6 of 8. Condi goes street. Dead Soldiers get chatty. Cheney’s fightin’ mad.
Episode 7 coming September 9th!
Watch more episodes here:
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The Democratic national convention (DNC) begins today and many are getting excited and hopeful about Obama’s new pick for V-P, Sen. Joe Biden. They both spoke in Springfield, Illinois on Saturday (subtly bringing back memories of honest Abe Lincoln).
I’ve been a close follower of Joe Biden’s career for many years. I’ll never forget watching him on C-SPAN deliver a speech in 2000 at the time of the DNC in Los Angeles that chose Al Gore for president. Biden was speaking to a Jewish organization during a pre-convention luncheon and he talked about “missile defense”. The first half of his speech was an articulate and fascinating overview of why “missile defense” was dangerous and destabilizing. Then he stopped mid-stream and switched horses. The second half of his speech was a defense of U.S. participation in “missile defense” and the need for U.S. military space technology superiority. I was momentarily stunned but then recovered after reminding myself that this is what the Democrats do. They play both sides of the street. They have the anti-war rhetoric down to an art but then they walk away from that position by climbing onto the war horse and riding off with the sheriff’s posse.
You might have heard that Dick Cheney will be heading to Georgia this week to help stoke the fires of war on Russia’s border. And if that is not enough the media is reporting that, “NATO says it is holding long-planned exercises, involving US, German, Spanish and Polish vessels, in the Black Sea and that this is not linked to the conflict in Georgia. The exercises, which will include visits in Bulgaria and Romania, began on Thursday and are due to end on September 10.”
Count on the U.S. quickly rebuilding Georgia’s military and continual U.S. military maneuvers in this part of the world. The intent of these will be to constantly pressure Russia while, after each military “training exercise,” loads of military hardware will be left in the region for future operations against Russia.
Sen. Biden recently went to Georgia himself to beat the war drums and threaten Russia with “consequences” if they don’t leave Georgia alone. “When Congress reconvenes, I intend to work with the administration to seek Congressional approval for $1 billion in emergency assistance for Georgia, with a substantial down payment on that aid to be included in the Congress’ next supplemental spending bill,” Biden said.
So it appears that “Honest Obama” will continue the provocative military encirclement of Russia if he is allowed to win the presidency.
One final note: I must acknowledge that I had predicted the Democratic party race wrong. Many months ago I said Hillary Clinton would win the Dems presidential nomination and would pick Obama as V-P.
August 25, 2008
Massive Security Operation Mobilized for DNC
Thousands of delegates descended on Denver over the weekend for the Democratic National Convention, as did thousands of journalists, as well as protesters from across the country. We hear some of the voices of the protesters and speak with Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill, who covered the events from the ground.
Activist take to the streets at DNC!!!!
AT&T Throws Party to Support Dems Who Voted to Grant Telecoms Immunity for Illegal Domestic Wiretapping
Democracy Now! goes from the streets to the suites to try and cover one of the first of over 1,200 parties during the Democratic National Convention–this one thrown by AT&T to support Democrats who voted to grant the company immunity for illegal wiretapping of Americans. We also get analysis from Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com.
Aug. 25, 2008
In George Orwell’s tale of dystopia, 1984, the main character, Winston Smith, works for the Ministry of Truth. Winston’s job is to make sure the news of the day fits the current propaganda of the Party or Big Brother. When Winston changes the news to fit, the old, incorrect news gets dumped down the “Memory Hole,” and the “Proles” of Oceania (where keeping ones TV on 24 hours a day is mandatory—it’s also a two way receiver to spy on the citizens) are supposed to alternatively switch seamlessly and unquestioning between: “We have always been at war with Eastasia,” or, “We have always been at war with Eurasia.”
I have written extensively on the parallels between 1984 and the current state of affairs in America today, but with renewed hostilities and demonizing of Russia back in full swing, it appears that, “We have always been at war with Russia.”
I grew up in Bellflower, CA during the height and heat of the Cold War. I was even chastised in 2nd grade because I got very confused about a question my teacher asked. She asked her class of seven and eight years old children if: “A Russian put a gun to your head and told you not to recite the pledge of allegiance, what would you do.” Believe it or not, I was a very shy child, but at that moment my hand confidently shot up because I was sure of the answer. Miss Mac Murray called on me and my small voice called out: “I wouldn’t recite it.” WRONG! I was called “un-American” even back then when I was still wearing bobby-sox and saddle shoes and I think that was the beginning of my childhood fear of “Russians” or, even worse, “Communists.”
Besides not wanting to get my head blown off by the evil Russians, every Friday at exactly 2pm, the town’s air raid siren would go off and we would dive under our apparently nuclear-bomb proof school desks like a bunch of Pavlov’s dog salivating for safety. I don’t remember one instance when one of my close-knit group of classmates ever questioned this practice…we just robotically complied. Not to worry though, if the evil Russians decided to drop the “bomb” at a time other than 2pm on Friday, we were taught to take refuge pinned up next to a brick wall, or other solid structure. Needless to say, it was a very stressful time to be an impressionable kid.
