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The Cold War Has Never Ended for the CIA

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In the midst of the CIA’s torture scandal, USAID continues its obsessive Cold War activity against Cuba, in a desperate attempt to finally, once and for all, oust the Castro regime from power and install another pro-U.S. dictatorship. 

Yes, I know how a conservative would immediately respond: “Jacob, the CIA and USAID are two separate and distinct entities. Why are you bringing them up in the same sentence?” 

Yeah, right, and I have a nice piece of fertile swampland in the Everglades I’d like to sell that conservative. USAID is one of the CIA’s favorite front organizations. By taking over some of the CIA’s regime-change operations under the guise of promoting “civil society,” USAID provides the CIA with “plausible deniability” with respect to its never-ending Cold War obsession over Cuba and other socialist regimes. 

The latest regime-change fiasco involves a pathetically comical attempt to secretly infiltrate Cuba’s hip-hop scene. According to an article in The Guardian, “The idea was to use Cuba’s rappers ‘to break the information blockade’ and build a network of young people seeking ‘social change’ to spark a youth movement against the government of Raul Castro.”
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Three Members of Congress Just Reignited the Cold War While No One Was Looking

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Late Thursday night, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a far-reaching Russia sanctions bill, a hydra-headed incubator of poisonous conflict. The second provocative anti-Russian legislation in a week, it further polarizes our relations with Russia, helping to cement a Russia-China alliance against Western hegemony, and undermines long-term America’s financial and physical security by handing the national treasury over to war profiteers.

Here’s how the House’s touted “unanimity” was achieved: Under a parliamentary motion termed “unanimous consent,” legislative rules can be suspended and any bill can be called up. If any member of Congress objects, the motion is blocked and the bill dies.

At 10:23:54 p.m. on Thursday, a member rose to ask “unanimous consent” for four committees to be relieved of a Russia sanctions bill. At this point the motion, and the legislation, could have been blocked by a single member who would say “I object.”  No one objected, because no one was watching for last-minute bills to be slipped through.
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BBC US Editor Parrots CIA, Republican Talking Points on Senate Torture Report

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The BBC is supposed to be an "impartial", "honest" and "independent" news outlet, but today its US Editor, Jon Sopel, showed very clearly whose side he is on. In a short post, "A whiff of hypocrisy about CIA report?", he regurgitates some staple Republican talking-points and makes arguments eerily similar to those presented by former CIA and Bush officials in their various self-exculpatory media appearances this past week.

His piece bears the revealingly Cheney-esque tagline: “America has not come under serious attack since 9/11 on its home soil – so you would think that would be a source of celebration.” Then, just like CIA Director Brennan at his press conference last Thursday, Sopel kicks off with the September 11 attacks. He speculates that there might eventually be two versions of 9/11, one in which "a war on terror was declared, and those responsible were hunted down and detained, and there were no further attacks on US soil", another in which "the torture tactics used to hunt down and detain those responsible brought condemnation and America lost its moral authority in the world".

Both of these versions are inaccurate. His assumption is that the CIA's interrogation and rendition program was the only factor involved in capturing terrorists. Of course there were other departments of the US government at work - most importantly the FBI (which did not use torture). And there were other methods, besides human intelligence, which yielded information (for example, signals intelligence was crucial to the hunt for Bin Laden).
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After Ukraine: Are the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary Veering Off The NATO/EU Reservation?

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Despite the firmness shown by the EU’sbiggest players when it comes to sanctioning Putin’s Russia, lower down the pecking order some member states are not happy. Unlike the most craven and obedient puppets — the Baltic States and Poland — it took some arm twisting to get the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary to agree to punish Moscow for annexing Crimea. Each country is dependent for much of its energy on Russia with which there are also valued economic ties. Why rock the boat? Despite hyperbole claiming that Vladimir Putin was intent on taking them over and rebuilding the iron curtain, in reality, Russia has been an unproblematic neighbour for a quarter of a century.

Could these ripples of discontent with the famed Washington consensus develop into something more troubling for both the  US and Brussels? What can they do about it? All three countries are members of both NATO and the EU. Promoting regime change inside the Euro-Atlantic tentsurely becomes more problematic. Or, does it? Let us examine each case separately and see what the auguries bode.
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All I Want for Christmas is a (Real) Government Shutdown

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The political class breathed a sigh of relief Saturday when the US Senate averted a government shutdown by passing the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill. This year’s omnibus resembles omnibuses of Christmas past in that it was drafted in secret, was full of special interest deals and disguised spending increases, and was voted on before most members could read it.

