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Pentagon Silent on Current Use of DU in Iraq

By: David Swanson Friday January 30, 2015 10:07 am

Back in October, I reported that, “A type of airplane, the A-10, deployed this month to the Middle East by the U.S. Air National Guard’s 122nd Fighter Wing, is responsible for more Depleted Uranium (DU) contamination than any other platform, according to the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW). . . . Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright told me, ‘There is no prohibition against the use of Depleted Uranium rounds, and the [U.S. military] does make use of them. The use of DU in armor-piercing munitions allows enemy tanks to be more easily destroyed.’”

This week I have left an email message and a phone message for Mark Wright at the Pentagon. Here’s what I emailed, after consulting with Wim Zwijnenburg of

“Recent reports by CENTCOM have noted that 11% of the U.S. sorties have been flown by A-10s , and that a wide range of attacks on tanks and armored vehicles have taken place.  Can you confirm that  PGU-14 30mm munitions with depleted uranium in the A-10s (and any other DU weapons) have not been used during these attacks. And if not, why not? Thanks!”

I sent that email on January 28 and left a voice message January 30.

You’d think there’d be lots of reporters calling with the same question and reporting the answer. But then it’s only Iraqis, I guess.


Ukrainian army shelling of bus and humanitarian aid center in Donetsk kills 9 – Graphic Warning

By: operationmindcrime Friday January 30, 2015 9:20 am

The Ukrainian army has once again shelled civilians. There are a number of videos on the internet, all of which point the blame at the Ukrainian military. OSCE observers are on the ground as proven by the videos at the links below. The US government and media have intentionally been covering up what the Ukrainian military are doing. It is a consistent pattern of lies and obfuscation. This has become surreal at this point as the US consistently pushes the narrative that Donetsk citizens are all dying because of Russia. It is completely untrue and Russia is the only country that is providing these people with humanitarian aid. It was a cultural center that was used for distributing humanitarian that was bombed today. The US’s position makes no logical sense.

Highly graphic warning:

The Live Leak link below features numerous videos and graphic photos of the victims. These photos and videos were taken by people in the city of Donetsk. They are not shelling themselves as the US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki would have people believe. I am including a clip of her being questioned by AP reporter Matt Lee on the subject of the Kiev regimes ‘free pass’ when it comes to killing civilians.

These pictures are incredibly graphic and show a young girl who has had her face blown off as well as numerous civilians blown to pieces.

These were primarily elderly civilians living in Donetsk. They were at the Center to pick up humanitarian aid supplies.

Graphic Warning:

There was also another bus attack today. Keep in mind that all these attacks are happening to the innocent ethnic Russian population of East Ukraine. The US media wants you to believe they are miraculously killing themselves. Link to pictures of the bus attack victims, they were innocent elderly people. Graphic warning:

Uk reporter Graham Philips of RT reports at the scene:

Matt Lee questions Jen Psaki on the US’s blatant one sided hypocrisy.

On Scott Walker and academic work

By: cassiodorus Friday January 30, 2015 9:18 am

I don’t know if you all caught this one in Politico:

Scott Walker urges professors to work harder

By Lucy McCalmont

1/29/15 8:15 AM EST

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, defending proposed budget cuts for higher education, took a swipe at university professors who he said could be “teaching more classes and doing more work.”

Please note, here, the implicit presumption in this sort of rhetoric that what matters with university professors is the quantity, and not the quality, of the work they do. Go ahead, professors — teach a bunch of courses in which you make life easy for your students because they would all rather get good grades than be required to learn a whole lot. Lecture a lot on topics such as your best research — to a bunch of students who need to know nothing more than the proper composition of a paragraph in standard written English. And feel free to put out a lot of scholarly publications in which a bunch of “factors” are “operationalized” without any substantive meaning, or in which you’ve piled on pages of abstract jargon in hopes that nobody who grants you tenure will notice that you’re not saying anything. Put out some more academic writing as real estate; adorn your CVs with great gobs of it if you will. But be sure to do more work!

In real life, moreover, most academic faculty are adjuncts. NPR puts it at 75%. If individuals within this majority of academic workers are lucky to find four classes per term, why, they might even make the whopping sum of $20 to $25,000 per year. Yeah, that’ll pay the rent, medical bills, etc. Certainly granting said individuals a raise might add something to the quality of their work maybe?

