Posted on | November 21, 2013 | 6 Comments
Every day, people are charged with criminal conspiracy in courtrooms around the country. In those cases, a “conspiracy” merely describes a criminal act involving two or more individuals.
Also every day, the establishment media reports on various criminal conspiracies—including racketeering, insider trading, political corruption, sex scandals and murder plots.
Murder plots are their favorite, particularly when a husband or wife or crazed lover hires an assassin to knock off a troublesome or inconvenient spouse for personal gain. The details and facts of those conspiracies attract a great deal of attention from journalists and news personalities who pore over police blotters, always looking for a good hook to a shocking story with “legs” and, therefore, a long life with lots of details and great ratings.
Yet, over the last fifty years, the simple, descriptive word “conspiracy” has taken on a double life. On one hand, a feverish “true crime” obsession has spread around the news business, turning newsmagazine shows into banal police procedurals, and transforming entire cable broadcasts into tabloid mimics fixated upon mysteries, cover-ups and conspiracies.
The media literally spent years on the case of Chandra Levy and never stopped asking “Who killed JonBenét Ramsey?”
They’ve obsessed on Amanda Knox’s convoluted story and eagerly entertained various theories about the death of Princess Diana.
And they even jumped headfirst into the feeding frenzy around the murder of J.R. Ewing!
On the other hand, when faced with the crime of the 20th Century—the murder of President Kennedy—those selfsame establishment mediacrats have relentlessly and effectively mutated the term “conspiracy” into a dismissive, all-purpose epithet: the “conspiracy theory.”
Instead of handling JFK’s murder like a criminal case, they’ve treated it like an urban legend. Rather than examining eyewitness accounts or reporting on the facts and notable names associated with the murder, they’ve become a pool of official stenographers. They simply ignore conspiracy facts and make offhanded remarks about conspiracy theories.
Take note that it is always the plural: “theories.” It colors every critique or suspicion of the official story with the taint of alien autopsies, Bigfoot sightings and faked moon landings.
Even worse, they’ve established a blockade around experts and researchers and best-selling authors who have—over the last fifty years—uncovered reams of new information and documents relating to the case.
No, the establishment media prefers to consult with news personalities and pulp-trade historians who opine about the “myth” and “legend” and psychological “meaning” of JFK’s life and death.
This is an interesting, self-serving distraction. It avoids tough questions, replacing them with predictable intonations on the tragic fall of Camelot, with epic paeans to JFK’s charisma and Jackie’s panache, and with somber reflections on a nation’s shock and awe.
And it is all punctuated with the perennial question of “What if?”
“What if Jack had lived?”
Alas, it is no replacement for the far more relevant question of “How did Jack die?”
Ironically, the establishment media incessantly theorizes about “what ifs” and groans about conspiracy theories while the people they accuse in absentia of being “theorists” dutifully, often heroically, gather and share conspiracy facts.
Tune into CBS or NBC or ABC or anywhere around the dial, and you do not see James DiEugenio or David Talbot or James Douglass. Instead you get Chris Matthews and Rob Lowe and, most disappointingly of all, Ken Burns. They speak like people who haven’t read. They embrace a theory they haven’t questioned. And they explain away “the people” who believe in conspiracy theories with callow psychobabble.
In spite of all their talk, they literally say nothing.
There is no mention of the House Select Committee on Assassination’s determination that JFK was likely killed by a conspiracy or the invaluable book by Committee investigator Gaeton Fonzi. There is no mention of the information uncovered by the Assassination Records Review Board or that it was established because Oliver Stone did what many “journalists” and “mainline historians” refused to do. And, perhaps most significantly, completely absent is Jim Garrison’s prosecutorial dismantling of the Warren Commission.
It is as if none of it happened.
Just imagine if the blood, hair and brain tissue splattered and still preserved on Jackie’s pink dress elicited the same scrutiny and attention as did that tiresome little semen stain left on Monica’s blue dress. Perhaps then the New York Times would ask why, if Oswald shot JFK from the rear with a non-exploding bullet, the woman sitting to the left of him was so thoroughly sprayed by the fatal shot.