As my classmates and I gained “sophistication” in world affairs (during the “hey day” of the Vietnam war) we were shown glimpses of a Soviet Union that constantly surveilled its citizens; imprisoned many political dissenters without American-style due process; and, of course the biggest crime of all: the USSR was not a democracy, and there was only one person to vote for on the ballots (sounds like present day Oceania—oops, I meant America). From my earliest awareness during the Cuban Missile Crisis to the fall of the Soviet Union and break up of the empire, because of militarism and a bloody decade long war in Afghanistan (not because of doddering Reagan saying “Mr. Gorbachev, tear the wall down”), I was seriously nervous about an impending “mushroom cloud” and that image lay like a shadow over our nation and the only thing, I think, that saved us from obliteration was the doctrine of “Mutual Assured Destruction.” (MAD). The image was revived in 2001 by BushCo and “mushroom cloud” became the buzz-word and way to falsely reignite Cold War fears to promulgate war with a nuclear weaponless Iraq.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, much of the raison d’être of the war machine also collapsed and the neo-conservative movement, (which has always pushed for American military and corporate hegemony since Leo Strauss fathered the movement from his professorial seat at the University of Chicago in the early -60’s), was put into a pickle. Some world politicians were even talking about a “Peace dividend” now that the Cold War was over and our nation could actually begin to put the MADness of mushroom clouds behind us and shore up positive policies such as education and our infrastructure while closing military bases and reducing defense spending dramatically.
“Luckily” for the neocons, the USSR’s misadventure in Afghanistan led to the rise of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden’s “al-Qaeda.” “Luckily” for the neocons, the USA (Charlie Wilson’s War) armed and trained the mujahadeen (which Reagan called “freedom fighters”) to combat the USSR’s invasion. This US trained force was transformed into “terrorists” and the war machine and the neocons could again exploit an enemy to pursue their goals of “Pax Americana.”
Also, “luckily” for the neocons, their “new Pearl Harbor” was realized on September 11th, 2001 and the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) could be realized and a fearful American public who sheepishly went along with Military Industrial Complex (MIC) abuses during the Cold War, followed George Bush and the neocons into full-blown wars because we were propagandized to be properly fearful and patriotic and almost thankful ourselves that we could focus our rage on the enemy du jour and settle back into our coma of consumerism and let our “Big Brother” take care of things for us.
This was obviously a thumbnail sketch (I recommend the wonderful BBC documentary The Power of Nightmares for an in depth history of terrorism and neo-Conservatism) of the last 40+ years, but today the world is once again sitting on a power keg cobbled by the MIC.
Most of our brothers and sisters here in the USA have caught up with the rest of the planet and now realize that the whole “terrorism” scheme was just that: a failed and unnecessarily violent and destructive scheme to enrich certain segments of American society while killing and impoverishing others. However, both Parties (as I like to call them: The Twins) are still shoving the war machine down our throats with their tail-wagging-the-dog “Global War on Terrorism.”
There is controversy over the Russian-Georgian-Polish nightmare. Did Condi Rice or John McCain give Mikhail Saakashvili the “go ahead” to invade separatist South Ossetia. Permission was definitely given by someone, much like the US Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, giving Saddam Hussein the green light to invade Kuwait in 1992. It doesn’t matter who gave Saakashvili the permission, we know that either the State Department, or McCain are lying—they always have and always do and always will, but now, after the unstable American puppet follows his orders from his puppeteers, the USA government and their propagandists, the US corporate media is blaming Russia and trying to revive Cold War fear to assuage the war machine’s fear of a lack of pretend “enemies.”
Russia is not and never has been completely innocent, but Russia rushed into Georgia to protect its people and all of a sudden, Condi, George and warmonger, McCain are saying that in the 21st century countries don’t “invade other countries.” These statements would be laughable if they weren’t so horribly sad.
Allowing weapons systems in Poland would be a dangerous and obviously hostile move to Russia and the doctrine of MAD would insanely be reasserted into our daily lives in a world that is competing for precious energy, food and water resources. With unstable fingers of unstable leaders on the triggers of nuclear weapons all around the world, the Doomsday clock is ticking and this situation calls for aggressive diplomacy on the part of an international community that doesn’t want these missiles pointed at their cities. The situation also calls for renewed talks of eliminating nuclear weapons totally.
Since WWII, we have always been “at war” with some country, ideology or group, and our economy, ecology and psyches are growing strained to the point of breaking.
If there was ever a time to turn back the hands of the Doomsday clock, it is now, but unfortunately, the Bush regime is incapable of wisdom and/or peace, but the candidates of the two major parties are both tools of the war machine so, consequently, our only good prospects are within each of us.
A candidate or party platform that is truly pro-peace and pro-humanity would call for the following actions:
* All foreign occupying forces out of Iraq AND Afghanistan
* The closure of most of US military bases around the world
* Dramatically reduce Pentagon spending to be used for defensive purposes only
* Complete multi-lateral nuclear disarmament
* Reorganize NATO which has just become another imperialistic US military tool and a
destabilizing factor in Europe
* Dissolve the Security Council at the UN which inhibits peaceful conflict resolution
* An aggressive plan to speedily wean America off of fossil fuels
Aug. 25, 2008
Cindy for Congress adamantly believes that the problems in this country (and world) go way deeper than the Republican Party. We believed this before our campaign, and unfortunately, we have been proven correct repeatedly with Dem leadership sanctioning the occupations, torture, destroying our 4th amendment and not upholding the rule of law and Constitution especially since regaining majorities of both Houses of Congress—off the backs of the grass roots movement, that the Party has virtually ignored for the last year and a half, plus.
With the Democratic Party moving farther to the right each day, we believe it is even more imperative to have our voices heard for peace, accountability, fossil fuel independence, environmental stability and economic equality. If We the People don’t drag our leaders towards the people and positive change, it won’t happen, no matter who is the president, or which party controls Congress. I know I was approached by many activists wearing Obama ’08 paraphernalia that are very distressed with the direction their Party is going in, too.
Today, CFC participated in the Recreate ’68 rally on the steps of the State Capitol here in Denver—there were awesome speeches, especially by Cynthia McKinney (Green Party Presidential Candidate) and Ron Kovic (disabled Vietnam Vet and subject of Born on the 4th of July). World Can’t Wait, ANSWER and other groups participated in the coalition and there were a reported 500-1500 people from all over the country in attendance. I myself am distressed that most organizations in the so-called peace movement refuse to protest here in Denver because they believe that the Democratic leadership is any better than the Repugs.
