The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

I think much ink has been spilled on these terms [terrorism and terrorist], which are fairly ideological, and I find them suspect, particularly when coming from people for whom terrorism expertise has become a career. Karim, who asked me this question, however, is not one of these people. What I found interesting about Karim’s statement, in which he calls Obama and Bush “terrorists,” is that he changes how these terms are often deployed. Usually, when these words are thrown out, they are used to refer to the violence of non-state actors. Waziris, more generally, have been consistently dehumanized not only by the governments of the US and Pakistan but also by western media. They are constantly marked as suspect. So, when Karim calls the heads of the US state, Obama and Bush, “terrorists”, he turns this terrorism talk on its head. He implies that we, as tax-paying, voting citizens are complicit in a chain of terrorism that is the calculated, systematic work of a superpower. He points out the very obvious but little stated fact that this superpower is bombing Waziris while the latter sit in their own homes. He notes that terrorism also comes in the form of advanced-weapons systems. Our technological prowess doesn’t make our violence any more humane. It makes it all the more horrifying. Madiha Tahir

Life After a Drone Strike | Interview with Director Madiha Tahir

The US isn’t the first Western nation to bomb Waziristan. As you note, the British did it in the 1920s. Do these campaigns have anything in common?

Yes, there are some things in common. Let me point out a difference first: the historian Priya Satia has observed that for the British creating terror through “air policing” — what it was called then — was considered humane because it would terrorize people into submission and therefore minimize the number of people they’d actually have to kill, or so they reasoned. For the US, that discourse has been replaced by claims about precision, accuracy and surgical strikes.

But, of course, the buzzing of the drones does create terror, particularly among those who have already been attacked or seen an attack. That’s the simplest link. More interestingly, there’s a kind of technophilia that’s part of the British and American effort. It has been part of the fantasy of empire ever since flight became a possibility. It’s the belief that flight — whether by airplanes or drones — can make total control of a territory possible. It’s the idea that flight equals omniscience, that territory is transparent, and that all one needs to do in order to understand it, is to see it by air. The British made that mistake, and the Americans are making it now. They have their heads in the clouds. They have failed to grasp the link between the violence they inflict and the response that they get. The British wrote off rebellions as part of the alleged innate savagery of Pashtuns rather than a reaction to their brutal colonial rule. The US now presumes the right to be the global policeman, to occupy and destroy entire countries, but then wonders “why do they hate us?” This is a question that reflects the utter, willful blindness of American power.

This is not to say that those fighting against the Americans in Afghanistan are simply anti-colonial warriors, because the insurgents have been ruthless to Waziris and Pakistanis more generally. But, at the level of imperial politics, there is a definite link between what the British did and what the US is attempting to do now.

A major theme in your documentary is that survivors of drone strikes are continually haunted by the dead — and continually reminded of their deaths by the omnipresence of drones in Waziristan’s skies. One young boy recounts that while he barely survived a drone attack that killed both his sister-in-law and baby niece, he doesn’t feel lucky to be alive. Indeed, ‘Death would have been better than this kind of life,’ he tells you. Why would he say that?

When I asked him why he said that, Saddam responded that he was tired of the drone attacks and that he felt ill every time he heard a drone had bombed somewhere. I think this is part of what’s critical to understand about drone attacks: they don’t just kill people. They destroy lives. We, those of us who don’t have to suffer through these bombings, have been so disciplined to think in terms of the numbers dead and whether they were “civilians” or “militants” that I think we miss the broader, deeper and long-lasting effects of drone policy. We miss the fact that deaths resound and echo through the social fabric for long after. We miss the fact the bombing destroys communities. The focus on numbers alone has been successful in narrowing the terms of the debate around drones. I wanted to broaden the discussion.
Madiha Tahir

Terrorism and the Public Imagination | Hamilton Nolan

The shooting of nineteen innocent people, including two children, at a Mother’s Day celebration in New Orleans [Sunday] was an act of violence only gaudy enough to hold the nation’s attention momentarily. Shortly after the bodies were cleared, the FBI said they “have no indication the shooting was an act of terrorism. ‘It’s strictly an act of street violence in New Orleans.’” At that, we were free to let our attention drift. In America, all villainy is not created equal.