This is not to say that Scott Walker could ever be an authority on the quality of academic work. But here’s a side thought — perhaps if the social sciences were more useful, maybe the Scott Walkers of the world could somehow be prevented from attaining public office. Possibly?

CIA Tried to Give Iraq Nuclear Plans, Just Like Iran

By: David Swanson Friday January 30, 2015 8:52 am

If you’ve followed the trials of James Risen and Jeffrey Sterling, or read Risen’s book State of War, you are aware that the CIA gave Iran blueprints and a diagram and a parts list for the key component of a nuclear bomb.

The CIA then proposed to do exactly the same for Iraq, using the same former Russian scientist to make the delivery. How do I know this? Well, Marcy Wheeler has kindly put all the evidence from the Sterling trial online, including this cable. Read the following paragraph:


“M” is Merlin, code name for the former Russian used to give the nuclear plans to Iran. Here he’s being asked, just following that piece of lunacy, whether he’d be willing to _______________. What? Something he agrees to without hesitation. The CIA paid him hundreds of thousands of our dollars and that money flow would continue to cover a more adventurous extension of the current operation. What could that mean? More dealings with Iran? No, because this extension is immediately distinguished from dealings with Iran.


It seems that a national adjective belongs in that space. Most are too long to fit: Chinese, Zimbabwean, even Egyptian.

But notice the word “an,” not “a.” The word that follows has to start with a vowel. Search through the names of the world’s countries. There is only one that fits and makes sense. And if you followed the Sterling trial, you know exactly how much sense it makes: Iraqi.


And then further down: “THINKING ABOUT THE IRAQI OPTION.”

Now, don’t be thrown off by the place to meet being somewhere that M was unfamiliar with. He met the Iranians in Vienna (or rather avoided meeting them by dumping the nuke plans in their mailbox). He could be planning to meet the Iraqis anywhere on earth; that bit’s not necessarily relevant to identifying the nation.

Then look at the last sentence. Again it distinguishes the Iranians from someone else. Here’s what fits there:


North Koreans doesn’t fit or make sense or start with a vowel (And Korean doesn’t start with a vowel, and DPRK doesn’t start with a vowel). Egyptians doesn’t fit or make sense.

The closest words to fitting this document, other than IRAQI and IRAQIS, are INDIAN and INDIANS. But I’ve tried approximating the font and spacing as closely as possible, and I encourage typographical experts to give it a try. The latter pair of words ends up looking slightly crowded.

And then there’s this: The United States knew that India had nukes and didn’t mind and wasn’t trying to start a war with India.

And this: the mad scheme to give slightly flawed nuke plans to Iran was admitted in court by the CIA to risk actually proliferating nukes by giving Iran help. That’s not such a bad outcome if what you’re really after is war with Iran.

And this: the U.S. government has repeatedly tried to plant nuke plans and parts on Iraq, as it has tried for decades to portray Iran as pursuing nukes.

And this: The Sterling trial, including testimony from Condoleezza “Mushroom Cloud” Rice herself, was bafflingly about defending the CIA’s so-called reputation, very little about prosecuting Sterling. They doth protested too much.

What did blowing the whistle on Operation Merlin put at risk? Not the identity of Merlin or his wife. He was out there chatting with Iranians online and in-person. She was outed by the CIA itself during the trial, as Wheeler pointed out. What blowing the whistle on giving nukes to Iran put at risk was the potential for giving nukes to more countries — and exposure of plans to do so (whether or not they were followed through on) to the nation that the United States had been attacking since the Gulf War, began to truly destroy in 2003, and is at war in still.

When Cheney swore Iraq had nuclear weapons, and at other times that it had a nuclear weapons program, and Condi and Bush warned of mushroom clouds, was there a bit more to Tenet’s “slam dunk” than we knew? Was there an alley oop from the mad scientists at the CIA? There certainly would have been an attempt at one if left up to “Bob S,” “Merlin,” and gang.

Did Sterling and other possible whistleblowers have more reason to blow the whistle than we knew? Regardless, they upheld the law. Drop the Charges.


