Monday, January 18, 2010

Why is the U.S. fighting the war on terror?

ray_mcgovern.jpgRay McGovern has an article on whose starting point is very interesting. The typical press briefing has journalists taking dictation from the press secretary, and the journalists simply report what was said. Very little analysis is being done by journalists today. Hence the Bush and now the Obama administrations have had a free hand to tell us what they want us to hear about the purpose and reason for this war on terror. Even though the Bush administration was clearly lying through its teeth the whole time, the journalists did not scratch very deep into the stories to learn the truth.

Journalists, McGovern says, are afraid of being labeled as non-patriotic or "with the enemy". That tactic, labeling critics as enemies of the state, was harshly used during the Bush43 years to stifle criticism.

At a White House Press Conference covering the underwear bomber (Abdulmutallab) of Dec 25, 2009, the press secretary and journalists were all going through the dictation exercise when Helen Thomas asked "Why?".

Thomas: "And what is the motivation? We never hear what you find out on why." Brennan: "Al Qaeda is an organization that is dedicated to murder and wanton slaughter of innocents… They attract individuals like Mr. Abdulmutallab and use them for these types of attacks. He was motivated by a sense of religious sort of drive. Unfortunately, al Qaeda has perverted Islam, and has corrupted the concept of Islam, so that he’s (sic) able to attract these individuals. But al Qaeda has the agenda of destruction and death." Thomas: "And you’re saying it’s because of religion?" Brennan: "I’m saying it’s because of an al Qaeda organization that used the banner of religion in a very perverse and corrupt way." Thomas: "Why?" Brennan: "I think this is a — long issue, but al Qaeda is just determined to carry out attacks here against the homeland." Thomas: "But you haven’t explained why."
That was McGovern's starting point on an very interesting exploration into the real "why" that the terrorists are doing what they're doing. By the way, this Ray McGovern is the former CIA analyst shown in Uncovered: The Whole Truth about the Iraq War giving great analysis into the truth behind the fictions of the Iraq War. Ray McGovern was a top CIA analyst who had been the intelligence briefer for Ronald Reagan and other top officials during the Reagan and Bush41 era. This sure gives a lot of credibility to what he has to say.

What we have here is a failure to communicate: The first issue McGovern raises is the Obama administration plan to increase efforts in communicating with the terrorists. By communicating clearly to Muslims Obama hopes to explain that the al Qaeda agenda is a perversion of Islam and that the U.S. stands with those who seek justice and progress. McGovern asks

Does a smart fellow like Obama expect us to believe that all we need to do is "communicate clearly to Muslims" that it is al Qaeda, not the U.S. and its allies, that brings "misery and death"? Does any informed person not know that the unprovoked U.S.-led invasion of Iraq killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and displaced 4.5 million from their homes? How is that for "misery and death"?
But why isn't there a frank discussion by America’s leaders and media about the real motivation of Muslim anger toward the United States? Why was Helen Thomas the only journalist to raise the touchy but central question of motive?

The reason given by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as to why he masterminded the attacks on 9/11: Both the Bush43 and Obama administration have repeatedly given the same explanation of "why". Namely that the terrorists "hate our freedom" and that's why they're willing to continue this insane rampage of death and destruction. Being driven by perverted religious ideas their thought is to stamp out freedom? Um?

Instead McGovern quotes this apparently controversial bit from the 9/11 Commission report:

"America’s policy choices have consequences. Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and American actions in Iraq are dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world." (p. 376)
And this further bit the report has to say about KSM
"By his own account, KSM’s animus toward the United States stemmed … from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel."
This wasn't about hating our freedom. It was about hating U.S. foreign policy. Especially our policy in the Middle East, in Israel, in Palestine, in Lebanon, etc. Occupation of Saudi Arabia, of Kuwait, etc. The killing of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq. Or as McGovern put it:
After all, people in the Middle East already know how Palestinians have been mistreated for decades; how Washington has propped up Arab dictatorships; how Muslims have been locked away at Guantanamo without charges; how the U.S. military has killed civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere; how U.S. mercenaries have escaped punishment for slaughtering innocents.
The pain and suffering inflicted on the Middle East by western forces (primarily the U.S.) is the main issue here. U.S. policy in the middle east is rather unjust. The word "Blowback" was invented after the 1952 U.S. intervention in Iran which put the Shah in power, which saw him toppled in 1978, which saw the U.S. embassy overtaken by Iranian radicals during 1979, and which has left Iran as a supposedly dangerous threat in the Middle East. McGovern doesn't say anything about Iran in his article, but this story is part of the background reasons for todays war on terror. As explained in earlier postings the Project for a New American Century (a neocon thinktank which included dozens of people who went on to positions of power during the Bush43 years) planned to completely reshape the Middle East by first toppling Iraq's government and then toppling either/both Syria and/or Iran (see Is Syria (or Iran) next? and Background material for the second Gulf "War").