A couple of disaffected young men in search of meaning drift into radical Islam and become violent. A couple of disaffected young men in search of meaning drift into street crime and become violent. A crowd of innocent people attending the Boston marathon are maimed by flying shrapnel from homemade bombs. A crowd of innocent people attending a Mother’s Day celebration in New Orleans are maimed by flying bullets. Two public events. Two terrible tragedies. One act of violence becomes a huge news story, transfixing the media’s attention for months and drawing outraged proclamations from politicians and pundits. Another act of violence is dismissed as the normal way of the world and quickly forgotten. The victims bleeding on the ground may be forgiven for failing to see the distinction between the two acts. For those on the receiving end, violence is violence. For the rest of us, it is a rhetorical tool, to be deployed when it fits a narrative of American triumphalism. Otherwise it will be forgotten, by everyone except the victims. [++]

Everything You’ve Been Told About Radicalization Is Wrong | John Knefel

If media accounts are to be believed, the accused Boston marathon bombers were “radicalized” by watching American-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki’s YouTube sermons and reading Inspire, the al Qaeda magazine. To whatever extent it is true of the Tsarnaev brothers, this narrative follows a familiar path: one in which seemingly ordinary people are exposed to radical ideas, then adopt those ideas as their own, and then become violent. That theory was set out in a 2007 NYPD report called Radicalization in the West, which focuses exclusively on Muslims, and describes a four-stage progression – a “funnel,” the report says – in which each step towards violence is intrinsically linked with increased religiosity. Though the intelligence community at the federal level has distanced itself from the NYPD’s theory, it continues to dominate thinking in law enforcement. There’s only one problem, according to critics: It’s reductive and simplistic at best, and at worst is a thin justification for racial profiling of Muslims.

“Nobody watches YouTube or reads Inspire and becomes a terrorist. It’s absurd to think so,” says John Horgan, director of the International Center for the Study of Terrorism at Pennsylvania State University. “YouTube videos and reading Al Qaeda magazines tends to be far more relevant for sustaining commitment than inspiring it.”

The mistaken belief that the earliest stages of terrorism can be seen at “radicalization incubators” – Muslim bookstores, hookah bars, mosques, virtually anywhere Muslims congregate in person or online – has resulted in a focus on so-called “preventive policing,” a policy whose stated aim is to prevent a terrorist attack before one happens. Since the theory says adopting radical ideas is the first step toward someone becoming violent, officials say they’re justified in surveilling places where “radical” ideas might take hold.

According to Horgan, though, that’s just not how it works. “The idea that radicalization causes terrorism is perhaps the greatest myth alive today in terrorism research,” he says. “[First], the overwhelming majority of people who hold radical beliefs do not engage in violence. And second, there is increasing evidence that people who engage in terrorism don’t necessarily hold radical beliefs.”

Jamie Bartlett, head of the Violence and Extremism program at the think tank Demos, echoes these doubts. “The word ‘radicalization’ suggests a fairly simple linear path toward an ultimate violent conclusion,” he says. Studies suggest that although there may be stages in the evolution of a terrorist, placing them sequentially on a line, as the NYPD’s report literally does, is far too pat. The stages are fluid, not a simple trajectory, and it is virtually impossible to predict who will or won’t engage in violence based solely on their beliefs.

… Despite all this, law enforcement organizations have used the flawed logic of “radicalization” to justify investigating innocent Muslims in almost every part of their daily lives. Under “preventive policing,” critics say cops and FBI agents aren’t focusing on actual crime, but on protected first amendment activities – like the NYPD’s surveillance of student and political groups, or reports “that the FBI has infiltrated mosques simply to learn about what was being said by the imam leading prayers and by those attending” – without a clear reason to suspect criminality. [++]

Boston Marathon, this thing called terrorism, and the United States | William Blum

What is it that makes young men, reasonably well educated, in good health and nice looking, with long lives ahead of them, use powerful explosives to murder complete strangers because of political beliefs?