Alas, after leading with “Let them see what they’ve done”—Mrs. Kennedy’s famous response to the suggestion that she clean up prior to LBJ’s hasty inauguration—the Times’ story blathers on about fashion, archival ethics and, of course, “the rifle used by Lee Harvey Oswald.” The reporter never mentions, if only to dispute it, that it has been shown repeatedly that neither the rifle nor the bullet could have created those “iconic” stains in the first place.
America heard often about Bill Clinton’s crooked member. But it is strictly verboten to mention the Mannlicher-Carcano’s notoriously skewed gun-sight.
Instead, the murder is treated like a moment frozen in time and consecrated by some preternatural force beyond the power of mortal men. On Face the Nation, a recalcitrant and almost fanatical Bob Schieffer pronounces that Kennedy was killed by a “madman.” On This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Rob Lowe compares criticism of the Warren Commission with Charlie Sheen’s belief that the moon is hollow. And the New York Times’ Executive Editor Jill Abramson takes over the Sunday Book Review to declare JFK’s life and death to be “elusive” without mentioning a single book detailing the facts that are, of course, elusive to those who choose to ignore them.
They’re elusive about their bungled reporting on a sloppy criminal conspiracy of epic proportions. It is a failure that has metastasized over the five decades since, with those entrenched behind the privileged walls of network news, major newspapers and sanitized pulp-history continually doubling-down on a discredited theory that has them perpetually out of step with the majority of Americans who, not coincidentally, also distrust them.
Perhaps it is forgivable that many reporters and editors didn’t ask questions when faced with the rapid-fire public executions of a sitting president and his accused killer. The Cold War was hot. The Cuban Missile Crisis was fresh in the minds of many. Everything seemed dangerous and tenuous. It’s even reasonable to sympathize with Chief Justice Earl Warren, who LBJ forced—practically against his will—into an untenable situation.
But that was then. And this is now.
Now there is no excuse for what journalist Jefferson Morley calls “JFK denialism,” or for the establishment’s growing track record of repeated “failures” just like it, with the lead-up to the Iraq War standing out in a crowded field of errors and supposed ignorance.
Perhaps the anniversary of JFK’s death is also the anniversary of a birth—of the establishment media’s ultimate cover-story for ignorance and complicity. By dismissing “conspiracy theories” it is instantly possible to elude conspiracy facts. Ultimately, the real conspiracy may be the criminal contempt our media elites have for open inquiry and how it allows others to get away with murder.Tweet
Posted on | November 7, 2013 | 3 Comments
Its gaping maw has swallowed international law, the lives of hundreds of detainees and the moral consequences of torture.
And now it has quite literally swallowed the memories of five men currently engaged in a prolonged pre-trial process at the infamous prison. They are the defendants charged with the criminal conspiracy leading to the attacks of 9/11, including the alleged “mastermind” behind the attack, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
But the mind of this master terrorist is not his own.
That’s according to a ruling by Army colonel and military commission judge James Pohl, who issued a “protective order” in January of 2013 that, in effect, classified the memories of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other four defendants—Walid Bin Attash and Ramzi bin al Shibh of Yemen, Ammar al Baluchi of Pakistan, and Mustafa al Hawsawi of Saudi Arabia.
Their names remain opaque to most Americans, as do the legal proceedings based on their torturous experiences during “enhanced interrogation” at various “black sites.” Now, defense attorneys for the five men would like to file suit under the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which the United States signed in 1988 and ratified in 1994.
All legal claims of torture at the hands of the CIA during “extraordinary rendition” fall under the restrictive blanket of secrecy issued by Col. Pohl, who claims he is only empowered to classify material, not vice-versa.
This means the defendants’ personal stories, recollections and experiences cannot be told in any open court, recounted to journalists or human rights groups, nor can they be heard by international bodies like the United Nations.
In response to recent defense challenges to Pohl’s protective order, the prosecution countered with a rationale for secrecy drawn, it seems, from the pages of George Orwell or Philip K. Dick. According to Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald, one government prosecutor argued that “… the United States government has absolute control of U.S. captive’s CIA memories because where they were held and what was done to them is classified as ‘sources and methods’ used by the CIA in the now defunct Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program.”