UPDATE: Multiple sources tell me that each letter in the font used above is given the same space, which is why they line up in vertical columns, so in fact IRAQI and IRAQIS use the right number of spaces.

‘Ad hominem’ is not Latin for ‘I cannot rebut your argument’

By: danps Friday January 30, 2015 5:17 am

Cross posted from Pruning Shears.

Jonathan Chait’s latest adventure in pointless contrarianism has already been wrestled to the ground and noogied, with Alex Pareene doing an especially delightful job. The short version is this. With the exception of the incident at the top of the article (about which: intimidation, violence and threats of violence are completely wrong) Chait catalogues some snarky behavior and petty grievances, then tries to blow it up into a threat to democracy.

As Angus Johnston pointed out, everything else that Chait objects to in his article is speech. He says he’s in the “solution to speech you don’t like is more speech” camp, then proceeds to lament people using more speech to prevent, say, Condoleezza Rice from having yet another opportunity to share her unique thoughts about things. Those who didn’t want their university to sponsor one of the architects of the greatest foreign policy disaster in American history had, in Chait’s view, an unwillingness to encounter contrary ideas. (Does he not know what the point of protest is?)

So while in theory Chait favors more speech for everyone, he doesn’t really like how it can work out in practice. Those he disagrees with are welcome to their more speech, but only on the condition that it is exercised in a way no one notices.

He traces this troubling development to the beginning of the political correctness movement in the early 90s. This is kind of funny because the title of his essay recalls a formulation conservatives loved to use back then – invoking the phrase as a way to endorse reactionary positions. (“Well, this may not be politically correct, but (insert antediluvian sentiment here).”)

Whatever the origin, lots of people can now broadcast their opinions on social media. Someone says something, then others respond. If the first thing said is provocative then there might be lots of responses, and those responses might be pointed. Chait is totally fine with that first thing, which makes sense considering he’s a professional instigator at a major media outlet. But that second thing? Why, it’s “swarms of jeering critics” (everyone to the cellar!)

Here’s another curiosity. Chait deplores mansplaining as “an all-purpose term of abuse that can be used to discredit any argument by any man,” but he uses his own all-purpose term of abuse to respond to Pareene. (It also violates Rule #1 for Contrarians. Bad form!) In Chait’s case it’s “ad hominem.” This is something I’ve observed more and more lately – writers using that phrase as an excuse to not address substantive criticism.

A great deal of online criticism has a mix of styles. Some combine insults and mockery (the dreaded ad hominem) with substantive critiques. To grab one random example of someone who favors this approach, consider Jonathan Chait. In just the last couple of weeks he has called James Inhofe primitive, the opinions of climate-science skeptics “bizarre ramblings,” the Republican Party “obviously unhinged” and senseless, and so on. He certainly likes his personal attacks, doesn’t he?

Which is fine, or can be anyway. Name calling can be an effective rhetorical technique. Making your opponent look foolish can help persuade others that your position is the right one. What you can’t do, though, at least not without looking like a thin skinned and pompous twit, is use ad hominems when it suits you and then recoil in priggish horror when they’re used against you. And that’s exactly what Chait does in his response – one which, hilariously, both uses and decries ad hominems in the same sentence.

I don’t think many people who dive in to the rough and tumble of social and political debate have an unwavering sense of propriety. Calls for civility usually come from those who are on the inside looking out. If you’re on the outside, your voice may be all you’ve got. Sometimes it takes being a little bit loud and colorful to get noticed. That goes both ways though. It’s fun when your preferred targets are on the receiving end of ridicule, not so much when you or your allies are. But if you’ve been dishing it out you damn well better be able to take it.

You don’t get to have it both ways. You don’t get to say, this piece has personal attacks and therefore should not be dignified with comment, then gleefully use personal attacks in your own writing. If you do, anyone who’s paying attention will understand the real reason for not responding: you’ve got nothing. That’s certainly how it looks in this case.

