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The FBI: America’s Secret Police

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Secret police. Secret courts. Secret government agencies. Surveillance. Intimidation tactics. Harassment. Torture. Brutality. Widespread corruption. Entrapment schemes.

These are the hallmarks of every authoritarian regime from the Roman Empire to modern-day America, yet it’s the secret police—tasked with silencing dissidents, ensuring compliance, and maintaining a climate of fear—who sound the death knell for freedom in every age.

Every regime has its own name for its secret police: Mussolini’s OVRA carried out phone surveillance on government officials. Stalin’s NKVD carried out large-scale purges, terror and depopulation. Hitler’s Gestapo went door to door ferreting out dissidents and other political “enemies” of the state. And in the U.S., it’s the Federal Bureau of Investigation that does the dirty work of ensuring compliance, keeping tabs on potential dissidents, and punishing those who dare to challenge the status quo.

Whether the FBI is planting undercover agents in churches, synagogues and mosques; issuing fake emergency letters to gain access to Americans’ phone records; using intimidation tactics to silence Americans who are critical of the government, or persuading impressionable individuals to plot acts of terror and then entrapping them, the overall impression of the nation’s secret police force is that of a well-dressed thug, flexing its muscles and doing the boss’ dirty work.
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US Destroying Syria’s Oil Infrastructure Under Guise of Fighting ISIS

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The US is considering bombing pipelines in Syria, which it claims is in an attempt to cut off the huge profits being made by ISIS from captured oilfields. 

The Independent quotes Julieta Valls Noyes, the deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs during a visit to London, that ISIS was making $2 million a day off oil sales and that the US would consider airstrikes as well as “kinetic strikes against some pipelines” and “actual physical action to stop the flow”.

The trouble with this justification for destroying Syria’s oil pipelines, is that ISIS does not have the capability to use the pipelines to transfer oil. ISIS transports the stolen oil on the back of trucks, and sells it on the black market in Turkey.

This is admitted in the same Independent article that quoted Ms. Noyes.

The Independent claims:

Isis has sold some of the fuel from seized facilities back to the Damascus regime through local deals, while shipments had been sent into Turkey for the black market, with the Erdogan government accused of turning a blind eye to the illicit transactions. 

If the US truly intended to stop ISIS oil profits, they would bomb these oil convoys, which are easily spotted via conventional surveillance flights already allegedly taking place as part of ongoing Western operations.


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More Guns Plus Less War Equals Real Security

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Last week’s tragic shootings in Canada and Washington state are certain to lead to new calls for gun control. The media-generated fear over “lone wolf terrorists” will enable the gun control lobby to smear Second Amendment supporters as “pro-terrorist.” Marketing gun control as an anti-terrorist measure will also enable gun control supporters to ally with those who support any infringement on liberty done in the name of “homeland security.”
 
As with most infringements on liberty, gun control will not only make us less free, it will make us less safe. Respecting the right of the people to keep and bear arms is the original and best homeland security policy. Restricting the right of people to arm themselves leaves them with no effective defense against violent criminals or a tyrannical government.
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Afghanistan: None Dare Call it a Defeat

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The last British soldiers were airlifted out of Afghanistan last week, marking the sorry end of Britain’s fourth failed invasion of Afghanistan. With them went the last detachment of US Marines in Helmand.

Well has Afghanistan earned its title, “Graveyard of Empires.”

To be more precise, this honor belongs to Afghanistan’s Pashtun (or Pathan) mountain tribes, who bend their knees for no man and take pride in war.

In my book, “War at the Top of the World,” I called Pashtun “the bravest men on earth.” Later, I would add the fierce Chechen to that illustrious fraternity.

The old imperialists are gone, but the occupation of Afghanistan continues. The new regime in Kabul just installed by Washington to replace uncooperative former ally Hamid Karzai, rushed to sign an “agreement” allowing the United States to keep some 10,000 soldiers in Afghanistan for years. This garrison will be exempt from all Afghan laws.
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In Ukraine, A Tale of Two Elections

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The US government loves to “promote democracy” overseas, often at the barrel of a gun. Strangely enough, however, it often “deplores” actual elections being held in such places. Take Ukraine, for example. An election held last week by a group that forcibly seized power from a legitimately-elected government was hailed by the US administration as a great democratic achievement.

Said John Kerry about last week’s parliamentary election held by the post-coup government in Kiev:
We applaud Ukraine’s commitment to an inclusive and transparent political process that strengthens national unity. … The people of Ukraine have spoken, and they have again chosen to chart the course of democracy, reform, and European integration.
In this US-approved vote, the parties disapproved by the US were harassed and even essentially banned. But that’s OK.

However in eastern Ukraine, which refused to recognize February’s US-backed coup in the western part of the country, parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for tomorrow are scorned, condemned, and even “deplored” by the US administration.
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US Post Office Spying on Americans Without Oversight

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The United States Postal Service disclosed it approved nearly 50,000 requests, called “mail covers,” last year alone from law enforcement to secretly monitor the snail mail of Americans.

An audit shows the surveillance program is more extensive than widely known and that oversight protecting Americans is lax: 21 percent of the covers examined were approved without even the minimal required written authorization and 13 percent that did have authorization “were not adequately justified.” The Post Office has no standing review procedures.

Mail Cover is Nothing New, But…

The Post Office helping spy on Americans per se is nothing new; its program to record your mail’s “metadata,” who sent what to whom, complete with addresses and date/time stamps, has existed in the form of an overt program detailed in federal law called “mail cover” since well before the term metadata was even invented. As mail cover does not involve reading the mail’s contents, only information on the outside of the envelope or package that could be read by anyone seeing the item, it is not considered by precedent a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unwarranted searches.