Something that really bothered me at the rally, also, was when a group of activists surrounded the correspondent from Fox News. Now, mind you, I abhor Fox News, however, I think Fox News is just a little worse than CNN (brought to us by Lockheed Martin and Boeing) and NBC (owned and operated by General Electric). Fox, (like CNN and NBC) is a propaganda ministry of the US imperial-military regime and deserves nothing but contempt and ridicule—that’s why I refuse to do national Fox (except when Sean Hannity called my bluff once) and I DON’T WATCH the network. So, we were there protesting our government’s suppression of our 1st amendment rights to peaceably gather and express our freedom of speech, and some elements of our side were denying 1st amendment protection to Fox News because they don’t agree with their speech—as far as I am concerned that’s as bad as what BushCo have been doing for the last 8 years.
The most troubling thing happened, though, when I arrived back to my hotel. We got back early because the altitude and sleeplessness were starting to take a toll on us. We did not march after the rally, so we decided to rest before the next event at 7pm. As I walked toward my room, I noticed that the door was opened with the security bolt blocking the complete closing of the door. I knew immediately that I had not left the door open, and I double checked to make sure it was the right room because, as a frequent traveler, I have been known to forget my room number, but it was the right room.
I was upset at first thinking that housekeeping had made a mistake and left my room open and I was worried that something might be missing. So I walked into my room and bigger than life, there was a man standing by my desk holding the room phone with a screwdriver in his hand!
I immediately said; “What the hell are you doing? Are you putting a bug on my phone?” He looked like he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar and stammered out: “N–no, we are having problems with the phone.” I told him to get out of my room because my phone was fine and I called the front desk and the person at the front desk stammered something out about “problems” with some of the phones.
This room was reserved soon after we got to Denver last night because the room we had was inadequate for 3 people. The room was reserved under my campaign manager’s name with a CFC debit card. By the time we left for the march, it could have very well been ascertained that I was the one in this room, and the room we did reserve could be bugged, also. I am confident that that’s what was happening when I walked in on the “maintenance” man and I am becoming more shocked every day with what the ruling class are capable of….that’s why…
My phones are in the room fridge. Let them listen to refrigerator noise.
CFC is feeling a little shaky on the security front, because there is no way to reasonably expect privacy from a Party and a government that has discarded our 4th amendment rights to be secure in our persons and papers…in other words, our safety and our campaign can be compromised by a government that exists to protect our rights, not abuse them at will.
By Chalmers Johnson
August 24, 2008 8:24 pm
originally published 2005
In the months before he ordered the invasion of Iraq, George Bush and his senior officials spoke of preserving Iraq’s “patrimony” for the Iraqi people. At a time when talking about Iraqi oil was taboo, what he meant by patrimony was exactly that — Iraqi oil. In their “joint statement on Iraq’s future” of April 8, 2003, George Bush and Tony Blair declared, “We reaffirm our commitment to protect Iraq’s natural resources, as the patrimony of the people of Iraq, which should be used only for their benefit.” In this they were true to their word. Among the few places American soldiers actually did guard during and in the wake of their invasion were oil fields and the Oil Ministry in Baghdad. But the real Iraqi patrimony, that invaluable human inheritance of thousands of years, was another matter. At a time when American pundits were warning of a future “clash of civilizations,” our occupation forces were letting perhaps the greatest of all human patrimonies be looted and smashed.
There have been many dispiriting sights on TV since George Bush launched his ill-starred war on Iraq — the pictures from Abu Ghraib, Fallujah laid waste, American soldiers kicking down the doors of private homes and pointing assault rifles at women and children. But few have reverberated historically like the looting of Baghdad’s museum — or been forgotten more quickly in this country.
In the movie, American Pycho, Christian Bale gives us one of the most chilling portraits of a psychopath ever committed to celluloid. Adapted from the controversial novel of the same name by Brett Easton Ellis, the film introduces us to a man who appears to have it all. Handsome stockbroker Patrick Batemen lives in an expensive apartment, drives a fabulous car, wears exquisitely tailored suits and eats at the best restaurants with his classy fiancé. But these rewards are also the source of a constant, gnawing status-anxiety which sees him desperately fixated on maintaining his position in the hierarchy of success. The scene in which he boils with anger when a colleague produces a superior business card is one of the film’s most fascinating and chilling moments and it is this murderous rage which leads to him descending into an orgiastic killing-spree in which various examples of society’s dispossessed are dispatched.
That Ellis chose to place his character in the corporate world is no accident. Both the book and film are a storming piece of satirical excoriation in which Bateman’s violence is used as a metaphor for what the author considers the spiritual impoverishment of the naked materialism he and his equally acquisitive colleagues exemplify. He suggests it is the corporate culture itself which is psychopathic, and in this way Patrick’s own psychopathy is both the symptom and the disease. For he operates within this culture which defines success in purely material terms, and so the need for proof of his own success becomes his raison d’etre, the centre upon which his entire identity depends. All the more sinister is the fact that it becomes an incubus from which he cannot escape as long as he buys into that culture’s values, the result being a highly ironic realization that the more he has, the more insecure he becomes.
The notion of corporate culture as psychopathic is an interesting one, but has it any validity? The makers of the 2003 documentary ‘The Corporation’ certainly think so, their premise being that since companies benefit from their status as ‘corporate persons’ (a legal term denoting rights usually associated with individuals, or ‘natural persons’, such as the right to privacy or freedom of speech) it is relevant to ask – what kind of person are they?
