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Surveillance State: We Are One Step Away from Glass Houses

I Am Being Watched

In Yevgeny Zamyatin's dystopian novel We, the people of One State live in transparent apartments with curtains required to be open nearly all the time so police and informants may view the residents' every action. Listening to George Washington University Law School Professor Jeffrey Rosen's interview last week on The Take Away, it becomes disturbingly clear that Americans are one step away from this level of government snooping on our activities.

Rosen details how police can use facial recognition software combined with abundant cameras to track and catalog our activities. As Rosen explains, the snooping is not limited to attempting to catch suspected criminals. Rather, police may use the technology to follow the daily activities of any person whose photo is contained in vast photo databases, such as anyone with a driver license.
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Will Congress Endorse Obama's War Plans? Does it Matter?

President Obama announced this weekend that he has decided to use military force against Syria and would seek authorization from Congress when it returned from its August break. Every Member ought to vote against this reckless and immoral use of the US military. But even if every single Member and Senator votes for another war, it will not make this terrible idea any better because some sort of nod is given to the Constitution along the way. 

Besides, the president made it clear that Congressional authorization is superfluous, asserting falsely that he has the authority to act on his own with or without Congress. That Congress allows itself to be treated as window dressing by the imperial president is just astonishing.
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The Real Reason for US Syria Attack

Syria Protest


Let’s face some hard facts about the vicious conflict in Syria.

If the US directly attacks Syria, the real cause will not be the recent chemical attacks. What are 300 or so dead in a 2-year old war fuelled by the western powers that has so far killed over 100,000?

Chemical weapons are horrible. So are bullets, shells, bombs, cluster bombs, fuel-air explosive, white phosphorus, and napalm. All wars are crime writ large.

We don’t yet know if the recent chemical massacre in Damascus was a real chemical attack using Sarin nerve gas, a rebel provocation, an industrial accident, or an attack by rogue Syrian army units? After Iraq, we can’t trust western intelligence and so-called evidence.

This is not even the main issue at hand though it makes an excellent pretext for outside powers to intervene.

The Syrian conflict is a proxy war being waged against Iran by the United States, conservative Arab oil producers, and three former Mideast colonial powers, Britain, France and Turkey who are seeking to restore their domination in the region. Israel, hoping to isolate Hezbollah and cement its annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights, cheers from the sidelines. Syria and Hezbollah are Iran’s only Arab friends.
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Syria and the Waning of American Hegemony

Obamasyria1

Once carried out, the Obama administration’s thoroughly telegraphed strike on Syria, ostensibly over alleged chemical weapons use there, will mark an important inflection point in the terminal decline of America’s Middle East empire.  Most importantly, it will confirm that America’s political class, including Obama himself, remains unwilling to face the political risks posed by any fundamental revision of Washington’s 20+-year, deeply self-damaging drive to dominate the region.

Obama initially ran for president pledging to end the “mindset” behind the strategic blunder of America’s 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq; in his first term, he committed to ending America’s war in Afghanistan, too, and to “rebalancing” toward Asia.  But Obama was never ready to spend the political capital required for thoroughgoing recasting of U.S. foreign policy; consequently, the dissipation of American power (hard and soft) evident under George W. Bush has accelerated under Obama.
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Obama's Syria Dossier: 'Trust Us'

US Missile Syria

Release of the long-awaited US government intelligence dossier on the alleged chemical attack in Syria on Aug. 21, had been moved and postponed until the media black-hole of a Friday afternoon before a big US holiday weekend. 

Now we see why.

Here is the crux of the White House argument for war on Syria: 

A chemical attack took place. Trust us. Someone (the Israelis) told us they tapped a call where two Syrian government officials talked about the attack in an incriminating way. Trust us. The Syrian government was moving troops around in a way that suggested they were about to launch a chemical attack. Trust us. More than 1,400 people were killed even though at most a couple of dozen were seem in the videos that purported to be of the attack. Never mind, trust us. We watched a lot of YouTube videos of people who seemed to be suffering from a chemical weapons attack. Trust us.
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Obama's Flimsy Case For Attacking Syria Falls Apart

Obamacameron

It started with Secretary of State John Kerry. On Monday, he made the Obama Administration's preliminary case for a US attack on Syria. He promised an administration response, after watching the YouTube videos of people suffering from some sort of attack in Syria had convinced him that the Syrian government had carried out an attack on innocent civilians. Anyone who questions this, he said, "needs to check their conscience and their own moral compass." That's it. With an intelligence budget of at least $100 billion plus, the Secretary of State is getting his information on what is happening in Syria through videos made by the US-allied opposition and uploaded to YouTube for propaganda value. 

At best these videos only show the half-truth that their makers are seeking to convey. It is a very shaky foundation upon which to base a US war on a foreign country. His moral outrage that anyone might be skeptical about these videos is undermined by the incontrovertible fact that the Syrian opposition has a long history of falsifying evidence -- including fake videos -- of the Syrian government's war crimes. 

All sides use propaganda in a war situation and have done so since the beginning of man's war on man.
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Iran Can Finesse Obama's Legacy

Obama Peace Prize

President Barack Obama is setting a new precedent in America’s history as an imperialist power. 

He is all but apologizing before he orders a military attack against a sovereign country with which the United States is not war, and which has not offended America’s vital interests and concerns as a sovereign country even remotely. 

The Obama administration is publicizing in advance that it is going to be a "limited" military attack by the US on Syria. It is even willing to give advance notice of when the attack can be expected – most likely on Thursday. Who would say Obama is not a humane and considerate statesman?

By "limited" attack, the Obama administration is indicating it will not directly attack Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles but only their "delivery systems," which means the Syrian air force and the army units that are capable of staging a chemical weapon attack. Indeed, someone is in command of any country’s armed forces and, therefore, the "command-and-control" systems of the Syrian armed forces will also be targeted.
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Obama Set for Tomahawk War: Responsibility to Attack

Hagel Solo

The ''responsibility to protect'' (R2P) doctrine invoked to legitimize the 2011 war on Libya has just transmogrified into ''responsibility to attack'' (R2A) Syria. Just because the Obama administration says so. 

On Sunday, the White House said it had ''very little doubt'' that the Bashar al-Assad government used chemical weapons against its own citizens. On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry ramped it up to ''undeniable'' - and accused Assad of ''moral obscenity''. 

So when the US bombed Fallujah with white phosphorus in late 2004 it was just taking the moral high ground. And when the US helped Saddam Hussein to gas Iranians in 1988 it was also taking the moral high ground. The Obama administration has ruled that Assad allowed UN chemical weapons inspectors into Syria, and to celebrate their arrival unleashed a chemical weapons attack mostly against women and children only 15 kilometers away from the inspectors' hotel. If you don't believe it, you subscribe to a conspiracy theory.
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