The US government is now so totally under the thumbs of organized interest groups that “our” government can no longer respond to the concerns of the American people who elect the president and the members of the House and Senate. Voters will vent their frustrations over their impotence on the president, which implies a future of one-term presidents. Soon our presidents will be as ineffective as Roman emperors in the final days of that empire.
Obama is already set on the course to a one-term presidency. He promised change, but has delivered none. His health care bill is held hostage by the private insurance companies seeking greater profits. The most likely outcome will be cuts in Medicare and Medicaid in order to help fund wars that enrich the military/security complex and the many companies created by privatizing services that the military once provided for itself at far lower costs. It would be interesting to know the percentage of the $700+ billion “defense” spending that goes to private companies. In American “capitalism,” an amazing amount of taxpayers’ earnings go to private firms via the government. Yet, Republicans scream about “socializing” health care.
President Barack Obama instructed Justice Department attorneys to argue last week in San Francisco before Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker, that he must toss out the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Shubert v. Bush lawsuit challenging the secret state’s driftnet surveillance of Americans’ electronic communications.
This latest move by the administration follows a pattern replicated countless times by Obama since assuming the presidency in January: denounce the lawless behavior of his Oval Office predecessor while continuing, even expanding, the reach of unaccountable security agencies that subvert constitutional guarantees barring “unreasonable searches and seizures.” EFF senior staff attorney Kevin Bankston wrote:
Stephen Kohn explains whistleblowing as a civil liberties and a First Amendment issue, the role of whistleblowers as enablers of congressional oversight, and discusses the legal and political implications involved in whistleblowing. He talks about the broken Merit System Protection Board, the abuses of secrecy laws and State Secrets Privilege, the current status of whistleblower protection laws in Congress, the case of Halliburton whistleblower Bunnatine Greenhouse, the current administration’s highly disappointing stand against national security whistleblowers despite President Obama’s endorsement prior to his elections, and more!
Stephen M. Kohn is the Executive Director of National Whistleblowers Center, one of the nation’s foremost experts in whistleblower protection law, and the author of the first legal treatise on whistleblowing, Protecting Environmental and Nuclear Whistleblowers: A Litigation Manual. Since 1984, Mr. Kohn has successfully represented whistleblowers in numerous cases (both at trial and on appeal), has testified in Congress on behalf of whistleblower reforms, and has worked directly with the staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee on drafting the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate whistleblower law. Mr. Kohn has a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law; an M.A. in Political Science from Brown University; and a B.S. in Social Education from Boston University. In addition to his books on whistleblower law, Mr. Kohn is the author of Jailed for Peace and American Political Prisoners.
I was so delighted that the Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by President Obama last Wednesday, included a hard-won concession that the administration can transfer prisoners from Guantánamo to the mainland to face trials (even though the legislation still bears the fingerprints of interfering lawmakers, and still, scandalously, prevents any innocent man from being rehoused in the country that falsely imprisoned him) that I overlooked two other distressing facts.
Firstly, the Act authorizes 680 billion dollars to be spent — a mind-boggling amount of money — and secondly, it includes amendments to the Military Commissions Act of 2006, authorizing the revival of the much-maligned “terror trials” that were first dragged from obscurity by Dick Cheney and his close advisors in November 2001.
“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” — Voltaire
Question: How many countries do you have to be at war with to be disqualified from receiving the Nobel Peace Prize?
Answer: Five. Barack Obama has waged war against only Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. He’s holding off on Iran until he actually gets the prize.
Somalian civil society and court system are so devastated from decades of war that one wouldn’t expect its citizens to have the means to raise serious legal challenges to Washington’s apparent belief that it can drop bombs on that sad land whenever it appears to serve the empire’s needs. But a group of Pakistanis, calling themselves “Lawyers Front for Defense of the Constitution”, and remembering just enough of their country’s more civilized past, has filed suit before the nation’s High Court to make the federal government stop American drone attacks on countless innocent civilians. The group declared that a Pakistan Army spokesman claimed to have the capability to shoot down the drones, but the government had made a policy decision not to. 1
Controversial intellectual thinks that the war on Afghanistan by allied force is immoral and with no reason. He is known to make harsh statement against the US foreign policy and there is no surprise that this think tank has his opinion in this manner.
Even though Barack Obama, the candidate, pledged to end “the practice of shipping away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries,” his FBI has been rendering kidnap victims to the U.S. The practice is still kidnapping, however; and it’s still illegal.
Unlucky victim No. 1 was Raymond Azar, 45, flown from Afghanistan to Alexandria, Va., not to a foreign country. The construction manager for Sima International, a Lebanese outfit that did work for the U.S. military, Azar said he was tortured by his abductors. He might just as well have been flow to Egypt under the Bushies.
Top American intellectual sees no significant change of US foreign policy under Obama
As civilised people across the world breathed a sigh of relief to see the back of former US president George W. Bush, top American intellectual Noam Chomsky warned against assuming or expecting significant changes in the basis of Washington’s foreign policy under President Barack Obama.
Hever: The Israeli government is hiding the true cost of the occupation even from itself
As the US-mediated peace talks threaten to collapse, Israel ramps up its occupation of the Palestinian Territories. The Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported last Friday that at least 11 locations within settlement colonies in the West Bank are escalating construction in order to alter “facts on the ground.” Last weekend, the joint Israeli-Palestinian organization, Alternative Information Center, organized a conference on the economy of the Israeli occupation in Bethlehem. The Real News’ Lia Tarachansky attended and spoke to the AIC’s Shir Hever about the real costs of maintaining Israel’s occupation.
The recession is over. Yesterday’s report from the Commerce Dept. confirmed that the economy expanded in the third quarter by 3.5 percent, better than most economists estimates. GDP had contracted in the four previous quarters in the longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression. Massive government stimulus, cash for clunkers, and inventory restocking accounted for most of the surge in economic activity. Consumer spending grew at 2.36 percent while consumer credit continued to contract at a near-record pace of 4.5 percent. Unemployment swelled to 9.8 percent, “with nearly nearly 26 million workers—17 percent of the workforce—unemployed or underemployed,” according to economist Mark Zandi. The economy remains extremely weak and is expected to lapse back into recession if the Obama administration fails to provide a second-round of stimulus.
Leading Political, Legal Blogger Glenn Greenwald on Afghanistan, State Secrets, Healthcare and the Media
One of the leading political and legal bloggers in the country, Glenn Greenwald, joins us to talk about about the war in Afghanistan, the Obama administration’s use of state secrets, the healthcare debate, the renewed military commissions at Guantanamo, and the coverage of it all by the corporate media. Greenwald is a constitutional law attorney who writes for Salon.com and is the author of three books. [includes rush transcript]
The Imperial College Political Philosophy Society, in association with Palestine societies at UCL, SOAS, Goldsmiths, LSE, Imperial and Kings, proudly present one of the greatest political philosophers of all time: MIT Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky, for what could be his last trip to London.