I’m speaking about American military personnel of course, on the ground, in the air, or directing drones from an office in Nevada.

Do not the survivors of US attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya and elsewhere, and their loved ones, ask such a question?

The survivors and loved ones in Boston have their answer – America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That’s what Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston bomber has said in custody, and there’s no reason to doubt that he means it, nor the dozens of others in the past two decades who have carried out terrorist attacks against American targets and expressed anger toward US foreign policy. Both Tsarnaev brothers had expressed such opinions before the attack as well.The Marathon bombing took place just days after a deadly US attack in Afghanistan killed 17 civilians, including 12 children, as but one example of countless similar horrors from recent years. “Oh”, an American says, “but those are accidents. What terrorists do is on purpose. It’s cold-blooded murder.”

But if the American military sends out a bombing mission on Monday which kills multiple innocent civilians, and then the military announces: “Sorry, that was an accident.” And then on Tuesday the American military sends out a bombing mission which kills multiple innocent civilians, and then the military announces: “Sorry, that was an accident.” And then on Wednesday the American military sends out a bombing mission which kills multiple innocent civilians, and the military then announces: “Sorry, that was an accident.” … Thursday … Friday … How long before the American military loses the right to say it was an accident? [++]

People love to accuse Muslims of being tribal without realizing the irony that what they are saying - Our Side is Superior and They are Inferior - is the ultimate expression of rank tribalism. They also don’t seem ever to acknowledge the irony of Americans and westerners of all people accusing others of being uniquely prone to violence, militarism and aggression. Glenn Greenwald

277 Million Boston Bombings | Robert Scheer

To this day, antipersonnel weapons––the technologically refined version of the primitive pressure cooker fragmentation bombs exploded in Boston––maim and kill farmers and their children in the Southeast Asian killing fields left over from our country’s past experiment in genocide. An experiment that as a sideshow to our obsession with replacing French colonialism in Vietnam involved dropping 277 million cluster bomblets on Laos between 1964 and 1973.

The whole point of a cluster weapon is to target an area the size of several football fields with the same bits of maiming steel that did so much damage in Boston. The International Committee of the Red Cross, which has been active in attempting to clear land of remaining bomblets, estimates 10,000 Lao civilian casualties to date from such weapons. As many as twenty-seven million unexploded bomblets remain in the country, according to the committee.

Back in 1964 at the start of that bombing campaign, I reported from Laos, an economically primitive land where a pencil was a prize gift to students. It is staggering to me that the death we visited upon a people, then largely ignorant of life in America, still should be ongoing.

The technology to manufacture the cluster bombs and the deadly bomblets they contain has since expanded to most of the world, and they have been used by at least 15 nations. As a recent Congressional Research Service report noted:

“Cluster munitions were used by the Soviets in Afghanistan, by the British in the Falklands, by the Coalition in the Gulf War, and by the warring factions in Yugoslavia. In Kosovo and Yugoslavia in 1999, NATO forces dropped 1,765 cluster bombs containing approximately 295,000 submunitions. From 2001 through 2002, the United States dropped 1,228 cluster bombs containing 248,056 submunitions in Afghanistan, and U.S. and British forces used almost 13,000 cluster munitions containing an estimated 1.8 million to 2 million submunitions during the first three weeks of combat in Iraq in 2003.”

Israel is said to have dropped almost 1 million unexploded bomblets in Lebanon in the 2006 war against Hezbollah, which fired 113 cluster bombs filled with thousands of bomblets at targets in northern Israel.

I list all those dreary statistics to drive home the point that the horror of two pressure cooker bombs in Boston that has so traumatized us should help us grasp the significance of the 1.8 million bomblets dropped in Iraq over a three-week period.

Obama was right to blast the use of weapons that targeted civilians in Boston as inherent acts of terrorism, but by what standard do such weapons change their nature when they are deployed by governments against civilians?

