Thursday, November 08, 2012

What was bought, what was sold








Last night the plurality of US citizens voting on the presidential race re-elected Barack Obama president of the United States by a thin margin. As Isaiah noted this morning in his comic, the second term is where Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan found out what happens when the love's gone -- Bill almost impeached for lying about a blow job, Reagan with the ghost of impeachment hovering over Iran-Contra and Richard Nixon with Watergate which really helped to draw attention away from the slush fund and so many other crimes. Even Supreme Court selected Bully Boy Bush, when he won a term by the votes and not by the Supreme Court, struggled.

Already Barack's buddy and former OMB Director Peter The Swinger Orszag, as Alexa noted this afternoon at Corrente, has taken to Bloomberg Television to proclaim that it's time to cut Social Security. Thank yourselves, Americans, you voted for the bastard -- and, yes, that term is linguistically correct when applied to Barack. The thing with Bush's first term, he wasn't elected. His crimes were appalling, his disregard for the Constitution, his Executive Signing Statements, Guantanamo, his illegal war, all of it was disgusting and, yes, criminal. And those of us who are citizens of the United States could insist, "The Supreme Court awarded him the presidency, he didn't win it." But then came November 2004 and enough Americans went to the polls to say that they were okay with this, tha it was fine and dandy to torture and worse. At that point, when US voters embraced it, it became a lot more difficult to say, "Hey, that's him, it's not us."
The people embraced Bully Boy Bush -- a plurality -- in the 2004 election and a plurality embraced Barack Obama yesterday. Granted the American people were uninformed by a media that increasingly is exposed as not incompetent but as deliberately deceitful.

Take CBS News (where I have -- or maybe had before this went up -- friends). Monday Ruth noted Erik Wemple's Washington Post piece about CBS News hiding footage voters should have known about. September 12th, Steve Kroft interviewed Barack for 60 Minutes. He pressed Barack on the Bengahzi attack that killed Americans Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith and Chris Stevens. Barack -- who would go to the UN and talk about YouTube videos -- would have to admit to Kroft "it was an attack on Americans." As Wemple notes, CBS releasing the video after the second debate would have been good for its web 'hits' and it would have raised the issue of accountability. It would have forced the media to do their job. Instead, they sat on it and waited until the day before voting to quietly release it online.

That's not how you run a news outlet. That's not how you inform citizens. But Scott Pelley was hired to put you asleep, not to inform you. And in that monotone, as he goes on and on about nothing oh-so-gently, he ensures that Americans remain uninformed. He does his part, I should say. Despite the fact that CBS prime time brings in huge numbers and CBS daytime holds its own, CBS Evening News just can't deliver an audience. So Pelley's impact is, like the man himself, rather small.

Like Pelley, Diane Sawyer (ABC's World News), NBC's Brian Williams and CNN's multitude of hosts refused to inform their audience that, September 26th, the New York Times' Tim Arango reported:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence. 

As Ava and I noted, that report was followed by not one, but three so-called 'presidential debates' ("Days later, October 3rd, Barack 'debated' Mitt Romney. Again October 16th. Again October 22nd. Not once did the moderators ever raise the issue.") Every one of them played dumb while Barack talked about how he supposedly got the US out of Iraq. Not one of the high paid 'journalists' who moderated the debates ever raised the issue. Candy Crowley never said, "Actually, Mr. Obama, you are in negotiations with Iraq to send more US troops back into Iraq."

That would have been too much for a suck-up hilariously named "Candy."

To get that into the New York Times, Arango had to bury it in paragraph fifteen. If you're not getting what a struggle it was to get that reality into print, grasp that when the New York Times 'fact check'ed Barack in the debates on Iraq, they avoided mentioning what Arango had reported. The editorial boad disappeared what was a news outlet exclusive -- an exclusive in their own paper -- and they disowned it.