Essentially, the memories of their treatment by the CIA have become the proprietary possession of the CIA. It is the ultimate application of “national security” as a legal fig leaf. And it illustrates the reality that “national security” classification often does more to protect people in the national security business than it does to protect the security of the nation.
Yet, it doesn’t always help in a criminal prosecution—which is why Mohammed al Qahtani remains in perpetual limbo in Gitmo’s memory hole. One of the men accused of being “The 20th Hijacker,” the case against al Qahtani was finally dropped in January of 2009 by retired judge Susan Crawford, the military commission’s Convening Authority. Why? Because Judge Crawford determined that his handling by the military was, in fact, torture.
There it is—torture.
And there al Qahtani sits—out of sight and out of mind in Gitmo.
The problem with his case makes the stories of the remaining 9/11 defendants all the more troublesome for the prosecution and potentially more damning to the CIA. Although it is widely known that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (a.k.a. KSM) was waterboarded 183 times during his “interrogation,” much less is known about the depth, extent and range of the “techniques” employed on the other four by the CIA and/or their proxies.
We do know that KSM’s nephew, Ammar al Baluchi, is suffering from the lingering effects of a traumatic head injury, including memory loss, delusions and painful headaches. However, what his defense lawyer James Connell knows about the cause of the head injury comes primarily from unclassified records and what he gleaned from the movie “Zero Dark Thirty.”
It is believed that a sequence depicting enhanced interrogation in the film is modeled on the experiences of his client. In fact, it appears that the Obama Administration gave the filmmakers classified information relating to the treatment of al Baluchi that has not been made available to his defense lawyer. Now James Connell wants access to the same information made readily available to a few of Hollywood’s dreamweavers.
In the memory prison, one man’s classified memories are another man’s daily rushes.
And that’s not the half of it.
Although much remains classified, al Baluchi did write a first-person account of his experiences during “enhanced interrogation” and put it in an envelope. James Connell has not read it or tampered with it. He argued, thus far unsuccessfully, that he should be allowed to forward the handwritten account to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture.
But Ammar al Baluchi’s memories don’t belong to Ammar al Baluchi. They belong to the U.S. Government, which had no qualms about giving their version of his memories to entertainers manufacturing a heroic movie. It is an ironic, almost sadistic juxtaposition to the defense’s request to hand over al Baluchi’s first-person story to international officials investigating torture. But it’s also the sort of legal jiu-jitsu that typifies the post-9/11 national security state—whether it protects the prying eyes of the NSA, keeps the President’s drone kill list safely out of view or conveniently obfuscates the practice of torture.
Detainees in Gitmo, “suspected” militants targeted by drones and secret defendants in the rubber-stamping FISA court all swirl down the grand memory hole of secrecy, sucked in by the same type of circular logic keeping Ammar al Baluchi’s memories imprisoned with him at Gitmo.
It’s the logic of legal loopholes that prevents defense teams from collecting evidence of their clients’ scars while the government blithely passes their “classified” memories to filmmakers, but also restricts the U.S. Senate’s report on torture.
And it’s the specious logic of a trial-like military commission that cannot reconcile itself, the law or the nation it represents with the truth about America’s dark experiment with torture.Tweet
Posted on | October 23, 2013 | 6 Comments
Chronic mismanagement and cost over-runs. Incomplete software coding, timely political donations and undelivered promises. And zero accountability.
Now, imagine the outrage.
No, really. You will actually have to imagine the outrage.
That’s because The Great American Outrage Machine™ has no interest in generating a scandal around the ultimate example of government failure: the F-35 fighter jet.
Like the comically bad roll-out of the Affordable Care Act’s website, the long-delayed and often-rejiggered F-35 program is a costly disaster rife with technological snafus, software problems and repeated contractor incompetence.
