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Must We Really Know What Merkel is Having for Dinner?

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There’s been so much dramatic news these days – from Greece’s miseries to Iran, China from blowhard Donald Trump – that the shocking story of how America’s National Security Agency has been spying on German and French leadership has gone almost unnoticed.

Last year, it was revealed that the NSA had intercepted Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone. She is supposed to be one of Washington’s most important allies and the key power in Europe. There was quiet outrage in always subservient Germany, but no serious punitive action.

Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, was also bugged by American intelligence. Her predecessor, Luiz Lula Da Silva, was also apparently bugged.

This year, came revelations that NSA and perhaps CIA had tapped the phones of France’s President, Francois Hollande and his two predecessors, Nicholas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac. Hollande ate humble pie and could only summon some faint peeps of protest to Washington.
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State Department and Intelligence Agencies Ask For Criminal Investigation in the Clinton Email Scandal

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In a major development on the Clinton email scandal, 
the New York Times is reporting that the inspectors general for the State Department and the intelligence community have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information by using a personal email account while secretary of state. 

We have previously discussed this story and the insistence of Clinton that she did nothing wrong in maintaining a private email system and that none of the emails were classified. I disagreed with both premises as well as expressed great skepticism over Clinton’s insistence that she was really not trying to control her emails and insulate them from review but rather simply did not want to carry around two phones. According to the New York Times, investigators believe that Clinton’s email archive contained “hundreds of potentially classified emails.”

That is if anything a conservative estimate. As I discussed earlier, virtually anything coming out of the office of the Secretary of State would be considered classified as a matter of course. I have had a TS/SCI clearance since Reagan due to my national security work and have lived under the restrictions imposed on email and other systems. The defense is that this material was not technically classified at the time that it was sent. Thus it was not “classified” information. The problem is that it was not reviewed and classified because it was kept out of the State Department system. Moreover, most high-level communications are treated as classified and only individually marked as classified when there is a request for disclosure. You do not generate material as the Secretary of State and assume that it is classified.
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Wesley Clark Calls for Internment Camps for ‘Radicalized’ Americans

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Retired general and former Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark on Friday called for World War II-style internment camps to be revived for “disloyal Americans.”

In an interview on MSNBC in the wake of the mass shooting in Chattanooga, Clark said that during World War II, “if someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, we didn’t say that was freedom of speech, we put him in a camp, they were prisoners of war.”

(During WWII, the United States detained over 11,000 ethnic Germans in the US The government examined the cases under the Alien and Sedition Acts individually in a form of limited due process, and detained relatively few in internment camps. However, over 120,000 Japanese-Americans were sent off to camps without any form of due process. Most Americans consider these actions along the most shameful abuse of government power and civil rights since the abolition of slavery. The United States continues to pay reparations to those interned.)
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The Kagans: Seeking War to the End of the World

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If the neoconservatives have their way again, US ground troops will reoccupy Iraq, the US military will take out Syria’s secular government (likely helping Al Qaeda and the Islamic State take over), and the US Congress will not only kill the Iran nuclear deal but follow that with a massive increase in military spending.

Like spraying lighter fluid on a roaring barbecue, the neocons also want a military escalation in Ukraine to burn the ethnic Russians out of the east, and the neocons dream of spreading the blaze to Moscow with the goal of forcing Russian President Vladimir Putin from the Kremlin. In other words, more and more fires of Imperial “regime change” abroad even as the last embers of the American Republic die at home.


Much of this “strategy” is personified by a single Washington power couple: arch-neocon Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century and an early advocate of the Iraq War, and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who engineered last year’s coup in Ukraine that started a nasty civil war and created a confrontation between nuclear-armed United States and Russia.
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Sandra Bland is Everyman

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Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis is characterizing Sandra Bland — who died last week in a jail in the Texas county — as being “very combative” and “not a model person” during the traffic stop that led to her arrest and incarceration. His disparaging assessment appears to be far from the truth.

Recently released dashboard camera video of Bland’s arrest shows that throughout her ordeal on a Texas roadway Bland behaved appropriately and much as would many other ordinary people in a similar situation. Bland’s response may even have been more muted than average considering the infuriating nonsense she had to deal with — an out-of-control cop pulling her over for changing lanes without using a turn signal and then proceeding, for no good reason, to force her out of her car, throw her to the ground, handcuff her, and send her off to jail.

Bland’s response to the police harassment and brutality is commendable. Unless you accept the police-state mindset that Mathis’ comments suggest, you can’t help but admire Bland boldly standing up to a cop who literally had the power of life and death in his hands on that Texas roadway.
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Obama Should Release MH-17 Intel

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It has been a year since the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine, resulting in the death of 298 passengers and crew. The initial response by the US government supported the contention that the likely perpetrators were anti-government forces in southeastern Ukraine (the customary media misnomer for them is “separatists”), and that they were possibly aided directly by Moscow.