Official versions of mail cover are acknowledged as far back as World War I. But like many such things– wiretapping, border detentions, searches and seizures, old Executive Orders, signing statements– its former existence, restrained in theory and often in practice in Constitutional America, is largely irrelevant now to all but historians. What has happened post-9/11 to mail covers is what has happened to America.
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The Iranian Nuclear Issue and Sino-Iranian Relations

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As the world waits to see if Iran and the P5+1 reach a final nuclear agreement by November 24, we remain relatively pessimistic about the prospects for such an outcome.  Above all, we are pessimistic because closing a comprehensive nuclear accord will almost certainly require the United States to drop its (legally unfounded, arrogantly hegemonic, and strategically senseless) demand that the Islamic Republic dismantle a significant portion of its currently operating centrifuges as a sine qua non for a deal.

While we would love to be proved wrong on the point, it seems unlikely that the Obama administration will drop said demand in order to close a final agreement.

Alternatively, a final deal would become at least theoretically possible if Iran agreed to dismantle an appreciable portion of its currently operating centrifuges, as Washington and its British and French partners demand.  However, we see no sign that Tehran is inclined to do this.  Just last week, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi reiterated that, in any agreement, “all nuclear capabilities of Iran will be preserved and no facility will be shut down or even suspended and no device or equipment will be dismantled.”

Still, almost regardless of the state of U.S./P5+1 nuclear diplomacy with Iran a month from now, the Islamic Republic’s relations with a wide range of important states are likely to enter a new phase.  Among these states, China figures especially prominently.
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The Cheney-Powell-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz Strategy: An Evaluation

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The U.S. never demobilized after the Cold War ended. It constructed new missions for its military. It adopted a new post-Cold War strategy but kept its military forces intact.

Americans received no peace dividend. To the contrary, as the years have passed and America’s wars have proliferated, Americans have expended enormous wealth.

The war policies of Barack Obama and George W. Bush grew out of defense plans of the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations. These plans maintained the Cold War mentality. This involved the U.S. constantly being heavily armed against foes and enemies. The Defense Department planners transmuted “Global threats” of the Cold War into “regional challenges and opportunities.” These plans retained a U.S. military force structure suitable for a wartime situation, rather than the actual peacetime situation.

In order to keep the U.S. on a military footing despite being at peace, these plans replaced the Soviet Union with an array of other justifications.  They appealed to such goals as maintaining regional stability, being able to fight two wars, defending American overseas interests in natural resources, warding off foreign threats, fighting terrorism and preventing the emergence of rivals. The planners multiplied missions and magnified their importance.
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Obama’s Phony Foreign-Aid Reform

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Four years ago, President Obama promised in a United Nations speech to “change the way we do business” with foreign aid and “seek partners who want to build their own capacity to provide for their people.” A year earlier, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton complained that “a lot of these aid programs don’t work” and lamented their “heartbreaking” record of failure. However, Mr. Obama, like numerous prior presidents, is more devoted to boosting aid spending than to fixing its flaws.

The Agency for International Development (AID), the largest foreign-aid bureaucracy, was caught last week massively suppressing audit reports revealing waste, fraud and abuse. More than 400 negative findings were deleted from a sample of 12 draft audit reports, The Washington Post reported. In one case, more than 90 percent of the negative findings were expunged before the report was publicly released. Acting Inspector General Michael Carroll buried the embarrassing audit findings because he “did not want to create controversy as he awaited Senate confirmation to become the permanent inspector general,” according to some AID auditors.

The most brazen case involved hushing up $4.6 million in illegal ransom money that AID paid in March 2012 to secure the release of the son of Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. Sam Lahood and 15 other Americans had been arrested after they entered Egypt illegally and engaged in prohibited political activism. At the time, a State Department official brazenly lied, denying that the payoff came from the U.S. government. This novel use of foreign-aid money might have caused an uproar if it had been revealed prior to Mr. Obama’s 2012 re-election.
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Putin’s Complaint: Is Washington a Revisionist Power?

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The idea that the United States must exercise "global leadership" is rationalized by our interventionists as a necessary perquisite for maintaining some type of "world order."Who will guard the sea lanes? Who will deter "aggression"? Who will defend the "rules" against those "rogue states" just waiting for an opportunity to wreak havoc, if not the United States of America?

No "mainstream" politician dares challenge this mythology, and those academics and popular writers who do so risk being marginalized. Challenging the motives of our wise rulers isn’t good for your career: that is, not if you want to have any influence in Washington. And while it’s okay to question whether this episode of meddling or that murderous invasion is really in our interest, the benevolence and historical legitimacy of the American empire is not to be questioned. Because, after all, the theoreticians of imperialism say, without the stability enforced by America’s military supremacy "liberalism" could not exist.

This is how the world is seen inside the Washington Beltway, where the monuments of Empire loom large and more than half the population owes its livelihood to the Imperium. Outside that bubble of hubris and skyrocketing real estate values, however, the world looks to be quite a different place – as does America’s role in it.

To an Iraqi citizen, who has watched his nation be torn to pieces by the American eagle, stability is the last thing he associates with the Americans. To a Libyan who had hopes his country might evolve into something more than Gaddafi’s playground, "order" fled the moment the Americans intervened. To a resident of eastern Ukraine who voted in an internationally-recognized election for Victor Yanukovych – and who awoke one morning to discover his government had been overthrown by force – America is anything but the champion of liberal democracy.
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