Unlike the circle-jerk of posturing, pontification and media preoccupation that gave us The Shutdown of 2013, the “first $1 trillion weapon system in history” has quietly metastasized into a debacle that is, to quote Sen. John McCain, “worse than a disgrace.”
And although increasingly well-compensated contractors will “surge” over the next few weeks to remediate the epic fail of a healthcare website that has ballooned from an estimated cost of $94 million to over $400 million, it pales in comparison to an “aerospace megaproject” that is seven years behind schedule and 70% over the initial budget estimate of $233 billion—all to deliver 409 fewer planes than originally planned.
Even worse, a recent report by the Pentagon’s Inspector General detailed an array of management and quality-assurance problems at Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, all of which contributed to over 200 repairs on each plane. Of course, each of those repairs translates into added cost to the taxpayer-funded program. Citing the report, McClatchy’s James Rosen noted that beyond the 28 “major” problems among the total of 70 found at Lockheed’s Fort Worth facility, there were another 119 “major issues at Lockheed’s five main subcontractors’ plants.”
Despite these problems, the F-35 program soldiered on through the Congressional budget process, thus far emerging both “unscathed” by budget battles and immune to the “indiscriminate” cuts imposed by The Sequester.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the IG’s report was completed at the end of 2012, but was not released until September 30th of this year—months after the House approved $600 billion of Pentagon spending and weeks after the Senate Armed Service Committee submitted its slightly less fruitful version of the defense spending bill.
And Lockheed used the long interregnum between the completion and release of the IG’s report to simply dismiss its claims as “out-of-date” and functionally irrelevant. It is true that Lockheed has trimmed the per plane cost from, according to the Project on Government Oversight, a peak of $161 million per plane to $133 million in 2012 and, if Lockheed is to be believed, downward over the next few years to somewhere between $114 million and $156 million per plane, depending on model specifications, engine options, retrofits and upgrades.
If these numbers are a bit mindboggling, it is only the tip of a giant contracting iceberg uncovered by Adam Ciralsky in a lengthy Vanity Fair exposé of the F-35 program. It reads like anti-government porn for hot and bothered budget hawks. Here are some of the “sexier” details:
- Looking for software coding issues? Lockheed’s got ’em. The F-35 will not be “fully-functional” until Lockheed’s rapidly expanding pool of software engineers finally delivers 8.6 million lines of code. Also, proper maintenance of the planes is delayed until another 10 million lines of code are written and uploaded to maintenance computers.
- How about design flaws? There have been many, but none sums up the problems more than the case of the $500,000 helmet that had to be developed to compensate for the massive, dangerous blind-spots created by a visually restrictive cockpit design.
- What about incompetence? The stealthy design of the F-35 may have been sold as state-of-the-art, but continual redesigns have literally slowed down the plane. The special radar-evading coating was changed in mid-production, but the new coating bubbles and peels at high speeds, meaning the planes are restricted from flying at or above supersonic speeds until Lockheed can remediate the problem.
But the real takeaway of Ciralsky’s story is something called Total System Performance Responsibility. It refers to a type of “Performance Based Logistics” (PBL) that “revolutionized” the way the Pentagon issued contracts by putting more “responsibility” (a.k.a. “power”) in the hands of the contractor. This “innovative thinking” in the Pentagon’s contracting process promised to free-up the creative power of the private sector by removing the oppressive power of government oversight.
Sure, it sounds like something Ayn Rand wrote in a love letter to Milton Friedman. But this deadly serious idea took flight at the start of Bush the Younger’s administration and it portended a decade of defense contractors gone wild—particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan.
What it meant for the F-35 contract was, according to Ciralsky, that “…Lockheed was given near-total responsibility for design, development, testing, fielding, and production.” Instead of oversight along the way, “…the Pentagon gave Lockheed a pot of money and a general outline of what was expected.”
Which brings the story back around to Healthcare.gov.
Like the open-ended Total System Performance Responsibility contract system used by the Pentagon, various agencies tasked with launching the Affordable Care Act sometimes awarded Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts—as is the case with the now infamous deal GCI Federal received to “build” the website. And yes, an IDIQ contract is exactly like it sounds—it is a broadly-defined trough with few parameters and little oversight, kinda like your plate during the “Oceans of Shrimp” promotion at Golden Corral.