“Just Like Witches at Black Masses”

By: Big Al Thursday January 29, 2015 9:55 pm

“Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerer of death’s construction”
War Pigs – Black Sabbath

The Pentagon and our elected “representatives” worked together in a Senate Armed Services Committee meeting to lay the propaganda groundwork for continuing the U.S. military empire full speed ahead. They focused on the sequester cuts and how they will continue to hinder their quest for Full Spectrum Dominance, in fact, they’d have to “craft a new national defense strategy while losing their ability to conduct two major operations simultaneously”.

Granted, Full Spectrum Dominance costs alot of benjamins, but we all know the only thing they’re defending are the interests of the rich and powerful. Evidently “two major operations” must mean wars because they have special forces troops conducting operations in over 130 countries. Wouldn’t it be a shame if the U.S. couldn’t wage two illegal wars at the same time?

Of course, John McCain and friends did their part.

“Senior Senate Armed Services Committee members bemoaned more sequester cuts, but none offered a plan nor spoke of a new effort to get rid of them.
“Despite an accumulating array of complex threats to our national interests … we are on track to cut $1 trillion from America’s defense budget by 2021,” SASC Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said. “If we in Congress do not act, sequestration will return in full in fiscal year 2016, setting our military on a far more dangerous course.”

Of course that’s a deceitful statement.  The “cuts” are actually reductions in the budget projections, made by some humans, to the year 2021.  Nothing is being cut, it’s just not as much is being added.


“Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno said his force is as unready as at any other point in its 239-year history.” Can you believe that? This country has poured many trillions into this “Global Force for Good” and it’s unready. Unready for what?

They’re pouring it on thick man. Not good for us antiwar/anti-Empire types.

“Odierno said if sequestration hits again, he will remove tens of thousands more soldiers, and end, restructure or otherwise change “all” of its acquisition programs, resulting in a “40 percent modernization decrease.”

They also had the CNO, Chief of Naval Operations and the Air Force Chief of Staff on to complain about what sorry shape the Navy and Air Force are in and that their fleets are filled with antiques and we’re in danger of all dying tomorrow because of it. You never know. Air Force dude said the same thing about simultaneous or multiple wars:
“Welsh said if sequester kicks in again, the Air Force would be unable to defeat one foe while holding off another and “defending the homeland.”

The Marine General dude differed in approach:

“In a twist, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford called his force “the best trained and equipped” ever. But he did say the Marines are investing in new hardware at “historically low levels.”
He said another round of sequestration would leave the Corps unable to meet the requirements of the country’s current defense strategy.”

I sense a touch of irony in the Defense News article however, hopefully on purpose.

“All of these dire predictions came a day after Defense News broke the news that the Obama administration will seek $585 billion for the Defense Department in its 2016 budget request. That will include a $534 billion base budget request, which would be the largest such request ever.”

Largest request ever. And they’re complaining because it’s not enough. Actually I believe them. Look what they’re trying to do with their military. They’re trying to rule the damn world. You just can’t do that on the cheap. And with the Asian pivot, Ukraine war/Russia/Putin, and the ISIS “Cover” war, I can bet they do need to up their games at this point.  The perpetual Global War OF Terror requires perpetual budgets to match.

This could be an achilles heel if we could mount a challenge.…

Reflections on Charles De Gaulle, and Why Americans Are Told to Hate the French

By: Ohio Barbarian Thursday January 29, 2015 4:22 pm

I recently read a book by an apparently popular English author, Douglas Boyd(to any Brits out there, correct me if the jacket was wrong) called De Gaulle: The Man Who Defied Six US Presidents.

It was a quick read, but I was not all that impressed. Boyd does have an agenda, to which he readily admits, to use De Gaulle as and example to his compatriots to show that it IS possible for a European democracy to stand up to the United States in order to protect its own interests. He does a pretty good job of chastising recent and current British leadership for saying “How high?” whenever an American Administration says “Frog,” and holds up De Gaulle as the best example of such defiant European leadership.

Unfortunately, he has an annoying tendency to get his facts wrong, such as an allegation that Douglas MacArthur ran for president in the Republican primary of 1944.  Kind of hard to do while directing a war from Australia and the Phillipines. He also got some dates wrong which, for a historian, is just plain sloppy. Sometimes I found his sources questionable, but he DID have access to recently declassified American State Department cables from the World War II era.

