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My Gatwick Detention Under the UK’s Section 7 of TA 2000

3:40 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

London police outside the event that got me questioned

On Guy Fawkes Day, 2005, I was politely approached by three un-uniformed members of the British secret service. One asked me if he could ask questions regarding my two-week-plus stay in London.

My wife and I had checked in, checked our baggage, and were headed on a restaurant hunt in the area close to our gate. We had arrived early, to make sure our public transportation links from Newington Green to Gatwick had cushion.

The young officer was affable, and I accepted his invitation to leave my wife and join them in the empty area of seats we had been getting close to when the encounter began.

I had been in London for rehearsals and performance of a somewhat controversial musical composition we had premiered on November 1st, 2005, at the Hackney Empire. The officers knew about the news articles and BBC coverage of the concert. They appeared to know where I had been staying – at the house of a member of our sponsoring group, Jews for Justice for Palestinians. They appeared to know that the cultural attache from the U.S. Embassy had been at the concert and had spoken with me afterward for a long time. They appeared to know I had had two beers with Parliamentarian Clare Short.

They didn’t appear to know what my new friends and I had discussed.

Had the lead man — he didn’t give me a card — been pushy or impolite, I might have felt uncomfortable in this confrontation with authorities from a political system without our Bill of Rights. He seemed to sympathize with the viewpoint my music had been driven by, which got me to think he and his small squad had been sent on their merry mission by someone with an agenda he deemed unimportant or silly. On the other hand, he was a suave pro. On the other other hand, I had run a large correctional facility once, and always am wary for a charismatic con.

One guy took the lead. His partner wrote copiously in a notebook. The third guy kept trying to look around as discreetly as you can do that. He wasn’t very good.

They were all in their late 20s or early 30s. They didn’t ask for my phone, laptop or camera, let alone passwords. The lead cop shook my hand when I offered it at the end of the 42-minute interview.

When they walked away and I found my wife nearby, she asked, “What was that all about – as if I can’t guess?”

“They were nice. They knew about everything that has been published about the concert, and some of what we’ve been doing here, but seemed to be reluctantly doing something someone else made them do.”

“I thought we might miss our plane,” she mused.

I laughed, and told Ms. ET, “It was cool to be questioned by them here on Guy Fawkes Day. Too bad we have to leave before tonight’s fireworks.”

Glenn Greenwald Addresses the Socialism 2013 Conference Friday: “Courage is Contagious”

9:22 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

While Greenwald was giving the speech, it was being live streamed.  I was hosting an early evening party, and was only able to break away as the party broke up, to try to catch the live stream. The node was swamped, and I couldn’t get anything.

But somebody made a Youtube quite rapidly after the speech’s conclusion.  Adam Horowitz at Mondoweiss posted a link to the new video 45 minutes ago.  After watching half of Greenwald’s talk, I decided to re-post the Youtube here, even though someone – most likely Kevin G – will be posting it early Saturday morning.

Free Brooklyn College: Sign the Petition to Support Academic Freedom at CUNY

6:47 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Brooklyn College campus [hdr image]

If you live in Brooklyn, you have probably heard of the threat from members of the New York City Council against Brooklyn College.  If you live elsewhere, chances are that, unless you are involved in the struggle for Palestinian rights, or the struggle against them, you’ve missed his one.

In a nutshell, in late January a controversy arose over the political science department at Brooklyn College sponsoring an upcoming appearance there by two advocates of Global BDS.  That movement, now in its ninth year, advocates putting pressures upon the increasingly apartheid Israeli state, similar to the sanctions imposed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, against the increasingly apartheid South African state.  Here is a description of the controversy, from a friendly point of view:

At Brooklyn College, a student chapter of the Students for Justice in Palestine organized a forthcoming panel with Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti to discuss the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The political science department agreed to co-sponsor it. When certain individuals hostile to BDS heard about this event they raised an outcry. The outcry started with Alan Dershowitz, who demanded that the political science department either withdraw its sponsorship or ‘balance’ it with a voice – namely his – that is critical of the panelists. Very quickly this became a city and state-wide issue, and various politicians, including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, began to make the same demands. Now, quite disturbingly, the New York City Council is threatening to withhold future funding for CUNY unless the political science department either cancels the event or withdraws its sponsorship.

Advocates for the college’s position have emerged, including constitutional attorney, Glenn Greenwald, Palestinian rights advocate Andrew Sullivan, and – surprisingly – MSNBC‘s Chris Hayes (as described by Phil Weiss):

A “who’s who” list of New York politicians is trying to shut down the conversation. Hayes mentions Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler. “I understand why there’s an outcry” from those who find BDS odious — he says, covering his bases. But Hayes is clear about the academic-freedom principle and about the highly “selective” concern for balance in this instance and not others. What if the University of Alabama tried to disinvite a gay speaker? Hayes says that some of those politicians “browbeating” the college have been on his show. Good liberals. Yes: Progressive Except Palestine, PEP.

Greenwald has written several columns now on the threats against the college. Most recently, he centered on comments by NYC council member, Lew Fidler, whose threats against Brooklyn College funding seem to have been the most explicit yet.  Greenwald:

How can anyone not be seriously alarmed by this? These threats are infinitely more destructive than any single academic event could ever possibly be…Plainly, this entire controversy has only one ‘principle’ and one purpose: to threaten, intimidate and bully professors, school administrators and academic institutions out of any involvement in criticisms of Israel.

Fidler’s chilling letter to BC President Karen Gould can be read here (scribd).