To answer this they make use of the standard psychopathy test developed by leading psychologist Dr. Robert Hare. The traits which, when found together, identify a personality as psychopathic (lack of empathy, pathological lying, lack of guilt or remorse, parasitic lifestyle, manipulativeness, grandiose sense of self, superficial charm) are ticked off as the film progresses, accompanied by various examples of dubious corporate behaviour, including environmental destruction, inhumane working conditions, unethical marketing, media manipulation, patenting of life-forms, neo-liberal re-structuring programmes in exchange for aid, attacking of whistle-blowers and the use of dwindling resources for short-term profit.
All are juxtaposed with the Hare list, the conclusion being that the way a modern day corporation operates exemplifies the overarching characteristic of the psychopath – it has no conscience. Indeed, in the documentary, Milton Friedman, considered by many to be the father of neo-liberal economics, insists that a corporate executive has only one moral imperative – to make as much money for that corporation as he can. Friedman identifies something important here: it is the individuals inside the corporation who must choose to accept this imperative in order to ensure the company’s success in these terms. Are our thriving businesses attracting psychopaths as employees?
Dr. Hare, himself, has explored this question in his book, ‘Snakes in Suits, When Psychopaths Go to Work.’ He and co-author, organizational psychologist Dr.Paul Babiak, believe there is something in the very structure of the modern day corporation which encourages its employees to demonstrate those traits the Hare psychopathy test lists. They describe the ‘organization wars’ of the 1970’s and 80’s, as business moved away from the cumbersome bureaucratic model toward a more stream-lined, effective ‘transitional’ one: ‘egocentricity, callousness, and insensitivity suddenly became acceptable trade-offs in order to get the talent and skills needed to survive in an accelerated, dispassionate business world’ they tell us. One cannot help being reminded of the riveting TV spectacle of The Apprentice in which contenders proudly state there is no one they would not step on or sacrifice in their pursuit of success. The authors then go on to describe how inviting psychopaths find the corporate milieu, explaining that, ‘the temptation for someone with a psychopathic personality to join a fast-paced, competitive, and highly effective ‘transitional’ organization, especially one with few constraints or rules, is too great, and the rewards too significant, to ignore.’ With the result that, ‘psychopaths are more attracted to work for businesses that offer fast-paced, high-risk, high-profit environments.’
It may come as news to some that not all psychopaths are axe-wielding serial killers, that they can be suave, charming businessmen and women, admired and rewarded for the very traits which mark them out as one. But in a time of globalization what are the implications for society if the world’s most powerful organizations value such people? Some would say we need only look around us for the answer. Witness the sweat-shops of India, the disappearing rainforests, the polluted rivers and oceans, and the corporate owned media from which most people construct their view of the world.
The American writer and philosopher Henry Thoreau once declared: ‘It has been said that a corporation has no conscience, but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience’, neatly encapsulating the nature of the relationship between the entity itself and those operating within it. Indeed, they are the cells without which the corporate body would be lifeless; they give it form and agency and they set its moral limits. Friedman is very clear about what those limits should be. And not many are arguing with him.
But in a time of rapidly diminishing resources, environmental devastation, peak oil, food riots and seemingly perpetual war, is it not pertinent to ask if the institutions which control our lives should be run by those whose operating principles can be identified as psychopathic? Can the boundaries of the corporation’s moral universe ever be re-drawn so that human and environmental cost is calculated alongside profit margins?
The corporation has risen to a position of unprecedented influence until it now dictates the quality of life of every human being on the planet; in reality, it decides if many live or die. We are the first generation in history facing the possibility of ecocide, and we will be the last with the power to prevent it. Is it possible to envisage a world in which these things fall within the corporation’s scope of concern?
Is it possible to treat and cure this psychopath?
Not bloody likely….
By Manila Ryce
The Largest Minority
Published Sunday, August 24th, 2008, 11:13 pm
Not much time to blog folks, so please excuse my brief description of a complex situation.
Denver is a complete police state, and I say that without exaggeration. The sheer number of law enforcement officers is easily more than the amount of protesters. Due to the outright promise that protesters in Denver will be beaten, arrested, and locked up in a Gitmo-style warehouse, the numbers aren’t as large as expected. However, there seems to be a strong group of Anarchists who refuse to be intimidated.
Today we demonstrated on a blocked off route, but soon moved into streets which weren’t designated areas. We completely stopped traffic as we moved between honking cars and dance in intersections. Giving credit where credit is due, the police were actually pretty tolerant until we started blocking streets near the capitol building. Officers in riot gear, holding their batons and rubber bullet guns, moved in on us. Two people were singled out and arrested but we stood our ground.
by John Prados
Global Research, August 24, 2008
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 254 – 2008-08-22
The U.S. intelligence community buckled sooner in 2002 than previously reported to Bush administration pressure for data justifying an invasion of Iraq, according to a documents posting on the Web today by National Security Archive senior fellow John Prados.
The documents suggest that the public relations push for war came before the intelligence analysis, which then conformed to public positions taken by Pentagon and White House officials. For example, a July 2002 draft of the “White Paper” ultimately issued by the CIA in October 2002 actually pre-dated the National Intelligence Estimate that the paper purportedly summarized, but which Congress did not insist on until September 2002.
A similar comparison between a declassified draft and the final version of the British government’s “White Paper” on Iraq weapons of mass destruction adds to evidence that the two nations colluded in the effort to build public support for the invasion of Iraq. Dr. Prados concludes that the new evidence tends to support charges raised by former White House press secretary Scott McClellan and by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in its long-delayed June 2008 “Phase II” report on politicization of intelligence.