With little to no amplification, it is true that the American people had little hope of hearing of these important news items. However, they knew Bradley Manning was imprisoned. They may not have known that election day was also his 898th day being locked away -- still without a trial -- but they knew he was locked away.
Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December. At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. Bradley has yet to enter a plea and has neither affirmed that he is the leaker nor denied it. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions.

At Fort Meade, Maryland, during a motion hearing in Pfc. Bradley Manning’s court martial, his defense attorney David Coombs told the court Manning had submitted a plea notice indicating he would accept general responsibility for providing all charged information to WikiLeaks. The notice was the beginning of a process that could greatly simplify the upcoming trial proceedings in February.
Manning did not plead guilty to the charged offenses in the plea notice. However, significantly, he did indicate with this notice that he is willing to admit to the fact that the act of providing information to WikiLeaks did occur or that the government has evidence that would prove he did commit the act and so he is willing to plea to it.

People who supposedly give a damn about Bradley -- about the torture he's been put through -- didn't give enough of a damn to take a stand against Barack Obama. Whores like Daniel Ellsberg even went out trolling for votes for Barack. No whore like an old whore. And it needs to be made clear to Daniel that he's no longer needed as a face for the issue. You can't urge people to vote for the man who has imprisoned Bradley, the man who has pronounced him guilty, and still be an advocate for Bradley.

In a conversation about alleged WikiLeaks leaker US President Barack Obama commented on Pfc. Bradley Manning saying, “He broke the law.”
The words from Obama’s mouth come as Manning is held in prison awaiting further charges and a military trial. Manning has entered no official plea and no court proceedings have begun. Yet, the US president dubbed him guilty of breaking the law.
Many argue no truly fair or impartial trial is even possible at this point. Some hold there would never be a fair trial since the media had already convicted manning in the court of public opinion. Now that the Military’s commander-in-chief has spoke on the matter is even more unlikely the military trial will be fair and impartial.
Military officers on a potential jury now know that their commander and chief believes Manning to be guilty. To find otherwise would amount to undermining his view.

Again, Daniel Ellsberg has whored his reputation and needs to find another hobby to occupy his final days, he has blown his credibility.

Julian Assange is the founder of WikiLeaks and currently in London at Ecuador's Embassy. Assange tells Katy Lee (AFP), "Obama seems to be a nice man, and that is precisely the problem. It's better to have a sheep in wolf's clothing than a wolf in sheep's clothing. [. . .] All of the activities against WikiLeaks by the United States have occurred under an Obama administration." Why is Assange at the Embassy? He states he fears that British officials will turn him over to the United States or that he will be sent to Sweden which will then turn him over to the US. Law and Disorder Radio host Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) is among the attorneys representing Assange. In a piece for the Guardian in August, Michael Ratner explained:

There are several unambiguous signs that the US is on track to prosecute Assange for his work as a journalist. A grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, empanelled to investigate violations of the Espionage Act – a statute that by its very nature targets speech – has subpoenaed Twitter feeds regarding Assange and WikiLeaks. An FBI agent, testifying at whistleblower Bradley Manning's trial, said that "founders, owners and managers" of WikiLeaks are being investigated. And then there is Assange's 42,135-page FBI file – a compilation of curious heft if the government is "not interested" in investigating its subject.
In this context, Assange's fears of extradition to and persecution in the US, and therefore his plea for asylum, are eminently reasonable.
What's more, Assange is rightly concerned about how he will be treated if he is extradited to the US. One need only consider how the US treated Bradley Manning, the army private who allegedly leaked the cables to WikiLeaks to see why. Manning spent close to a year in pre-trial solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, and then eight months under conditions designed to pressure him into providing evidence to incriminate Assange. During this time, Manning was stripped of his clothing and made to stand nude for inspection. Thousands of people, including scores of legal scholars and the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, have condemned Manning's treatment as inhumane, and state that it may constitute torture. There is no reason for Assange to expect he will be treated any better.
Most disturbingly, the US government is more concerned with investigating a journalist and publisher than the high-level government officials whose alleged war crimes and misdeeds Assange and his cohorts brought to light.

