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Breaking The Neocon Stranglehold On Washington

No matter who occupies the US presidency, it seems the neoconservatives always occupy positions of foreign policy power. A neocon like Robert Kagan, for example, is perfectly comfortable going from a senior position in the GW Bush administration to another senior post in Barack Obama's State Department. When their failed policies wear out the name of one of their institutes, like Project for a New American Century, they simply change the name without losing a beat, in this case turning into the "Foreign Policy Initiative." Filmmaker Robbie Martin has done a terrific job looking into the neocon domination of Washington in his three-part documentary film, A Very Heavy Agenda. Martin joins today's Liberty Report to talk about his films and to talk about the neocons who star in them...
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Delusions on Syria Prevail in Official Washington

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Tulsi Gabbard is one brave Congresswoman. She has challenged her party and the president saying that it’s time for Washington to halt its “illegal, counter-productive war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad. I don’t think Assad should be removed. If Assad is removed and overthrown, ISIS, al Qaeda, Al Nustra, these Islamic extremist groups will walk straight in and take over all of Syria … they will be even stronger.”

Indeed, Washington’s senseless policy in Syria has been hanging out there like overripe fruit for quite some time with the mainstream media instead marching at lockstep to the tune being whistled by a large disengaged and unaccountable White House. Gabbard might go one step further to ask why Syria is the way it is in the first place since that would question Administration priorities under Democrats as well as Republicans, both of which have emphasized eliminating al-Assad for no conceivable reason that has anything to do with actual American interests.

Much has been made of Washington groupthink, which is the concept that when a meeting of senior staffers is held everyone will veer towards a point of view that is being espoused by whoever called the meeting, be they the president or one of the cabinet secretaries. It is also reflected in the output of foundations and think tanks, which rely on government access as well as funding from beneficiaries of the war economy. Current groupthink, rejected by Gabbard, is that removing al-Assad is somehow an essential precondition for any settlement of Syria’s torment.
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Remember Kosovo?

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In Pristina, the capital of the make-believe country of Kosovo, there is a street named after Bill Clinton, and a statue of Bill – done in the Socialist Realist style – towers over the main square. They also named a boulevard after George W. Bush, perhaps to hedge their bets after the Republicans took the White House. You couldn’t ask for a more “pro-American” country than this one: but that’s just on the surface. Undercurrents of rabid nationalism – and real resentment of the Americans and Europeans who have been baby-sitting the Kosovars all these years – is now breaking out that threatens whatever modicum of stability Kosovo has ever known.

Kosovo declared its independence in 2008, but in reality it is the US Embassy, rather than the Parliament building in Pristina, that is the epicenter of governance in what amounts to an American protectorate in the heart of Europe. And this essentially colonialist relationship, combined with Bill Clinton’s decision in the 1990s to unleash the often violent spirit of Albanian nationalism, is rupturing the fragile state apparatus.

Twenty or so years after the American “liberation” of Kosovo forcibly separated it from the former Yugoslavia, the country is a mess. Unemployment is massive: crime is pandemic; and an ultra-nationalist movement, Vetevendosje, is on the rise. Vetevendosje wants to achieve the dream of the old Kosovo Liberation Army: a “Greater Albania.” Toward this end, the ultra-nationalists, who polled some 14% of the vote in the last elections, are demanding union with Albania – just as the KLA did.
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Is Congress Declaring War on ISIS…or on You?

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Passage of Senator Mitch McConnell’s authorization for war against ISIS will not only lead to perpetual US wars across the globe, it will also endanger our civil and economic liberties. The measure allows the president to place troops anywhere he determines ISIS is operating. Therefore, it could be used to justify using military force against United States citizens on US territory. It may even be used to justify imposing martial law in America.

The President does not have to deploy the US military to turn America into a militarized police state, however. He can use his unlimited authority to expand programs that turn local police forces into adjuncts of the US military, and send them increasing amounts of military equipment. Using the threat of ISIS to justify increased police militarization will be enthusiastically supported by police unions, local officials, and, of course, politically-powerful defense contractors. The only opposition will come from citizens whose rights have been violated by a militarized police force that views the people as the enemy.
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State Department: 22 Emails Will Not Be Released As “Top Secret”

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The email scandal deepened for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday with the announcement that the State Department will not release 22 emails because they contain “top secret” information, the highest level of government classification. The latest batch of emails contains seven email chain with top secret information.  While Clinton once insisted that she never sent or received classified information, it is now official that many of the emails did indeed contain classified information. Clinton later argued that she did not send or receive information “marked” as classified. 

While many of us in the field noted that such markings are not the only issue for those who handle classified information, the classification level given so many emails will likely increase the criticism of Clinton’s decision to use exclusively her own, unsecure email system over the protected system in place at State. She has insisted that this was done for “convenience” and recently rejected the suggestion that the use of the system showed “an error in judgment.” In the very least, the decision to use a private email system was a horrendously bad decision for a Secretary of State when a secure system was available. It is hardly a compelling argument to advance that you took this reckless step for “convenience.”

