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I Worked On the US Drone Program. Here's What Really Goes On

Manning Collateral Murder Image

Whenever I read comments by politicians defending the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Predator and Reaper program – aka drones – I wish I could ask them a few questions. I'd start with: "How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile?" And: "How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?" Or even more pointedly: "How many soldiers have you seen die on the side of a road in Afghanistan because our ever-so-accurate UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] were unable to detect an IED [improvised explosive device] that awaited their convoy?"

Few of these politicians who so brazenly proclaim the benefits of drones have a real clue of what actually goes on. I, on the other hand, have seen these awful sights first hand.

I knew the names of some of the young soldiers I saw bleed to death on the side of a road. I watched dozens of military-aged males die in Afghanistan, in empty fields, along riversides, and some right outside the compound where their family was waiting for them to return home from the mosque.
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11 Good Things for Liberty in 2013

As 2013 draws to a close, let’s pause to recall some important developments for the cause of liberty – some of which you already know well, and others you’ll be hearing about for the first time.

Edward Snowden. After sitting on the Bush-era warrantless wiretapping story for 18 months, the New York Times revealed a portion of the surveillance activities of the US government in 2005. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we now know that the National Security Agency’s spying activities vastly exceeded anything we heard about in the media.

The Snowden revelations served two functions from the point of view of public enlightenment. First, the regime in DC was once again exposed as untruthful, even sinister. But second, the bipartisan condemnation of Snowden on the part of the political establishment – both Nancy Pelosi and John McCain denounced him, unsurprisingly – reminds us that there is, after all, one party: the state party. Whatever cosmetic differences separate politicians otherwise, when push comes to shove, they rally to one another in the face of a truth-teller.
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Ron Paul Rewind: End US Marijuana Prohibition and War on Drugs

Despite Colorado implementing on January 1 the legal sale and purchase of marijuana for recreational use, marijuana growers, vendors, and purchasers in Colorado will continue looking over their shoulders concerned that US government police may bust them for violating federal marijuana prohibition. In June, 2011 Rep. Ron Paul joined Rep. Barney Frank as the lead Republican cosponsor of Frank’s Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act (HR 2306). Paul took the introduction of the bill as an opportunity to discuss with Larry Kudlow on CNBC the need to end the US government’s marijuana prohibition and war on drugs:
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Life in the Emerging American Police State: What’s in Store for Our Freedoms in 2014?

In Harold Ramis’ classic 1993 comedy Groundhog Day, TV weatherman Phil Connors (played by Police StateBill Murray) is forced to live the same day over and over again until he not only gains some insight into his life but changes his priorities. Similarly, as I illustrate in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, we in the emerging American police state find ourselves reliving the same set of circumstances over and over again—egregious surveillance, strip searches, police shootings of unarmed citizens, government spying, the criminalization of lawful activities, warmongering, etc.—although with far fewer moments of comic hilarity.
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'NSA Has Become a Four-Letter Word in US'

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The NSA “has become a four-letter word in the US” and Americans are irritated, executive director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, Daniel McAdams, told RT while commenting on a ruling which states that the agency's spying is legal.

RT: The hackers' congress which is underway in Hamburg is seeking to raise awareness of encryption and privacy. We're used to thinking about hacking as something illegal. Are hackers becoming the new heroes of our time?

Daniel McAdams: When the government is doing things that are illegal, it takes formerly illegal things like hackers to try to protect us. The only worry is [whether these are] all legitimate hackers or some [are] infiltrated. The whole world of encryption is also somewhat concerning as well.

RT: Assange called on hackers to fight back against the spy agencies. Is the job any easier these days, after all these revelations?

DM: I think there has been an enormous increase in awareness of what the government is doing. What is interesting is that this ruling by Judge Pauley on Friday said the ACLU does not have the right to challenge this collection of metadata because it was gotten illegally because of revelations by Snowden.


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Vitali Klitschko's American Coaches

Klitschko

It has become the custom in independent Ukraine that there is not a single government ministry or agency and not a single political party in parliament besides the communists, where “quiet Americans”, or British, or Germans, do not stand by side to tell the Ukrainian politicians and officials how they should run the country.

