‘I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U. S. government will lead the American people in – and the West in general – into an unbearable hell and a choking life.’ – Osama bin Laden (October 2001) Ironically, during the same week that we mark the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we find ourselves commemorating the 230th anniversary of the U. S. Constitution. While there has been much to mourn about the loss of our freedoms in the years since 9/11, there has been very little to celebrate. Indeed, we have gone from being a nation that took great pride in serving as a model of a representative democracy to being a model of how to persuade a freedom-loving people to march in lockstep with a police state. What began with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in the wake of the 9/11 attacks has snowballed into the eradication of every vital safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse. Since then, we have been terrorized, traumatized, and tricked into a semi-permanent state of compliance. The bogeyman’s names and faces change over time, but the end result remains the same: our unquestioning acquiescence to anything the government wants to do in exchange for the phantom promise of safety and security.
U. S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently admitted that America’s official foreign policy includes a regime-change operation in Iran. The CIA has created an office for this sole purpose, tasking Michael D’Andrea – also known as the Dark Prince or Ayatollah Mike – with leading this operation. Iran just had an election in May, and voter turnout was as high as 70 percent. Even prisoners were allowed to vote, something so-called moderate democratic countries like New Zealand disallow. In contrast, voter turnout in the 2016 U. S. elections was around 58 percent, and support for Donald Trump’s impeachment is now higher than support for his presidency. Though Iran is hardly democratic by Western standards given the stringent requirements for becoming a political candidate in the first place, it is still vastly more democratic than most of America’s closest allies in the region. According to a U. S. State Department document: ‘The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a monarchy ruled by the Al Saud family… The following significant human rights problems were reported: no right to change the government peacefully; torture and physical abuse; poor prison and detention center conditions; arbitrary arrest and incommunicado detention; denial of fair and public trials and lack of due process in the judicial system; political prisoners; restrictions on civil liberties such as freedoms of speech (including the Internet), assembly, association, movement, and severe restrictions on religious freedom; and corruption and lack of government transparency. Violence against women and a lack of equal rights for women, violations of the rights of children, trafficking in persons, and discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, sect, and ethnicity were common. The lack of workers’ rights, including the employment sponsorship system, remained a severe problem.’ [emphasis added]
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 21, 2017.
The ‘fog of war’ erupts in the confusion caused by the chaos of war. And in the media, it’s an intentional phenomenon that makes it difficult to separate fact from fiction. While the battles over war narratives evolve, they all have a common goal: to distort reality on the ground. *** On Oct. 10, 1990, a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl identified only as ‘Nayirah’ told the Congressional Human Rights Caucus that she witnessed Iraqi soldiers removing babies from incubators and leaving them on a cold floor to die. Her testimony was cited numerous times by senators and even President George H. W. Bush as justification for backing Kuwait in the Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, which erupted just three months later. However, it was later revealed that ‘Nayirah’ was the daughter of Kuwait’s ambassador to the United States, and her testimony was arranged by a PR firm representing a Kuwaiti-sponsored group lobbying Congress for military intervention.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 13, 2017.