Additional emails between President Obama and Clinton were withheld to protect presidential communications, though the use of a private server made such communications vulnerable to foreign interception.  Notably, the State Department said today that it has not been established that none of the email information was marked classified.
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Ron Paul: Congress is AWOL on US Wars

Interviewed Thursday on the Alex Jones Show, Ron Paul lamented that, despite the Founders having “worked so hard to allow [war] powers to be put into the hands of the body that is supposed to be closest to the people,” the Congress today “is absent, AWOL,” because Congress members “don’t want the responsibility.” “They don’t want to assume any responsibility, so they would rather give up their prerogative,” concludes Paul.
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American Take on the Freedom of the Press

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In the “free and democratic system” being pushed upon all other states in the world by the United States and its Western allies, journalists are increasingly unhappy about the repressions they’ve been facing over the last decade, along with constant surveillance and the demand to cooperate with intelligence services. That is why German-speakers have even coined a special term for the Western media – Lügenpresse or “lying press”. It’s no wonder that the credibility of the most famous Western media outlets recently has hit a new low.

Since the days of Richard Nixon no American president was as hostile to the media as Barack Obama – this was stated by the former editor-in-chief of the Washington Post, Leonard Downie in a report that he drafted on the dire situation of the freedom of speech in the United States. According to this report, the Obama Administration has been routinely spying on journalists, while punishing harshly all sorts of whistleblowers. Moreover, the members of the administration feel personally offended when a critical article about its actions appears somewhere in the media. In order to prevent such perceived slights, government officials are being accused of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 that in the first 90 years of its existence was used only three times to convict foreign spies. Yet, in the period from 2009 to 2013 eight US officials went to jail on accusations of providing journalists with the information that could lead to a major scandal. As for US journalists, Leonard Downie notes, they are living in the atmosphere of constant fear, under a sense of being monitored daily.

Despite promises to put an end to the “excessive secrecy” that was imposed by the Bush Administration, Obama has only expanded it further still. It happens so that even the documents that pose no threat to national security whatsoever are being classified today in the West as “Top Secret” to ensure that reporters never get access to them. Since October 2011, civil servants in all US government bodies are being officially encouraged to spy on their colleagues, while employees of federal departments since 2012 are forced to regularly report their contacts with the press, as well as to inform superiors about “suspicious behavior” of their colleagues.
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Why Adolf Eichmann’s Final Message Remains so Profoundly Unsettling

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Had it not been for an unguarded conversation between Adolf Eichmann’s son and the Argentinian girl he was dating, the chances are that the shabby “Ricardo Klement” would have lived out his days in obscurity a few miles north of Buenos Aires. Unlike Josef Mengele, the sadistic camp doctor at Auschwitz, who was feted in the more glamorous circles of Argentinian society, Klement was a failure in his adopted country. He ran a laundry business for a while but it went bankrupt. He lurched from job to job. And when he was captured by Mossad agents on 11 May 1960, shuffling home from the bus stop, they couldn’t quite believe that this was the high-ranking Nazi officer who was responsible for the deportation of millions of Jews to the death camps.

Since his trial in Jerusalem in 1961, Eichmann has become the subject of continued controversy – much of it not so much about the man himself, but often more about the very nature of evil. Yesterday’s release of a hand-written letter from Eichmann to the then Israeli president, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, requesting clemency, will only continue the debate. “There is a need to draw a line between the leaders responsible and the people like me forced to serve as mere instruments in the hands of the leaders,” Eichmann’s letter pleaded. “I was not a responsible leader, and as such do not feel myself guilty.”
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Six Years and $17 Billion Wasted in Afghanistan

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What did you get for Christmas these last six years?

The U.S. government was nice enough to gift our loyal friends the Afghans $17 billion of your tax money, and, in the true spirit of giving, asked nothing in return for itself.

What that means in actual dollars and nonsense is that the U.S. government wasted $17 billion in taxpayer money in Afghanistan on various projects that never made it off the ground or were doomed to fail because of incompetence or lack of maintenance, according to a new report.

ProPublica looked at over 200 audits conducted by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) over the last six years and tallied up the costs for the wide range of failed efforts to reach the $17 billion price tag. This greatest hits study only scratched the surface of the estimated $110 billion spent to rebuild the country (the U.S. spent some $47 billion in rebuilding Iraq, and how’d that work out?)
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'Carpet Bomber' Cruz: Libertarian or Neocon?

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is being advertised in some circles as the heir to the Ron Paul libertarian movement, yet one look at his foreign policy and it is immediately evident that he is anything but. His advisors are Bill Kristol, John Bolton, James Woolsey, Elliot Abrams and other washed-up neocon has-beens. No wonder he screams about "carpet bombing" the Middle East and making the sand glow in the dark. The libertarian movement is essentially built around rejection of wars of aggression and against interventionism. Ted Cruz, neocon, in today's Liberty Report...
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