One speaker at the upcoming event, prominent feminist philosopher, Judith Butler, has defended herself many times against specious “anti-semitism” charges (Butler is Jewish), most notably, in her profound essay on anti-semitism, in the London Review of Books, eleven years ago:

In holding out for a distinction to be made between Israel and Jews, I am calling for a space for dissent for Jews, and non-Jews, who have criticisms of Israel to articulate; but I am also opposing anti-semitic reductions of Jewishness to Israeli interests. The ‘Jew’ is no more defined by Israel than by anti-semitism. The ‘Jew’ exceeds both determinations, and is to be found, substantively, as a historically and culturally changing identity that takes no single form and has no single telos. Once the distinction is made, discussion of both Zionism and anti-semitism can begin, since it will be as important to understand the legacy of Zionism and to debate its future as to oppose anti-semitism wherever we find it.

The other main speaker in the upcoming BC event is Palestinian, Omar Barghouti, echoed Butler in a 2011 interview with The Guardian on Global BDS, which he helped found:

Here is what the petition in support of Brooklyn College’s position states:

We the undersigned write in support of the decision by Brooklyn College’s political science department to co-sponsor a panel discussion with Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti. We urge CUNY President Karen Gould to resist attempts by those who have attempted to intimidate CUNY into canceling, changing, or withdrawing its sponsorship for the panel. We are especially concerned that the New York City Council has threatened to withhold further money for CUNY if it does not either cancel the event or withdraw its sponsorship. This is a grave threat to academic freedom and sets a terrible precedent for the future.

You can sign it here.

The goal was 500 signatures. It currently as 1,612.

(If you click “SIGN’” button, you can leave the page without hitting the “pay” buttons on the succeeding page.  I didn’t pay, and my name now shows up.)

I signed – as a college professor in favor of free speech.

Will you sign?

Anders Breivik May Be Sane, But the Ideas He Espouses Are Nuts

6:42 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Anders Breivik

Mass murderer, Anders Breivik, who had already admitted his guilt in the killing of 77 people in Norway last summer, has been convicted and sentenced:

There are many reasons to welcome the verdict in the trial of Anders Behring Breivik: that he is sane and legally responsible for the murder of 77 people – mostly members of the Norwegian Labour party – on 22 July last year.

The guilty verdict recognises the monstrosity of Breivik’s acts, carried out in pursuit of his political beliefs. It also delivers the outcome wanted by the majority of Norwegians, in particular because it means he will spend no fewer than 21 years – and most likely life – in jail. Justice has been done to the fullest extent possible under Norwegian law.

Breivik, who gave strange Nazi-like salutes and smiled a lot today, said in his closing statement that he only wished he had killed more:

In his final words, Breivik regretted not killing more people, apologizing to other “militant nationalists” for not achieving an even higher death toll. He said he wouldn’t appeal the ruling because that would “legitimize” a court he said got its mandate from a political system that supports multiculturalism.

Breivik is a hero to many Islamophobes and white supremacists.  His philosophy, clearly explained in the “sickening but coherent 1,500-page manifesto” he left behind after his arrest, takes its ideas freely, almost wantonly from everyone from right-wing uber Zionists Pamela Geller and Daniel Pipes, to Thomas Jefferson and George Orwell.  His fervent desire to fully restore Western civilization to a mandatory patriarchy might have gotten him a prime time speaking spot at next week’s Republican Convention, were they uttered by a GOP Senator.  His belief that Israel is some sort of utopian ideal, rather than an increasingly mean, apartheid, racist society, is not only common on the far right, but almost as common among Democrats elected to our national Congress in the USA.  Some European Islamaphobes still have trouble distancing themselves from Breivik:

From Europe’s far right, the reaction was mixed. Some argued that Friday’s verdict played into their core beliefs, though they have spoken out against his violent rampage.

“It was obviously wrong what he did, but there was logic to all of it,” said Stephen Lennon, the 29-year-old leader of the English Defense League, an anti-Muslim group. “By saying that he was sane, it gives a certain credibility to what he had been saying. And that is, that Islam is a threat to Europe and to the world.”

To a certain degree, one of the reports issued by the Norwegian court looking into Breivik’s mental state found a bit of insanity in the ideas he adopted, not in Breivik himself:

The main form this depoliticisation took was the medicalisation of Breivik’s actions in terms of psychological or psychiatric pathology. Within days, everyone from forensic psychiatrists to the London mayor, Boris Johnson, felt the need to put Breivik in a diagnostic box. Occasionally, even reportage of his personal history and psychology went to ludicrous extremes to seek his motives in anything but what he actually said. This reached its pinnacle with the first court-ordered psychiatric report, which found him to be suffering from “paranoid schizophrenia” on the basis of clumsy and inappropriate interpretation of ideas and behaviours common in far-right and online gaming subcultures.

Outrage over the findings led the court to take the unusual step of commissioning a second report. This one paid more attention to his political milieu, as well as his behaviour in jail, and found him sane – at most exhibiting signs of a personality disorder. Friday’s verdict confirms this conclusion and denies to Islamophobic ideologues the comfort of a clear line of sanity separating their influence from Breivik’s actions.

There have been many examples of shooters running amok, inspired by their readings of far right fearmongers.  Whether a shooter has been inspired by Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Pamela Geller, Daniel Pipes or some other purveyor of racial hatred, the men or women who inspire such lunacy almost always get away with denying linkage, and get to keep on spreading their ferociously malignant ideas.

