The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

'We tortured some folks,' Obama declared almost casually. He then proceeded to excuse and justify the torturers. Obama defends CIA torturers

1 month ago

A law unto themselves: the CIA and the torture cover-up | WSWS

A report by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) marks a significant escalation in the constitutional crisis over the systematic cover-up of the CIA’s widespread torture programs.

According to the Inspector General David Buckley, five CIA officials surreptitiously gained access to the computers used by Senate staff investigators while compiling a still-classified 6,300-page report on CIA torture. Two CIA attorneys and three CIA information technology employees created fake accounts in order to follow the movements of Senate staff as they worked.

The OIG weakly asserts that the employees were “acting in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding” brokered between the CIA and the Senate.

What is involved is not a breach of a “common understanding,” but a breach of laws and the Constitution. Not only did the spying violate the Fourth Amendment’s proscription of unreasonable searches and seizures and laws that prohibit domestic spying by the CIA, it also violated the basic constitutional principle of separation of powers—in this case, a clear intrusion by the executive branch on the investigatory powers of the legislature.

The gravity of the CIA’s actions is amplified by the fact that the Senate was investigating actions of the executive branch that already violated the Eighth Amendment’s proscription on cruel and unusual punishment. …

Relevance of Hannah Arendt’s “A Report On The Banality Of Evil” To Gaza

… For me the most telling image of the current Gaza massacre is not one of death and destruction, of carnage, and torn limbs, and mutilated bodies of children. It is one of the regular [outcomes of] Israeli onslaughts in last few years, and we have become numbed to these sights and they are telling us the same tragic story with only faces changed. For me the most telling image is a peaceful, quiet image, almost serene, but containing within it the bottomless depths of the “heart of darkness”. It is an image of Israelis, men, children and even toddlers, in an almost picnic like atmosphere with drinks and barbecue watching the carnage unfolding before their eyes from the safety of their perch on the mountaintop. One Israeli critic of Zionism in a remarkable address called the last invasion of Gaza by Israel at the peak time of children’s getting out of their schools in the streets as the darkest day in the history of Judaism. No sir, I respectfully disagree. The darkest day in the history of Judaism was the day when a few people, no matter the numbers, flaunted their inhumanity in broad daylight, and were accepted by the majority either tacitly by staying quiet about it, or [condoning it outright]. This is the dangerous moral collapse which HA was alluding to, which Nazism, because of its creed of racism and naked power, brought about in the “respectable European society”. And God knows what monstrosities it led to. In HA’s incisive analysis, Eichmann was not a monster, neither was he legally insane, nor he was oblivious of the consequences of his actions. He was quite ordinary and commonplace, and hence the banality of it all. But he was caught in an ideology and the system that made him accept and commit those unspeakable horrors with relative equanimity. The respectable opinion, according to his testimony, never questioned or challenged his conscience. It was normally human to be inhuman in that atmosphere. He was embedded in a system which made such humanity [seem] normal; in fact, elevated it to the level of duty. That is what HA meant by the moral collapse of the “respectable western society”. It is a version of this moral collapse that was on display on that mountain top the other day: the moral collapse of “respectable Israeli society.”

1 month ago

It is the psychological and logical compulsion of a society based on notions of racial exclusivity and superiority to regard the other, especially if the others are the inhabitants of the land they want to grab, as untermensch, as lesser humans.

Relevance of Hannah Arendt’s “A Report On The Banality Of Evil” To Gaza

"The net effect of this language system was not to keep these people ignorant of what they were doing, but to prevent them from equating it with their old, normal knowledge of murder and lies" - Hannah Arendt

Instead of a watchlist limited to actual, known terrorists, the government has built a vast system based on the unproven and flawed premise that it can predict if a person will commit a terrorist act in the future,” says Hina Shamsi, the head of the ACLU’s National Security Project. “On that dangerous theory, the government is secretly blacklisting people as suspected terrorists and giving them the impossible task of proving themselves innocent of a threat they haven’t carried out.” Shamsi, who reviewed the document, added, “These criteria should never have been kept secret. Blacklisted: The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist

Those who say the United States is adrift or has no coherent foreign policy are colossally wrong. Washington’s policy is the constant fomenting of war for the subjugation of the planet – or the world’s destruction, if the U.S. cannot remain Number One. Glen Ford, Obama’s Hot War

A Future in Hell: The Bitter Fruits of Bellicose Policy

… When the Soviet Union fell, there was an opening — a genuine opening — to make a better world. But America’s bipartisan elites refused to take that path. Instead they chose a threatening military expansion, after promising not to do it. They chose the “Shock Doctrine” tactics of hyper-capitalism, driving millions of people into desperate ruin and early deaths, while empowering gangsters and crooks whose predatory instincts fit well with the new system. At every turn, they chose policies and supported corrupt leaders and a corrupt system that led people to see “democracy” as a dirty word, a hypocritical mask for robbery and repression. They chose to keep Russia down, keep it cowed and contained; they chose … to re-divide the world, seeing the Soviet collapse not as an opportunity to make a safer, more secure and prosperous future for their own people — but as a chance to push their sick agenda of domination, greed and elite rule.