Those make a damning case that Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration were bound and determined to militarily occupy the liberated countries of Western Europe until such time as a pliable government could be installed which would both tow Washington’s foreign policy line and to allow American businesses full access, up to and including domination, of their domestic markets.  Boyd alleges that FDR wanted to carve out another country from the Benelux countries and northeastern France to serve as a buffer between what was left of France from Germany, and just assumed there would be an Anglo-American occupation of all of liberated Western Europe.

There was this one, wee problem. There was this big-nosed French guy who had refused to surrender to the Nazis in 1940, refused to even recognize the legitimacy of the collaborationist Vichy government, did a fair job of persuading many overseas French colonies to declare for Free France and fight against the Axis, and who was instrumental in fanning the flames of French resistance to the Nazi conquest. Because of that, De Gaulle was a hero to most British and American citizens at the time, a fact that he repeatedly exploited in his dealings with Churchill and Roosevelt.

There are four things about Charles De Gaulle that I think are indisputable: 1. He was a strong French nationalist. 2. He considered himself a French patriot, and his goal during and after World War II was to restore France to it former position in the world or better, and to take its rightful place in the councils of the great world powers. 3. He succeeded. It took a few decades, but he succeeded. 4. He was personally courageous. He had fought in World War I  and taken been taken prisoner. He also fought during the 1940 campaign, leading an armored brigade in one of the few French victories over the Germans that year.

When it came to the Americans and the British, De Gaulle never wavered in his goal of the full restoration of France, and he drove both Churchill and Roosevelt nuts. He stalled, he bluffed, he outright refused to endorse any Allied policy that would violate full French sovereignty over its own soil after the war. He insisted that Free French forces be the first into Paris. He insisted on the French occupying part of Germany, and won. France emerged from the war heavily damaged but still intact as a polity. He was for NATO on general principles, but insisted on French consent before any American nuclear weapon based in France could be used, and that American servicemen in France should be required to obey French civil law. When, after he was returned to power in 1958, the Americans refused to do agree to either demand, he kicked all of their armed forces out of France.

That’s the real reason, I think, why generations of Americans have been propagandized to believe that the French are a bunch of cowards and born collaborators who can’t fight worth a damn, anyway, and are ungrateful to America for saving their sorry asses not once, but twice. So goes the narrative. I’ve always thought it manifestly unfair. For one thing, the United States would not even exist had it not been for French intervention in the American Revolution, for another, some 1.3 million French soldiers died in World War I, and another 85,000 or so of them did during the German invasion of 1940, which lasted only six weeks.

That hardly sounds cowardly to me. In 1940 the French soldiers fought as hard as they could, at least for the first few weeks, but they had horrendous leadership, no air support, no preparation or training for the tactics which were employed against them, and just plain whupped. But they did not give up without a fight.

As for De Gaulle’s conditions for American bases and troops remaining in his country, were they really that unreasonable? Would Americans tolerate the reverse?

De Gaulle also understood that Stalinism was NOT real Marxism, that Stalin was just using Communism for his own purposes and for expanding the Russian Empire in the same manner as the czars. He repeatedly told FDR this, but FDR liked Stalin and some of the workers’ rights rhetoric that Stalin lied about believing in. He told Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson the same thing. Maybe he was frustrated because none of the American leaders grasped what should have been obvious.

De Gaulle was capable of learning both from his own mistakes and the mistakes of others. When the new Fourth Republic formed after WWII without a strong executive, just like the Third Republic which fell in 1940, De Gaulle left government. He was convinced that France needed a powerful executive to ever get anything done when the legislative branch was quite rightly and democratically divided by multiple political parties. He only became president of France again in 1958, when France was teetering on the brink of civil war largely over the Algerian War for Independence which was bleeding France dry, and that was just because of his reputation with most of his own people. Well, France had no civil war, and De Gaulle shocked lots of people by understanding that the French could not win the war with any tactic other than genocide, and negotiated Algerian independence.

Not only that, but he let the French voters decide what to do. He held two referendums, the first on whether to make peace with the Algerians and end the war in principle, and the second on whether or not to accept the treaty De Gaulle had negotiated. Both passed overwhelmingly.

When was the last time American voters got to decide whether or not they should continue to fight a war? Makes De Gaulle look downright populist.

