Obama's Reaction to the Senate Report: Torture is Good

Written by Chris Floyd 09 December 2014 3725 Hits

A truncated version of the Senate investigation into the CIA's Terror War torture regime has finally been released. Even in its limited form, it details an operation of vile depravity, one which would plunge a civilized nation into a profound crisis of conscience and spark a deep and anguished debate on how best to transform a system of government -- and a national ethos -- that could lead to such putrid crimes. It would also occasion a wide-ranging effort to subject the originators, perpetrators and accomplices of the torture program to the full measure of legal punishment they deserve.Needless to say, nothing like that is going to happen in America. Indeed, even before the report was released, the New York Times -- the standard-bearer and shaper of "decent" liberal thought for the nation -- was splashing an opinion piece on the front page of its website, demanding that we "Pardon Bush and Those Who Tortured." This was the very first "think piece" pushed by the Times on the morning of the report's release.I'm sure that by the end of the day, the dust will have already settled into the usual ruts. The Hard Right -- and its pork-laden publicists -- will denounce the investigation and continue to champion torture, as they have done in the weeks running up to the release. The somewhat Softer Right that constitutes the "liberal" wing of the ruling Imperial Party (and its outriders in the "progressive" media) will wring their hands for a bit -- as they did during the multitude...

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Strange Fruit Still Bearing on America’s Blood-Smeared Trees

Written by Chris Floyd 07 December 2014 2626 Hits

Eric Garner. Another unarmed black man gone down for no good goddamn reason, with not even a charge for those who caused his death. Not even a charge, not a trial, no open public examination of the facts. I’m not going to pontificate on this issue, because there are a multitude of African-American voices who can speak more directly and eloquently to this situation than yet another middle-aged white man. I’ll just point to this piece I wrote a few months ago “following the police berzerkery in Ferguson, Missouri.”The post dealt with the fact that this kind of thing has been going on for a long, long time — strange fruit bearing on a multitude of blood-soaked trees. This particular post focused on the emblematic case of George Jackson, killed in San Quentin in 1971. But it’s a piece that could have been written — and could be written, and will be written — every few weeks, year after year after year. As noted in the piece, in 1960, when George Jackson was sent to prison — “for one year to life” — for a $70 robbery, there were 200,000 people in prison in the United States. When he was killed in 1971, there were 300,000 people in prison. By 2011, there were 2.3 million people imprisoned in the United States — and more than 7 million human beings under some form of correctional supervision: prison, parole or probation. Is this the picture of a healthy society? An “exceptional” society?

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Hunger Games: Western Terror Warriors Spurn Their Innocent Victims

Written by Chris Floyd 03 December 2014 4073 Hits

So now there is no money left for the Syrian refugees created by the civil war fomented and fanned for years on end by Western governments. (Who, bizarrely, then prosecute any of their citizens who go off to fight in the war their governments promote as a noble and worthy cause.) For want of $64 million — the amount of money the US spends in an eyeblink on its drone campaigns and death squads, the kind of money that’s just chump change for, say, oligarchs who prowl the world destabilizing governments and monetizing misery for their own pockets — the UN says it must halt a vital support program for Syrian refugees.What is happening in Syria is sickening and surreal. Almost all of the public discourse surrounding this vast and vile slaughterhouse has been completely divorced from reality. The critical work of As’ad AbuKhalil, the “Angry Arab,” has been one of the very few places where one can thread the labyrinth of bullshit that all sides in this shameful conflict spew forth.Today, AbuKhalil points us to this pertinent piece by Simon Jenkins in the Guardian:

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Cage Match: Gitmo Case a Snapshot of America’s Imperial Soul

Written by Chris Floyd 01 December 2014 3072 Hits

Andy Worthington asks a burning question: “Why is Shaker Aamer still at Gitmo?” And after detailing the case of Aamer — an innocent man sold to the American security forces by the human traffickers who partnered with the CIA in Afghanistan, a man who was cleared for release from the American concentration camp seven years ago — Worthington suggests the likely answer:

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Landmarks of Loss and Love: Being Human in Horrible Times

Written by Chris Floyd 28 November 2014 2985 Hits

Moscow-based American writer and critic John Freedman has penned a tremendously powerful piece on his blog, Russian Culture in Landmarks. Writing a response to an article by Russian-born writer Martha Gessen in the New York Times, Freedman has encapsulated, in so many ways, the experience of those of us who, in this grim and ugly century, have "lost" both our countries -- the America that gave us birth, and the Russia which, as with Rilke, became our "spiritual homeland" -- to bizarre, brutal, murderous, belligerent, xenophobic, mean-spirited, wilfully ignorant perversions of themselves. In America, in Russia, and in so many other places around the world, what is best in human nature has indeed been “captured by aliens and stuffed into a trunk” — to borrow Freedman’s chillingly apt evocation of the poem by Alexander Timofeevsky. Freedman writes:

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Battle Cry: Candidate Paul Appeases the Masters of War