On Aug. 1, 2010, the Convention on Cluster Munitions, banning such weapons, became a matter of international law for the 111 nations, including 18 NATO members, that signed the agreement. The U.S. was not one of them. Current American policy, according to the Congressional Research Service report, is that “cluster munitions are available for use by every combat aircraft in the U.S. inventory; they are integral to every Army or Marine maneuver element and in some cases constitute up to 50 percent of tactical indirect fire support.”

However, there is new legislation pending in Congress that would require the president to certify that cluster munitions would “only be used against clearly defined military targets” and not deployed “where civilians are known to be present or in areas normally inhabited by civilians.” Lots of luck with that.

Bombs and missiles are instruments of mass killing that have been used by Americans in, among other places, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Serbia, Grenada, Lebanon, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, and Germany. Those responsible for the killing might not have focused their attention on destroying lives, while believing the ends justified means, that orders had to be followed, that ‘we had no choice’ — none of which actually mitigates the effects. And this leads to the basic problem with the self-righteous and ritualistic condemnations of terrorism that always follow an atrocity: these disavowals of violence come from those who in other circumstances regard violence as perfectly legitimate. America’s willingness to be terrified by terrorism | War in Context

A Reader's War | Teju Cole

[…] The White House, the C.I.A., and the Joint Special Operations Command have so far killed large numbers of people. Because of the secret nature of the strikes, the precise number is unknown, but estimates range from a several hundred to over three thousand. These killings have happened without any attempt to arrest or detain their targets, and beyond the reach of any legal oversight. Many of the dead are women and children. Among the men, it is impossible to say how many are terrorists, how many are militants, and how many are simply, to use the administration’s obscene designation, “young men of military age.” The dependence on unmanned aerial vehicles—also called drones—for these killings, which began in 2002 and have increased under the Obama Administration, is finally coming to wider attention.

We now have firsthand testimony from the pilots who remotely operate the drones, many of whom have suffered post-traumatic stress reactions to the work. There is also the testimony of the survivors of drone attacks: heartbreaking stories of mistaken identity, grisly tales of sudden death from a machine in the sky. In one such story reported by The New York Times, the relatives of a pair of dead cousins said, “We found eyes, but there were no faces left.” The recently leaked Department of Justice white paper indicating guidelines for the President’s assassination of his fellow Americans has shone a spotlight on these “dirty wars” (as the journalist Jeremy Scahill rightly calls them in his documentary film and book of the same title). The plain fact is that our leaders have been killing at will.

How on earth did this happen to the reader in chief? What became of literature’s vaunted power to inspire empathy? Why was the candidate Obama, in word and in deed, so radically different from the President he became? In Andrei Tarkovsky’s eerie 1979 masterpiece, “Stalker,” the landscape called the Zona has the power to grant people’s deepest wishes, but it can also derange those who traverse it. I wonder if the Presidency is like that: a psychoactive landscape that can madden whomever walks into it, be he inarticulate and incurious, or literary and cosmopolitan.

According to a report in the New York Times, the targets of drone strikes are selected for death at weekly meetings in the White House; no name is added to the list without the President’s approval. Where land mines are indiscrimate, cheap, and brutal, drones are discriminate, expensive, and brutal. And yet they are insufficiently discriminate: the assassination of the Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud in Pakistan in 2009 succeeded only on the seventeenth attempt. The sixteen near misses of the preceding year killed between two hundred and eighty and four hundred and ten other people. Literature fails us here. What makes certain Somali, Pakistani, Yemeni, and American people of so little account that even after killing them, the United States disavows all knowledge of their deaths? How much furious despair is generated from so much collateral damage?

