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Domestic Satellite Surveillance Program Moves Ahead Despite Lack of privacy Safeguards

By Phil Leggiereon | Department of Homeland Security's National Applications Office domestic satellite imagery surveillance program moves ahead despite documented lack of privacy safeguards...

New Domestic Satellite Surveillance System

Plans for the Department of Homeland Security to launch a new satellite surveillance system is coming under new criticism on Capitol Hill. Last week,...

UAE buys French surveillance satellites

The United Arab Emirates has signed a 700-million-euro deal with France to buy two military surveillance satellites. The Falcon Eye deal, which is worth more...

US moves to use spy satellites for domestic surveillance

 AFP The United States is moving to expand the use of spy satellites for domestic surveillance, turning its "eyes in sky" inward to counter terrorism...

New rules grant FBI, DEA & CIA access to raw NSA surveillance data

In virtually its last gasp, the Obama administration has quietly given the National Security Agency wider...

Drone swarms for combat & surveillance ops top Britain’s military wishlist

Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has launched a competition to see who can come up...

Is the U.S. Withholding Evidence that Ukrainian Troops Shot Down MH17? What Did US...

The U.S. media’s Ukraine bias has been obvious, siding with the Kiev regime and bashing ethnic Russian rebels and Russia’s President Putin. But now — with the scramble...

On 6/5, 65 Things We Know About NSA Surveillance That We Didn’t Know a...

It’s been one year since the Guardian first published the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order, leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, that demonstrated...

Surveillance and Scandal: Time-Tested Weapons for US Global Power

Alfred W. McCoy RINF Alternative News For more than six months, Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency (NSA) have been pouring out from the Washington...

DARPA’s mirror-killing membrane could change astronomy, allow total global surveillance

Graham TempletonExtreme TechDecember 6, 2013 When it launches in 2018, the James Webb Space Telescope will let us see deeper into the universe than ever...

NSA Surveillance Infected 50,000 PCs With Malware

Mathew J. Schwartz The National Security Agency (NSA) has hacked into more than 50,000 PCs to install malware that monitors US government targets. So said a...

“NSA Surveillance Network #1492″ Appears on Wireless Networks During California Internet Outage

BetsyPlanet InfowarsOctober 22, 2013 Saturday night, around 8:30 Pacific Standard Time, Time/Warner Cable was knocked out...

Surveillance Spending Vastly More Than Previously Thought

Thanks to the efforts of whistleblower Edward Snowden and the reluctant cooperation of the Washington Post, American citizens are now able to see just what...

Pervasive Surveillance, Total Exposure and The End of Privacy

At the time, even the conservative Lincoln Legal Foundation labeled the cure “worse than the disease,” arguing that such threats didn’t warrant a suspension...

Air Force shuts down ‘Space Fence’ surveillance system

Federal budget cuts are compelling the US Air Force to shut down its space surveillance system, which detects and tracks objects and satellites orbiting...

US Using Satellites to Spy on American Citizens and News Organizations

PBS August 4, 2013 Judy Woodruff sits down with two former NSA officials who blew the whistle on what they said...

Documents Show Undersea Cable Firms Provide Surveillance Access to US Secret State

Documents published last week by the Australian web site Crikey revealed that the US government “compelled Telstra and Hong Kong-based PCCW to give it access to...

Surveillance Blowback

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/surveillance_blowback_20130716/ Posted on Jul 16, 2013 By Alfred W. McCoy, TomDispatch...

New Hi-Tech Police Surveillance: The “StingRay” Cell Phone Spying Device

Blocked by a Supreme Court decision from using GPS tracking devices without a warrant, federal investigators and other law enforcement agencies are turning to...

How Cash Secretly Rules Surveillance Policy

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/how_cash_secretly_rules_surveillance_policy_20130712/ Posted on Jul 12, 2013 ...

Circumventing Invasive Internet Surveillance with “Carrier Pigeons”

Introduction Recent disclosures have revealed the extreme level of surveillance of telephone and internet communications, as discussed separately with respect to the US National...

Infrastructure of a Police State: The NSA’s Cyber-surveillance Technology

Edward Snowden’s documentary exposure of secret NSA surveillance activities has brought to light details of the mass illegal collection of phone metadata and online...

Spying on Americans: The Bush and Obama Administrations’ Justification for Mass Surveillance

The Government Actually DID Spy On the Bad Guys Before 9/11 … and the Boston Bombing Preface: The Bush and Obama administrations both claimed that...

The Bush and Obama Administrations’ Justification for Mass Surveillance Has Been DEBUNKED

Washington’s BlogJune 21, 2013 Preface: The Bush and Obama administrations both claimed that spying on Americans...

Surveillance and the Corporate State

With all of the fear mongering the subject has received in recent decades, Americans have in fact had remarkably little to fear directly from...

Don’t Worry About Surveillance: In Britain, Everything’s Okay!

Global Research and Countercurrents 12/6/2013 and The 4th Media 21/6/2013

In the name of ‘humanitarian intervention’, a ‘war on terror’, fighting for ‘democratic freedoms’ or whatever the script happens to be this week, British Foreign Secretary William Hague can be relied on to sell US-British militarism to a public fed up with constant wars and (increasingly less) ignorant of their underlying reasons (1).    

In Syria, Hague has worked to try to replace Assad with a regime that could be controlled by the US and Israel. He has also campaigned for the EU to lift its arms embargo from the anti-Assad militants. Hague is a staunch supporter of Israel. His attitude towards Israel has been well documented: his dislike of the Syrian regime is backed up by a tangible strategy of aggression and destabilization, while mere lip service is paid to the protecting Palestinians or their treatment and plight (2). This is the same William Hague who declared that the intention was not regime change in Libya, but to protect civilians. The US and its allies, including Britain, helped instigate and fuel the war in Libya (3), and NATO bombs and western supported regime change have subsequently left over 100,000 Libyans dead, thousands more injured and much civilian infrastructure destroyed. 


During the Libyan conflict, 200 prominent African figures accused western nations of “subverting international law” in Libya. The UN had been misused to militarise policy, legalise military action and effect regime change, according to University of Johannesburg professor Chris Landsberg. He stated that it was unprecedented for the UN to have outsourced military action to NATO in this way and challenged the International Criminal Court to investigate NATO for “violating international law.” 


Rather than being held to account for the death and destruction in Libya, Hague has carried on where he left off with strong rhetoric directed towards Iran and a call for sanctions (4) and a concerted commitment to topple the Syrian government by force (5) (6) (7). For public consumption, this is all spuriously carried out under the banner of humanitarianism or in the name of global security.


As a client state of the US (mainstream British media often portray this as a ‘special relationship), Britain can be relied on to do Washington’s bidding. When Hague beats the drum over LibyaAfghanistanSyria or Iran, the drum is provided courtesy of Washington and Tel Aviv. Foreign Secretary Hague beats it on cue. 


It all begs the question, how much trust can we place in someone like Hague, especially when they try to reassure the British public that British intelligence services do not illegally snoop on the British population?  


Documents leaked by former US intelligence worker Edward Snowden suggest GCHQ, the British Government’s ‘listening post’ in CheltenhamEngland (equivalent to the US National Security Agency), may have had access to the US spy programme PRISM since at least June 2010.


Hague has told the British parliament that British spies have not used US surveillance programmes to get around laws restricting their ability to eavesdrop on the public in Britain. He has said that there is no indiscriminate trawling for information through the contents of people's communications and GCHQ operates within a strict legal framework.


Hague has stated: "It has been suggested that GCHQ uses our partnership with the United States to get around UK law, obtaining information that they cannot legally obtain in the United Kingdom… I wish to be absolutely clear that this accusation is baseless."

Every time GCHQ wants to intercept an individual's communications, Hague asserts that the agency must seek a warrant signed by him, the interior minister or another secretary of state. He asserts that every decision is based on extensive legal and policy advice and warrants are legally required to be necessary, proportionate and carefully targeted.


The UK's 2001 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) permits international agreements that allow "mutual assistance in connection with, or in the form of, interception of communication," providing the foreign secretary has given his authority. It also allows for the interception of the content of both domestic communications and communications between the UK and elsewhere, provided a warrant has been signed, usually by a minister.


The 1994 Intelligence Services Act gives senior ministers the power to "disapply" UK law when granting written permission. This legislation ensures that no UK intelligence agency or officer is likely to be sued or prosecuted in Britain as a result of any mass surveillance operation.


In the US, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) gives US intelligence agencies wide-ranging powers to conduct surveillance of data that is held by or passes through the US: it provides for the gathering of information that may not only protect the US against hostile acts but which "is necessary to … the conduct of the foreign affairs of the United States.”


The US government can therefore basically do what it deems necessary to maintain its global hegemony. It has access to huge amounts of global data thanks to the numerous sophisticated ‘listening posts’ the US has on foreign soil. The NSA's largest eavesdropping centre outside the US is based in North Yorkshire. It is a satellite receiving station that monitors foreign military traffic, but can also access Britain's telecommunications network. The US military refer to the ‘golf ball’ encased satellite systems there as helping to secure full spectrum dominance of land, sea, air, space and information. Writer Garbrielle Pickard believes its presence entails the US having full spectrum control over the UK (8).


Given that the US thus has access to so much data beyond its national borders, it is easy to see just why the issue of the British government circumventing British law to access information held by the US on British citizens is of vital concern to the public. Even more so given Hague argues that the growing and diffuse nature of threats from terrorists, criminals or espionage has only increased the importance of Britain’s intelligence relationship with the United States.


In a more general sense, the underlying message being put forward by officialdom is that ‘no one has anything to fear as long as you are not terrorists or some other threat to national interest.’ In an age of perceived terror threats and subsequent clampdowns on civil liberties as a result of the illegal wars and covert and overt interventions abroad that politicians like Hague attempt to justify on fallacious grounds, just who does that rule out? The ‘terror threat’ and vague notions of the ‘national interest’ are highly convenient reasons for including anyone or everyone in the surveillance net.


What about Muslims, dissidents, civil-liberties types, ‘trouble-makers’, environmental campaigners, 'occupy' individuals, ‘lefties’, trade unionists, human rights activists or particular writers, bloggers and journalists? Surveillance and the infiltration of groups deemed ‘subversive’ (but working well within the law and an integral part of plural democracy) have been carried out by the intelligence services for many decades (9). In pointing out some of these types of activities, Annie Machon in The Guardian notes that real democracies don’t infiltrate legitimate protest groups. But, as she notes, in Britain they do (10).


A key element here is that of trust. Do we trust what politicians like Hague say or do? Do we trust our governments? Should we trust Google, Facebook and any other company that stores our personal details (11)?


NSA whitleblower Edward Snowden apparently thinks we should not. He wanted to expose the “omniscient state powers kept in check by nothing more than policy documents.” Dennis Mitchell, a senior GCHQ officer, who retired in 1984 in protest at the Thatcher government's ban on trade unions there, referred to "actions which I believe would be considered unacceptable by the general public were it aware of them". He described GCHQ as a powerful, unaccountable arm of government. According to him, the only real watchdog at that time was the workforce, not the law.



Perhaps Snowden or Mitchell might agree to some extent with Michael Foucault’s premise that society now resembles a bright modern prison. Foucault warned that the bright visibility is a trap (12). Increasing visibility (on Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc) leads to power being located on an individualised level throughout a person's entire life. Foucault suggested that a ‘carceral continuum’ runs through modern society, from the maximum security prison, through secure accommodation, probation, social workers, police and teachers, to our everyday working and domestic lives. In this digital age, now more than ever before.


Under the guise of fighting the so-called ‘war on terror’, combating weapons proliferation and gathering economic intelligence, institutions such as GCHQ and the NSA are, in reality, operating a highly intrusive Big Brother Police State Surveillance Empire that is being used to specifically monitor the activities of genuine political opposition and dissent, as well as undermine the privacy, freedom and constitutional civil liberties of targeted peoples and nations throughout the world… Identification technologies such as video surveillance, biometrics and national ID cards will undoubtedly find their way into the sprawling informational GCHQ/NSA vortex, eventually rendering all personal, communal, commercial, economic, and political control to the State - a system of absolute tyranny that can only be labeled as ‘global slavery’.” Steve Jones (13).


Notes





The National Security Agency: Surveillance Giant with Eyes on America

One well-informed estimate suggests 100,000 people are employed at the National Security Agency. (Photograph: Terry Ashe/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)The very existence of National...

The National Security Agency: Surveillance Giant with Eyes on America

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Big Brother Britain: Surveillance drones ‘a huge potential for abuse’

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US agencies train spy satellites on civilians

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Obama Planning War on Syria?

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RINFORMATION

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Snowden says Australia watching its citizens ‘all the time,’ slams new metadata laws

Published time: May 09, 2015 15:02

Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden (Reuters/Charles Platiau)

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden accused Australia of undertaking mass surveillance of its citizens and passing laws on the collection of metadata that he says do not protect society from acts of terrorism.

Snowden, addressing the Progress 2015 conference in Melbourne via satellite link, criticized Australia's new metadata laws, which allow the government and intelligence agencies to keep a constant watch on citizens.

"What this means is they are watching everybody all the time,” the former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower said. “They're collecting information and they're just putting it in buckets that they can then search through not only locally, not only in Australia, but they can then share this with foreign intelligences services.”

Last month, Australia passed controversial laws that require telecommunications firms to retain their customers’ phone and computer metadata for two years.

READ MORE: Congress mulls future of metadata collection after court's condemnation

Snowden decried this disturbing trend, warning that regardless of what you are doing “you're being watched."

He compared Australia's mass surveillance system to that being used in the UK.

"Australia's role in mass surveillance around the world is similar to the UK and the Tempora program," he said.

Snowden, who has been living in Moscow since June 2013 after receiving political asylum, criticized the Australian government’s passage of a metadata program that is being used, he said, to “collect everyone's communications in advance of criminal suspicion."

"This is dangerous," he told the conference.

The former system administrator for the CIA said such invasive surveillance technologies had nothing in common with traditional liberal societies.

READ MORE: NSA's telephone metadata collection not authorized by Patriot Act - appeals court

"This is not things that governments have ever traditionally been empowered to claim for themselves as authorities.

"And to have that change recently ... is a radical departure from the operation of traditional liberal societies around the world."

Snowden repeated his position that acts of terrorism in the US and elsewhere have not been thwarted by conducting mass surveillance on citizens.

"Nine times out of 10 when you see someone on the news who's engaged in some sort of radical jihadist activity, these are people who had a long record," he said.

"The reason these attacks happened is not because we didn't have enough surveillance, it's because we had too much."

READ MORE: Millennials worldwide show broad support of Edward Snowden – poll

Aside from average citizens, he warned that journalists are also at risk of having their contacts exposed by the mass surveillance.

"Under these mandatory metadata laws you can immediately see who journalists are contacting, from which you can derive who their sources are."

He excoriated such a turn of events, saying the purpose of a free press in society is to “act as an adversary against the government on behalf of the public."

Snowden’s comments came on the same day that a US federal appeals court ruled the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records was illegal. In a unanimous decision, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York called the bulk phone records collection "unprecedented and unwarranted."

The ruling, which Snowden called “extraordinarily encouraging,” comes as Congress confronts a June 1 deadline to renew a section of the Patriot Act that allows the NSA’s bulk data surveillance.

Meanwhile, Snowden seems determined to reveal more information from the National Security Agency (NSA) files, hinting there was yet more information about Australia’s intelligence work that would be revealed at a later date.

Germany’s NBD restricts cooperation with NSA: Reports

Germany’s foreign intelligence agency has reportedly restricted intelligence cooperation with the US National Security Agency (NSA) amid a recent scandal over alleged joint spying by the two organizations against European officials.

According to German media reports, Bundesnachrichtendienst, commonly known by its acronym BND, started demanding that the NSA provide a justification for each online surveillance request this week.

Citing sources close to a German parliamentary inquiry into the allegations, national daily Süddeutsche Zeitung and other German media said the BND stopped sharing internet surveillance data with the American agency after it failed to provide the required explanation.

Such a rule had long been in place for phone and fax surveillance, which Berlin continues to share with the NSA.

A view of radomes at German BND’s satellite tracking station in Bad Aibling, Bavaria (© AFP, file)

Konstantin von Notz, the German Green Party ombudsman in the parliamentary committee investigating revelations of NSA spying by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, welcomed the move, saying it was an acknowledgement that the operation was out of control.

“This is certainly a drastic step. It’s like pulling the emergency rip cord, because even in the year 2015, they’re still not able to control these search terms for internet traffic,” he said.

He also accused the government in Berlin of failing to protect German and European interests.

On April 30, a report surfaced that the BND had helped the NSA carry out “political espionage” on high-ranking French officials and the European Commission.

Merkel defiance

On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her country’s intelligence agency over its cooperation with the US to spy on EU countries and entities.

“In the face of international terrorism threats, they can only do this in cooperation with other intelligence agencies – and that includes first and foremost the NSA,” said Merkel during her first public comments on the spying scandal.

She said, however, that she would fully cooperate with a parliamentary investigation committee probing the accusations.

In 2013, Snowden blew the whistle on the agency, revealing that Washington had been conducting massive internet and phone data spying on “friendly countries and their leaders,” including Germany itself.

DB/HJL

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Secret Space Program Conference 2014

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Big Lies Drown Out Truth

Big Lies Drown Out Truth

by Stephen Lendman

Beating up on Russia persists irresponsibly daily. Big Lies repeat ad nsuseam. Truth is systematically suppressed.

Fake satellite photos are the latest. Images of Russian troops allegedly massed on Ukraine's border date from August 2013. More on this below.

On April 10, The New York Times hyped the Big Lie. It headlined "Satellites Show Russia Mobilizing Near Ukraine, NATO Says."

Times correspondents, contributors and editors avoid due diligence. Regurgitating official Big Lies substitutes. The pattern repeats daily. Truth is systematically buried.

"NATO released satellite photographs on Thursday showing Russian military equipment, including fighter jets and tanks, that it described as part of a deployment of as many as 40,000 troops near the border with Ukraine," said The Times.

Images "offered some of the first documentary evidence of a military buildup that the West says Russia could use to invade Ukraine at any moment."

Brig. General Gary Deakin heads NATO's Comprehensive Crisis and Operations Management Center. He lied claiming photos show a menacing force.

"The Russians have an array of capabilities, including aircraft, helicopters, special forces, tanks, artillery, infantry fighting vehicles," he said. "These could move in a matter of hours."

He lied claiming images were taken between March 22 and April 2. One showed 20 helicopters near Belgorod. It's 25 miles from Ukraine's border. Other images were further away.

Russia categorically denied NATO accusations. Deploying alliance forces near Russia's borders violates international agreements. 

They include the 1997 Founding Act. It's based on "mutual relations, cooperation, and security between NATO and the Russian Federation signed in Paris, France."

In response to NATO's accusation, a Russian General Staff statement said:

"Satellite imagery of Russian troops allegedly amassed at present on the border with Ukraine dates back to August 2013…"

"In reality, the images released by NATO show units of Russia's Southern Military District taking part in various exercises last summer, including near the borders with Ukraine."

They're routine. They're not threatening. Nor are more recent ones. Claims otherwise are lies. They persist maliciously against Russia.

On April 7, Times editors headlined "A Familiar Script in Ukraine," saying:

Events in Eastern Ukraine follow "the script laid down in Crimea to the letter. (Putin) may not have the same designs (there as) on Crimea, but it is no longer possible to preclude any such moves."

Washington and EU partners "said time and again that 'further' Russian aggression would prompt a stern and painful response. Now is the time to prepare for it."

Times editors barely stopped short of urging war. They lied accusing Putin and "his jingoistic supporters" of massing "tens of thousands of well-equipped troops…within striking distance of Ukraine…"

They turned truth on its head claiming Crimean reunification "was a blatant transgression of international law."

"The next Western response must be ready and credible," they urged. It must challenge Russia more than already, they added. 

Times editors march in lockstep with US imperial lawlessness. Lies substitute for truth. Don't expect them to explain.

NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen is a convenient US stooge. He regurgitates official US policy. He's militantly anti-Russian.

He sent Moscow a message. He lied saying "(y)ou have a choice. (S)top blaming others for your own actions."

"(S)top massing your troops. (S)top escalating this crisis and start engaging in a genuine dialogue."

"Pull back your troops…For the first time (since) the Cold War ended, we see one state trying to grab a part of another's territory at gunpoint."

"We have seen the satellite images, day after day. Russia is stirring up ethnic tensions in eastern Ukraine and provoking unrest. And Russia is using its military might to dictate that Ukraine should become a federal, neutral state."

Fact check

Russia supports peace and stability. It respects nation-state sovereign independence. It affirms rule of law principles. Its actions back up its words.

Russian troops aren't massed on Ukraine's borders. Claims about imminent invasion are false.

US-led NATO aggression was conveniently forgotten. Raping Yugoslavia was ignored. So was ravaging and destroying Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. 

NATO EU nations and Turkey partner in Obama's war on Syria. What's next remains to be seen.

NATO is an aggressor. It's a killing machine. It threatens world peace. Don't expect Rasmussen to explain.

US-led NATO forces are deployed in Eastern Europe. Perhaps more are coming. On April 10, Stars and Stripes (S&S) headlined "NATO to focus on reassuring allies worried about Ukraine," saying:

"NATO's next move in response to the crisis in Ukraine is likely to be more of the same: more NATO fighters patrolling over the Baltics, more rotations of warships into the Black Sea and more surveillance of Russian movements around Ukraine."

NATO aims to boost its presence Eastern European countries close to Russia. According to its commander/US European Command head General Philip Breedlove:

"Essentially, what we are looking at is a package of land, air and maritime measures that would build assurance for our easternmost allies."

"I'm tasked to deliver this by next week. I fully intend to deliver it early."

Texas-based 1st Cavalry Division forces are part of NATO's Reaction Force. They're ready to be deployed to Eastern Europe.

Other alliance options include "deployment of aircraft to guard NATO airspace that borders Russia as well as planes capable of striking against ground forces," said S&S.

"A more prominent naval presence in the Baltic and Black seas could also be an option for the alliance."

S&S cited former NATO commander Admiral James Stavridis. Likely alliance actions include deploying aircraft, ships and troops in Eastern Europe. Especially in the Baltics and Poland, he said.

Expect more support for Ukraine's military. It'll take various forms. Included will be weapons and munitions transfers, training, intelligence sharing and more.

Washington may enhance its Eastern European force level in response to regional conditions, said Stavridis.

"I would guess the entire drawdown is being re-evaluated, and we may end up with three or even four combat brigades back in Europe, as well as restoration of the combat aircraft cuts of recent years," he added.

US European Command and US authorities are likely "to look seriously at the US ground and air footprint. Assuming decisions by the end of the year, effects would begin to be felt in 2015."

"(W)e certainly look to be heading into a very frosty (posture) in the years ahead."

On April 9, NATO headlined "Transformation Seminar Charts Path to Summit," saying:

On April 8 and 9, "(m)ore than 250 NATO and military and civilian leaders met in Paris…"

Topics addressed included "How to Adapt NATO to Face Multiple and Complex Challenges."

"(T)he current crisis in Ukraine also drove much of the discussion."

"Ukraine highlighted the need for a strong commitment as well as solidarity in what we should do to face this crisis." 

"It highlighted as well the need for us to deliver on the major initiatives we have enhanced."

Former Yugoslavia Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic said Europe suffers from the effects of US-led NATO aggression on his country.

A precedent was set. "US/NATO aggressive wars in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Mali and other locations" followed.

Millions of victims suffer from "endless war and aggression." 

"These crimes against humanity have not been only military in nature but also clandestine, such as what we are seeing in Ukraine, Syria and Venezuela today." 

"The West has had only objective: the domination of the world by the US/NATO and its surrogates."

He called 1999 NATO/US led aggression against Yugoslavia "a turning point toward globalization of interventionism, toward militarization of European and international relations." 

Toward "global domination of the West," he added. He thinks "the Ukrainian case and the Crimean referendum to reunite with Russia is another kind of turning point."

He believes "multi-polar world relations" will follow. Western global dominance efforts will be resisted, he said.

Ongoing events are the "the beginning (of) relieving Europe and the world of the threats of domination from one side only."

His vision is well-meaning. Shorter-term, major threats exist. Escalating East/West tensions risk conflict. Major ones start this way.

Today is the most perilous time in world history. Washington bears full responsibility. Out-of-control hegemonic ambitions risk global war. Preventing it matters most.

A Final Comment

Growing thousands of Eastern Ukrainians reject Kiev putschists. They want local autonomy. They want their democratic rights respected.

Previous articles discussed their activism. They occupied government buildings. They did so nonviolently. 

Kiev threatened brute force. Protesters braced for it any time. For now apparently it's not coming. More on this below. 

Donetsk activists include civil volunteers, police and army defectors. They're ready to "defend their motherland from the fascist army that’s going to kill them," they say.

They demand "a referendum to be independent from Kiev." They favor "being with Russia."

They abhor violence. They'll respond accordingly if targeted. An unnamed protester said:

"I only have a stick to defend myself. They are coming with machine guns, and all I (have is) a chair leg."

Another activist said:

"The protest in Donetsk is against nationalism. We are for social justice. The creation of our republic means drastic changes in the way our territory is organized." 

"We are for equality of languages. We are against the oppression by the majority by the nationalist minority, and against threatening ethnic Russians."

Lugansk protesters refused unconditional surrender demands. It masqueraded as an amnesty offer.

One protester spoke for others saying: "We demand concretely a referendum on federalization so that the will of the people is heard."

Apparently they'll get it.  Illegitimate putschist prime minister Arseny Yatsenyuk promised legislation permitting regional referenda. 

It's a key protester demand. They want their rights respected. They want local autonomy. They want democracy. They reject fascist rule.

Yatsenyuk spoke as a 48-hour deadline given protesters to evacuate public buildings expired. He'll support greater autonomy, he said.

He'll abolish Kiev-appointed regional governors. His U-turn perhaps is significant. It came after Ukraine's elite Alpha unit reportedly refused to roust protesters from government buildings.

In Donetsk, one of its commanders said his mandate is rescuing hostages. It's fighting terrorism. He'll only act lawfully, he explained. He won't attack nonviolent protesters.

His comments came days after Kharkov police arrested dozens of activists. Local police lieutenant-colonel Andrey Chuikov said Kiev deceived him and others.

They were lied to. They were told to go after dangerous armed bandits. They were peaceful protesters. They posed no threat. They showed no resistance when confronted.

Chuikov said he'll no longer take "criminal" orders. He resigned in protest. He wants no part of lawless governance.

Eastern Ukrainian putschist rejection deepens. It may be just a matter of time until it spreads nationwide. Western Ukrainians haven't yet felt the full impact of what's coming.
  
It combines fascist governance with IMF-imposed neoliberal harshness. Hammering impoverished Ukrainians harder risks mass rebellion. 

It remains to be seen what follows. Obama's imperial trophy may slip from his grasp. It can't happen a moment too soon.

John Kerry lied. He accused Moscow of stirring Eastern Ukraine unrest. He claimed Russian agents, special forces and provocateurs are involved.

This "could potentially be a contrived pretext for military intervention just as we saw in Crimea," he said.

Nothing whatsoever took place. Kerry is a serial liar. He consistently twists facts his way. He's been caught red-handed lying many times.

IlIegitimate putschist interior minister Arsen Avakov outrageously pointed fingers the wrong say, saying:

"All this was inspired and financed by the Putin-Yanukovych group."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Eastern European protests bear "all the hallmarks of a Russian strategy to destabilize Ukraine."

Putin and Foreign Minster Sergei Lavrov go all-out to resolve things responsibly. Washington bears full responsibility for crisis conditions. EU partners share it.

On April 10, neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland testified before Senate Foreign Relations Committee members.

She conveniently twisted truths. She did so to fit administration policy. She lied claiming Russia "occup(ied) Crimea."

She called its legal referendum "illegitimate." She outrageously claimed it was "conducted at the barrel of a gun."

It was open, free and fair. It was a model democratic exercise. It mocked America's sham process. It has no legitimacy whatever. Especially in federal elections.

Nuland ludicrously claimed "Russia('s) occupation shocked the conscience." She lied about "intimidat(ing)" Russian forces on Ukraine's borders.

She called peaceful Eastern Ukraine protests "violent." She called Ukraine's illegitimate fascist government "a frontline state in the struggle for freedom…"

She wants Russian "aggression" punished. She claimed upcoming sham May elections will be "free (and) fair."

She called Russian truth and full disclosure "propaganda, lies and efforts to destabilize Ukraine's regions."

She accused Russia of "pressur(ing) Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and other neighbors of Ukraine."

She called them "victims" of Moscow policy. She ludicrously claimed Washington supports peace, security and prosperity.

She urged greater NATO diligence in Eastern Europe. She wants military budgets increased, not reduced.

She blamed Russia for US crimes. Earlier she was caught red-handed urging regime change on video.

Her conversation with US Ukraine ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt was recorded. It circulated on You Tube. It's more evidence of America's dark side.

Nuland fronts for imperial lawlessness. So do likeminded extremists infesting Washington. 

It bears repeating. Challenging Russia irresponsibly risks confrontation. It risks possible global war. Humanity's fate hangs in the balance.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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John Kerry’s Anti-Palestinian Agenda

John Kerry's Anti-Palestinian Agenda

by Stephen Lendman

He's no peacemaker. He never was throughout 30 years in state and federal government service. He's one of America's privileged. He's super-rich. 

His record shows exclusive support for wealth and power. He spurns popular interests. He's been conducting Middle East shuttle diplomacy for months. He's Israel's man at State. 

He's no honest broker. He never was. He's not now. His dirty hands are manipulating dead on arrival Israeli/Palestinian peace talks. 

They're more pretense than real. They demand unconditional Palestinian surrender. Israel is all take and no give. So is Washington.

Peace in our time reflects a convenient illusion. Last week, Kerry met with Netanyahu and Abbas. He presented a new plan. It's largely old wine in new bottles. It focused on security issues.

On December 5, The New York Times headlined "Kerry, Seeking to Nudge Along Peace Talks, Offers Netanyahu Ideas on Security," saying:

So far, "little visible headway" was achieved. Kerry is back trying again. He brought "American ideas," said The Times.

They one-sidedly favor Israel. They offer Palestinians sticks, not carrots. So-called peace talks reflect same old, same old.

Kerry brought nothing new. According to The Times:

"Saeb Erekat, the senior Palestinian negotiator, said that Mr. Kerry did not present anything in a final form during the meeting in Ramallah."

Kerry's so-called peace proposal ignores it altogether. PA officials rejected it. An unnamed one said:

"The Palestinian side rejected (it) because (it) would only lead to prolonging and maintaining the occupation."

Talks began last summer. Kerry expressed confidence in resolving longstanding issues within nine months. The half-way point approaches. No progress whatever was made.

Israeli sources called Kerry's new plan "interesting." It's "complex." It's "not sufficient." It prioritizes security. 

Palestinians need it. They pose Israel no threat. Nor do other regional countries. So-called Israeli security concerns are ones it invents. Claiming otherwise doesn't wash.

Elements of Kerry's plan haven't been released. Some details leaked out last week. Israeli Jordan Valley control would continue. 

It remains in charge of Jordanian/West Bank border areas. It calls for a number of border crossings. A token PA presence is permitted. It's little more than symbolic.

Washington would provide an additional security "envelope." Drones, mass surveillance, "advanced technological equipment, unique weaponry," and early warning stations would be involved. 

Allegedly it would try to detect terrorist threats and border violations. Special attention would be given to Ben-Gurion international airport and surrounding areas.

Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon is a Likudnik hardline extremist. "Americans are proposing joint control over (Jordanian) crossing points," he said.

"From the Israeli point of view, there will not be any Palestinian presence. An (exclusive) Israeli civilian and military presence in the Jordan Valley is essential."

In 1948, Palestinians lost 78% of historic Palestine. In 1967, they lost the rest. They're willing to settle for 22% of what's rightfully theirs. 

They want sovereign independence within 1967 borders. Israel categorically refuses. So does Washington. 

Earlier plans included land swaps. Israel got to keep all valued Judea and Samaria areas. Palestinians got worthless scrubland.

Reports suggest current talks include similar mumbo jumbo. Universally recognized Palestinian sovereignty remains nowhere in sight. 

Kerry's new plan is little different from earlier ones. It's one way. It permits continued militarized occupation harshness. 

It ignores Palestinian rights. It denies peaceful conflict resolution. It continues business as usual.

Peace talks are going nowhere. Kerry claims otherwise. He lied saying "I believe we are closer than we have been in years to bringing about the peace and prosperity that all the people in this region yearn for."

"Despite the fact that we are discussing really difficult, complicated issues, I am encouraged by the continued commitment of both leaders to the pursuit of peace, and they both underscored their commitment to continue to work through these difficult issues in the days ahead." 

"The naysayers are wrong to call peace in this region an impossible goal."

"We've gone through a very detailed, lengthy, in-depth analysis of the security challenges of the region, and particularly the challenges to Israel and to the creation of a viable, independent Palestinian state." 

"Security is paramount in the minds of the prime minister and his team with respect to their ability to be able to move forward with other issues that have to be dealt with." 

"If Israel's security cannot be increased through this agreement, it's very difficult to" achieve one.

It bears repeating. Israel's only security concerns are ones it invents. Palestinians have longstanding issues left unresolved.

Peace, prosperity, and universally recognized sovereignty for them remain as distant as ever. Kerry's plan excludes besieged Gaza. 

It ignores 1.7 million entrapped Palestinians. It effectively endorses Israel's illegal blockade. It permits unconscionable human suffering. 

It shows Kerry's real agenda. It's hardline. It's unfair. It denies fundamental Palestinian rights. It excludes peace in our time.

Washington and Israel abhor it. They stoke conflict and instability. Doing so reflects longstanding policy.

In mid-November, Palestinian negotiator Mohammad Shtayyeh resigned. Doing so was in response to "increasing settlement building and the absence of any hope of achieving results," he said.

"Abbas has not accepted our resignation." Israel bears full "responsib(ility) for the failure of negotiations," he stressed.

Chief negotiator Saeb Erakat resigned but continues negotiating. He lost credibility long ago. He's a longtime Israeli collaborator.

He says one thing. He does another. He's benefitted handsomely from betrayal. He's not about to change tactics now.

Continued settlement expansions alone make peaceful conflict resolution impossible. Thousands of new units are planned. Construction continues unabated.

Land theft is official Israeli policy. So is ethnic cleansing. It's for exclusive Jewish development. Longstanding Israeli contempt for Palestinian rights assures them none at all in negotiations.

They're pretense. They're fake. They create an illusion of seriousness. None whatever exists. 

Israel and Washington aren't legitimate peace partners. Netanyahu is a hardline extremist. He exceeds the worst of his predecessors.

Kerry is a longstanding Israeli apologist. His support is unwavering. He's committed to a special relationship.

His pro-Israel Senate voting record was second to none. He supports Israeli attacks on Gaza humanitarian missions.

After the May 2010 Mavi Marmara massacre, he said Israel "has every right in the world to make certain weapons are not being smuggled in."

Humanitarian missions bring vital aid. They don't smuggle weapons. Mavi Marmara participants brought none. Kerry knows it. He pretended otherwise.

Hillary Clinton was perhaps Washington's most brazen ever Secretary of State. Her comments and attitude exceeded the worst of Cold War rhetoric. 

She went all out to avoid peace and stability. Kerry appears aiming to top her. He's a monument to wrong over right. 

He's an embarrassment to legitimate diplomacy. His involvement in ongoing talks assures continued conflict, not resolution.

Brookings is a corporate financed imperial tool. Its Saban Center is fiercely pro-Israeli. In May 2002, Zionist hardliner Haim Saban founded it.

On December 6 - 8, Brookings held its 10th annual Saban Forum. It's titled "Power Shifts: US-Israeli Relations in a Dynamic Middle East.

Obama participated. So did Netanyahu via satellite. John Kerry spoke. Israeli defrocked/reinstated Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman participated.

He addressed ongoing peace talks. He dismissed them out-of-hand. "Trust between the two sides is about zero," he said.

He cautioned against creating "expectations" for resolving longstanding issues. He denied an Israeli occupation. He reinvented history.

Palestine never existed, he claimed. Lieberman represents the worst of ultranationalist extremism. Israel's Knesset is infested with others like him.

Peace remains a distant illusion. Never with Washington and Israeli hardliners involved.

On June 4, 2009, Obama delivered his "On a New Beginning" Cairo University speech. He came, he said, seeking one "between the United States and Muslims around the world."

He claimed to want one "based on mutual interest and mutual respect…" He said "America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition."

They "share common principles - principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings."

He decried the "killing of innocent men, women, and children." He spent the past five years slaughtering many tens of thousands more.

His Middle East mission spreads death and destruction. He ravaged one country after another. He's got more targets in mind. 

He's gone all out to subvert Palestinian sovereignty. Kerry is his point man. With them in charge, expect no peace in our time. 

Expect hypocrisy, not democracy. Expect wars on humanity to persist. Expect Palestinian liberation to remain an unfulfilled distant dream. Maybe some day. Not now.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour


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Gaza: Life and death under Israel’s drones

Al-Jazeera – 28 November 2013

There are many things to fear in Gaza: Attacks from Israel’s Apache helicopters and F-16 fighter jets, the coastal enclave’s growing isolation, the regular blackouts from power shortages, increasingly polluted drinking water and rivers of sewage flooding the streets.

Meanwhile, for most Palestinians in Gaza the anxiety-inducing soundtrack to their lives is the constant buzz of the remotely piloted aircraft – better known as “drones” – that hover in the skies above.

Drones are increasingly being used for surveillance and extra-judicial execution in parts of the Middle East, especially by the US, but in nowhere more than Gaza has the drone become a permanent fixture of life. More than 1.7 million Palestinians, confined by Israel to a small territory in one of the most densely populated areas in the world, are subject to near continual surveillance and intermittent death raining down from the sky.

There is little hope of escaping the zenana – an Arabic word referring to a wife’s relentless nagging that Gazans have adopted to describe the drone’s oppressive noise and their feelings about it. According to statistics compiled by human rights groups in Gaza, civilians are the chief casualties of what Israel refers to as “surgical” strikes from drones.

“When you hear the drones, you feel naked and vulnerable,” said Hamdi Shaqura, deputy director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, based in Gaza City. “The buzz is the sound of death. There is no escape, nowhere is private. It is a reminder that, whatever Israel and the international community assert, the occupation has not ended. We are still living completely under Israeli control. They control the borders and the sea and they decide our fates from their position in the sky,” said Shaqura.

The Israeli military did not respond to Al Jazeera’s requests for comment.

Suffer the children

The sense of permanent exposure, coupled with the fear of being mistakenly targeted, has inflicted deep psychological scars on civilians, especially children, according to experts.

“There is a great sense of insecurity. Nowhere feels safe for the children, and they feel no one can offer them protection, not even their parents,” said Ahmed Tawahina, a psychologist running clinics in Gaza as part of the Community Mental Health Programme. “That traumatises both the children and parents, who feel they are failing in their most basic responsibility.”

Shaqura observed: “From a political perspective, there is a deep paradox. Israel says it needs security, but it demands it at the cost of our constant insecurity.”

There are no statistics that detail the effect of the drones on Palestinians in Gaza. Doctors admit it is impossible to separate the psychological toll inflicted by drones from other sources of damage to mental health, such as air strikes by F-16s, severe restrictions on movement and the economic insecurity caused by Israel’s blockade.

But field researchers working for Palestinian rights groups point out that the use of drones is intimately tied to these other sources of fear and anxiety. Drones fire missiles themselves, they guide attacks by F-16s or helicopters, and they patrol and oversee the borders.

A survey in medical journal The Lancet following Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s month-long attack on Gaza in winter 2008-09, found large percentages of children suffered from symptoms of psychological trauma: Fifty-eight percent permanently feared the dark; 43 percent reported regular nightmares; 37 percent wet the bed and 42 percent had crying attacks.

Tawahina described the sense of being constantly observed as a “form of psychological torture, which exhausts people’s mental and emotional resources. Among children at school, this can be seen in poor concentration and unruly behaviour.” The trauma for children is compounded by the fact that the drones also disrupt what should be their safest activity – watching TV at home. When a drone is operating nearby, it invariably interferes with satellite reception.

“”It doesn’t make headlines, but it is another example of how there is no escape from the drones. Parents want their children indoors, where it feels safer and where they’re less likely to hear the drones, but still the drone finds a way into their home. The children cannot even switch off from the traumas around them by watching TV because of the drones.”

Israel’s ‘major advantage’

Israel developed its first drones in the early 1980s, during its long occupation of south Lebanon, to gather aerial intelligence without exposing Israeli pilots to anti-aircraft missiles. Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University, said drones help in situations where good, on-the-ground intelligence is lacking. “What the UAV gives you is eyes on the other side of the hill or over the border,” he said. “That provides Israel with a major advantage over its enemies.”

Other Israeli analysts have claimed that the use of drones, with their detailed intelligence-collecting abilities, is justified because they reduce the chances of errors and the likelihood of “collateral damage” – civilian deaths – during attacks.

But, according to Inbar, the drone is no better equipped than other aircraft for gathering intelligence or carrying out an execution.

“The advantage from Israel’s point of view is that using a drone for these tasks reduces the risk of endangering a pilot’s life or losing an expensive plane. That is why we are moving towards much greater use of these kinds of robots on the battlefield,” he said.

‘Mistakes can happen’

According to Gaza human rights group al-Mezan, Israel started using drones over the territory from the start of the second intifada in 2000, but only for surveillance.

Israel’s first extra-judicial executions using drones occurred in 2004, when two Palestinians were killed. But these operations greatly expanded after 2006, in the wake of Israel’s withdrawal of settlers and soldiers from Gaza and the rise to power of the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas.

Drones, the front-line weapon in Israel’s surveillance operations and efforts to foil rocket attacks, killed more than 90 Palestinians in each of the years 2006 and 2007, according to al-Mezan. The figures soared during Operation Cast Lead and in its aftermath, with 461 Palestinians killed by drones in 2009. The number peaked again with 199 deaths in 2012, the year when Israel launched the eight-day Operation Pillar of Defence against Gaza.

Despite Israeli claims that the intelligence provided by drones makes it easier to target those Palestinians it has defined as “terrorists”, research shows civilians are the main victims. In the 2012 Pillar of Defence operation, 36 of the 162 Palestinians killed were a result of drone strikes, and a further 100 were injured by drones. Of those 36 killed, two-thirds were civilians.

Also revealing was a finding that, although drones were used in only five percent of air strikes, they accounted for 23 percent of the total deaths during Pillar of Defence. According to the Economist magazine, the assassination of Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari, which triggered that operation, was carried out using a Hermes 450 drone.

Palestinian fighters report that they have responded to the constant surveillance by living in hiding, rarely going outdoors and avoiding using phones or cars. It is a way of life not possible for most people in Gaza.

Gaza’s armed groups are reported to be trying to find a way to jam the drones’ navigation systems. In the meantime, Hamas has claimed it has shot down three drones, the latest this month, though Israel says all three crashed due to malfunctions.

Last week, on the anniversary of the launch of Pillar of Defence, an Israeli commander whose soldiers control the drones over Gaza from a base south of Tel Aviv told the Haaretz newspaper that “many” air strikes during the operation had involved drones. “Lt Col Shay” was quoted saying: “Ultimately, we are at war. As much as the IDF strives to carry out the most precise surgical strikes, mistakes can happen in the air or on the ground.”

Random death by drone

It is for this reason that drones have become increasingly associated with random death from the sky, said Samir Zaqout, a senior field researcher for Al-Mezan.

“We know from the footage taken by drones that Israel can see what is happening below in the finest detail. And yet women and children keep being killed in drone attacks. Why the continual mistakes? The answer, I think, is that these aren’t mistakes. The message Israel wants to send us is that there is no protection whether you are a civilian or fighter. They want us afraid and to make us turn on the resistance [Palestinian fighters].”

Zaqout also points to a more recent use of drones – what has come to be known as “roof-knocking”. This is when a drone fires small missiles at the roof of a building to warn the inhabitants to evacuate – a practice Israel developed during Operation Cast Lead three years earlier, to allay international concerns about its repeated levellings of buildings with civilians inside.

In Pillar of Defence in 2012, 33 buildings were targeted by roof-knocking.

Israel says it provides 10 minutes’ warning from a roof-knock to an air strike, but, in practice, families find they often have much less time. This, said Zaqout, puts large families in great danger as they usually send their members out in small groups to be sure they will not be attacked as they move onto the streets.

One notorious case occurred during Cast Lead, when six members of the Salha family, all women and children, were killed when their home was shelled moments after a roof-knocking. The father, Fayez Salha, who survived, lost a case for damages in Israel’s Supreme Court last February and was ordered to pay costs after the judges ruled that the attack was legitimate because it occurred as part of a military operation.

A US citizen who has lived long-term in Gaza, who wished not be named for fear of reprisals from Israel, said she often heard the drones at night when the street noise dies down, or as they hover above her while out walking. “The sound is like the buzz of a mosquito, although there is one type of drone that sometimes comes into view that is silent,” she said.

She added that she knew of families that, before moving into a new apartment building, checked to see whether it housed a fighter or a relative of a fighter, for fear that the building may be attacked by Israel.

Shaqura said the drones inevitably affect one’s day-to-day behaviour. He said he was jogging early one morning while a drone hovered overhead.

“I got 100 metres from my front door when I started to feel overwhelmed with fear. I realised that my tracksuit was black, the same colour as many of the fighters’ uniforms. I read in my work too many reports of civilians being killed by drones not to see the danger. So I hurried back home.”

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This essay is an excerpt from  Big Lies: How Our Corporate Overlords, Politicians and Media Establishment Warp Reality and Undermine Democracy. Guma's latest book, Dons of Time, is a sci-fi look at the control of history as power.
Despite 24-hour news and talk about transparency, there's a lot we don't know about our past, much less current events. What’s worse, some of what we think we know isn't true.
The point is that it’s no accident. 
    Consider, for example, the circumstances that led to open war in Vietnam. According to official history, two US destroyers patrolling in the Gulf of Tonkin off North Vietnam were victims of unprovoked attacks in August 1964, leading to a congressional resolution giving President Johnson the power "to take all necessary measures."
     In fact, the destroyers were spy ships, part of a National Security Agency (NSA) eavesdropping program operating near the coast as a way to provoke the North Vietnamese into turning on their radar and other communications channels. The more provocative the maneuvers, the more signals that could be captured. Meanwhile, US raiding parties were shelling mainland targets. Documents revealed later indicated that the August 4 attack on the USS Maddox – the pretext for passing the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution – may not even have taken place.
     But even if it did, the incident was still stage managed to build up congressional and public support for the war. Evidence suggests that the plan was based on Operation Northwoods, a scheme developed in 1962 to justify an invasion of Cuba. Among the tactics the Joint Chiefs of Staff considered then were blowing up a ship in Guantanamo Bay, a phony "communist Cuba terror campaign" in Florida and Washington, DC, and an elaborate plan to convince people that Cuba had shot down a civilian airliner filled with students. That operation wasn't implemented, but two years later, desperate for a war, the administration's military brass found a way to create the necessary conditions in Vietnam.
For more than half a century, the eyes and ears of US power to monitor and manipulate information (and with it, mass perceptions) has been the NSA, initially designed to assist the CIA. Its original task was to collect raw information about threats to US security, cracking codes and using the latest technology to provide accurate intelligence on the intentions and activities of enemies. Emerging after World War II, its early focus was the Soviet Union. But it never did crack a high-level Soviet cipher system. On the other hand, it used every available means to eavesdrop on not only enemies but also allies and, sometimes, US citizens.
     In Body of Secrets, James Bamford described a bureaucratic and secretive behemoth, based in an Orwellian Maryland complex known as Crypto City. From there, supercomputers linked it to spy satellites, subs, aircraft, and equally covert, strategically placed listening posts worldwide. As of 2000, it had a $7 billion annual budget and directly employed at least 38,000 people, more than the CIA and FBI. It was also the leader of an international intelligence club, UKUSA, which includes Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Together, they monitored and recorded billions of encrypted communications, telephone calls, radio messages, faxes, and e-mails around the world.
     Over the years, however, the line between enemies and friends blurred, and the intelligence gatherers often converted their control of information into unilateral power, influencing the course of history in ways that may never be known. No doubt the agency has had a hand in countless covert operations; yet, attempts to pull away the veil of secrecy have been largely unsuccessful.
     In the mid-1970s, for example, just as Congress was attempting to reign in the CIA, the NSA was quietly creating a virtual state, a massive international computer network named Platform. Doing away with formal borders, it developed a software package that turned worldwide Sigint (short for "signal intelligence": communication intelligence, eavesdropping, and electronic intelligence) into a unified whole. The software package was code named Echelon, a name that has since become a synonym for eavesdropping on commercial communication.
     Of course, the NSA and its British sister, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), refused to admit Echelon existed, even though declassified documents appeared on the Internet and Congress conducted an initial investigation. But a European Parliament report also confirmed Echelon's activities, and encouraged Internet users and governments to adopt stronger privacy measures in response.
     In March 2001, several ranking British politicians discussed Echelon's potential impacts on civil liberties, and a European Parliament committee considered its legal, human rights, and privacy implications. The Dutch held similar hearings, and a French National Assembly inquiry urged the European Union to embrace new privacy enhancing technologies to protect against Echelon's eavesdropping. France launched a formal investigation into possible abuses for industrial espionage.
A prime reason for Europe's discontent was the growing suspicion that the NSA had used intercepted conversations to help US companies win contracts heading for European firms. The alleged losers included Airbus, a consortium including interests in France, Germany, Spain, and Britain, and Thomson CSF, a French electronics company. The French claimed they had lost a $1.4 billion deal to supply Brazil with a radar system because the NSA shared details of the negotiations with Raytheon. Airbus may have lost a contract worth $2 billion to Boeing and McDonnell Douglas because of information intercepted and passed on by the agency.
     According to former NSA agent Wayne Madsen, the US used information gathered from its bases in Australia to win a half share in a significant Indonesian trade contract for AT&T. Communication intercepts showed the contract was initially going to a Japanese firm. A bit later a lawsuit against the US and Britain was launched in France, judicial and parliamentary investigations began in Italy, and German parliamentarians demanded an inquiry.
     The rationale for turning the NSA loose on commercial activities, even those involving allies, was provided in the mid-90s by Sen. Frank DeConcini, then chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. "I don't think we should have a policy where we're going to invade the Airbus inner sanctum and find out their secrets for the purpose of turning it over to Boeing or McDonnell Douglas," he opined. "But if we find something, not to share it with our people seems to me to be not smart."
      President Bill Clinton and other US officials buttressed this view by charging that European countries were unfairly subsidizing Airbus. In other words, competition with significant US interests can be a matter of national security, and private capitalism must be protected from state-run enterprises.
      The US-Europe row about Airbus subsidies was also used as a "test case" for scientists developing new intelligence tools. At US Defense Department conferences on "text retrieval," competitions were staged to find the best methods. A standard test featured extracting protected data about "Airbus subsidies."
In the end, influencing the outcome of commercial transactions is but the tip of this iceberg. The NSA's ability to intercept to virtually any transmitted communication has enhanced the power of unelected officials and private interests to set covert foreign policy in motion. In some cases, the objective is clear and arguably defensible: taking effective action against terrorism, for example. But in others, the grand plans of the intelligence community have led it to undermine democracies.
     The 1975 removal of Australian Prime Minister Edward Whitlam is an instructive case. At the time of Whitlam's election in 1972, Australian intelligence was working with the CIA against the Allende government in Chile. The new PM didn’t simply order a halt to Australia's involvement, explained William Blum in Killing Hope, a masterful study of US interventions since World War II. Whitlam seized intelligence information withheld from him by the Australian Security and Intelligence Organization (ASIO), and disclosed the existence of a joint CIA-ASIO directorate that monitored radio traffic in Asia. He also openly disapproved of US plans to build up the Indian Ocean Island of Diego Garcia as a military-intelligence-nuclear outpost.
     Both the CIA and NSA became concerned about the security and future of crucial intelligence facilities in and near Australia. The country was already key member of UKUSA. After launching its first space-based listening post-a microwave receiver with an antenna pointed at earth-NSA had picked an isolated desert area in central Australia as a ground station. Once completed, the base at Alice Springs was named Pine Gap, the first of many listening posts to be installed around the world. For the NSA and CIA, Whitlam posed a threat to the secrecy and security of such operations.
     An early step was covert funding for the political opposition, in hopes of defeating Whitlam's Labor Party in 1974. When that failed, meetings were held with the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, a figurehead representing the Queen of England who had worked for CIA front organizations since the 50s. Defense officials warned that intelligence links would be cut off unless someone stopped Whitlam. On November 11, 1975, Kerr responded, dismissing the prime minister, dissolving both houses of Parliament, and appointing an interim government until new elections were held.
     According to Christopher Boyce (subject of The Falcon and the Snowman, a fictionalized account), who watched the process while working for TRW in a CIA-linked cryptographic communications center, the spooks also infiltrated Australian labor unions and contrived to suppress transportation strikes that were holding up deliveries to US intelligence installations. Not coincidentally, some unions were leading the opposition to development of those same facilities.
     How often, and to what effect, such covert ops have succeeded is another of the mysteries that comprise an unwritten history of the last half century. Beyond that, systems like Echelon violate the human right to individual privacy, and give those who control the information the ability to act with impunity, sometimes destroying lives and negating the popular will in the process.
Hiding the Agenda in Peru
In May 1960, when a U-2 spy plane was shot down over Soviet territory, President Dwight Eisenhower took great pains to deny direct knowledge or authorization of the provocative mission. In reality, he personally oversaw every U-2 mission, and had even riskier and more provocative bomber overflights in mind.
     It's a basic rule of thumb for covert ops: When exposed, keep denying and deflect the blame. More important, never, never let on that the mission itself may be a pretext, or a diversion from some other, larger agenda.
     Considering that, the April 20, 2001, shoot down of a plane carrying missionaries across the Brazilian border into Peru becomes highly suspicious. At first, the official story fed to the press was that Peruvian authorities ordered the attack on their own, over the pleas of the CIA "contract pilots" who initially spotted the plane. But Peruvian pilots involved in that program, supposedly designed to intercept drug flights, insist that nothing was shot down without US approval.
     Innocent planes were sometimes attacked, but most were small, low flying aircraft that didn't file flight plans and had no radios. This plane maintained regular contact and did file a plan. Still, even after it crash-landed, the Peruvians continued to strafe it, perhaps in an attempt to ignite the plane's fuel and eliminate the evidence.
     "I think it has to do with Plan Colombia and the coming war," said Celerino Castillo, who had previously worked in Peru for Drug Enforcement Agency. "The CIA was sending a clear message to all non-combatants to clear out of the area, and to get favorable press." The flight was heading to Iquitos, which "is at the heart of everything the CIA is doing right now," he added. "They don't want any witnesses."
     Timing also may have played a part. The shoot down occurred on the opening day of the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City. Uruguay's President Jorge Ibanez, who had proposed the worldwide legalization of drugs just weeks before, was expected to make a high-profile speech on his proposal at the gathering. The downing of a drug smuggling plane at this moment, near territory held by Colombia's FARC rebels, would help to defuse Uruguay's message and reinforce the image of the insurgents as drug smugglers.
     If you doubt that the US would condone such an operation or cover it up, consider this: In 1967, Israel torpedoed the USS Liberty, a large floating listening post, as it was eavesdropping on the Arab-Israeli war off the Sinai Peninsula. Hundreds of US sailors were wounded and killed, probably because Israel feared that its massacre of Egyptian prisoners at El Arish might be overheard. How did the Pentagon respond? By imposing a total news ban, and covering up the facts for decades.
     Will we ever find out what really happened in Peru, specifically why a missionary and her daughter were killed? Not likely, since it involves a private military contractor that is basically beyond the reach of congressional accountability.
     In 2009, when the Peru shoot down became one of five cases of intelligence operation cover up being investigated by the US House Intelligence Committee, the CIA inspector general concluded that the CIA had improperly concealed information about the incident. Intelligence Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairwoman Jan Schakowsky, who led the investigation, didn’t rule out referrals to the Justice Department for criminal prosecutions if evidence surfaced that intelligence officials broke the law. But she couldn’t guarantee that the facts would ever come to light, since the Committee’s report of its investigation would be classified.
     The most crucial wrinkle in the Peruvian incident is the involvement of DynCorp, which was active in Colombia and Bolivia under large contracts with various US agencies. The day after the incident, ABC news reported that, according to “senior administration officials,” the crew of the surveillance plane that first identified the doomed aircraft "was hired by the CIA from DynCorp." Within two days, however, all references to DynCorp were scrubbed from ABC's Website. A week later, the New York Post claimed the crew actually worked for Aviation Development Corp., allegedly a CIA proprietary company.
     Whatever the truth, State Department officials refused to talk on the record about DynCorp's activities in South America. Yet, according to DynCorp's State Department contract, the firm had received at least $600 million over the previous few years for training, drug interdiction, search and rescue (which included combat), air transport of equipment and people, and reconnaissance in the region. And that was only what they put on paper. It also operated government aircraft and provided all manner of personnel, particularly for Plan Colombia.
DynCorp began in 1946 as the employee-owned air cargo business California Eastern Airways, flying in supplies for the Korean War. This and later government work led to charges that it was a CIA front company. Whatever the truth, it ultimately became a leading PMC, hiring former soldiers and police officers to implement US foreign policy without having to report to Congress.
     The push to privatize war gained traction during the first Bush administration. After the first Gulf War, the Pentagon, then headed by Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, paid a Halliburton subsidiary nearly $9 million to study how PMCs could support US soldiers in combat zones, according to a Mother Jones investigation. Cheney subsequently became CEO of Halliburton, and Brown & Root, later known as Halliburton KBR, won billions to construct and run military bases, some in secret locations.
     One of DynCorp’s earliest “police” contracts involved the protection of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and, after he was ousted, providing the “technical advice” that brought military officers involved in that coup into Haiti’s National Police. Despite this dodgy record, in 2002 it won the contract to protect another new president, Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai. By then, it was a top IT federal contractor specializing in computer systems development, and also providing the government with aviation services, general military management, and security expertise.
     Like other private military outfits, the main danger it has faced is the risk of public exposure. Under one contract, for example, DynCorp sprayed vast quantities of herbicides over Colombia to kill the cocaine crop. In September 2001, Ecuadorian Indians filed a class action lawsuit, charging that DynCorp recklessly sprayed their homes and farms, causing illnesses and deaths and destroying crops. In Bosnia, private police provided by DynCorp for the UN were accused of buying and selling prostitutes, including a 12-year-old girl. Others were charged with videotaping a rape.
     In the first years of the 21st century, DynCorp's day-to-day operations in South America were overseen by State Department officials, including the Narcotic Affairs Section and the Air Wing, the latter a clique of unreformed cold warriors and leftovers from 80s operations in Central America. It was essentially the State Department's private air force in the Andes, with access to satellite-based recording and mapping systems.
     In the 1960s, a similar role was played by the Vinnell Corp., which the CIA called "our own private mercenary army in Vietnam." Vinnell later became a subsidiary of TRW, a major NSA contractor, and employed US Special Forces vets to train Saudi Arabia's National Guard. In the late 1990s, TRW hired former NSA director William Studeman to help with its intelligence program.
     DynCorp avoided the kind of public scandal that surrounded the activities of Blackwater. In Ecuador, where it developed military logistics centers and coordinated “anti-terror” police training, the exposure of a secret covenant signed with the Aeronautics Industries Directorate of the Ecuadorian Air Force briefly threatened to make waves. According to a November 2003 exposé in Quito’s El Comercio, the arrangement, hidden from the National Defense Council, made DynCorp’s people part of the US diplomatic mission.
     In Colombia, DynCorp’s coca eradication and search-and-rescue missions led to controversial pitched battles with rebels. US contract pilots flew Black Hawk helicopters carrying Colombian police officers who raked the countryside with machine gun fire to protect the missions against attacks. According to investigative reporter Jason Vest, DynCorp employees were also implicated in narcotics trafficking. But such stories didn’t get far, and, in any case, DynCorp’s “trainers” simply ignored congressional rules, including those that restrict the US from aiding military units linked to human rights abuses.
     In 2003, DynCorp won a multimillion-dollar contract to build a private police force in post-Saddam Iraq, with some of the funding diverted from an anti-drug program for Afghanistan. In 2004, the State Department further expanded DynCorp’s role as a global US surrogate with a $1.75 billion, five year contract to provide law enforcement personnel for civilian policing operations in “post-conflict areas” around the world. That March, the company also got an Army contract to support helicopters sold to foreign countries. The work, described as “turnkey” services, includes program management, logistics support, maintenance and aircrew training, aircraft maintenance and refurbishment, repair and overhaul of aircraft components and engines, airframe and engine upgrades, and the production of technical publications.
     In short, DynCorp was a trusted partner in the military-intelligence-industrial complex. "Are we outsourcing order to avoid public scrutiny, controversy or embarrassment?" asked Rep. Schakowsky upon submitting legislation to prohibit US funding for private military firms in the Andean region. "If there is a potential for a privatized Gulf of Tonkin incident, then the American people deserve to have a full and open debate before this policy goes any further."
     If and when that ever happens, the discussion will have to cover a lot of ground. Private firms, working in concert with various intelligence agencies, constitute a vast foreign policy apparatus that is largely invisible, rarely covered by the corporate press, and not currently subject to congressional oversight. The Freedom of Information Act simply doesn't apply. Any information on whom they arm or how they operate is private, proprietary information.
     The US government downplays its use of mercenaries, a state of affairs that could undermine any efforts to find out about CIA activities that are concealed from Congress. Yet private contractors perform almost every function essential to military operations, a situation that has been called the “creeping privatization of the business of war.” By 2004, the Pentagon was employing more than 700,000 private contractors.
     The companies are staffed by former generals, admirals, and highly trained officers. Name a hot spot and some PMC has people there. DynCorp has worked on the Defense Message System Transition Hub and done long-range planning for the Air Force. MPRI had a similar contract with the Army, and for a time coordinated the Pentagon's military and leadership training in at least seven African nations.
     How did this outsourcing of defense evolve? In 1969, the US Army had about 1.5 million active duty soldiers. By 1992, the figure had been cut by half. Since the mid-1990s, however, the US has mobilized militarily to intervene in several significant conflicts, and a corporate “foreign legion” has filled the gap between foreign policy imperatives and what a downsized, increasingly over-stretched military can provide.
     Use of high technology equipment feeds the process. Private companies have technical capabilities that the military needs, but doesn’t always possess. Contractors have maintained stealth bombers and Predator unmanned drones used in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some military equipment is specifically designed to be operated and maintained by private companies.
     In Britain, the debate over military privatization has been public, since the activities of the UK company Sandline in Sierra Leone and Papua New Guinea embarrassed the government in the late 1990s. But no country has clear policies to regulate PMCs, and the limited oversight that does exist rarely works. In the US, they have largely escaped notice, except when US contract workers in conflict zones are killed or go way over the line, as in the case of Blackwater.
     According to Guy Copeland, who began developing public-private IT policy in the Reagan years, “The private sector must play an integral role in improving our national cybersecurity.” After all, he has noted, private interests own and operate 85 percent of the nation’s critical IT infrastructure. He should know. After all, Copeland drafted much of the language in the Bush Administration’s 2002 National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace as co-chair of the Information Security Committee of the Information Technology Association of America.
     Nevertheless, when the federal government becomes dependent on unaccountable, private companies like DynCorp and Blackwater (later renamed Xe Services) for so many key security services, as well as for military logistics, management, strategy, expertise and “training,” fundamental elements of US defense have been outsourced. And the details of that relationship are matters that the intelligence community will fight long and hard to keep out of public view.
Corporate Connections and "Soft Landings"
Although the various departments and private contractors within the military-intelligence-industrial complex occasionally have turf battles and don't always share information or coordinate strategy as effectively as they might, close and ongoing contact has long been considered essential. And it has expanded as a result of the information revolution. The entire intelligence community has its own secret Intranet, which pulls together FBI reports, NSA intercepts, analysis from the DIA and CIA, and other deeply covert sources.
     Private firms are connected to this information web through staff, location, shared technology, and assorted contracts. Working primarily for the Pentagon, for example, L-3 Communications, a spinoff from major defense contractor Lockheed Martin, has manufactured hardware like control systems for satellites and flight recorders. MPRI, which was bought by L-3, provided services like its operations in Macedonia. L-3 also built the NSA's Secure Terminal Equipment, which instantly encrypts phone conversations.
     Another private contractor active in the Balkans was Science Applications, staffed by former NSA and CIA personnel, and specializing in police training. When Janice Stromsem, a Justice Department employee, complained that its program gave the CIA unfettered access to recruiting agents in foreign police forces, she was relieved of her duties. Her concern was that the sovereignty of nations receiving aid from the US was being compromised.
     In 1999, faced with personnel cuts, the NSA offered over 4000 employees "soft landing" buy outs to help them secure jobs with defense firms that have major NSA contracts. NSA offered to pay the first year's salary, in hopes the contractor would then pick up the tab. Sometimes the employee didn't even have to move away from Crypto City. Companies taking part in the program included TRW and MPRI's parent company, Lockheed Martin.
     Lockheed was also a winner in the long-term effort to privatize government services. In 2000, it won a $43.8 million contract to run the Defense Civilian Personnel Data System, one of the largest human resources systems in the world. As a result, a major defense contractor took charge of consolidating all Department of Defense personnel systems, covering hiring and firing for about 750,000 civilian employees. This put the contractor at the cutting edge of Defense Department planning, and made it a key gatekeeper at the revolving door between the US military and private interests.
Shortly after his appointment as NSA director in 1999, Michael Hayden went to see the film Enemy of the State, in which Will Smith is pursued by an all-seeing, all hearing NSA and former operative Gene Hackman decries the agency's dangerous power. In Body of Secrets, author Bamford says Hayden found the film entertaining, yet offensive and highly inaccurate. Still, the NSA chief was comforted by "a society that makes its bogeymen secrecy and power. That's really what the movie's about.''
     Unlike Hayden, most people don't know where the fiction ends and NSA reality begins. Supposedly, the agency rarely "spies" on US citizens at home. On the other hand, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows a secret federal court to waive that limitation. The rest of the world doesn't have that protection. Designating thousands of keywords, names, phrases, and phone numbers, NSA computers can pick them out of millions of messages, passing anything of interest on to analysts. One can only speculate about what happens next.
     After 9/11 the plan was to go further with a project code named Tempest. The goal was to capture computer signals such as keystrokes or monitor images through walls or from other buildings, even if the computers weren't linked to a network. One NSA document, "Compromising Emanations Laboratory Test Requirements, Electromagnetics," described procedures for capturing the radiation emitted from a computer-through radio waves and the telephone, serial, network, or power cables attached to it.
     Other NSA programs have included Oasis, designed to reduce audiovisual images into machine-readable text for easier filtering, and Fluent, which expanded Echelon's multilingual capabilities. And let's not forget the government's Carnivore Internet surveillance program, which can collect all communications over any segment of the network being watched.
     Put such elements together, combine them with business imperatives and covert foreign policy objectives, then throw PMCS into the mix, and you get a glimpse of the extent to which information can be translated into raw power and secretly used to shape events. Although most pieces of the puzzle remain obscure, enough is visible to justify suspicion, outrage, and a campaign to pull away the curtain on this Wizard of Oz. But fighting a force that is largely invisible and unaccountable – and able to eavesdrop on the most private exchanges, that is a daunting task, perhaps even more difficult than confronting the mechanisms of corporate globalization that it protects and promotes.

Obama Encourages Spying on World Leaders

He lied claiming otherwise. He's a serial liar. He's a moral coward. He's a war criminal multiple times over. He did what supporters thought...

Obama Encourages Spying on World Leaders


Obama Encourages Spying on World Leaders

by Stephen Lendman

He lied claiming otherwise. He's a serial liar. He's a moral coward. He's a war criminal multiple times over. He did what supporters thought impossible. 

He exceeds the worst of George Bush. He plans lots more ways to prove it through 2016. Humanity may not survive the ordeal. 

On October 27, Deutche Welle (DW) headlined "Media reports suggest Obama knew NSA spied on Merkel."

Der Spiegel said NSA's Special Collection Service (SCS) monitored her cell phone conversations since 2002. Obama lied telling Merkel he knew nothing about it.

He encourages global spying. He wants world leaders monitored. He wants stepped up surveillance doing it. 

According to DW, "a report in Bild am Sonntag published Sunday cites an unnamed NSA official who said (Obama) ordered the program be escalated."

NSA chief Keith Alexander told Obama about monitoring Merkel's phone calls. It hacked into her "supposedly secure phone…"

"Only a special, secure landline phone in her office was reportedly not accessible to electronic tapping."

Hacked information was reported directly to the White House. Evidence suggests monitoring Merkel continued at least through the "immediate past." 

Despite official disclaimers, most likely it continues. A previous article discussing spying on 35 world leaders. They weren't named. It's not hard imagining likely targets. 

Perhaps lots more than 35 are monitored. NSA may add others to its list. Global spying is official US policy. No one's safe from intrusion.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), "it's very, very difficult to defend yourself." At most, you can make it tougher, more time consuming and expensive to do it. More on that below.

On October 27, Der Spiegel headlined "Embassy Espionage: The NSA's Secret Spy Hub in Berlin," saying:

Its research shows "United States intelligence agencies have not only targeted Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone, but they have also used the American Embassy in Berlin as a listening station." 

"The revelations now pose a serious threat to German-American relations."

"It's a prime site, a diplomat's dream. Is there any better location for an embassy than Berlin's Pariser Platz?" 

It's close to the Reichstag. "When the American ambassador steps out the door, he looks directly onto the Brandenburg Gate."

It's in Germany's "political heart." It's an "ideal location for diplomats - and for spies."

It's an espionage nest. From its roof, NSA and CIA monitor official German government communications.

Doing so threatens "the trans-Atlantic partnership. Hardly anything is as sensitive (to) Merkel as the surveillance of her cellphone."

She's on it constantly. It's "her instrument of power." She relies on it for much government business.

She, Brazil's Dilma Rousseff as well as other European and Latin American leaders want UN resolution action.

They want privacy intrusions stopped. They want spy-proof space. The world body can't provide it. Technological innovation alone has a chance.

Der Postillion is a satirical web sit. It calls itself "honest news, independent, fast, since 1845." 

It inspired America's The Onion. It combines entertainment with satirical international, national and local news articles.

Steffen Seibert is Merkel's spokesman. Last week, Der Postillon posted a satirical version of his comment, saying:

"The chancellor considers it a slap in the face that she has most likely been monitored over the years just like some mangy resident of Germany."

It's her choice on how much she's willing to tolerate. Maybe she spies on Obama in return. 

Why not? Allies routinely spy on friends and foes. It's longstanding practice. It's not about to end now. It's much more sophisticated and widespread then earlier.

Merkel and likeminded world leaders apparently want a red line drawn not to be crossed. They want their private space kept that way.

UN resolutions won't help. NSA is easily able to circumvent them. Its Special Collection Service operations (SCS) are highly classified.

They're involved in spying in hard to reach places. They include foreign embassies, communication centers, and other government facilities.

SCS was established in the late 1970s. It's been called America's "mission impossible force."

It's responsible for "close surveillance, burglary, wiretapping, breaking and entering." It's jointly staffed by NSA and CIA operatives.

They work out of US embassies and consulates. Their mission is all embracing. Get it all describes it.

SCS combines NSA's electronic spying expertise with CIA's covert action capabilities. 

Together they target foreign government officials. They're not likely to stop. They use all sorts of sophisticated listening devices.

They bug foreign embassies, communications centers, computer facilities, fiber-optic networks, and other government facilities. Virtually any space is penetrable.

Nothing ongoing is officially acknowledged.  Operations are top secret. According to Der Spiegel, SCS maintains two German bases - one in Berlin (Germany's seat of government), the other in Frankfort (its business hub).

They're "equipped at the highest level and staffed with active personnel."

Teams work undercover. They're in "shielded areas." They're "officially accredited as diplomats." They enjoy "special privileges."

They can "look and listen unhindered. They just can't get caught." Their operations are illegal. They're ongoing.

Sophisticated listening devices monitor virtually all forms of communications. They include online ones, cell signals, wireless networks and satellites.

Equipment is installed on upper floors or rooftops. It's protected from prying eyes.

Window-like indentations atop Washington's US German embassy aren't glazed. They're veneered with "dielectric" material.

They blend into surrounding masonry. Equipment is installed behind radio-transparent screens.

NSA expert James Bamford visited Der Spiegel's Berlin bureau. It's located diagonally opposite Washington's embassy.

"To me, it looks like NSA eavesdropping equipment is hidden behind there," he said. 

"The covering seems to be made of the same material that the agency uses to shield larger systems."

SCS apparently uses the same technology worldwide. It goes to great pains to conceal it.

According to top secret internal guidelines, if it's discovered, it "would cause serious harm to relations between the United States and a foreign government."

NSA targeted Merkel for over a decade. It began when she was Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party head. 

It continued when she became chancellor. Despite Washington's disclaimer, it likely remains ongoing. Der Spiegel asked:

"Were all of her conversations recorded or just connection data? Were her movements also being recorded?"

It bears repeating. NSA's mission is get it all. The White House and US spy agencies jointly pick high-profile targets. 

A matrix of global surveillance is developed.  It's called the "National Intelligence Priorities Framework." It's "presidentially approved."

One category is called "Leadership Intentions." It targets foreign leaders' goals and objectives.

According to former NSA official Thomas Drake:

Post-9/11, "Germany became intelligence target number one in Europe." At issue is a level of mistrust.

"It has always been the NSA's (mission) to conduct as much surveillance as possible," Drake added.

Der Spiegel told German security about NSA monitoring Merkel's cell phone communications. Perhaps it already knew. Its own due diligence confirmed it.

If knowledge about America monitoring Merkel was revealed, "it would be a political bomb," said Der Spiegel.

Obama visited Germany last summer. He lied saying Washington wasn't spying on its ally.

Merkel called Obama last week. He lied again claiming he knew nothing about monitoring her cell phone communications.

According to Der Spiegel, "(a)re the German security agencies too trusting of the Americans?"

Counterintelligence mostly focuses on China and Russia. Consideration earlier was given to looking harder at "what American agents were up to in the country."

It was considered too politically sensitive. The idea was dropped. At issue mainly was to what extent allies should be monitored. Are heads of state off limits? Is anything goes OK?

It sure is for Washington. European capitals no doubt are reevaluating their own policies.

German agencies want their capabilities enhanced, said Der Spiegel. Scrambling across Europe and elsewhere seems likely.

Merkel considers Obama "overrated." He "talks a lot but does little…" He's "unreliable to boot."

He says one thing. He does another. He's an inveterate liar. He's not about to change.

Merkel is a creature of habit. She relies heavily on cell phone communications. She uses it to send text messages. 

"Only for the very delicate conversations (does) she switch to a secure line," said Der Spiegel. 

Maybe close associates will make her take greater precautions. At the same time, maybe nothing is safe from NSA's prying eye.

Arranging a "no-spying" deal with Washington isn't worth the paper it's written on.

An earlier "Five Eyes" deal allegedly excludes spying on English speaking countries. They include Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. 

NSA spies globally. Agreements are made to be broken. Doing so is kept secret. Israel operates the same way. Perhaps Germany, France and other European states do.

Spying is an ugly business. The expression about no honor among thieves holds manyfold for intelligence agencies. 

They operate unaccountably. They do whatever they want. They're unapologetic. They're not about to change longstanding tactics. They're upgraded as technology advances.

A Final Comment

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) listed 10 protections against online surveillance:

(1) "Use end-to-end encryption." It's "your friend," says computer security expert Bruce Schneier.

(2) Encrypt as many communications as possible. The more the better.

(3) "Encrypt your hard drive." Without doing so, anyone can access your computer, tablet or smartphone. Contents can be copied with no password.

(4) Long strong passwords are best.

(5) "Use Tor. Free software permits online anonymity. Tor makes it hard to track Internet activity.

(6) Use two-factor or two-step authentication. Google, Twitter and Dropbox have it. 

Google calls two-step protection for "your account with both your password and your phone." It helps "keep bad guys out, even if they have your password."

(7) "Don't click on attachments." Request information sent in text form.

(8) Update software. Use anti-virus software.

(9) "Keep extra secret information extra secret." Encrypt and conceal what's most private. TrueCrypt can encrypt a USB flash drive.

(10) "Be an ally." To challenge today's surveillance state, teach others what you learned. Explain why it's important. Get involved in anti-mass-spying campaigns.

"They need to stop watching us; and we need to start making it much harder for them to get away with it," said EFF.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/obama-encourages-spying-world-leaders/

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What Was “Essential” and What Wasn’t

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/what_was_essential_and_what_wasnt_20131019/ Posted on Oct 19, 2013 ...

Shutting down Americans

Children who participate in Head Start programs affected by the government shutdown protesting their Head Start centers being shuddered

On a damp Friday morning 11 days into the government shutdown, a “few dozen” truckers took to the Capital Beltway in a demonstration with the Twitter hashtag #T2SDA (Truckers to Shut Down America). They wanted to tell lawmakers they were angry, launch an impeachment campaign against the president, and pressure Congress to end itself.

They were on a “ride for the Constitution,” protesting big government and yet the opinion polls were clear. In fact, the numbers were stunning. One after another, they showed that Americans opposed the shutdown and were hurting because of it. At that moment, according to those polls, nearly one in three Americans said they felt personally affected not by too much government, but by too little, by the sudden freeze in critical services.

In reality, that government shutdown was partial and selective. Paychecks, for example, kept flowing to the very lawmakers who most fervently supported it, while the plush congressional gym with its heated pool, paddleball courts, and flat-screen televisions remained open. That’s because “essential” services continued, even as “nonessential” ones ceased. And it turned out that whether the services you cared about were essential or not was a matter of just who got to do the defining. In that distinction between what was necessary and what wasn’t, it was easy enough to spot the values of the people’s representatives. And what we saw was gut-wrenching. Stomach-churning.

Prioritized above all else were, of course, “national security” activities, deemed beyond essential under the banner of “protecting life and property.” Surveillance at the National Security Agency, for instance, continued, uninterrupted, though it was liberated from its obviously nonessential and, even in the best-funded of times, minimal responsibility to disclose those activities under the Freedom of Information Act. Such disclosure was judged superfluous in a shutdown era, while spying on Americans (not to speak of Brazilians, Mexicans, Europeans, Indians, and others around the planet) was deemed indispensible.

Then there was the carefully orchestrated Special Operations Forces mission in Libya to capture a terror suspect off the streets of Tripoli in broad daylight, proving that in a shutdown period, the US military wasn’t about to shut off the lights. And don’t forget the nighttime landing of a Navy SEAL team in Somalia in an unsuccessful attempt to capture a different terrorist target. These activities were deemed essential to national survival, even though the chances of an American being killed in a terrorist attack are, at the moment, estimated at around one in 20 million. Remember that number, because we’ll come back to it.

Indeed, only for a brief moment did the shutdown reduce the gusher of taxpayer dollars, billions and billions of them, into the Pentagon’s coffers. After a couple days in which civilian Defense Department employees were furloughed, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that 90% of them could resume work because they “contribute to morale, well-being, capabilities, and readiness of service members.” This from the crew that, according to Foreign Policy, went on a jaw-dropping, morale-boosting $5 billion spending spree on the eve of the shutdown to exhaust any remaining cash from the closing fiscal year, buying spy satellites, drones, infrared cameras and, yes, a $9 million sparkling new gym for the Air Force Academy, replete with CrossFit space and a “television studio.”

Furloughing children

Then there were the nonessential activities.

In Arkansas, for instance, federal funds for infant formula to feed 2,000 at-risk newborn babies were in jeopardy, as were 85,000 meals for needy children in that state. Nutrition for low-income kids was considered nonessential even though one in four children in this country doesn’t have consistent access to nutritious food, and medical research makes it clear that improper nutrition stunts brain architecture in the young, forever affecting their ability to learn and interact socially. Things got so bad that a Texas couple dug into their own reserves to keep the program running in six states.

If children in need were “furloughed,” so were abused women. Across the country, domestic violence shelters struggled to provide services as federal funds were cut off. Some shelters raised spare change from their communities to keep the doors open. According to estimates, as many as six million women each year are victims of domestic violence. On average in this country, three women are murdered by an intimate partner every day.

But funding for domestic violence protection: nonessential.

Funds for early childhood education, too, were shut off. Seven thousand low-income kids from 11 states were turned away. Their “head start” was obviously less than essential, even though evidence shows that early education for at-risk children is the best way to help them catch up with their wealthier peers in cognition and adds to their odds of staying out of prison in later life.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) wasn’t accepting new patients because of the shutdown. Typically 200 new patients arrive every week for experimental treatment. On average around 30 of them are children, 10 of whom have cancer.

Cancer, in fact, is the leading cause of death among children ages one to 14. But treatment for them didn’t qualify as essential. Unlike fighting terrorism -- remember the less-likely-than-being-struck-by-lightning odds of one in 20 million -- treating kids with cancer didn’t make the cut as “protecting life and property.”

A father of two young girls in the town of Eliot, Maine, said to a National Priorities Project staffer in disbelief, “If even one kid can’t get cancer treatment, isn’t that enough to end the shutdown?”

Let this be the last time we find ourselves on the wrong side of that question. Because every day we as a nation allowed our lawmakers to keep the government closed was a day in which we as a people were complicit in replying "no."

Let this be the last time that a couple dozen Tea Party truckers are the only ones angry enough to take to the streets. The vast majority of Americans, whatever their anger when faced with pollsters or TV news interviewers, took this shutdown lying down, perhaps imagining -- incorrectly -- that they were powerless.

Let this be the last time we allow ourselves such lethargy. After all, there are 243 million Americans old enough to vote, which means 243 million ways to demand a government that serves the people instead of shutting them out. Keep in mind that in the office of every member of Congress is a staffer tracking constituent calls. And what those constituents say actually matters in how legislators vote. They know that a flood of angry telephone calls from their home districts means legions of angry constituents ready to turn out in the next election and possibly turn them out of office.

Shutting down Taxes

Americans, however, didn’t get angry enough to demand an end to the shutdown, perhaps at least in part because poisonous rhetoric had convinced many that the government was nothing more than a big, wasteful behemoth -- until, at least, it shut down on them. Think of these last weeks as a vivid lesson in reality, in the ways that every American is intimately connected to government services, whether by enjoying a safe food and water supply and Interstate highways, or through Meals on Wheels, cancer treatment, or tuition assistance for higher education, not to speak of Social Security checks and Medicare.

Deep in the politics of the shutdown lies another truth: that it was all about taxes -- about, to be more specific, the unwillingness of the Republicans to raise a penny of new tax revenue, even by closing egregious loopholes that give billions away to the richest Americans. Simply shutting down the tax break on capital gains and dividends (at $83 billion annually) would be more than enough to triple funding for Head Start, domestic violence protection, the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program, and cancer care at the NIH.

So let this be the last time we as a nation let our elected officials cut nutrition assistance for vulnerable children at the same moment that they protect deep tax loopholes for the wealthy and corporations. And let’s call recent events in Washington just what they are: breathtaking greed paired with a callous lack of concern for the most vulnerable among us.

It’s time to create a roll of dishonor and call out the lawmakers who supported the shutdown, knowing just what was involved: Mark Meadows (North Carolina, 11th congressional district), Walter Jones (NC-3), Rodney Davis (IL-13), John Mica (FL-7), Daniel Webster (FL-10), Jim Gerlach (PA-6), Justin Amash (MI-3). And that’s just to start a list that seems never to end.

Such representatives obviously should not be reelected, but we need a long-haul strategy as well -- the unsexy yet necessary systemic set of changes that will ensure our government truly represents the people. Gerrymandered district lines must be redrawn fairly, which means that citizens in each state will have to wrest control over redistricting from biased political bodies. California has set the example. Then the big money must be pulled out of political campaigns, so that our politicians learn how to be something other than talented (and beholden) fundraisers.

Finally, we must build, person by person, an electorate that’s informed enough about how our government is supposed to work to fulfill its responsibility in this democracy: to ensure, that is, that it operates in the best interests of the broadest diversity of Americans.

Ahead will be long battles. They’ll take years. And it will be worth it if, in the end, we can give the right answer to that father who asked a question that should have been on everyone’s lips.

AHT/HJ

The Shutdown in Perspective: Spying on Americans Continued; Services for Needy Children Did Not

To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com here. On a damp Friday morning 11...

What Was “Essential” and What Wasn’t: The Government Shutdown in Perspective

On a damp Friday morning 11 days into the government shutdown, a “few dozen” truckers took to the Capital Beltway in a demonstration with...

What Was “Essential” and What Wasn’t: The Government Shutdown in Perspective

On a damp Friday morning 11 days into the government shutdown, a “few dozen” truckers took to the Capital Beltway in a demonstration with the Twitter hashtag #T2SDA (Truckers to Shut Down America).  They wanted to tell lawmakers they were angry, launch an impeachment campaign against the president, and pressure Congress to end itself.

They were on a “ride for the Constitution,” protesting big government and yet the opinion polls were clear.  In fact, the numbers were stunning.  One after another, they showed that Americans opposed the shutdown and were hurting because of it.  At that moment, according to those polls, nearly one in three Americans said they felt personally affected not by too much government, but by too little, by the sudden freeze in critical services.

In reality, that government shutdown was partial and selective. Paychecks, for example, kept flowing to the very lawmakers who most fervently supported it, while the plush congressional gym with its heated pool, paddleball courts, and flat-screen televisions remained open. That’s because “essential” services continued, even as “nonessential” ones ceased. And it turned out that whether the services you cared about were essential or not was a matter of just who got to do the defining.  In that distinction between what was necessary and what wasn’t, it was easy enough to spot the values of the people’s representatives. And what we saw was gut-wrenching. Stomach-churning.

Prioritized above all else were, of course, “national security” activities, deemed beyond essential under the banner of “protecting life and property.”  Surveillance at the National Security Agency, for instance, continued, uninterrupted, though it was liberated from its obviously nonessential and, even in the best-funded of times, minimal responsibility to disclose those activities under the Freedom of Information Act.  Such disclosure was judged superfluous in a shutdown era, while spying on Americans (not to speak of Brazilians, Mexicans, Europeans, Indians, and others around the planet) was deemed indispensible.

Then there was the carefully orchestrated Special Operations Forces mission in Libya to capture a terror suspect off the streets of Tripoli in broad daylight, proving that in a shutdown period, the U.S. military wasn’t about to shut off the lights. And don’t forget the nighttime landing of a Navy SEAL team in Somalia in an unsuccessful attempt to capture a different terrorist target. These activities were deemed essential to national survival, even though the chances of an American being killed in a terrorist attack are, at the moment, estimated at around one in 20 million. Remember that number, because we’ll come back to it.

Indeed, only for a brief moment did the shutdown reduce the gusher of taxpayer dollars, billions and billions of them, into the Pentagon’s coffers. After a couple days in which civilian Defense Department employees were furloughed, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that 90% of them could resume work because they “contribute to morale, well-being, capabilities, and readiness of service members.” This from the crew that, according to Foreign Policy, went on a jaw-dropping, morale-boosting $5 billion spending spree on the eve of the shutdown to exhaust any remaining cash from the closing fiscal year, buying spy satellites, drones, infrared cameras and, yes, a $9 million sparkling new gym for the Air Force Academy, replete with CrossFit space and a “television studio.”

Furloughing Children

Then there were the nonessential activities.

In Arkansas, for instance, federal funds for infant formula to feed 2,000 at-risk newborn babies were in jeopardy, as were 85,000 meals for needy children in that state. Nutrition for low-income kids was considered nonessential even though one in four children in this country doesn’t have consistent access to nutritious food, and medical research makes it clear that improper nutrition stunts brain architecture in the young, forever affecting their ability to learn and interact socially. Things got so bad that a Texas couple dug into their own reserves to keep the program running in six states.

If children in need were “furloughed,” so were abused women. Across the country, domestic violence shelters struggled to provide services as federal funds were cut off. Some shelters raised spare change from their communities to keep the doors open. According to estimates, as many as six million women each year are victims of domestic violence. On average in this country, three women are murdered by an intimate partner every day.

But funding for domestic violence protection: nonessential.

Funds for early childhood education, too, were shut off. Seven thousand low-income kids from 11 states were turned away. Their “head start” was obviously less than essential, even though evidence shows that early education for at-risk children is the best way to help them catch up with their wealthier peers in cognition and adds to their odds of staying out of prison in later life.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) wasn’t accepting new patients because of the shutdown. Typically 200 new patients arrive every week for experimental treatment. On average around 30 of them are children, 10 of whom have cancer.

Cancer, in fact, is the leading cause of death among children ages one to 14.  But treatment for them didn’t qualify as essential. Unlike fighting terrorism -- remember the less-likely-than-being-struck-by-lightning odds of one in 20 million -- treating kids with cancer didn’t make the cut as “protecting life and property.”

A father of two young girls in the town of Eliot, Maine, said to a National Priorities Project staffer in disbelief, “If even one kid can’t get cancer treatment, isn’t that enough to end the shutdown?”

Let this be the last time we find ourselves on the wrong side of that question. Because every day we as a nation allowed our lawmakers to keep the government closed was a day in which we as a people were complicit in replying "no."

Let this be the last time that a couple dozen Tea Party truckers are the only ones angry enough to take to the streets. The vast majority of Americans, whatever their anger when faced with pollsters or TV news interviewers, took this shutdown lying down, perhaps imagining -- incorrectly -- that they were powerless.

Let this be the last time we allow ourselves such lethargy. After all, there are 243 million Americans old enough to vote, which means 243 million ways to demand a government that serves the people instead of shutting them out.  Keep in mind that in the office of every member of Congress is a staffer tracking constituent calls. And what those constituents say actually matters in how legislators vote. They know that a flood of angry telephone calls from their home districts means legions of angry constituents ready to turn out in the next election and possibly turn them out of office.

Shutting Down Taxes

Americans, however, didn’t get angry enough to demand an end to the shutdown, perhaps at least in part because poisonous rhetoric had convinced many that the government was nothing more than a big, wasteful behemoth -- until, at least, it shut down on them. Think of these last weeks as a vivid lesson in reality, in the ways that every American is intimately connected to government services, whether by enjoying a safe food and water supply and Interstate highways, or through Meals on Wheels, cancer treatment, or tuition assistance for higher education, not to speak of Social Security checks and Medicare.

Deep in the politics of the shutdown lies another truth: that it was all about taxes -- about, to be more specific, the unwillingness of the Republicans to raise a penny of new tax revenue, even by closing egregious loopholes that give billions away to the richest Americans.  Simply shutting down the tax break on capital gains and dividends (at $83 billion annually) would be more than enough to triple funding for Head Start, domestic violence protection, the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program, and cancer care at the NIH.

So let this be the last time we as a nation let our elected officials cut nutrition assistance for vulnerable children at the same moment that they protect deep tax loopholes for the wealthy and corporations. And let’s call recent events in Washington just what they are: breathtaking greed paired with a callous lack of concern for the most vulnerable among us.

It’s time to create a roll of dishonor and call out the lawmakers who supported the shutdown, knowing just what was involved: Mark Meadows (North Carolina, 11th congressional district), Walter Jones (NC-3), Rodney Davis (IL-13), John Mica (FL-7), Daniel Webster (FL-10), Jim Gerlach (PA-6), Justin Amash (MI-3). And that’s just to start a list that seems never to end.

Such representatives obviously should not be reelected, but we need a long-haul strategy as well -- the unsexy yet necessary systemic set of changes that will ensure our government truly represents the people. Gerrymandered district lines must be redrawn fairly, which means that citizens in each state will have to wrest control over redistricting from biased political bodies. California has set the example. Then the big money must be pulled out of political campaigns, so that our politicians learn how to be something other than talented (and beholden) fundraisers.

Finally, we must build, person by person, an electorate that’s informed enough about how our government is supposed to work to fulfill its responsibility in this democracy: to ensure, that is, that it operates in the best interests of the broadest diversity of Americans.

Ahead will be long battles. They’ll take years. And it will be worth it if, in the end, we can give the right answer to that father who asked a question that should have been on everyone’s lips.

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Enemy of the State 2: Dons of Time Preview

This is part two of an excerpt from Greg Guma's new novel, Dons of Time, available on October 21 from Fomite Press. Order now at over $5 off for earliest delivery. "Wherever you look there you are."
After a break for dinner the other members of Harry's collective left the room and the conversation resumed around the woodstove. Now it was Tonio’s turn to explain. He started simply, talking about his early thirties and what he’d learned since meeting Danny Webster, his reasons for accepting Shelley’s offer to chair TELPORT, and, with as much technical language as he could muster, the company’s goals and on-the books plans. His intention was to work up to the secret they had kept for two years. In the process he described Angel, holding back about their relationship, and casually mentioned, without much detail, some of his recovered memories and suspicions about his uncle’s death.
When he finally reached the pay off – the discovery of remote time viewing and his personal pursuit of Jack the Ripper – Harry was less shocked than worried and amused.
“It’s true,” Tonio insisted, uncomfortable being the one who sounded crazy.
“I believe you. The question is, does the Don know?”
Tonio assured him that wasn’t possible.
Choosing frankness over defensiveness, he admitted that he wasn’t absolutely certain, in fact that it was part of his reason for being in Vermont, and that even his oldest friend Paulie might be watching him on Shelley’s orders.
“As long as it’s Paulie I think we’re safe,” Harry said, who’d met him during a ski trip. “But Wolfe Enterprises isn’t what it used to be. That’s why I ask.” Tonio’s frown said: tell me more!
“Daddy has satellites now, three so far. It’s still a young industry, and about five years ago Wolfe Enterprises bought E-Global, which builds and launches satellites and sells images to a wide variety of businesses – agro-cartels, oil companies who need to check on rigs, fishing fleets that want info on the best feeding areas, normal corporate shit. Live stream or images, whatever you want from their cameras in the sky. You just need the bucks.”
He paused briefly before continuing. “The trouble is, they also work with the feds. It’s synergy, a public-private partnership. The government’s satellite operator has a program, NextView, which shares the costs of satellite development with the private sector. From what we know it covered about half the cost of E-Global’s most recent model, GlobeWatch-3. And among its tasks is to provide surveillance for the Department of Defense.”
Harry speculated that Shelley’s takeover of TELPORT might in some way be related to other moves he was making in tech and aerospace. “Fuck man,” he added to hammer his point home. “He could be watching us now, the building at least.”
“But he’s not, right?” This was as good a time as any to make his pitch. “That’s why I need you. Look man, we know remote viewing could be exploited, any technology can be. The Pentagon invented the Internet, right? You told me that. But Danny isn’t doing this for the military or the Agency. He’s just a nerd inventor creating his dream and offering it to the public.”
“With a weakness that’s already been exploited,” Harry reminded him.
“Yes, but I run the company, the RTV end is totally insulated from the other units and anyway, no one knows what happens in Nutley except the three of us – now you. Danny runs the lab, Angel handles operations. What we need is help with strategy and tactics, plus your cyber skills. From what you said I can see that security and prevention need to be a higher priority.”
“I could do that. What’s your job?”
Harry laughed. “Right man for the right task.”
“Seriously, we need you. I need you. I need someone who has my back. Also someone I can level with, and work with to figure out what went down with Gianni. I’m almost positive it was a hit.”
“And the candidates?”
“At the moment? The CIA and Shelley.”
“Hard to say which would be worse.” Harry leaned back in his chair and took a series of deep breaths, considering the weight and shape of the information. “And what can you do for us,” he asked, “for the movement?”
“Underwrite it?” The lack of response told Tonio that wouldn’t be enough. “All right, how about this? Either we go public with RTV or no one gets it.”
“And if we use it ourselves,” he added, struggling to reflect what Harry might want to hear, “if we do, we use it to get some real truth out there, no matter whose ox is gored.”
“Right on,” replied Harry, pumping a clenched fist in mock salute. “So, where do we start?”
On the trip Tonio had come up with a list that covered the gamut. But now that he was in the cabin, near a warm wood fire, safe and relatively comfortable with a trusted old friend, he didn’t feel like discussing security firewalls at midnight. But he did want to know what Harry thought about his uncle’s death. After briefly explaining the evolution of his suspicions he asked for ideas on what to do next.
To Harry the answer seemed obvious, “Find out what the man was doing that could get him killed.” It sounded like the right place to start. Unfortunately, sleeping with his mother was the first clue that came to mind.

"Well-constructed, action-flooded sci-fi 
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Enemy of the State: A Dons of Time Preview

"Well-constructed, action-flooded sci-fi set in a realistic historical world." - Kirkus Reviews
This is an excerpt from Greg Guma's new novel, Dons of Time, available October 21 from Fomite Press. Order now at a discount and help with the launch.
Emerging from the airport baggage claim late the following afternoon he crossed to the taxi stand for a lift into town. It would be only minutes to the Hilton and a comfortable room with a commanding view of the waterfront and Lake Champlain. But then he heard his last name being called and noticed a wiry-haired kid holding a cardboard sign with the word “Wolf” on it.
“I’m Wolfe,” he said, “Tonio, or T. You here for me?”
“I guess so,” the kid shrugged, “this way.” He grabbed Tonio’s bag without asking and led him into the parking garage, boarding the elevator for the top. When they emerged and Tonio saw the vehicle, a faded blue cargo van more than two decades old, he began to suspect he’d made a mistake. Before he could do anything, the side door slid open and three more young guys with scarves over their faces invited him inside.
“I hope you’re with Harry.”        
Rather than answer they handed him a scarf and asked him to blindfold himself. “Just for now,” one of them apologized. These definitely weren’t Shelley’s people; their greeting would not have been so civil. The government was also out. It didn’t use rusty vans or operatives who dressed like hippie Zapatistas. This had to be Harry. Still, why the drama? Despite his explanation over the phone it didn’t compute.
The ride took two hours, at first on paved streets and the Interstate, then on local roads, and several minutes at the end over rough gravel and dirt. When the van finally rolled to a stop and it was time to remove the blindfold, he could have been anywhere from the Canadian border to New Hampshire.
Harry was waiting at the cabin door. He had always enjoyed costumes and preferred facial hair. This day he looked like a cross between a pirate and a panda. “You have questions, I know,” he announced. “Thanks for coming.”
“It better be good.” Tonio shook his hand and followed.
The cabin was larger and more functional than it looked from the driveway, part tech center, part mountain retreat. Computer terminals covered one wall, screens running data, charts, and video streams. Three college-age hackers monitored them. The rest of the main room was taken up by a large oak table, several couches and thrift shop chairs, a hard-working woodstove, all facing several unmarked doorways and an archway that opened onto the communal kitchen. 
Harry flopped down in a ratty lounge chair, and said, “It was necessary, believe me. Not on my end, in this case. We have good reasons to play it safe with you, my friend. You may already be a person of interest.”
“That’s extreme,” Tonio objected, “but I do believe Shelley had a tail on me.”
“That’s not what worries me.” He pointed up with a finger, as far as Tonio knew meaning either God or spy satellites.
“What does worry you? More to the point, what’s happened to you, man? Last I knew you were a radio personality.”
“A personality, right, I remember when I had one of those,” Harry mused. “Last time I saw you we were about to take over Seattle, right? Blocking the WTO, now that was a demo. Things looked promising in ‘99, didn’t they?  Even after the coup – that’s what I call W’s first term – we totally derailed that FTAA deal in Quebec. But they were already starting the crackdown. After the attacks…well, you know that story, Patriot Act, wiretapping, secret searches, the whole deal. Plus, for the first time the CIA gets a direct role in deciding who gets rounded up or hit. It was the first stages of drone justice.”
That still didn’t explain why he was hiding in the woods, and Harry knew it.
“I was operating above ground then,” he reminisced. “But things were changing. It was an eavesdropping bonanza. The intelligence budget hit $60 billion after 9/11 and thousands of new private contractors got into the game. It was a very lucrative club in a very growing industry. And Fort Meade, that was the Gold Rush zone for masters of the data stream.
“I still had the show then. But instead of the usual stuff I started talking about the surveillance state, what the government was really up to. Big mistake as it turns out. In 2007 I tried to board a flight to DC and found out I was on a no-fly list.” After more than an hour of interrogation Harry was released. But not his laptop, cell phone, camera and USB drive. 
As Harry outlined the rest of his path from radio host to underground man Tonio heard more than he wanted about Crystal City and the Wiretappers’s Ball, a secret annual gathering where experts shared their latest toys and competed to create the ultimate bugging device. Harry had managed to infiltrate it and bring out pictures. He also talked on the air about Verint Systems and Narus, major private eavesdropping operations that reached most of the planet. They made it easier to block websites considered politically or culturally threatening to those in power.
The next flashpoint for Harry came after the Democrats capitulated on amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. He explained that the changes gave the telecoms legal immunity while providing a go-ahead for the NSA to target almost anyone classified as a terrorist. Obama, who was running for President at the time, opted to support the amendments. Once he was in office, the move toward mass surveillance launched almost a decade earlier continued to escalate. Obama’s Justice Department invoked “state secrets” to stop citizens from suing the government for spying on them. In fact, it argued that the feds had immunity from litigation for any surveillance that violated the law.
“You thought I was being ridiculous about emails, right?” Harry reminded him. “There’s a reason, Sherlock, the CIA. They’ve invested heavily in Visible Technologies, which analyzes social media. It can look into half a million websites a day. But the biggest reason we’re here, instead of enjoying room service on your tab, is because in 2010 they demanded all the visitor information from Truthsquad. I mean everything, and we weren’t supposed to tell anyone about it under penalty of prosecution for impeding a federal investigation.
“The IFC – that’s the Internet Freedom Center – challenged the subpoena.” He was winding down. “But it was obvious where this was heading. They’d already jailed Bradley Manning for the Wikileaks cables and Julian was under house arrest. The handwriting was on the wall. It was only a matter of time ‘til that knock on the door and I’m a suspected cyber-terrorist. That was two years ago, shortly before we set up here. Just in time it turns out, since now I’m on the terrorist screening database. Drone bait -- if they ever find me outside the country.”
“But we’re safe and secure?”
“Like a frog’s ass, baby. Acoustic dampening, the latest in encryption. We just added self-destructing e-mails and encrypted cell phone calls, anything you send digitally. By next year there will be a commercial self-destruct app on the market, but ours is better. My rule of thumb is either that the message is destroyed after it’s read, or else no more than an hour or two after sending it goes poof, like Mission Impossible. But your current security, not so great.”
Considering what he had just heard Tonio wasn’t surprised Harry felt that way.
Stay in touch for the conclusion of this chapter. Like Dons of Time on Facebook.

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Free Syrian Army fighters (Reuters/Mohamed Kaddoor/Shaam News Network/Handout)

Some Syrian rebel groups get training and intelligence straight from CIA officers, US officials told media. The helping hand is meant to bolster the secular opposition against both governmental troops and Islamist forces.

The CIA’s increased involvement in Syria is part America’s greater engagement in the war-torn country, according to The Wall Street Journal. The spy agency has selected some small rebel units from the Free Syrian Army to receive combat training and fresh intel they can act upon, the newspaper says, citing unnamed US officials and rebel commanders.

The training is provided by the CIA, working together with British, French and Jordanian intelligence agencies. The rebels are taught to use various kinds of arms, including anti-tank weapons. They are also schooled in urban combat tactics and counterintelligence tactics. 

The experience will supposedly help them stand against the professional Syrian army, which scores victories against the armed opposition thanks to both more advanced weapons and better organization.

The rebels are also receiving fresh intelligence collected by the CIA, which they can act upon at short notice. The extent of the info provided remains in secret, but the US can potentially provide what they gather trough satellite and signal surveillance as well as intelligence coming through exchanges with Israeli and Jordanian agencies.

The CIA is said to keep this part of dealing with the rebels limited, withholding sensitive types of information, like the suspected locations of Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles.

Free Syrian Army fighters from Katibat al-Farouk training on the outskirts of Idlib (AFP Photo/Shaam News Network)

The US spy agency was previously working in Turkey vetting rebel groups for receiving arms shipments from Gulf monarchies. The effort aimed at preventing the weapons from being funneled to Islamists had mixed results, the WSJ says. The CIA also works with Iraqi counterterrorism units to counter the flow of Islamist militants across the border to Syria.

The White House has been reluctant to send combat-worthy equipment to Syrian rebels, despite calls inside the US and from Gulf and some European countries to do so. It is concerned that those would end up in the hand of the more powerful Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist force, the Nusra Front. Unlike arms, the intelligence from CIA is operationally useful for a short period of time and would not be traded for years to come, a US official explained.

Washington’s concern over the growing influence of the Nusra Front was reiterated on Friday by President Barack Obama, as he was visiting Jordan as part of his Middle Eastern tour. 

“I am very concerned about Syria becoming an enclave for extremism because extremists thrive in chaos, they thrive in failed states, they thrive in power vacuums,” Obama said after meeting Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

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Fukushima Rescue Mission Lasting Legacy: Radioactive Contamination of Nearly 70,000 Americans

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The Department of Defense has decided to walk away from an unprecedented medical registry of nearly 70,000 American service members, civilian workers, and their families caught in the radioactive clouds blowing from the destroyed nuclear power plants at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan.

The decision to cease updating the registry means there will be no way to determine if patterns of health problems emerge among the members of the Marines, Army, Air Force, Corps of Engineers, and Navy stationed at 63 installations in Japan with their families. In addition, it leaves thousands of sailors and Marines in the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group 7 on their own when it comes to determining if any of them are developing problems caused by radiation exposure.

The strike group was detoured from its South Pacific duties and brought to Fukushima for Operation Tomodachi, using the Japanese word for “friend.” It was an 80-day humanitarian aid and rescue mission in the wake of the earthquake and massive tsunami that decimated the northern coastline and killed more than 20,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

The rescue operation was requested by the Japanese Government and coordinated by the US State Department, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Departments of Defense and Energy. In addition to the USS Ronald Reagan with its crew of 5,500, the Strike Group included four destroyers – The Preble, McCampbell, Curtis Wilbur, and McCain – the cruiser USS Chancellorsville, and several support ships.

It was the participants in Operation Tomodachi – land based truck drivers and helicopter crews, and carrier based aircraft and landing craft – who were repeatedly trying to guess where the radioactive clouds were blowing and steer paths out of the way. It was unsuccessful on more than one occasion, according to Defense Department records and participants, resulting in efforts to decontaminate ships travelling through contaminated waters and cleansing helicopters only to send them right back into radioactive clouds.

So far, however, more than 150 service men and women who participated in the rescue mission have since developed a variety of medical issues – including tumors, tremors, internal bleeding, and hair loss – which they feel were triggered by their exposure to radiation. They do not blame the Navy for their predicament, but are joined in an expanding law suit against the Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO, for providing false information to the US officials about the extent of spreading radiation from its stricken reactors at Fukushima. And the decision by the Defense Department to abandon the registry leaves them on their own.

Jobs are compartmentalized at sea explained Navy Quartermasters Maurice Enis and Jaime Plym, two of the navigators on the carrier Reagan. Few of those on board knew there were dangerous radioactive plumes blowing in the wind and none knew what ocean currents might be contaminated. They did know there were problems when alarms went off.

“We make our own water through desalinization plants on board,” said Plym, a 28-year-old from St. Augustine, Florida. “But it comes from the ocean and the ocean was contaminated. So we had to get rid of all the water on the ship and keep scouring it and testing it till it was clean.

“You have a nuclear power plant inside the ship that uses water for cooling, and they didn’t want to contaminate our reactor with their reactors’ radiation.”

But avoiding it was not easy. It meant going far enough out to sea where there were no contaminated currents, washing down the ship and its pipes, and then going back towards shore.

“We could actually see the certain parts of the navigation chart where radiation was at, and to navigate through that was nerve wracking,” said Enis. “The general public, like the ship, didn’t really know where it was or what it was and relied on word-of-mouth and rumors. We have more information, but there was no absolute way for us to know how much radiation was out there because we were still being told by the (Japanese) power company that we shouldn’t worry.

“We stayed about 80 days, and we would stay as close as two miles offshore and then sail away. It was a cat and mouse game depending on which way the wind was blowing. We kept coming back because it was a matter of helping the people of Japan who needed help. But it would put us in a different dangerous area. After the first scare and we found there was radiation when they (the power company) told us there was none, we went on lockdown and had to carry around the gas masks.”

When it came to getting timely information on radiation, the Americans on land were just as much at sea. Gregory Jaczko, then Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, urged the evacuation of all Americans within 50 miles of the stricken reactors. And the Defense Department evacuated women and children from the Yokosuka Naval Base, located 300 miles south of Fukushima, after sensors picked up increases in background radiation.

Information was hard to come by, exacerbated by the rigidity of the Japanese bureaucracy. Two nuclear experts at the Union of Concerned Scientists, David Lochbaum, who has worked as a consultant for the NRC and industry, and Ed Lyman, a nuclear physicist, have examined thousands of government emails and cable traffic during a confusing period when the data base shifted by the hour and concrete information was hard to come by.

“After the explosion in Fukushima Daiichi Unit #4 the Japanese were not able to get enough water into the building to keep the spent fuel pool cool,” Lochbaum said. “So the US airlifted a concrete pumper truck all the way from Australia to an American naval base in the northern part of the island. And the Japanese would not let it leave the base because it wasn’t licensed to travel on Japanese roads. Given the magnitude of their problems, that seemed to be the wrong priority.

“But the Japanese culture is more like a symphony, where everyone follows the conductor’s lead. Whereas American society is more like a jazz ensemble where everyone is playing together, but improvisation is prized.”

The inability to get cohesive, trustworthy information from the Japanese hampered the American rescue effort.

Michael Sebourn, senior chief mechanic for the helicopter squadron based at Atsugi,about 60 miles from Fukushima, recalled that “after the earthquake and tsunami we were given one day notice to pack up the command and go to Misawa, Japan Air Base to provide relief efforts to the Sendai and Fukushima areas. All of the other squadrons were evacuating to Guam. There was a big possibility that the base at Atsugi would be shut down and we would never be returning. We were told to put our names and phone numbers on the dashboards of the cars because we would probably not get them back.

“We were in Misawa 3 ½ weeks, working every day, flying mission after mission after mission to pick people up, rescue people, ferry supplies and things like that. There were a few nuclear technicians scanning individuals coming back from missions. Many times they would cut off their uniforms.” The decontamination team cut off their uniforms to avoid touching them and further contaminating them.

Sebourn was sent to Guam for three days of intensive training and became the designated radiation officer. It wasn’t easy.

“This was a completely unprecedented event,” he said. “We had never dealt with radiation before. We were completely brand new to everything and everyone was clueless. We had had drills dealing with chemical and biological warfare. But we never had any drills dealing with radiation. That was nuclear stuff and we didn’t do nuclear stuff. The aviation guys had never dealt with radiation before. We had never had aircraft that was radiated. So we were completely flying blind.”

There were rules for Sebourn’s group of mechanics. They scanned the returning helicopters for radiation, and then removed any contaminated parts and put them in special containers filled with water and stored on an isolated tarmac. It began snowing in Misawa so the group moved back to their base at Atsugi, closer to Fukushima. Sebourn tracked varying radiation levels in units called Corrected Counts Per Minute on their electronic detectors.

“Normal outside radiation exposure is between five and 10 CCPM,” he said. “And that’s from the sun. At Atsugi, the background readings were between 200 and 300 CCPM in the air. It was all over. The water was radiated. The ground was radiated. The air was radiated.

“The rule was if there was anything over a count of 500 you needed special gloves. Over 1,000 CCPM and you needed a Tyvek radiation suit. And if it was over 5,000 you needed an entire outfit – suit, respirator, goggles, and two sets of gloves. You couldn’t put a contaminated radiator back into the helicopters – they had to be replaced. I remember pulling out a radiator and it read 60,000 CCPM.”

But in the end, the safety equipment may not have been enough.

The Tomodachi Medical Registry, developed over a two year-period and completed at the end of 2012, was a collective effort of the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Veterans Affairs launched at the insistence of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

It was an exhaustive registry essential to develop a medical baseline from which to determine if there were any long lasting repercussions from exposure to radioactivity – particularly iodine and cesium – spewing for months from the Fukushima Daiichi reactor units 1 through 4 into both the air and the sea.

The Registry was unparalleled in its depth. The Defense Department’s 252-page assessment of radiation doses the 70,000 Americans may have been exposed to is broken down by a host of factors, including proximity to Fukushima, the type of workbeing done and its impact on breathing rates, changing weather patterns, sex, size, and age. In the latter category children were divided into six different age groups, reflecting their varying susceptibility to radiation. (link)

In addition, the report states, “over 8,000 individuals were monitored for internal radioactive materials and the results of those tests were compared with the calculated doses.”

In the end, however, the Department concluded that their estimates of the maximum possible whole body and thyroid doses of contaminants were not severe enough to warrant further examination.

Navy spokesman Lt. Matthew Allen, in a written statement, said “The DoD has very high confidence in the accuracy of the dose estimates, which were arrived at using highly conservative exposure assumptions (i.e., assuming individuals were outside 24 hours a day for the 60 days in which environmental radiation levels were elevated and while breathing at higher than normal rates).

“The estimated doses were closely reviewed by the Veterans' Advisory Board on Dose Reconstruction and by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements who both agreed that the methods used to calculate the estimates were appropriate and the results accurate. In addition the dose estimates were consistent with the estimates made by the Japanese government and by the World Health Organization.”

Defense Department spokeswoman Cynthia Smith added that as a result of the agency’s decision that there was no serious contamination, “There are no health surveillance measures required for any member of the DoD-affiliated population who was on or near the mainland of Japan following the accident and subsequent radiological release from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station beginning on or about March 11, 2011.”

But there are skeptics of the Defense Department’s blanket conclusion that there was not enough radiation poured into the environment to warrant continuous monitoring of the men, women, and children living and working there.

“Radiation does not spread in a homogenous mix,” said Lochbaum. “There are hot spots and low spots and nobody knows who is in a high zone or in a low zone. Who knows what the actual radiation dose to an individual is? There are no measurements of what they consumed in water and food.

“This is the Navy’s best attempt to take a few data points they have and extrapolate over the entire group. They took a lot of measurements, but those represent just a point in time. It’s like taking a strobe light outside to take a picture of a nighttime scene. Every time the strobe flashes you will get shots in spots of the area. But do you really capture all of the darkness?”

The Navy Life – Into the Abyss

To the US Government, Operation Tomodachi was just another big humanitarian aid and rescue mission in which the nearest Navy fleet and many land-based personnel rushed to the aid of an ally in need. In this case, the northeast coast of Japan had been flattened by a massive earthquake and tsunami, which destroyed infrastructure, killed some 20,000 citizens and left 315,000 refugees, many of whom may never return to their homes in contaminated areas.

Operation Tomodachi – named after the Japanese word for Friend – began as a large logistical exercise. It seemed that way to the American sailors, both land based and in the USS Ronald Reagan Aircraft Carrier Strike Group. The view from Washington was that Operation Tomodachi would enhance the long ties between allies.

Then everything changed.

The nuclear fuel in reactors 1, 2, and 3 at Fukushima Daiichi overheated and melted down, creating a hydrogen cloud in the process, which exploded, spiking radiation readings on detection monitors across Japan. Hydrogen from Unit 3 migrated through a shared venting system into Unit 4 and blew off its roof as well, exposing the spent fuel pool and its 1,500 bundles of fuel rods containing a lethal mix of cesium, iodine and plutonium.

Transcripts of meetings and conference calls hosted by Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko showed steadily increasing concern as newer data contradicted previous data and measurements of radiation from the Navy differed markedly from the information coming from the Japanese government and TEPCO, the giant utility which owned the stricken reactors. (NRC’s Operation Center Fukushima Transcript. Note large censored passages, including the identity of the speaker)

The NRC itself was flying blind. The agency had believed it was virtually impossible to have multiple meltdowns at the same site. As a result, their emergency models all involved the healthy plant using its working systems to control critical systems in the stricken plant until the problems were solved. Jaczko had publicly urged calm and for Americans in Japan to follow the guidelines of the Japanese government. NRC press releases in the United States all stated prominently that there was no danger from radioactive fallout.

But the transcripts tell another story.

On March 14 Jaczko’s conference call was interrupted by Jack Grobe, Deputy Director for Engineeringin the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, with bad news:

“JACK GROBE: Okay, guys, I apologize for bothering you, but things are degenerating quickly. This reminds me of the drill. [...]

what’s really troubling is that we, we have had that wind shift — the Chairman’s here, by the way — we’ve had that wind shift and the wind is out of the northeast blowing towards the southwest. That’s inland and towards Tokyo. And there’s an aircraft carrier in the port just south of Tokyo. It’s about 180 miles from the site, about 10 miles southwest of Tokyo, and they’re measuring on the order of 10 to 20 millirem over a 12-hour period total effective dose and roughly five to 10 times that, thyroid. [...]

JACK GROBE: The, the answer is the dose rates don’t seem to be consistent either with what would be released or with the timing that it would take for a plume to get 180 miles away from the site to the southwest.

MIKE WEBER: Yeah, well, that’s what struck me when you told us what’s going on.

JACK GROBE: Yes, but the, the feedback through Trapp from the admiral is that they used multi* instruments and confirmed this in multiple ways [BLACKED OUT]

MIKE WEBER: Wow.

JACK GROBE: They do operate nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, so they must have a level of competence that’s fairly decent. [...]”

This was new territory, and they could not trust data from the Japanese.

For the Americans in Operation Tomodachi, this meant they would be improvising throughout the crisis. They faced the dual needs to conduct search and rescue missions in a devastated landscape with little functioning infrastructure while guarding against unseen and unforeseen contamination from the stricken reactors.

To officials at the Defense and State Departments, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Operation Tomodachi was a successful, limited duration event in which the military worked in a civilian humanitarian mission. It was requested, logged, and finished.

But military operations are carried out in real time by people implementing orders from half a world away who have to live with the consequences of making the mission succeed.

And for some of the Americans sent into action, Operation Tomodachi would mean the end of a career and dream of service in the US Navy, and the start of a new life laced with anxiety.

The Junkie’s Kid

Michael Sebourn was just another kid nobody wanted, from a neighborhood nobody cared about, with a future leading towards jail or death and a life nobody would have missed. Then he met the US Navy.

“My mother was a drug addict and my father was killed when I was 18 months old trying to rob a drug dealer,” he said. “We lived in the housing projects in Charleston, South Carolina. My stepfather was abusive and spent all the money my mother made on drugs and alcohol. I was malnourished and underweight.”

At age five he was sent to live with his grandparents, who died two years later. He moved in with an aunt in Gary, Indiana, a poor white kid in a predominantly poor, black part of a decaying city.

“I never thought I would ever be able to accomplish anything,” Sebourn said. “I knew college was out of the question because I was poor. I worked in a factory for a while after high school, but that didn’t work out and I was homeless for three months, living out of a truck and driving to Wal-Mart parking lots to sleep.”

He moved back in with his aunt. He had a bad attitude, made bad choices, and “had a couple of run-ins with the law. I needed something new. I had nothing going for myself at all and I wanted a fresh start. I asked my aunt if I should join the military and she ran into the kitchen and got her car keys and said ‘let’s go’. Two days later I was gone.”

He did well in the Navy’s Great Lakes training station and when he was offered a choice of assignments, it turned out to be administrative. “Something clicked,” he said of his entry into the Navy in 1993. “I got my pride back. I got a sense of worth and I started succeeding. I decided serving in the Navy was something I needed to do.

“It was the first time I felt I had a home. It was the first time I felt I had a family.”

It would not be his only family.

He landed in Japan 17 years ago, loved it and stayed at the Navy’s Misawa naval air base, working his way up to head mechanic for the helicopter squadrons based there. He married a Japanese woman and, eventually they had a son. He was half a world and a full life away from the drug dens of South Carolina. He was a Navy man.

The Athlete and the Musician

Maurice Enis was a tall, strapping kid from the frost belt of Rochester, Minnesota whose world revolved around sports and physical fitness. “I was running track at Century High School in Rochester,” he recalled, “doing the 400 and 200 meters and wanted to continue.

“My coach was an ex-Marine who had traveled the world, competing for the military. It sounded like a great life and I wanted to compete for the Navy, too. When I was 19, we went down to the recruiting station and talked about the opportunities they had, and I enlisted. It was 2007, but there was a lot of crying at home because my Mom was afraid I would get hurt because of the war and 9/11. But I told her that this is what I want to do with my life.

“And it was good. It saved me, in a way. I was aimless and it taught me a lot more about my time and what you can do and accomplish. Being deployed, you have no time to do anything extra. Every minute of the day is accounted for. When you get out and have 24 hours to play with, I can accomplish so much more now because I can manage my time and I learned how to prioritize.

“I really did grow up in the Navy. They didn’t have track and field in the Navy anymore, so I chose navigation and general quartermaster. There is the old school way, navigation using different celestial bodies, and the new way, which is all math and computers. You learn to use all the different navigation systems that we have. You apply it to the paper nautical charts and use the satellites and you can actually figure out exactly where we are in the water.”

He also fell in love.

Jaime Plym came from as far away from the snow as one can get without swimming in the Caribbean, which she also enjoyed. She grew up in St. Augustine, Florida, one of the nation’s oldest cities and went on to attend Jacksonville University for two years as a music major, playing bass clarinet.

I decided I wanted music in my life,” Plym said, “but I didn’t want it as my job. I quit school and just worked as a pre-school teacher in Gainesville. I wanted to go back to school, but I had been on a music scholarship and I didn’t have the money for any other major.”

She felt aimless, and went home and loafed on the beach as 2007 drew to a close. She had a brother who was in the Marines and decided she, too, could join the service. “But I wanted to be out to sea,” she said. “I wanted to be on a big ship.”

Plym and Enis were in the same class at the Great Lakes training center and came together at the end. “I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do,” she said. “They told me about quartermaster, which meant we worked at the command center and were responsible for navigation. I signed up for it.”

Navigation is critical, especially on an aircraft carrier. Other naval craft can move and shift to be in the most favorable position regarding the wind and the currents, with their navigators finding the best and quickest routes to take. That is especially important if there is danger approaching, like a slow moving radioactive cloud.

Navigators on an aircraft carrier do not have that luxury. Their quarter-mile deck slowly rolls side to side, and up and down in accordance with the sea. They must find the smoothest spot and hold it for the duration of the mission, regardless of what comes. After the aircraft leave the deck, the ship must remain at that spot so they can find their way back.

That makes dodging dangerous winds and radioactive currents problematic.

But they didn’t know that when they graduated from the training camp and began life as quartermasters and navigators on the USS Ronald Reagan, head of a carrier battle group plying the South Pacific.

“We had a lot of fun,” said Plym. “We were friends at first, and then we started dating.”

On March 11, 2011, the USS Ronald Reagan and Carrier Strike Group 7 were headed for port in South Korea as a tsunami struck the northeastern coast of Japan.

“We knew right away they were going to redirect us to go to Japan and provide aid,” Plym said. “We were there by 5 AM the next morning.

“We didn’t know about the reactors,” said Enis. “Wedidn’thave outside contact like the internet or cable to know what was going on on land. We just knew there was a major crisis. We had no idea about the nuclear plants till they notified the captain of a possible radiation scare. That’s when we found out that there might be a possible radiation leak.

Something New: Radiation

Operation Tomodachi began with the request for help from the Japanese Embassy to Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs who quickly turned to Gregory Jaczko, then chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who would regularly brief President Barak Obama on the escalating difficulties on land.

What had begun as a rescue mission was being increasingly complicated by spreading radiation from Unit 1 at the six-reactor, Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear complex. At least three other reactors were in danger of failing, including the spent fuel pool of reactor Unit 4, holding 1,535 bundles of irradiated fuel.

On March 12, as the USS Ronald Reagan and Carrier Strike Group 7 arrive two miles off the coast, Fukushima Unit 1 blows up. Unit 3 would explode March 14, and the hydrogen gases migrating through a shared vent would also destroy the containment building at Unit 4, exposing the spent fuel pool to the air. Unit 2 would explode March 15. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) would announce that most of the fuel in Units 1,2, and 3 are intact. They were not. They had fused into a molten mass and were oozing through the bottom of their destroyed reactors.

The Japanese government, not wanting to acknowledge that the situation was getting out of control, did not activate its military, the Self Defense Forces, to airlift water to the stricken Unit 4 and continuously drop it on the spent fuel to keep it from exploding in a nuclear fuel fire. According to Asahi Shimbun, a leading Japanese newspaper, which obtained the communications between Tokyo and Japan’s embassy in Washington, Mullen sent a cable to Fujisaki Ichiro, Japan’s ambassador to the US, stating that the SDF should be used to cool the reactors:

“The U.S. military believes the No. 4 reactor is in danger. It feels every step should be taken to cool the reactor, including using the SDF,” the cable said. “The United States has made various preparations to deal with the nuclear accident. The president is also very concerned…” (link)

At the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Jack Grobe is leading a crisis team in the 24-hour Operations Center in nearly constant conference calls with Jaczko and a team in Japan. Their previous scenarios – including the long held belief that it was impossible to have multiple meltdowns in a single nuclear complex, and that the containment structure would stop radiation from spreading from a reactor to the environment – have proved disastrously wrong and their scenarios for keeping people safe from spreading radiation are being called into question.

The NRC’s redacted transcript of those conversations shows that after the explosion at Unit 4 Grobe says in exasperation, “The projections on releases with the containment intact are completely insignificant now.

“I mean, this is beginning to feel like an emergency drill where everything goes wrong and you can’t, you know, you can’t imagine how these things, all of them, can go wrong.”

But the NRC released several daily press releases, all reassuring the public that there was no danger to the public.

And on the high seas and at the American naval installations, the sailors of Operation Tomodachi were on their own.

This is part one of a two part series by Roger Witherspoon.

US urged to boost Africa spying 15-fold

Gen. David Rodriguez will lead US Africa Command force if confirmed by the Senate.

A US general nominated to lead American military’s Africa Command has called for a 15-fold surge in US spying missions in Africa amid reports of Pentagon’s plans to further expand its growing military presence in the continent.

Army General David Rodriguez estimated in a written statement submitted to the US Senate Arms Services Committee during his confirmation hearing on Thursday that the American military needs to boost its “intelligence-gathering and spying missions in Africa by nearly 15-fold,” The Washington Post reports Friday.

“I believe additional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities are necessary to protect American interests and assist our close allies and partners,” said the four-star general who has previously commanded US-led intervention forces in Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The recent crises in North Africa demonstrate the volatility of the African security environment,” he added.

Rodrigues further emphasized during the hearing that Africa Command requires additional drones, other spying aircraft and more satellite imagery, adding that the US command currently gets only half of its “stated need” for North Africa and just seven percent of its total “requirements” for the entire continent, the report says.


The surging US military involvement in Africa has emerged despite earlier instructions by the Obama administration for the Pentagon to “pivot its forces and reorient its strategy toward fast-growing Asia,” the daily underlines.

The development comes as the American military has intervened over the past two years in internal conflicts in African nations of Somalia, Libya and Mali, as well as central Africa.

This is while the US Air Force is building its fourth assassination and spying drone base in the poor African state of Niger as American Navy warships are expanding their missions along the coastlines of East and West Africa, according to the report.

Despite insistence by US military authorities that they did not have plans to establish bases or move troops to Africa when they created the Africa Command in 2007, the Pentagon has since built a network of “staging bases,” including assassination drone facilities in Ethiopia and the Seychelles, and “a forward operating base for special operations forces in Kenya,” the report notes.

It further adds that the Pentagon has also expanded its military operations and construction at “the only permanent US base on the continent, Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, which serves as a hub for 'counterterrorism missions' in Somalia and Yemen.”

Now, the daily emphasizes, there is a growing pressure to add even more bases in North and West Africa as the US military is set to build an assassination drone base in the West African country of Niger, which borders Mali, Libya and Nigeria, all nations that the Obama administration claims are threatened by an increasing influx of al-Qaeda-linked Muslim militants.


The US Africa Command has been based in Stuttgart, Germany since it was established in 2007. Efforts to move the headquarters to an African country faced hurdles as numerous nations “expressed concern that the Pentagon was seeking to militarize US policy or infringe on their sovereignty,” according to the report.

MFB/MFB

US military plans ‘urgent’ Africa task

The US military’s Africa Command has been newly tasked with “a more urgent” mission of fighting Muslim militants in the continent, establishing a drone base in Niger and deploying troops to conduct war games and training with African nations.

Amid a shrinking military budget and the winding down of the US-led war in Afghanistan, senior Pentagon officials “are scrambling to address the growing threat in North and West Africa by repositioning spy satellites and shifting surveillance aircraft from other theaters,” The New York Times reports on Tuesday.

According to the report, in building the new assassination and spying drone base in Niger, American military leaders seek to increase “surveillance missions” on what they commonly describe as al-Qaeda-linked militants in the area.

Additionally, the US Africa Command plans to deploy military contingents to the region “to conduct nearly 100 exercises and training programs in 35 African countries,” the report adds.

American officials reached a “status-of-forces agreement” last month in Niger, clearing the way for expanding American military involvement in the resource-rich African country, including the drone base, out of which US assassination and spying drones are expected to run missions against various targets in the region.


Commander of the Africa Command Gen. Carter Ham, who has previously led American troops in Iraq, said following an attack against the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed the country’s ambassador and four CIA operatives there that he is drawing up plans to have American forces in Europe, West Africa or Djibouti respond more quickly to a crisis in the region.

“Instead of responding in a day,” he said, “they could respond within some number of hours.”

The development comes, however, as American military training bids have not always proved effective, the report adds, citing the defection of US-trained Malian army commanders last year to join anti-government militants, “taking troops, trucks, weapons and their newfound skills to the enemy,” the report notes.

The Africa Command has an annual budget of nearly 300 million dollars and 2,000 employees worldwide, compared with the US Central Command, in charge of the nation’s military operations in Afghanistan and the Middle East, which has an annual budget of about 800 million dollars and 5,000 personnel.

MFB/MFB

US military plans ‘urgent’ Africa task

The US military’s Africa Command has been newly tasked with “a more urgent” mission of fighting Muslim militants in the continent, establishing a drone base in Niger and deploying troops to conduct war games and training with African nations.

Amid a shrinking military budget and the winding down of the US-led war in Afghanistan, senior Pentagon officials “are scrambling to address the growing threat in North and West Africa by repositioning spy satellites and shifting surveillance aircraft from other theaters,” The New York Times reports on Tuesday.

According to the report, in building the new assassination and spying drone base in Niger, American military leaders seek to increase “surveillance missions” on what they commonly describe as al-Qaeda-linked militants in the area.

Additionally, the US Africa Command plans to deploy military contingents to the region “to conduct nearly 100 exercises and training programs in 35 African countries,” the report adds.

American officials reached a “status-of-forces agreement” last month in Niger, clearing the way for expanding American military involvement in the resource-rich African country, including the drone base, out of which US assassination and spying drones are expected to run missions against various targets in the region.


Commander of the Africa Command Gen. Carter Ham, who has previously led American troops in Iraq, said following an attack against the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed the country’s ambassador and four CIA operatives there that he is drawing up plans to have American forces in Europe, West Africa or Djibouti respond more quickly to a crisis in the region.

“Instead of responding in a day,” he said, “they could respond within some number of hours.”

The development comes, however, as American military training bids have not always proved effective, the report adds, citing the defection of US-trained Malian army commanders last year to join anti-government militants, “taking troops, trucks, weapons and their newfound skills to the enemy,” the report notes.

The Africa Command has an annual budget of nearly 300 million dollars and 2,000 employees worldwide, compared with the US Central Command, in charge of the nation’s military operations in Afghanistan and the Middle East, which has an annual budget of about 800 million dollars and 5,000 personnel.

MFB/MFB

Urgent preparations in South Korea over North’s third nuclear test fears

North Korea: A new long-range ballistic missile (Reuters / Bobby Yip)

North Korea: A new long-range ballistic missile (Reuters / Bobby Yip)

South Korean leader Lee Myung-Bak has urged the country’s officials to ‘stand well prepared’ for a third nuclear test by North Korea, according to Yonhap news agency. The test is believed to take place before Lunar New Year starts on February 10.

The calls followed the South Korean President’s meeting with his top security advisers, who reportedly passed him information, which could indicate North Korean preparations for another nuclear test.

Recent satellite photos showed unusually busy activity at the north-eastern nuclear test facility Punggye-ri, which is the country’s only atomic test site, South Korea said. North Korea has allegedly covered the entrance to a tunnel there in an apparent attempt to block satellite monitoring.

The North has meanwhile installed two lookout towers equipped with surveillance cameras, Seoul also says. Both 60-meter-tall installations are designed to monitor the activities of the South Korean army in the demilitarized zone, which divides the two countries.

Seoul's chief nuclear envoy Lim Sung-Nam left for Beijing on Sunday to meet his Chinese colleague as part of last-minute diplomatic efforts to dissuade Pyongyang from another atomic test.

“We will assess the actions of the North after the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution No. 2087 (2013) and discuss our response”, Lim Sung-Nam declared before leaving.

Over the past week Pyongyang has issued a series of daily warnings threatening action over the UN sanctions imposed for a long-range rocket launch last December. North Korea has pledged the "toughest retaliation" if these are not lifted.

The North also slammed the upcoming joint naval drill by the US and its ally South Korea as "war exercises" aimed at invading the isolated state. The military exercises, widely considered by observers as a warning to the country, are due to start on February 4 in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) off the South Korean port city of Pohang. A US nuclear-powered submarine and other warships are expected to take part.

Obama’s Geopolitical China ‘Pivot’: The Pentagon Targets China

Obama’s Geopolitical China ‘Pivot’: The Pentagon Targets China

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the nominal end of the Cold War some twenty years back, rather than reducing the size of its mammoth defense spending, the US Congress and all US Presidents have enormously expanded spending for new weapons systems, increased permanent military bases around the world and expansion of NATO not only to former Warsaw Pact countries on Russia’s immediate periphery; it also has expanded NATO and US military presence deep into Asia on the perimeters of China through its conduct of the Afghan war and related campaigns.

Part I The Pentagon Targets China

On the basis of simple dollar outlays for military spending, the US Pentagon combined budget, leaving aside the huge budgets for such national security and defense-related agencies of US Government as the Department of Energy and US Treasury and other agencies, the US Department of Defense spent some $739 billion in 2011 on its military requirements. Were all other spending that is tied to US defense and national security included, the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies estimates an annual military spending of over $1 trillion by the United States. That is an amount greater than the total defense-related spending of the next 42 nations combined, and more than the Gross Domestic Product of most nations.

China officially spent barely 10% of the US outlay on its defense, some $90 billions, or, if certain defense-related arms import and other costs are included, perhaps $111 billion a year. Even if the Chinese authorities do not publish complete data on such sensitive areas, it is clear China spends a mere fraction of the USA and is starting from a military-technology base far behind the USA.

China today, because of its dynamic economic growth and its determination to pursue sovereign Chinese national interests, merely because China exists, is becoming the Pentagon new “enemy image,” now replacing the earlier “enemy image” of Islam used after September 2001 by the Bush-Cheney Administration to justify the Pentagon’s global power pursuit, or that of Soviet Communism during the Cold War. The new US military posture against China has nothing to do with any aggressive threat from the side of China. The Pentagon has decided to escalate its aggressive military posture to China merely because China has become a strong vibrant independent pole in world economics and geopolitics. Only vassal states need apply to Washington’s globalized world.

Obama Doctrine: China is the new ‘enemy image’

After almost two decades of neglect of its interests in East Asia, in 2011, the Obama Administration announced that the US would make “a strategic pivot” in its foreign policy to focus its military and political attention on the Asia-Pacific, particularly Southeast Asia, that is, China. The term “strategic pivot” is a page out of the classic textbook from the father of British geopolitics, Sir Halford Mackinder, who spoke at various times of Russia and later China as “pivot powers” whose geographical and geopolitical position posed unique challenges toAnglo-Saxon and after 1945, to American hegemony.

During the final months of 2011 the Obama Administration clearly defined a new public military threat doctrine for US military readiness in the wake of the US military failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. During a Presidential trip to the Far East, while in Australia, the US President unveiled what is being termed the Obama Doctrine.[1]

Obama told the Australians then:

With most of the world’s nuclear power and some half of humanity, Asia will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked by conflict or cooperation…As President, I have, therefore, made a deliberate and strategic decision — as a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future…I have directed my national security team to make our presence and mission in the Asia Pacific a top priority…As we plan and budget for the future, we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region. We will preserve our unique ability to project power and deter threats to peace…Our enduring interests in the region demand our enduring presence in the region.

The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay. Indeed, we are already modernizing America’s defense posture across the Asia Pacific. It will be more broadly distributed — maintaining our strong presence in Japan and the Korean Peninsula, while enhancing our presence in Southeast Asia. Our posture will be more flexible — with new capabilities to ensure that our forces can operate freely .. I believe we can address shared challenges, such as proliferation and maritime security, including cooperation in the South China Sea.[2]

The centerpiece of Obama’s visit was the announcement that at least 2,500 elite US Marines will be stationed in Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory. In addition, in a series of significant parallel agreements, discussions with Washington were underway to fly long-range American surveillance drones from the remote Cocos Islands — an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean. Also the US will gain greater use of Australian Air Force bases for American aircraft and increased ship and submarine visits to the Indian Ocean through a naval base outside Perth, on the country’s west coast.

The Pentagon’s target is China.

To make the point clear to European members of NATO, in remarks to fellow NATO members in Washington in July 2012, Phillip Hammond, the UK Secretary of State for Defense declared explicitly that the new US defense shift to the Asia-Pacific region was aimed squarely at China. Hammond said that, “the rising strategic importance of the Asia-Pacific region requires all countries, but particularly the United States, to reflect in their strategic posture the emergence of China as a global power. Far from being concerned about the tilt to Asia-Pacific, the European NATO powers should welcome the fact that the US is willing to engage in this new strategic challenge on behalf of the alliance.” [3]

As with many of its operations, the Pentagon deployment is far deeper than the relatively small number of 2,500 new US soldiers might suggest.

In August 2011 the Pentagon presented its annual report on China’s military. It stated that China had closed key technological gaps. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for East Asia, Michael Schiffer, said that the pace and scope of China’s military investments had “allowed China to pursue capabilities that we believe are potentially destabilizing to regional military balances, increase the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculation and may contribute to regional tensions and anxieties.” [4] He cited Chinese refurbishing of a Soviet-era aircraft carrier and China’s development of its J20 Stealth Fighter as indications of the new capability requiring a more active US military response. Schiffer also cited China’s space and cyber operations, saying it was “developing a multi-dimensional program to improve its capabilities to limit or prevent the use of space-based assets by adversaries during times of crisis or conflict.” [5]

Part II: Pentagon’s ‘Air-Sea Battle’

The Pentagon strategy to defeat China in a coming war, details of which have filtered into the US press, is called “Air-Sea Battle.” This calls for an aggressive coordinated US attack. US stealth bombers and submarines would knock out China’s long-range surveillance radar and precision missile systems deep inside the country. This initial “blinding campaign” would be followed by a larger air and naval assault on China itself.[6] Crucial to the advanced pentagon strategy, deployment of which has already quietly begun, is US military navy and air presence in Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam and across the South China Sea and Indian Ocean. Australian troop and naval deployment is aimed at accessing the strategic Chinese South China Sea as well as the Indian Ocean. The stated motive is to “protect freedom of navigation” in the Malacca Straits and the South China Sea. In reality it is to be positioned to cut China’s strategic oil routes in event of full conflict.

Air-Sea Battle’s goal is to help US forces withstand an initial Chinese assault and counterattack to destroy sophisticated Chinese radar and missile systems built to keep US ships away from China’s coastline.[7]

US ‘Air-Sea Battle’ against China

In addition to the stationing of the US Marines in the north of Australia, Washington plans to fly long-range American surveillance drones from the remote Cocos Islands — an Australian territory in the strategically vital Indian Ocean. Also it will have use of Australian Air Force bases for American military aircraft and increased ship and submarine visits to the Indian Ocean through a naval base outside Perth, on Australia’s west coast.[8]

The architect of the Pentagon anti-China strategy of Air-Sea battle is Andrew Marshall, the man who has shaped Pentagon advanced warfare strategy for more than 40 years and among whose pupils were Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. [9] Since the 1980s Marshall has been a promoter of an idea first posited in 1982 by Marshal Nikolai Ogarkov, then chief of the Soviet general staff, called RMA, or ‘Revolution in Military Affairs.’ Marshall, today at the ripe age of 91, still holds his desk and evidently very much influence inside the Pentagon.

The best definition of RMA was the one provided by Marshall himself: “A Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) is a major change in the nature of warfare brought about by the innovative application of new technologies which, combined with dramatic changes in military doctrine and operational and organizational concepts, fundamentally alters the character and conduct of military operations.” [10]

It was also Andrew Marshall who convinced US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his successor Robert Gates to deploy the Ballistic Missile “defense” Shield in Poland, the Czech Republic, Turkey and Japan as a strategy to minimize any potential nuclear threat from Russia and, in the case of Japan’s BMD, any potential nuclear threat from China.

PART III: ‘String of Pearls’ Strategy of Pentagon

In January 2005, Andrew Marshall issued a classified internal report to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld titled “Energy Futures in Asia.” The Marshall report, which was leaked in full to a Washington newspaper, invented the term “string of pearls” strategy to describe what it called the growing Chinese military threat to “US strategic interests” in the Asian space.[11]

The internal Pentagon report claimed that “China is building strategic relationships along the sea lanes from the Middle East to the South China Sea in ways that suggest defensive and offensive positioning to protect China’s energy interests, but also to serve broad security objectives.”

In the Pentagon Andrew Marshall report, the term China’s “String of Pearls” Strategy was used for the first time. It is a Pentagon term and not a Chinese term.

The report stated that China was adopting a “string of pearls” strategy of bases and diplomatic ties stretching from the Middle East to southern China that includes a new naval base under construction at the Pakistani port of Gwadar. It claimed that “Beijing already has set up electronic eavesdropping posts at Gwadar in the country’s southwest corner, the part nearest the Persian Gulf. The post is monitoring ship traffic through the Strait of Hormuz and the Arabian Sea.” [12]

The Marshall internal report went on to warn of other “pearls” in the sea-lane strategy of China:

• Bangladesh: China is strengthening its ties to the government and building a container port facility at Chittagong. The Chinese are “seeking much more extensive naval and commercial access” in Bangladesh.

• Burma: China has developed close ties to the military regime in Rangoon and turned a nation wary of China into a “satellite” of Beijing close to the Strait of Malacca, through which 80 percent of China’s imported oil passes. China is building naval bases in Burma and has electronic intelligence gathering facilities on islands in the Bay of Bengal and near the Strait of Malacca. Beijing also supplied Burma with “billions of dollars in military assistance to support a de facto military alliance,” the report said.

• Cambodia: China signed a military agreement in November 2003 to provide training and equipment. Cambodia is helping Beijing build a railway line from southern China to the sea.

• South China Sea: Chinese activities in the region are less about territorial claims than “protecting or denying the transit of tankers through the South China Sea,” the report said. China also is building up its military forces in the region to be able to “project air and sea power” from the mainland and Hainan Island. China recently upgraded a military airstrip on Woody Island and increased its presence through oil drilling platforms and ocean survey ships.

• Thailand: China is considering funding construction of a $20 billion canal across the Kra Isthmus that would allow ships to bypass the Strait of Malacca. The canal project would give China port facilities, warehouses and other infrastructure in Thailand aimed at enhancing Chinese influence in the region, the report said… The U.S. military’s Southern Command produced a similar classified report in the late 1990s that warned that China was seeking to use commercial port facilities around the world to control strategic “chokepoints.” [13]

Breaking the String of Pearls

Significant Pentagon and US actions since that 2005 report have been aimed to counter China’s attempts to defend its energy security via that “String of Pearls.” The US interventions since 2007 into Burma/Myanmar have had two phases.

The first was the so-called Saffron Revolution, a US State Department and CIA-backed destabilization in 2007 aimed at putting the international spotlight on the Myanmar military dictatorship’s human rights practices. The aim was to further isolate the strategically located country internationally from all economic relations, aside from China. The background to the US actions was China’s construction of oil and gas pipelines from Kunming in China’s southwest Yunnan Province, across the old Burma Road across Myanmar to the Bay of Bengal across from India and Bangladesh in the northern Indian Ocean.

Forcing Burma’s military leaders into tighter dependency on China was one of the factors triggering the decision of the Myanmar military to open up economically to the West. They declared that the tightening of US economic sanctions had done the country great harm and President Thein Sein made his major liberalization opening, as well as allowing US-backed dissident, Aung San Suu Kyi, to be free and to run for elective office with her party, in return for promises from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of US investment in the country and possible easing of US economic sanctions. [14]

The US corporations approaching Burma are hand-picked by Washington to introduce the most destructive “free market” reforms that will open Myanmar to instability. The United States will not allow investment in entities owned by Myanmar’s armed forces or its Ministry of Defense. It also is able to place sanctions on “those who undermine the reform process, engage in human rights abuses, contribute to ethnic conflict or participate in military trade with North Korea.” The United States will block businesses or individuals from making transactions with any “specially designated nationals” or businesses that they control — allowing Washington, for example, to stop money from flowing to groups “disrupting the reform process.” It’s the classic “carrot and stick” approach, dangling the carrot of untold riches if Burma opens its economy to US corporations and punishing those who try to resist the takeover of the country’s prize assets. Oil and gas, vital to China, will be a special target of US intervention. American companies and people will be allowed to invest in the state-owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise.[15]

Obama also created a new power for the government to impose “blocking sanctions” on any individual threatening peace in Myanmar. Businesses with more than $500,000 in investment in the country will need to file an annual report with the State Department, with details on workers’ rights, land acquisitions and any payments of more than $10,000 to government entities, including Myanmar’s state-owned enterprises.

American companies and people will be allowed to invest in the state-owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise, but any investors will need to notify the State Department within 60 days.

As well, US “human rights” NGOs, many closely associated with or believed to be associated with US State Department geopolitical designs, including Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, Institute for Asian Democracy, Open Society Foundations, Physicians for Human Rights, U.S. Campaign for Burma, United to End Genocide— will now be allowed to operate inside Myanmar according to a decision by State Secretary Clinton in April 2012.[16]

Thailand, another key in China’s defensive String of Pearl Strategy has also been subject of intense destabilization over the past several years. Now with the sister of a corrupt former Prime Minister in office, US-Thai relations have significantly improved.

After months of bloody clashes, the US-backed billionaire, Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra , managed to buy the way to put his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra in as Prime Minister, with him reportedly pulling the policy strings from abroad. Thaksin himself was enjoying comfortable status in the US as of this writing, in summer 2012.

US relations with Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, are moving in direct fulfillment of the Obama “strategic pivot” to focus on the “China threat.” In June 2012, General Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, after returning from a visit this month to Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore stated: “We want to be out there partnered with nations and have a rotational presence that would allow us to build up common capabilities for common interests.” This is precisely key beads in what the Pentagon calls the String of Pearls.

The Pentagon is now quietly negotiating to return to bases abandoned after the Vietnam War. It is negotiating with the Thai government to create a new “disaster relief” hub at the Royal Thai Navy Air Field at U-Tapao, 90 miles south of Bangkok.

The US military built the two mile long runway there, one of Asia’s longest, in the 1960s as a major staging and refueling base during the Vietnam War.

The Pentagon is also working to secure more rights to US Navy visits to Thai ports and joint surveillance flights to monitor trade routes and military movements. The US Navy will soon base four of its newest warships — Littoral Combat Ships — in Singapore and would rotate them periodically to Thailand and other southeast Asian countries. The Navy is pursuing options to conduct joint airborne surveillance missions from Thailand.[17]

In addition, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter went to Thailand in July 2012 and the Thai government has invited Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who met with the Thai minister of defense at a conference in Singapore in June.[18]

In 2014, the US Navy is scheduled to begin deploying new P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance and anti-submarine aircraft to the Pacific, replacing the P-3C Orion surveillance planes. The Navy is also preparing to deploy new high-altitude surveillance drones to the Asia-Pacific region around the same time. [19]

PART IV: India-US Defense ‘Look East Policy’

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was in India in June of this year where he proclaimed that defence cooperation with India is the lynchpin of US security strategy in Asia. He pledged to help develop India’s military capabilities and to engage with India in joint production of defence “articles” of high technology. Panetta was thr fifth Obama Cabinet secretary to visit India this year. The message that they have all brought is that, for the US, India will be the major relationship of the 21st century. The reason is China’s emergence. [20]

Several years ago during the Bush Administration, Washington made a major move to lock India in as a military ally of the US against the emerging Chinese presence in Asia. India calls it India’s “Look East Policy.” In reality, despite all claims to the contrary, it is a “look at China” military policy.

In comments in August 2012, Deputy Secretary of defense Ashton Carter stated, “India is also key part of our rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, and, we believe, to the broader security and prosperity of the 21st century. The US-India relationship is global in scope, like the reach and influence of both countries.” [21] In 2011, the US military conducted more than 50 significant military activities with India.

Carter continued in remarks following a trip to New Delhi, “Our security interests converge: on maritime security, across the Indian Ocean region; in Afghanistan, where India has done so much for economic development and the Afghan security forces; and on broader regional issues, where we share long-term interests. I went to India at the request of Secretary Panetta and with a high-level delegation of U S technical and policy experts.” [22]

Indian Ocean

The Pentagon “String of pearls” strategy against China in effect is not one of beautiful pearls, but a hangman’s noose around the perimeter of China, designed in the event of major conflict to completely cut China off from its access to vital raw materials, most especially oil from the Persian Gulf and Africa.

Former Pentagon adviser Robert D. Kaplan, now with Stratfor, has noted that the Indian Ocean is becoming the world’s “strategic center of gravity” and who controls that center, controls Eurasia, including China. The Ocean is the vital waterway passage for energy and trade flows between the Middle East and China and Far Eastern countries. More strategically, it is the heart of a developing south-south economic axis between China and Africa and Latin America.

Since 1997 trade between China and Africa has risen more than twenty-fold and trade with Latin America, including Brazil, has risen fourteen fold in only ten years. This dynamic, if allowed to continue, will eclipse the economic size of the European Union as well as the declining North American industrial economies in less than a decade. That is a development that Washington circles and Wall Street are determined to prevent at all costs.

Straddled by the Islamic Arch–which stretches from Somalia to Indonesia, passing through the countries of the Gulf and Central Asia– the region surrounding the Indian Ocean has certainly become the world’s new strategic center of gravity.[23]

No rival economic bloc can be allowed to challenge American hegemony. Former Obama geopolitical adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, a student of Mackinder geopolitics and still today along with Henry Kissinger one of the most influential persons in the US power establishment, summed up the position as seen from Washington in his 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and It’s Geostrategic Imperatives:

It is imperative that no Eurasian challenger emerges, capable of dominating Eurasia and thus of also challenging America. The formulation of a comprehensive and integrated Eurasian geo-strategy is therefore the purpose of this book. [24]

For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia…. America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained. [25]

In that context, how America ‘manages’ Eurasia is critical. Eurasia is the globe’s largest continent and is geopolitically axial. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over Eurasia would almost automatically entail Africa’s subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania geopolitically peripheral to the world’s central continent. About 75 per cent of the world’s people live in Eurasia, and most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for 60 per cent of the world’s GNP and about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources. [26]

The Indian Ocean is crowned by what some call an Islamic Arch of countries stretching from East Africa to Indonesia by way of the Persian Gulf countries and Central Asia. The emergence of China and other much smaller Asian powers over the past two decades since the end of the Cold war has challenged US hegemony over the Indian Ocean for the first time since the beginning of the Cold War. Especially in the past years as American economic influence has precipitously declined globally and that of China has risen spectacularly, the Pentagon has begun to rethink its strategic presence in the Indian Ocean. The Obama ‘Asian Pivot’ is centered on asserting decisive Pentagon control over the sea lanes of the Indian Ocean and the waters of the South China Sea.

The US military base at Okinawa, Japan is being rebuilt as a major center to project US military power towards China. As of 2010 there were over 35,000 US military personnel stationed in Japan and another 5,500 American civilians employed there by the United States Department of Defense. The United States Seventh Fleet is based in Yokosuka. The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force in Okinawa. 130 USAF fighters are stationed in the Misawa Air Base and Kadena Air Base.

The Japanese government in 2011 began an armament program designed to counter the perceived growing Chinese threat. The Japanese command has urged their leaders to petition the United States to allow the sale of F-22A Raptor fighter jets, currently illegal under U.S law. South Korean and American military have deepened their strategic alliance and over 45,000 American soldiers are now stationed in South Korea. The South Koreans and Americans claim this is due to the North Korean military’s modernization. China and North Korea denounce it as needlessly provocative.[27]

Under the cover of the US war on Terrorism, the US has developed major military agreements with the Philippines as well as with Indonesia’s army.

The military base on Diego Garcia is the lynchpin of US control over the Indian Ocean. In 1971 the US military depopulated the citizens of Diego Garcia to build a major military installation there to carry out missions against Iraq and Afghanistan.

China has two Achilles heels—the Straits of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Malacca near Singapore. Some 20% of China oil passes through the Straits of Hormuz. And some 80% of Chinese oil imports pass through the Strait of Malacca as well as major freight trade.

To prevent China from emerging successfully as the major economic competitor of the United States in the world, Washington launched the so-called Arab Spring in late 2010. While the aspirations of millions of ordinary Arab citizens in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and elsewhere for freedom and democracy was real, they were in effect used as unwitting cannon fodder to unleash a US strategy of chaos and intra-islamic wars and conflicts across the entire oil-rich Islamic world from Libya in North Africa across to Syria and ultimately Iran in the Middle East. [28]

The US strategy within the Islamic Arch countries straddling the Indian Ocean is, as Mohamed Hassan, a strategic analyst put it thus:

The US is…seeking to control these resources to prevent them reaching China. This was a major objective of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but these have turned into a fiasco. The US destroyed these countries in order to set up governments there which would be docile, but they have failed. The icing on the cake is that the new Iraqi and Afghan government trade with China! Beijing has therefore not needed to spend billions of dollars on an illegal war in order to get its hands on Iraq’s black gold: Chinese companies simply bought up oil concessions at auction totally within the rules.

[T]he USA’s…strategy has failed all along the line. There is nevertheless one option still open to the US: maintaining chaos in order to prevent these countries from attaining stability for the benefit of China. This means continuing the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and extending it to countries such as Iran, Yemen or Somalia.[29]

PART V: South China Sea

The completion of the Pentagon “String of Pearls” hangman’s noose around China to cut off vital energy and other imports in event of war by 2012 was centered around the increased US manipulation of events in the South China Sea. The Ministry of Geological Resources and Mining of the People’s Republic of China estimated that the South China Sea may contain 18 billion tons of crude oil (compared to Kuwait with 13 billion tons). The most optimistic estimate suggested that potential oil resources (not proved reserves) of the Spratly and Paracel Islands in the South China Sea could be as high as 105 billion barrels of oil, and that the total for the South China Sea could be as high as 213 billion barrels. [30]

The presence of such vast energy reserves has not surprisingly become a major energy security issue for China. Washington has made a calculated intervention in the past several years to sabotage those Chinese interests, using especially Vietnam as a wedge against Chinese oil exploration there. In July 2012 the National Assembly of Vietnam passed a law demarcating Vietnamese sea borders to include the Spratly and Paracel islands. US influence in Vietnam since the country opened to economic liberalization has become decisive.

In 2011 the US military began cooperation with Vietnam, including joint “peaceful” military exercises. Washington has backed both The Philippines and Vietnam in their territorial claims over Chinese-claimed territories in the South China Sea, emboldening those small countries not to seek a diplomatic resolution.[31]

In 2010 US and UK oil majors entered the bidding for exploration in the South China Sea. The bid by Chevron and BP added to the presence of US-based Anadarko Petroleum Corporation in the region. That move is essential to give Washington the pretext to “defend us oil interests” in the area. [32]

In April 2012, the Philippine warship Gregorio del Pilar was involved in a standoff with two Chinese surveillance vessels in the Scarborough Shoal, an area claimed by both nations. The Philippine navy had been trying to arrest Chinese fishermen who were allegedly taking government-protected marine species from the area, but the surveillance boats prevented them. On April 14, 2012, U.S. and the Philippines held their yearly exercises in Palawan, Philippines. On May 7, 2012, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying called a meeting with Alex Chua, Charge D’affaires of the Philippine Embassy in China, to make a serious representation over the incident at the Scarborough Shoal.

From South Korea to Philippines to Vietnam, the Pentagon and US State Department is fanning the clash over rights to the South China Sea to stealthily insert US military presence there to “defend” Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean or Philippine interests. The military hangman’s noose around China is being slowly drawn tighter.

While China’s access to vast resources of offshore conventional oil and gas were being restricted, Washington was actively trying to lure China into massive pursuit of exploitation of shale gas inside China. The reasons had nothing to do with US goodwill towards China. It was in fact another major weapon in the destruction of China, now through a form of environmental warfare.

F. William Engdahl author of, Es klebt Blut an Euren Händen  (FinanzBuchVerlag)

Notes:

[1] President Barack Obama, Remarks By President Obama to the Australian Parliament, November 17, 2011, accessed in
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/11/17/remarks-president-obama-australian-parliament.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Otto Kreisher, UK Defense Chief to NATO: Pull Your Weight in Europe While US Handles China, July 22, 2012, accessed in
http://defense.aol.com/2012/07/19/uk-defense-chief-to-nato-pull-your-weight-in-europe-while-us-ha/?icid=related4 .

[4] BBC, China military ‘closing key gaps’, says Pentagon, 25 August 2011, accessed in http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-14661027 .

[5] Ibid.

[6] Greg Jaffe , US Model for a Future War Fans Tensions with China and inside Pentagon, Washington Post, August 2, 2012, accessed in
http://www.turkishweekly.net/news/139681/us-model-for-a-future-war-fans-tensions-with-china-and-inside-pentagon.html.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Matt Siegel, As Part of Pact, U.S. Marines Arrive in Australia, in China’s Strategic Backyard, The New York Times,

April 4, 2012, accessed in http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/05/world/asia/us-marines-arrive-darwin-australia.html.

[9] Greg Jaffe, op. cit.

[10] F. William Engdahl, Full Spectrum Dominance: Totallitarian democracy in the New World Order, Wiesbaden, 2009, edition.engdahl, p. 190.

[11] The Washington Times, China Builds up Strategic Sea Lanes, January 17, 2005, accessed in http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2005/jan/17/20050117-115550-1929r/?page=all#pagebreak

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Wall Street Journal, An Opening in Burma: The regime’s tentative liberalization is worth testing for sincerity,

Wall Street Journal, November 22, 2011, accessed in
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204443404577049964259425018.html

[15] Radio Free Asia, US to Invest in Burma’s Oil, 7 November, 2011, accessed in
http://www.rfa.org/english/news/burma/sanctions-07112012185817.html

[16] Shaun Tandon, US eases Myanmar restrictions for NGOs, AFP, April 17, 2012, accessed in
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jmwmJ3e0yIjyD-7N52GAFISnweAA?docId=CNG.a8c1c3e2edf92a30cc1b3c9bd5ed11c1.131

[17] Craig Whitlock, U.S. eyes return to some Southeast Asia military bases, Washington Post, June 23, 2012, accessed in
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-seeks-return-to-se-asian-bases/2012/06/22/gJQAKP83vV_story.html

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Premvir Das, Taking US-India defence links to the next level, June 18, 2012, accessed in http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-taking-us-india-defence-links-to-the-next-level/20120618.htm

[21] Zeenews, US-India ties are global in scope: Pentagon, August 02, 2012, accessed in
http://zeenews.india.com/news/world/us-india-ties-are-global-in-scope-pentagon_791212.html

[22] Ibid.

[23] Gregoire Lalieu, Michael Collon, Is the Fate of the World Being Decided Today in the Indian Ocean?, November 3, 2010, accessed in
http://www.michelcollon.info/Is-the-fate-of-the-world-being.html?lang=fr

[24] Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And It’s Geostrategic Imperatives, 1997, Basic Books, p. xiv.

[25] Ibid., p. 30.

[26] Ibid., p. 31.

[27] Cas Group, Background on the South China Sea Crisis, accessed in
http://casgroup.fiu.edu/pages/docs/3907/1326143354_South_China_Sea_Guide.pdf

[28] Gregoire Lalieu,, et al, op. cit.

[29] Ibid.

[30] GlobalSecurity.org, South China Sea Oil and Natural Gas, accessed in
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/spratly-oil.htm

[31] Agence France Presse, US, Vietnam Start Military Relationship, August 1, 2011, accessed in
http://www.defensenews.com/article/20110801/DEFSECT03/108010307/U-S-Vietnam-Start-Military-Relationship

[32] Zacks Equity Research, Oil Majors Eye South China Sea, June 24, 2010, accessed in www.zacks.com/stock/news/36056/Oil+Majors+Eye+South

Towards a World War III Scenario? The Role of Israel in Triggering an Attack...

Towards a World War III Scenario? The Role of Israel in Triggering an Attack on Iran

This article was first published in August 2010.

For further details consult Michel Chossudovsky’s book, 

Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War 

available in hardcover or pdf from Global Research.

The stockpiling and deployment of advanced weapons systems directed against Iran started in the immediate wake of the 2003 bombing and invasion of Iraq. From the outset, these war plans were led by the US, in liaison with NATO and Israel.

Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration identified Iran and Syria as the next stage of “the road map to war”. US military sources intimated that an aerial attack on Iran could involve a large scale deployment comparable to the US “shock and awe” bombing raids on Iraq in March 2003:

“American air strikes on Iran would vastly exceed the scope of the 1981 Israeli attack on the Osiraq nuclear center in Iraq, and would more resemble the opening days of the 2003 air campaign against Iraq.(See Globalsecurity )

“Theater Iran Near Term”

Code named by US military planners as TIRANNT, “Theater Iran Near Term”, simulations of an attack on Iran were initiated in May 2003 “when modelers and intelligence specialists pulled together the data needed for theater-level (meaning large-scale) scenario analysis for Iran.” ( (William Arkin, Washington Post, 16 April 2006).

The scenarios identified several thousand targets inside Iran as part of a “Shock and Awe” Blitzkrieg:

“The analysis, called TIRANNT, for “Theater Iran Near Term,” was coupled with a mock scenario for a Marine Corps invasion and a simulation of the Iranian missile force. U.S. and British planners conducted a Caspian Sea war game around the same time. And Bush directed the U.S. Strategic Command to draw up a global strike war plan for an attack against Iranian weapons of mass destruction. All of this will ultimately feed into a new war plan for “major combat operations” against Iran that military sources confirm now [April 2006] exists in draft form.

… Under TIRANNT, Army and U.S. Central Command planners have been examining both near-term and out-year scenarios for war with Iran, including all aspects of a major combat operation, from mobilization and deployment of forces through postwar stability operations after regime change.” (William Arkin, Washington Post, 16 April 2006)

Different “theater scenarios” for an all out attack on Iran had been contemplated:  “The US army, navy, air force and marines have all prepared battle plans and spent four years building bases and training for “Operation Iranian Freedom”. Admiral Fallon, the new head of US Central Command, has inherited computerized plans under the name TIRANNT (Theatre Iran Near Term).” (New Statesman, February 19, 2007)

In 2004, drawing upon the initial war scenarios under TIRANNT,  Vice President Dick Cheney instructed USSTRATCOM to draw up a “contingency plan” of a large scale military operation directed against Iran “to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States” on the presumption that the government in Tehran would be behind the terrorist plot. The plan included the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state:

“The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing—that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack—but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections.” (Philip Giraldi, Deep Background,The American Conservative  August 2005)

The Military Road Map: “First Iraq, then Iran”

The decision to target Iran under TIRANNT was part of the broader process of military planning and sequencing of military operations. Already under the Clinton administration, US Central Command (USCENTCOM) had formulated  “in war theater plans” to invade first Iraq and then Iran. Access to Middle East oil was the stated strategic objective:

“The broad national security interests and objectives expressed in the President’s National Security Strategy (NSS) and the Chairman’s National Military Strategy (NMS) form the foundation of the United States Central Command’s theater strategy. The NSS directs implementation of a strategy of dual containment of the rogue states of Iraq and Iran as long as those states pose a threat to U.S. interests, to other states in the region, and to their own citizens. Dual containment is designed to maintain the balance of power in the region without depending on either Iraq or Iran. USCENTCOM’s theater strategy is interest-based and threat-focused. The purpose of U.S. engagement, as espoused in the NSS, is to protect the United States’ vital interest in the region – uninterrupted, secure U.S./Allied access to Gulf oil.” (USCENTCOM, http://www.milnet.com/milnet/pentagon/centcom/chap1/stratgic.htm#USPolicy, link no longer active, archived at http://tinyurl.com/37gafu9)

The war on Iran was viewed as part of a succession of military operations.  According to (former) NATO Commander General Wesley Clark, the Pentagon’s military road-map consisted of a sequence of countries: “[The] Five-year campaign plan [includes]… a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.”  In “Winning Modern Wars” (page 130) General Clark states the following:

“As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan. (See Secret 2001 Pentagon Plan to Attack Lebanon, Global Research, July 23, 2006)

The Role of Israel

There has been much debate regarding the role of Israel in initiating an attack against Iran.

Israel is part of a military alliance. Tel Aviv is not a prime mover. It does not have a separate and distinct military agenda.

Israel is integrated into the “war plan for major combat operations” against Iran formulated in 2006 by US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM). In the context of large scale military operations, an uncoordinated unilateral military action by one coalition partner, namely Israel, is from a military and strategic point almost an impossibility. Israel is a de facto member of NATO. Any action by Israel would require a “green light” from Washington.

An attack by Israel could, however, be used as “the trigger mechanism” which would unleash an all out war against Iran, as well retaliation by Iran directed against Israel.

In this regard, there are indications that Washington might envisage the option of an initial (US backed) attack by Israel  rather than an outright US-led military operation directed against Iran. The Israeli attack –although led in close liaison with the Pentagon and NATO– would be presented to public opinion as a unilateral decision by Tel Aviv. It would then be used by Washington to justify, in the eyes of World opinion, a military intervention of the US and NATO with a view to “defending Israel”, rather than attacking Iran. Under existing military cooperation agreements, both the US and NATO would be “obligated” to “defend Israel” against Iran and Syria.

It is worth noting, in this regard, that at the outset of Bush’s second term, (former) Vice President Dick Cheney hinted, in no uncertain terms, that Iran was “right at the top of the list” of the “rogue enemies” of America, and that Israel would, so to speak, “be doing the bombing for us”, without US military involvement and without us putting pressure on them “to do it” (See Michel Chossudovsky, Planned US-Israeli Attack on Iran, Global Research, May 1, 2005): According to Cheney:

“One of the concerns people have is that Israel might do it without being asked… Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards,” (Dick Cheney, quoted from an MSNBC Interview, January 2005)

Commenting the Vice President’s assertion, former National Security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in an interview on PBS, confirmed with some apprehension, yes: Cheney wants Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to act on America’s behalf and “do it” for us:

“Iran I think is more ambiguous. And there the issue is certainly not tyranny; it’s nuclear weapons. And the vice president today in a kind of a strange parallel statement to this declaration of freedom hinted that the Israelis may do it and in fact used language which sounds like a justification or even an encouragement for the Israelis to do it.”

What we are dealing with is a joint US-NATO-Israel  military operation to bomb Iran, which has been in the active planning stage since 2004. Officials in the Defense Department, under Bush and Obama, have been working assiduously with their Israeli military and intelligence counterparts, carefully identifying targets inside Iran. In practical military terms, any action by Israel would have to be planned and coordinated at the highest levels of the US led coalition.

An attack by Israel would also require coordinated US-NATO logistical support, particularly with regard to Israel’s air defense system, which since January 2009 is fully integrated into that of the US and NATO. (See Michel Chossudovsky,  Unusually Large U.S. Weapons Shipment to Israel: Are the US and Israel Planning a Broader Middle East War?  Global Research, January 11,2009)

Israel’s X band radar system established in early 2009 with US technical support has “integrate[d] Israel’s missile defenses with the U.S. global missile [Space-based] detection network, which includes satellites, Aegis ships on the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf and Red Sea, and land-based Patriot radars and interceptors.” (Defense Talk.com, January 6, 2009,)

What this means is that Washington ultimately calls the shots. The US rather than Israel controls the air defense system: ”’This is and will remain a U.S. radar system,’ Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said. ‘So this is not something we are giving or selling to the Israelis and it is something that will likely require U.S. personnel on-site to operate.’” (Quoted in Israel National News, January 9, 2009).

The US military oversees Israel’s Air Defense system, which is integrated into the Pentagon’s global system. In other words, Israel cannot launch a war against Iran without Washington’s consent. Hence the importance of the so-called “Green Light” legislation in the US Congress sponsored by the Republican party under House Resolution 1553, which explicitly supports an Israeli attakc on Iran:

“The measure, introduced by Texas Republican Louie Gohmert and 46 of his colleagues, endorses Israel’s use of “all means necessary” against Iran “including the use of military force.” … “We’ve got to get this done. We need to show our support for Israel. We need to quit playing games with this critical ally in such a difficult area.”’ (See Webster Tarpley, Fidel Castro Warns of Imminent Nuclear War; Admiral Mullen Threatens Iran; US-Israel Vs. Iran-Hezbollah Confrontation Builds On, Global Research, August 10, 2010)

In practice, the proposed legislation is a “Green Light” to the White House and the Pentagon rather than to Israel. It constitutes a rubber stamp to a US sponsored war on Iran which uses Israel as a convenient military launch pad. It also serves as a justification to wage war with a view to defending Israel.

In this context, Israel could indeed provide the pretext to wage war, in response to alleged Hamas or Hezbollah attacks and/or the triggering of hostilities on the border of Israel with Lebanon. What is crucial to understand is that a minor ”incident” could be used as a pretext to spark off a major military operation against Iran.

Known to US military planners, Israel (rather than the USA) would be the first target of military retaliation by Iran. Broadly speaking, Israelis would be the victims of the machinations of both Washington and their own government. It is, in this regard, absolutely crucial that Israelis forcefully oppose any action by the Netanyahu government to attack Iran.

Global Warfare: The Role of US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM)

Global military operations are coordinated out of US Strategic Command Headquarters (USSTRATCOM) at the Offutt Air Force base in Nebraska, in liaison with the regional commands of the unified combatant commands (e.g.. US Central Command  in Florida, which is responsible for the Middle East-Central Asian region, See map below)  as well as coalition command units in Israel, Turkey, the Persian Gulf and the Diego Garcia military base in the Indian Ocean.  Military planning and decision making at a country level by individual allies of US-NATO as well as “partner nations” is integrated into a global military design including the weaponization of space.

Under its new mandate, USSTRATCOM has a responsibility for “overseeing a global strike plan” consisting of both conventional and nuclear weapons. In military jargon, it is slated to play the role of “a global integrator charged with the missions of Space Operations; Information Operations; Integrated Missile Defense; Global Command & Control; Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance; Global Strike; and Strategic Deterrence…. ”

USSTRATCOM’s responsibilities include: “leading, planning, & executing strategic deterrence operations” at a global level, “synchronizing global missile defense plans and operations”, “synchronizing regional combat plans”, etc. USSTRATCOM is the lead agency in the coordination of modern warfare.

In January 2005, at the outset of the military deployment and build-up directed against Iran, USSTRATCOM was identified as “the lead Combatant Command for integration and synchronization of DoD-wide efforts in combating weapons of mass destruction.” (Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, Global Research, January 3, 2006).

What this means is that the coordination of a large scale attack on Iran, including the various scenarios of escalation in and beyond the broader Middle East Central Asian region would be coordinated by USSTRATCOM.

Map: US Central Command’s Area of Jurisdiction

Tactical Nuclear Weapons directed against Iran

Confirmed by military documents as well as official statements, both the US and Israel contemplate the use of nuclear weapons directed against Iran. In 2006, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) announced it had achieved an operational capability for rapidly striking targets around the globe using nuclear or conventional weapons. This announcement was made after the conduct of military simulations pertaining to a US led nuclear attack against a fictional country. (David Ruppe, Preemptive Nuclear War in a State of Readiness: U.S. Command Declares Global Strike Capability, Global Security Newswire, December 2, 2005)

Continuity in relation to the Bush-Cheney era:  President Obama has largely endorsed the doctrine of pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons formulated by the previous administration. Under the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, the Obama administration confirmed  “that it is reserving the right to use nuclear weapons against Iran” for its non-compliance with US demands regarding its alleged (nonexistent) nuclear weapons program. (U.S. Nuclear Option on Iran Linked to Israeli Attack Threat – IPS ipsnews.net, April 23, 2010). The Obama administration has also intimated that it would use nukes in the case of an Iranian response to an Israeli attack on Iran. (Ibid). Israel  has also drawn up its own “secret plans” to bomb Iran with tactical nuclear weapons:

“Israeli military commanders believe conventional strikes may no longer be enough to annihilate increasingly well-defended enrichment facilities. Several have been built beneath at least 70ft of concrete and rock. However, the nuclear-tipped bunker-busters would be used only if a conventional attack was ruled out and if the United States declined to intervene, senior sources said.”(Revealed: Israel plans nuclear strike on Iran – Times Online, January 7, 2007)

Obama’s statements on the use of nuclear weapons against Iran and North Korea are consistent with post 9/11 US nuclear weapons doctrine, which allows for the use of tactical nuclear weapons in the conventional war theater.

Through a propaganda campaign which has enlisted the support of “authoritative” nuclear scientists, mini-nukes are upheld as an instrument of peace, namely a means to combating “Islamic terrorism” and instating Western style “democracy” in Iran. The low-yield nukes have been cleared for “battlefield use”. They are slated to be used against Iran and Syria in the next stage of America’s “war on Terrorism” alongside conventional weapons.

“Administration officials argue that low-yield nuclear weapons are needed as a credible deterrent against rogue states. [Iran, Syria, North Korea] Their logic is that existing nuclear weapons are too destructive to be used except in a full-scale nuclear war. Potential enemies realize this, thus they do not consider the threat of nuclear retaliation to be credible. However, low-yield nuclear weapons are less destructive, thus might conceivably be used. That would make them more effective as a deterrent.” (Opponents Surprised By Elimination of Nuke Research Funds Defense News November 29, 2004)

The preferred nuclear weapon to be used against Iran are tactical nuclear weapons (Made in America), namely bunker buster bombs with nuclear warheads (e.g. B61.11), with an explosive capacity between one third to six times a Hiroshima bomb. The B61-11 is the “nuclear version” of the “conventional”  BLU 113. or Guided Bomb Unit GBU-28. It can be delivered in much same way as the conventional bunker buster bomb. (See Michel Chossudovsky, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO112C.html, see also http://www.thebulletin.org/article_nn.php?art_ofn=jf03norris) . While the US does not contemplate the use of strategic thermonuclear weapons against Iran, Israel’s nuclear arsenal is largely composed of thermonuclear bombs which are deployed and could be used in a war with Iran. Under Israel’s Jericho‐III missile system with a range between 4,800 km to 6,500 km, all Iran would be within reach.


Conventional bunker buster Guided Bomb Unit GBU-27


B61 bunker buster bomb

Radiactive Fallout

The issue of radioactive fallout and contamination, while casually dismissed  by US-NATO military analysts, would be devastating, potentially affecting a large area of  the broader Middle East (including Israel) and Central Asian region.

In an utterly twisted logic, nuclear weapons are presented as a means to building peace and preventing “collateral damage”.  Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons are a threat to global security, whereas those of the US  and Israel are instruments of peace” harmless to the surrounding civilian population“.

“The Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB) Slated to be Used against Iran

Of military significance within the US conventional weapons arsenal is the 21,500-pound “monster weapon” nicknamed the “mother of all bombs” The GBU-43/B or Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB) was categorized “as the most powerful non-nuclear weapon ever designed” with the the largest yield in the US conventional arsenal. The MOAB was tested in early March 2003 before being deployed to the Iraq war theater. According to US military sources, The Joint Chiefs of Staff  had advised the government of  Saddam Hussein prior to launching the 2003 that the “mother of all bombs” was to be used against Iraq. (There were unconfirmed reports that it had been used in Iraq).

The US Department of Defence has confirmed in October 2009 that it intends to use the “Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB) against Iran. The MOAB is said to be  ”ideally suited to hit deeply buried nuclear facilities such as Natanz or Qom in Iran” (Jonathan Karl, Is the U.S. Preparing to Bomb Iran? ABC News, October 9, 2009). The truth of the matter is that the MOAB, given its explosive capacity, would result in extremely large civilian casualties. It is a conventional “killing machine” with a nuclear type mushroom cloud.

The procurement of four MOABs was commissioned in October 2009 at the hefty cost of $58.4 million, ($14.6 million for each bomb). This amount  includes the costs of development and testing as well as integration of the MOAB bombs onto B-2 stealth bombers.(Ibid). This procurement is directly linked to war preparations in relation to Iran. The notification was contained in a 93-page “reprogramming memo” which included the following instructions:

“The Department has an Urgent Operational Need (UON) for the capability to strike hard and deeply buried targets in high threat environments. The MOP [Mother of All Bombs] is the weapon of choice to meet the requirements of the UON [Urgent Operational Need].” It further states that the request is endorsed by Pacific Command (which has responsibility over North Korea) and Central Command (which has responsibility over Iran).” (ABC News,  op cit, emphasis added). To consult the reprogramming request (pdf) click here

The Pentagon is planning on a process of extensive destruction of Iran’s infrastructure and mass civilian casualties through the combined use of tactical nukes and monster conventional mushroom cloud bombs, including the MOAB and the larger GBU-57A/B or Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), which surpasses the MOAB in terms of explosive capacity.

The MOP is described as “a powerful new bomb aimed squarely at the underground nuclear facilities of Iran and North Korea. The gargantuan bomb—longer than 11 persons standing shoulder-to-shoulder [see image below] or more than 20 feet base to nose” (See Edwin Black, “Super Bunker-Buster Bombs Fast-Tracked for Possible Use Against Iran and North Korea Nuclear Programs”, Cutting Edge, September 21 2009)

These are WMDs in the true sense of the word. The not so hidden objective of the MOAB and MOP, including the American nickname used to casually describe the MOAB (“mother of all bombs’), is “mass destruction” and mass civilian casualties with a view to instilling fear and despair.


“Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB)

GBU-57A/B Mass Ordnance Penetrator (MOP)


MOAB: screen shots of test: explosion and mushroom cloud

State of the Art Weaponry: “War Made Possible Through New Technologies”

The process of US military decision making in relation to Iran is supported by Star Wars, the militarization of outer space and the revolution in communications and information systems. Given the advances in military technology and the development of new weapons systems, an attack on Iran could be significantly different in terms of the mix of weapons systems, when compared to the March 2003 Blitzkrieg launched against Iraq. The Iran operation is slated to use the most advanced weapons systems in support of its aerial attacks. In all likelihood, new weapons systems will be tested.

The 2000 Project of the New American Century (PNAC) document entitled Rebuilding American Defenses, outlined the mandate of the US military in terms of large scale theater wars, to be waged simultaneously in different regions of the World:

“Fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars”. 

This formulation is tantamount to a global war of conquest by a single imperial superpower. The PNAC document also called for the transformation of  U.S. forces to exploit the “revolution in military affairs”, namely the implementation of  “war made possible through new technologies”. (See Project for a New American Century, Rebuilding Americas Defenses  Washington DC, September 2000, pdf).  The latter consists in developing and perfecting a state of the art global killing machine based on an arsenal of sophisticated new weaponry, which would eventually replace the existing paradigms.

“Thus, it can be foreseen that the process of transformation will in fact be a two-stage process: first of transition, then of more thoroughgoing transformation. The breakpoint will come when a preponderance of new weapons systems begins to enter service, perhaps when, for example, unmanned aerial vehicles begin to be as numerous as manned aircraft. In this regard, the Pentagon should be very wary of making large investments in new programs – tanks, planes, aircraft carriers, for example – that would commit U.S. forces to current paradigms of warfare for many decades to come. (Ibid, emphasis added)

The war on Iran could indeed mark this crucial breakpoint, with new space-based weapons systems being applied with a view to disabling an enemy which has significant conventional military capabilities including more than half a million ground forces.

Electromagnetic Weapons

Electromagnetic weapons could be used to destabilize Iran’s communications systems, disable electric power generation, undermine and destabilize command and control, government infrastructure, transportation, energy, etc.  Within the same family of weapons, environmental modifications techniques (ENMOD) (weather warfare) developed under the HAARP programme could also be applied. (See Michel Chossudovsky, “Owning the Weather” for Military Use, Global Research, September 27, 2004). These weapons systems are fully operational. In this context, te US Air Force document AF 2025 explicitly acknowledgedthe military applications of weather modification technologies:

“Weather modification will become a part of domestic and international security and could be done unilaterally… It could have offensive and defensive applications and even be used for deterrence purposes. The ability to generate precipitation, fog, and storms on earth or to modify space weather, improve communications through ionospheric modification (the use of ionospheric mirrors), and the production of artificial weather all are a part of an integrated set of technologies which can provide substantial increase in US, or degraded capability in an adversary, to achieve global awareness, reach, and power.” (Air Force 2025 Final Report, See also US Air Force: Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025, AF2025 v3c15-1 | Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning… | (Ch 1) at www.fas.org).

Electromagnetic radiation enabling “remote health impairment” might also be envisaged in the war theater. (See Mojmir Babacek, Electromagnetic and Informational Weapons:, Global Research, August 6, 2004). In turn, new uses of biological weapons by the US military might also be envisaged as suggested by the PNAC: “[A]dvanced forms of biological warfare that can “target” specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.” (PNAC, op cit., p. 60).

Iran’s Military Capabilities: Medium and Long Range Missiles

Iran has advanced military capabilities, including medium and long range missiles capable of reaching targets in Israel and the Gulf States. Hence the emphasis by the US-NATO Israel alliance on the use of nuclear weapons, which are slated to be used either pr-emptively or in response to an Iranian retaliatory missile attack.


Range of Iran’s Shahab Missiles. Copyright Washington Post

In November 2006, Iran tests of surface missiles 2 were marked by precise planning in a carefully staged operation. According to a senior American missile expert (quoted by Debka),  “the Iranians demonstrated up-to-date missile-launching technology which the West had not known them to possess.” (See Michel Chossudovsky, Iran’s “Power of Deterrence”  Global Research, November 5, 2006) Israel acknowledged that “the Shehab-3, whose 2,000-km range brings Israel, the Middle East and Europe within reach” (Debka, November 5, 2006)

According to Uzi Rubin, former head of Israel’s anti-ballistic missile program, “the intensity of the military exercise was unprecedented… It was meant to make an impression — and it made an impression.” (www.cnsnews.com 3 November 2006)

The 2006 exercises, while  creating a political stir in the US and Israel, did not in any way modify US-NATO-Israeli resolve to wage on Iran.

Tehran has confirmed in several statements that it will respond if it is attacked. Israel would be the immediate object of Iranian missile attacks as confirmed by the Iranian government. The issue of Israel’s air defense system is therefore crucial. US and allied military facilities in the Gulf states, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iraq could also be targeted by Iran.

Iran’s Ground Forces

While Iran is encircled by US and allied military bases, the Islamic Republic has significant military capabilities. (See maps below) What is important to acknowledge is the sheer size of Iranian forces in terms of personnel (army, navy, air force) when compared to US and NATO forces serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Confronted with a well organized insurgency, coalition forces are already overstretched in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Would these forces be able to cope if Iranian ground forces were to enter the existing battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan? The potential of the Resistance movement to US and allied occupation would inevitably be affected.

Iranian ground forces are of the order of 700,000 of which 130,000 are professional soldiers, 220,000 are conscripts and 350,000 are reservists. (See  Islamic Republic of Iran Army – Wikipedia). There are 18,000 personnel in Iran’s Navy and 52,000 in the air force. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, “the Revolutionary Guards has an estimated 125,000 personnel in five branches: Its own Navy, Air Force, and Ground Forces; and the Quds Force (Special Forces).” According to the CISS, Iran’s Basij paramilitary volunteer force controlled by the Revolutionary Guards “has an estimated 90,000 active-duty full-time uniformed members, 300,000 reservists, and a total of 11 million men that can be mobilized if need be” (Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran – Wikipedia), In other words, Iran can mobilize up to half a million regular troops and several million militia. Its Quds special forces are already operating inside Iraq.


US Military and Allied Facilties Surrounding Iran

For several years now Iran has been conducting its own war drills and exercises. While its Air force has weaknesses, its intermediate and long-range missiles are fully operational. Iran’s military is in a state of readiness. Iranian troop concentrations are currently within a few kilometers of the Iraqi and Afghan borders, and within proximity of Kuwait. The Iranian Navy is deployed in the Persian Gulf within proximity of US and allied military facilities in the United Arab Emirates.

It is worth noting that in response to Iran’s military build-up, the US has been transferring large amounts of weapons to its non-NATO allies in the Persian Gulf including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

While Iran’s advanced weapons do not measure up to those of the US and NATO, Iranian forces would be in a position to inflict substantial losses to coalition forces in  a conventional war theater, on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan. Iranian ground troops and tanks in December 2009 crossed the border into Iraq without being confronted or challenged by allied forces and occupied a disputed territory in the East Maysan oil field.

Even in the event of an effective Blitzkrieg, which targets Iran’s military facilities, its communications systems, etc. through massive aerial bombing, using cruise missiles, conventional bunker buster bombs and tactical nuclear weapons, a war with Iran, once initiated, could eventually lead into a ground war. This is something which US military planners have no doubt contemplated in their simulated war scenarios.

An operation of this nature would result in significant military and civilian casualties, particularly if nuclear weapons are used.

The expanded budget for the war in Afghanistan currently debated in the US Congress is also intended to be used in the eventuality of an attack on Iran.

Within a scenario of escalation, Iranian troops could cross the border into Iraq and Afghanistan.

In turn, military escalation using nuclear weapons could lead us into a World War III scenario, extending beyond the Middle East Central Asian region.

In a very real sense, this military project, which has been on the Pentagon’s drawing board for more than five years, threatens the future of humanity.

Our focus in this essay has been on war preparations. The fact that war preparations are in an advanced state of readiness does not imply that these war plans will be carried out.

original

The US-NATO-Israel alliance realizes that the enemy has significant capabilities to respond and retaliate. This factor in itself has been crucial over the last five years in the decision by the US and its allies to postpone an attack on Iran.

Another crucial factor is the structure of military alliances. Whereas NATO has become a formidable force, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which constitutes an alliance between Russia and China and a number of former Soviet republics has been significantly weakened.

The ongoing US military threats directed  against China and Russia are intended to weaken the SCO and discourage any form of military action on the part of Iran’s allies in the case of a US NATO Israeli attack.

What are the countervailing forces which might prevent this war from occurring? There are numerous ongoing forces at work within the US State apparatus, the US Congress, the Pentagon and NATO.

The central force in preventing a war from occurring ultimately comes from the base of society, requiring forceful antiwar action by hundred of millions of people across the land, nationally and internationally.

People must mobilize not only against this diabolical military agenda, the authority of the State and its officials must be also be challenged.

This war can be prevented if people forcefully confront their governments, pressure their elected representatives, organize at the local level in towns, villages and municipalities, spread the word, inform their fellow citizens as to the implications of a nuclear war, initiate debate and discussion within the armed forces. 

The holding of mass demonstrations and antiwar protests is not enough. What is required is the development of a broad and well organized grassroots antiwar network which challenges the structures of power and authority. 

What is required is a mass movement of people which forcefully challenges the legitimacy of war, a global people’s movement which criminalizes war.

Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal. He is the author of The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) and America’s “War on Terrorism” (2005). He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages. he can be reached at the globalresearch.ca website


Author’s note:
Dear Global Research Readers, kindly forward this text far and wide to friends and family, on internet forums, within the workplace, in your neighborhood, nationally and internationally, with a view to reversing the tide of war.  Spread the Word!  

To consult Part I of this essay click below

Preparing for World War III, Targeting Iran
Part I: Global Warfare 

- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2010-08-01


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Michel Chossudovsky

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Apestronaut: Iran ‘successfully sends’ monkey into space

An image grab taken from Iran's Al-Alam TV on January 28, 2013, shows the Iranian flag at an unknown location flying in front of a capsule containing a live monkey which the Tehran-based Arab-language channel said they sent up into space and later retrieved intact (AFP Photo)

An image grab taken from Iran's Al-Alam TV on January 28, 2013, shows the Iranian flag at an unknown location flying in front of a capsule containing a live monkey which the Tehran-based Arab-language channel said they sent up into space and later retrieved intact (AFP Photo)

Iran has successfully sent a monkey into space and back as part of its preparations for a manned space flight. The primate was sent up in an Explorer rocket to a height of 120km, according to Al-Alam TV.

"Iran successfully launched a capsule, codenamed Pishgam (Pioneer), containing a monkey and recovered the shipment on the ground intact," the Defense Ministry's aerospace department said in a statement.

A previous attempt to send a monkey into space failed in 2011. Tehran did, however, successfully launch a rocket carrying a mouse, a turtle, and multiple worms in 2010.

Iran says Monday’s mission is in preparation of sending a man into space in the year 2020, but the US and its allies worry that technology from the space program could be used to develop long-range missiles which could potentially be armed with nuclear warheads.

Tehran has repeatedly denied allegations that it’s using its nuclear facilities to develop atomic weapons.

Iran also says it wants to put its own satellites into orbit to monitor natural disasters, improve telecommunications and expand military surveillance in the region. The country has announced several successful launches of satellites in the past, dating back to 2005 in a joint project with Russia.

: An image grab taken from Iran′s Al-Alam TV on January 28, 2013, shows an Iranian scientists at an unknown location holding a live monkey which the Tehran-based Arab-language channel said they sent up into space in a capsule and later retrieved intact (AFP Photo)
: An image grab taken from Iran's Al-Alam TV on January 28, 2013, shows an Iranian scientists at an unknown location holding a live monkey which the Tehran-based Arab-language channel said they sent up into space in a capsule and later retrieved intact (AFP Photo)

Israeli Spy was Central Cog in Nuclear Weapons Proliferation Alliance

israelflag

It is clear that during the middle of December of last year that the Obama White House had settled on former Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to be the Secretary of Defense. The U.S. Intelligence Community and defense establishment was told to come up with a strategy to combat the expected strong opposition to the nomination of the critical of Israel Hagel by that nation’s lobby in the United States.

The pro-Hagel circles needed a secret weapon to counteract the Israel supporters who would stress that Hagel was not supportive of the «special relationship» between the United States and Israel. There was no better way to demonstrate that Israel was no special ally of the United States but a longtime hostile intelligence threat to America by declassifying a large part of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Damage Report arising from the intense espionage carried out by one-time U.S. Naval Intelligence spy Jonathan Jay Pollard on behalf of Israel…

The declassification of the long-classified Pollard report was made on December 16, 2012. However, the first substantial media reports on the report began around December 26. The Jewish media, including Yeshiva World, Tablet Magazine, and Jewish Week, contended the report only showed that Pollard disclosed classified information on Arab and Soviet military capabilities, ignoring the fact that Pollard’s disclosures revealed the nature of U.S. intelligence sources and methods in obtaining such information, thereby putting U.S. civilian and military assets in extreme jeopardy.

The one major explosive revelation in the declassified report is Pollard’s involvement in a highly-classified Israeli-South African program to test a nuclear weapon in the South Atlantic/South Indian Ocean region in September 1979.

The Pollard Damage Assessment was prepared by the Director of Central Intelligence’s Foreign Denial and Deception Analysis Committee and issued on October 30, 1987. The report reveals for the first time that Pollard began working as a U.S. naval intelligence watch officer the same month that Israel and South Africa, possibly with the financial support of Taiwan, detonated a nuclear device in the South Atlantic/South Indian Ocean near South Africa’s Prince Edward Islands. The un-redacted damage assessment report also provides details of Pollard’s espionage work for South Africa before or at the same time he was spying for Israel.

Pollard’s espionage for Israel and South Africa provide evidence of his a key role in providing faulty intelligence to higher U.S. intelligence echelons concerning the nuclear test. Pollard’s mission was clear: his Israeli handlers wanted the details of the nuclear test kept secret. If it were proven that Israel was violating South African sanctions, the Symington Amendment would have required the United States to cut off all military and economic assistance to Israel. Even the powerful Jewish Lobby could not get around what was U.S. law.

The report describes Pollard’s work in September 1979 in the Navy Field Operational Intelligence Office (NFOIO) in Suitland, Maryland, outside of Washington, DC. The report states: “He began work as an Intelligence Research Specialist assigned to the Naval Ocean Surveillance Information Center (NOSIC} of the Navy Field Operational Intelligence Office in September 1979.” The report also states that during the same month of the South African-Israeli nuclear test Pollard “admitted that he had attended a clandestine meeting with the South African Defense Attaché.”

In July 1980 Pollard admitted to his superiors that he lied about his contacts with South African intelligence. However, this «admission» was to cover up what Pollard knew about the successful nuclear test the previous year and after Pollard and, presumably other Israeli moles, tainted U.S. intelligence into believing that the double flash normally associated with a nuclear detonation spotted on September 22, 1979 by the bhangmeter photo sensors on U.S. VELA 6911 nuclear detection satellite, orbiting over the South Atlantic at one-third the distance to the moon, was nothing more than a meteor entering the atmosphere or some other natural event.

Pollard failed to highlight several key indicators from his ocean surveillance duties that would have prompted U.S. intelligence assets to turn their attention toward South African extended waters on September 22, 1979. The entire South African Navy was placed on alert for the entire week surrounding September 22 and the Simonstown and Saldanha naval bases were placed under tight security that same week, But Pollard sat on the information and likely deep sixed analysis reports from co-workers on South Atlantic/South Indian Ocean operations during the fateful week.

It is clear that certain intelligence quarters in the U.S. Navy began feeding false intelligence on the double nuclear flash to the CIA. The CIA decided to hire the contractor firm MITRE to analyze recorded acoustic data gathered by the Navy’s Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) and the Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) less than one-hertz acoustic monitoring systems that piggybacked off the Navy’s SOSUS acoustic hydrophone arrays extending from Bermuda, Wales, and Iceland. The tests revealed that there was a 2-4 kiloton nuclear bomb test in the South Atlantic with acoustic intelligence confirming concussive blast low-level harmonics from Navy and Air Force sonar arrays.

An auroral flash normally associated with nuclear blasts was detected by meteorological stations on Norway’s Bouvet Island, France’s île de la Possession in the nearby Crozet Islands, and at the Japanese Showa station in Antarctica. Further intelligence supporting the nuclear blast event was compiled by the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Naval Research Laboratory, and Los Alamos National Laboratory including increased radiation found in sheep downwind of the blast site in Western Australia, Tasmania, and Victoria and in ionospheric disturbances detected by the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico.

Someone within the ranks of Navy intelligence was preparing incorrect intelligence reports and covering for Israel’s and South Africa’s involvement in a nuclear test. One of those suspected is Pollard, whose job was to monitor naval operations around the world the day the nuclear test was conducted in the South Atlantic.

The report’s description of Pollard’s early association with South Africa, which some authors of the damage report attempted to debunk, at the same time Israel and the apartheid regime were cooperating on nuclear weapons development is as follows:

“The following factors that have come to light about his employment with the Navy indicate that Pollard was unsuited for access to sensitive national security information:

- False claims concerning professional qualifications. Pollard falsely stated on his naval employment application that he had a ‘provisional’ M.A. degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Moreover, in February 1980 during an interview with Task Force 168, the intelligence element charged with HUMINT collection, Pollard falsely claimed to have an M.A. degree, to be proficient in Afrikaans, and to have applied for a commission in the naval reserve. Pollard made another, more farfetched statement to his immediate supervisor in NOSIC: he said he had key South African contacts who could provide him with valuable information, and that he had known South African citizens for many years because his father bad been the CIA Station Chief in South Africa.”

The report also states: “Pollard claimed in a post-arrest debriefing that he had come very close to volunteering to commit espionage while holding a conversation in Hebrew with the Israeli Naval Attaché during a U.S.-Israeli intelligence exchange in 1983. Although it is not clear exactly when Pollard first began to consider espionage, we believe it was at least as early as 1980-81.”

The damage report’s Executive Summary is surprisingly soft on Israel’s use of Pollard as a spy. The summary states that Pollard’s “short but intensive espionage career on behalf of Israel lasted from June 1984 until his arrest on 21 November 1985.” However, other sections of the report state that Pollard considered spying for Israel at least as early as 1980-81. Other parts of the report indicate that Pollard’s espionage for both Israel and South Africa began much earlier and that even as a teen Pollard was a committed Zionist who placed loyalty to Israel above the United States.

Of course, it is this sort of hard intelligence that can be used to show that Israel has long been an adversary of the United States and a dangerous espionage center for anti-U.S. operations. At the time of the South African-Israeli nuclear test, the administration of President Jimmy Carter was actively enforcing military sanctions against South Africa imposed by UN Security Council resolution 418 of 1977.

Two years before Pollard was arrested by the FBI after trying to seek political asylum in the Israeli embassy in Washington, the FBI arrested in New York South African Navy Commodore Dieter Gerhardt and his East German spy wife, Ruth, based on a tip from a Soviet defector code named «Farewell.» Gerhardt was the commander of the South African Navy’s Simonstown naval base and had access to signals intelligence intercepts from South Africa’s secret Silvermine listening post near Cape Town. South Africa and the U.S.U.K. signals intelligence alliance shared some intelligence at a low level during this time frame.

Gerhardt’s role as a possible liaison to Pollard and Israeli intelligence in the United States becomes apparent when Gerhardt’s own admission: that he was an important liaison in South African – Israeli military cooperation. Gerhardt later revealed that he was aware of the South African-Israeli nuclear test in the South Atlantic, which he said was code named Operation Phoenix. Gerhardt’s later admission also revealed that the nuclear test was a «clean» blast, an indication that South Africa and Israel had tested a neutron bomb. Israel’s possession of neutron bombs is one of the Jewish state’s most closely-guarded secrets. The Israeli Lobby’s unofficial conspiracy debunking journal, Popular Mechanics, which ruled out any official U.S. or Israeli government involvement in the 9/11 attack, stated that there was no nuclear explosion and that Gerhardt lacked credibility. The Pollard Damage Report and other revelations have substantiated Gerhardt’s claims. Pollard also was dealing with both the South Africans and Soviets. Moreover, it was later determined that Israel later swapped some of Pollard’s classified information with the Soviets in return for an increase in exit visas for Soviet Jews to Israel.

After Gerhardt was sentenced to life imprisonment in South Africa, and Gerhardt’s wife received a ten year sentence, South African President P. W. Botha offered amnesty to some prisoners in 1988, including Nelson Mandela. Ruth Gerhardt applied for the amnesty. The request was turned down by none other than Justice Richard Goldstone, the self-proclaimed Zionist who has run hot and cold on Israeli atrocities in Gaza. Goldstone in 1988 was obviously acting under orders from Israel to keep Ruth Gerhardt under lock and key. In 1985, Israeli nuclear scientist Mordechai Vanunu began passing secrets on Israel’s nuclear weapons program to the media, including the fact that South African uclear scientists were frequent guests at the top secret Israeli nuclear facility at Dimona in the Negev Desert.

In 1986, Vanunu was forcibly kidnapped by Israeli agents in Rome after he was lured into a Mossad «honey trap» and imprisoned in Israel. Efforts by some in U.S. intelligence to trade Vanunu for Pollard were met with stony silence from Israeli officials. In 1988, Israel was trying to get Pollard released from the life prison sentence handed down in 1987 and Goldstone was under pressure to ensure that the Gerhardts remained silent, especially after Vanunu’s embarrassing disclosures about Israeli nuclear weapons and South Africa. Ruth was released in 1990 and her husband was released in 1992. In 1999, Gerhardt received amnesty and his rank of Rear Admiral was restored. Vanunu was eventually released but his «freedom» has largely consisted of virtual house arrest in Israel.

Later, Deputy South African Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad and former CIA Pretoria station officer Tyler Drumheller confirmed that Israel and South Africa jointly tested the South Atlantic nuclear weapon.

The Pollard deception continues to haunt the world today. One of the key players in the Israel-South African nuclear weapons research was Israeli arms smuggler Shaul Eisenberg, the head of the Israel Corporation and a provider of military hardware to China, North Korea, and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Eisenberg, whose Wikipedia entry has been re-written by Israeli propagandists, controlled Israel Aircraft Industries and Zim Israel Navigation Shipping Company. Eisenberg was able to provide needed nuclear weapons components from Operation Phoenix to China and two of its major allies, North Korea and Pakistan.

It is with this knowledge of Israel’s destructive actions against America that Hagel and his supporters prepare to do battle with the nefarious Israel Lobby during the expected heated Senate confirmation hearings.

Electronic Sanctions: Targeting Iran’s Media, Preventing Iranians from Using the Internet

internet

The inhumane sanctions of the United States and its European allies against Iran know no boundaries. At the cost of the lives of thousands of Iranian patients suffering from different types of cancer, thalassemia, hemophilia, HIV/Aids, psychiatric disorders and other diseases, the West has banned the export of life-saving medicines and medical equipments to Iran and this is deteriorating the lives of those patients who cannot find medicines needed for their survival. The companies that do business with Iran will be immediately penalized by the U.S. government and so far no exemptions have been made to ensure that ordinary Iranian citizens will at least get access to foodstuff, medicines and other humanitarian goods.

The recent wave of sanctions have also targeted Iranian media as several satellite providers across Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America have taken Iranian television channels off air, denying millions of viewers around the world the chance to find an alternative, Iranian perspective on the world affairs.

However, the sanctions have been so extensive and widespread that they even deprive the Iranian citizens from enjoying the latest productions of technology.

The internet explorer “Google Chrome” is unavailable for downloading to the Iranian users, and so are the instant messaging software “Google Chrome”, picture sharing platform “Picasa” and the geographical surveying application “Google Earth.” Although the Iranian computer geeks know tricks to circumvent these limitations, for the majority of Iranian computer users these services are not easy-to-access.

Ironically, Google lifted the limitations in early 2011 when the opponents of President Ahmadinejad had taken to the streets and staged demonstrations. Google announced that it will ease the restrictions to allow the protesters communicate more smoothly and organize rallies and mass demonstrations. “There are many activist layers on Google Earth. Anyone can create a layer to show exactly what is going on in Iran,” said Google’s head of public policy Scott Rubin.

Rubin also said that having access to Google Chrome will be also useful for the protesters: “in a country with a history of government surveillance it is useful having a browser that can’t easily be hacked.”

So it’s clear that even when the American internet giant made some concessions, it did not intend to serve the interests of the Iranian people in general, but only meant to contribute to the weakening of the government and empowerment of the opposition.

But the limitations imposed on Iranian internet users by the United States are not new or unprecedented. On August 19, 1997, President Clinton signed the 13059 executive order which stipulated harsh restrictions on Iranian internet users and computer companies in terms of using the U.S.-produced software, hardware and other technology products.

According to this order, “the exportation, reexportation, sale, or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States, or by a United States person, wherever located, of any goods, technology, or services to Iran or the Government of Iran, including the exportation, reexportation, sale, or supply of any goods, technology, or services to a person in a third country” will be prohibited.

According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, only a handful of commonplace computer applications including document readers such as Acrobat Reader, plug-ins such as Flashplayer and Shockwave and “free mobile apps related to personal communications” are legally downloadable in Iran.

In April 2003, it was reported that in a racially discriminatory and politically motivated decision, the popular career and job-finding website Monster.com removed the profiles and résumés of users from a number of countries on the U.S. Department of State’s blacklist including Iran, Syria, Sudan, Myanmar, Cuba, Libya and North Korea.

In a March 21, 2012 report, the CNet’s political correspondent Declan McCullagh wrote that Google has also restricted Iranian users’ access to Android Market, known as Google Play.

Collin Anderson, an independent researcher in North Dakota has listed a number of U.S.-based technology products that are unavailable to Iranian users. These products include, but are not limited to, Apple’s iOS app store, McAfee’s antivirus software, Oracle’s Java and MySQL, Adobe Acrobat Reader, DropBox, Real Player, Google AdWords, and Google Android Market.

But the unfair measures taken by the U.S. government as dictated to the American internet, IT and other technology-related service providers have gone beyond the pale and are now taking the form of racial discrimination. It was reported in June 2012 that an Apple Store in Alpharetta, Georgia refused to sell an iPhone and iPad to the Persian-speaking customers, resorting to the excuse that they may send at least one of these devices to their friends in Iran!

When Sara Sabet, a 19-year-old student of the Georgia University went to an Apple Store in a local mall with her friend to buy a couple of iDevices, the salesperson found her speaking in a foreign language. The employee asked her what language she spoke, where she was from and where the iPad and iPhone she were heading to. She responded by saying that she is from Iran and wants to send the devices to her friend in Iran. It was then that the Apple employee responded by saying, “I just can’t sell this to you. Our countries have bad relations.” Sabet said that the left the store and shed tears all the way back to home.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations called the Apple Store’s treatment of the Iranian student discriminatory in a statement issued in condemnation: “Apple must revise its policies to ensure that customers do not face discriminatory treatment based on their religion, ethnicity or national origin,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “If the actions of these Apple employees reflected company policy, that policy must be changed and all employees retrained.”

Overall, this is how the Iranians are being treated by a government which has always been busy trumpeting its anxiety and nervousness for the protection of human rights around the world. Perhaps Iranians are paying the price for the independence of their nation and their refusal to be brought under the hegemonic domination of the United States. These sanctions which directly affect the daily lives of ordinary citizens show the extent to which the U.S. government can be brutal and ruthless to deprive a nation of its most rudimentary and basic rights. Can anyone really understand what Uncle Sam is doing?

Eight Things I Miss About the Cold War

At a book festival in Los Angeles recently, some writers (myself included) were making the usual arguments about the problems with American politics in the 1950s -- until one panelist shocked the audience by declaring, “God, I miss the Cold War.”  His grandmother, he said, had come to California from Oklahoma with a grade-school education, but found a job in an aerospace factory in L.A. during World War II, joined the union, got healthcare and retirement benefits, and prospered in the Cold War years.  She ended up owning a house in the suburbs and sending her kids to UCLA.

Several older people in the audience leaped to their feet shouting, “What about McCarthyism?”  “The bomb?”  “Vietnam?”  “Nixon?”

All good points, of course.  After all, during the Cold War the U.S. did threaten to destroy the world with nuclear weapons, supported brutal dictators globally because they were anti-communist, and was responsible for the deaths of several million people in Korea and Vietnam, all in the name of defending freedom. And yet it’s not hard to join that writer in feeling a certain nostalgia for the Cold War era.  It couldn’t be a sadder thing to admit, given what happened in those years, but -- given what’s happened in these years -- who can doubt that the America of the 1950s and 1960s was, in some ways, simply a better place than the one we live in now? Here are eight things (from a prospectively longer list) we had then and don’t have now.

1. The president didn’t claim the right to kill American citizens without “the due process of law.”

Last year we learned that President Obama personally approved the killing-by-drone of an American citizen living abroad without any prior judicial proceedings. That was in Yemen, but as Amy Davidson wrote at the New Yorker website, “Why couldn’t it have been in Paris?”  Obama assures us that the people he orders assassinated are “terrorists.”  It would, however, be more accurate to call them “alleged terrorists,” or “alleged terrorist associates,” or “people said by some other government to be terrorists, or at least terroristic.”

Obama’s target in Yemen was Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen who was said to be a senior figure in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  According to the book Kill or Capture by Daniel Klaidman, the president told his advisors, “I want Awlaki. Don’t let up on him.”  Steve Coll of the New Yorker commented that this appears to be “the first instance in American history of a sitting president speaking of his intent to kill a particular U.S. citizen without that citizen having been charged formally with a crime or convicted at trial.”  (Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, whom no one claims was connected to terrorist activities or terror plots, was also killed in a separate drone attack.)

The problem, of course, is the due-process clause of the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits “any person” from being deprived of “life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”   It doesn’t say: "any person except for those the president believes to be terrorists."

It gets worse: the Justice Department can keep secret a memorandum providing the supposed “legal” justification for the targeted killing of a U.S. citizen, according to a January 2013 decision by a federal judge.  Ruling on a Freedom of Information lawsuit brought by the ACLU and the New York Times, Judge Colleen McMahon, wrote in her decision, “I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the executive branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret.”

It's true that the CIA has admitted it had an assassination program during the Cold War -- described in the so-called “family jewels” or “horrors book,” compiled in 1973 under CIA Director James Schlesinger in response to Watergate-era inquiries and declassifiedin 2007.  But the targets were foreign leaders, especially Fidel Castro as well as the Congo’s Patrice Lumumba and the Dominican Republic’s Rafael Trujillo.  Still, presidents preferred “plausible deniability” in such situations, and certainly no president before Obama publicly claimed the legal right to order the killing of American citizens.  Indeed, before Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. regularly condemned “targeted killings” of suspected terrorists by Israel that were quite similar to those the president is now regularly ordering in the Pakistani tribal borderlands, Yemen, and possibly elsewhere.

2. We didn’t have a secret “terrorism-industrial complex.”

That’s the term coined by Dana Priest and William Arkin in their book Top Secret America to describe the ever-growing post-9/11 world of government agencies linked to private contractors charged with fighting terrorism.  During the Cold War, we had a handful of government agencies doing “top secret” work; today, they found, we have more than 1,200.

For example, Priest and Arkin found 51 federal organizations and military commands that attempt to track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.  And don’t forget the nearly 2,000 for-profit corporate contractors that engage in top-secret work, supposedly hunting terrorists.  The official budget for “intelligence” has increased from around $27 billion in the last years of the Cold War to $75 billion in 2012. Along with this massive expansion of government and private security activities has come a similarly humongous expansion of official secrecy: the number of classified documents has increased from perhaps 5 million a year before 1980 to 92 million in 2011, while Obama administration prosecutions of government whistleblowers have soared.

It’s true that the CIA and the FBI engaged in significant secret and illegal surveillance that included American citizens during the Cold War, but the scale was small compared to the post-9/11 world.

3. Organized labor was accepted as part of the social landscape. 

“Only a fool would try to deprive working men and women of their right to join the union of their choice.” That’s what President Dwight D. Eisenhower said in 1952.  “Workers,” he added, “have a right to organize into unions and to bargain collectively with their employers,” and he affirmed that “a strong, free labor movement is an invigorating and necessary part of our industrial society.”  He caught the mood of the moment this way: “Should any political party attempt to… eliminate labor laws, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.”  “There is,” he acknowledged, “a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things, but their number is negligible... And they are stupid.” 

You certainly wouldn’t catch Barack Obama saying anything like that today.  

Back then, American unions were, in part, defended even by Republicans because they were considered a crucial aspect of the struggle against Communism.  Unlike Soviet workers, American ones, so the argument went, were free to join independent unions.  And amid a wave of productive wealth, union membership in Eisenhower’s America reached an all-time high: 34% of wage and salary workers in 1955.  In 2011, union membership in the private sector had fallen under 7%, a level not seen since 1932.

Of course, back in the Cold War era the government required unions to kick communists out of any leadership positions they held and unions that refused were driven out of existence.  Unions also repressed wildcat strikes and enforced labor peace in exchange for multi-year contracts with wage and benefit increases. But as we’ve learned in the last decades, if you’re a wageworker, almost any union is better than no union at all.

4. The government had to get a warrant before it could tap your phone. 

Today, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act (yes, thatrepetitive tongue twister is its real name) gives the government vast powers to spy on American citizens -- and it’s just been extended to 2017 in a bill that Obama enthusiastically signed on December 29th.  The current law allows the monitoring of electronic communications without an individualized court order, as long as the government claims its intent is to gather “foreign intelligence.”  In recent years, much that was once illegal has been made the law of the land.  Vast quantities of the emails and phone calls of Americans are being “data-mined.”  Amendments approved by Congress in 2008, for instance, provided "retroactive immunity to the telecom companies that assisted the Bush administration in its warrantless wiretapping program," which was then (or should have been) illegal, as the website Open Congress notes

There were several modest congressional attempts to amend the 2012 FISA extension act, including one that would have required the director of national intelligence to reveal how many Americans are being secretly monitored.  That amendment would in no way have limited the government’s actual spying program.  The Senate nevertheless rejected it, 52-43, in a nation that has locked itself down in a way that would have been inconceivable in the Cold War years.

It’s true that in the 1950s and 1960s judges typically gave the police and FBI the wiretap warrants they sought.  But it’s probably also true that having to submit requests to judges had a chilling effect on the urge of government authorities to engage in unlimited wiretapping.

5. The infrastructure was being expanded and strengthened.

Today, our infrastructure is crumbling: bridges are collapsing, sewer systems are falling apart, power grids are failing.  Many of those systems date from the immediate post-World War II years.  And the supposedly titanic struggle against communism at home and abroad helped build them.  The best-known example of those Cold War infrastructure construction programs was the congressionally mandated National Defense Highways Act of 1956, which led to the construction of 41,000 miles of the Interstate Highway System. It was the largest public works project in American history and it was necessary, according to the legislation, to “meet the requirements of the national defense in time of war.”  People called the new highways “freeways” or “interstates,” but the official name was "the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways."

Along with the construction of roads and bridges came a similar commitment to expanding water delivery systems and the electrical and telephone grids.  Spending on infrastructure as a share of gross domestic product peaked in the 1960s at 3.1%.  In 2007, it was down to 2.4% and is assumedly still falling.

Today the U.S. has dropped far behind potential global rivals in infrastructure development.  An official panel of 80 experts noted that China is spending $1 trillion on high-speed rail, highways, and other infrastructure over the next five years.  The U.S., according to the report, needs to invest $2 trillion simply to rebuild the roads, bridges, water lines, sewage systems, and dams constructed 40 to 50 years ago, systems that are now reaching the end of their planned life cycles.  But federal spending cuts mean that the burden of infrastructure repair and replacement will fall on state and local governments, whose resources, as everyone knows, are completely inadequate for the task.

Of course, it’s true that the freeways built in the 1950s made the automobile the essential form of transportation in America and led to the withering away of public mass transit, and that the environment suffered as a result.  Still, today’s collapsing bridges and sewers dramatize the loss of any serious national commitment to the public good.

6. College was cheap.

Tuition and fees at the University of California system in 1965 totaled $220.  That’s the equivalent of about $1,600 today, and in 1965 you were talking about the best public university in the world.  In 2012, the Regents of the University of California, presiding over an education system in crisis, raised tuition and fees for state residents to $13,200.  And American students are now at least $1 trillion in debt, thanks to college loans that could consign many to lifetimes as debtors in return for subprime educations.

In 1958, in the panic that followed the Soviet Union’s successful launch of Sputnik, the first satellite, public universities got a massive infusion of federal money when the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) was passed.  The Department of Education website today explains that the purpose of the NDEA was “to help ensure that highly trained individuals would be available to help America compete with the Soviet Union in scientific and technical fields.”  For the first time, government grants became the major source of university funding for scientific research.  The Act included a generous student-loan program.

With the end of the Cold War, federal funding was cut and public universities had little choice but to begin to make up the difference by increasing tuitions and fees, making students pay more -- a lot more.

True, the NDEA grants in the 1960s required recipients to sign a demeaning oath swearing that they did not seek the violent overthrow of the U.S. government, and that lots of government funding then supported Cold War military and strategic objectives.  After all, the University of California operated the nuclear weapons labs at Livermore and Los Alamos. Still, compare that to today’s crumbling public education system nationwide and who wouldn’t feel nostalgia for the Cold War era?

7. We had a president who called for a “war on poverty.”

In his 1966 State of the Union address, President Lyndon Baines Johnson argued that “the richest Nation on earth… people who live in abundance unmatched on this globe” ought to “bring the most urgent decencies of life to all of your fellow Americans.”  LBJ insisted that it was possible both to fight communism globally (especially in Vietnam) and to fight poverty at home.  As the phrase then went, he called for guns and butter.  In addition, he was determined not simply to give money to poor people, but to help build “community action” groups that would organize them to define and fight for programs they wanted because, the president said, poor people know what’s best for themselves.

Of course, it’s true that Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” unlike the Vietnam War, was woefully underfunded, and that those community action groups were soon overpowered by local mayors and Democratic political machines.  But it’s also true that President Obama did not even consider poverty worth mentioning as an issue in his 2012 reelection campaign, despite the fact that it has spread in ways that would have shocked LBJ, and that income and wealth inequalities between rich and poor have reached levels not seen since the late 1920s.  Today, it’s still plenty of guns -- but butter, not so much.

8. We had a president who warned against “the excessive power of the military-industrial complex.”

In Eisenhower’s “farewell address,” delivered three days before John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, the departing president warned against the “unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” He declared that “the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”  The speech introduced the phrase “military-industrial complex” into the vernacular.  It was a crucial moment in the Cold War: a president who had also been the nation’s top military commander in World War II was warning Americans about the dangers posed by the military he had commanded and its corporate and political supporters.

Ike was prompted to give the speech because of his disputes with Congress over the military budget.  He feared nuclear war and firmly opposed all talk about such a war being fought in a “limited” way.  He also knew that, when it came to the Soviet Union, American power was staggeringly preponderant.  And yet his opponents in the Democratic Party, the arms industry, and even the military were claiming that he hadn’t done enough for “defense” -- not enough weapons bought, not enough money spent.  President-elect Kennedy had just won the 1960 election by frightening Americans about a purely fictitious “missile gap” between the U.S. and the Soviets.

It’s true that Ike’s warning would have been far more meaningful had it been in his first or even second inaugural address, or any of his State of the Union speeches.  It’s also true that he had approved CIA coups in Iran and Guatemala, and had green-lighted planning for an invasion of Cuba (that would become Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs disaster).  He had also established Mutual Assured Destruction as the basis for Cold War military strategy, backed up with B-52s carrying atomic bombs in the air 24/7.

By the end of his second term, however, Ike had changed his mind.  His warning was not just against unnecessary spending, but also against institutions that were threatening a crisis he feared would bring the end of individual liberty.  “As one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization,” the president urged his fellow citizens to resist the military-industrial complex.  None of his successors has even tried, and in 2013 we’re living with the results.

...But there is one thing I do NOT miss about the Cold War: nuclear arsenals on hair-trigger alert.

Our Cold War enemy had nuclear weapons capable of destroying us, and the rest of the planet, many times over.  In 1991, when the Cold War ended, the Soviet Union had more than 27,000 nuclear weapons.  According to the Federation of American Scientists, these included more than 11,000 strategic nuclear weapons -- warheads on land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched missiles, and weapons on bombers capable of attacking the US -- along with more than 15,000 warheads for “tactical” use as artillery shells and short-range “battlefield” missiles, as well as missile defense interceptors, nuclear torpedoes, and nuclear weapons for shorter-range aircraft.  We learned in 1993 that the USSR at one time possessed almost 45,000 nuclear warheads, and still had nearly 1,200 tons of bomb-grade uranium.  (Of course, sizeable Russian -- and American -- nuclear arsenals still exist.)  In comparison to all that, the arsenalsof al-Qaeda and our other terrorist enemies are remarkably insignificant.

Ike’s Dream, Obama’s Reality: 8 Things I Miss About the Cold War

At a book festival in Los Angeles recently, some writers (myself included) were making the usual arguments about the problems with American politics in the 1950s -- until one panelist shocked the audience by declaring, “God, I miss the Cold War.”  His grandmother, he said, had come to California from Oklahoma with a grade-school education, but found a job in an aerospace factory in L.A. during World War II, joined the union, got healthcare and retirement benefits, and prospered in the Cold War years.  She ended up owning a house in the suburbs and sending her kids to UCLA.

Several older people in the audience leaped to their feet shouting, “What about McCarthyism?”  “The bomb?”  “Vietnam?”  “Nixon?”

All good points, of course.  After all, during the Cold War the U.S. did threaten to destroy the world with nuclear weapons, supported brutal dictators globally because they were anti-communist, and was responsible for the deaths of several million people in Korea and Vietnam, all in the name of defending freedom. And yet it’s not hard to join that writer in feeling a certain nostalgia for the Cold War era.  It couldn’t be a sadder thing to admit, given what happened in those years, but -- given what’s happened in these years -- who can doubt that the America of the 1950s and 1960s was, in some ways, simply a better place than the one we live in now? Here are eight things (from a prospectively longer list) we had then and don’t have now.

1. The president didn’t claim the right to kill American citizens without “the due process of law.

Last year we learned that President Obama personally approved the killing-by-drone of an American citizen living abroad without any prior judicial proceedings. That was in Yemen, but as Amy Davidson wrote at the New Yorker website, “Why couldn’t it have been in Paris?”  Obama assures us that the people he orders assassinated are “terrorists.”  It would, however, be more accurate to call them “alleged terrorists,” or “alleged terrorist associates,” or “people said by some other government to be terrorists, or at least terroristic.”

Obama’s target in Yemen was Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen who was said to be a senior figure in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  According to the book Kill or Capture by Daniel Klaidman, the president told his advisors, “I want Awlaki. Don’t let up on him.”  Steve Coll of the New Yorker commented that this appears to be “the first instance in American history of a sitting president speaking of his intent to kill a particular U.S. citizen without that citizen having been charged formally with a crime or convicted at trial.”  (Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, whom no one claims was connected to terrorist activities or terror plots, was also killed in a separate drone attack.)

The problem, of course, is the due-process clause of the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits “any person” from being deprived of “life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”  It doesn’t say: "any person except for those the president believes to be terrorists."

It gets worse: the Justice Department can keep secret a memorandum providing the supposed “legal” justification for the targeted killing of a U.S. citizen, according to a January 2013 decision by a federal judge.  Ruling on a Freedom of Information lawsuit brought by the ACLU and the New York Times, Judge Colleen McMahon, wrote in her decision, “I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the executive branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret.”

It's true that the CIA has admitted it had an assassination program during the Cold War -- described in the so-called “family jewels” or “horrors book,” compiled in 1973 under CIA Director James Schlesinger in response to Watergate-era inquiries and declassified in 2007.  But the targets were foreign leaders, especially Fidel Castro as well as the Congo’s Patrice Lumumba and the Dominican Republic’s Rafael Trujillo.  Still, presidents preferred “plausible deniability” in such situations, and certainly no president before Obama publicly claimed the legal right to order the killing of American citizens.  Indeed, before Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. regularly condemned “targeted killings” of suspected terrorists by Israel that were quite similar to those the president is now regularly ordering in the Pakistani tribal borderlands, Yemen, and possibly elsewhere.

2. We didn’t have a secret “terrorism-industrial complex.”

That’s the term coined by Dana Priest and William Arkin in their book Top Secret America to describe the ever-growing post-9/11 world of government agencies linked to private contractors charged with fighting terrorism.  During the Cold War, we had a handful of government agencies doing “top secret” work; today, they found, we have more than 1,200.

For example, Priest and Arkin found 51 federal organizations and military commands that attempt to track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.  And don’t forget the nearly 2,000 for-profit corporate contractors that engage in top-secret work, supposedly hunting terrorists.  The official budget for “intelligence” has increased from around $27 billion in the last years of the Cold War to $75 billion in 2012. Along with this massive expansion of government and private security activities has come a similarly humongous expansion of official secrecy: the number of classified documents has increased from perhaps 5 million a year before 1980 to 92 million in 2011, while Obama administration prosecutions of government whistleblowers have soared.

It’s true that the CIA and the FBI engaged in significant secret and illegal surveillance that included American citizens during the Cold War, but the scale was small compared to the post-9/11 world.

3. Organized labor was accepted as part of the social landscape. 

“Only a fool would try to deprive working men and women of their right to join the union of their choice.” That’s what President Dwight D. Eisenhower said in 1952.  “Workers,” he added, “have a right to organize into unions and to bargain collectively with their employers,” and he affirmed that “a strong, free labor movement is an invigorating and necessary part of our industrial society.”  He caught the mood of the moment this way: “Should any political party attempt to… eliminate labor laws, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.”  “There is,” he acknowledged, “a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things, but their number is negligible... And they are stupid.” 

You certainly wouldn’t catch Barack Obama saying anything like that today.  

Back then, American unions were, in part, defended even by Republicans because they were considered a crucial aspect of the struggle against Communism.  Unlike Soviet workers, American ones, so the argument went, were free to join independent unions.  And amid a wave of productive wealth, union membership in Eisenhower’s America reached an all-time high: 34% of wage and salary workers in 1955.  In 2011, union membership in the private sector had fallen under 7%, a level not seen since 1932.

Of course, back in the Cold War era the government required unions to kick communists out of any leadership positions they held and unions that refused were driven out of existence.  Unions also repressed wildcat strikes and enforced labor peace in exchange for multi-year contracts with wage and benefit increases. But as we’ve learned in the last decades, if you’re a wageworker, almost any union is better than no union at all.

4. The government had to get a warrant before it could tap your phone. 

Today, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act (yes, that repetitive tongue twister is its real name) gives the government vast powers to spy on American citizens -- and it’s just been extended to 2017 in a bill that Obama enthusiastically signed on December 29th.  The current law allows the monitoring of electronic communications without an individualized court order, as long as the government claims its intent is to gather “foreign intelligence.”  In recent years, much that was once illegal has been made the law of the land.  Vast quantities of the emails and phone calls of Americans are being “data-mined.”  Amendments approved by Congress in 2008, for instance, provided "retroactive immunity to the telecom companies that assisted the Bush administration in its warrantless wiretapping program," which was then (or should have been) illegal, as the website Open Congress notes

There were several modest congressional attempts to amend the 2012 FISA extension act, including one that would have required the director of national intelligence to reveal how many Americans are being secretly monitored.  That amendment would in no way have limited the government’s actual spying program.  The Senate nevertheless rejected it, 52-43, in a nation that has locked itself down in a way that would have been inconceivable in the Cold War years.

It’s true that in the 1950s and 1960s judges typically gave the police and FBI the wiretap warrants they sought.  But it’s probably also true that having to submit requests to judges had a chilling effect on the urge of government authorities to engage in unlimited wiretapping.

5. The infrastructure was being expanded and strengthened.

Today, our infrastructure is crumbling: bridges are collapsing, sewer systems are falling apart, power grids are failing.  Many of those systems date from the immediate post-World War II years.  And the supposedly titanic struggle against communism at home and abroad helped build them.  The best-known example of those Cold War infrastructure construction programs was the congressionally mandated National Defense Highways Act of 1956, which led to the construction of 41,000 miles of the Interstate Highway System. It was the largest public works project in American history and it was necessary, according to the legislation, to “meet the requirements of the national defense in time of war.”  People called the new highways “freeways” or “interstates,” but the official name was "the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways."

Along with the construction of roads and bridges came a similar commitment to expanding water delivery systems and the electrical and telephone grids.  Spending on infrastructure as a share of gross domestic product peaked in the 1960s at 3.1%.  In 2007, it was down to 2.4% and is assumedly still falling.

Today the U.S. has dropped far behind potential global rivals in infrastructure development.  An official panel of 80 experts noted that China is spending $1 trillion on high-speed rail, highways, and other infrastructure over the next five years.  The U.S., according to the report, needs to invest $2 trillion simply to rebuild the roads, bridges, water lines, sewage systems, and dams constructed 40 to 50 years ago, systems that are now reaching the end of their planned life cycles.  But federal spending cuts mean that the burden of infrastructure repair and replacement will fall on state and local governments, whose resources, as everyone knows, are completely inadequate for the task.

Of course, it’s true that the freeways built in the 1950s made the automobile the essential form of transportation in America and led to the withering away of public mass transit, and that the environment suffered as a result.  Still, today’s collapsing bridges and sewers dramatize the loss of any serious national commitment to the public good.

6. College was cheap.

Tuition and fees at the University of California system in 1965 totaled $220.  That’s the equivalent of about $1,600 today, and in 1965 you were talking about the best public university in the world.  In 2012, the Regents of the University of California, presiding over an education system in crisis, raised tuition and fees for state residents to $13,200.  And American students are now at least $1 trillion in debt, thanks to college loans that could consign many to lifetimes as debtors in return for subprime educations.

In 1958, in the panic that followed the Soviet Union’s successful launch of Sputnik, the first satellite, public universities got a massive infusion of federal money when the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) was passed.  The Department of Education website today explains that the purpose of the NDEA was “to help ensure that highly trained individuals would be available to help America compete with the Soviet Union in scientific and technical fields.”  For the first time, government grants became the major source of university funding for scientific research.  The Act included a generous student-loan program.

With the end of the Cold War, federal funding was cut and public universities had little choice but to begin to make up the difference by increasing tuitions and fees, making students pay more -- a lot more.

True, the NDEA grants in the 1960s required recipients to sign a demeaning oath swearing that they did not seek the violent overthrow of the U.S. government, and that lots of government funding then supported Cold War military and strategic objectives.  After all, the University of California operated the nuclear weapons labs at Livermore and Los Alamos. Still, compare that to today’s crumbling public education system nationwide and who wouldn’t feel nostalgia for the Cold War era?

7. We had a president who called for a “war on poverty.”

In his 1966 State of the Union address, President Lyndon Baines Johnson argued that “the richest Nation on earth… people who live in abundance unmatched on this globe” ought to “bring the most urgent decencies of life to all of your fellow Americans.”  LBJ insisted that it was possible both to fight communism globally (especially in Vietnam) and to fight poverty at home.  As the phrase then went, he called for guns and butter.  In addition, he was determined not simply to give money to poor people, but to help build “community action” groups that would organize them to define and fight for programs they wanted because, the president said, poor people know what’s best for themselves.

Of course, it’s true that Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” unlike the Vietnam War, was woefully underfunded, and that those community action groups were soon overpowered by local mayors and Democratic political machines.  But it’s also true that President Obama did not even consider poverty worth mentioning as an issue in his 2012 reelection campaign, despite the fact that it has spread in ways that would have shocked LBJ, and that income and wealth inequalities between rich and poor have reached levels not seen since the late 1920s.  Today, it’s still plenty of guns -- but butter, not so much.

8. We had a president who warned against “the excessive power of the military-industrial complex.”

In Eisenhower’s “farewell address,” delivered three days before John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, the departing president warned against the “unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” He declared that “the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”  The speech introduced the phrase “military-industrial complex” into the vernacular.  It was a crucial moment in the Cold War: a president who had also been the nation’s top military commander in World War II was warning Americans about the dangers posed by the military he had commanded and its corporate and political supporters.

Ike was prompted to give the speech because of his disputes with Congress over the military budget.  He feared nuclear war and firmly opposed all talk about such a war being fought in a “limited” way.  He also knew that, when it came to the Soviet Union, American power was staggeringly preponderant.  And yet his opponents in the Democratic Party, the arms industry, and even the military were claiming that he hadn’t done enough for “defense” -- not enough weapons bought, not enough money spent.  President-elect Kennedy had just won the 1960 election by frightening Americans about a purely fictitious “missile gap” between the U.S. and the Soviets.

It’s true that Ike’s warning would have been far more meaningful had it been in his first or even second inaugural address, or any of his State of the Union speeches.  It’s also true that he had approved CIA coups in Iran and Guatemala, and had green-lighted planning for an invasion of Cuba (that would become Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs disaster).  He had also established Mutual Assured Destruction as the basis for Cold War military strategy, backed up with B-52s carrying atomic bombs in the air 24/7.

By the end of his second term, however, Ike had changed his mind.  His warning was not just against unnecessary spending, but also against institutions that were threatening a crisis he feared would bring the end of individual liberty.  “As one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization,” the president urged his fellow citizens to resist the military-industrial complex.  None of his successors has even tried, and in 2013 we’re living with the results.

...But there is one thing I do NOT miss about the Cold War: nuclear arsenals on hair-trigger alert.

Our Cold War enemy had nuclear weapons capable of destroying us, and the rest of the planet, many times over.  In 1991, when the Cold War ended, the Soviet Union had more than 27,000 nuclear weapons.  According to the Federation of American Scientists, these included more than 11,000 strategic nuclear weapons -- warheads on land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched missiles, and weapons on bombers capable of attacking the US -- along with more than 15,000 warheads for “tactical” use as artillery shells and short-range “battlefield” missiles, as well as missile defense interceptors, nuclear torpedoes, and nuclear weapons for shorter-range aircraft.  We learned in 1993 that the USSR at one time possessed almost 45,000 nuclear warheads, and still had nearly 1,200 tons of bomb-grade uranium.  (Of course, sizeable Russian -- and American -- nuclear arsenals still exist.)  In comparison to all that, the arsenals of al-Qaeda and our other terrorist enemies are remarkably insignificant.

© 2013 Jon Wiener

Jon Wiener

Jon Wiener teaches US history at UC Irvine. His latest book, How We Forgot the Cold War: A Historical Journey Across America (University of California Press), has just been published. He sued the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act for its files on John Lennon. With the help of the ACLU of Southern California, Wiener v. FBI went all the way to the Supreme Court before the FBI settled in 1997. That story is told in Wiener's book, Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files.

Ike’s Dream, Obama’s Reality: 8 Things I Miss About the Cold War

At a book festival in Los Angeles recently, some writers (myself included) were making the usual arguments about the problems with American politics in the 1950s -- until one panelist shocked the audience by declaring, “God, I miss the Cold War.”  His grandmother, he said, had come to California from Oklahoma with a grade-school education, but found a job in an aerospace factory in L.A. during World War II, joined the union, got healthcare and retirement benefits, and prospered in the Cold War years.  She ended up owning a house in the suburbs and sending her kids to UCLA.

Several older people in the audience leaped to their feet shouting, “What about McCarthyism?”  “The bomb?”  “Vietnam?”  “Nixon?”

All good points, of course.  After all, during the Cold War the U.S. did threaten to destroy the world with nuclear weapons, supported brutal dictators globally because they were anti-communist, and was responsible for the deaths of several million people in Korea and Vietnam, all in the name of defending freedom. And yet it’s not hard to join that writer in feeling a certain nostalgia for the Cold War era.  It couldn’t be a sadder thing to admit, given what happened in those years, but -- given what’s happened in these years -- who can doubt that the America of the 1950s and 1960s was, in some ways, simply a better place than the one we live in now? Here are eight things (from a prospectively longer list) we had then and don’t have now.

1. The president didn’t claim the right to kill American citizens without “the due process of law.

Last year we learned that President Obama personally approved the killing-by-drone of an American citizen living abroad without any prior judicial proceedings. That was in Yemen, but as Amy Davidson wrote at the New Yorker website, “Why couldn’t it have been in Paris?”  Obama assures us that the people he orders assassinated are “terrorists.”  It would, however, be more accurate to call them “alleged terrorists,” or “alleged terrorist associates,” or “people said by some other government to be terrorists, or at least terroristic.”

Obama’s target in Yemen was Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen who was said to be a senior figure in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  According to the book Kill or Capture by Daniel Klaidman, the president told his advisors, “I want Awlaki. Don’t let up on him.”  Steve Coll of the New Yorker commented that this appears to be “the first instance in American history of a sitting president speaking of his intent to kill a particular U.S. citizen without that citizen having been charged formally with a crime or convicted at trial.”  (Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, whom no one claims was connected to terrorist activities or terror plots, was also killed in a separate drone attack.)

The problem, of course, is the due-process clause of the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits “any person” from being deprived of “life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”  It doesn’t say: "any person except for those the president believes to be terrorists."

It gets worse: the Justice Department can keep secret a memorandum providing the supposed “legal” justification for the targeted killing of a U.S. citizen, according to a January 2013 decision by a federal judge.  Ruling on a Freedom of Information lawsuit brought by the ACLU and the New York Times, Judge Colleen McMahon, wrote in her decision, “I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the executive branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret.”

It's true that the CIA has admitted it had an assassination program during the Cold War -- described in the so-called “family jewels” or “horrors book,” compiled in 1973 under CIA Director James Schlesinger in response to Watergate-era inquiries and declassified in 2007.  But the targets were foreign leaders, especially Fidel Castro as well as the Congo’s Patrice Lumumba and the Dominican Republic’s Rafael Trujillo.  Still, presidents preferred “plausible deniability” in such situations, and certainly no president before Obama publicly claimed the legal right to order the killing of American citizens.  Indeed, before Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. regularly condemned “targeted killings” of suspected terrorists by Israel that were quite similar to those the president is now regularly ordering in the Pakistani tribal borderlands, Yemen, and possibly elsewhere.

2. We didn’t have a secret “terrorism-industrial complex.”

That’s the term coined by Dana Priest and William Arkin in their book Top Secret America to describe the ever-growing post-9/11 world of government agencies linked to private contractors charged with fighting terrorism.  During the Cold War, we had a handful of government agencies doing “top secret” work; today, they found, we have more than 1,200.

For example, Priest and Arkin found 51 federal organizations and military commands that attempt to track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.  And don’t forget the nearly 2,000 for-profit corporate contractors that engage in top-secret work, supposedly hunting terrorists.  The official budget for “intelligence” has increased from around $27 billion in the last years of the Cold War to $75 billion in 2012. Along with this massive expansion of government and private security activities has come a similarly humongous expansion of official secrecy: the number of classified documents has increased from perhaps 5 million a year before 1980 to 92 million in 2011, while Obama administration prosecutions of government whistleblowers have soared.

It’s true that the CIA and the FBI engaged in significant secret and illegal surveillance that included American citizens during the Cold War, but the scale was small compared to the post-9/11 world.

3. Organized labor was accepted as part of the social landscape. 

“Only a fool would try to deprive working men and women of their right to join the union of their choice.” That’s what President Dwight D. Eisenhower said in 1952.  “Workers,” he added, “have a right to organize into unions and to bargain collectively with their employers,” and he affirmed that “a strong, free labor movement is an invigorating and necessary part of our industrial society.”  He caught the mood of the moment this way: “Should any political party attempt to… eliminate labor laws, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.”  “There is,” he acknowledged, “a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things, but their number is negligible... And they are stupid.” 

You certainly wouldn’t catch Barack Obama saying anything like that today.  

Back then, American unions were, in part, defended even by Republicans because they were considered a crucial aspect of the struggle against Communism.  Unlike Soviet workers, American ones, so the argument went, were free to join independent unions.  And amid a wave of productive wealth, union membership in Eisenhower’s America reached an all-time high: 34% of wage and salary workers in 1955.  In 2011, union membership in the private sector had fallen under 7%, a level not seen since 1932.

Of course, back in the Cold War era the government required unions to kick communists out of any leadership positions they held and unions that refused were driven out of existence.  Unions also repressed wildcat strikes and enforced labor peace in exchange for multi-year contracts with wage and benefit increases. But as we’ve learned in the last decades, if you’re a wageworker, almost any union is better than no union at all.

4. The government had to get a warrant before it could tap your phone. 

Today, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act (yes, that repetitive tongue twister is its real name) gives the government vast powers to spy on American citizens -- and it’s just been extended to 2017 in a bill that Obama enthusiastically signed on December 29th.  The current law allows the monitoring of electronic communications without an individualized court order, as long as the government claims its intent is to gather “foreign intelligence.”  In recent years, much that was once illegal has been made the law of the land.  Vast quantities of the emails and phone calls of Americans are being “data-mined.”  Amendments approved by Congress in 2008, for instance, provided "retroactive immunity to the telecom companies that assisted the Bush administration in its warrantless wiretapping program," which was then (or should have been) illegal, as the website Open Congress notes

There were several modest congressional attempts to amend the 2012 FISA extension act, including one that would have required the director of national intelligence to reveal how many Americans are being secretly monitored.  That amendment would in no way have limited the government’s actual spying program.  The Senate nevertheless rejected it, 52-43, in a nation that has locked itself down in a way that would have been inconceivable in the Cold War years.

It’s true that in the 1950s and 1960s judges typically gave the police and FBI the wiretap warrants they sought.  But it’s probably also true that having to submit requests to judges had a chilling effect on the urge of government authorities to engage in unlimited wiretapping.

5. The infrastructure was being expanded and strengthened.

Today, our infrastructure is crumbling: bridges are collapsing, sewer systems are falling apart, power grids are failing.  Many of those systems date from the immediate post-World War II years.  And the supposedly titanic struggle against communism at home and abroad helped build them.  The best-known example of those Cold War infrastructure construction programs was the congressionally mandated National Defense Highways Act of 1956, which led to the construction of 41,000 miles of the Interstate Highway System. It was the largest public works project in American history and it was necessary, according to the legislation, to “meet the requirements of the national defense in time of war.”  People called the new highways “freeways” or “interstates,” but the official name was "the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways."

Along with the construction of roads and bridges came a similar commitment to expanding water delivery systems and the electrical and telephone grids.  Spending on infrastructure as a share of gross domestic product peaked in the 1960s at 3.1%.  In 2007, it was down to 2.4% and is assumedly still falling.

Today the U.S. has dropped far behind potential global rivals in infrastructure development.  An official panel of 80 experts noted that China is spending $1 trillion on high-speed rail, highways, and other infrastructure over the next five years.  The U.S., according to the report, needs to invest $2 trillion simply to rebuild the roads, bridges, water lines, sewage systems, and dams constructed 40 to 50 years ago, systems that are now reaching the end of their planned life cycles.  But federal spending cuts mean that the burden of infrastructure repair and replacement will fall on state and local governments, whose resources, as everyone knows, are completely inadequate for the task.

Of course, it’s true that the freeways built in the 1950s made the automobile the essential form of transportation in America and led to the withering away of public mass transit, and that the environment suffered as a result.  Still, today’s collapsing bridges and sewers dramatize the loss of any serious national commitment to the public good.

6. College was cheap.

Tuition and fees at the University of California system in 1965 totaled $220.  That’s the equivalent of about $1,600 today, and in 1965 you were talking about the best public university in the world.  In 2012, the Regents of the University of California, presiding over an education system in crisis, raised tuition and fees for state residents to $13,200.  And American students are now at least $1 trillion in debt, thanks to college loans that could consign many to lifetimes as debtors in return for subprime educations.

In 1958, in the panic that followed the Soviet Union’s successful launch of Sputnik, the first satellite, public universities got a massive infusion of federal money when the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) was passed.  The Department of Education website today explains that the purpose of the NDEA was “to help ensure that highly trained individuals would be available to help America compete with the Soviet Union in scientific and technical fields.”  For the first time, government grants became the major source of university funding for scientific research.  The Act included a generous student-loan program.

With the end of the Cold War, federal funding was cut and public universities had little choice but to begin to make up the difference by increasing tuitions and fees, making students pay more -- a lot more.

True, the NDEA grants in the 1960s required recipients to sign a demeaning oath swearing that they did not seek the violent overthrow of the U.S. government, and that lots of government funding then supported Cold War military and strategic objectives.  After all, the University of California operated the nuclear weapons labs at Livermore and Los Alamos. Still, compare that to today’s crumbling public education system nationwide and who wouldn’t feel nostalgia for the Cold War era?

7. We had a president who called for a “war on poverty.”

In his 1966 State of the Union address, President Lyndon Baines Johnson argued that “the richest Nation on earth… people who live in abundance unmatched on this globe” ought to “bring the most urgent decencies of life to all of your fellow Americans.”  LBJ insisted that it was possible both to fight communism globally (especially in Vietnam) and to fight poverty at home.  As the phrase then went, he called for guns and butter.  In addition, he was determined not simply to give money to poor people, but to help build “community action” groups that would organize them to define and fight for programs they wanted because, the president said, poor people know what’s best for themselves.

Of course, it’s true that Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” unlike the Vietnam War, was woefully underfunded, and that those community action groups were soon overpowered by local mayors and Democratic political machines.  But it’s also true that President Obama did not even consider poverty worth mentioning as an issue in his 2012 reelection campaign, despite the fact that it has spread in ways that would have shocked LBJ, and that income and wealth inequalities between rich and poor have reached levels not seen since the late 1920s.  Today, it’s still plenty of guns -- but butter, not so much.

8. We had a president who warned against “the excessive power of the military-industrial complex.”

In Eisenhower’s “farewell address,” delivered three days before John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, the departing president warned against the “unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” He declared that “the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”  The speech introduced the phrase “military-industrial complex” into the vernacular.  It was a crucial moment in the Cold War: a president who had also been the nation’s top military commander in World War II was warning Americans about the dangers posed by the military he had commanded and its corporate and political supporters.

Ike was prompted to give the speech because of his disputes with Congress over the military budget.  He feared nuclear war and firmly opposed all talk about such a war being fought in a “limited” way.  He also knew that, when it came to the Soviet Union, American power was staggeringly preponderant.  And yet his opponents in the Democratic Party, the arms industry, and even the military were claiming that he hadn’t done enough for “defense” -- not enough weapons bought, not enough money spent.  President-elect Kennedy had just won the 1960 election by frightening Americans about a purely fictitious “missile gap” between the U.S. and the Soviets.

It’s true that Ike’s warning would have been far more meaningful had it been in his first or even second inaugural address, or any of his State of the Union speeches.  It’s also true that he had approved CIA coups in Iran and Guatemala, and had green-lighted planning for an invasion of Cuba (that would become Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs disaster).  He had also established Mutual Assured Destruction as the basis for Cold War military strategy, backed up with B-52s carrying atomic bombs in the air 24/7.

By the end of his second term, however, Ike had changed his mind.  His warning was not just against unnecessary spending, but also against institutions that were threatening a crisis he feared would bring the end of individual liberty.  “As one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization,” the president urged his fellow citizens to resist the military-industrial complex.  None of his successors has even tried, and in 2013 we’re living with the results.

...But there is one thing I do NOT miss about the Cold War: nuclear arsenals on hair-trigger alert.

Our Cold War enemy had nuclear weapons capable of destroying us, and the rest of the planet, many times over.  In 1991, when the Cold War ended, the Soviet Union had more than 27,000 nuclear weapons.  According to the Federation of American Scientists, these included more than 11,000 strategic nuclear weapons -- warheads on land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched missiles, and weapons on bombers capable of attacking the US -- along with more than 15,000 warheads for “tactical” use as artillery shells and short-range “battlefield” missiles, as well as missile defense interceptors, nuclear torpedoes, and nuclear weapons for shorter-range aircraft.  We learned in 1993 that the USSR at one time possessed almost 45,000 nuclear warheads, and still had nearly 1,200 tons of bomb-grade uranium.  (Of course, sizeable Russian -- and American -- nuclear arsenals still exist.)  In comparison to all that, the arsenals of al-Qaeda and our other terrorist enemies are remarkably insignificant.

© 2013 Jon Wiener

Jon Wiener

Jon Wiener teaches US history at UC Irvine. His latest book, How We Forgot the Cold War: A Historical Journey Across America (University of California Press), has just been published. He sued the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act for its files on John Lennon. With the help of the ACLU of Southern California, Wiener v. FBI went all the way to the Supreme Court before the FBI settled in 1997. That story is told in Wiener's book, Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files.

The Visible Government How the U.S. Intelligence Community Came Out of the Shadows

Tom Engelhardt, ICH | December 17, 2012 "Information Clearing House" - Weren’t those the greatest of days if you were in the American spy game?...

Lawsuits for Information on Drones

Stephen Lendman, rinf.com | Drones are increasingly becoming America's weapon of choice. They're used to kill and spy. Domestic warrantless surveillance is illegal. It's...

Drones for sale: Opposition leader wants to buy ‘toys of terror’

Binoy Kampmark,  Scoop |  Without imagination, predictability is bound to become a vice. Australia’s explosive, uncontainable opposition leader Tony Abbott has made his latest splash in policy...

Britain to spend £260 million on ‘Eurosur’ spy drone project

Asif Mehmood LONDON: Britain will spend millions of pounds on unmanned spy drones which will patrol its shores as well as look for illegal immigrants...

Big brother is watching

The furore around the Chinese government’s Green Dam software has raised the issue of the way modern technology is used to monitor our daily...

Pentagon’s Black Budget Grows to More Than $50 Billion

By Noah Shachtman | The Pentagon wants to spend just over $50 billion on classified programs next year, newly-released Defense Department budget documents reveal....

FBI Workers Accused Of Spying On Teen Girls

Two FBI workers are accused of using surveillance equipment to spy on teenage girls as they undressed and tried on prom gowns at a...

Big Brother in your car – Orwellian box to track your movements

The government is backing a project to install a "communication box" in new cars to track the whereabouts of drivers anywhere in Europe, the...

Exposing Corporate-financed Holocaust in Africa

By Keith Harmon Snow War in Congo has again been splashed across world headlines and the same old clichés about violence and suffering are repackaged...

Space-Based Domestic Spying: Kicking Civil Liberties to the Curb

By Tom Burghardt | Last month, I reported that the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) space-based domestic spy program run by that agency’s National Applications...

DARPA Contract Description Hints at Advanced Video Spying

By Walter Pincus | Real-time streaming video of Iraqi and Afghan battle areas taken from thousands of feet in the air can follow actions...

Democracy Now Follows Up on NSA’s Illegal Spying and War Crimes

By David Swanson | Democracy Now! today not only admitted that I had broken the story but followed up on the story of illegal NSA spying,...

The Future of Death at the Pentagon

The Pentagon: Some-Things-Never-Change Department Tomgram | What a difference four and a half years makes. When I first penned "The Wild Weapons of DARPA," in March...

Unmanned spy planes to police Britain

By Kim Sengupta | The Government is drawing up plans to use unmanned "drone" aircraft currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan to counter terrorism...

Domestic spying quietly goes on

By Bradley Olson | With Congress on the verge of outlining new parameters for National Security Agency eavesdropping between suspicious foreigners and Americans, lawmakers...

Leaks, focus on single suspect undercut anthrax probe

By David Willman | The federal investigation into the deadly anthrax mailings of late 2001 was undermined by leaks and a premature fixation on...

Path Intelligence – Phorm for shopping centres?

Spy Blog | Just in case you thought that Phorm was the only threat to your privacy, here is an example of similar "no...

America’s Chemically Modified 21st Century Soldiers

By Clayton Dach | Amphetamines and the military first met somewhere in the fog of WWII, when axis and allied forces alike were issued...

Some Of The Outrageous Lies About 9/11

By Joseph A. Lopisi It is hard to pick a place to start in terms of talking about the most outrageous lies that the Bush...

Institutionalized Spying On Americans

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News This article reviews two police state tools (among many in use) in America. One is new, undiscussed and largely unknown...

US: Wider Spying Fuels Aid Plan for Telecom Industry

Eric Lichtblau, James Risen and Scott Shane For months, the Bush administration has waged a high-profile campaign, including personal lobbying by President Bush and closed-door...

BBC: Big Brother Cooperation

It's a matter of alarm and concern that there are so many people out there who still believe that the BBC is a balanced...

Torture, Paramilitarism, Occupation and Genocide

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News On October 5, George Bush confronted a public uproar and defended his administration claiming "This government does not torture people."...

Pentagon Developing New Unmanned Spy Planes

The Pentagon is on the hunt for new sophisticated unmanned spy planes that can be sent to any location above the planet within an...