Israel: In the U.S. criticising American support for Israel is routinely squelched. He explains one incident, a former CIA analyst and specialist on al Qaeda, Michael Scheuer, has been "outspoken on what he sees as Israel’s tying down the American Gulliver in the Middle East". Scheuer was recently on C-SPAN complaining "bitterly that any debate on the issue of American support for Israel and its effects is normally squelched" and then went on to explain how the Israel Lobby got him "him removed from his job at the Jamestown Foundation think tank for saying that Obama was 'doing what I call the Tel Aviv Two Step.'"

More to the point, Scheuer asserted: "For anyone to say that our support for Israel doesn’t hurt us in the Muslim world … is to just defy reality."
Umar-Farouk-Abdulmutallab_2.jpgMcGovern referred to a Salon.COM post by Glenn Greenwald discussing a little noticed Associated Press report about the underwear bomber, Abdulmutallab. Rather than hating our freedom his Yemeni friends noted "that he was open about his sympathies toward the Palestinians and his anger over Israel’s actions in Gaza". Abdulmutallab was not someone with prior "terrorist" affiliations but someone who's anger over the Israel/Palestine conflict was used to manipulate him into committing violence. The merger announcements of Saudi and Yemeni branches of al Qaeda into al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula "railed against the Israeli attack on Gaza".
And on Dec. 30, Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, a 32-year-old Jordanian physician from a family of Palestinian origin, killed seven American CIA operatives and one Jordanian intelligence officer near Khost, Afghanistan, when he detonated a suicide bomb.

All these are not about "hating American freedoms" but are blowback by "terrorist" forces against U.S. support of Israel.

Violence piled upon Violence only begets more Violence: This is a phrase which has been with me since September 11, 2001. McGovern has this to say:

Is the reported reaction of a CIA official to al-Balawi’s attack the appropriate one: "Last week’s attack will be avenged. Some very bad people will eventually have a very bad day."

In other words the CIA response to the al-Balawi suicide bombing is Revenge. We've seen above that the U.S. toppling of the Iran government to install the Shah led to a lot of "blowback" which is a strange reframing word for "revenge". McGovern also goes into the events surrounding the brutal killing of Blackwater contractors in March 2004.

They'd taken a wrong turn and ended up in Fallujah, then attacked, murdered, and a grisly scene ensued with their bodies being drug through the street and so on. Later that year, the week after Bush43 won the 2004 election, an attack was launched on Fallujah. Revenge. That act of Revenge by the U.S. led to a drastic uptick in violence in Iraq. Was the killing of Blackwater contractors simply the raving actions of insane radicals? I think this is what officialdom would have us believe.


McGovern says it was inspired by the "March 22, 2004, Israeli forces assassinated the then-spiritual leader of Hamas in Gaza, Sheikh Yassin — a withering old man, blind and confined to a wheelchair." The people leading the murder of the Blackwater contractors called themselves the "Sheikh Yassin Revenge Brigade" and pamphlets and brochures were all over the scene about Sheikh Yassin.

The U.S. revenge attack on Fallujah was caused by a revenge attack on Blackwater guards over the Israeli assassination of a Hamas leader in Gaza which was likely itself Israeli revenge over something or other. Violence piled upon Violence only begets more Violence.

What we have here is a failure to communicate: McGovern closes by describing U.S. officialdom as refusing to communicate clearly with the American people about these issues. As said above he describes the press as simply taking dictation and repeating the words officialdom wants them to say. It means that officialdom is not telling the public the whole story. It means the American people are in the dark about what's really going on.

In a way this explains why there are so many deluded people in the U.S. The journalists whose proper role is investigation and exposing of lies, they're miserably failing at that job. This leaves the American people supporting stupid policies because they're woefully underinformed and misled by official lies.