And this is not likely to change if Vitali Klitschko becomes the next president of Ukraine. More likely this affliction will then be manifested in full. Lacking the knowledge and experience needed to govern a country, Klitschko will inevitably become a pawn in the hands of people who are about to raise him to the top of the state hierarchy hiding in the shadow of his “throne”. Among them will be the American consultants who work with the UDAR (“Удар” is “Punch” in Ukrainian)  Party. It is interesting to take a look at just what kind of companies are mediating in contacts between Klitschko and the U.S. Congress and American government agencies, as well as advising his staff on organizing the early presidential race …

Until recently, according to UDAR’s political strategist Rostislav Pavlenko, the party was working with the American company PBN, which specializes in the field of so-called “strategic communications” on the markets of Russia, Ukraine and other CIS countries. According to PBN’s site, the key areas of the company’s activities are “corporate and crisis communications, public and government relations, and financial communications and investor relations.”
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Turkey’s Role in Syria’s Unfolding Crisis

Obamaerdogan

Under Prime Minister Erdogan, Turkey became directly involved in the Syrian crisis as his support for the Muslim Brotherhood brought an ideological context to Turkey’s hostile stance against Assad’s government.

At the beginning of 2011, continuing protests against Assad finally led to the end of the 48-year state of emergency in Syria and an amnesty for political prisoners, not without US and EU pressure. But several months later a well-known US whistleblower Sibel Edmonds claimed that the US and Turkey have been giving logistic aid and military training to the Syrian armed opposition since “April-May 2011”. Edmonds even declared that the US Air Force base in İncirlik (Turkey) was used as a training facility for the so-called Free Syrian Army and other opponents of the Damascus regime – in her own words, “the dissident base in Syria.”

In June 2011, the Assad government declared that 120 members of its security forces were killed by “armed gangs” in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughour, located about 16 kilometers from Turkey’s Hatay region. Assad’s troops laid siege to the town and more than 10,000 people subsequently fled to Turkey.
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Saudi Anger Has Many Faces

During the past fortnight, Saudi Arabia raised the bar by several notches in its rhetoric to Bandarexpress fury over US regional policies in the Middle East, especially over Syria and Iran. The rhetoric reached a high pitch last week with two key figures in the Saudi regime alternatively lampooning and threatening the Obama administration. 

Is this strategic defiance of the US by the Saudi regime sustainable or will turn out to be mere bravado or even a defensive strategy to cover up dark fears? There is every reason to anticipate that it is the expression of an anger with many faces. There is a hint of an American warning appearing on the horizon to the House of Saud that discretion is the better part of valor and the latter is in no position to threaten the White House. The Saudi regime couldn’t have missed this subtle message but how it assimilates it will bear watch.
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Ron Paul Rewind: Who Warned Us About Sudan?

The new state of South Sudan, another product of US interventionism, is falling apart. President Obama is sending in the US Marines. As the US frenzy to "protect" southern Sudan pervaded the early 2000s, with the eventual US-sponsored creation of a South Sudan client state, Ron Paul had been warning that this intervention would only result in disaster. Read Ron Paul in July 2004 warn that US "humanitarian" concern for southern Sudan could lead to US military intervention. Read Ron Paul in November 2004 opposing legislation that would insert the US into the middle of the Sudan conflict. And, employ the way-back machine to watch Ron Paul in 2001 warning about the absurdity of US "saving souls" by intervening in Sudan:
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We're The Good Guys

CIA Ad

My Christmas holiday frequently includes a series of reunions with other former CIA people, often grouped by the overseas stations that we served in. This year the Istanbul gathering preceded Spain and the Rome Station ca. 1980 soon followed. Some of the retirees are still working for the government as contractors so I try to keep a low profile at such functions, rarely asking questions about what anyone might be doing and seldom venturing into any detailed critiques of current government policy. But sometimes my wife and I find the occasional gung ho expressions of solidarity with torturers and drone operators to be just a bit too much and we are forced to react.

My former colleagues are politically a mixed bag, mostly Republicans but with a considerable number of Democrats, some of whom are fairly progressive regarding domestic politics and social programs. Working overseas for some bosses who would kill their own mothers to get promoted has made most of them quite cynical about how CIA operates and how policy is shaped, but they nevertheless regard their time in harness as a dirty job that someone had to do and they take pride in that fact. They are also fairly monolithic in their views of "traitors" like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, not because they support NSA spying (they do not) but because in their reckoning both would-be whistleblowers far exceeded any reasonable limits in their exposures of classified information.
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