He’d learned from watching the earlier events in Indochina that it is impossible to occupy a country when the vast majority of its inhabitants really, REALLY want your ass out. So he got the hell out of Algeria, and pissed off several million French citizens whose families had been living in, and exploiting the “native” labor, of that country for over a century. Former colonial military officers tried to kill him multiple times(great movie about that time, Day of the Jackal) but De Gaulle refused to change his public schedules.

De Gaulle  pushed France’s nuclear weapons and energy program because he thought it was necessary in order for France to regain great power status. He spurned American offers of nuclear protection on the grounds that America might choose to sacrifice Europe in a nuclear confrontation with the Soviets in order to save itself. In fact, that very scenario was one of the Pentagon’s contingency plans. Long after his death in 1970, France did in fact achieve total nuclear independence, with its own very effective nuclear deterrent, for better or for worse. And now France, like all of the other nuclear powers, has weapons that simply can never, ever be used, so nobody can bully it too much.

It also has a history of sometimes saying “No” to American administrations who want it to join them in doing some truly boneheaded things, like the conquest and occupation of Iraq. Unfortunately, IMO, French governments also often say “Yes,” such as they did recently with Libya and Syria, far too often.

De Gaulle definitely had his major flaws, and politically I find myself in disagreement with him quite a bit–for example, he had no problem with capitalism’s continued dominant existence with just a few checks on it–but he was neither a fool nor a coward. And he did successfully stand up to the American Empire on several occasions. If the French can do it, so can other Europeans.

And they’d damned well better. It’s in their own best interests, and in the interests of the American people themselves, as well. Better Charles De Gaulle than Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair.

This Week in Stupid: “Dearborn, Michigan, Is a ‘No-Go’ Zone”

By: Tammany Tiger Thursday January 29, 2015 1:47 pm

The latest blatant falsehood from the right-wing noise machine is about “no-go” zones: communities inhabited by violent, America-hating Muslims. Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council[1], said the other day that Dearborn, Michigan, is such a zone, a place where sharia law is in effect.

Really? That would come as news to the mayor of Dearborn. His name? John B. O’Reilly, Jr.

It’s safe to say that Mr. Perkins’ Dearborn IQ is close to absolute zero. He’s probably unaware that the city has had Arabic residents for several generations, and that many of them are Maronite Christians with roots in Lebanon. To him, they probably “all look alike.”

He’d also be surprised to learn that Fordson High School, whose enrollment is 98 percent Arab, has a football team. A few years ago, the team was the subject of a documentary about how the players coped with both ethnic prejudice and the Ramadan fast, which overlapped that year’s football season.

Dearborn is the home of Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum, the Detroit area’s number-one tourist attraction. In other words, people go to the no-go zone. In the Village, they won’t see public stonings. What they will see is homes of famous Americans, vintage baseball players, and Civil War re-enactors. The museum is filled with classic cars, farm equipment, and other all-American inventions. Okay, it uses Arabic numbers, but so do the rest of us.

Everyone in Greater Detroit knows that Henry Ford put Dearborn on the map, and that Ford Motor Company’s world headquarters building, The Glass House, is located there. Ford remains the city’s largest employer. Its new CEO, Mark Fields, is Jewish—something the imams wouldn’t stand for if sharia law were in effect.

Dearborn is also the home of Buddy’s Pizza and Miller’s Bar, among other licensed establishments. It’s a known fact that you can enjoy a beer in town without fear of a public flogging.

Last but not least, there’s the Dearborn Sausage Company. In addition to sausages, lunchmeat, and pierogis, the company sells high-end spiral-sliced hams which, presumably, are not certified halal.

Perhaps Mr. Perkins should pay a visit to Dearborn and see for himself how wrong his characterization is. On second thought, that would be a terrible idea. He might prove as ungracious a guest as another self-professed Christian, the Reverend Terry Jones[2].

[1] Perkins has a history of making crazy statements. Last year, he claimed that gay rights advocates are “going to start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians.” Is he aware of how bad train service is in this country?

[2] Jones had a unique way of spreading God’s love: burning Qurans in public. I use the past tense because Jones quit his church and opened a chili cheese dog stand in a Florida shopping mall.