Those are fears Assange has of the government commanded and directed by Barack Obama. The media's certainly done their part to hide Bradley away but the American people should have known about him.
Even so, a plurality said "yes" last night.

And that's the problem. Today people whine about the US being a national security state. Some foolish ones cite Dwight Eisenhower warning against the "military industrial complex." Yes, he did warn against it. When? January 17, 1961. As he was leaving the White House and John F. Kennedy was coming in. In other words, he stayed silent when it would have mattered. In the last gasps of his presidency, he suddenly wants to alert the American people that there's a problem -- one he not only refused to fix but also helped create. So some foolish types today don't get that it's not getting taken down. Not now, not ever. It's been accepted. By presidents of both parties, yes, but also by the American people. It's outrageous, it shouldn't continue.

But that's what voting can do: validate government positions.

Last night, American voters said, "Yes to Guantanamo! Yes to indefinite detentions! Yes to illegal war -- Libya specifically! Yes to ignoring acts of Congress -- also known as laws -- such as the War Powers Act! Yes to having a kill list of American citizens!"

They said yes to that and so much more.

We were just noting Michael Ratner. He hosts Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, with attorneys Heidi Boghosian, and Michael S. Smith. In February, they discussed the NDAA with guest Chris Hedges who was suing the White House. Excerpt.

Michael Smith: The National Defense Authorization Act was signed by President Obama on December 31st of last year and takes effect this coming March. The act authorizes the military to begin domestic policing. The military can detain indefinitely without trial any US citizen deemed to be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism. Vague language in the bill such as "substantially supported" or "directly supported" or "associated forces" is used. We're joined today by returning guest Chris Hedges in his capacity as a plantiff in a lawsuit that he's just filed against President Barack Obama with respect to the National Defense Authorization Act and its language about rounding up even American citizens and salting them away forever.

Heidi Boghosian: Chris, welcome to Law and Disorder.

Chris Hedges: Thank you.

Heidi Boghosian: Can you talk about the significance of codifying the NDAA into law essentially several over-reaching practices that the executive has been implementing for awhile now?
Chris Hedges: That's correct but it's been implementing those practices through a radical interpretation of the 2001 law, The Authorization to Use Military Force Act. You remember old John Yoo was Bush's legal advisor. It was under the auspices of this act that Jose Padilla who is a US citizen was held for three and a half years in a military brig. Remember, he was supposedly one of the other hijackers that never made it to a plane. Stripped of due process. And it's under that old act that the executive branch, Barack Obama, permits himself to serve as judge, jury and executioner and order the assassination of a US citizen, the Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

Michael Smith: Two weeks later his 16-year-old son.

Chris Hedges: Yes, exactly. So what this does is it essentially codfies this kind of behavior into law. It overturns over 200 years of legal precedent so that the military is allowed to engage in domestic policing and there are a couple of very disturbing aspects in the creation of this legislation. One of them is that [US Senator] Dianne Feinstein had proposed that US citiens be exempt from this piece of legislation and both the Obama White House and the Democratic Party rejected that. Now Obama issued a signing statement saying that this will not be used against American citizens but the fact is legally it can be used against American citizens. There was an opportunity for them to protect American citizens and to protect due process and they chose not to do that.

Michael Smith: Well he also announced that he was going to close Guantanamo.

Chris Hedges: Right, so it's very disingenous.

Heidi Boghosian: And signing statements really carry no legal force.

Chris Hedges. Right. And if they wanted to protect basic civil liberties, they certainly had a chance to do so and it was there decision not to do that. I mean, the other thing that's disturbing is that it expands this endless war on terror. So the 2001 act is targeted towards groups that are affiliated or part of al Qaeda. Now it's groups that didn't even exist in 2001. There are all sorts of nebulous terms like "associated forces," "substantially supported." When you look at the criteria by which Americans can be investigated by our security and surveillance state, it's amorphus and frightening: People who have lost fingers on the hand, people who hoard more than seven days worth of food in their house, people who have water-proof ammunition. I mean, I always say I come from rural parts of Maine. That's probably most of my family.