Article Reference: 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Mega Giant Corporations Are Very Bad for America | Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace | AlterNet

This is a tale of globalized megacorporations gone awry. I want to say at the outset that I believe the current state of deregulated globalized megacorporations comes about because the government has been weakened to the point it cannot rein in corporate excesses. Corporations have proved over and over they cannot be counted on to behave according to enlightened self interest, instead corporations have proved over and over they are willing to lie, cheat, steal, poison, and otherwise act to destroy their customers or employees. Corporations have proved over and over they have no ethics and no compunction about anything in the pursuit of profit. This despite the fact that corporations are made up of people, people who are making the horrendous decisions that lead to unethical business practices.

The story is about Walmart - the great bugaboo hobgoblin of the progressive. I myself immensely dislike that corporation and never set foot in one despite passing by their store quite regularly (it's across the street from the Whole Foods). The story in this article just cements my opinion about them.

When you have a corporation that "delivers at least 30% and sometimes more than 50% of the entire U.S. consumption of products" that corporation holds an inordinate amount of power. Namely: Walmart.

A few years ago a pet food quality scare opened up knowledge about bad stuff in the food industry. It was learned an Ontario-based company named Menu Foods was producing a massively large proportion of all pet food sold in the U.S. They delivered pet food under at least 150 different brand names from the high-end, expensive brands like Iams and Hill’s Pet Nutrition Science Diet to more pedestrian ones like SuperValu. Then double clicking on this food source it became known that essentially all production of wheat gluten had come to be controlled by China.

It isn't just wheat gluten and pet food at issue. It's that Chinese companies have gained complete control over production of various essential product components.

The issue isn't about China, it's about the risk inherent in putting control over essential resources in the hands of any other country. For example the U.S. is entirely beholden to OPEC countries for oil imports, a fact which puts the U.S. at risk to being controlled by those OPEC countries. As was proved during the mid 1970's during the fake oil crises of that era, if a country were to control supply of vital materials, that country can wield economic warfare against other countries.

China in particular has managed to gain a really strong position over the rest of the world through control over production of all sorts of things.

For those Americans who believe in what we were taught in civics class and Econ 101, the most disturbing revelation was not even the fragility of our food systems, but that some of our most cherished beliefs about how the U.S. economy works appear no longer to be true. We are told that companies are engaged in a mad scramble to discover exactly what we the U.S. consumers want and to devise perfectly tailored systems to supply those want as efficiently as possible. We are told that our economy is characterized by constantly chaotic yet always constructive competition and that any American with a better product and bit of gumption can bring that product to market and beat the big guys.

The true situation we have is nowhere near the wide open competitive paradise we seem to have. Instead we have stores full of basically identical products whose differ only in the color choice on the labels. It's all the same crap inside each one of the products.

Until we elected Ronald Reagan president, both Democrats and Republicans made sure that no chain store ever came to dominate more than a small fraction of sales in the United States as a whole, or even in any one region of the country. Between 1917 and 1979, for instance, administrations from both parties repeatedly charged the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, the chain store behemoth of the mid-twentieth century that is better known as A & P, with violations of antitrust law, even threatening to break the firm into pieces.

Then in 1981 we stopped enforcing that law. Thus, today Wal-Mart is at least five times bigger, relative to the overall size of the U.S. economy, than A & P was at the very height of its power.

A walk down the aisles of a megastore like Walmart may make it hard to believe there is no real choice. The dizzying array of brand names and product choices certainly looks like a huge variety of choice. But the truth is that megacorporations own the majority of the brand names, they enter into fake competition between their own brands, and in any case outsourcing means the source materials behind each product is the same.

Article Reference: 

Michael Chertoff's Pushing "Full-Body Scanners" for Airports but He Has a Conflict of Interest | World | AlterNet

When a former high ranking official preaches for a particular solution to a problem - maybe that former official might know some things about the cause of the problem, and know something about the best solution. Clearly the former official as a former insider would have better insight to the problem than us typical normal people. Or maybe, just maybe, that former official is abusing an emergency to push a product that he's being paid to promote regardless of how good (or not) that thing is.

When Michael Chertoff, the former DHS secretary, is repeatedly calling for installation of full-body scanners for airports. Well, maybe he knows something or other about the matter. But what if he and his lobbying agency were being paid by the manufacturer of the machines in question?

Regardless of how good (or not) those machines are - that Chertoff is being paid by the manufacturer makes this smell.

Article Reference: