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The Assange Extradition Ruling Is A Relief, But It Isn’t Justice

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/01/2021 - 1:31am in

British Judge Vanessa Baraitser has ruled against US extradition for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but not for the reasons she should have.

Baraitser’s frightening ruling supported virtually every US prosecutorial argument that was made during the extradition trial, no matter how absurd and Orwellian. This includes quoting from a long-discredited CNN report alleging without evidence that Assange made the embassy a “command post” for election interference, saying the right to free speech does not give anyone “unfettered discretion” to disclose any document they wish, dismissing arguments from the defense that UK law prohibits extradition for political offenses, parroting the false claim that Assange’s attempt to help protect his source Chelsea Manning while she was exfiltrating documents she already had access to was not normal journalistic behavior, saying US intelligence might have had legitimate reasons to spy on Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy, and claiming Assange’s rights would be protected by the US legal system if he were extradited.

“Judge is just repeating the US case, including its most dubious claims, in Assange case,” tweeted activist John Rees during the proceedings.

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In the end, though, Baraitser ruled against extradition. Not because the US government has no business extraditing an Australian journalist from the UK for exposing its war crimes. Not because allowing the extradition and prosecution of journalists under the Espionage Act poses a direct threat to press freedoms worldwide. Not to prevent a global chilling effect on natsec investigative journalism into the behaviors of the largest power structures on our planet. No, Baraitser ultimately ruled against extradition because Assange would be too high a suicide risk in America’s draconian prison system.

Assange is still not free, and he is not out of the woods. The US government has said it will appeal the decision, and Baraitser has the legal authority to keep Assange locked in Belmarsh Prison until that appeals process has been carried through all the way to its end. Discussions on bail and release will resume on Wednesday, and Assange will remain imprisoned in Belmarsh at least until that time. Due to Assange’s bail offense which resulted from taking political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012, it’s very possible that bail will be denied and he will remain imprisoned throughout the US government appeal.

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), the Australian trade union to which Assange belongs as a journalist, has released a statement on the ruling which outlines the situation nicely.

“Today’s court ruling is a huge relief for Julian, his partner and family, his legal team and his supporters around the world,” said MEAA Media Federal President Marcus Strom. “Julian has suffered a 10-year ordeal for trying to bring information of public interest to the light of day, and it has had an immense impact on his mental and physical health.”

“But we are dismayed that the judge showed no concern for press freedom in any of her comments today, and effectively accepted the US arguments that journalists can be prosecuted for exposing war crimes and other government secrets, and for protecting their sources,” Strom added. “The stories for which he was being prosecuted were published by WikiLeaks a decade ago and revealed war crimes and other shameful actions by the United States government. They were clearly in the public interest. The case against Assange has always been politically motivated with the intent of curtailing free speech, criminalising journalism and sending a clear message to future whistleblowers and publishers that they too will be punished if they step out of line.”

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Indeed, the ruling today was a huge relief for Assange, his family, and for all his supporters around the world. But it wasn’t justice.

“It’s good to hear that court has ruled against the extradition of Julian Assange but I am wary of the fact it’s on mental health grounds,” AP’s Joana Ramiro commented on the ruling. “It’s a rather feeble precedent against the extradition of whistleblowers and/or in defence of the free press. Democracy needs better than that.”

“This wasn’t a victory for press freedom,” tweeted journalist Glenn Greenwald. “Quite the contrary: the judge made clear she believed there are grounds to prosecute Assange in connection with the 2010 publication. It was, instead, an indictment of the insanely oppressive US prison system for security ‘threats’.”

It is good that Baraitser ultimately ruled against extradition, but her ruling also supported the entirety of the US government’s prosecutorial narrative that would allow for extradition of journalists under the Espionage Act in the future. The ruling is a significant step toward freedom for Julian Assange, but it changes nothing as far as global imperialist tyranny is concerned.

So the appropriate response at this time is a sigh of relief, but not celebration. The Assange case has never been about just one man; the greater part of the battle, the one we are all fighting, continues unabated.

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That said, the message of the empire here was essentially “We totally coulda extradited you if we wanted, but you’re too crazy,” which sounds a lot like the international diplomacy equivalent of “I could kick your ass but you’re not worth it.” It’s a way of backing down while still saving face and appearing to be a threat. But everyone looking on can see that backing down is still backing down.

I think it’s a safe bet that if this case hadn’t had such intense scrutiny on it from all over the world, we would have heard a different ruling today. The empire did what it could to try and intimidate journalists with the possibility of prison for exposing its malfeasance, but in the end, it backed down.

I’m not going to take that as a sign that we’ve won the war, or even the battle. But it is a sign that our punches are landing. And that we’ve got a fighting chance here.

______________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Poems For Rebels or my old book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Never Forget How The MSM Smeared Assange: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 03/01/2021 - 1:23pm in

The frenetic mass media propaganda campaign against Julian Assange was easily the creepiest and most Orwellian thing I’ve ever witnessed. And now it is silent. It did its job and then disappeared, before the public could really notice what was happening. It’s absolutely stunning.