U.S. Intelligence and Iraq WMD
Compiled and edited by Dr. John Prados
On June 5, 2008 the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) released a report examining whether the public statements made by U.S. officials, including President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, and others were consonant with U.S. intelligence information. This report forms part of a second phase of the SSCI’s investigation of Iraq intelligence issues, most especially Saddam Hussein’s possible Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) program, originally approved by the Intelligence Committee in February 2004 but stalled by its Republican majority for several years, until the majority changed with the current 110th Congress. Committee chairman Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV) then ordered work on this inquiry resumed, and the present report is the result.
The appearance of this long-awaited SSCI “Phase II” report coincided with controversy over the revelations of former White House press secretary Scott McClellan who, in a memoir appearing almost simultaneously, argued that “in the fall of 2002, Bush and his White House were engaging in a carefully orchestrated campaign to shape and manipulate sources of public approval to our advantage.” (Note 1) A review of new evidence along with previously-available documents sheds important new light on this debate. Among the findings:
The many official investigations and unofficial investigations carried out, plus the statements and speeches of former CIA officials defending themselves against charges of distortion, have established a few points beyond question. Most important, following Saddam Hussein’s 1998 final expulsion of UN weapons inspectors from Iraq, very little new information fell into the hands of U.S. intelligence. Notable exceptions include data from Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri, recruited as a CIA source (Note 2), and from Iraqi scientists clandestinely approached by the CIA under a covert program. (Note 3) Both these streams of information denied the existence of Iraqi WMD. On the other side were data from Iraqi exile sources that claimed all sorts of WMD and a set of fabricated documents alleging an Iraqi deal to buy uranium ore in Niger. The only concrete “find” was of a shipment of aluminum tubes being imported into Iraq, but analysts were divided over whether these tubes had anything to do with WMD at all. U.S. intelligence largely discounted the (accurate) details from Sabri and the scientists and—despite the CIA’s expressed misgivings—made use of the exile data. This thin data conditioned the intelligence analysis.
There was also a source of intelligence failure that flowed not from bad information but from analytical procedures. American intelligence knew that Saddam had worked through the 1990s to deceive UN weapons inspectors—they assumed he was hiding his WMDs rather than concealing the lack of them. On specific weapons, for example long-range Iraqi missiles, intelligence took a standard accounting approach, and since they could not account for every Iraqi missile, assumed Saddam was hiding a covert force of ballistic missiles. U.S. intelligence was coming off a record of underestimating Iraqi WMD progress in the 1980s and now overcompensated in the other direction.
The recent SSCI Phase II report concludes that Bush administration statements, while “substantiated” by the CIA reporting, went beyond that data. The Republican minority on the committee attacked that conclusion. The main defense offered—and repeated by media commentators—is that the root cause of the administration’s Iraq hysteria was intelligence failure, not intent to manipulate the American public. A typical formulation is that of columnist Fred Hiatt in the Washington Post, who argued that “the phony ‘Bush Lied’ story line distracts from the biggest prewar failure: the fact that so much of the intelligence upon which Bush and Rockefeller and everyone else relied turned out to be tragically, catastrophically wrong.” (Note 4)
But the question of the role of threat manipulation in the origins of the Iraq war is complex and goes beyond analytical failure. Its center is the degree to which the Iraq intelligence was politicized. Absent the drumbeat for war, even exaggerated estimates of Iraqi WMD prowess would have represented only a standard foreign policy problem. Bush administration intentions made a difference. Both the SSCI Phase I report and that of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States on Weapons of Mass Destruction (the Silberman-Robb Commission) investigation, though arguing that no politicization had occurred, also cited cases suggesting the opposite. Former national intelligence officer Paul Pillar told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations that the Silberman-Robb finding did not surprise him for two reasons: because any intelligence analyst would be reluctant to make the damning admission that his paper had been politicized, and because “in my experience, the great majority of cases of actual politicization—successful politicization—are invariably subtle.” (Note 5)
There were several avenues by which the Bush administration made its preferences clear. Vice President Richard Cheney questioned his CIA briefers aggressively, pressing them to the wall when he saw intelligence from other agencies that portrayed a more somber picture than that in CIA’s reporting. He sent briefers back for more information, including in instances when they checked with headquarters and returned with the same word. Cheney was especially acerbic on CIA’s rejection of claims that one of the 9/11 terrorists had met with Iraqi intelligence officers in Prague. On a number of occasions, Cheney sent his chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, to CIA headquarters to follow up on his concerns. Mr. Cheney went there himself, not just once but on almost a dozen occasions. The practice encouraged the CIA to censor itself, driven, as Pillar put it, by “the desire to avoid the unpleasantness of putting unwelcome assessments on the desks of policymakers.” (Note 6)
A second avenue to influence U.S. intelligence lay through Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon. There, William Luti’s Near East and South Asia unit of the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy (OUSDP) was in close touch with the Vice President’s office. Papers circulated back and forth, and both offices utilized claims from Iraqi exiles—claims that Saddam trained terrorists or possessed various WMDs—to press the intelligence agencies for similar information. Under Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and the undersecretary for policy, Douglas Feith, the Pentagon formed a special group to review reports on Saddam’s links to Al Qaeda. This unit, the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group (PCTEG) has been represented by Feith as merely charged with assembling a briefing on terrorism, but its real function was to bring additional pressure to bear on the CIA.
Not all the manipulation was visible. Behind the scenes at the State Department, Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton, also closely allied with the Office of the Vice President, pressured both the State Department and the CIA to fire individuals who refused to clear text in his speeches leveling the most extreme charges against other countries. Although Bolton’s actions did not concern Iraq directly, they came to a high point during the summer of 2002—the exact moment when Iraq intelligence issues were on the front burner—and they aimed at offices which played a central role in producing Iraq intelligence. These included the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at State plus the National Intelligence Council (NIC) and the Weapons Intelligence, Proliferation and Arms Control (WINPAC) center at CIA. Analysts working on Iraq intelligence could not be blamed for concluding that their own careers might be in jeopardy if they supplied answers other than what the Bush administration wanted to hear.