Sadly, IDIQ contracts are not unusual. Nor is the practice of contractors giving well-timed political donations.
The Beltway is teeming with companies drawn to the recession-proof feeding frenzy chummed by members of Congress and various political appointees. Fifty-five companies got a piece of the Affordable Care Act. But only a select few hook “free from oversight” mega-deals like the one secured by Lockheed Martin.
Unsurprisingly, some of the winners of the ACA rollout are well-practiced anglers of tax dollars. Yup, the Sunlight Foundation found that defense giants like Booz Allen Hamilton ($2.6m), Northrop Grumman ($1.66m) and Science Applications International Corp. ($1.77m) couldn’t resist getting “a taste” of the ACA. The big winner was General Dynamics’ subsidiary Vangent ($28m), which they acquired just in time to belly up to the ACA trough.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon served up $6.3 billion worth of contracts during the Obamacare-inspired shutdown. So, the corporate feasting continued even as taxpayers were force-fed a bogus debate over a “government takeover of healthcare,” which is little more than a legally-binding promise under the ACA to enshrine in perpetuity the profitable health insurance industry and its massive, private bureaucracies. An actual government takeover would’ve replaced health insurance with healthcare. But that didn’t happen.
And the punchline of this grand budgetary joke?
When it comes to securing their profitable contracts, government failure is not an option.Tweet
Posted on | September 4, 2013 | 13 Comments
He just can’t get any respect.
Despite a solid resume as a crazed, brutal dictator responsible for killing approximately 1.7 million of his own people, his name never comes up when the caretakers of American empire set their sights on an enemy du jour.
The same goes for Josef Stalin, Chairman Mao, General Franco, Idi Amin, Attila the Hun, Caligula and Vlad the Impaler.
No, when it’s time to fire up the Great American Fear Factory for another “lobbying blitz” and bellicose “product launch,” America’s policymakers conjure up the darkest star of human history. They say “Hitler.”
Saddam Hussein? Say “Hitler.”
Slobodan Milosevic? Say “Hitler.”
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Say “Hitler.”
And now, as if on cue, Secretary of State John Kerry said “Hitler.”
Faced with sparse domestic and international support for launching expensive cruise missiles into the middle of a civil war, Kerry re-booted the Hitler franchise by comparing Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to history’s first name in unchecked evil. In fact, he compared Assad to Hitler and Saddam Hussein. Looks like Saddam is now in an elite class of evildoer.
Evoking Hitler is the foreign policy equivalent of yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. Comparisons to Hitler are meant to spark an immediate, visceral reaction and designed to “clear out the building.” Once the dissent leaves the room, the debate has effectively ended. It also demarcates a rhetorical red line. If you cross it, you are siding with Hitler.
And no one wants to be on the side of Hitler.
At least, that’s what Team Obama is banking on with its next “lite” war. The Peace Prize President likes bombs and missiles and drones, and that means war without American body bags and graves and, therefore, much domestic fallout.
Team Obama is also banking on ignorance—of historical context and basic historical facts—on the part of the media, members of Congress and the American people. Adolf Hitler started World War II. He invaded Western Europe, Eastern Europe and Russia. Over twenty million Russians died. So did 2.5% of the world’s entire population. Hitler declared war on the United States without direct provocation and, when coupled with casualties fighting Hitler’s Japanese allies in the Pacific, some 400,000 Americans died. And then there is the Holocaust. Six million European Jews died in a systematic genocidal pogrom.
Bashar al-Assad, on the other hand, is fighting a complicated civil war with competing ethnic, religious and proxy factions. He has invaded no one. Declared war on no one. But he is a dictator. Some 100,000 people have died. And, according to Team Obama and their French partners, he used chemical weapons on his “own people.”
That fact does make him comparable to another Baathist bad guy—Saddam Hussein. According to “Professor” Kerry, Saddam’s use of gas on his “own people” and on Iranian people sets him apart from guys like Stalin and Mao who, history has shown, are responsible for the deaths of millions of people.