You wouldn’t know it now, but between late 2016 and Assange’s arrest social media was full of blue-checkmarked narrative managers falling all over each other to be the first to come up with the day’s hottest smear painting a heroic journalist as a villain. Day after day after day. Smearing Assange was one of the easiest ways for an aspiring journalist to show current and prospective employers that you’re on the side of the empire. He was a soft target you could kick to signal that you’ll say whatever the Pentagon wants so you can climb the media ladder.

The smear campaign pervaded every political faction in every part of the US-centralized power alliance. Where they couldn’t get away with openly smearing him they circulated rightist psyops about Trump and Assange secretly working together and the extradition actually helping Assange, which was effectively the same as smearing him. The overwhelming majority of mainstream opinions about Assange are the result not of his work or the life he’s lived, but of a concerted propaganda campaign the majority of which took place between late 2016 and Assange’s arrest in April 2019. People just aren’t aware they’ve been propagandized.

The smear campaign went silent so quickly because it is now impossible to paint yourself as a brave up-punching journalist while smearing someone who is being openly prosecuted for journalism. So they’ve slinked off into the shadows, hoping we’ll forget what they did. Let’s not.

Our society is asking itself a very, very important question of the Assange case. The question we’re asking is this:

“Should journalists be jailed for exposing US war crimes? Yes or no?”

Our answer to this question will determine the future of our species.

Make no mistake, this question is all the Assange case is and has ever been about. Do not let the narrative managers twist it into being about anything other than this, because it isn’t. This is the question.

Do we want truth, or lies?

Do we want light, or darkness?

Do we want freedom, or slavery?

Do we want the right to know what the powerful are doing, or do we want to give them a private space to abuse us in?

Should journalists be jailed for exposing US war crimes? Yes or no?

The empire is trying to claim the right to imprison any journalist anywhere in the world who exposes its malfeasance. Our response to this claim absolutely will determine the fate of our species. We’re choosing whether the bastards get to keep holding the steering wheel or not.

One of the weirdest mainstream political beliefs is that secretive government agencies who did evil things in the past just don’t do evil things anymore. This belief is based on literally nothing. It’s believed because it’s comfortable.

Many, many nations have bad human rights records. When you find your mind focusing particularly on the ones the US empire doesn’t like, it’s because of propaganda.

Western propaganda hasn’t gotten less advanced since the Iraq invasion, it has gotten more advanced. The Russiagate psyop and the smear campaigns against Assange and Corbyn make this abundantly clear. The idea that the lies and propaganda which led to the Iraq invasion were a one-off fluke is itself the product of propaganda. You need to be more critical of western narratives than with Iraq, not less.

Manipulating public thought at mass scale is a science. Scientific fields don’t magically become less sophisticated over time, they become more sophisticated. Every time they run a new mass-scale manipulation, whether it succeeds or fails, they learn from it. And they evolve.

Psychedelics are beginning to get a fair hearing from science because neoliberalism is making everyone too crazy and depressed to turn the gears of the machine, so the machine is desperately looking for miracle cures to get the slaves functional again. Lucky for us this will work against them; if psychedelics had turned out to be a useful tool of social control they’d have remained legal, and the CIA wouldn’t have abandoned them decades ago.

On January 20th America’s coasts will heave a huge sigh of relief. This sigh will be based entirely on ignorance and narative spin. Nothing will fundamentally change.

People keep predicting coups, mass arrests and unprecedented upheavals in the US government because the mass media is acting very strange, which creates the illusion that the US government itself is acting very strange. Meanwhile the empire marches on completely uninterrupted.

What people are misperceiving is that it isn’t the US government that’s changing, it’s the international world order. The US is approaching post-primacy and is unleashing tons of propaganda to roll out international agendas to prevent this, hence the bizarre behavior. The information ecosystem looks wild, so America-fixated Americans get the mistaken impression that it’s their government that is behaving wildly. Meanwhile great care is taken to maintain stability in the hub of the global empire, so all these prophecies of upheaval keep shooting blanks.

In other words it’s not Trump or Biden who’s on the precipice of being unseated by a huge paradigm-shifting upheaval: it’s the US empire itself.

It would be so dumb if we kill ourselves with nuclear war. Imagine after all the other things we’ve been worrying about, we see the mushroom clouds and we’re like “So this is how it ends? With all those weapons we deliberately invented and stockpiled for the explicit purpose of ending it?”

The most powerful new year’s intention is to sincerely want to remove the blocks to your healing. Whether those blocks be mental, emotional, physical or out there in the real world, health is your natural state and you are safe to let go of anything impeding your health.

Humanity will never move into a healthy way of functioning in collaboration with each other and with our ecosystem until we relinquish our fear-based attachment to the status quo that is driving us toward armageddon. As André Gide says, “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

______________________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Poems For Rebels or my old book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Stand with teachers: keep schools closed - model resolution

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 03/01/2021 - 1:34am in

A model resolution to put to your trade union branch or other organisation to build support for teachers and support staff

Let’s Be Absolutely Clear What’s At Stake In The Assange Case

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 02/01/2021 - 2:56pm in

When it comes to human behavior, things only change for the better when there is a lucid and unobstructed perception of what’s going on.

Self-destructive behavior patterns only go away when there’s a lucid and unobstructed perception of the previously unconscious psychological dynamics which were driving them.

Victims of abuse only end their abusive relationships when they obtain a lucid and unobstructed perception of the abusive dynamics as they truly are.

Toxic social dynamics like racism, sexism and homophobia only begin moving toward health when society collectively begins gaining a lucid and unobstructed understanding of how disordered and damaging those dynamics really are.

It only becomes unacceptable to have a totalitarian monarch who tortures and executes people without trial, murders anyone who speaks ill of him, and rules by divine right when society begins collectively gaining a lucid and unobstructed awareness of how ridiculous, unjust and unacceptable such models of government are.

Whether you’re talking about individuals or humanity in its entirety, the story of human progress has always been a story of moving from blindness to seeing. From unawareness to awareness. From the lights in the room being off to the lights being switched on.

There is no progress without clear seeing. We cannot move in the direction of health and harmony if we cannot lucidly perceive the ways in which we are still sick and dysfunctional. We can’t move forward if we’re unaware of the specific ways in which we are stuck in place.

Most of us, on some level, want things in our world to change for the better. Some few others want things to stay the same, because the status quo happens to be treating them quite well thank you very much. The struggle between the deep desire of the many for healthy change and the corrupt desire of the few to maintain the status quo is the struggle between turning the lights on and keeping them off. Between wanting to become aware of the various ways we are stuck so that we can move forward, and wanting the light of awareness as far away from our stuck points as possible.

The struggle for our species, which is really the struggle for our very survival, is therefore between the many who desire truth and the few who desire confusion. We’ve got numbers and truth on our side, but they have power, wealth, and a remarkable knack for psychological manipulation.

We see this struggle playing out in many ways in our world right now. Between propaganda and those trying to learn and share the truth. Between the push for internet censorship and the fight against it. Between government secrecy and freedom of information. Between the campaign to imprison WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for exposing US war crimes, and the campaign to free him.

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On Monday January 4th a UK judge will be ruling on whether or not to allow the process of Assange’s extradition to the United States to move forward. It’s important for opponents of this extradition to be aware that the fight will not end at this time; there’s still a gruelling appeals process to go through which could take 18 to 24 months or longer in the likely event that the incredibly biased judge overseeing the case rules against Assange.

So as we prepare for the next stage in this fight, it’s important for us to be perfectly clear what’s at stake here.

It is absolutely true that this case will have far-reaching implications for press freedoms around the world. The imperial narrative managers have been toiling for years to frame the persecution of Julian Assange as something other than what it is, but in reality this case is about whether the most powerful government in the world is allowed to extradite journalists anywhere on earth who expose its malfeasance. Whether or not the United States should be allowed to imprison journalists for exposing its war crimes.

If the US succeeds in normalizing the legality of extraditing any journalist anywhere in the world who exposes its wrongdoing, there will be a worldwide cooling effect on national security journalism which will greatly impede humanity’s ability to form a lucid and unobstructed understanding of what’s going on in the world. The largest power structure on earth will have succeeded in not just turning the lights off in the room, but in uninstalling the light switch.

There is no legal case in the world right now where the struggle for lucid and unobstructed seeing has so much on the line. For this reason, this isn’t just about journalism: we really are collectively deciding the fate of our species with our response to the prospect of Assange’s extradition.

Are we going to allow the most powerful government on the planet to set a legal precedent which allows it to obstruct truth around the entire world? Or are we going to oppose this tooth and claw?

Are we going to allow power to remain corrupt and unaccountable? Or are we going to insist on our right to know what’s going on?

Are we going to let them keep the lights off? Or are we going to turn them on?

Are we going to let the bastards lock us into an omnicidal, ecocidal status quo while they drive us at a rapidly accelerating pace toward extinction and dystopia? Or are we going to move toward the kind of lucid and unobstructed perception of our situation which will allow us to progress into a healthy world?

These are the questions that we are in the process of answering together. I hope we can get everyone to very seriously consider what they want their own answer to be.

______________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Poems For Rebels or my old book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Bye-Bye, 2020

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 01/01/2021 - 5:15am in

Tags 

News, philosophy

Sometimes you have to zoom out and see the bigger picture to find the good news.

Here it is: humanity survived another year.

(Of course, in an audience of philosophers, there’s bound to be some people who disagree that this is good news. Perhaps they can be consoled by the fact that our continued survival gives them more time to try to convince others of their position.)

Zooming in, we find a lot of bad news, starting with roughly 1.8 million humans dying this year in the COVID-19 pandemic, another roughly 80 million sick with it to varying degrees, and a new, possibly more contagious strain of the virus beginning to make its way around the world.

Daily Nous focuses on the philosophy profession, and sometimes—perhaps often—what’s of interest to philosophers in their professional capacities and what’s of interest to the rest of the world diverges. But the pandemic and responses to it involved substantive philosophical issues in ethics and philosophy of science, as well as academic workplace-related matters, and so a number of posts here took them up.