Under the circumstances, it is difficult to avoid the impression that the CIA and other intelligence agencies defended themselves against the dangers of attack from the Bush administration through a process of self-censorship. That is the very essence of politicization in intelligence. And the degree to which public statements on Iraq by Cheney, Bush, and others were “substantiated” by the existing intelligence must be viewed through that prism.
We shall offer only a few examples here. First is the case of the CIA white paper, “Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs.” That document is dated October 2002 [Document 1] and was issued on October 4. It has been represented as a distillation of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq published two days earlier, with the most sensitive, secret information stripped out. Posted here today is the major portion of the text of the same paper in draft [Document 2], as it existed in July 2002. This document demonstrates that the white paper existed long before the NIE was even requested by Congress. In fact the illustrations in the July version are the same as those in the final report. A close comparison of the text shows, further, that much of the argumentation is identical, and that the differences between the two are strictly in the nature of separating text to insert more charges or to sharpen them. The entire product has the character of rhetoric. Little of the text shows the kind of approach characteristic of intelligence analysis. The fact that this document was in preparation at the CIA in July indicates that the Bush administration was actively engaged in a process of building support for war months ahead of the time it has previously been understood to have done so. In fact evidence exists that the CIA white paper was commissioned as early as May 2002. (Note 7)
This point is made even sharper by recently declassified Department of Defense documents, including a memorandum from the OUSDP that details the kinds of information seen as desirable to obtain from intelligence in order to strengthen the case for war against Iraq [Document 3]. The timing of this document suggests that this text was a response to the draft CIA white paper, created at a point when Pentagon critics of CIA reporting were actively pressing their case against the agency’s refusal to accept arguments that Saddam Hussein was allied with Al Qaeda. Changes in the CIA white paper between its July draft and the final document track closely with the OUSDP comments. The net impression is that the CIA white paper was rewritten to conform to administration preferences. If so, U.S. intelligence a priori made itself a tool of a political effort, vitiating the intelligence function and confirming the presence of a politicized process. The specific analytic failures on Iraq intelligence become much less significant in such a climate, especially in that they all yielded intelligence predictions of exactly the kind the Bush administration wanted to hear.
This impression is strengthened, and suspicions of collusion broadened, when the record of the British government’s white paper on Iraqi WMD is laid side by side with that of the CIA. In the course of British official investigations of the antecedents to the war, and the death of physicist David Kelly, a draft of the British white paper was released that is dated June 20 [Document 4]. As in the American case, the Joint Intelligence Committee, which originated this document and plays a role similar to that of the National Intelligence Council in the U.S., modified its draft to issue a final version on September 24, 2002, that was even more somber [Document 5]. There is a considerable record on the Blair government’s efforts to shape the content of the British white paper in directions not supported by the intelligence.
The second example concerns the U.S. government’s use of information drawn from Iraqi exile sources, principally those of the organization known as the Iraqi National Congress (INC) [Document 6]. This anti-Saddam group has had a long and stormy history with the CIA, which actually severed relations with it, an action the Clinton administration’s NSC Deputies Committee approved in December 1996. The agency was later forced to resume ties, and even to fund the group, as a result of the Iraq Liberation Act, which Congress passed in 1998. Proponents of that legislation included many individuals who became senior officials of the Bush administration. The State Department took up funding of the INC. Both State and CIA questioned the value of the intelligence it provided, and State in turn sought to end the relationship. In 2002, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) took over responsibility for the Iraqi exiles. During this period the INC opened channels to the Office of the Vice President as well as Pentagon units responsible to Douglas Feith. In his own account of this period, Feith takes pains to defend the exile group and its leaders. (Note 8)
In the summer of 2002, the intelligence community compiled a detailed assessment of the material provided by the INC on several subjects and found it to have little current intelligence value, with sourcing and attribution impossible to verify. (Note 9) Despite this, and in spite of the fact that the INC went beyond providing intelligence to using the defectors it brought to the attention of the U.S. government as part of an anti-Saddam publicity campaign, the SSCI report on the group concludes that “false information from the Iraqi National Congress (INC)-affiliated sources was used to support key Intelligence Community Assessments on Iraq and was widely distributed in intelligence products prior to the war” (pp. 113-122). Intelligence agencies also avoided identifying these sources as INC-related in their reporting. Among the defectors was the notorious source “Curveball,” whose false allegations concerning Iraqi mobile biological weapons factories underlay some of the most alarming Bush administration charges against Baghdad.
This begs the question why, given distrust of the INC’s information at both the CIA and State Department, and an awareness of these doubts even within the DIA, the data was used at all, much less relied upon. Part of the answer no doubt has to do with the desperation of U.S. intelligence to obtain any information from inside Iraq—in itself a reflection of an intelligence failure. But the other part of the answer most likely flows directly from the prodding of the intelligence community by high levels at the Pentagon and White House for reactions to the defector information. This point stands out in stark relief when contrasted with the fact that the alternate stream of Iraqi insider information—from high-level agent sources and Iraqi scientists—seems to have had no discernable role in U.S. intelligence reporting. That is very arguably politicization.
