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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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NSA Task Force Member Says Program Should Be Expanded Not Limited

Homeland Surveillance

Last week, I wrote about the dangers of tasks forces bearing gifts for civil libertarians and noted how Obama stacked the task force on NSA surveillance with hawks to guarantee the preservation of the program. One of those was former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell who served during the secret development and use of the program. Obviously, if he were to conclude that the program was illegal, it would have meant that he was part of the violations. Not only did the task force maintain the program was legal (in conflict with the recent ruling of a federal court), but now Morell has called not for the limitation of the program but its expansion. That is what President Obama considers a reformer in the national security field.

Morell gave an interview in the aftermath of the task force report that included a call for the expansion of the program to include emails. He also confirmed, as was stated in the earlier column, that the report actually did not include any substantial change for the program.

Morell stated “I would argue actually that the email data is probably more valuable than the telephony data. You can bet that the last thing a smart terrorist is going to do right now is call someone in the United States.” Well, yes, but the same discomfort is felt by citizens of the United States and others around the world. If you really want privacy, it appears that you had best use telepathy rather than telephony communications.
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Ron Paul Rewind: North Korea?

When North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, ordered the arrest and execution of his uncle, the status quo in the country was strongly shaken. As can be expected, the American chattering class is attempting to come up with an angle for more U.S. troublemaking.
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Progress Toward Peace in 2013, But Dark Clouds Remain

It is the time of year we feel a sense of joy and optimism. We are preparing for the holidays and looking to spend time with our families and friends. This year as we look back we see several developments that leave us feeling optimistic.

A US attack on Syria was averted to a large degree because the American people did not want another Middle Eastern war. Public pressure was so strong that President Obama was forced to back down from his threats to launch missiles at Syria over an alleged Syrian government chemical attack.
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Washington Acts Like Government-in-Exile For Ukraine

Mike Mcfaul Surprise

Americans may be deluded with “God-given exceptionalism”, self-congratulating propaganda known euphemistically as independent journalism and news, and a massive brainwashing diet of syrupy entertainment that reinforces the vacuous vanity of supposed American values – but do they really think the rest of the world is likewise comatose? Apparently, their officials think so.

In an interview this week with Radio Free Europe (a US “independent news publication” with strong ties to the CIA), Michael McFaul, the American ambassador to Russia, spoke of the political protests currently in the Ukraine.

McFaul said: “We believe we share [with Russia] a number of common interests in this. First, it’s a peaceful process. Second, a democratic process. How to handle it all, in which framework, it is up to Ukrainians to decide.”
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Syria Conflict: You Can’t Make Sound Policy by Disregarding Reality

Syria Destruction

The U.S. posture toward the conflict in Syria exemplifies some of the worst aspects of America’s Middle East policy. In recent years, the limits on America’s ability to shape important outcomes in the region unilaterally have been dramatically underscored by strategically failed military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.

Just this year, President Obama’s largely self-inflicted debacle over his publicly declared intention to attack Syria after chemical weapons were used there on August 21 made it abundantly clear that the United States can no longer credibly threaten the effective use of military force in the Middle East. Nevertheless, American foreign policy elites persist in thinking that it is up to them to dictate Syria’s future—and with it the future of the Middle East.

This outlook is epitomized by Obama’s August 2011 declaration that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “must go”—even though the Obama administration’s preferred strategy of working with the Syrian “opposition” to effect Assad’s departure was, from the outset, doomed to fail, as we have predicted for more than two and a half years.
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A Christmas To-Do List for a Better World

In an age of bureaucracy, overcriminalization and militarized police, it often seems as if no Christmas Treegood deed goes unpunished. Indeed, although Charles Dickens immortalized the money-loving, Christmas-hating, bah-humbuggiest of humbugs Ebenezer Scrooge in his classic A Christmas Carol, the world has always been plagued by Scrooges so single-minded in their pursuit of money, power and control that they exhibit few qualms about stamping out acts of kindness, compassion and true charity when they arise. Still, we must press on, despite the Scrooges of the world.

So how do we press on and make the world a better place in the face of weaponized drones, far-reaching surveillance and a government that with every passing day is coming to resemble authoritarian regimes of old?
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Washington Has Discredited America

Capitol

Years ago when I described the George W. Bush regime as a police state, right-wing eyebrows were raised. When I described the Obama regime as an even worse police state, liberals rolled their eyes. Alas! Now I am no longer controversial. Everybody says it.

According to the UK newspaper, The Guardian, the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, had an angry exchange with Obama in which Merkel compared Obama’s National Security Agency (NSA) with the East German Communist Stasi, which spied on everyone through networks of informers. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/17/merkel-compares-nsa-stasi-obama

Merkel grew up in Communist East Germany where she was spied upon by the Stasi, and now that she has risen to the highest political office in Europe’s most powerful state, she is spied upon by “freedom and democracy” America.
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