There was a bit of an exception to that rule today.  One prominent and up-and-coming Islamophobe, Josh Treviño, was fired today by the British news outlet, The Guardian.  Treviño had been hired recently to offset The Guardian‘s hire of columnist Glenn Greenwald.  Several activist writers quickly raised a number of issues about Treviño, most notably Max Blumenthal and Ali Abunimah.

Treviño is a twitter addict, and had left behind a long history of venom toward Palestinians, Americans who support Palestinian rights, and those who don’t show proper deference to the state of Israel.  Once again, here we have somebody who could easily swap brews with Anders Breivik, or take the podium at the GOP Convention.

Here’s Henry Norr, writing about Treviño for Mondoweiss:

Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada responded with a post reproducing tweets from last summer in which Treviño declared that it would be “cool” with him if the Israelis shot the participants in the 2011 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, then went on to observe that the flotilla was “not morally different from a Nazi convoy”

Not surprisingly, several participants in that flotilla, including me – and, no doubt, scores of other Guardian readers – immediately protested to Janine Gibson, editor in chief of the Guardian US, who was quoted in the press release about her pleasure at bringing Treviño’s “important perspective” to readers. We acknowledged the Guardian’s desire to present diverse points of view, but questioned the choice of someone whose approach to political debate is to call for gunning down those he disagrees with.

More tweets were found, all the way up to Wednesday of this week.  One in particular, offended me, as I’ve covered the story of Rachel Corrie in many ways, and am a close friend of her family.  In the tweet, he gleefully referred to Corrie as a “pancake,” after being killed by an Israeli Army bulldozer.

Josh Treviño is like Anders Breivik, in reveling in violence against innocents who seek justice for people being oppressed.  And, like Breivik, Treviño has seen a bit of justice today.

The Guardian, ostensibly has fired Josh Treviño for violating their code of ethics.  Here is the “joint statement” announcing the columnist’s demise Friday:

Joshua Treviño wrote a piece for the Guardian on February 28, 2011 titled “Peter King has hearings, but is he listening?” The Guardian recently learned that shortly before writing this article the author was a consultant for an agency that had Malaysian business interests and that he ran a website called Malaysia Matters. In keeping with the Guardian’s editorial code this should have been disclosed.

“Under our guidelines, the relationship between Joshua and the agency should have been disclosed before the piece was published in order to give full clarity to our readers,” said Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief, Guardian US.

“I vigorously affirm that nothing unethical was done and I have been open with the Guardian in this matter. Nevertheless, the Guardian’s guidelines are necessarily broad, and I agree that they must be respected as such,” said Joshua Treviño.

We have therefore mutually agreed to go our separate ways and wish each other the best of luck.

It is too bad that he was given this kind of cover, but it is more balls than many of us had thought The Guardian would be able to muster.

There are a lot of gigs out there for people like Josh, most of them very well-paid.  No doubt, he will be offered a new job soon, perhaps writing speeches behind the scenes for Mitt Romney.  Let us hope, though, that somewhere down the line, the hatred in some future essay by  Treviño doesn’t inspire another Anders Breivik.

Time for a Re-Make of Dr. Strangelove? Of Course, But Who Will Play HRC?

12:52 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Time for Dr. Strangelove Re-Make

One of the iconic films about how crazy our world can get, especially when thinking about nuclear weapons, is Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 masterpiece, Dr. Strangelove. It was startling when it came out, and is just as scary every time I watch it again.

Part of what makes the movie as much horror as comedy can be glimpsed in this exchange between President Muffley Murkin and Soviet Ambassador Alexei de Sadeski:

“But this is absolute madness, ambassador. Why should you build such a thing?”

“There are those of us who fought against it, but in the end we could not keep up with the expense involved in the arms race, the space race, and the peace race. And at the same time our people grumbled for more nylons and washing machines. Our doomsday scheme cost us just a small fraction of what we’d been spending on defense in a single year. But the deciding factor was when we learned that your country was working along similar lines, and we were afraid of a doomsday gap.”

“This is preposterous. I’ve never approved of anything like that.”

“Our source was the New York Times.”

“Dr. Strangelove, do we have anything like that in the works?”

Strange as that scene still seems, it is no less strange than a statement made last week by our real Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton:

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday urged Iran to back up its declaration that Islam bars weapons of mass destruction by agreeing to a plan that would prove it does not intend to develop nuclear arms.

As MyFiredoglake diarist TheCallUp observed:

To demonstrate just how ludicrous this line of thinking is, imagine if a police officer knocked on your door, and informed you that all their evidence suggested you were an honest and law-abiding citizen, but that he would arrest you anyways, unless you could provide proof to him that you had no “intentions” of committing a crime.

The similarities between arguments for going to war against Iran and the justification given in Dr. Strangelove by USAF Gen. Jack D. Ripper are more than skin deep:

I can no longer sit back and allow communist infiltration, communist indoctrination, communist subversion and the international communist conspiracy, to sap and im-purify all our precious bodily fluids.

