In 1935, US General Smedley Butler detailed in his “War is a Racket” the World War I racket he had served. It is now much, much worse.
Vice-President Richard Cheney and his fellow Neo-Cons originally lit the barn fires with their factually unjustified invasion of Iraq in 2003. Bush-Cheney then torched the secular, but Sunni sect based, ruling Baathist Party and applauded the decapitation of its brutal, but anti-al Qaeda leader, Saddam Hussein. (Saddam himself had originally been put in place by the US CIA in a coup, but thereafter fell out of favor with the US government because he dared to assert exclusive control of Iraq’s oil industry.)
Up to his ouster, Saddam had successfully kept the radical jihadists out of Iraq, which even the US intelligence agencies have admitted:
“There was no al Qaeda-Iraq connection until the war; our invasion made it so. We have known this for nearly a decade, well before the murderous ISIS even appeared. In a September 2006 New York Times article headlined “Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat,” reporter Mark Mazetti informed readers of a classified National Intelligence Estimate representing the consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,” the analysis cited the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology: “The Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,’ said one American intelligence official.”
Now jihadis even more extreme than Al Qaeda, the ISIS, are an hour outside of Baghdad, threatening the capitol city and its Shia sect residents. Its Sunni sect population, a minority in Baghdad, is seemingly terrified of the reaction of the Shiite majority as well as the blatantly brutal, although Sunni ISIS. Likely everyone there is arming. (The NRA must be delighted.)
Freddie Peacock of Rochester, New York, was convicted of rape in 1976. Last week he became the 250th person to be exonerated by DNA testing since 1989. According to a new report by the Innocence Project, those 250 prisoners served 3,160 years between them; 17 spent time on death row. Remarkably, 67 percent of them were convicted after 2000-a decade after the onset of modern DNA testing. The glaring question here is, How many more are there?
The meeting had all the hallmarks of an ordinary Congressional hearing. There was Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, discussing the problems faced by ordinary citizens mistakenly placed on terrorist watch lists. Then, to the astonishment of the crowd attending a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, Mr. Kennedy offered himself up as Exhibit A.
Between March 1 and April 6, airline agents tried to block Mr. Kennedy from boarding airplanes on five occasions because his name resembled an alias used by a suspected terrorist who had been barred from flying on airlines in the United States, his aides and government officials said.
Instead of acknowledging the craggy-faced, silver-haired septuagenarian as the Congressional leader whose face has flashed across the nation’s television sets for decades, the airline agents acted as if they had stumbled across a fanatic who might blow up an American airplane. Mr. Kennedy said they refused to give him his ticket.
“He said, ‘We can’t give it to you,’ ” Mr. Kennedy said, describing an encounter with an airline agent to the rapt audience. ” ‘You can’t buy a ticket to go on the airline to Boston.’ I said, ‘Well, why not?’ He said, ‘We can’t tell you.’ “
Hoping to prove the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was under the influence of Communists, the FBI kept the civil rights leader under constant surveillance.
The agency’s hidden tape recorders turned up almost nothing about communism.
But they did reveal embarrassing details about King’s sex life — details the FBI was able to use against him.
The almost fanatical zeal with which the FBI pursued King is disclosed in tens of thousands of FBI memos from the 1960s. …
When King learned he would be the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, the FBI decided to take its harassment of King one step further, sending him an insulting and threatening note anonymously. A draft was found in the FBI files years later. In it the FBI wrote, “You are a colossal fraud and an evil, vicious one at that.” The letter went on to say, “The American public … will know you for what you are — an evil, abnormal beast,” and “Satan could not do more.”
The letter’s threat was ominous, if not specific: “King you are done.” Some have theorized the intent of the letter was to drive King to commit suicide in order to avoid personal embarrassment. “King, there is only one thing left for you to do,” the letter concluded. “You know what it is … You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”
Despite pledges by President George W. Bush and American intelligence officials to the contrary, hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the giant National Security Agency (NSA) center in Fort Gordon, Georgia. …
“These were just really everyday, average, ordinary Americans who happened to be in the Middle East, in our area of intercept and happened to be making these phone calls on satellite phones,” said Adrienne Kinne, a 31-year old US Army Reserves Arab linguist assigned to a special military program at the NSA’s Back Hall at Fort Gordon from November 2001 to 2003.