Among the more popular philosophical pieces related to the pandemic were a pair of guest posts: “Thinking Rationally About Coronavirus COVID-19” by Alex Broadbent (Johannesburg) and “Further Philosophical Considerations about Covid-19: Why We Need Transparency” by Stefano Canali (Leibniz U. Hannover). In regards to the pandemic’s effects on the academic institutions philosophers work and study at, of particular interest were “Next Year’s ‘Extra Brutal’ Philosophy Job Market: Alternatives & Short-Term Opportunities?” and the follow-up, “Much Fewer Academic Philosophy Jobs Advertised This Season,” both featuring analyses by Charles Lassiter (Gonzaga). Readers were also concerned about PhD programs ceasing admissions in light of the pandemic, and whether faculty should be required to teach in person. You can check out other posts related to the pandemic here.

Other major news stories that had correspondingly popular posts were the U.S. Presidential election, about which a large edition of  “Philosophers On” (16 contributions) was put together, and the protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin.

Yet the most popular post this year at Daily Nous was about something most people haven’t heard of: a new language model for computers called GPT-3. “Philosophers On GPT-3,” a group post edited by Annette Zimmermann (York, Harvard) was widely circulated online, discussed on Hacker News and social media, and ended up in the Wikipedia article on GPT-3. It even prompted some GPT-3-authored replies.

A very popular topic this year continued to be threats to and eliminations of philosophy departments and philosophy major programs, typically owing to budget concerns that had been exacerbated by the pandemic. This included news like Liberty University’s firing of its entire philosophy faculty, Ohio University’s planned mass layoffs of facuty, and the proposal to eliminate the philosophy department at Illinois Wesleyan. There was enough of these kinds of attacks on philoosphy this year that the chair of one department asked that I create space at Daily Nous for the ongoing collection of information about the types of potential threats to philosophy departments, programs, and faculty, as well as strategies for responding to such threats. That’s here.

Posts concerning speech, toleration, academic freedom, and the quality of discourse were also, as usual, of great interest to Daily Nous readers. The most popular post in this area was my response to the Harper’s letter, “Illusion and Agreement in the Debate over Intolerance.” (Don’t worry, folks, I’m not mistaking the popularity of a post for agreement with it.) Other heavily-read and shared pieces on these topics included “Scholars Object to Publication of Paper Defending Race Science” (and the related “Controversy at Philosophical Psychology Leads to Editor’s Resignation“), “Should We Continue to Honor Hume With Buildings and Statues?“, “A Resignation at Philosophical Studies and a Reply from the Editors“, “Free Speech at Oxford“, “The First Amendment, a Philosophy Professor, and Pronouns“, “Philosophy Professor Fired After Posting Song on YouTube“, “Curry on George Floyd and the ‘Fake Outrage’ of Academic Philosophy“, “World-Burning, Intestine-Strangling, Death Threats, and Free Speech,” and “Problems with Philosophy on Facebook“.

Public philosophy has long been a regular topic at Daily Nous. This year saw the creation of the “Philosophy of Popular Philosophy” miniseries, edited by Aaron James Wendland (Massey College), as well as debate over the norms of public philosophy. Other public philosophy stories of note this year include a philosopher getting a six-figure advance for her book, a new coffee company donating 20% of its profits to philosophy education, the creators of a philosophically-minded public television show reaching out to the philosophical community, a celebrity endorsement of philosophy, a philosopher creating a “good life” guide to Rome, a team of Swedish philosophers helping their government with public health policy, the possible influence of philosophers on a Supreme Court decision, media training for philosophers, and the development and/or funding of public philosophy projects like the “Philosophy for Children Without Borders,” a bridge program for bringing high school ethics bowls to under-resourced high schools, a philosophy museum in Milan, and more. We also compiled a big list of philosophy podcasts.

Readers at Daily Nous weighed in on underappreciated philosophy of the past 50 years, decade by decade, the essays that all graduate students in philosophy should read, on what it takes to be an “awesome” first-year graduate student, and the philosophical issues on which they’ve changed their mind.

There was work on the question, “What is the best PhD program in philosophy?“, a major report on the state of the philosophy profession, various facts and figures about U.S. philosophy departments, posts about demographic trends in philosophy, some evidence that the philosophy major is back on the rise, support for efforts to expand the philosophical canon, and new ways of looking at the history of philosophy. We also saw the launch of the 2020 PhilPapers Survey.

Philosophers are people, too, so some “scandalous” stories were among the most popular at Daily Nous this year. These included the response from David Benatar (Cape Town) to a student’s accusations of racism, the curious case of a quickly-published article, and the discovery of a serial plagiarist working in the history of philosophy,

2020 saw the deaths of several philosophers, some of them quite well-known. They are listed here.

There were many more items posted at Daily Nous this year than I can list in a reasonably long post. If you think I missed a story worth including, feel free to mention it in the comments.