The debate over the omnibus may have made for entertaining political theater, but the outcome was never in doubt. Most House and Senate members are so terrified of another government shutdown that they would rather vote for a 1,774-page bill they have not read than risk even a one or two-day government shutdown.
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Eric Garner, the Torture Report, and Authoritarian Psychology

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What do the NYPD arresting officers of Eric Garner, the CIA officials responsible for the crimes detailed in the Torture Report and U.S. foreign policy officials all have in common? They are all agents of  institutions that have adopted an “authoritarian psychology.” So what does authoritarian psychology mean?

Alexandre Kojeve, a French fascist in Vichy France, and lifelong close friend of Neocon Godfather Leo Strauss, explained authority as follows: “Authority is the possibility of an agent acting upon others without these others reacting against him, despite being capable to do so, and without making any compromises. Any discussion is already a compromise.”

This is anathema to the authoritarian because it means their absolute authority or of the institution they represent has been lost, even if only to an imperceptible degree. That is the nature of authoritarian psychology and authoritarian government by Kojeve’s and fascist logic.
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Torture and the Myth of Never Again: The Persecution of John Kiriakou

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In a Galaxy Far, Far Away

The United States sanctioned acts of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency and others. The acts took place in secret prisons (“black sites”) against persons detained indefinitely without trial. They were described in detail and explicitly authorized in a series of secret torture memos drafted by John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Steven Bradbury, senior lawyers in the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel. (Office of Legal Counsel attorneys technically answer directly to the DOJ, which is supposed to be independent from the White House, but obviously was not in this case.) Not one of those men, or their Justice Department bosses, has been held accountable for their actions.

Some tortured prisoners were killed by the CIA. Attorney General Eric Holder announced recently that no one would be held accountable for those murders either. “Based on the fully developed factual record concerning the two deaths,” he said, “the Department has declined prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Jose Rodriguez, a senior CIA official, admitted destroying videotapes of potentially admissible evidence, showing the torture of captives by operatives of the US government at a secret prison thought to be located at a Vietnam-War-era airbase in Thailand. He was not held accountable for deep-sixing this evidence, nor for his role in the torture of human beings.
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Do They Really Oppose Torture?

The Senate Intelligence Committee released its long-awaited report on CIA torture of detainees and the reaction has been strong. While some still maintain that torture is justified, the emerging details of the program have left most of the country disgusted and ashamed.

Many in the current Administration blame the Bush people for this dark chapter, claiming that President Obama finally put an end to what his predecessor started.

Senator John McCain, an advocate for war and an interventionist foreign policy, has nevertheless been one of the strongest voices opposing torture. He has recalled his time as an abused prisoner of war in Vietnam to argue the importance of facing up to the recent behavior of the US government and making necessary corrections.

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US Foreign Policy: Into the Heart of Darkness

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The United States is careening toward an unnecessary new cold war with Russia.  Cold War II may be even more dangerous than the first Cold War, because the constitutional checks and balances and the attention span of the people regulating the US government’s behavior have broken down. While Ukraine is now at the center of this madness, the neocon-driven march to folly has roots reaching well beyond the Ukraine. 

At the same time the United States is rushing to an unnecessary and unwarranted confrontation with Russia, it is engaged in perpetual war on terror that is creating enemies in the Islamic world faster than we can kill them. Moreover, the grand-strategic focus of the war on terror has degenerated into a swamp of contradictions. About the only outcome that is clear in the war on terror is that defense contractors will be the winners.  And then, there is the looming pivot to a confrontation with China. 

In short, the warmongering politicians of American Empire, like those of the Roman Empire, have succumbed to the delusion of their own invincibility and are driving the United States into the age-old cul-de-sac of military overextension. 

Yet at the same time the country is careening to disaster, the American people are tuning out on their government and its actions.
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'A Litany of Federal Crimes' - Judge Napolitano on the CIA Torture Report

"The most compelling, detailed documented report of government intentional infliction of pain on non-combatants ever produced in American history since the time of the Civil War." That is how RPI Advisory Board Member Judge Andrew Napolitano reacted to today's release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques.
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