She said US military officers, American journalists and American aid workers were routinely intercepted and “collected on” as they called their offices or homes in the United States. …
Faulk says he and others in his section of the NSA facility at Fort Gordon routinely shared salacious or tantalizing phone calls that had been intercepted, alerting office mates to certain time codes of “cuts” that were available on each operator’s computer.
“Hey, check this out,” Faulk says he would be told, “there’s good phone sex or there’s some pillow talk, pull up this call, it’s really funny, go check it out.
The impassioned speeches of labor organizer, Socialist leader and five-time presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs were nothing short of evangelical in tone and effect. (He once called socialism “merely Christianity in action.”) Debs inspired groups large and small, and his remarkable charisma is what most concerned the powers that were. …
According to historian Ernest Freeberg, it was precisely Debs’ virtuosity that forced America to grapple with the limits of dissent. In 1918, Debs was convicted under the recently minted Espionage Act for questioning America’s entry into World War I. …
“People should go ahead and obey the law, keep their mouths shut, and let the government run the war.” Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. dismissed criticism of the court’s unanimous ruling against Debs as “a lot of jaw about free speech.”
Documents released today by the American Civil Liberties Union reveal new details of Pentagon surveillance of Americans opposed to the Iraq war, including Quakers and student groups. The documents show that the Pentagon was keeping tabs on non-violent protesters by collecting information and storing it in a military anti-terrorism database.
A Department of Homeland Security division produced daily briefings on “peaceful activist demonstrations” during the height of the Occupy Wall Street protests, documents released Tuesday revealed.
The 252 pages of documents were obtained in a March 14 letter from DHS by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which in November 2011 launched a campaign to unearth public records that would show whether the federal government was spying on Occupy Wall Street. FBI records obtained by the group in December showed that the bureau investigated Occupy as a potential “domestic terrorism” threat.
“Taken together, the two sets of documents paint a disturbing picture of federal law enforcement agencies using their vast power in a systematic effort to surveil and disrupt peaceful demonstrations,” Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, said in a statement. “The federal agencies’ actions were not because Occupy represented a ‘terrorist threat’ or a ‘criminal threat,’ but rather because it posed a significant grassroots political challenge to the status quo.”
Van Jones said not so long ago: “If we want to fix the economy, the first thing we got to do is repeal the Bush tax cuts and pull back our military expenditures to Clinton level expenditures.” The first corrective action one takes does not have to be a vanguard one, but it is clear that President Obama's second term requires an understanding of the stakes for labor and capital, ones greater than those at the Clinton levels. Critical analyses might require interrogating the problem of how the base economy depends on the superstructure’s contractual complicity in coordinating industries that have regional impacts and cultural effects. In the case of the Fiscal Cliff(FC), a critical political economic analysis of the defense sector and its associated practices including procurement pork-barreling can give us some small insights on the fictive, yet dimensional nature of the capital and labor involved. The myth of the cliff metaphor functions as though lemmings were at risk. But as with everything "we have entered the house of language and the doors are closing behind us".
For those requiring a summary:
“The “fiscal cliff’, however, is an invented term applied by politicians to the date various temporary legislative changes to the country’s tax code and spending policy take effect. Politicians began instituting temporary tax cuts with the intention of later transforming them into permanent law in the 1990s. According to a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report, this practice exploded during the George W. Bush administration and was accompanied by budget gimmickry to hide their affect on the federal deficit. The Bush era tax cuts, known respectively as the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, are at the center of the storm that is raging around the “fiscal cliff’. The legislation, which was set to expire in 2010 but was extended to 2012, significantly reduced rates on income, estate and dividends and capital gains taxes and exemptions. After the sunset of the Bush era tax cuts, estate and gift tax exemptions will end raising the tax rates on transferred estates over $1 million to 55%. Long-term capital gains taxes will rise from its current rate of 15% to 20%. The tax bracket for the country’s wealthiest citizens will rise from the current 35% to 39.6%. In other words, the tax code will largely return to the rates that were in place prior to the George W. Bush administration.”