It has been a rough year for many people in many ways. I hope 2021 is better, and that it brings each of you some joy, love, beauty, insight, peace, fun, and whatever else you might want. I’m taking a break from Daily Nous until sometime next week. Until then, take care.

Justin


[JW taking in Julie Mehretu’s “Black City”]

The post Bye-Bye, 2020 appeared first on Daily Nous.

America Keeps Claiming Governments It Hates Are Paying Bounties On US Troops In Afghanistan

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/12/2020 - 2:15pm in

We’re now getting mass media reports that yet another country the US government doesn’t like has been trying to kill American troops in Afghanistan, with the accusation this time being leveled at China. This brings the total number of governments against which this exact accusation has been made to three: China, Iran, and Russia.

“The U.S. has evidence that the PRC [People’s Republic of China] attempted to finance attacks on American servicemen by Afghan non-state actors by offering financial incentives or ‘bounties’,” reads a new “scoop” from Axios, quoting anonymous officials who refused to name their sources.

“The Trump administration is declassifying as-yet uncorroborated intelligence, recently briefed to President Trump, that indicates China offered to pay non-state actors in Afghanistan to attack American soldiers, two senior administration officials tell Axios,” the evidence-free report claims.

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The Axios report is already being circulated into public consciousness by mass media outlets like CNN. It is co-authored by Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, whose career lately has been focused on churning out extremely aggressive narrative management about China for a liberal audience, including a ridiculous hit piece on The Grayzone and its coverage of Xinjiang which failed to list a single piece of false or inaccurate reporting by that outlet. This eagerness to help manipulate public perception of America’s number one geopolitical rival has seen Allen-Ebrahimian rewarded with plenty of attention from “sources” who provide her with endless career-amplifying “scoops”.

A few months ago, it was Iran we were being told is trying to use proxies to kill US troops in Afghanistan.

“US intelligence agencies assessed that Iran offered bounties to Taliban fighters for targeting American and coalition troops in Afghanistan, identifying payments linked to at least six attacks carried out by the militant group just last year alone, including a suicide bombing at a US air base in December,” CNN reported in August without any evidence.

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Before that it was Russia this same accusation was being leveled at, with mainstream news media shamelessly regurgitating claims by anonymous intelligence operatives and then citing each other to falsely claim they’d “confirmed” one another’s reporting back in June. The story was sent so insanely viral by mass media narrative managers eager to pressure Trump on Russia during an election year that when the top US military commander in Afghanistan said in September that no solid evidence had turned up for this claim it was completely ignored, and to this day the liberal commentariat still babble about “Russian bounties” as though they’re an actual thing that happened.

Three imperialism-targeted nations, same exact accusation. Pretty soon they’ll be telling us that bounties are being paid on US troops in Afghanistan by China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, Hezbollah, WikiLeaks, Jimmy Dore, and the entire staff of World Socialist Website.

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The “Bountygate” narrative was one of the most brazen psyops we’ve seen rammed straight from the US intelligence community into public consciousness with no lube in recent years, and it was so successful that they’re just spraying it all over the place to see if they can replicate its effects on other targeted governments.

It is not a coincidence that the information landscape is so confusing and bizarre right now. Our psyches are being hammered with more and more aggression by mass-scale psyops designed to manufacture support for increasing aggressions against the governments which have resisted absorption into the US-centralized empire, because as China rises and the US declines we’re moving toward a multipolar world.

A movement toward a multipolar world should not be a frightening prospect — it’s been the norm throughout the entirety of human civilization minus the last three decades — but after the fall of the Soviet Union the drivers of the US power alliance decided that US global hegemony must be preserved at all cost. Drastic measures will be undertaken to try and retain hegemony, and propaganda campaigns is being rolled out with increasing urgency to grease the wheels for those measures.

Meanwhile we’ve got nuclear-armed nations brandishing armageddon weapons at each other with increasing urgency and unpredictability because a few imperialists decided the entire planet should be governed from Washington DC. This, to put it gently, is an unsustainable situation.

_____________________

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The American Money Tree: The Untold Story of US Aid to Israel

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/12/2020 - 7:37am in

On December 21, the United States Congress passed the COVID-19 Relief Package, as part of a larger $2.3 trillion bill meant to cover spending for the rest of the fiscal year. As usual, US representatives allocated a massive sum of money for Israel.

While unemployment, thus poverty, in the US is skyrocketing as a result of repeated lockdowns, the US found it essential to provide Israel with $3.3 billion in ‘security assistance’ and $500 million for US-Israel missile defense cooperation.

Although a meager $600 dollar payment to help struggling American families was the subject of several months of intense debate, there was little discussion among American politicians over the large funds handed out to Israel, for which there are no returns.

Support for Israel is considered a bipartisan priority and has, for decades, been perceived as the most stable item in the US foreign policy agenda.  The mere questioning of how Israel uses the funds – whether the military aid is being actively used to sustain Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine, finance Jewish settlements, fund annexation of Palestinian land or violate Palestinian human rights – is a major taboo.

One of the few members of Congress to demand that aid to Israel be conditioned on the latter’s respect for human rights is Democratic Senator, Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, who was also a leading presidential nominee for the Democratic Party. “We cannot give it carte blanche to the Israeli government … We have the right to demand respect for human rights and democracy”, Sanders had said in October 2019.