History shows how the United States has staged dozens of violent coups worldwide since the end of WWII. Here the CIA will simply install its own compliant puppet leader in order to better streamline US interests with those of the target nation. This practice was not only confined to nation states, however, as we can see with the out-going UN Secretary General. The whole basis of the UN charter was to avoid the kind of undeclared wars of aggression suffered at the hands of Nazi Germany. Back in October, 21WIRE’s Vanessa Beeleyexplained: ‘To compare Saudi Arabia’s belligerent actions in Yemen to Nazi Germany’s undeclared wars of aggression prior to WWII is no exaggeration. In fact, one could make the argument that this Saudi-US joint venture is much worse, and a far more dangerous precedent. Likewise, the failure of a corrupt UN (who effectively sold Saudi Arabia its seat on at the head of the UN Human Rights Council ), led by an impotent Secretary General in Ban-ki Moon, to censure Saudi Arabia for its flagrant violation of international law, the Nuremberg Principles and the entire Geneva Convention content and implied framework – leaves the UN in the exact same position as the League of Nations in 1938.’ Now that US puppet Ban-Ki Moon is finally on his way out, we can see the true scope of the corruption he’s presided over – and the irreparable damage he’s inflicted on this international institution…
For the affordable price of $650,000, Israeli company NSO Group will enable you to invisibly spy on 10 iPhone owners without their knowledge. The cost is a little higher for Blackberry users (5 for $500,000).. and there is a 17% maintenance fee every thereafter to ensure “leaving no traces whatsoever.” Welcome to the new world of private companies selling surveillance tools to the ‘average joe’… Since its founding six years ago, the NSO Group has kept a low profile. But, as The New York Times reports, last month, security researchers caught its spyware trying to gain access to the iPhone of a human rights activist in the United Arab Emirates. They also discovered a second target, a Mexican journalist who wrote about corruption in the Mexican government. NSO is one of a number of companies that sell surveillance tools that can capture all the activity on a smartphone, like a user’s location and personal contacts. These tools can even turn the phone into a secret recording device.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 4, 2016.
Europe’s Competition Directorate commands the shock troops of the EU power structure. Ensconced in its fortress at Place Madou, it can dispatch swat teams on corporate dawn raids across Europe without a search warrant. It operates outside the normal judicial control that we take for granted in a developed democracy. The US Justice Department could never dream of acting in such a fashion. Known as ‘DG Comp’, it acts as judge, jury, and executioner, and can in effect impose fines large enough to constitute criminal sanctions, but without the due process protection of criminal law. It misused evidence so badly in pursuit of the US chipmaker Intel that the company alleged a violation of human rights. Apple is just the latest of the great US digital companies to face this Star Chamber. It has vowed to appeal the monster 13bn fine handed down from Brussels this week for violation of EU state aid rules, but the only recourse is the European Court of Justice. This is usually a forlorn ritual. The ECJ is a political body, the enforcer of the EU’s teleological doctrines. It ratifies executive power. We can mostly agree that Apple, Google, Starbucks, and others have gamed the international system, finding legal loopholes to whittle down their tax liabilities and enrich shareholders at the expense of society. It is such moral conduct that has driven wealth inequality to alarming levels, and provoked a potent backlash against globalisation.
Lurched back and forth in the ever-quickening spiral of an American empire circling the drain, we – as a people – have chosen battle lines on nearly every issue from politics to foreign policy, domestic surveillance to policing. Thrust back into national focus, the last issue – policing in the U. S. – might even surpass in contention the ongoing race to the White House. And it stands to reason, with the world lashing out against failed globalism in its various nefarious incarnations – largely driven by American exceptionalist military presence nearly everywhere on the planet – the empire sees expediency in heading off a possible insurrection. To that end, the past fifteen years have seen the initially-surreptitious padding of law enforcement agencies with the tools, gear, vehicles, and – most alarmingly – weapons of war. Because terrorism, said the government, when its more apparent concern had to do with potential dissidents who have grown tired of corruption and the almost wholesale abandonment of constitutional and human rights. Summoning the peculiar willful ignorance common in Americans’ worship of authority in uniforms – found in the anachronistic hero cop avatar -militarization of police slipped beneath the radars of most, who were instead pleased with the added protection against nebulous terrorist threats in the interest of the safety of the Boys in Blue.
This post was published at Zero Hedge by Claire Bernish via TheAntiMedia.org, Jul 23, 2016.