For our purposes here, the cliff is more like a speed bump because the funding for defense will continue with little effect because of the contractual aspects of procurement that occur in a spatial and temporal context.
For their part, some defense contractor executives are now making it a point to stress that sequestration, if a fiscal cliff deal isn’t reached by Jan. 1, would be less of a “guillotine” than a “speed bump.” That’s long been the view of military analysts. “The fiscal cliff metaphor just isn’t accurate,” says Todd Harrison, senior fellow in the Defense Budget Studies program at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington. “It’s more of a slope – but it is a slippery slope.” Moreover, sequestration does not apply to cases in which defense companies are working now on vehicles and weapons contracts that have already been obligated. “That’s an important point, because if you’re a defense contractor, whatever you’re working on now is something that has already been obligated, and that will continue until the money runs out,” Mr. Harrison says. “There won’t be any immediate impact on Jan. 2.”
The Fiscal Cliff is largely such a speed bump in the ever-self-correcting however badly managed capitalist economy, given that it has all the sausage of policy problems derived from trying to constrain one form of the ideological state apparatus (the legislative branch budget power) with another more materially destructive institution like the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). Without rehearsing what others have contributed, I want to make a small point on the spatial analysis of the FC with respect to the defense industry if only to make a point concerning the regulation of the firearms industry and citizens. The subsequently mediated cultural effects that produce calls for citizen disarmament illustrate a false consciousness that show that political power (can) grow out of the barrel of a gun, real and digitally imagined because of a lack of awareness of armaments production, or its application abroad. Yet militarization whether domestic or international will continue unabated; an FC agreement will be made, compromises will be achieved, and the continuing path of exploitation and stagnant growth will run through the first quarter(s) of the Second term. Recent domestic historical spectacles of violence have obscured the necessary path to global demilitarization which cannot be called at any moment world peace. Another diarist came to this spatial contradiction recently.
But of course in a country which cares so little for however much collateral damage we inflict on innocent civilians with drone strikes, so long as none of our boys and girls get hurt, it's hard to expect that emotional pain visited on Afghani non-combatants counts for much in the American scheme of things. We have a national melt down over twenty dead school children in Connecticut. Twenty dead Pakistani school children lost to a drone strike not so much. It's who we are. It's about us. Always about us. Little brown people on the other side of the world are beyond our awareness. I don't have to like it, but that's how it is.
We value things that seem closer to us but as its says in our cars’ right hand mirrors: “objects closer may appear larger than they are”. As it is with tragedy, the proportion of its causes are disproportionate to its scale. Self-defense and self-determination must be bravely seen in their globalized context with a constant goal of nonviolence and choose the appropriate targets for regulation whether individual products or entire industries, tempering social costs with social justice. Please follow me below the orange squiggle to view exceptionally grim(m) triggers for more moral hazards.
I’ve discussed the BCA (Budget Control Act of 2011) both here and here and the fact that the MIC aided by Republicans and Democrats through the use of propaganda campaigns are attempting to use fear as a tactic to override the, well any “cuts” to the Defense budget. The facts mean nothing to these people obviously.
Now enter the ties between industry and congress to propagate behind closed doors the expectations of those that have become used to and flourishes on the peoples dime.
Former Lockheed vice president Ann Elise Sauer was hired by Sen. John McCain in February as the top Republican staffer on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The revolving door swings regularly in Washington, but the size of the compensation package Sauer received from Lockheed when she left the company is notable. A financial disclosure form shows the defense giant gave Sauer $1.6 million in compensation around the time she took a buyout in January 2011.