But does that make him Hitler?
Rather, was Saddam, like Bashar, more comparable to other dictators and despots of the 20th Century? How about the Shah of Iran, General Suharto, General Pinochet or Colonel Qaddafi?
They all ruled with iron-fisted brutality—as evidenced by the Shah’s infamous SAVAK, Suharto’s purges of communists and political opponents, and Pinochet’s bloody, neo-fascist repression. They all subverted democracy. They all killed their “own people.”
Perhaps the problem with those far more rational comparisons is that those dictators were all supported by the United States. Even Qaddafi had his day in the sun after 9/11 “changed everything” and he traded his WMDs and access to his oil for a free pass from Washington. In fact, the 20th Century saw both tacit and explicit US support of various repressions, dictatorships, mass killings and, in a particularly woeful period during the 1980s, Central American death squads. So far—from Egypt to Saudi Arabia and across Central Asia—the 21st Century isn’t much better.
But the problem is even deeper than that litany of compromised values.
If chemical weapons are sui generis—thus, uniquely abhorrent—then it is truly unfortunate that Kerry lumped Assad with Saddam the very same week that documents confirmed US implicit and active support for Saddam’s use of chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq War. What’s more, the US did nothing when he used them on his “own people.” Maybe that was because Saddam was gassing the Kurds, which was quietly welcomed by America’s steadfast allies in Turkey who, like US client Saddam, were also fighting an internal war against Kurdish rebels.
Apparently, Kerry and Co. don’t read Foreign Policy magazine or, for that matter, much actual history. Or, if they do, they must hope that Congress and the media don’t dust of books or search Lexis-Nexis. They might find that it was just a short time ago that a “rendition-obsessed” US government sent “suspects” to be tortured by Assad’s regime!
However, Kerry’s knack for revisionism is nothing new. Remember that classic line from the 2004 election about funding for the Iraq War? While choking on some pretzel logic, Kerry said, “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”
Well, he may also have been for Bashar before he was against him. Until the Arab Spring came along, Assad was a darling of Washington’s foreign policy and media establishment. Now, also as if on cue, the Daily Mail publishes a cozy picture of then-Senator Kerry and his wife sharing dinner with the Assads in 2009 to discuss, perhaps, regional peace efforts. Although we don’t know what was said, the picture is reminiscent of Don Rumsfeld’s famous, grainy handshake picture with then-dictator Saddam Hussein in 1983.
And that’s history. No matter how much Team Obama refuses to acknowledge it, it does have a nasty habit of repeating itself—like those incessant Nazi documentaries on the History Channel. Hopefully, enough people have watched enough Nazivision™ to see that this sad, belligerent effort to protect Obama’s credibility strains the bounds of credulity.
If nothing else, he won’t be compared to Pol Pot.Tweet
Posted on | August 27, 2013 | 4 Comments
It is the mother’s milk of imperialism.
Whether it is in the service of “civilizing” barbarians, converting “heathens,” or, in its most recent incarnation, extending the reach of “democracy,” the bottom line of imperialism has always been the bottom line.
The bottom line of the infamous “White Man’s Burden” borne by the once-ubiquitous British Empire was merely the heavy weight—the pure tonnage—of the incredible wealth the colonials dutifully carried back home.
When the United States picked up “the Burden” after World War II, it became the world’s self-appointed champion of freedom, unreflective “protector” of inalienable rights and self-serving dictator of democracy’s terms and conditions. But it faced a problem—what is the rationale for empire in a post-colonial world?
The problem was solved ideologically and, truth be told, cinematically. “International Communism” emerged as if from central casting, like a 1950s B-movie invader from a godless Red Planet. Fighting it created the greatest source of publicly-funded largess in human history, often cycling tax dollars through client states that, in turn, spent the “aid money” at the All-American Arsenal of Democracy shopping center.
