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Why Senators Must Reject Avril Haines for Intelligence

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 30/12/2020 - 3:09am in

Tags 

News, CIA, Torture

Even before President-elect Joe Biden sets foot in the White House, the Senate Intelligence Committee may start hearings on his nomination of Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence.

Barack Obama’s top lawyer on the National Security Council from 2010 to 2013 followed by CIA Deputy Director from 2013 to 2015, Haines is the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. She is the affable assassin who, according to Newsweek, would be summoned in the middle of the night to decide if a citizen of any country, including our own, should be incinerated in a U.S. drone strike in a distant land in the greater Middle East. Haines also played a key role in covering up the U.S. torture program, known euphemistically as “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which included repeated waterboarding, sexual humiliation, sleep deprivation, dousing naked prisoners with ice-cold water, and rectal rehydration.

For these reasons, among others, the activist groups CODEPINK, Progressive Democrats of America, World Beyond War, and Roots Action have launched a campaign calling on the Senate to reject her confirmation.

These same groups ran successful campaigns to dissuade Biden from choosing two other warmongering candidates for critical foreign policy positions: China-hawk Michele Flournoy for Secretary of Defense and torture apologist Mike Morell for CIA Director. By hosting calling parties to Senators, launching petitions and publishing Open Letters from DNC delegates, feminists—including Alice Walker, Jane Fonda, and Gloria Steinem—and Guantanamo torture survivors, activists helped derail candidates who were once considered shoo-ins for Biden’s cabinet.

Now activists are challenging Avril Haines.

In 2015, when Haines was CIA Deputy Director, CIA agents illegally hacked the computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee to thwart the Committee’s investigation into the spy agency’s detention and interrogation program. Haines overruled the CIA’s own Inspector General in failing to discipline the CIA agents who violated the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers. According to former CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, she not only shielded the hackers from accountability but even awarded them the Career Intelligence Medal.

And there’s more. When the exhaustive 6,000-page Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture was finally complete, after five years of investigation and research, Haines took charge of redacting it to deny the public’s right to know its full details, reducing the document to a 500-page, black-ink-smeared summary.

Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture

Page 45 of the redacted Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture

This censorship went beyond merely “protecting sources and methods”; it avoided CIA embarrassment while ensuring her own career advancement.

Moreover, Haines supported torture apologist Gina Haspel as Trump’s CIA Director. Haspel ran a secret black site prison in Thailand where torture was regularly inflicted. Haspel also drafted the memo ordering the destruction of almost 100 videotapes documenting CIA torture.

As David Segal of Demand Progress told CNN, “Haines has an unfortunate record of repeatedly covering up for torture and torturers. Her push for maximalist redactions of the torture report, her refusal to discipline the CIA personnel who hacked the Senate, and her vociferous support for Gina Haspel — which was even touted by the Trump White House as Democrats stood in nearly unanimous opposition to the then-nominee to lead the CIA — should be interrogated during the confirmation process.”

This sentiment was echoed by Mark Udall, a Democratic senator on the intelligence committee when it finished the torture report. “If our country is going to turn the page on the dark chapter of our history that was the CIA’s torture program, we need to stop nominating and confirming individuals who led this terrible program and helped cover it up.”

Another reason Haines’s nomination should be rejected is her support for the proliferation of killer drones. There has been a concerted effort by former Obama colleagues to paint Haines as a voice of restraint that tried to pro­tect­ civil­ians. But according to former CIA whistleblower Kiarikou, Haines regularly approved the drone bombings that killed not only suspected terrorists but entire families, including children, who died as collateral damage.” It was Avril that decided whether it was legal to incinerate someone from the sky,” said Kiriakou.

When human rights groups denounced Obama’s rash use of extrajudicial killings, including the assumption that all military-age males in the strike zone were “enemy combatants” and therefore legitimate targets, Haines was enlisted to co-author a new “pres­i­den­tial pol­i­cy guid­ance” to tighten the regulations. But this new “guidance,” issued on May 22, 2013, continued to blur the line between civilians and combatants, nor­mal­izing tar­get­ed assas­si­na­tions and effectively repudiating the “presumption of innocence” that has been the bedrock principle of civilian law for over 800 years.

The drone playbook, “PROCEDURES FOR APPROVING DIRECT ACTION AGAINST TERRORIST TARGETS LOCATED OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES AND AREAS OF ACTIVE HOSTILITIES,” says on page 1 that any “direct action must be conducted lawfully and taken against lawful targets,” yet the guidelines never reference international or domestic laws that define when extrajudicial killings outside of an active war zone are permitted.

On page 4, the guidelines for drone strikes allow for lethal action against those who are not “high-value targets,” without explaining the criteria the CIA would use to identify someone as an imminent threat to the security of the United States. On page 12, the co-authors, Haines among them, redacted the minimum profile requirements for an individual “nominated” for lethal action. The very term “nominated” suggests an effort to sugarcoat targeted assassination, as though the bombing target is recommended for a U.S. presidential cabinet position. [NOTE: You might (somewhat sarcastically) want to put “[sic]” after the first use of the word “nominated”]

Page 12 of Haines’s guidelines for extrajudicial killings.

Page 12 of Haines’s guidelines for extrajudicial killings. Required generic profile entries for individuals “nominated” for lethal action are redacted

Moreover, the guidelines themselves were often totally disregarded. The policy states, for example, that the U.S. “prioritizes, as a matter of policy, the capture of terrorist suspects as a preferred option over lethal action” and that lethal action should be taken “only when capture of an individual is not feasible.” But the Obama administration did nothing of the sort. Under George Bush, at least 780 terrorist suspects were captured and thrown into the U.S.-run gulag in Guantanamo. Haines’s guidelines prohibit transfer to Guantanamo so, instead, suspects were simply incinerated.

The guidelines required “near certainty that non-combatants will not be killed or injured,” but this requirement was routinely violated, as documented by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Haines’s policy guidance also states that the U.S. would respect other states’ sovereignty, only undertaking lethal action when other governments “cannot or will not” address a threat to the U.S. This, too, became simply empty words on paper. The U.S. barely even consulted with the governments in whose territory it was dropping bombs and, in the case of Pakistan, openly defied the government. In December 2013, the National Assembly of Pakistan unanimously approved a resolution against U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, calling them a violation of “the charter of the United Nations, international laws and humanitarian norms” and Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stated: “The use of drones is not only a continual violation of our territorial integrity but also detrimental to our resolve and efforts at eliminating terrorism from our country.” But the U.S. ignored the pleas of Pakistan’s elected government.

The proliferation of drone killings under Obama, from Yemen to Somalia, also violated U.S. law, which gives Congress the sole authority to authorize military conflict. But Obama’s legal team, which included Haines, circumvented the law by insisting that these military interventions fell under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), the law Congress passed to target Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. This specious argument provided fodder for the out-of-control misuse of that 2001 AUMF which, according to the Congressional Research Service, has been relied on to justify U.S. military action at least 41 times in 19 countries.

In addition, the guidelines don’t even require the CIA and other agencies participating in the drone program to notify the President, the Commander-in-Chief, as to who is to be killed in a drone strike, except when a targeted individual is a U.S. citizen or when the agencies in charge cannot agree on the target.

There are many other reasons to reject Haines. She advocates intensifying crippling economic sanctions on North Korea that undermine a negotiated peace, and “regime change”–hypothetically engineered by a U.S. ally–that could leave a collapsed North Korea vulnerable to terrorist theft of its nuclear material; she was a consultant at WestExec Advisors, a firm that exploits insider government connections to help companies secure plum Pentagon contracts; and she was a consultant with Palantir, a data-mining company that facilitated Trump’s mass deportations of immigrants.

But Haines’s record on torture and drones, alone, should be enough for  Senators to reject her nomination. The unassuming spy—who got her start at the White House as a legal adviser in the Bush State Department in 2003, the year the U.S. invaded Iraq—might look and sound more like your favorite college professor than someone who enabled murder by remote control or wielded a thick black pen to cover-up CIA torture, but a clear examination of her past should convince the Senate that Haines is unfit for high office in an administration that promises to restore transparency, integrity, and respect for international law.

Tell your Senator: Vote NO on Haines.

Feature photo | Avril Haines speaks during a session on “The Rise of Techno Nationalism” at the Annual Meeting 2019 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 22, 2019. Ciaran McCrickard | WEC | CC

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of CODEPINK for Peace, and author of several books, including Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. In 2013 she directly confronted President Obama about his drone killings.

Marcy Winograd of Progressive Democrats of America served as a 2020 DNC Delegate for Bernie Sanders and co-founded the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party. Coordinator of CODEPINKCONGRESS, Marcy spearheads Capitol Hill calling parties to mobilize co-sponsors and votes for progressive foreign policy legislation.

The post Why Senators Must Reject Avril Haines for Intelligence appeared first on MintPress News.

No, Joe, Don’t Roll out the Red Carpet for Torture Enablers

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 22/12/2020 - 2:08am in

It was painful enough to live through the U.S invasion of Iraq that caused untold devastation and human misery for no justifiable reason.

Now we are again reminded of the grim Bush legacy with President-elect Biden’s nomination of Avril Haines for Director of National Intelligence. Haines, who has an inside-the-beltway reputation for being nice and soft spoken, was a little too nice to CIA agents who hacked the computers of Senate Intelligence Committee investigators looking into the CIA use of torture–waterboarding, sleep deprivation, hypothermia, rectal feeding, whippings, sexual humiliation–at prisons in Guatanamo and Afghanistan during the Bush War on Terror.

As Deputy Director of the CIA in the Obama administration, Haines chose not to discipline those CIA hackers who violated the separation of powers, crossing the boundary line and beaching the firewall between the executive and legislative branches. To add insult to injury, Haines led the team that redacted an exhaustive 5-year, 6,000-page Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture until it was reduced to a censored, 500-page summary smeared with black ink to cover up the screaming horrors and shield those responsible.

That’s why torture survivors and their advocates have just released a damning Open Letter urging Senators to vote NO on Haines when her nomination lands in their laps in mid-January or February after the cyber pomp and circumstance of a virtual Presidential inauguration. The letter, signed by several decade-long detainee/survivors of torture at Guantanamo, also objects to the possible nomination of Mike Morell, a CIA analyst under Bush, for CIA Director.

“Elevating torture apologists to a leadership position within the Biden administration will damage the USA’s standing and give the world’s dictators succor and comfort,” said.

Djamel Ameziane, a Guantanamo detainee from Algeria who was tortured and held without charge from 2002-2013, until he was finally released from prison.

Morell’s traction may be on the wane with the Biden administration, however, after progressives launched a campaign against Morell, the former Deputy and Acting CIA Director under Obama, and Senator Ron Wyden—a powerful Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee—called him a “torture apologist” and said his appointment to head the CIA was a “non starter.”

Objections to Morell include his defense of the Agency’s “enhanced interrogation” practices: mock drownings, “walling” — repeatedly slamming prisoners against a wall, whipping detainees with electrical cords, dumping freezing cold water on detainees naked except for diapers.

Morell refused to call these practices torture. “I don’t like calling it torture for one simple reason: to call it torture says my guys were torturers,” Morell admitted to Vice reporters in 2015. “I’m gonna defend my guys till my last breath,” said Morell, who put his CIA buddies above truth, the law and basic decency.

Morell doesn’t call it torture, but Guantanamo survivor Moazzam Begg knows exactly what torture is. Begg, who signed a false confession while tortured, is Outreach Director for CAGE, a UK-based organization serving communities hard hit by the War on Terror. Begg recollects his days in US custody. “They tied me up with my hands behind my back to my legs, kicked me in the head, kicked me in the back, threatened to take me to Egypt to be tortured, to be raped, to be electrocuted. They had a woman screaming in the next room whom I believed at that time was my wife. They bought pictures of my children and told me I would never see them again.”

Contrary to the Senate report and the CIA’s own internal review, Morell justified the torture by insisting that it was effective in thwarting future plots against Americans. Senate staffers said Morell got names, dates and facts all mixed up, and was dead wrong on the effectiveness of torture.

Torture Survivor and award-winning writer Mansoor Adayfi, sold to US forces in Afghanistan for bounty money and imprisoned without charge at Guantanamo for 14 years, knows firsthand that torture doesn’t work. “In Guantanamo, when they put you under very bad circumstances—like 72 hours under very cold air conditioning, and you are tied to the ground and someone comes and pours cold water on you—you are going to tell them whatever they want you to say. I will sign anything, I will admit anything!”

In addition to soft-pedaling the use of torture, Morell helped shield the abusers from accountability by defending the CIA’s 2005 destruction of nearly 90 videotapes of the brutal interrogation of Abu Zubaydah and other detainees in CIA black sites.

Progressives should know soon whether Morell’s cozy relationship with Bush-era CIA agents buries his nomination for good.

Biden is expected to nominate his candidate for CIA director any day now. For Jeffrey Kaye, author of Cover-Up at Guantanamo and a signatory to the Open Letter, the President-Elect must pass on Morell and the Senate must reject Haines. “Morell and Haines have put loyalty to CIA torturers above adherence to US treaties and domestic law, as well as basic morality. To allow them to serve in government would send a message to all that accountability for torture is passé, and that war crimes will always be dismissed with a wink from those in high office.”

Other signatories to the letter objecting to Morell and Haines include:

  • Mohamedou Ould Salahi, Guantanamo prisoner held without charge for 14 years; beaten, force fed, deprived of sleep; released in 2016, author, Guantánamo Diary;
  • Major Todd Pierce (U.S. Army, Retired), Judge Advocate General attorney on the defense teams for Guantánamo military commissions defendants;
  • Sister Dianna Ortiz, a US missionary, teacher of Mayan children, who was tortured by members of the CIA-funded Guatemalan army;
  • Carlos Mauricio, College professor kidnapped and tortured by US-backed right-wing death squads in El Salvador; Executive Director: Stop Impunity Project;
  • Roy Bourgeois, Roman Catholic priest who founded School of the Americas Watch to protest US training Latin American military officers in torture techniques;
  • Colonel Larry Wilkerson, Whistleblower and Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell;
  • John Kiriakou, former CIA officer imprisoned after exposing classified information about CIA waterboarding;
  • Roger Waters, musician formerly with Pink Floyd, whose song “Each Small Candle” is a tribute to a torture victim.

Progressives have been lobbying against the inclusion of torture apologists in the Biden administration since the August Democratic National Convention, when 450 delegates delivered a letter to Biden urging him to hire new foreign policy advisors and reject Haines. CODEPINK later launched a petition signed by over 4,000, and organized Capitol Hill calling parties with Muslim Delegates and Allies to leave “No on Haines, No on Morell,” messages at the offices of Senate Intelligence Committee members slated to question Haines during confirmation hearings.

For months, Morell was considered the frontrunner for CIA director, but opposition to his disgraceful defense of torture has cast a pall on his nomination. Now anti-war activists say they want to make sure his nomination is off the table, and that Biden and the Senate also understand Avril Haines must be rejected for her complicity in suppressing evidence of CIA torture.

There’s more, too.

Both Morell and Haines supported Trump’s nomination of Gina Haspel to CIA Director — a nomination that then-Senator Kamala Harris, other prominent Democrats, and Senator John McCain vigorously opposed. Haspel supervised a black site prison in Thailand and drafted the memo authorizing the destruction of CIA videotapes documenting torture.

In the words of Colonel Wilkerson, Chief of Staff for Bush’s Secretary of State Colin Powell , “Kidnapping, torture and assassination have no place in a democracy and turn the CIA into a secret police … Abuses of the kind documented in the Senate’s report could happen again.”

And they could–if Biden and the Senate elevate torture apologists and whitewashers to the White House.

We need intelligence leaders who acknowledge that torture is illegal under international law; that is inhumane; that it is ineffective; that it puts at risk U.S. military personnel captured by adversaries. The American people must send a clear message to President-elect Biden that we will not accept torture enablers in his administration.

Feature photo | President-elect Joe Biden’s Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines removes her face mask to speak at The Queen Theater, Nov. 24, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. Carolyn Kaster | AP

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of CODEPINK for Peace, and author of several books, including Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. She has participated in anti-torture protests outside the Guantanamo Prison in Cuba, at the White House and in Congressional hearings.

Marcy Winograd of Progressive Democrats of America served as a 2020 DNC Delegate for Bernie Sanders and co-founded the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party. Coordinator of CODEPINKCONGRESS, Marcy spearheads Capitol Hill calling parties to mobilize co-sponsors and votes for peace and foreign policy legislation.

The post No, Joe, Don’t Roll out the Red Carpet for Torture Enablers appeared first on MintPress News.

The ‘Empire Files’ on the Plot to Attack Iran

This is an excellent little video that explains Trump’s and the US state and military’s hostility to Iran and the real reasons behind the latest attacks. This ultimately goes back to western imperial control over the country’s oil industry. From 1908 until 1951 the Iranian oil industry was owned and controlled by a British company, Anglo-Persian Oil, now BP. It was nationalised by the democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadeq, who was consequently overthrown in a CIA-backed coup. The Shah was installed as an absolute monarch, ruling by terror through the secret police, SAVAK. Which the CIA also helped to set up.

Causes of American Hostility

The Shah’s oppression was eventually too much, and he was overthrown in the Islamic Revolution of 1979, and the American state has resented the country ever since. Iran and Israel were America’s bulldogs in the Middle East, so the US lost an important locus of influence in the region. Iran is now politically independent, and is one of the leaders of the group of non-aligned nations. This was set up for countries that did not wish to align themselves either with America or the Soviet Union, but after the Fall of Communism is now simply for nations not aligned with America. America is also unable to control what Iran does with its own oil, from which American companies are excluded from profiting. Another major cause for America’s hostility may be that Iran and Syria are obstacles to Israel’s territorial expansion and the creation of a greater Israel.

Trump’s Attacks on Iran

The Empire Files is a Tele Sur show dedicated to exposing the horrors and crimes of American imperialism. Presented by Abby Martin, it was originally on RT. In this edition, she talks to Dan Kovalik, a human rights lawyer and author of the book The Plot to Attack Iran. The show was originally broadcast in January this year, 2020, when there had been a series of incidents, including Trump’s assassination of the Iranian general, Soleimani, which many feared would bring about a possible war. As tensions and reprisals increased, many Americans also took to the streets to protest against a possible war. The tensions had begun when Trump unilaterally reneged on an agreement with the Iranians over the enrichment of nuclear materials. Barack Obama had made this agreement with the Iranians, in which they pledged only to enrich it to levels suitable for civilian use but not for the creation of weapons. In return, Obama had agreed to lift the sanctions imposed on them. The Iranians had kept to their side of the agreement, but Trump had abandoned it because he wanted to impose further conditions containing Iran. For their part, it had been a year before the Iranians had reacted to the agreement’s failure. The EU had been keen to keep the agreement, despite American withdrawal, but now were unable or unwilling to do so. Kovalik states that Iran doesn’t want nukes. In the 1950s America and General Electric were helping the country set up nuclear power for electricity production. The Ayatollah Khomeini also issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons, condemning them as ‘unIslamic’. The claim that Iran is now a threat to America is based on intelligence, which claims in turn that Iran had a list of American targets in Syria. As a result American troops, ships, missiles and planes were moved to the Gulf. It was also claimed that the Iranians had attacked three civilian ships. Some of these are very dubious. One of the attacked vessels was Japanese, and the ship’s owners deny that any attack occurred. The attack also makes no sense as at the time it was supposed to have happened, the Japanese and Iranians were in negotiations to reduce tensions. Kovalik states here how devastating any war with Iran is likely to be. According to retired General Williamson, a war with Iran would be ten times more expensive in financial cost and lives than the Iraq War. It also has the potential to become a world war, as Russia and China are also dependent on Iranian oil.

Iran Potential Ally, Not Threat

Trump has also re-imposed sanctions on Iran at their previous level before the nuclear agreement. As a result, the Iranians are unable to sell their oil. They are thus unable to buy imported foodstuffs or medicines, or the raw materials to manufacture medicines, which is naturally causing great hardship. Kovalik and Martin are also very clear that Iran doesn’t pose a threat to America. It doesn’t pose a threat to American civilians, and the country was actually a partner with the US in the War on Terror. Well, that was until George W. declared them to be an ‘axis of evil’ along with North Korea and Saddam Hussein. This disappointed the Iranians, whom Martin and Kovalik consider may be potential allies. America wishes to overthrow the current regime because the 1979 Revolution showed countries could defy America and topple a ruler imposed by the US. Although America may resent the country’s freedom to do what it wishes with its oil, the US doesn’t actually need it. America is an exporter of oil, and so one goal of US foreign policy may simply be to wreck independent oil-producing nations, like Iran, Libya and Venezuela, in order to remove them as competition.

The programme also attacks the claims that Iran is a supporter of terrorism. This is hypocritical, as 73 per cent of the world’s dictatorships are supported by the US. This includes the absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia, which in turn supports al-Qaeda and ISIS. Iran does support Hizbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine, but most political analysts don’t consider them terrorist organisations. They’re elected. The American state really objects to Iran having influence in its own region, but it is the Iranians here who are under threat. They are encircled by countries allied with the US.

Iran anti-Israel, Not Anti-Semitic Country

Kovalik also personally visited Iran in 2017, and he goes on to dispel some misconceptions about the country. Such as that it’s particularly backward and its people personally hostile to Americans. In fact Iran has the largest state-supported condom factory in the Middle East. Alcohol’s banned, but everyone has it. The country also prides itself on being a pluralist society with minorities of Jews, Armenian Christians and Zoroastrians, the country’s ancient religion. And contrary to the claims of Israel and the American right, it’s got the second largest Jewish population in the Middle East outside Israel, and Jews are actually well treated. Kovalik describes meeting a Jewish shopkeeper while visiting the bazaar in Isfahan. He noticed the man was wearing a yarmulka, the Jewish skullcap, and went up to talk to him. In answer to his inquiries, the man told him he was Jewish, and didn’t want to leave Iran. He also told Kovalik that there was a synagogue, and led him a mile up the road to see it. Despite the regime’s genocidal rhetoric, when polled most Iranian Jews said they wish to stay in Iran. There’s a Jewish-run hospital in Tehran, which receives funding from the government. After the Revolution, the Ayatollah also issued a fatwa demanding the Jews be protected. The status of women is also good. Education, including female education, is valued and women are active in all sectors of the economy, including science.

Large Social Safety Net

And the Iranian people are actually open and welcoming to Americans. Martin describes how, when she was there, she saw John Stuart of the Daily Show. The people not only knew who he was, but were delighted he was there. Kovalik agrees that the people actually love Americans, and that if you meet them and they have some English, they’ll try to speak it to show you they can. Martin and Kovalik make the point that Iran is like many other nations, including those of South America, who are able to distinguish between enemy governments and their peoples. They consider America unique in that Americans are unable to do this. Kovalik believes that it comes from American exceptionalism. America is uniquely just and democratic, and so has the right to impose itself and rule the globe. Other countries don’t have this attitude. They’re just happy to be left alone. But America and its citizens believe it, and so get pulled into supporting one war after another. They also make the point the point that Iran has a large social safety net. The mullahs take seriously the view that Islamic values demand supporting the poor. Women enjoy maternity leave, medicine is largely free and food is provided to people, who are unable to obtain it themselves. In this respect, Iran is superior to America. Kovalik states that while he was in Iran, he never saw the depths of poverty that he saw in U.S. cities like Los Angeles. These are supposed to be First World cities, but parts of America increasingly resemble the Third World. He admits, however, that the US-imposed sanctions are making it difficult for the Iranians to take care of people.

British Imperialism and Oil

The programme then turns to the country and its history. It states that it has never been overrun, and has a history going back 4,000 years. As a result, the country has preserved a wealth of monuments and antiquities, in contrast to many of the other, surrounding countries, where they have been destroyed by the US and Britain. Iran was never a formal part of the British empire, but it was dominated by us. Oil was first discovered there in 1908, and Britain moved quickly to acquire it for its own military. The oil company set up favoured British workers and managers, and the profits went to Britain. This was bitterly resented at a time when 90 per cent of the Iranian population was grindingly poor. People wore rags, and some oil workers actually slept in the oil fields. Conditions reached a nadir from 1917-1919 when Britain contributed to a famine that killed 8-10 million people. Those, who know about it, consider it one of the worst genocides.

The Iranian oil industry was nationalised by Mossadeq, who gained power as part of the decolonisation movement sweeping the subject territories of the former empires. Mossadeq offered Britain compensation, but no deal was made before he was overthrown in a CIA-backed coup. Details of the coup came to light a few years ago with the publication of official records. It was the first such coup undertaken by the intelligence agency, but it set the rules and strategy for subsequent operations against other nations.

CIA Coup

The CIA paid protesters to demonstrate against the government, and they were particularly keen that these were violent. They wished to provoke Mossadeq into clamping down on the protests, which they could then use as a pretext for overthrowing him. But Mossadeq was actually a mild individual, who didn’t want to use excessive force. He was only convinced to do so when the CIA turned the Iranian tradition of hospitality against him. They told him Americans were being attacked. Mossadeq was so mortified that this should happen in his country, that he promptly did what the CIA had been preparing for. The Shah was reinstalled as Iran’s absolute monarch with General Zadegi as the new prime minister. Zadegi got the job because he was extremely anti-Communist. In fact, he’d been a Nazi collaborator during the War. After the restoration of the Shah in 1953, there were some Nazi-like pageants in Tehran. The CIA assisted in the creation of SAVAK, the Shah’s brutal secret police. They gave them torture techniques, which had been learned in turn from the Nazis. By 1979, thanks to SAVAK, Amnesty International and other organisations had claimed Iran was the worst human rights abuser in the world.

Reagan, the Hostage Crisis and Iran-Contra

The attack on the left meant that it was the Islamicists, who became the leaders of the Revolution as revolutionary organisation could only be done in the mosques. The left also played a role, particularly in the organisation of the workers. The pair also discuss the hostage crisis. This was when a group of students took the staff at the American embassy hostage, although the regime also took responsibility for it later. This was in response to the Americans inviting the Shah to come for medical treatment. The last time the Shah had done this had been in the 1950s before the coup. The hostage-takers released the women and non-Whites, keeping only the White men. The crisis was also manipulated by Ronald Reagan and the Republicans. They undercut Jimmy Carter’s attempts to free the hostages by persuading the Iranians to keep them until after the US election. America also funded and supplied arms to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War, which left a million people dead. They also supplied arms to Iran. This was partly a way of gaining money for the Contras in Nicaragua, as the US Congress had twice stopped government funding to them. It was also partly to stop Saddam Hussein and Iraq becoming too powerful. Kovalik notes that even in the conduct of this war, the Iranians showed considerable restraint. They had inherited chemical weapons from the Shah, and the Iraqis were using gas. However, Khomeini had issued a fatwa against it and so Iranians didn’t use them.

The pair also observe that Trump is bringing back into his government the figures and officials, like John Bolton, who have been involved in previous attacks on Iran. This raises the possibility of war. Kovalik believes that Trump is a brinksman, which means that there is always the danger of someone calling his bluff. He believes that the American military doesn’t want war, but it’s still a possibility. The American public need to protest to stop Trump getting re-elected as a war president.

Stop War, But Leave Iranians to Change their Regime

This raises the question of how to oppose militarism and support progressive politics in Iran. Iranian Communists, the Tudeh are secular socialists, who hate the Islamicists. They state that it is up to them to overthrow the Islamic regime, not America or its government. They just want Americans to stop their country invading and destroying Iran. External pressure from foreign nations like America through sanctions and military threats actually only makes matters worse, as it allows the Islamic government to crack down on the secular opposition. However, Kovalik believes that the American government doesn’t want reform, but to turn Iran back into its puppet. The video finally ends with the slogan ‘No War on Iran’.

The Plot to Attack Iran – Myths, Oil & Revolution – YouTube

Readers of this blog will know exactly what I think about the Iranian regime. It is a brutal, oppressive theocracy. However, it is very clear that Iran is the wronged party. It has been the victim of western – British and US imperialism, and will be so again if the warmongers Trump has recruited have their way.

Events have moved on since this video was made, and despite Trump’s complaints and accusations of electoral fraud, it can’t really be doubted that he lost the US election. But it really does look like he means to start some kind of confrontation with Iran. And even with his departure from the White House, I don’t doubt that there will still be pressure from the Neocons all demanding more action against Iran, and telling us the same old lies. That Iran’s going to have nuclear weapons, and is going to attack Israel, or some such nonsense.

And if we go to war with Iran, it will be for western multinationals to destroy and loot another Middle Eastern country. The video is right about western oil companies wanting the regime overthrown because they can’t profit from its oil. Under Iranian law, foreign companies can’t buy up their industries. A few years ago Forbes was whining about how tyrannical and oppressive Iran was because of this rule. I think the Iranians are entirely justified, and wish our government did the same with our utilities. I think about 50 per cent of the country’s economy is owned or controlled by the state. Which is clearly another target for western companies wishing to grab a slice of them, just as they wanted to seize Iraqi state enterprises.

And at least in Iran medicines are largely free, and food is being provided to those who can’t obtain it themselves. They’ve got something like a welfare state. Ours is being destroyed. We now have millions forced to use food banks instead of the welfare state to stop themselves starving to death, and the Tories would dearly love to privatise the NHS and turn it into a private service financed through private health insurance. The Iraq invasion destroyed their health service. It also destroyed their secular state and the freedom of Iraqi women to work outside the home.

We’ve got absolutely no business doing this. It shouldn’t have been done to Iraq. Let’s make sure it doesn’t happen to Iran.

BBC Fifth Most Trusted News Broadcasters

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 30/11/2020 - 9:54pm in

Or should that be ‘fifth most distrusted’ for news. Mike today has put up a piece commenting on the finding by Ofcom that that the Beeb is behind Sky News, Channel 4, ITV and Channel 5 in poll of audience trust and belief in their impartiality. He contrasts this finding, which shows that of these five broadcasters, the Beeb is considered to be the least trustworthy and impartial and Sky News the most, with Andrew Marr’s comments about possible competition from GB News and Murdoch’s planned TV news service. Marr was upbeat, believing that audiences would prefer BBC impartiality to overtly opinionated broadcasters like Fox News. He also claimed that the Beeb didn’t have a left-wing bias with remarks about the Director-General Hugh Carleton Green. He claimed Green had a far more anti-hierarchical, anti-Conservative bias than today.

The right-wing internet broadcaster Alex Bellfield was ranting about Ofcom’s findings yesterday. He’s an ex-employee of the Beeb and hates them with a passion. He regularly denounces them as a source of ‘woke’ bias for its continuing anti-sexism anti-racism and pro-LGBT stance. So he was highly delighted with this bit of news.

The Beeb has come under strong attack for its supposed anti-Conservative stance, partly because the Tories themselves want it privatised and its place in broadcasting filled by right-wing commercial broadcasters like their backer, Rupert Murdoch. I don’t doubt that the lack of trust the British public has for the Beeb largely comes from the regular attacks in the right-wing press.

But it also reflects the lack of trust those on the left also have with the broadcaster. When it comes to politics and international affairs, I have very, very little trust in the Beeb. The Corporation was part of the general media frenzy pushing the bogus anti-Semitism smears against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party, and are still doing so. Last Friday an alleged comedian on Have I Got News For You, Fin Taylor, joked about bombing Jeremy Corbyn supporters at Glastonbury. There’s been wide criticism of the joke, but the Beeb has naturally defended it. I’ve covered this in a previous blog post, where I mistakenly referred to Taylor as Torbin or Toibin/Tobin. I’m absolutely sure Taylor was invited on to the show because he was anti-Corbyn, and could be counted on to make some kind of dig at him. The Beeb just didn’t expect how much outrage it would provoke.

I’m also extremely sceptical about its foreign news. For example, it has consistently claimed that the 2012 Maidan Revolution in the Ukraine was democratic, despite the fact that it was carefully staged by Victoria Nuland of the US state department and the National Endowment for Democracy, the autonomous body to whom the American state has delegated its policy of regime change since taking it away from the CIA and their ‘Health Alteration Squad’. Putin is an autocratic thug, but in this instance the Russians are the wronged party. But you won’t hear that from the Beeb.

Just as you won’t hear news that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were about anything other than giving these countries freedom and democracy, when the reality is that they were attacked and occupied for their oil or strategic importance to the oil industry, and for western multinationals to seize their state industries in the case of Iraq.

The Beeb in many areas simply isn’t a trustworthy broadcaster. Far from being objective, it simply pushes establishment propaganda. Which I don’t doubt its hacks and management, coming as they seem to do from very middle class, very Tory backgrounds and living in the London metropolitan bubble, believe is genuinely objective news and analysis.

Now the Beeb’s under threat from Murdoch and the other private broadcasters. Once upon a time it could have counted on the support of people on the left. But it has alienated them with its overt Conservative bias and its repeated demonisation and vilification of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters as anti-Semites and Jew-haters.

Which means that both left and right distrust the Beeb. Neither of whom believe it is impartial, whatever Marr says or chooses to believe.

BBC is named as least objective news provider – which we all knew already | Vox Political (voxpoliticalonline.com)

Leaving Loaded Dice on the Table for Biden

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 29/11/2020 - 2:20am in

President-Elect Joe Biden is making it clear he intends to rebuild the institutions and alliances Trump has gutted. Continue reading

The post Leaving Loaded Dice on the Table for Biden appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

CIA Partners with Google, Amazon and IBM in Latest Big Tech Procurement Drive

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/11/2020 - 7:35am in

Tags 

News, CIA

The vaunted “17 intelligence agencies” that comprise the U.S. intel community will be sharing a network of private-sector cloud computing service providers which includes Microsoft, Google, Oracle, IBM, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) as part of a 15-year contract said to be worth tens of billions of dollars.

AWS currently holds the sole contract to provide cloud computing services to a number of intelligence agencies, including the FBI and the NSA. That contract is set to expire in 2023 and this new award – managed by the CIA – will further weaken Amazon’s once privileged position in the federal money sweepstakes, which had already taken a hard hit when Microsoft was unexpectedly chosen over Bezos’ company for the Department of Defense’s own cloud services contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) program.

The Central Intelligence Agency will take full advantage of its access to money without oversight to disburse the government funds at the agency’s discretion. Although speculated to rise into the tens of billions, the CIA has no plans to disclose the real value of the C2E contracts. The Commercial Cloud Enterprise (C2E) procurement program was unveiled in February by the premier U.S. spy agency in a bid to establish a cloud computing service platform for the country’s intelligence agencies separate from JEDI, which remains enmeshed in a protracted legal contest with AWS and is two years behind implementation.

The five tech giants will compete with each other for “task orders” that come in from the multitude of intelligence agencies throughout the country and will span every security clearance level up to and including top secret clearance. The contract calls for the building of infrastructure and all other basic cloud services, as well as professional services and public-facing services.

 

The more things change…

Many seem surprised by the multi-contractor, ad hoc nature of the C2E awards because it “appears not to settle on a particular cloud provider” and while these dynamics do stray from the relatively recent trend of sole-contract awards and tacit monopolies many corporations have enjoyed through similar public-private partnerships, this particular practice of pitting contractors against each other for services requisitioned by the government is not new.

In fact, such practices are an intrinsic part of the military industrial complex and its historical origins at the height of the British empire. The start of the Glorious Revolution in 1688 marked the beginning of 125 years of constant war for the global superpower of the day and the slow but inexorable rise of an industry of war made up exclusively of freelancers who would make the guns, rifles, and bullets their bloodthirsty Queen required.

As the empire grew, the processes for the production of weapons underwent a dramatic change from artisanal modes to full-fledged factory-style production; all spurred by the biggest army and navy in the world, which was pillaging and extracting resources to fuel the burgeoning enterprise of capitalism.

British Sten Gun

Workers at the Royal Ordnance Factory in Liverpool, England inspect the finished Sten guns. Photo | Imperial War Musuem

This period also fine-tuned the relationship between the state and independent contractors, with the former establishing laws governing them in order to leverage their overwhelming advantage. Other strategies were also employed to both suppress the price the Crown paid for materiel and to make sure that no single contractor held too big a stake in the supply chain.

In her book “Empire of Guns,” Priya Satia details this entire process and destroys the myth that the Industrial Revolution was the result of a cotton-picking machine when even a cursory look at the history shows that it was guns and a state engaged in perpetual war that laid the foundations of our current economic paradigm.

Now, we stand on the threshold of the so-called “Fourth Industrial Revolution” in a world that has perfected weapons of war to atomic levels. New ‘cyberweapons’ are being forged and it is only fitting that the war industry, led today by the United States, would return to its origins to maintain its own monopoly on human suffering and devastation in the name of profit.

 

Return to the roots

The public-private partnership has been another significant trend that also mirrors a ubiquitous trend in Victorian England. But, in today’s world, a parallel legal system has grown alongside the state’s war industry and is also now at the disposal of the corporations who wish to dispute any deal, leading to considerable delays in the execution of contracts.

Cases like the JEDI suit affect the military readiness goals of the national security state if it cannot move forward with a particular initiative due to litigation. Another recent case is holding up the Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency’s (CISA) efforts to centralize inflow and outflow of data regarding cyber-threats.

In October, the Government Services Agency (GSA), awarded a $13 Million-dollar contract to a company called EnDyna to “create a centralized database that agencies can use to report, discover and take actions against cyber threat information.” A much larger competitor, HackerOne, filed a protest questioning the award on grounds of failure to meet eligibility requirements and the smaller company’s competence to carry out the work.

Technicalities like these can hold up a project in court for years, so it makes perfect sense for the state-run war industry to return to its roots and apply the tried and true principles of divide and conquer against the people making their guns, whether real or virtual. By taking the first few spots on the Big Tech pecking order and putting them in a room to duke it out for a government contract, the war establishment is recognizing the growing power of these firms and is unleashing the CIA to curb it and diminish threats to the supply chain of the twenty-first century’s permanent war economy.

Feature photo | The Central Intelligence Agency flag is displayed, partially cast in a shadow. David Goldman | AP

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post CIA Partners with Google, Amazon and IBM in Latest Big Tech Procurement Drive appeared first on MintPress News.

Afghanistan: US Supported Islamist Fighters in order to Provoke Russian Invasion

Here’s another piece of US myth-making that William Blum skewers, the story that America only started funding the Islamist fighters, the Mujahideen, after the Russians invaded. America supported them as a resistance movement against Soviet occupation. In fact, the truth is almost the direct opposite. The Russians invaded the country because the US was conspiring with the Mujahideen to overthrow its secular, but pro-Russian, government. Blum writes in America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy

The Russians were not in Afghanistan to conquer it. The Soviet Union had lived next door to the country for more than sixty years without any kind of invasion. It was only when the United States intervened in Afghanistan to replace a government friendly to Moscow with one militantly anti-communist that the Russians invaded to do battle with the US-supported Islamic jihadists; precisely what the US would have done to prevent a communist government in Canada or Mexico. (p. 83).

In fact America supported the Islamist insurgency against the Afghan government in order to provoke the Soviets to invade. In his book Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (London: Zed Books 2014), Blum states

Consider Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security advisor to Jimmy Carter. In a 1998 interview he admitted that the official story that the US gave military aid to the Afghanistan opposition only after the Soviet invasion in 1979 was a lie. The truth was, he said, that the US began aiding the Islamic fundamentalist moujahedeen six months before the Russians made their move, even though he believed-and told this to Carter, who acted on it-that “this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.”

Brzezinski was asked whether he regretted this decision.

“Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving the USSR its Vietnam War. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.”

Besides the fact that there’s no demonstrable connection between the Afghanistan war and the breakup of the Soviet empire, we are faced with the consequences of that war: the defeat of a government committed to bringing the extraordinarily backward nation into the 20th century; the breathtaking carnage; moujahideen torture that even US government officials called “indescribable horror”; half the population either dead, disabled or refugees; the spawning of thousands of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists, who have unleashed atrocities in numerous countries and the astounding repression of women in Afghanistan, instituted by America’s wartime allies. (pp.5-6).

It’s ironic that one of the countries that became a victim to Islamist terror was America itself. The Soviet withdrawal convinced the terrorists that they could defeat America, just as they had defeat its rival superpower. And so they plotted the attack launched on 9/11.

Blum also makes it very clear that the subsequent American invasion of Afghanistan also wasn’t in reprisal for the attack, which was the overwhelmingly the work of Saudi nationals with deep connections to the Saudi secret services. It wasn’t done to free the Afghan people from the repressive Islamist government that the Americans had actually helped to install. No, the Americans had been on good terms with the Taliban. When the Taliban was willing to cooperate with them over the construction of an oil pipeline. When talks stalled over that, the Americans threatened them with military action and then invaded six months later.

America’s wars in Afghanistan are all about geopolitics and protecting American oil interests, nothing more. And the Afghan people, not to mention everyone else killed and maimed by the Islamist terror groups those wars have produced, are the real victims. And that includes our brave boys and girls, who have been sent in kill and die for the profits of western multinationals.

And America’s legacy of terror in the Middle East naturally worries people from the region. I’ve spoken to people from those countries, who told me they were worried about Joe Biden. They weren’t impressed with Trump, but they were worried about Biden, because of his connection to Carter. Carter was the US president at the time of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. I don’t think you can blame him for that, as you can the mujahideen in Afghanistan. The Americans really didn’t see the Iranian revolution coming, and when the Ayatollah Khomeini did arrive, they completely failed to realize what would happen. The CIA believed that he would lead a peaceful revolution like Gandhi. If only. However, America did support the Shah, who by the time of the Islamic revolution was a bitterly hated absolute monarch who ruled through terror.

It seems everything we’ve been told about Afghanistan is a lie, a lie that is continually told by the lamestream media and the western political-industrial establishment.

And the broader message is that just as you can’t believe what you’ve been told about Afghanistan, so you shouldn’t believe anything else about the supposed benign actions of the American empire and its allies either.

Angelina Jolie’s MI6 Interview Shows Just How Connected Hollywood Is To the Deep State

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/11/2020 - 3:43am in

With election fever still gripping the U.S., talk of rigging or interference in the democratic process is reaching new levels, high enough that even Hollywood legend Angelina Jolie is talking about it. In an extraordinary interview in Time magazine, the star of “Wanted, Maleficent, and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” sat down with the former head of the UK’s MI6 spy network, Sir Alex Younger, to ask how worrying the threat from Russia or China really is.

“Russia feels threatened by the quality of our alliances and, even in the current environment, the quality of our democratic institutions. It sets out to denigrate them, and it uses intelligence services to that end. It is a serious problem, and we should organize to prevent it,” the British spook told the actress.

Younger also went on to discuss the rise of China, and how the West must act to challenge the supposed threat Beijing poses. “We are going to have two sharply different value systems in operation on the same planet for the foreseeable future. We mustn’t be naïve. We need to retain the capacity to defend ourselves,” he told Jolie.

Never challenging him, Jolie even asked the head of perhaps the world’s most notorious spying agency how we can protect ourselves from fake information.

To some, the pairing of a Hollywood star and a veteran spymaster might seem strange. But, in reality, the silver screen and the national security state have always been intimately intertwined. And as much as Jolie presents herself as a leading humanitarian, even being appointed as a Special Envoy for the UN Commission for Refugees, she has spent an inordinate amount of her free time rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s worst human rights abuses.

At World Refugee Day in 2005, Jolie shared a stage with then-U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice was a key player in the Bush administration, responsible for the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions, two of the world’s worst humanitarian and refugee crises that continue to plague the planet to this day.

Jolie herself has slowly become a leading member of the U.S. national security apparatus, joining the influential and well-endowed Council on Foreign Relations think tank in 2007, and penning a joint op-ed in The New York Times with John McCain two years ago calling for U.S. intervention in Syria and Myanmar. “Around the world, there is profound concern that America is giving up the mantle of global leadership,” they questionably asserted, decrying America’s “steady retreat over the past decade” that has, “dangerously eroded the rule of law,” and condemned the Trump administration’s inaction in Syria that could have “deterred mass atrocities,” and reduced the refugee crisis.

 

Salt

Jolie’s collaboration with high-level government officials is not limited to her personal life, however. The 45-year-old Californian has also worked closely, and openly, with CIA officials as part of her movies. A case in point is the 2010 blockbuster Salt, where Jolie plays a CIA agent accused of being a Russian spy. The movie was released at the same time as the real-life Anna Chapman scandal, where the Russian national was caught spying for her country inside the U.S., and marked the beginning of hardening American relations with Moscow, ending up at the point where some have declared the beginning of a new Cold War.

Salt was the first big cultural product reflecting this geopolitical change, for most of the 2000s Hollywood had no interest in evil Russians,” Tom Secker, an investigative journalist with SpyCulture.com told MintPress. “If you watch the film the Russian politicians are clearly based on Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev.”

Salt, Angelina Jolie Evil Russian

Jolie, playing an evil Russian spy in Salt, chokes out an NYPD officer

“We talked to a lot of the women in the CIA,” said Jolie of her experiences preparing for her role. She appeared to have nothing but admiration for the organization; “One after the other, they are just these lovely, sweet women that you can‟t imagine being put in a dangerous situation, but they really are,” she added. Salt even hired a former CIA officer to be an on-set technical advisor.

A CIA document Secker shared with MintPress highlights the extent of CIA involvement in Hollywood and their reasons for doing so. “In an effort to ensure an accurate portrayal of the men and women of the CIA,” it reads. “For years the Agency has worked with creative artists from across the entertainment industry. [The CIA Office of Public Affairs] interacts with directors, producers, screenwriters, authors, documentarians, actors and others to help debunk myths and provide authenticity, and of course to protect Agency equities,” it adds. But perhaps the most important reason stated is, “to help prevent inappropriate negative depictions of the Agency,” in mass media.

 

Propaganda on an enormous scale

The level of state involvement in Salt is far from abnormal. In fact, Alford and Secker’s book “National Security Cinema” details how, since 2005, documents they obtained showed that the Department of Defense alone had closely collaborated in the production of over 1,000 movies or TV shows. This includes many of the largest film franchises, such as “Iron Man,” “Transformers,” “James Bond,” and “Mission: Impossible,” and hit TV shows like “The Biggest Loser,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Master Chef” and “The Price is Right.”

In general, the military or the CIA will offer free services to productions, such as the use of prohibitively expensive military equipment, or technical direction, in exchange for editorial control over scripts. This allows the agencies to make sure the power, prestige, and integrity of these organizations are not challenged. Sometimes entire movies are radically rewritten.

“The Department of Defense actually apologized in their covering letter to the producers of “Hulk” (2003), since the changes they required were so extensive,” Dr. Matthew Alford of the University of Bath told MintPress.

But really the disturbing thing here is the pattern and the scale…What I suggest is that we focus on the deliberate, major, secretive pressures that rewrite scripts — and we find they’re all on the side of the national security state. Systematically scrubbed from the screen is an unsavoury century of military history including war crimes, illegal arms sales, racism and sexual assault, torture, coups, assassinations, and weapons of mass destruction. It amounts to the airbrushing of an entire mediated culture.”

Thus, the large majority of big-budget productions featuring military or intelligence services have been greenlighted by the national security state, who have negotiated for control over the message in order to better propagandize both Americans and the global public. However, serious antiwar content rarely makes it to network TV or Hollywood drawing boards, so wholescale interference is usually unnecessary.

In 2014, former Deputy Counsel or Acting General Counsel of the CIA, John Rizzo, wrote that his organization “has long had a special relationship with the entertainment industry, devoting considerable attention to fostering relationships with Hollywood movers and shakers—studio executives, producers, directors, big-name actors.” Many of America’s most familiar faces have visited the organization’s headquarters in Langley, VA, including Will Smith, Robert De Niro, Mike Myers, Bryan Cranston, and Tom Cruise.

In recent years, collaboration has become even more overt. The Department of Defense even tweeted out during the Oscars how proud it is to work so closely with Hollywood to further its own image.

https://twitter.com/deptofdefense/status/970461390283587585?lang=en

Meanwhile, the latest series of the hit spy show “Jack Ryan,” for instance, has the eponymous CIA hero travel to Venezuela to help overthrow tyrannical dictator Nicolas Reyes (a clear allusion to current president Nicolas Maduro). John Krasinski, who plays Ryan, said that he worked closely with the Agency in order to make the show more realistic. Krasinski also described the CIA as amazingly “apolitical.” “They’re always trying to do the right thing,” he said of them, claiming they “care about the country in a bigger, more idealistic way.”

Last month, a real CIA agent, Matthew John Heath, was arrested outside Venezuela’s largest oil refinery carrying explosives, a grenade launcher, a submachine gun, and stacks of U.S. dollars.

“Probably Hollywood is full of CIA agents and we just don’t know it. And I wouldn’t be surprised at all to discover that this was extremely common,” said “Batman” star Ben Affleck in 2012, before going to describe himself, perhaps jokingly, as a CIA agent himself.

 

Propaganda works

The effect of years of propaganda has been to improve the standing of the deep state and make the American public more conducive to supporting the tactics of the CIA and the military. One academic study found that showing torture scenes from the hit spy series “24” to liberal college students made them far more likely to support the use of it against anyone deemed an enemy of the state.

Democrat-aligned voters’ opinion of the FBI has been steadily rising over the last decade, to the point that 77% hold a favorable view of the institution (and almost two-thirds of the country supports the CIA).

Thus, while the entertainment industry might be liberal in that it largely opposes Trump and donates to the Democratic Party, it works closely to support and uphold the national security state, promotes ultra-patriotism and American aggression throughout the world. While Jolie might present herself as a champion of human rights, working with the very institutions responsible for destroying those rights around the globe undermines this assertion.

Feature photo | Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie addresses a press conference at Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, Feb. 5, 2019. Photo | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Angelina Jolie’s MI6 Interview Shows Just How Connected Hollywood Is To the Deep State appeared first on MintPress News.

‘I’ on Vote by Chileans to Get Rid of Pinochet Constitutions

Here’s a piece of good news from Tuesday’s I for 27th October 2020. According to this piece by Aislinn Laing, entitled ‘Citizens vote to scrap Pinochet-era constitution’, the Chilean people overwhelmingly voted to get rid of the constitution that’s been governing the country since General Pinochet’s Fascist dictatorship. The article runs

Citizens poured into the country’s main squares on Sunday night after voters gave a ringing endorsement to a plan to tear up the country’s Pinochet-era constitution in favour of a new charter drafted by citizens.

In Santiago’s Plaza Italia, the focus of the massive and often violent social protests last year which sparked the demand for a new “magna carta”, fireworks rose above a crowd of tens of thousands of jubilant people singing in unison as the word “rebirth” was beamed onto a tower above.

With more than three-quarters of the votes counted, 78.12 per cent of the voters had opted for the new charter. Many have expressed hopes that a new text will temper an unabashedly capitalist ethos with guarantees of more equal rights to healthcare, pensions and education. As votes were counted on live television around the country, spontaneous parties broke out in the streets.

It’s clearly not only Spain that is voting to get rid of the legacy of its Fascist dictators. Pinochet seized power thanks to a coup organised and assisted by the CIA, because America could not tolerate a democratically elected Marxist regime on its doorstep. The former president, Salvador Allende, vanished and left-wingers were rounded up and sent to prison camps in which they were raped, tortured and massacred. And just to make it clear that Pinochet himself thought he was Fascist, the regime’s military uniforms were deliberately modelled on those of the Nazis.

Pinochet was a Monetarist, and Milton Friedman and others from the Chicago school went on trips to Chile to see how he was implementing their wretched economic theories. Friedman and the rest looked forward to the seizure of power by a Fascist dictator, because they realised that people would not vote for a leader determined to destroy the welfare state.

He was also a friend of Maggie Thatcher. She liked him because of the assistance he gave Britain during the Falkland’s War. And doubtless the other reasons behind their friendship was that she had also started her career as a Monetarist and similarly wanted to destroy socialism. When Pinochet came to Britain, I think she put him up at her house, and complained bitterly when Blair attempted to have him arrested for the murder of a Spanish lad.

Pinochet may have made Chile safe for capitalism, but his legacy has been terrible. He wrecked his country’s education when he adopted the Monetarist scheme to give its citizens vouchers, which they could spend on state or private schooling. Buddyhell, Guy Debord’s Cat, put up an article about how this destroyed the Chilean education system and resulted in gaping educational inequalities.

I think it’s brilliant that the Chilean’s have decided to get rid of the dictator’s constitution, and hope that the new constitution they decide on will give its people greater access to welfare benefits.

And I hope it won’t be too long before the legacy of Pinochet’s friend Thatcher is thrown out over here.

See: https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/remembering-the-other-911/

https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2011/08/26/chile-neoliberalism-and-discontent/

David Price Takes on the CIA Over Its Secret Torture Program, But Is He Asking the Right Questions?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 17/10/2020 - 1:24am in

Democratic Congressman David Price wants the CIA to come clean about its Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation (RDI) program which detained, interrogated, disappeared, and tortured potentially thousands of Muslims at CIA “black sites” around the world from the fall of 2001 until 2009 when its discovery led to its notorious end.

In a letter addressed to CIA director Gina Haspel last week, the North Carolina representative and chairman of the Transportation and HUD appropriations subcommittee asked for more details about his state’s role in the covert operation, requesting the release of certain classified materials pertaining to the use of North Carolina facilities and residents in the rendition process.

Price raises important questions that remain unanswered despite several years of research and pressure by activist organizations and journalists into the still elusive truth about the systematic policy of kidnapping and torture instituted via a secret memorandum signed by George W. Bush only six days after the events of September 11, 2001.

Congressman Price frames his letter to Haspel in terms of concern for the people of his home state of North Carolina, which is enough to embody at least the pretense of justice. But, given the unspeakable suffering and horrors visited upon the unknown number of innocent victims of the RDI program, Price’s late and limited election-time appeal smacks of political showmanship.

Laudable as the Congressman’s efforts may be, they still fall short of probing the darkest truths behind the RDI program, which threaten to expose the American war machine and the interests that motivate it.

 

Vacation in Macedonia

Khaled El-Masri was about to ring in 2004 in one of the oldest parts of the old world when he was forcibly abducted by a crew of seven or eight armed men and held in a hotel for 23 days. It would mark the beginning of a heart-wrenching ordeal for El-Masri, a German-Lebanese citizen who never imagined his vacation in Macedonia would include a nearly five-month layover in a CIA torture facility.

According to investigators with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which filed a lawsuit on his behalf in 2007, El-Masri was chained, hooded, drugged and flown to the American-occupied city of Kabul in Afghanistan via Baghdad aboard a Boeing aircraft with a tail number registered in North Carolina. He was held in a small concrete cell inside a former brick factory outside of Kabul with no bed for the following five months, where he was beaten, tortured, and interrogated by Arabic-speaking men about his supposed and never-proven links to the September 11 hijackers. In May of 2004, El-Masri was flown to Albania and unceremoniously dumped in the foreign country to fend for himself.

CIA torture

A composite image of CIA torture victims from a senate ‘torture report’ released as part of a ACLU lawsuit

His story was repeated hundreds, if not thousands of times with baselessly targeted Muslims, including children and pregnant women, who were abducted by CIA-backed mercenaries under the auspices of the RDI program. The official number of victims acknowledged by the U.S. government sits at just over 100 people, but the full scope of the covert torture operation has yet to be revealed since the government’s own Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program remains classified.

Nevertheless, independent studies of the RDI program have unearthed enough evidence to conclude that the scale of the illegal CIA-run operation far exceeds the tally so far. The plane used to fly El-Masri was one of two aircraft owned by a CIA front company and operated out of North Carolina in a highly-protected corner of the state’s Global TransPark – a multi-modal center that houses major aerospace manufacturing facilities, like Spirit AeroSystems and Boeing and military facilities.

The airplane in question, tail number N313P, is linked back to a small company called Aero Contractors, Ltd., which is cited in the Congressman’s letter and is at the center of many of the independent inquiries into the matter. However, Aero Contractor’s role – while significant – is much more narrow than that of the company to which the aircraft was sold to before the renditions began.

 

The shell in the shell

Founded in 1979 by a former pilot with the CIA’s Air America, Aero Contractors works through several shell companies. One of these companies, Premier Executive Transport Services, purchased the N313P aircraft within weeks of the RDI program’s start and performed a number of technical upgrades to the plane, including the installation of vertical fins to help it take off from short runways or rough weather conditions, as well as boosting fuel efficiency, among other tweaks to improve the airplane’s overall range.

Investigative reporter and expert in clandestine military installations, Trevor Paglen, together with ProPublica staff reporter A.C. Thompson, manage to pull the curtain back somewhat in their book, Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the Cia’s Rendition Flights, disclosing that after the modifications were made, the plane was sold to another shady outfit registered in Reno, Nevada called Keeler and Tate Management Group LLC., which they traced back to one of the most powerful lobbying firms in DC, the Paul Laxalt Group, and run by its now-deceased founder, Paul Laxalt and his brother Peter.

While Aero Contractor pilots and mechanics continued to take care of the technical operation of the aircraft, it was the CIA-front Nevada company, Keeler and Tate Management, that was in charge of the renditions and other more germane aspects of the RDI.

CIA torture North Carolina

The only known photo of a CIA plane on CIA property taken at CIA leased facilities at the Johnston County Airport, North Carolina. Photo | Clayton Hallmark

The lack of attention to this particular detail speaks volumes, considering that Paul Laxalt, a former Republican governor of Nevada and one of the biggest names in the state’s politics, was also a liaison between the Senate and the White House during the Iran-Contra scandal. In addition to being a close confidant to Ronald Reagan and thrice running his election campaigns, Laxalt was also late CIA director William Casey’s good friend.

Laxalt’s lobbying firm, now run by his daughter Michelle Laxalt, has an extensive clientele and was representing many defense industry stalwarts like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Honeywell, and many others in 2001. His relationship to the company that owned N313P and N379P – the two aircraft used to carry out over 77 illegal rendition flights, that are still unaccounted for – has been ignored by most investigations into the RDI program.

The North Carolina Congressman’s letter to Gina Haspel focuses on Aero Contractors and never mentions Laxalt or Keeler and Tate, the front company he ran for the CIA. Stopping the inquiry about one of the most egregious and coordinated abuses of human rights in modern times at the feet of a contractor seems a disservice to the truth and to the possibly thousands of illegally detained and tortured men, women, and children of Muslim persuasion.

 

The unaccounted for

According to annex B included in Congressman David Price’s letter to the CIA director, the mission of 77 “suspicious circuits flown” by the two aforementioned aircraft operated by Aero Contractors “remains to be determined.” It is a form of political sophistry to give Aero Contractors the benefit of the doubt, considering that all the evidence points towards the obvious.

In the rendition flight logs that have been disclosed, 49 prisoners were transported to multiple locations throughout the Middle East, Asia, and Eastern Europe. Like El-Masri, many abductees were dropped in countries they knew nothing about. Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Iraq, and, of course, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba are among the destinations several of these victims of naked U.S. imperialism were shuttled to and tortured.

The fate of the majority of these victims is unknown and is one of the questions Price poses to Haspel. But, in light of events that have transpired in the world since 9/11 and the proliferation of ISIS and other terrorist groups, it behooves us to not fall into our own sophistries and pretend that we really don’t know.

Feature photo | This photo depicting two people, appearing to be bound, was released the by Department of Defense as part of a long-running ACLU lawsuit relating to CIA torture on February 5, 2015.

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post David Price Takes on the CIA Over Its Secret Torture Program, But Is He Asking the Right Questions? appeared first on MintPress News.

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