Substitute “Iranian” for “communist” and you’re entering into the zone being created here.  In Dr. Strangelove, Gen. Ripper’s fantasies are clearly shown to be delusional.  But last week, National Public Radio came up with an equally delusional report on current Iranian intentions and capabilities.  Here’s Glenn Greenwald’s take on it:

This morning, [NPR national security reporter Dina] Temple-Raston began her report by noting — without a molecule of skepticism or challenge — that Iran is accused (by the U.S. government, of course) of trying to assassinate the Saudi ambassador on U.S. soil (a plot traced to “the top ranks of the Iranian government”); there was no mention of the fact that this alleged plot was so ludicrous that it triggered intense mockery in most circles. She then informed us that Iran is also likely responsible for three recent, separate attacks on Israeli officials. These incidents, she and her extremely homogeneous group of experts from official Washington explained, are “red flags” about Iran’s intent to commit Terrorism — red flags consistent, she says, with Iran’s history of state-sponsored Terrorism involving assassinations of opposition leaders in Europe during the 1980s and the 1996 truck bombing of an American military dormitory in Saudi Arabia (note how attacks on purely military targets are “Terrorism” when Iran does it, as are the assassinations of its own citizens on foreign soil who are working for the overthrow of its government; but if you hold your breath waiting for NPR to label as Terrorism the U.S. assassination of its own citizens on foreign soil, or American and Israeli attacks on military targets, you are likely to expire quite quickly). All of this, Temple-Raston announces, shows that Iran is “back on the offensive.”

Iran is on “the offensive.” There is no mention in this NPR story — literally none whatsoever — of the string of serious attacks on Iran, from multiple explosions on their soil to the training and arming of a designated Terror group devoted to its government’s overthrow to the bombardment of its nuclear facilities with sophisticated cyber attacks to the multiple murders of its civilian nuclear scientists. These attacks on Iran — widely reported to be the work of some combination of the U.S. and Israel — literally do not exist in the world that NPR presented. Iran is simply sponsoring and launching “Terror attacks” out of the blue against the U.S. and Israel: presumably because they’re Evil Terrorists. Meanwhile, we learn from Temple-Raston that “what worked so well dismantling Al Qaeda” — like drone attacks [it 'worked so well' doing things like this]  – won’t work on this kind of Terrorism.” Fortunately, though, the U.S. has vast powers of eavesdropping and banking surveillance that it can and must use against this “old adversary”: Iran. Imagine Bill Kristol delivering this “report” on Iran and try to identify how it would have been any different.

Strangely absent from top-line films these days are movies that shred apart our false and highly dangerous pretensions that have been laid bare to the rest of the world since the invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.  The fictions feeding our drive to an insane war against Iran are worthy of a film as scathingly scary yet outrageously funny as Kubrick’s.

Maybe it is impossible to get a film about this made, as the role of Israel and their extremely strangelovian Prime Minister would be integral to the plot line.

What are your ideas on a basic screenplay and characters for this long-past-due dark comedy into the underbelly of our out-of-control war machine?

And – who would play Hillary Clinton?  At  TheCallUp‘s diary on Clinton’s strangelovian statement, when I asked that question, AlternateID suggested “Danny DeVito.”

Why I Cannot Envision Voting for Obama in November

12:19 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Scahill – Shaye – Obama

Jeremy Scahill is one of the most curious, thorough and courageous journalists working anywhere today.  As a writer, his book on the growth of military contractors such as Blackwater (now known as Xe Services LLC, uh – Academi), Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, won the George Polk Book Award.  His work with Democracy Now and The Nation is highly regarded by people concerned with the continuing abuse of American imperial power in the Obama administration.  Being a realist in terms of how Obama is conducting armed foreign policy has led to his being marginalized by apologists for these policies.

Scahill’s bottom line is that these policies, particularly the killing of hundreds of innocent people (if not more!) by our growing fleet of armed drone aircraft, are counter productive, and against our country’s long-term interests in many ways.  His latest article for The Nation, Why is President Obama Keeping a Journalist in Prison in Yemen?, deals with aspects of that bottom line.  The article is far more chilling, though, in some of its content and message.  It shows quite clearly how the Obama administration’s manipulation of some of the new powers it asserts for the chief executive are beyond troublesome.  The secretiveness of this administration is no secret on the real left.  Not expressed in Scahill’s article, nor in Glen Greenwald’s thorough assessment of it, is what bothers me most about this administration’s growing uses of secrecy and extra-constitutional powers to go after its perceived enemies abroad – and here:

Once an American chief executive takes on new powers, his successor never backs down from that position.  Not even when, as Obama clearly did in 2008, the new president has promised on the campaign trail to ratchet these powers down a notch or two.

Here’s Greenwald’s description of some of what Scahill and others have uncovered, regarding the imprisonment in Yemen of another courageous journalist, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, at the direct behest of Obama.  The White House is disturbed that Shaye uncovered a major Obama lie regarding civilian deaths from drone strikes:

There is one reason that the world knows the truth about what really happened in al Majala that day: because the Yemeni journalist, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, traveled there and, as Scahill writes, “photographed the missile parts, some of them bearing the label ‘Made in the USA,’ and distributed the photos to international media outlets.” He also documented the remnants of the Tomahawks and cluster bombs, neither of which is in Yemen’s arsenal. And he provided detailed accounts proving that scores of civilians, including those 21 children, had been killed in the attacks. It was Shaye’s journalism that led Amnesty International to show the world the evidence that it was the U.S. which had perpetrated the attack using cluster bombs, and media outlets to reveal the horrifying extent of the civilian deaths. Shaye’s work was vindicated when WikiLeaks released a diplomatic cable — allegedly provided by Bradley Manning — in which Yemen’s then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh joked with David Petraeus about continuing to lie to the public: ”We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours.”

Saleh, perhaps under pressure from the White House, had Shaye imprisoned without charge, tortured and abused:

Despite that important journalism — or, more accurately, because of it — Shaye is now in prison, thanks largely to President Obama himself. For the past two years, Shaye has been arrested, beaten, and held in solitary confinement by the security forces of Saleh, America’s obedient tyrant. In January, 2011, he was convicted in a Yemeni court of terrorism-related charges — alleging that he was not a reporter covering Al Qaeda but a mouthpiece for it — in a proceeding widely condemned by human rights groups around the world. “There are strong indications that the charges against [Shaye] are trumped up and that he has been jailed solely for daring to speak out about US collaboration in a cluster munitions attack which took place in Yemen,” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, told Scahill. The Yemen expert, Johnsen, added: “There is no publicly available evidence to suggest that Abdulelah was anything other than a journalist attempting to do his job.”

Shaye’s real crime is that he reported facts that the U.S. government and its Yemeni client regime wanted suppressed. But while the imprisonment of this journalist was ignored in the U.S, it became a significant controversy in Yemen. Numerous Yemeni tribal leaders, sheiks and activist groups agitated for his release, and in response, President Saleh, as the Yemeni press reported, had a pardon drawn up for him and was ready to sign it. That came to a halt when President Obama intervened. According to the White House’s own summary of Obama’s February 3, 2011, call with Saleh, “President Obama expressed concern over the release of Abd-Ilah al-Shai.” The administration has repeatedly refused to present any evidence that Shaye is anything other than a reporter, and this is what State Department spokesperson Beth Gosselin told Scahill in response to his story:

“We are standing by [President Obama’s] comments from last February. We remain concerned about Shaye’s potential release due to his association with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. We stand by the president’s comments.” When asked whether the US government should present evidence to support its claims about Shaye’s association with AQAP, Gosselin said, “That is all we have to say about this case.”

So it is beyond dispute that the moving force behind the ongoing imprisonment of this Yemeni journalist is President Obama. And the fact that Shaye is in prison, rather than able to report, is of particular significance (and value to the U.S.) in light of the still escalating American attacks in that country. Over the past 3 days alone, American air assaults have killed 64 people in Yemen, while American media outlets — without anyone on the scene — dutifully report that those killed are “suspected Al Qaeda insurgents” and “militants.”

This White House policy is not only stupid, it is dangerously blind.  And arrogant in a profoundly un-American way.

It is blind to how history works on a global scale.  And, importantly, it is blind to how a possible GOP successor to this president might use these same tools of dictatorship against what he or she perceives to be a threat, foreign – or domestic.  During the past few months, Obama and the U.S. Congress have undermined the Constitution in so many ways, it is hard to keep score.  Just this past week, we’ve been given the anti-Occupy H.R. 347, that would make our citizens’ protests outside the White House felonies.

I’ve never voted for an incumbent president before.  It doesn’t look like that will change.  This really sucks, as I’ve got a feeling that the Israel Lobby will be backing whichever jerk the GOP pulls out of their hat in Tampa, and that they might be powerful enough in the 2012 scenario to be the final arbiter of who ends up winning in November.

The dilemma for me is not whether or not I will vote for Obama, but how strenuously I’ll be backing an alternative candidate, such as Dr. Jill Stein, should she get the Green Party nomination.

But – no matter what – I cannot in good conscience consider marking Obama on my ballot.

Here’s Scahill on the Alyona Show last week – America Cannot Kill Its Way to Peace:

Send Obama to the Quantico Brig?

9:12 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Conjuring up the image of President Richard Nixon, who once stated “When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal,”  Obama recently disclosed secret government information on the Jay Leno Show, and on this past week’s internet forum.  Last year, when asked about Army Private Bradley Manning’s status, Obama quipped “If I was to release stuff, information that I’m not authorized to release, I’m breaking the law.”  At the time, Manning had not been charged with any crime.

But, by the standards of Obama’s statement on Manning, the president has also broken the law.  Glenn Greenwald takes this up in today’s column, titled ACLU sues Obama administration over assassination secrecy.  The Obama administration, defending its program of assassination of American citizens, and its illegal drone assassinations, and killing of hundreds of innocent people as collateral damage, has stated repeatedly that these programs are so secret that even discussing them is forbidden.  Greenwald:

When they face the rule of law, then the program is so profoundly classified that it cannot be spoken of at all — indeed, the administration cannot even confirm or deny that it exists — and it therefore cannot be scrutinized by courts at all.

Worse, they not only invoke these secrecy claims to avoid the ACLU and NYT‘s FOIA requests, but they also invoked it when Awlaki’s father sued them and asked a court to prevent President Obama from executing his son without a trial. When forced to justify their assassination program in court, the Obama DOJ insisted that the program was so secretive that it could not even safely confirm that it existed — it’s a state secret – and thus no court could or should review its legality (see p.43 of the DOJ’s brief and Panetta’s Affidavit in the Awlaki lawsuit).

But Obama, on the Jay Leno Show, said:

This is a guy who was actively planning a whole range of operations here in the homeland and was focused on the homeland. And so this was probably the most important al Qaeda threat that was out there after Bin Laden was taken out, and it was important that working with the enemies, we were able to remove him from the field.

And on the internet event last week, he said:

I think that we have to be judicious in how we use drones,” Obama said on Monday, adding that they have been used for “very precise, precision strikes against Al Qaeda and their affiliates.”

Obama went on to say that “obviously a lot of these strikes have been in the FATA,” the acronym for Pakistan’s federally administered tribal areas, and have been used for “going after Al Qaeda suspects who are in very tough terrain along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

“This thing is kept on a very tight leash,” Obama said. The U.S. does not use drones “willy nilly” but in a way that avoids more intrusive military actions, he said.