‘Americans have been told that their government is keeping them safe by preventing and prosecuting terrorism inside the US… But take a closer look and you realize that many of these people would never have committed a crime if not for law enforcement encouraging, pressuring, and sometimes paying them to commit terrorist acts.’ – Human Rights Watch We can rail against ISIS, hate crimes, terror threats, Islamic radicalization, gun control and national security. We can blame Muslims, lax gun laws, a homophobic culture and a toxic politic environmental. We can even use the Orlando shooting as fodder for this year’s presidential campaigns. But until we start addressing the U. S. government’s part in creating, cultivating and abetting domestic and global terrorism – and hold agencies such as the FBI and Defense Department accountable for importing and exporting violence, breeding extremism and generating blowback, which then gets turned loose on an unsuspecting American populace – we’ll be no closer to putting an end to the violence that claimed 50 lives at an Orlando nightclub on June 12, 2016, than we were 15 years ago when nearly 3,000 individuals were killed on Sept. 11, 2001. Here’s what I know:
Quite revealingly, the self-proclaimed crusader against genocide, Samantha Power, was awarded the 2016 Henry A. Kissinger Prize in Berlin. That Power would be awarded a prize named after one of the world’s great gnocidaires, and that she would happily accept it, proves what many of us have believed all along – that she is more the clever apologist for U. S. crimes than a bona fide human rights advocate. The problem with Power all along has been that her refusal to acknowledge the incontrovertible fact that the U. S., as exemplified by such figures as Henry Kissinger himself, is in reality the world leader in war crimes commission, and an active facilitator of genocide. The U. S. is not, as Power has claimed throughout her career, a force for halting such evils. However, Power has done an impressive job in advancing this myth, and in the process in perpetuating the false belief that the world would be better off if only the U. S. were more active militarily throughout the world. In so doing, Power, who is lauded as some great human rights advocate, probably does more than any other public figure to harm the cause of global human rights. Power’s acceptance speech, entitled, ‘Remarks on ‘Twenty-First Century Realism’ at the Awarding of the 2016 Henry A. Kissinger Prize,’ is very illustrative of the delusions Power promotes in the interest of U. S. power projection and the grave harms done by this projection. 
Capitalizing on the popular dissatisfaction with the neoliberal Atlanticist political & economic status quo For about two decades, it appeared that the end of the Cold War in Europe left the Balkan states with no long-term geostrategic option except the so-called Euro-Atlantic integrations underwritten by the ideology known as Atlanticism. This option reached the peak of its strength after NATO’s military intervention in the Bosnian conflict in 1995 (which was its first out-of-area military operation since the founding in 1949) and NATO’s 78-day long war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999. More covertly, NATO forces also intervened in the Macedonian-Albanian conflict in 2001. As the result of these offensive military undertakings, Bosnia and Kosovo essentially became NATO protectorates with the civilian administrations being supervised by the EU, while the U. S. military bases and auxiliary facilities were quickly established in both. In addition, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Romania became the members of NATO in 2004 and Croatia and Albania in 2009. All remaining Balkan states, surrounded by NATO members from all sides, rapidly developed close military and intelligence linkages with NATO headquarters in Brussels. This process was greatly helped by the fact that the ruling political elites in these states, except to some extent in Serbia and the Serb Republic (a political subunit within Bosnia), openly acted as NATO’s agents of influence and advocated membership, even though this contradicted the political will of the majority of the population. These Balkan political elites have been allowed to compensate for the obvious lack of internal democratic legitimacy by the endless praise from the high-level officials in Brussels, Berlin, Paris, London, and Washington, DC. Organized crime, corruption, lawless privatizations, massive unemployment, widespread poverty and hopelessness have simply been swept under the rug. The typically loud defenders of human rights and the rule of law have looked the other way. Evidently, the Atlanticist end justified all and any “dirty” means. Geography trumped democracy.