Written by Chris Floyd 25 November 2014 2653 Hits

Oh dear. Rand Paul, favorite candidate of those who dream of an anti-imperial coalition of hardcore libertarians and the antiwar left, has popped many a bubble this week with his proposed Senate bill to declare war on ISIS.Supporters will doubtless say that Paul (like another young politician on the make who served as a blank screen for his followers' aspirations for genuine hope and change) is merely playing "11th dimensional chess" with the move, trying to put America's war machine back on a Constitutional footing, while outflanking potential rivals for the GOP nomination who might otherwise have painted him as "soft" on killing large amounts of people with massive amounts of expensive and profitable machinery. But Paul is not simply calling the war machine's bluff. As Antiwar.com points out, he has already been supporting the American return to war in Iraq; he now wants to codify it, constitutionalize it -- and, remarkably, expand it beyond the admittedly porous "limitations" that the Warmonger-in-Chief has placed on the effort so far. As with every other intervention in the West's great Terror War, even the militarists' own intelligence services are pointing out the obvious fact that the war on ISIS is actually strengthening extremism throughout the region and elsewhere. Yet Paul -- who has garnered broad national interest chiefly through his antiwar and anti-imperial rhetoric -- wants to double down on the new war. He could have moved to have Obama impeached for...

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Red Mist Rising: Inside the World's Most Powerful Terrorist Organization

Written by Chris Floyd 19 November 2014 3573 Hits

Glenn Greenwald notes the blizzard of bellicose propaganda pieces pouring from the High Media lately concerning the Peace Laureate's latest flurry of drone killings. In story after story, headline after headline, we hear of "militants" slaughtered by the dead-eyed machinery that floats above the distant villages of the "recalcitrant tribes" who bedevil the Empire with their disobedience -- or, in the case of the drone campaign, which overwhelmingly kills innocent civilians, with their mere existence.Greenwald draws on a new article by Steve Coll in the New Yorker, which provides a detailed -- and damning -- look at the Progressive Way of State Terror as practiced by our noble Nobelist in the White House. Coll in turn draws on the remarkable efforts of photographer Noor Behram, who for years has been going to the actual sites of American drone strikes to record the truth behind the horseshit headlines. As Greenwald notes:

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Children of Lies: Fragments From the Long and Wasted Years

Written by Chris Floyd 06 November 2014 3243 Hits

Below is a slightly revised version of my column in the latest print edition of Counterpunch Magazine.In the course of a massive clean-out the other day, I came upon a box of overstuffed folders and musty papers — copies of some of the first pieces I’d ever had published, going back 35 years. For almost two decades they’d lain unseen in the bottom of an old trunk in my parents’ basement, stored there during one of the several peripatetic upheavals that punctuated my early adulthood. Then a freak flood hit the town, and most of the papers were damaged beyond rescue, fused into bundles that couldn’t be prised apart without crumbling into pieces. Only one small box made it through; it had been sitting on top of a cache of love letters and other tender memorabilia destroyed by the water. This survivor I duly carted back across the ocean, to my home in England, where my peripateticism had come to an end. There it was promptly relegated to a new dark corner, to molder and yellow for several years more — until last week’s day of cleaning.Naturally, I took the opportunity to let nostalgia draw me away from my chores, and spent an hour or so leafing through the articles. But beyond the bemusement at my early style (an odd mix of hellfire preacher and Gore Vidal manqué), I was most struck by the grim continuity between then and now. The same themes, and in many cases virtually the same content, sounded over and over, like “an echo from the future,” as Pasternak put it. With only a...

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Revenge of the Interceptors: Oligarch's Team Mugs Renegade Taibbi

Written by Chris Floyd 31 October 2014 4757 Hits

A few random thoughts on the imbroglio over Matt Taibbi leaving the media stable of oligarch Pierre Omidyar -- and the remarkable response to this by the oligarch's remaining celebs, led by Glenn Greenwald. 1. The Intercept article on Taibbi's departure -- bylined under the names of Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill, and John Cook, but almost certainly written mostly by Greenwald -- is, at its core, a scurrilous piece of work. Purporting to be a boldly transparent piece -- it even (lightly) criticizes the Boss! -- it is instead, transparently, an attempt by the oligarch's organization to get its side of the story out first before the famously acerbic Taibbi makes any statement. 2. It is also a means for the authors to laud themselves as "fiercely independent journalists" (yes, Greenwald actually wrote that about himself) who, despite being radical bohemians who "view corporate cultures and management-speak with disdain," were able to heroically grapple with their employer and procure for themselves "a sizable budget, operational autonomy, and a team of talented journalists, editors, research specialists, and technologists working collaboratively and freely in the manner its founders always envisioned" … unlike that loser Taibbi, who obviously lacked their moxie and got slapped around by the Big Boss Man.3. The poison shiv of the article is buried deep in the acres of Greenwald's ever-deadening slabs of prose (as well as deep in Taibbi's back): the accusation of...

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