His Democratic rival, now President-elect, Joe Biden, soon countered: “The idea that I’d withdraw military aid, as others have suggested, from Israel, is bizarre,” he said.

It is no secret that Israel is the world’s leading recipient of US aid since World War II.  According to data provided by the US Congressional Research Service, Israel has received  $146 billion of US taxpayers’ money as of November 2020.

From 1971 up to 2007, a bulk of these funds proved fundamental in helping Israel establish a strong economic base. Since then, most of the money has been allotted for military purposes, including the security of Israel’s illegal Jewish settlement enterprise.

Despite the US financial crisis of 2008, American money continued to be channeled to Israel, whose economy survived the global recession, largely unscathed.

In 2016, the US promised even more money. The Democratic Barack Obama Administration, which is often – although mistakenly – seen as hostile to Israel, increased US funding to Israel by a significant margin. In a 10-year Memorandum of Understanding, Washington and Tel Aviv reached a deal whereby the US agreed to give Israel $38 billion in military aid covering the financial years 2019-2028. This is a whopping increase of $8 billion compared with the previous 10-year agreement, which concluded at the end of 2018.

The new American funds are divided into two categories: $33 billion in foreign military grants and an additional $5 billion in missile defense.

American generosity has long been attributed to the unmatched influence of pro-Israeli groups, lead among them American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The last four years, however, required little lobbying by these groups, as powerful agents within the administration itself became Israel’s top advocates.

Aside from the seemingly endless ‘political freebies’ that the Donald Trump Administration has given Israel in recent years, it is now considering ways to accelerate the timetable of delivering the remainder of US funds as determined by the last MOU, an amount that currently stands at $26.4 billion. According to official congressional documents, the US “also may approve additional sales of the F-35 to Israel and accelerate the delivery of KC-46A refueling and transport aircraft to Israel.”

These are not all the funds and perks that Israel receives. Much more goes unreported, as it is channeled either indirectly or simply promoted under the flexible title of ‘cooperation’.

For example, between 1973 and 1991, a massive sum of $460 million of US funds was allocated to resettling Jews in Israel. Many of these new immigrants are now the very Israeli militants that occupy the West Bank illegal settlements. In this particular case, the money is paid to a private charity known as the United Israel Appeal which, in turn, gives the money to the Jewish Agency. The latter has played a central role in the founding of Israel on top of the ruins of Palestinian towns and villages in 1948.

Under the guise of charitable donations, tens of millions of dollars are regularly sent to Israel in the form of “tax-deductible gifts for Jewish settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” the New York Times reported. Much of the money, falsely promoted as donations for educational and religious purposes, often finds its way to funding and purchasing housing for illegal settlers, “as well as guard dogs, bulletproof vests, rifle scopes and vehicles to secure (illegal Jewish) outposts deep in occupied (Palestinian) areas.”

Quite often, US money ends up in the Israeli government’s coffers under deceptive pretenses. For example, the latest Stimulus Package includes $50 million to fund the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Funds, supposedly to provide investments in “people-to-people exchanges and economic cooperation … between Israelis and Palestinians with the goal of supporting a negotiated and sustainable two-state solution.”

Actually, such money serves no particular purpose, since Washington and Tel Aviv endeavor to ensure the demise of a negotiated peace agreement and work hand-in-hand to kill the now defunct two-state solution.

The list is endless, though most of this money is not included in the official US aid packages to Israel, therefore receives little scrutiny, let alone media coverage.

As of February 2019, the US has withheld all funds to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, in addition to cutting aid to the UN Palestinian Refugees agency (UNRWA), the last lifeline of support needed to provide basic education and health services to millions of Palestinian refugees.

Judging by its legacy of continued support of the Israeli military machine and the ongoing colonial expansion in the West Bank, Washington insists on serving as Israel’s main benefactor – if not direct partner – while shunning Palestinians altogether. Expecting the US to play a constructive role in achieving a just peace in Palestine does not only reflect indefensible naivety but willful ignorance as well.

Feature photo | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement at the Israeli Knesset, Dec. 22, 2020. Yonatan Sindel | Pool via AP

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net 

The post The American Money Tree: The Untold Story of US Aid to Israel appeared first on MintPress News.

Fingers Point to US-Backed Gov’t in Colombia’s Ninetieth Massacre of the Year

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/12/2020 - 7:13am in

It is the festive season in Colombia, but not everyone is celebrating. Sunday brought news of the ninetieth massacre of the year. Five people were found dead in Bolívar Department in the north of the country, among them former leftist guerilla Rosa Amalia Mendoza and her infant child. Meanwhile, just hours earlier in the southwestern department of Cauca, the brutally tortured body of 55-year-old Manuel Alonso Villegas was found on a roadside close to his hometown of Miranda.