Our third example has to do with the charges that Saddam sought to buy uranium ore from the African country of Niger. As widely reported, this affair involved fabricated documents, a Bush administration effort to discredit the U.S. envoy sent to check on the report by outing his wife, a CIA undercover officer; and ultimately, the criminal trial of Vice President Cheney’s top national security aide; but those matters are not of concern now. What is disturbing here, in the context of politicization of the intelligence, is the specific treatment the CIA gave to the information it developed. The record is established by the SSCI Phase I report, the Silberman-Robb report, and the proceedings of the trial of “Scooter” Libby, Mr. Cheney’s national security assistant. (Note 10)
On February 13, 2002 Vice President Cheney asked his CIA briefer about reports that Iraq was procuring uranium in Niger [Document 7]. Cheney represented the information as having come from the DIA, which indeed had issued an “executive highlight” on February 12. If this was in actuality what Cheney saw, the DIA was basing its account on information provided by Italian military intelligence, already aware of the fabricated Nigerien documents that later became the heart of this affair. The CIA had reported the same information a week earlier. The briefer promised to check, and the CIA’s WINPAC center prepared a note which observed that the foreign information on which the claim was based was only single-source and lacked crucial detail [Document 8]. The agency subsequently set up a trip to Niger by retired Ambassador Joseph V. Wilson IV, who returned with the conclusion that there was no substance to these claims. Wilson arrived in Niger on February 26 and returned on March 4. Just as Wilson came home, Vice President Cheney renewed his inquiry into the Niger allegation, and WINPAC responded by noting that the foreign intelligence service had no new information, that the Nigerien government insisted it was making all efforts to ensure that its uranium was used only for peaceful purposes, and that CIA was about to debrief “a source who may have information related to the alleged sale.”
Ambassador Wilson was in fact debriefed by two CIA officers on March 5. The way this was handled is what raises questions. Wilson’s data was recorded by the officers and written up by a reports officer who, according to the SSCI, “added additional relevant information from his notes.” The declassified text of this March 8, 2002, report [Document 9] shows that CIA Headquarters added the comment that the officials who provided information to Wilson “may have intended to influence as well as inform.” The ambassador himself was described as “a contact with excellent access who does not have an established reporting record.” However, Wilson had in fact carried out a mission on behalf of CIA previously, and he had been the senior U.S. envoy in Baghdad (the deputy chief of mission) before the first Gulf War. Therefore, Wilson did have an established reporting record. The comment regarding the Nigerien officials was gratuitous. The combination of these remarks cast doubt within the U.S. government on the information.
The report on Wilson’s information was then circulated in routine channels but never given to the Vice President. Director George Tenet’s comment: “This unremarkable report was disseminated, but because it produced no solid answers, there wasn’t any urgency to brief its results to senior officials such as the vice president.” (Note 11) But a look at the trip report we post here shows Wilson’s information was in fact quite solid. It simply does not say the uranium charge was real. Tenet has a secondary defense that the report was completed just after Vice President Cheney left on a trip to drum up support for war with Iraq, and that when he returned other matters seemed more pressing. Yet Cheney had renewed his inquiry into the Niger claim and surely its refutation had an impact on the arguments he had just made to encourage support for an American military option.These points drive the conclusion that the CIA was loathe to confront Mr. Cheney with a direct refutation of the Niger uranium claim. This too smacks of politicization.
Wilson’s was only one of a number of streams of reporting that undermined the Niger story, including an investigation by French intelligence and inquiries from the current U.S. ambassador and a senior U.S. military officer. Likely based on these materials and on the embassy cables reporting on Wilson from Niger, State Department intelligence filed a report doubting the claims of a Nigerien sale to Iraq [Document 10], and filed a dissent when the claim was included in the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate. But the developments of early 2002 became only the beginning of a highly ambivalent treatment of the uranium claim. On the one hand, the CIA intervened to keep this material out of the major speech President Bush gave in Cincinnati in October 2002, and also objected when British intelligence included it in their own white paper about the Iraqi threat. On the other hand, senior CIA officials mentioned the uranium claim in congressional testimony at the same time, permitted it to be included in a December 2002 “fact sheet” on Iraq, and mounted only tepid opposition to inclusion of the charge in President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union Address, where it would become notorious as the “16 Words.”
The SSCI later investigated the Iraq intelligence in detail, reporting on it in 2004. This was followed by the Silberman-Robb commission account. The SSCI Phase II report on the use of that intelligence [Document 11] examines Bush administration public statements regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction plus certain other topics related to war in Iraq against the inventory of intelligence reports circulated within the U.S. government. The idea was to determine whether administration claims were supported by the available intelligence. The “public statements” were winnowed down to a few, essentially the speech by Vice President Cheney in Nashville on August 26, 2002, those by President Bush to the United Nations General Assembly, in Cincinnati, and before the U.S. Congress at the 2003 State of the Union address (September 12 and October 7, 2002, and January 29, 2003), and the presentation to the United Nations Security Council by Secretary of State Powell (February 5, 2003). The subjects covered include nuclear weapons, biological weapons, chemical weapons, weapons of mass destruction generally, delivery systems, the Saddam Hussein regime’s alleged links to terrorists, Iraqi regime intent, and predictions for post-war Iraq.
In most of these cases the SSCI study found administration claims “substantiated” by the available intelligence but portraying the data as more certain than it was, thus going beyond the intelligence, while failing to convey disagreements among intelligence experts. The Committee found claims regarding Saddam’s intentions were contradicted by the intelligence (p. 82) and those about a rosy post-Saddam future as not reflecting intelligence concerns (p. 88). In the case of Bush administration claims about links between Saddam and terrorists the report reached several conclusions, judging that the intelligence substantiated general claims of Iraqi knowledge of and support for terrorist activities, but that claims of an Iraqi-terrorist alliance or of Iraqi training of terrorists were not backed up by the intelligence reporting (p. 71-2). In general Bush administration claims asserted greater certainty than existed in CIA reports.
