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Syria Analysts, Impartial? Not likely!

Kagan ISW

As is evident with the vast majority of coverage on the Middle East, the analysis used to bolster media narratives on Syria is predominantly derived from paid “think-tank” commentators posing as objective scholars. To the discerning reader, this dynamic of the mass media relying on dubiously attached “analysts” is in itself nothing new.

In an op-ed titled “The Sham Terrorist Expert Industry”  journalist Glenn Greenwald offers a compelling in-depth critique of the dominant clique of highly ideological “analysts” pervasive within the realm of US national security and foreign policy media. This “clique” – whose primary objectives are to propagate policies of the states or corporations that created the institutions they work for – has extended into the majority of western “analysis” on the Middle East, not least in regard to the Syrian conflict. Indeed, in many cases the analysts and supposed experts covering Syria are employed by the very same dominant institutions (WINEP, et al), and sit in the very same offices, as the frauds in Greenwald’s aforementioned article.
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America’s Lead Iran Negotiator Misrepresents U.S. Policy (and International Law) to Congress

Wendy Sherman

Last month, while testifying to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Wendy Sherman  — Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs and the senior U.S. representative in the P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran — said, with reference to Iranians, “We know that deception is part of the DNA.” This statement goes beyond orientalist stereotyping; it is, in the most literal sense, racist. And it evidently was not a mere “slip of the tongue”: a former Obama administration senior official told us that Sherman has used such language before about Iranians.

If a senior U.S. government official made public statements about “deception” or some other negative character trait being “part of the DNA” of Jews, people of African origin, or most other ethnic groups, that official would — rightly — be fired or forced to resign, and would probably not be allowed back into “polite society” until after multiple groveling apologies and a long period of penance. 

But a senior U.S. official can make such a statement about Iranians — or almost certainly about any other ethnic group a majority of whose members are Muslim — and that’s just fine.
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Welcome to the United Police States of America, Where Police Shoot First & Ask Questions Later

Bearcat

No longer is it unusual to hear about incidents in which police shoot unarmed individuals first and ask questions later. What is unusual is our lack of outrage, the relative disinterest of our elected representatives, the media’s abysmal failure to ask questions and demand answers, and our growing acceptance of the status quo in the United Police States of America—a status quo in which “we the people” are powerless in the face of the heavy-handed tactics employed by the government and its armed agents.

However, as I document in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, it’s all part of the larger police state continuum. Thus, with each tragic shooting that is shrugged off or covered up, each piece of legislation passed that criminalizes otherwise legal activities, every surveillance drone that takes to the skies, every phone call, email or text that is spied on, and every transaction that is monitored, the government’s stranglehold over our lives grows stronger.

We have been silent about too many things for too long, not the least of which is the deadly tendency on the part of police to resort to lethal force. However, as Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
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Ramblin’ Man: John Kerry is a Figure of His Times (and That’s Not a Good Thing)

Kerry Flying

In the 1960s, John Kerry was distinctly a man of his times. Kennedy-esque, he went from Yale to Vietnam to fight in a lost war. When popular sentiments on that war shifted, he became one of the more poignant voices raised in protest by antiwar veterans. Now, skip past his time as a congressman, lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, senator, and presidential candidate (Swift Boated out of the race by the Republican right). Four decades after his Vietnam experience, he has achieved what will undoubtedly be the highest post of his lifetime: secretary of state. And he’s looked like a bumbler first class. Has he also been – once again – a true man of his time, of a moment in which American foreign policy, as well as its claim to global moral and diplomatic leadership, is in remarkable disarray?

In his nine months in office, Kerry’s State Department has one striking accomplishment to its name. It has achieved a new level of media savvy in promoting itself and plugging its highest official as a rock star, a world leader in his own right (complete with photo-ops and sophisticated image-making). In the meantime, the secretary of state has been stumbling and bloviating from one crisis to the next, one debacle to another, surrounded by the well-crafted imagery of diplomatic effectiveness. He and his errant statements have become global punch lines, but is he truly to blame for his performance?
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What Was Not Said About Iraq

October was Iraq’s deadliest month since April, 2008. In those five and a half years, not only has there been no improvement in Iraq’s security situation, but things have gotten much worse. More than 1,000 people were killed in Iraq last month, the vast majority of them civilians. Another 1,600 were wounded, as car bombs, shootings, and other attacks continue to maim and murder.
 
As post-“liberation” Iraq spirals steadily downward, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was in Washington last week to plead for more assistance from the United States to help restore order to a society demolished by the 2003 US invasion.
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Ben Franklin Was Right About the NSA

3457858721 D085ffb98a

In 1975, I was invited to join the US Senate’s Church Committee that was formed after the Watergate scandals. Its goal was to investigate massive illegalities committed by the CIA, National Security Agency and FBI.

As a then staunch Republican, and having worked on President Nixon’s reelection campaign developing Mideast policy, I declined.

With the wisdom of hindsight, I should have joined the investigation.

Senator Frank Church warned: “ If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. “
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Overreach: MN Judge Puts Crimp in MDA’s 10-Year Pursuit of Raw Dairy Farmer Hartmann

Cow

Minnesota’s relentless decade-long pursuit of dairy farmer Michael Hartmann finally ran off the road, when a state judge ruled earlier this month that the state conducted an illegal search of the farmer’s truck.

In a strongly worded 30-page opinion, Minnesota Judge Erica MacDonald ruled that a state trooper, with help from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, illegally searched Hartmann’s truck and seized raw milk and cheese after a stop in December 2012. The trooper was allowed to stop the truck when he couldn’t see the rear license plate, the judge said, but once he found that the plate was just dirty, and that there was a front license plate, he was obligated to send Hartmann on his way, since there was no violation of motor vehicle or traffic laws. Instead, the trooper called the MDA, which told him to search the truck and confiscate product.
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Obama, NSA Spying and the Dangers of Secretive, Authoritarian Government

Recent reports indicating that President Obama was aware of and personally approved an NSA program that involved spying on the personal communications of various international leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have once again highlighted the deception and intransigence of the Obama administration in dealing with the revelations that the National Security Agency has been acting outside the bounds of the law, sucking up electronic communications the world over.

While this may come as a shock to most Americans, I’ve been writing about the NSA’s illegal surveillance tactics since the 1980s, which features prominently in my new book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. However, this latest development in the spying saga—that the NSA has been aiming its surveillance activities at the citizens of allied countries, including France and Germany—has thrown a kink into the Obama administration’s attempts at maintaining a cozy relationship with its foreign allies.
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Israel and the NSA: Partners in Crime

Usa Israel

It wasn’t the US government breaking into the private communications of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, according to top secret documents unearthed by Edward Snowden and published in Le Monde – it was the Israelis.

A four-page internal précis regarding a visit to Washington by two top French intelligence officials denies the NSA or any US intelligence agency was behind the May 2012 attempted break-in – which sought to implant a monitoring device inside the Elysee Palace’s communications system – but instead fingers the Israelis, albeit indirectly:

The visit by Barnard Barbier, head of the DGSE’s technical division, and Patrick Pailloux, a top official with France’s National Information Systems Security, was intended to elicit an explanation for the break-in, which the French media blamed on the Americans. The NSA’s inquiries to the British, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and other US allies all turned up negative. However, one such close ally wasn’t asked.
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