Both Mendoza and Villegas had been members of the leftist guerilla group the FARC until 2016 when they and many others agreed to permanently lay down their weapons in a historic peace deal that promised to end the country’s decades-long civil war. Mendoza, 25, had reportedly become involved in local activism, founding the South Bolívar Agricultural and Environmental Housing Association. Meanwhile, Villegas had turned his hand to handicrafts, making custom shirts and other items. He was also active in a number of local community agricultural development projects.

His body was found only 200 meters from the gate of his community’s collective farm, something which locals perceive as a calculated “message.” “The community is really scared,” one local said, in a recording shared with MintPress. This was not the first time the town had experienced such terror. Last year, two brothers had also been murdered. Their mother died of a heart attack at their funeral.

James Jordan, National Co-Coordinator of the Alliance for Global Justice and a friend of Villegas’, spoke to MintPress about the incident. “Manuel was a master woodworker and had a room full of items he was selling, all the way from little stands to put your cell phone on to really nice beds and rocking chairs and cabinets,” he said.

One encounters news of all these killings and atrocities and massacres by the armed forces, paramilitaries and other armed groups. But when you get to know a community and see how eagerly they are working for peace, how enthusiastically they have handed over their guns for plows and sewing machines and woodworking tools, when you visit with these people where they live, share meals together, dance, play soccer, together, the depravity and cruelty of the enemies of the peace becomes visceral. I can still see Manuel’s face and to think of how his life and dreams have been extinguished so brutally is just not acceptable. Not only must we demand his murderers be apprehended and punished, but if we would see justice, we have to make Manuel’s dreams and hopes and spirit of peace our own.”

 

A secret campaign of targeted assassinations

The 2016 peace deal saw the FARC disband, ending armed struggle and taking up electoral politics under the name of the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force. Then-president Juan Manuel Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize for brokering the agreement.

However, the violence has only stopped in one direction as precious few of the government-aligned far-right paramilitaries have demobilized. Villegas and Mendoza are the 248th and 249th signatories of the 2016 deal to be murdered to date, suggesting a secret campaign of targeted assassinations. The Common Alternative Revolutionary Force condemned the violence, complaining that Colombia “does not give guarantees to those who [have] bet on peace.”

Colombia FARC

Relatives of Astrid Conde, a former FARC rebel, at her funeral in Bogota after she was gunned down near her home, March 8, 2020. Ivan Valenciaa | AP

The government has half-heartedly suggested drug trafficking as an explanation for many of the massacres, but few appear convinced. “If drug trafficking were a determining factor in homicides, it would be expected that this phenomenon would occur mostly in the coca-growing municipalities. However, the evidence indicates the opposite,” stated Giovanni Álvarez, Director of the Colombian Investigation and Accusation Unit.

While the homicide rate in Colombia has fallen this year, massacres have, by contrast, greatly increased, as has their bloodiness throughout 2020. Altogether, 375 people have now been murdered in mass killings this year, according to local human rights group Indepaz. “Every massacre is a message,” Manuel Rozental, a physician and longtime activist living in Cauca, not far from Villegas’ home, told MintPress earlier this year. “The massacres are methodic, systematic. It is a job being done as planned.”

Earlier this month, United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on the government to take “stronger and much more effective action to protect the population” from “appalling and pervasive violence.” “It is the state’s duty to be present throughout the country, implementing a whole range of comprehensive public policies, not only to clamp down on those responsible for the violence, but also to provide basic services and safeguard the fundamental rights of the population,” she added.

Few, however, seem to be expecting a radically different 2021. Colombia has long been the most dangerous place in the world to be an activist. Since 1989, according to human rights group Justice For Colombia, over 3,000 trade unionists have been assassinated, more than in the rest of the world combined. “In almost 100% of these killings, the perpetrators act with impunity,” Jordan said. This afternoon, Norbey Antonio Rivera from Cauca, became the latest social leader to be assassinated.

 

“Violence fueled by US policies”

Current president Ivan Duque is a strong conservative and a protege of the country’s former leader Álvaro Uribe, a figure who has dominated Colombian politics for most of the twenty-first century. Both Duque and Uribe bitterly opposed the 2016 peace deal, beseeching the public not to back it. Since assuming office in 2018, Duque has attempted to roll back parts of the agreement.

Uribe has an extremely close relationship with both the far-right paramilitary groups and organized drug cartels. While president from 2002 to 2010, he oversaw a years-long wave of murders of peasant, union, and indigenous leaders that resulted in over 10,000 deaths. Dubbed the “False Positives Scandal,” government-controlled forces would kill anyone they wished, later framing their victims as members of the FARC, both clearing their own name and justifying even more security spending. This allowed Uribe to impose his rule on the country, intimidating opponents into silence. His own political campaigns came financed, in turn, with money directly from the notorious Medellin drug cartel.

President George W. Bush presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington.

George W. Bush presents the Medal of Freedom to Alvaro Uribe, Jan. 13, 2009, during a White House ceremony

Paramilitary groups continue to hold considerable influence inside the country to this day. The COVID-induced lockdown has made it even easier for the death squads who still terrorize the country to operate freely, knowing precisely where their targets will be and meeting little organized resistance. Over 1.6 million Colombians have tested positive for coronavirus, with 42,620 deaths reported as of Wednesday — a similar per capita rate to the United States.

Who is to blame for this violence, and can it ever end? Jordan was clear that, while Colombians might be paying in blood, this was not a purely internal affair, and the source of the violence laid closer to home.

Painfully, I have to repeat what so many have said before, that political violence in Colombia is fueled by U.S. government policies. The United States continues to provide weapons and direction for the Colombian armed forces, police, and jails, and it has all too often directly encouraged and even funded the leaders of private death squads. The Trump administration also waged a full scale campaign to undermine Colombia’s peace accords. We must not waste our time hoping the Biden administration might reverse course, we must demand it,” he told MintPress.

Feature photo | Ex-combatants of the disbanded FARC and social activists march to demand the government guarantee their right to life and compliance with the 2016 peace agreement, in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 1, 2020. Fernando Vergara | 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 Fingers Point to US-Backed Gov’t in Colombia’s Ninetieth Massacre of the Year appeared first on MintPress News.

Economist Behind 2008 Financial Crash Among Elites Warning Against $2000 Stimulus Checks

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/12/2020 - 3:38am in

Tags 

News, Media

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary, Chief Economist of the World Bank, Director of the National Economic Council, and President of Harvard University, Lawrence Summers has warned against any implementation of a $2,000 COVID relief check.

Writing in business publication Bloomberg, the 66-year-old economist insisted that the proposal, which has drawn support from figures as diverse as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, was a “big mistake,” as it would likely “overheat the economy.” He noted that he did support strengthening social safety nets and other spending measures, but maintained that $2,000 was too much. “There is no good economic argument for the $2,000 checks,” he confidently concluded.

Yet there are many reasons not to treat Summers as an infallible economic sage. Chief among them is his (major) role in causing the 2008 financial crisis that devastated the United States and much of the rest of the world.

During his time in the Department of the Treasury under President Clinton, Summers successfully lobbied for the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, a 60-year-old piece of legislation that separated commercial banking from the wild west of investment banking, insulating Americans’ savings from the dangerous world of venture capitalism. He also pushed for increased deregulation of the finance system in general, setting the stage for an inevitable collapse. A paid consultant to Citigroup and other financial behemoths, he also later opposed efforts to break up the “too big to fail” banks after the crisis.

This is perhaps not even Summers’ most notorious moment, however. In 2000, the Governor of California Gray Davis (D), reached out to the then-Treasury Secretary for advice, suspecting that energy giant Enron was toying with the state’s energy supply for profit, greatly increasing electricity prices even while power outages surged. Summers reportedly scoffed at his suspicions, patiently explaining that California’s main problem was over-regulation and that he should allow Enron to operate more freely. One year later, Davis’s suspicions were confirmed as Enron went bankrupt in a massive scandal that exposed the company as a Ponzi scheme.

Summers has always been a passionate believer in the magic of the free-market. While at the World Bank, he imposed austerity and trickle-down economics on a myriad of poor countries, while also infamously promoting the export of toxic waste from rich countries onto poor countries in Africa on economic grounds, suggesting that poor people’s lives were worth less than those of the rich. “The economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that,” he wrote.

Summers also resigned from his position as President of Harvard in 2006 after a vote of no confidence from the university’s faculty. This came in the wake of him attacking African-American professor Cornel West, claiming that his rap album was an “embarrassment” to the university. It appeared that the faculty found Summers’ comments that women were inherently inferior in science and engineering, thus explaining the lack of female graduates and staff in those fields, to be more of an embarrassment, however. No doubt the wild financial risks he took with Harvard’s endowment — blunders estimated to have cost the university $1.8 billion — did not help his cause, either.

Summers is not the only one in corporate media sounding the alarm about giving money to poor people. The Washington Post was so strongly against the idea that its board rushed out an editorial insisting that it was a “bad idea” pushed for political reasons, not economic ones, claiming that all it would achieve would be to “blow nearly half a trillion taxpayer dollars.” Meanwhile, economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman warned that the checks would be “divisive,” and that their economics “aren’t very good.” What “divisive” means in this context appears unclear, as a recent poll showed that 78% of Americans support the $2,000 checks. 57% “strongly support” them, while only 7% “strongly oppose” them.

The cost of the project, estimated by detractors at around $464 billion, is less than one-quarter of what the billionaire class has increased its wealth by in 2020. At the same time as the super-rich have been getting richer, however, ordinary Americans have been suffering. A September report noted that 56 million had been forced to use a food bank at some point, while 51 million Americans were made unemployed by July. A poll released Monday found that Americans rated 2020 to be the worst year in modern history. A $2,000 check at the end of it might have made some difference in their outlook, but if Summers has anything to do with it, that will not be coming their way at all.

Feature photo | Former U.S. Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers attends the meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during China Development Forum 2017 at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, March 20, 2017 in Beijing. Etienne Oliveau | Pool via 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 Economist Behind 2008 Financial Crash Among Elites Warning Against $2000 Stimulus Checks appeared first on MintPress News.

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.

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