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US Egypt Policy: Democracy Promotion?

Morsi Red Nose

When the Obama administration announced on July 25 that it was free to violate U.S. law by continuing to finance the Egyptian military to the tune of $1.5 billion annually, even though it was responsible for overthrowing the democratically elected president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, in a coup d'tat on July 3, the message was understood loud and clear in Cairo. Two days later, the Egyptian military massacred over 70 demonstrators who were protesting Morsi's ouster.

The commander of the Egyptian armed forces, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had sought a "mandate" for the military's actions, calling on supporters of the coup to take to the streets in a show of support. "Although he has vowed to lead Egypt through a democratic transition,"  Robert Springborg pointed out in the journal Foreign Affairs, "there are plenty of indications that he is less than enthusiastic about democracy and that he intends to hold on to political power himself."

The response from the U.S. Congress and the White House to the massacre was nevertheless that there remained little interest in complying with U.S. law and cutting off the aid. The editors of the New York Times weighed in that "American military aid to Egypt should not be cut off", despite this being a requirement of U.S. law. The Times nonsensically added that "Washington’s leverage" to prevent such violence "has been limited, despite $1.5 billion in annual military aid". The editors didn't bother to even attempt to explain why $1.5 billion didn't amount to a great deal of leverage, indeed.
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Welcome to Post-Constitution America: The Weapons of War Come Home

Veneer Of Victory

On July 30, 1778, the Continental Congress created the first whistleblower protection law, stating “that it is the duty of all persons in the service of the United States to give the earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds, or misdemeanors committed by any officers or persons in the service of these states.”

Two hundred thirty-five years later, on July 30, 2013, Bradley Manning was found guilty on 20 of the 22 charges for which he was prosecuted, specifically for “espionage” and for videos of war atrocities he released, but not for “aiding the enemy.”

Days after the verdict, with sentencing hearings in which Manning could receive 136 years of prison time ongoing, the pundits have had their say. The problem is that they missed the most chilling aspect of the Manning case: the way it ushered us, almost unnoticed, intopost-Constitutional America.
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The Ron Paul Channel Will Launch August 12th

Exciting news posted by Lew Rockwell:

August 7, 2013 (Clute, Texas) – Today, former-Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul announced the Ron Paul Channel (www.RonPaulChannel.com) would launch the week of August 12, 2013, and new details about the Channel. Known for refusing to play by the establishment’s rules, Dr. Paul will air all original programming several times a week.

Since announcing the Ron Paul Channel’s creation solely on Facebook and Twitter, more than 200,000 people have gone to www.RonPaulChannel.com to express interest in learning more about the channel and Dr. Paul’s programming.


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Are Police in America Now a Military, Occupying Force?

SWAT Tank

Despite the steady hue and cry by government agencies about the need for more police, more sophisticated weaponry, and the difficulties of preserving the peace and maintaining security in our modern age, the reality is far different. Indeed, violent crime in America has been on a steady decline, and if current trends continue, Americans will finish the year 2013 experiencing the lowest murder rate in over a century.

Despite this clear referendum on the fact that communities would be better served by smaller, demilitarized police forces, police agencies throughout the country are dramatically increasing in size and scope. Some of the nation’s larger cities boast police forces the size of small armies. (New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg actually likes to brag that the NYPD is his personal army.) For example, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has reached a total of 10,000 officers. It takes its place alongside other cities boasting increasingly large police forces, including New York (36,000 officers) and Chicago (13,400 officers). When considered in terms of cops per square mile, Los Angeles assigns a whopping 469 officers per square mile, followed by New York with 303 officers per square mile, and Chicago with 227 cops per square mile.
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President José Mujica Versus the United Nations

Uruguay President Hillary

Uruguay's President José Mujica is standing up to United Nations bureaucrats at the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) who are chastising Uruguay for advancing legislation that will allow the legal growth, sale, and purchase of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. Mujica plans to defend his nation's marijuana law reform in a speech before the UN General Assembly in September. For a preview, read here excerpts from Mujica's Thursday radio address to Uruguayans after the marijuana reform law passed in Uruguay's lower house of congress.