Obama, by divulging classified information to the public, using his own administration’s tortured arguments, in his own words, “If I was to release stuff, information that I’m not authorized to release, I’m breaking the law,” has done just that.

Greenwald is clearly upset about where we’ve gotten:

It’s extraordinary enough that the Obama administration is secretly targeting citizens for execution-by-CIA; that they refuse even to account for what they are doing — even to the point of refusing to disclose their legal reasoning as to why they think the President possesses this power — is just mind-boggling. Truly: what more tyrannical power is there than for a government to target its own citizens for death — in total secrecy and with no checks — and then insist on the right to do so without even having to explain its legal and factual rationale for what it is doing? Could you even imagine what the U.S. Government and its media supporters would be saying about any other non-client-state country that asserted and exercised this power?

When we voted for Obama, many hoped we’d get another  FDR, or at least a JFK.  Then we realized we’d gotten something more akin to another Gerald Ford.  Now, more and more, it seems what we’ve gotten is a newer version of some of the most uncomfortable aspects of Richard M. Nixon.

Atlanta Publisher Andrew Adler Wants Obama “Whacked” by the Mossad

1:26 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Assassination Solicitation from Andrew Adler 1:13:2012

There it is.  Andrew B. Adler’s editorial from his paper, The Atlanta Jewish Times, from January 13, 2012:

Here’s John Cook at Gawker, covering it late yesterday:

Andrew Adler, the owner and publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times, a weekly newspaper serving Atlanta’s Jewish community, devoted his January 13, 2012 column to the thorny problem of the U.S. and Israel’s diverging views on the threat posed by Iran. Basically Israel has three options, he wrote: Strike Hezbollah and Hamas, strike Iran, or “order a hit” on Barack Obama. Either way, problem solved!

Here’s how Adler laid out “option three” in his list of scenarios facing Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu (the column, which was forwarded to us by a tipster, isn’t online, but you can read a copy here):

Three, give the go-ahead for U.S.-based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice president to take his place, and forcefully dictate that the United States’ policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies.

Yes, you read “three” correctly. Order a hit on a president in order to preserve Israel’s existence. Think about it. If I have thought of this Tom Clancy-type scenario, don’t you think that this almost unfathomable idea has been discussed in Israel’s most inner circles?

Another way of putting “three” in perspective goes something like this: How far would you go to save a nation comprised of seven million lives…Jews, Christians and Arabs alike?

You have got to believe, like I do, that all options are on the table.

It’s hard to tell whether or not Adler is just some crank. But the Atlanta Jewish Times, which he purchased in 2009, appears to be a real community newspaper. It was founded in 1925 and,according to Wikipedia, claims a circulation of 3,500 and staff of five. To judge from its web site, it’s a going concern.

Adler’s newspaper isn’t what it used to be, and, according to Wikipedia, “After [Adler's] takeover the website jtonline.us ceased to be updated..  This may explain the gap of a week between the editorial’s publication and the pushback, which has begun in earnest today, inducing an apology from Mr. Adler:

The owner of the Atlanta Jewish Times apologized for an opinion column in which he counted President Obama’s assassination as among Israel’s options in heading off a nuclear Iran.

“I very much regret it, I wish I hadn’t made reference to it at all,” Andrew Adler told JTA on Friday.

He said he would publish an apology in his next edition, and that reaction from readers had been overwhelmingly negative.

That was from the Jewish Telegraph Agency‘s short report.  Here’s The Forward:

The option for Israel to assassinate Obama was the third in a series that Adler laid out as choices for Netanyahu to confront the threat posed by Iran. Adler denied that he was advocating that Israel consider ordering Obama’s assassination. He claimed he only wrote the piece to provoke readers.

“I don’t stand behind what I wrote and my intention was never to stand behind it. I just wanted to get a reaction from the local community, to see what they would do,” he told the Forward.

Adler said the reaction had been “very negative.” He vowed to write a column explaining himself, and insisted he has nothing against Obama.

“My view of the President is favorable,” Adler said.

The Secret Service, which investigates threats against the president, did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Adler, who is a member of the Chabad Movement and has been active in the Atlanta Jewish community for years, bought the paper 2-1/2 years ago. It has a circulation of between 3,000 and 4,000.

The National Jewish Democratic Council denounced Adler’s column, calling in the “height of irresponsibility.”

“To dare to give such despicable ideas space in a newspaper … is beyond the pale,” said NJDC President David A. Harris in a statement.

Adler’s column on the 13th begs the question, “Is this one deranged man’s response to the campaign of organized efforts afoot by ardently militant Zionists, to demonize Obama?”

Thursday, both Glenn Greenwald and Justin Raimondo wrote very long columns on how anyone questioning the militant Zionist meme that Iran is indeed developing nuclear weapons is being targeted as “anti-Semitic.”  These attacks are centering on a few writers, who Raimondo has called  The DC Five:

The tale of the DC Five – the five Beltway bloggers at two prominent Democratic Washington thinktanks who have been smacked down (and one fired) for being insufficiently pro-Israel – is hardly a shock to those who know their history. But before we get into that, a few details on what is only the latest chapter in the story of how the War Party operates in this country.

The DC Five are Matt DussAli GharibEli Clifton and Zaid Jilani, bloggers at the Center for American Progress group blog, ThinkProgress, and former AIPAC employeeMJ Rosenberg who currently writes for Media Matters.

Greenwald, in his update to a column titled The Smear Campaign against CAP and Media Matters rolls On, posted a screen shot of a Washington Post headline that declared “Liberal think tank tied to Obama accused of anti-Semitic language.”  (They’ve since changed the headline.)