On July 29, 2014, we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) suggested that the United States Government report publicly what intelligence it actually had relating to the shoot-down lest the incident turn into another paroxysm of blaming Russia without cause. We are still waiting for that report.

Executive Summary

Tensions between the United States and Russia over Ukraine are fast reaching a danger point. A major contributing factor in the American public’s negative perception of Moscow is last year’s downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

A public report detailing the investigation of the incident by the Dutch Safety authorities is expected by October but the draft is reportedly already in the hands of the United States government. There is speculation that the report will dovetail with media and leaked government sources that have placed primary blame on the ethnic Russian Ukrainians in southeastern Ukraine opposed to the government put in place after the Western-engineered coup of Feb. 22, 2014, in Kiev.
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The American Nightmare: The Tyranny of the Criminal Justice System

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Justice in America is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Just ask Jeffrey Deskovic, who spent 16 years in prison for a rape and murder he did not commit. Despite the fact that Deskovic’s DNA did not match what was found at the murder scene, he was singled out by police as a suspect because he wept at the victim’s funeral (he was 16 years old at the time), then badgered over the course of two months into confessing his guilt. He was eventually paid $6.5 million in reparation.

James Bain spent 35 years in prison for the kidnapping and rape of a 9-year-old boy, but he too was innocent of the crime. Despite the fact that the prosecutor’s case was flimsy—it hinged on the similarity of Bain’s first name to the rapist’s, Bain’s ownership of a red motorcycle, and a misidentification of Bain in a lineup by a hysterical 9-year-old boy—Bain was sentenced to life in prison. He was finally freed after DNA testing proved his innocence, and was paid $1.7 million.

Mark Weiner got off relatively easy when you compare his experience to the thousands of individuals who are spending lifetimes behind bars for crimes they did not commit.
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US Military Seeks Reasons To Prolong Afghanistan Occupation

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When the US attacked Afghanistan the purpose was to remove the Taliban government which had given guest status to the al-Qaeda leadership. Only a few weeks later, that job was done.


The alleged purpose of the occupation of Afghanistan then changed into hunting down al-Qaeda remnants. But those had already fled to Pakistan and elsewhere.

The US military instead started to hunt and kill former Taliban members even when those were just local farmers or former Taliban leaders who had given up any fighting and were willing to cooperate. This manhunt and the accompanying torture and killing of civilians revived the Taliban movement and a new revolt, now against the US occupation and its puppet government, started. The alleged purpose of the US military in Afghanistan changed again.
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Ron Paul at His Best

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This is the best book by Ron Paul that I have had the joy to read. It is an intimate look into the private thought life of Ron Paul as he grew up and lived in an age under the constant threat of war. He talks about his experiences growing up during World War II, how the events of the Korean war shaped his school years and how the war in Vietnam caught him up as a young medical practitioner.

He talks about his intellectual journey and what resources brought him to a pro-peace philosophy. Of course, he ties everything together into a consistent liberty philosophy as he did with his entire political career. In this book, he actually chides himself for not being more anti-war!

This book may be the closest to an autobiography that we may get from Dr. Paul. It is chock-full of anecdotes, quotes from sources that he has gleaned from over time, and each chapter heading includes lines of poetry that are appropriate to accompany each chapter’s main point. If his Youtube videos of house floor speeches and grillings of Fed chairmen and Presidential debates show the analytical and public side of Ron Paul, this book shows his emotional and deeply personal side. He mourns the tragedy of people he knew who were sent off to senseless wars never to come back, recounts stories of war in which the individuals sent to fight were able to rebel against the chickenhawks who sent them, and he fiercely cuts down the political class and military-industrial complex that profits off of lies and murder.
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Iran Agreement Boosts Peace, Defeats Neocons

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Last week’s successfully concluded Iran agreement is one of the two most important achievements of an otherwise pretty dismal Obama presidency. Along with the ongoing process of normalizing relations with Cuba, this move shows that diplomacy can produce peaceful, positive changes. It also shows that sometimes taking a principled position means facing down overwhelming opposition from all sides and not backing down. The president should be commended for both of these achievements.
 
The agreement has reduced the chance of a US attack on Iran, which is a great development. But the interventionists will not give up so easily. Already they are organizing media and lobbying efforts to defeat the agreement in Congress. Will they have enough votes to over-ride a presidential veto of their rejection of the deal? It is unlikely, but at this point if the neocons can force the US out of the deal it may not make much difference. Which of our allies, who are now facing the prospect of mutually-beneficial trade with Iran, will be enthusiastic about going back to the days of a trade embargo? Which will support an attack on an Iran that has proven to be an important trading partner and has also proven reasonable in allowing intrusive inspections of its nuclear energy program?
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