How ironic it was, however, that a nation born of revolution so quickly and easily became the counter-revolutionary stalwart against self-determination. Even as European empires fell, American power often came to the aid of the old regime’s remnants, propping up reactionaries and arming dubious freedom fighters. While the epic battle against Red totalitarianism gave America’s growing empire some ideological cover, it was the existential fear of releasing a global thermonuclear Leviathan that kept the Red, White and Blue façade intact.
Now, the Soviet Union is a distant memory. Nuclear holocaust doesn’t quite loom over the planet with the same inevitability. And a persistent thaw is releasing the dirty secrets of hypocrisy previously locked away by the frozen logic of the Cold War.
Perhaps that is why America’s national security establishment works so hard to preserve the Leviathan, now rebranded as the catch-all acronym of evil incarnate—the WMD.
Chemical, biological and nuclear weapons comprise the three-headed beast of the 21st Century’s Leviathan. Somehow, bunker-busting bombs, costly cruise missiles, indiscriminate cluster bombs and life-altering land mines—along with an inventive array of massively destructive ordinance made, used and sold by the United States—don’t seem to qualify as “weapons of mass destruction.”
This is, of course, in spite of Iraq.
An obvious “case in point,” it suffered massive destruction by a shocking onslaught of said weapons. In fact, Iraq’s significant toll of civilian causalities will continue to mount decades after the war because of America’s widespread use of depleted uranium—a chemically toxic, radiological weapon that was first used in the 1991 Gulf War and then used again in the 2003 invasion.
But don’t call that a WMD. Like Agent Orange before it, America’s “leadership” hides behind the veil of collateral consequences to obfuscate the mass destruction caused by both of those weapons. One defoliated. The other disabled armor. Any mass destruction was purely coincidental. But any hypocrisy you detect is completely understandable.
Take, for example, Secretary of State John Kerry’s “pre-targeting” statement on Syria.
Without blushing, he referred to the “indiscriminate slaughter of civilians” as a “moral obscenity.” In an eerie echo of Dick Cheney, he expressed no doubt about claims the Syrian regime used chemical weapons against its own people. Apparently, Assad crossed the much-discussed “red line” in the sand drawn by President Obama. A deadly serious Secretary Kerry intoned with baritone forcefulness, “…there must be accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people.”
Yet, there is little accountability built into America’s barely-secret drone war against suspected militants in numerous countries. The heinous Hellfire missiles they launch “indiscriminately” kill civilians at an obscenely higher rate than piloted bombing missions. But those are not “technically” WMDs. Drones also purposely double back and kill “vulnerable” first responders after the initial attack. But those deaths are purely “conventional.”
Even though death by conventional weapons versus non-conventional weapons seems more and more like a distinction without a difference, the sad fact is that American hypocrisy runs deep on the issue of non-conventional warfare.
Ironically, that story leads back to Iraq.
Longstanding claims of U.S. complicity in Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran have finally been verified. Although previously dismissed as a loony conspiracy theory or the anti-patriotic musings of naïve peaceniks, the relentless journalists at Foreign Policy magazine forced a timely bit of bold truth into the black hole of historical indifference so often peddled by the bedazzled stenographers of the mainstream media. Declassified CIA documents, a key interview and some dark dots connect Reagan officials with foreknowledge and consistent support of Saddam’s use of chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq War. The U.S. even provided satellite intelligence for a deadly chemical attack on Iranian troops in 1988.
So, while Egypt cracks down on “its own people” after a “not-coup” and Saudi Arabia continues its Taliban-like rule over “its own people” and a nuclear Israel continues to confiscate the land of another people, Syria becomes the next target in America’s ongoing struggle to remain atop the moral high ground.
To that end, the world’s leading nuclear power, with the world’s leading bioweapons facility and lingering stockpiles of chemical weapons will punish a non-client state in another undeclared war based on hard to verify charges stemming from a bloody civil conflict.
Perhaps that’s the only way to preserve the transparent walls around this American empire. Protest when others have rocks. Arm yourself and your allies with even bigger rocks. And pre-emptively or punitively launch rocks at the few glass houses in which you and your rock sellers are not welcome.
Ultimately, that’s the bottom line of the American empire.Tweet « go back — keep looking »