And now these same fools, and their equally foolish successors, are astonished that Russia has not become a safe and peaceful liberal democracy but has instead turned to authoritarianism — as happens to many societies in chaos, grasping at any straw that seems to promise (however falsely) some way out of the abyss. They are astonished that the Russian regime mirrors the meddling, arms peddling and power-gaming that they have practiced ruthlessly for generations – just as they express astonishment and outrage that a people who have been violently repressed and confined for decades would dare to strike back at a regime that has killed multitudes of their children and literally sealed them up behind a concrete wall, as in Gaza.

So with the horrors raging in Ukraine and Gaza (and Iraq and Syria), we have now arrived at another turning point – yet another further turning away from sanity and humanity, toward more war, more hatred, more enmity, more grasping, more greed, and more – many, many more – needless deaths.

Iraq and the Persistence of American Hegemony

… With history being but mere ‘opinion’ in U.S. political debate the aggressively misleading ‘division’ over whether it was the war on Iraq (2003) or the forced withdrawal of U.S. troops (2011) that is responsible for Iraq’s recent dissolution is so much chatter coming from a group that should rightly be in prison or already hung for their war crimes. Following from the SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) penned by Mr. Bush that committed the U.S. to quit Iraq by 2011, and against his campaign promise to end the war there, Mr. Obama did everything in his power to persuade the Iraqi government to allow a large U.S. troop presence to remain after the date for withdrawal had passed. The central sticking point was the refusal of the Iraqi government to give blanket immunity to U.S. troops for crimes committed against the people of Iraq. In other words, Mr. Obama could have continued the U.S. war if he had been willing to let the Iraqis prosecute criminal acts committed by Americans in Iraq. Apparently unwilling to risk murder, rape and torture prosecutions against U.S. troops, Mr. Obama reluctantly settled for withdrawal of all but the tens of thousands of troops now ‘guarding’ the U.S. embassy in Iraq. Democrat partisans could rightly point to the rank hypocrisy of the central architects of the Iraq war blaming Mr. Obama’s reluctant withdrawal for current circumstance if there hadn’t existed a bi-partisan front in favor of war against Iraq for most of the last quarter-century.

The question of how a relatively small group of cloistered gangsters can so consistently destroy everything they touch (except the bank accounts of their benefactors) and still remain in power gets to the heart of the American conundrum. As with oil company profits, international finance and ‘outsourced’ environmental devastation, perpetual chaos and destruction is the American business model. Iraq was destroyed so that U.S. munitions manufacturers could sell their wares, so that U.S. infrastructure builders could ‘reconstruct’ the country, so that multi-national oil companies could profit from rising oil prices and so that the U.S. polity could be distracted from careful examination of who ‘their’ government actually works for. Lest this seem unduly conspiratorial, what precisely was the reason the U.S. attacked and occupied Iraq in the 2000s? Iraq had no relationship with Al-Qaeda prior to 2003, WMDs supplied by the U.S. had already been removed long before the start of the war, the idea of ‘democratization’ at the point of a gun is a non sequitur and elimination of the ‘madman’ Saddam Hussein requires overlooking the relationship senior U.S. leadership had with him from the early 1960s through prosecution of the war in the mid-2000s. As there were no ‘good’ reasons for war on Iraq perhaps it is time to look at the bad reasons for it. […]

The American sectarian approach has created the civil war [in Iraq]. We saw Iraqis as Sunnis, Shias, Kurds. We designed a governing council based on a sectarian quota system and ignored Iraqis (not exiled politicians but real Iraqis) who warned us against it. We decided that the Sunnis were the bad guys and the Shias were the good guys. These problems were not timeless. In many ways they are new, and we are responsible for them.

-Reporter Nir Rosen, 2006

Startlingly accurate predictions about U.S. involvement in Iraq here.

(via bostonreview)

2 months ago