The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

A federal judge late Friday ordered the Obama administration to halt the force-feeding of a Guantanamo prisoner and to preserve more than 100 videos that show the captive being forcibly removed from his cell and force-fed.

U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler’s unprecedented ruling also temporarily barred military officials at the detention facility from subjecting the prisoner, Abu Wa’el Dhiab, to so-called forced cell extractions “for the purposes of” tube-feedings until May 21, the date of the next hearing in the case.

Dhiab has been cleared for release or transfer out of Guantanamo since 2009. His attorneys have been waging a lengthy legal battle to permanently end his force-feeding.

'This is a major crack in Guantanamo’s years-long effort to oppress prisoners and to exercise total control over information about the prison,' said Cori Crider, one of Dhiab’s attorneys who works for UK-based charity Reprieve.

'Dhiab is cleared for release and should have been returned to his family years ago,' Crider added. 'He is on hunger strike because he feels he has no other option left. I am glad Judge Kessler has taken this seriously, and we look forward to our full day in court to expose the appalling way Dhiab and others have been treated.'

Judge orders government to stop force-feeding Guantanamo prisoner

This current epic of finance capitalism will either be resolved in disorderly or catastrophic fashion but it will come to an end. By design it is too deeply embedded in broad political economy for orderly resolution to be a high probability. The economic mainstream that wants to stay relevant should ‘fess up to its role in current circumstance and admit that it knows little to nothing of what to do about it. What is wholly evident in retrospect is that the powers that be took what it wanted from the liberal economic mainstream with no intention of assuaging the economic dislocations that antique-revival trade policies were sure to produce. Nonsense about the problem being a failure to predict the financial crisis of 2008 requires dissociating it from those of the early 1990s and early 2000s and the associated economic dislocations broadly considered. The common link is finance. At this point in history empty blather about income ‘inequality’ that fails to address the role of finance looks a lot like determined misdirection. Economics, Finance and Crisis

2 months ago

Mad Men: The Lunatic Fringe That Leads the West

… The behavior exhibited by Western leaders, especially since the launching of the Terror War — and especially in the Anglo-American alliance — would be regarded as criminally insane by any dispassionate diagnosis. This is seen in large matters — such as the hundreds of thousands of innocent people slaughtered in their criminal aggression in Iraq — and in small matters. For example, a story in the Guardian this week related how the courageous statesfolk in the U.S. Senate once again kowtowed to their masters in the National Security apparat, and removed a very mild requirement that the United States government issue an annual report telling us how many civilians it killed with its drone-assassination programs the previous year. No dice, said the security archons — and the Senate said, OK, boss!

But in the course of the story, the Guardian recalled how top Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein has been a staunch supporter of the remote-control assassination program, noting that “during a February 2013 confirmation hearing for CIA Director John Brennan, Feinstein stated that the CIA’s targeting procedures kills only “single digits” of civilians annually. Try to imagine an ordinary human being standing up in court to defend a serial killer by saying that he only kills single digits of people annually. Is that so wrong? Or hell, imagine your co-worker turning to you in the office and saying, “I ain’t such a bad person, you know; I probably don’t kill more than six or seven innocent people a year.” Try to imagine what kind of mindset believes that as long you hold your murder rate of innocent people to “single digits,” then that’s OK. What would you say if someone talked to you in that way? You would say, quite rightly, that they were insane. Criminally insane, and very dangerous.

Yet this is precisely the kind of madness  that our leaders, across the political spectrum, exhibit day in, day out, year after year. …

3 months ago

Guidelines for the formation of a leftist stance on Syria | As'ad AbuKhalil

It has become trendy among the Western left to meet with the right over Syria. There is actually no debate on Syria in Western countries. In fact, debate is highly discouraged. Debate is seen as a political sin. Only one point of view is permitted on Syria; you may search American newspapers over a three-year period to find no trace whatsoever of any critique of the Syrian “revolution”.

Not only are those who support the Syrian regime forbidden from speaking (and supporters of the Syrian regime do exist despite the protests of Western correspondents in Beirut who rely on Free Syrian Army media—and Saudi and Qatari media—for their clues and information on the Syrian conflict), but those who are critical of both sides of the conflict are not allowed to speak either. Haytham Al-Manna` for example was not allowed to speak on Syria in Western media and his participation in Geneva was not permitted by Saudi Arabia and the US governments.