Of late, riding the subway in Brooklyn, I have been having a waking dream, or rather a daytime nightmare, in which the subway car ahead of mine explodes. My fellow riders and I look at one another, then look again at the burning car ahead, certain of our deaths. The fire comes closer, and what I feel is bitterness and sorrow that it’s all ending so soon: no more books, no more love, no more jokes, no more Schubert, no more Black Star. All this spins through my mind on tranquil mornings as the D train trundles between 36th Street and Atlantic Avenue and bored commuters check their phones. They just want to get to work. I sit rigid in my seat, thinking, I don’t want to die, not here, not yet. I imagine those in northwest Pakistan or just outside Sana’a who go about their day thinking the same. The difference for some of them is that the plane is already hovering in the air, ready to strike. [READ]

andystepanian:

AN AMERICAN STORY OF EMPATHY & HEALING(or the enemization of everything)by Andy Stepanianpublished in issue 183 of The Indypendent
In the weeks between my appointment and when I entered this office I had the privilege of spending several days alongside former Secretary Janet Napolitano. I found Secretary Napolitano’s leadership to be exemplary as applied to the terms defining her position as DHS secretary. These terms, framed 11 days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, provide a foundation for what it means to direct our Department of Homeland Security. However, I regretfully, and respectfully, submit to you today, that these terms upon which we apply the responsibility of securing of our homeland are flawed. I intend to spend my term as secretary redefining these terms, and eventually redefining the position of secretary to the Department of Homeland Security.
With no disrespect intended to Secretary Napolitano, I will share with you a conversation she and I had regarding these aforementioned terms.
When I asked Secretary Napolitano to recall her first days in office, she waxed nostalgic about a conversation she had in 2009 with her predecessor, Secretary Michael Chertoff, about “the cornerstone of our security apparatus.” This “cornerstone” was handed down from Tom Ridge to Chertoff to Napolitano. When I asked her what this “cornerstone” was she simply replied, “the enemization of everything.”
Over the past nine-and-a-half years, this department has grown exponentially to employ more than 240,000 Americans around a principle that in order to innoculate our population against an attack by an invisible enemy we must first “enemize” everything, treating each and every living thing (and at times even non-living electronic entities) as if she, he, they or it were plotting the next attack on our homeland. The private sector has also seen unfettered growth around its ability to monetize “the enemization of everything,” from developing security technologies in response to unforeseen “enemies” to using the specter of terrorism to draft and fast-track model legislation that serves business interests.
While taking a position that everything is an “enemy” can make it harder for an “enemy” to execute his or her plans, it also creates an ugly, fear-driven environment that sows seeds of distrust, from misplaced suspicions about your neighbor’s religious or political affiliations to fears of crowds or airplanes. Moreover, this “enemization of everything” has been observed to have a profound psychological impact on some individuals. For some, being told over and over by peers or media that they are “an enemy” makes them want to react by becoming that enemy. After surviving a decade rife with violent outbursts and mass shootings, we as a nation cannot afford to ignore the psychological impacts of our post-9/11 terror culture and security-industrial complex on the moral fabric of our communities.
I intend to use my directorship here at the Department of Homeland Security to transform this agency into a restorative agency. To do so we must first undo this prerequisite “enemization” model. We then need to reach an understanding that terrorism, whether political or apolitical like a shooting in a movie theater, almost always has an origin. These origins should be treated as wounds that we as an agency have a responsibility to heal. If we as an agency can isolate these origins on various cultural, systematic or personal levels, we can begin to heal the wounds that jeopardize our security.
From deeply personal individual battles with cancer to the global war on terror, human responses to these acute onslaughts are almost always reactionary and seldom preventative.
Amid the immediacy of our tragedies we rarely question what brought us to those malignant moments; instead we desperately reach for quick fixes — surgery, chemotherapy, torture, drones, carpet-bombing. In the global war on terror, preventative medicine is often practiced as pre-emptive military action, rendition, entrapment, torture and sanctions. These means never challenge the cultural roots of the problem and often serve as a tool for terrorist recruitment.
Like flourishing bacterial cultures in a petri dish, terrorism is a symptomatic cultural reflex that can be easily seen growing out of its own hospitable environments. Oppression, poverty, inadequate education, constant subjugation to the accepted institutionalized abuse of animals and a lack of individual autonomy are the stagnant waters in which this global disease of terrorism takes root and grows. As secretary, I intend to use this agency to analyze, isolate and ultimately treat the prerequisite events that give way to future acts of violence.
To make this agency a restorative agency, not only must we speak in a restorative manner, but our actions and our policies must also promote restoration.
Many of my detractors have speculated about my proposed policy changes, some have gone as far as to call them “treasonous.” I will reserve any comments regarding my policy plans for a later date, but can assure those detractors that I fully intend to re-write their script of “enemization” to an American story of empathy and healing.
Sincerely,Andy StepanianSecretary, Department of Homeland Security

andystepanian:

AN AMERICAN STORY OF EMPATHY & HEALING
(or the enemization of everything)


by Andy Stepanian
published in issue 183 of The Indypendent

In the weeks between my appointment and when I entered this office I had the privilege of spending several days alongside former Secretary Janet Napolitano. I found Secretary Napolitano’s leadership to be exemplary as applied to the terms defining her position as DHS secretary. These terms, framed 11 days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, provide a foundation for what it means to direct our Department of Homeland Security. However, I regretfully, and respectfully, submit to you today, that these terms upon which we apply the responsibility of securing of our homeland are flawed. I intend to spend my term as secretary redefining these terms, and eventually redefining the position of secretary to the Department of Homeland Security.

With no disrespect intended to Secretary Napolitano, I will share with you a conversation she and I had regarding these aforementioned terms.

When I asked Secretary Napolitano to recall her first days in office, she waxed nostalgic about a conversation she had in 2009 with her predecessor, Secretary Michael Chertoff, about “the cornerstone of our security apparatus.” This “cornerstone” was handed down from Tom Ridge to Chertoff to Napolitano. When I asked her what this “cornerstone” was she simply replied, “the enemization of everything.”

Over the past nine-and-a-half years, this department has grown exponentially to employ more than 240,000 Americans around a principle that in order to innoculate our population against an attack by an invisible enemy we must first “enemize” everything, treating each and every living thing (and at times even non-living electronic entities) as if she, he, they or it were plotting the next attack on our homeland. The private sector has also seen unfettered growth around its ability to monetize “the enemization of everything,” from developing security technologies in response to unforeseen “enemies” to using the specter of terrorism to draft and fast-track model legislation that serves business interests.

While taking a position that everything is an “enemy” can make it harder for an “enemy” to execute his or her plans, it also creates an ugly, fear-driven environment that sows seeds of distrust, from misplaced suspicions about your neighbor’s religious or political affiliations to fears of crowds or airplanes. Moreover, this “enemization of everything” has been observed to have a profound psychological impact on some individuals. For some, being told over and over by peers or media that they are “an enemy” makes them want to react by becoming that enemy. After surviving a decade rife with violent outbursts and mass shootings, we as a nation cannot afford to ignore the psychological impacts of our post-9/11 terror culture and security-industrial complex on the moral fabric of our communities.

I intend to use my directorship here at the Department of Homeland Security to transform this agency into a restorative agency. To do so we must first undo this prerequisite “enemization” model. We then need to reach an understanding that terrorism, whether political or apolitical like a shooting in a movie theater, almost always has an origin. These origins should be treated as wounds that we as an agency have a responsibility to heal. If we as an agency can isolate these origins on various cultural, systematic or personal levels, we can begin to heal the wounds that jeopardize our security.

From deeply personal individual battles with cancer to the global war on terror, human responses to these acute onslaughts are almost always reactionary and seldom preventative.

Amid the immediacy of our tragedies we rarely question what brought us to those malignant moments; instead we desperately reach for quick fixes — surgery, chemotherapy, torture, drones, carpet-bombing. In the global war on terror, preventative medicine is often practiced as pre-emptive military action, rendition, entrapment, torture and sanctions. These means never challenge the cultural roots of the problem and often serve as a tool for terrorist recruitment.

Like flourishing bacterial cultures in a petri dish, terrorism is a symptomatic cultural reflex that can be easily seen growing out of its own hospitable environments. Oppression, poverty, inadequate education, constant subjugation to the accepted institutionalized abuse of animals and a lack of individual autonomy are the stagnant waters in which this global disease of terrorism takes root and grows. As secretary, I intend to use this agency to analyze, isolate and ultimately treat the prerequisite events that give way to future acts of violence.