This analysis was assailed by Republican members even before the SSCI report appeared. In minority statements attached to the eventual primary document (pp. 100-170) they detailed their objections. The minority charges that the investigation improperly confined itself to comparisons with finished intelligence products rather than the wider range of material actually available to top officials, and that it did not make similar assessments of the statements made by Democratic Party politicians, including Senator Rockefeller himself. Republican members and staff were not permitted to be involved in the drafting work on the report and the numerous amendments they offered were rejected.
The question of whether the “Iraqi threat” resulted from manipulation, as Scott McClellan and the SSCI majority suggest, or simple intelligence failure, as in the view of the Committee minority, is a key issue for all concerned. A real intelligence failure did occur. This is plain from the Intelligence Committee’s 2004 “Phase I” report as well as that of the Silberman-Robb Commission. (Note 12) The present author argued as much even before those studies appeared. (Note 13) The CIA director of that time, George Tenet, concedes, “In many ways, we were prisoners of our own history.” (Note 14) Retired CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman, observing this analytical effort from the outside, concludes, “The U.S. rush to war against Iraq marked the worst intelligence scandal in the history of the United States.” (Note 15) But intelligence failure was abetted and magnified by the Bush administration’s drive to use charges about alleged Iraqi WMDs as justification for war.
Ascertaining the truth in this matter does not seem to have been as important as seeming to do so, at least for the Senate Intelligence Committee. A review of the minority statements contained in the new SSCI report in comparison to similar ones in the Phase I report—by the then-Democratic minority [Document 12]—reveals identical complaints regarding the conduct of the investigation. The present Republican minority’s charge that the report errs on politicization because both the Phase I SSCI and Silberman-Robb Commission concluded there was no evidence of this flies in the face of the strong assertions by the Democratic minority during Phase I that allegations of this type had not been taken seriously. Current Republican charges that the report erred by failing to check the public statements of Democrats against the intelligence are a red herring: they effectively rely upon the Bush administration’s success at hoodwinking political opponents and then take those opponents’ statements as authoritative evidence, an example of reverse logic. The SSCI staff rules which the Republican minority now says were used to shut it out of the investigation are the same ones a Republican majority previously relied upon to limit Democrats’ influence on the scope and content of the inquiry.
The preparation of white papers on both the United States and British sides also needs to be taken into account. That Bush and Blair each turned to their intelligence agencies for the papers is significant—they were evoking the imprimatur of secret intelligence to justify policy preferences. Both papers had the function of justification, not analysis, and neither government waited until it had compiled all the evidence before demanding these products. Neither government asked for intelligence estimates, fashioned in secret, in order to inform policy on Iraq. Instead, both Bush and Blair did want their intelligence agencies to carry out avowed political agendas. And the timing of the white paper drafts—now established as being in the summer of 2002, before there ever was a UN debate or a Security Council resolution—clearly indicates their true function. The accumulating weight of evidence currently supports the interpretation Scott McClellan gives, not that supplied by apologists for the Iraq war.
4. For example, Fred Hiatt, “Bush Lied? If Only It Were That Simple,” Washington Post, June 9, 2008, p. A17.
5. Paul Pillar Talk, “Intelligence, Policy, and the War in Iraq,” Council on Foreign Relations, March 7, 2006.
7. Paul Pillar at the Council on Foreign Relations. In an interview with the Public Broadcasting Corporation program Frontline, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence John McLaughlin stated that the white paper had been requested in the summer of 2002 (Frontline: “The Dark Side, Interview: John McLaughlin, January 11, 2006, p. 16. http://www.pbs.org/wghb/pages/frontline/darkside/interviews/mclaughlin.html).
8. United States Congress (109th Congress, 2nd Session), Senate, Select Committee on Intelligence, Report: The Use by the Intelligence Community of Information Provided by the Iraqi National Congress. Washington, September 8, 2006, pp. 5-34. Douglas Feith, War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terroris. New York: Harper, 2008,pp. 243-244, 277, and passim.
9. SSCI, Iraqi National Congress Report, p. 35-36.
10. For the Libby Trial proceedings see Murray Waas, ed. The United States v. I. Lewis Libby. New York: Union Square Press, 2007.
12. The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (Silberman-Robb Commission), Report to the President of the United States. March 31, 2005.
13. John Prados, Hoodwinked: The Documents That Reveal How Bush Sold Us a War. New York: The New Press, 2004.
14. George J. Tenet with Bill Harlow, At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA. New York: HarperCollins, 2007, p. 330.
15. Melvin A. Goodman, Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA. Lanham (MD): Rowman & Littlefield, 2008, p. 253.
© Copyright John Prados, National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 254, 2008
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By Naomi Spencer
25 August 2008
In recent weeks, Bush administration officials have introduced a number of provisions that substantially widen the powers of intelligence and law enforcement agencies to conduct spying and other operations within the US against American citizens.
Last week, several news outlets reported that the Justice Department had drafted new rules on intelligence gathering operations which it plans to ratify on October 1, the first day of the new fiscal year and one month before the November elections.
Although details of the draft have not been made publicly available, officials told the Associated Press (AP) that the changes give explicit permission to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to spy on Americans even if there is no basis for suspicion of criminal activity or allegations of wrongdoing. According to an August 20 report by the AP, officials speaking on condition of anonymity said “the new policy would let agents open preliminary terrorism investigations after mining public records and intelligence to build a profile of traits that, taken together, were deemed suspicious.”
The FBI would be authorized to conduct activities such as “long-term surveillance, interviewing neighbors and work-mates, recruiting informants and searching commercial databases for information on people.”
There can be little doubt that among those targeted will be the sizable and growing segment of the population actively opposed to the government’s policies. “Pretext interviews” and the use of “recruited informants”—who infiltrate targeted organizations—are deeply anti-democratic and unconstitutional tactics that the FBI, in the anti-communist Cold War era, widely employed against socialists and civil rights groups.