How do Western leftists justify their support for the Syrian rebels? By simple tricks:

1) To invoke anecdotes: “I met a Syrian leftist woman who so impressed me and she is really famous in the revolution” 2) By calling the armed groups “revolutionaries” and by conflating their action with the civil movement that started back in 2011 and largely died down from a combination of repression and Saudi/Qatari/Turkish/Syrian rebel hijacking 3) By citing the authority of the US government and Western governments to legitimize the stance of the left 4) By invoking the authority of Western human rights organizations who rarely deviate from the policies and wars of the US empire 5) By reminding the audience that Iran and Russia are not leftist (and the US is?)

As a contribution to the debate on this subject, I wish to offer a few guidelines on the subject, taking into consideration that in reality there are no leftists who support Bashar Al-Assad, unless you count individual leftists in Lebanon as evidence:

1) There is not a single leftist Syrian rebel group. Not one. 2) There is not a single leftist demand or request or slogan by either the Syrian armed groups or by the Syrian exile opposition. 3) There are no Syrian leftist intellectuals in the “revolution”: those who are identified as “leftists” in the Syrian “revolution” are in fact former leftists. And remember that some of the most vocal right-wingers in the Lebanese March 14 movement are themselves former leftists-turned sectarian right-wingers. 4) The sponsors of the Syrian rebels and of the Syrian exile opposition are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and the US. Those can’t count as leftist regimes. 5) The Syrian regime is not a leftist regime; Hafidh Al-Assad coup in 1970 was launched against the leftist leadership of Salah Jadid. 6) Bashar Al-Assad did not lead Syria in a leftist direction: in fact, he took the country further to the right, especially in economic policy. 7) Ahmad Al-Jarba was selected by Saudi regime and the US to lead the Syrian National Coalition for his tribal and polygamous credentials and not for any leftist credentials. 8) There is no Syrian “revolution”: there is no serious academic or other justification for the invocation of the word “revolution”. The word is bandied about very much in the Ba`thist tradition as a mere word used to rationalize and legitimize political activities that don’t belong to revolutionary activity. 9) Having the support of Western leftists does not make an event or a movement in a developing country leftist. 10) There isn’t a single leftist current in Islamist and Jihadi groups and movements. 11) Neither the Russian camp nor the American camp is leftist, but you can always bet that the US leads a more rightist and reactionary camp than any other country in the world. 12) March 14 is a reactionary movement in Lebanon and its rhetoric and sponsors are the same as those of the March 14 of Syria (i.e. Syrian rebels and the Syrian exile opposition). 13) Arab leftists (throughout the Arab world) are far more opposed to the Syrian rebels than to the other side (with the exception of Trotskyists). 14) Hizbullah is not a leftist political party. It never was a leftist political party and never will be given its ideology and rhetoric, although it sometimes borrows from the political rhetoric of Third World leftism. 15) The support that Bashar Al-Assad receives from some leftist regimes (like in Venezuela) does not make him a leftist.

Lastly, one last question: is Prince Bandar considered a leftist? Or is he a neo-leftist?

From Chris Floyd - April 21, 2014

… Meanwhile, the beat goes on. On Monday, the Peace Prize Laureate launched his third drone strike in Yemen in as many days. (It is of course superfluous to point out that the United States is not at war with Yemen.) The latest strike followed one on Easter Sunday, when Barack Obama celebrated the Resurrection of his Lord and Saviour by killing 30 people in Yemen, by the usual courageous method of having an underling in a padded chair somewhere thousands of miles away courageously push a button while courageously viewing a video screen.

This heroic action was preceded by a strike on Saturday, in which 13 people were killed, including at least three civilians. This was purportedly a “signature strike,” a common practice in which the courageous Americans actually have no earthly idea who they are courageously killing from thousands of mile away — they just push the button because a bunch of people they are tracking seem to be “acting like” terrorists in some way or another. For all we know, all 13 people killed that day were civilians, like the 15 people on their way to a wedding whom the Peace Laurate killed last December.

In fact, we have no way of knowing if any of the dozens of people killed by the Peace Laureate during his busy Easter holiday were civilians or militants. Or what “civilian” and “militant” even mean in the context of the Peace Laureate’s never-ending violation of other nation’s sovereignty to kill people, many if not most of whom are completely unknown to him and his assassins.