In 2011, the INCB similarly chastised Bolivia for withdrawing from the 1961 United Nations Single Convention of Narcotic Drugs so Bolivia could rejoin the convention with a reservation protecting the traditional use of coca leaves in the nation. Later, Bolivian President Evo Morales defended before a UN anti-drug meeting in May 2012 his nation's choice to respect what he called "a millennia-old tradition in Bolivia."
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Why Won’t They Tell Us the Truth About NSA Spying?

In 2001, the Patriot Act opened the door to US government monitoring of Americans without a warrant. It was unconstitutional, but most in Congress over my strong objection were so determined to do something after the attacks of 9/11 that they did not seem to give it too much thought. Civil liberties groups were concerned, and some of us in Congress warned about giving up our liberties even in the post-9/11 panic. But at the time most Americans did not seem too worried about the intrusion.


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NSA Spying: Fiction versus Fact

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers and many other defenders of the NSA spying program warned critics that the mass collection of our electronic communications had already stopped “dozens” of terrorist plots against the United States. In June, NSA director General Keith Alexander claimed that the just-disclosed bulk collection of Americans’ phone and other electronic records had “foiled 50 terror plots.” These claims were designed to silence opponents by implying they would be partly responsible should another attack occur if they were successful in shutting down the programs.
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McCain Declares War on Russia

Mccain War

Fresh off of his flip-flop on aid to Egypt and his threats to vote for the left (neocon) interventionists in the Democratic Party should anyone remotely non-interventionist succeed in gaining the Republican nomination to be the next president, Senator John McCain is determined to light a new fire under the long dead ashes of the Cold War. However, he no doubt chokes on the smoke of irony as he fumbles with his matches.

What has set McCain’s neoconservative nerve on edge is the finalization yesterday of NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s request for temporary asylum in Russia. According to McCain and his fellow neocons, when Washington demands extradition the rest of the world must immediately comply, regardless of the circumstances.

However, as William Blum points out yesterday in Counterpunch:

[A]ccording to the Russian Interior Ministry, 'Law agencies asked the US on many occasions to extradite wanted criminals through Interpol channels, but those requests were neither met nor even responded to.' Amongst the individuals requested are militant Islamic insurgents from Chechnya, given asylum in the United States.

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Rouhani’s Inauguration and the West’s Strategic Suicide

Rouhani

As Hassan Rouhani approaches his inauguration this weekend, there is self-referential optimism in Western policy circles about what his accession might portend.  A substantial quorum in these circles sees Rouhani as perhaps someone with whom the West—to recall Margaret Thatcher’s 1984 assessment of rising Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev—“can do business.”

The traits these observers cite to justify their optimism—Rouhani’s deep knowledge of the nuclear file, his history of seeking creative diplomatic solutions, an easier rhetorical style for Westerners than outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, fluency in English—are real.

But the focus on them suggests that Western elites still look for Tehran to accommodate the West’s nuclear demands—above all, by compromising Iran’s right, as a sovereign state and signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to enrich uranium indigenously under safeguards.  This motivates them to interpret Rouhani’s election as evidence of Iranians’ growing weariness with sanctions and, by extension, with their government’s policies that prompt escalating international pressure on Iran’s economy.
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Time to Abolish the DHS?

Homeland
photo: Steve Rhodes

To the glee of her critics, Janet Napolitano, the longest-serving secretary at the Department of Homeland Security in its decade-long existence, has announced her resignation. No longer will Republicans have old Janet to kick around. As for the civil libertarians and frustrated national security state watchers, she was a reliable foot solider and bureaucrat and her departure is welcome for as much as it will make a difference, which is likely not much.

That’s because speculation of her replacement has centered around such milquetoast figures as retired Coast Guard Chief Thad Allen and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, both of whom would no doubt would toe the line as faithfully as Napolitano and her ineffectual predecessors, Michael Chertoff and Tom Ridge. 

Then there is the incredibly jarring prospect of New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly becoming the new head of DHS. While the force’s infamous stop-and-frisk and Muslim community surveillance programs are currently tied up in contentious civil rights litigation, he has also overseen an expansion of the NYPD which is now acting like an auxiliary of both the CIA and the military here and abroad. If there were a poster child for post-9/11 overreach, it would be the NYPD, and its flinty-eyed top cop the perfect embodiment of imperious state authority.
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