To make this agency a restorative agency, not only must we speak in a restorative manner, but our actions and our policies must also promote restoration.

Many of my detractors have speculated about my proposed policy changes, some have gone as far as to call them “treasonous.” I will reserve any comments regarding my policy plans for a later date, but can assure those detractors that I fully intend to re-write their script of “enemization” to an American story of empathy and healing.

Sincerely,

Andy Stepanian
Secretary, Department of Homeland Security

As Admin Preps "Enduring Presence" in Afghanistan, U.S. Peace Activists Build Ties to War’s Victims [Video] | Democracy Now!

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I’d like to ask you about the American drone war. You were arrested as—in one of the first civil disobedience protests against drones. The technology now has made it possible for the United States to wage war with unmanned drones without risking any American lives, yet having enormous devastation. Could you talk about these—this new level now of drone warfare?

REVJOHN DEAR: It’s so horrific and scary and inhuman. And it meant so much to me because of our action with the Creech 14. We had crossed onto the headquarters of the drone, onto the base in Nevada, and were arrested a few years ago. And the youth, who are practicing nonviolence, have all lost loved ones. And I spent a lot of time interviewing them, and they told me details about their rural villages, how the drones are hovering every other night—they sound like low, buzzing sounds—and how they killed their relatives. One of the boys said, for example, "My brother went out with his friends" — there’s nothing to do; it’s total poverty — "to sit in a park on a summer evening." And the drones blew up all the group of young people, and there was nobody left. And all—everyone who said—told me their stories of war said that every U.S. aerial bombardment and drone attack has killed innocent people, despite any claim that they’re targeted or—which I wouldn’t believe in, to begin with. They’re kill—they’re killing countless women and children and innocent people. So they’re also terrifying the people. And the money going into this, when meanwhile they’re starving, and there’s no water, and there’s no schools and no jobs. This is—it’s horrific evil that we’re wreaking upon these people. And it’s not bringing peace. This is not working. So, that’s why I don’t believe any of this lie.

"It is hard to overstate the centrality of the term ‘terrorism’ when it comes to state power, policy and law. It is the term that launches wars and sustains the US posture of endless war, justifies unprecedented state secrecy, serves as the pretext for due-process-free imprisonment and assassinations, and sends countless of our fellow (Muslim) citizens to prison for decades for the most trivial, and often constitutionally protected, acts. Those Muslims convicted under separate rules of justice don’t just get sent to normal prisons, but to their own special prison units now as oppressive as Guantanamo. And, as this case and so many others illustrate, these tactics are rapidly expanding beyond their original application - the persecution of Muslims - into a wide variety of expansions of government power.

"Yet this term, arguably in the abstract and certainly as applied, has no fixed meaning. It’s just a manipulative slogan legitimizing all forms of American violence against Muslims and delegitimizing any acts meaningfully impeding US will. Worse, it’s the overarching foundation for a completely separate system of justice for Muslims that is in exactly the same category as the most shameful episodes of US history. As always, it’s the term that means nothing and justifies everything. It’s truly valuable to watch New York state’s highest court unwittingly affirm all of those truths."

— Glenn Greenwald, New York’s top court highlights the meaningless and menace of the term ‘terrorism’

(Source: Guardian)

One of the greatest sources of Palestinian casualties has been the deliberate Israeli targeting of households in which a member of Hamas allegedly lives. In Arab culture, many households include large extended families. The Israeli military says that it calls the house or drops leaflets ahead of time to warn people that it’s about to bombed. Whether this lets them off the hook for deliberately targeting residences where civilians live can be determined by answering the following question: if Hamas had the technological and intelligence capability to only launch rockets at the houses of Israeli military engaged in operations against Hamas in Gaza, then would it be ‘legitimate military action’ and not ‘terrorism’ as long as they robocalled the homes in advance? If you can’t answer yes to that question, then you have to concede that killing the families of Hamas members is indeed terrorism. What counts as terrorism? (via azspot)

(via pieceinthepuzzlehumanity-deacti)