Submitted by Michaela Whitton via TheAntiMedia.org, One of the many catastrophic legacies left behind by the longest war in U. S. history is that Afghanistan produces 90% of the world’s opium. As with most parts of the world, the most vulnerable pay the heaviest price of war, and the country has faced a harrowing escalation in the number of child heroin addicts. ‘What’s happened in Afghanistan over the last 13 years has been the flourishing of a narco-state that is really without any parallel in history,’ Kabul-based journalist Matthieu Aikins toldDemocracy Now back in 2014. Adding that all levels of Afghan society are involved in the flourishing trade – which became undeniably worse after the U. S.-led invasion – Aikins accused both the Taliban and government-linked officials of profiting from the crisis. He claimed the U. S., in its quest for vengeance against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, not only cooperated with warlords but ignored corruption by criminals whose human rights abuses created the conditions that led to the rise of the Taliban in the first place.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on 05/10/2016 –.
We used to live in ‘democracies’, meaning that once upon a time we voted-in governments who at least attempted to represent the People whom they supposedly serve. In the United States, the death of that democracy dates back at least a century. We know this to be true, because we have an historical source (Charles Lindbergh Sr.), a two-term Congressman and career prosecutor who wrote about the endemic/systemic corruption of the U. S.’s former democracy which already existed a hundred years ago. The time-frame for the death of other Western democracies is more ambiguous. However, clearly today, there are no democracies anywhere in the supposedly ‘free’ Western world – with the apparent exception of tiny Iceland. We know that this is our current reality, because we have the empirical evidence to prove that our governments have ceased to serve the People. Instead, they exclusively serve the interests of those at the top of the wealth ladder. For virtually the last half-century; the wealthy (and especially the Ultra Wealthy) have grown richer at a pace never before seen in history. For the first time in history, merely the richest 1% of humanity now holds more wealth than the other 99% of humanity, combined. This monstrous inequity was produced not merely through fattening the wealthy, in a relentlessly obscene manner. Equally, this despicable injustice has been achieved through robbing the People of their wealth. While the standard of living of the Fat Cats has soared higher in a near-vertical line, the standard of living of the Little People has been plummeting almost as fast. What do our Traitor Governments tell us, when presented with the facts concerning this monstrous theft of our wealth? They (and their mouthpieces in the Corporate media) tell us that this is ‘the New Normal’. According to our corrupt leaders, and the propaganda machine which reinforces all their lies, this is how the world is (now) supposed to devolve.
Human rights in the West: does the reality live up to the rhetoric? On the surface, the cultural narrative seems innocent enough: billionaire philanthropists, political luminaries and transnational corporations, along with legions of staff and volunteers – all working together in the name of social justice, forging a better, fairer and more accountable world. The story reads well on paper, and well it should. After all, the 20th century saw a string of apparent failures by various governments to curb and halt some of the most horrific exhibitions of genocide and crimes against humanity. As a result, the door has been opened for many high-profile charities and human rights organizations to play a bigger role in moderating international affairs. Upon more rigorous inspection, however, a number of uncomfortable realities emerge regarding the 21st century international human rights concern. Though many human rights charities still market themselves as ‘neutral’ and ‘nonpartisan’, the reality is something very different. Below, we will detail a number of high-profile cases where these organisations are being used as public relations organs to further western foreign policy objectives. With public skepticism of the charity sector already at an all-time high, the danger is clear: if conflicts of interest are not addressed in a serious way, they threaten to undermine the credibility of the entire non-governmental organization (NGO) sector internationally.
Either our minds have softened in the United States, or our hearts have hardened way beyond the callous stage. Or, likely both! Just 13 years past his criminal decision to invade Iraq, George W. Bush is campaigning in South Carolina to get his younger brother, Jeb, in the White House. A fitting payback by an illegitimate and unworthy former president to return Jeb’s intercession as Florida’s governor in America’s mishandling, comical if it hadn’t been for the eventual very tragic consequences, of the 2000 presidential election. It might be worthwhile to remember that it was the US Supreme Court that basically decided to put George Bush, and not Al Gore, in the White House in a 5-4 decision eloquently, but incorrectly, authored by the just-deceased and widely admired justice, Antonin Scalia. Time and time again we, Americans, keep referring to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 as a mistake; almost in unanimity: Democrats and Republicans. But it was not a mistake, not by a long shot! It was a calculated, belligerent act by a government clique of elitist war-hawks, Bush-Junior and Dick Cheney at the top of the criminal heap. Fortunately for these American leaders, and unfortunately for the rest of us, only leaders from nations vanquished are indicted and go to trial. If the Axis had prevailed in World War II, and we were living in Hitler’s Millennium, there would not have been those Nuremberg Trials (1945-9), or the subsequent enactment of important, critical international law, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), or the Geneva Convention (1949). No, no gallows for Bush and Cheney… only admiration from fools!