Both Greenwald and Raimondo, in their articles, give many examples of how a coordinated campaign against Obama, tied directly to the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is seeking to undermine the presidency and reelection of one of the most Israel-friendly presidents in U.S. history, for not being supportive enough of that pesky little country.  Adler’s over-reaction may just be one of many.  As critical as I am of Obama, I’d give my life to protect his, if the occasion occurred.  Likewise Mr. Adler’s life.

This shit is getting way, way out of hand.

A final thought:  Had the editor of the Dearborn American Muslim Times (I’m making the name up, so if there is such a paper – sorry) proposed that an option of dealing with any president of the United States might be to have him whacked by Iranian or Pakistani or Saudi or Syrian secret services, do you think that editor would be walking the streets a week later a free man or woman?

Of course not.

 

No Credit to Wikileaks or Manning in TIME Magazine’s Person-of-the-Year Tribute to Protesters

3:17 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The Protester - Bradley Manning

No credit to Wikileaks.

No mention of or tribute to Julian Assange, who was kept out of the spotlight at TIME last year, even though he was readers’ choice for Person of the Year.

No mention of Bradley Manning, whose detainment for uncovering important aspects of why people are so outraged, begins a new stage tomorrow.

No mention of the thousands of peaceful Palestinian protesters, who have been protesting Occupation for generations now.

As good as TIME‘s long article on worldwide protest is – and the article is excellent in what it does cover – it skims over Bahreini protests, prefers to have a sidebar story on an Athenian “protest dog,” rather than show any of the mutilated or dead Palestinian protesters, and certainly does not show the hundreds of people outside of Quantico last spring, or the hundreds being arrested outside the White House in the 350.org protests.

How important Julian Assange, Wikileaks, and probable information provided to them through Bradley Manning is to this ongoing, perhaps rapidly growing, global protest and action network are is difficult to assess accurately.  But to deny its importance is to not tell the full story of this important year.

Glenn Greenwald, in an op-ed that will appear in tomorrow’s UK Guardian, assesses some of the important domestic fallout from Manning’s and Wikileaks’ uncovering of the truth:

When WikiLeaks was awarded Australia’s most prestigious journalism award last month, the awarding foundation described how these disclosures created “more scoops in a year than most journalists could imagine in a lifetime”.

By exposing some of the worst atrocities committed by US forces in Iraq, the documents prevented the Iraqi government from agreeing to ongoing legal immunity for US forces, and thus helped bring about the end of the war. Even Bill Keller, the former New York Times executive editor and a harsh WikiLeaks critic, credits the release of the cables with shedding light on the corruption of Tunisia’s ruling family and thus helping spark the Arab spring.

In sum, the documentsManning is alleged to have released revealed overwhelming deceit, corruption and illegality by the world’s most powerful political actors. And this is why he has been so harshly treated and punished.

Despite pledging to usher in “the most transparent administration in history”, President Obama has been obsessed with prosecuting whistleblowers; his justice department has prosecuted more of them for “espionage” than all prior administrations combined.

The oppressive treatment of Manning is designed to create a climate of fear, to send a signal to those who in the future discover serious wrongdoing committed in secret by the US: if you’re thinking about exposing what you’ve learned, look at what we did to Manning and think twice. The real crimes exposed by this episode are those committed by the prosecuting parties, not the accused. For what he is alleged to have given the world, Manning deserves gratitude and a medal, not a life in prison.

Manning is THE PROTESTER.

Like many in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Libya, Bahrein, Yemen, Palestine and Syria, he is paying a steep price in his genuine commitment to justice:

[T]he leaks Manning allegedly engineered have generated enormous benefits: precisely the benefits Manning, if the allegations against him are true, sought to achieve. According to chat logs purportedly between Manning and the informant who turned him in, the private decided to leak these documents after he became disillusioned with the Iraq war. He described how reading classified documents made him, for the first time, aware of the breadth of the corruption and violence committed by his country and allies.

He explained that he wanted the world to know what he had learned: “I want people to see the truth … regardless of who they are … because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.” When asked by the informant why he did not sell the documents to a foreign government for profit, Manning replied that he wanted the information to be publicly known in order to trigger “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms”.

Unlike most at TIME Magazine, many of us here at firedoglake can be very proud of our open and meaningful support of Manning,  and of thousands of others here and around the world, who, as Bradley put it, “want people to see the truth … regardless of who they are … because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”

image – The Protester Collage, by Philip Munger

With Obama’s Giordano Bruno-ization of Dr. Charles Monnett in Alaska, We See the Merging of the War on Science and the War on Whistleblowers

11:54 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Giordano Bruno by Jastrow

Two more organizations, neither from Alaska, have joined Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility in search of more transparency in the Obama administration’s pursuit of Anchorage-based Polar bear expert, Dr. Charles Monnett.  Greenpeace US and the Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter on Thursday to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, and White House Office of Science & Technology Policy Director, Dr. John Holdren, raising their grave concerns that Dr. Monnett is being pursued as part of a political agenda.  They have also filed Freedom of Information Act requests in the matter, according to a Friday article by Jill Burke, in the Alaska Dispatch:

The groups are using the Freedom of Information Act to look into whether any correspondence exists between BOEMRE and Shell regarding Monnett or his research.

Some have speculated that Dr. Monnett is being sidelined and hounded as a warning to others to keep their heads down, as the Obama administration prepares the way to open the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas to oil development.  As if on cue, late Thursday this was announced:

Shell cleared a major hurdle Thursday in its effort to begin a two-year drilling program in the Arctic Ocean next summer, receiving a conditional exploration permit from the federal agency that oversees offshore oil development.