Chris Hedges: It's a very short step to adding the obstructionist tactics of the Occupy movement.

Michael Smith: Well that's what we've wanted to ask you because we've thought all along with the beginning of this war on terrorism that ultimately these laws stripping us of our Constitutional rights would be used against the social protest movements at home and the latest development is absolutely chilling and we wanted to ask you about that.

Chris Hedges: We don't know what the motives are. We do know that all the intelligence agencies as well as the Pentagon opposed this legislation. Robert Muller, the head of the FBI, actually went before Congress and said that if it was passed it would make the FBI's work in terms of investigating terrorism harder because it would make it harder to get people to cooperate once you hand the military that power. So I think it's interesting, to say the very least, that the various agencies that are being pulled into domestic policing -- especially the Pentagon -- didn't push for the bill. I don't know what the motives are but I know what the consequences are and that is that it hands to the corporate state weapons, the capacity to use the armed forces internally in ways that we have not seen for over two centuries. That is the consequence of the bill. What are the motives? You know I haven't gone down and reported it in Washington.

Heidi Boghosian: Chris, you know I'm thinking of the Supreme Court Case Humanitarian Law Project and the notion "providing material support." [Center for Constitutional Rights analysis here -- text and video.] And in that case it was also very vague and things that seemed benign could be construed as providing support but it strikes me that under this piece of legislation also the notion of associating with others that the government may deem terrorists becomes possibly vague.

Chris Hedges: Well it is vague. And that's what's so frightening. And the lawsuit was proposed by Civil Rights attorneys Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran who approached me and said that I needed a credible plantiff. Now because I had been the Middle East bureau chief for the New York Times and because I was in the Middle East for seven years I spent considerable time with both individuals and organizations that are considered by the US State Dept to be either terrorists or terrorist groups. That would include Hamas, Islamic Jihad in Gaza, the Kurdistan Workers Party -- or the PKK as it's known in southeastern Turkey, northern Iraq. All of these organizations -- I mean, I used to go to Tunis and have dinner with Yasser Arafat [President of the Palestinian National Authority from 1996 until his death in 2004] and Abu Jihad [the PLO's Khalil al-Wair] when they were branded as international terrorists. And there are no exemptions in this piece of legislation for journalists. And the attorneys felt that I was a credible plantiff because of that. We have already seen under the 2001 law, a persecution of not only Muslim Americans in this country but Muslim American organizations -- in particular charity organizations and mostly charity organizations that support the Palestinians. And under this legislation, it is certainly conceivable that not only -- many of these organizations have been shut down, their bank accounts have been frozen, their organizers have been persecuted -- but under this legislation they're essentially able to be branded as terrorists, stripped of due process, thrown into a military brig and held, in the language of the legislation, until the end of hostilities -- whenever that is.

Last night was a "yes" to that. The problem with these yes votes? There is the law by word and law by custom and practice. Bully Boy Bush floated outrageous ideas that Barack Obama took further. Neither man has been prosecuted. By refusing to prosecute, these actions are now custom. Can someone object? Yes, you can object to anything. You can also file a lawsuit over anything. But in 2017 or 2018 when we suddenly decide we care once again about, for example, habeas corpus, a court's going to take into account the fact that two administrations -- two consecutive administrations have trashed it. (They'll also be taking into account that they don't wan to open the door for a lawsuit against a former president or presidents or, in Bully Boy Bush's case, occupant of the White House.) So lots of luck carrying after everything's over.

It'll be a bit like whining today about what Eisenhower oversaw the creation of in the fifties.

We can -- and should -- blame the media for a great deal. But the blame goes beyond the media.


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