Poor ISIS. Try as they might, the men in black still can’t out-terrorize their enemies or, more pointedly, even their patrons. For the past three years, decapitations have served as the money shots for ISIS’s theater of cruelty. Then on New Year’s Day the Saudis upstaged ISIS by audaciously chopping off the heads of 47 men, including a prominent Shia cleric. This act of brazen butchery is made all the more horrific by virtue of the fact that the Saudi head-slicers recently landed a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, largely at the insistence of British Prime Minister David Cameron, who personally vouched for the petro-autocracy’s acute sensitivity to matters of civil liberties and the humane treatment of prisoners. Then again the drone-troika of Britain, France and the U. S. also enjoy seats on the council, so perhaps the Saudis have earned their slot after all. With his peculiar fondness for porcine heads, Cameron is probably the Kingdom’s most un-kosher ally, but he is far from Saudi Arabia’s only political cheerleader. Showing a stunning lack of judgment, Comandante Bernie Sanders says his Syrian strategy relies on the Saudis taking the lead in the fight against ISIS. ‘They’ve got to get their hands dirty,’ Sanders inveighed to Wolf Blitzer on CNN. ‘They’ve got to get their troops on the ground. They’ve got to win that war with our support. We cannot be leading the effort.’
The U. S. Government failed to deter them through threats of criminal prosecution, and clumsy attempts to intimidate their families. Now four former Air Force drone operators-turned-whistleblowers have had their credit cards and bank accounts frozen, according to human rights attorney Jesselyn Radack. ‘My drone operators went public this week and now their credit cards and bank accounts are frozen,’Radack lamented on her Twitter feed(the spelling of her post has been conventionalized). This was done despite the fact that none of them has been charged with a criminal offense – but this is a trivial formality in the increasingly Sovietesque American National Security State. Michael Haas, Brandon Bryant, Cian Westmoreland and Stephen Lewis, who served as drone operators in the US Air Force, have gone public with detailed accounts of the widespread corruption and institutionalized indifference to civilian casualties that characterize the program. Some of those disclosures were made in the recent documentary Drone; additional details have been provided in an open letter from the whistleblowers to President Obama, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and CIA Director John Brennan. ‘We are former Air Force service members,’ the letter begins. ‘We joined the Air Force to protect American lives and to protect our Constitution. We came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS, while also serving as a fundamental recruiting tool similar to Guantanamo Bay. This administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world.’
Beijing’s security forces are transforming China into a place of ‘fear and panic’, the families of 12 attorneys and activists who disappeared during a crackdown on human rights lawyers have claimed. In an open letter to Guo Shengkun, the minister of public security, the families said they had heard nothing from their relatives since they were detained during a roundup of government critics nearly two months ago. ‘Words fail to express our anxiety and helplessness,’ they wrote, according to a translation by China Change, a human rights website. ‘When a terrorist attack is perpetrated, a terrorist group will come out and claim responsibility for it. When the police system of the People’s Republic of China disappears its citizens, shouldn’t it make a statement and say something?’ On 9 July Chinese security services launched what observers describe as an unprecedented offensive against the country’s outspoken ‘rights defence’ movement, a network of lawyers known for taking on politically sensitive cases. Scores of lawyers and their associates were detained or interrogated in what activists believe is a coordinated attempt to stamp out opposition to the Communist party. Many were subsequently released after being warned not to speak out, but more than 20 activists, lawyers and legal staff remain in detention, with some being held in undisclosed locations.