The company said it was buoyed by the morning announcement from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, just as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was preparing for an Alaska visit next week at the invitation of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

That congressional tour, which will also include Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, will focus on energy issues.

The exploration permit covers an overall program that would drill four wells over two years in Camden Bay of the Beaufort Sea, due north of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The letter from Greenpeace US and the Center for Biological Diversity raises the spectre of Obama’s deepening and all but relentless pursuit of whistleblowers, which has been quite well documented, particularly by Salon‘s Glenn Greenwald, and The New Yorker‘s Jane Meyer.  Here’s Greewald, writing about Mayer’s most recent revelations:

Thomas Drake is a hero who deserves a Medal of Freedom Honor.  Instead, the Obama administration seeks to imprison him for decades while steadfastly protecting from prosecution — or judicial review of any kind — the high-level government officials who systematically broke the law.  Put another way — from the last paragraph of Mayer’s article:

Mark Klein, the former A.T. & T. employee who exposed the telecom-company wiretaps, is also dismayed by the Drake case. “I think it’s outrageous,” he says. “The Bush people have been let off. The telecom companies got immunity. The only people Obama has prosecuted are the whistle-blowers.”

And that’s to say nothing of the full-scale immunity also given thus far to Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Merrill, and the mortgage fraudsters who have essentially stolen people’s homes.  About what motivates Obama’s conduct — his virtually complete reversal from the campaign pledges — Drake offers this speculation:

“I actually had hopes for Obama,” he said.  He had not only expected the President to roll back the prosecutions launched by the Bush Administration; he had thought that Bush Administration officials would be investigated for overstepping the law in the “war on terror.”

But power is incredibly destructive,” Drake said. “It’s a weird, pathological thing. I also think the intelligence community coöpted Obama, because he’s rather naïve about national security. He’s accepted the fear and secrecy. We’re in a scary space in this country.”

On Twitter this morning, The American Prospect‘s Adam Serwer said of the New Yorker article:  ”Jane Mayer does to warrantless wiretapping what she did to torture.”  That’s true, but one could just as accurately say that Mayer does to the Obama administration what she did to the Bush administration:  expose its most rotted attributes.

Here is the Greenpeace-Center for Biological Diversity letter in its entirety (original is PDF – posted with permission):

August 4, 2011

Mr. Ken Salazar Secretary of the Interior
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

Dr. John P. Holdren, Director Office of Science & Technology Policy
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Secretary Salazar and Dr. Holdren,

The protection of scientific independence and integrity is crucial to the creation of sound national policy, especially with respect to environmental and natural resource issues. We therefore fully support the spirit and letter of the President’s Executive Order regarding scientific integrity, and it is with this memorandum in mind that we write you about the recent suspension of a senior scientist at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, Dr. Charles Monnett.

Dr. Monnett is responsible for undertaking and coordinating a broad slate of research into the distribution of marine mammals, including polar bears. This crucial long-term research has been approved by MMS/BOEMRE in part to produce baseline data against which to judge the potential impacts of proposed oil drilling in the waters off Alaska.

Prior to being placed on administrative leave, Dr. Monnett was subjected to an interrogation by criminal investigators from the Department of Interior Inspector General (IG) relating to his observations of drowned polar bears and the publication of those observations in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Based on the transcript of that interview, it appears that Dr. Monnett is himself being subjected to precisely the type of political interference in his work that the Executive Order and scientific integrity policy are designed to prevent. This apparent interference is originating not only from the IG, which has sent agents with no scientific training to ask decidedly unscientific questions about bizarre allegations relating to the polar bear paper, but also, as it emerged during the interview, from BOEMRE managers themselves.

Following clear evidence of misconduct within the BOEMRE’s predecessor agency, the Minerals Management Service, it was hoped that this reorganized agency, under Michael Bromwich’s leadership, would reform its working practices and usher in a new era of respect for independent scientific research. However, this incident indicates that the agency remains rife with problems and seems determined to restrict scientists from engaging in or disseminating research that provides critical information on the potential impacts of oil drilling in a rapidly changing Arctic.

This makes us question whether Mr. Bromwich, the agency and more broadly the Department of Interior are able to uphold the tenets of the Presidential Executive Order on scientific integrity or indeed the DOI’s own Science Integrity Policy, issued in September 2010.

We are gravely concerned by the allegations of political interference with Dr. Monnett’s work and other scientific research at BOEMRE, as well as by the conduct of the investigation against Dr. Monnett. This incident will chill other agency scientists’ ability to carry out and communicate their research.

We thus request your assurance that these critically important issues will receive an immediate, full, and open review by both the Department of Interior and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

We look forward to your response and thoughts on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Kert Davies Research Director
Greenpeace US
702 H St NW
Washington D.C. 20001

Kassie Siegel Senior Counsel
Climate Law Institute Director
Center for Biological Diversity
P.O. Box 549
Joshua Tree, CA 92252

Although their concerns center on lack of implementation of newly announced reforms in the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, which is the successor of the totally discredited similar office in the now-defunct Minerals Management Service, and of possible “political interference” in scientific work, those of us familiar with the patterns exhibited previously by Obama can probably read much between the very carefully written lines of the joint request.

Who would have thought that Obama could make the fundamentalist Bush’s war on science seem so pale in comparison?

[Editor's note: The original photograph, Giordano Bruno (and friend) by Fernando W, was replaced due to copyright restrictions.]