We are simply told that all the shredded corpses are “al Qaeda militants.” Which of course leads to the question: Are these the same “al Qaeda militants” whom the United States is supporting in Syria, or the “al Qaeda militants” it supported in Libya, or are they some other kind of “al Qaeda” militants? If the “al Qaeda militants” in Yemen suddenly decided to aim their attacks on, say, Iran, would they suddenly become “good” or “moderate” al Qaeda militants, like we have in Syria? And are these Yemeni “al Qaeda militants” of a different stripe from the “al Qaeda militants” the West supported in, say, Bosnia, or Afghanistan?

Anyway, who cares? The point is that Obama’s peaceful, progressive expansion of the drone bombing and death squads initiated by George Bush is obviously quelling the spread of violent extremism. Whereas “al Qaeda” was once a handful of militants concentrated largely in one corner of Afghanistan, it is now a large, loose, proliferating confederation of violent extremists operating over vast swaths of Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Nigeria and other countries. As both an ideological brand and physical force, “al Qaeda” is more powerful today than ever before — after 13 years of unrelenting “war on terror.” Every drone strike — and the deep, horrific, constant dread and fear instilled in the multitudes of innocent people who live under the dead eye of American drones, never knowing when and where the bolt may fall — are all incomparable recruiting tools for “al Qaeda militiants” around the world.

Every step taken in the blind, brutal “war on terror” has been counterproductive. Every step has increased terrorism, exacerbated hatred for America and the West, destabilized vast regions of the earth, destroyed all vestiges of constitutional government in the United States, militarized and corrupted Western democracies and visited unspeakable horror and suffering on millions of innocent people.

Yet it never stops. It just goes on and on, plunging the world deeper into darkness day by day, year by year. It’s done by icky conservatives like George Bush and Margaret Thatcher; it’s done by cool progressives like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. No one, none of our leaders and would-be leaders, will call it off. They don’t know how. And they don’t want to. So they will go on bombing and killing — thus making even more “militants” to bomb and kill. They will pursue this literally insane course while the world burns up around them and their own nations fall to pieces.

3 months ago

For over a decade, Americans have been told that terrorism poses a threat that cannot be addressed by the existing legal system; that a new domain of law must be constructed to handle this new threat. What has actually been created is a new domain of pseudo-law where the roles of law making, law enforcement, and judiciary, are rolled into a single political authority. Even if there has been no coup d’etat, nor extended imposition of martial law, this is nonetheless the dawning of an insidious and piecemeal form of fascism. It does not impose itself with an iron fist but grows upon us slowly, so that painlessly freedom can be lost as it is gradually forgotten. America’s willingness to be terrified by terrorism (via theamericanbear)

(via theamericanbear)

3 months ago

Everyone seems to forget that the FBI is the NSA’s primary partner in the latter’s domestic spying operations and that, in fact, the NSA’s job would be impossible without them. Whenever you see a company deny giving any data to the NSA remember: It’s because it’s not the NSA asking (or demanding) the information of them, it’s the FBI. They use the same Patriot Act authorities that the NSA does, and yet we have almost no idea what they do with it. The mentality of J Edgar Hoover’s FBI undergirds today’s surveillance state

3 months ago

Secular stagnation theory needn’t be ‘true’ to suggest a host of related results. The initial implementation of the New Deal was a political decision made to moderate capitalism to prevent its wholesale overthrow. Much is made today of the relative cooperation the New Deal received from the reigning plutocracy of the 1930s. But the level of dispossession of the Great Depression suggested a real threat of political-economic rupture and the replacement of ‘free-market’ capitalism with state socialism. The popular distinction being made these days between capitalism and neo-liberalism is academic— neo-liberalism is capitalism and New Deal capitalism is technocratic ‘management’ of capitalism in the service of residual plutocracy. The New Deal ended approximately when the threat of political overthrow did in the mid-1970s. The practical background of current economic malaise is that the existing plutocracy of bankers, CEOs and inherited wealth was fully restored from recent catastrophe through means and methods that were ‘political,’ through restoration of economic resources along the lines of division of economic power, and Western economists busied themselves explaining why doing so was necessary. When it came to the other 99.7% of the equation conclusions were quickly drawn that either (a) nothing needs to be done or (b) using duct tape and chicken wire to ‘repair’ the existing order was the best course of action. The ‘infrastructuralists’ are the duct tape and chicken wire crowd who haven’t yet resolved that current circumstance is the result of the existing order, not some accident of nature from outside of it. Economic Stagnation and the Stagnation of Economics

3 months ago