Like a stopped clock, even rabid neoconservatives can be right once in a while. A good case in point is a recent open letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, signed by such neocon luminaries as Robert Kagan, Elliott Abrams, Reuel Gerecht and Ellen Bork, calling on the Obama administration to ‘press the Government of Egypt to end its campaign of indiscriminate repression in order to advance a more effective strategy for countering violent extremism.’ The Obama administration, which helped blow up Libya and Syria in the name of human rights, has resumed arms shipments to the military regime of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, which seized power from a democratically elected government in 2013. Washington’s double standard not only undercuts U. S. credibility internationally, it also jeopardizes important security interests in the region. As the letter from the ‘Bipartisan Working Group on Egypt’ rightly warns, ‘State violence – several thousand killed during street demonstrations, tens of thousands of political prisoners, hundreds of documented cases of torture or forced disappearance, sexual assault of detainees or family members, reported collective punishment of Sinai communities possibly with weapons provided through U. S. military aid – is creating more incentives for Egyptians to join militant groups.’
Everything this nation once stood for is being turned on its head. Free speech, religious expression, privacy, due process, bodily integrity, the sanctity of human life, the sovereignty of the family, individuality, the right to self-defense, protection against police abuses, representative government, private property, human rights – the very ideals that once made this nation great – have become casualties of a politically correct, misguided, materialistic, amoral, militaristic culture. Indeed, I’m having a hard time reconciling the America I know and love with the America being depicted in the daily news headlines, where corruption, cronyism and abuse have taken precedence over the rights of the citizenry and the rule of law. What kind of country do we live in where it’s acceptable for police to shoot unarmed citizens, for homeowners to be jailed for having overgrown lawns (a Texas homeowner was actually sentenced to 17 days in jail and fined $1700 for having an overgrown lawn), for kids to be tasered and pepper sprayed for acting like kids at school (many are left with health problems ranging from comas and asthma to cardiac arrest), and for local governments to rake in hefty profits under the guise of traffic safety (NPR reports thatpolice departments across the country continue to require quotas for arrests and tickets, a practice that is illegal but in effect)? Why should we Americans have to put up with the government listening in on our phone calls, spying on our emails, subjecting us to roadside strip searches, and generally holding our freedoms hostage in exchange for some phantom promises of security?
Maybe it is because the soap-opera factor of the puppet proxy civil war in east Ukraine is dying down, it is time for another major geopolitical diversion, and it appears that the administration’s attention this time has fallen on Venezuela. Perhaps he was tired of being accused for being too soft and engaging in a detente with not only Iran but Cuba, and so he decided to turn his attention on the one country he knew had absolutely no way of retaliating especially now that Venezuela’s only asset, has become a liability and all production at current prices is a loss maker for Caracas. Whatever the reason, as Reuters reported yesterday, the United States on Monday yesterday declared Venezuela a national security threat and ordered sanctions against seven officials from the oil-rich country in the worst bilateral diplomatic dispute since socialist President Nicolas Maduro took office in 2013. U. S. President Barack Obama issued and signed the executive order, which senior administration officials said did not target Venezuela’s energy sector or broader economy. But the move stokes tensions between Washington and Caracas just as U. S. relations with Cuba, a longtime U. S. foe in Latin America and key ally to Venezuela, are set to be normalized. Declaring any country a threat to national security is the first step in starting a U. S. sanctions program. The same process has been followed with countries such as Iran and Syria, U. S. officials said. The presented reason for the latest escalation was that, according to the White House, there are people whose actions undermined democratic processes or institutions, and who had committed acts of violence or abuse of human rights, and were involved in prohibiting or penalizing freedom of expression, or were government officials involved in public corruption. So just your run on the mill generic excuse to exercise waning superpower status.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on 03/10/2015.