My Common Sense Politics
September 23, 2015
By Tony Carr
Recently, the Air Force’s F-35 program has been facing fresh skepticism and new scrutiny. Interestingly, it’s not the program’s trillion-dollar price tag, dubious design, or stunted development raising new doubts, but something more fundamental: senior officials speaking for the program are hemorrhaging public credibility with transparently desperate misrepresentations aimed at putting a positive face on a failing program.
Media, members of Congress, thought leaders, and even airmen themselves are growing uncomfortable with the risks lurking in the program, notwithstanding endless streams of reassuring propaganda, much of it paid for with public funds.
The origins of this problem are a dozen years old, and have to do with variance between the original vision for the F-35 (stealthy, adaptable, precision strike aircraft with enough air-to-air capability to defend itself) and what it’s now being asked to do (everything).
This variance was introduced by a confluence of forces, from declining budgets, anemic defense planning, and unforeseen global requirements to a downscaled F-22 purchase. All of which is interesting, but irrelevant to the present conduct of senior generals bent on fielding a weapon that threatens to break the bank while narrowing defense capabilities by necessitating divestiture of complementary capabilities. This at a time of global instability and uncertainty arguing for a broader conception of readiness.
Recently, the frequency and quality of gaffes have heightened. Gen. Mark Welsh claimed the F-35 wouldn’t replace the A-10, contradicting an official service position to the contrary and unintentionally crystallizing that the F-35 may succeed the Hawg but will never replace it in the Close Air Support mission. Welsh also went off the rails in his acrimonious rejection of an F-35/A-10 fly-off, something he had to publicly walk back after it was revealed the test had been directed by the Department of Defense’s chief of operational test and evaluation.
After he walked it back, Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, who manages the F-35 program, persisted in denouncing the idea, unleashing a comical tirade in the process. Last week, Gen. Herbert Carlisle admitted what had been long denied by Air Force officials when he explained that the F-35 would not dogfight, leaving the definitive, core Air Force mission to the service’s small stable of F-22s. This often contradictory and always entertaining furball of rhetoric happens against the backdrop of twin revelations that the Marine Corps overstated F-35 performance during operational trials and that the Air Force quietly tuned down program requirements to stay on its developmental timeline.
With this noticeably negative trajectory and the F-35 program under formal departmental review, what will the Air Force, which plans to purchase 1,763 F-35s, do to shore up credibility? The answer, rather than leveling with the public and engaging in straight talk, is to double-down.
An eight-page propaganda plan obtained by JQP — labeled “F-35A Public Affairs Guidance” and shared in entirety below — lays out in painstaking (and painful) detail the authorized answers to public questions about the program.
Here are 10 things you should know before reading it yourself.
1. It Reeks of Desperation.
Nothing says “even we are worried about this program” like an eight-page wall of single-spaced text extolling virtues that should, by now, be self-evident. The timing is noteworthy as well. With the F-35A less than a year away from initial operational capability, it shouldn’t need much of a sales pitch to sustain it at this point. The fact it does demonstrates how vulnerable senior officials feel about the program.
2. It’s a Cure for Insomnia.
If you’re going to do propaganda, make it count. This thing is a lullaby for a speed freak. Like most Air Force propaganda, it’s a festival of banal buzzwords, with numerous applications of such delights as “adaptive”(4), “survivable” (6), “lethal” (13), “emerging”(6), and “contested” (6). For all of the talent in the Air Force’s public affairs community, it’s still not registering that this stuff makes people’s eyes glaze over in nanoseconds.
3. It Doesn’t Include the Word “Congress.”
This is an odd omission for a plan built to cement the notion that an objectively exorbitant expense to the taxpayer is justified. The omission might reveal that the Air Force already assumes Congress is in its pocket. Or, it might expose a kind of corporate hubris … an embedded belief that Congress doesn’t know what it’s doing on defense and will, in the end, defer to the experts. Either way, the omission glares.
4. It’s Based on a $1.4T Assumption.
The language of this “guidance” assumes the F-35 is a foregone conclusion. This is interesting for a couple of reasons.
First, it raises the question of why such a sales pitch is necessary in the first place. If the money will be spent no matter what anyone thinks about the program or how it actually performs from this point forward, why spend resources persuading anyone?
But more importantly, it exposes just how far in front of the cart the horse has galloped. The F-35 hasn’t proven anything. If the Air Force were properly safeguarding the taxpayer dollar, it would look upon the program with healthy skepticism, forcing it to justify itself with performance rather than lending it perceptual justification that may or may not be borne out by the end result.
Should the military services propagandize the public to secure funding for weapons? That question, as old as the hills, is renewed by this document.
5. It’s Hostile to the Target Audience.
“[N]arratives have emerged in the news media stating the aircraft is too expensive, consistently behind schedule and is not able to achieve its’ stated missions. Air Force communicators must be prepared to consistently confront these inaccurate narratives.”
That’s Swahili for ‘the media is getting it wrong, and this is how we will set them straight.’ Not exactly a recipe for the kind of fulsome and candid public discourse essential to the F-35 publicly proving itself. If the official point of departure is an adversarial attitude toward those in the media interested in telling the F-35 story, there’s scarce common ground available for a constructive relationship.
6. It Makes No Mention of the Actual F-35 Program.
This document is about a chosen, authorized narrative of the F-35, not the F-35 itself. Given that it purports to be about the F-35, but is really about a chosen image of the F-35, it’s a fundamentally dishonest exercise.
This is true of all propaganda, which is why the Air Force, which claims the mantle of integrity, shouldn’t engage in it. Every time it does, it repeats the mistake of making a lie out of its professed allergy to lying.
7. It is Antithetical to Critical Thinking.
The F-35, by many accounts, is in crisis. What it needs more than anything is a heavy infusion of creative, innovative thought untethered from political considerations. This document strangles any chance of that by telling everyone exactly what to say, which is a way of telling everyone exactly what to think … at least to the limited extent it expects words to authentically align with thoughts.
8. It Injures the Air Force Public Affairs Community.
Documents like this support the increasingly frequent contention that the USAF has reduced its public communications to centrally directed, carefully vetted propaganda. This means nothing emerging from the public affairs community can be assumed authentic or candid. None of it can be trusted or taken at face value. This compromises the credibility of the thousands of airmen trying to tell the Air Force story. It underscores the notion that propaganda and journalistic activity cannot feasibly co-exist in the same organization.
9. It Will Make Things Worse.
The F-35 is already in trouble. More re-warmed, rehearsed, and useless claptrap is only going to make things worse. This is an attempt to substitute for having something constructive to say, but it will bury the needles on bullshit detectors. The ultimate message (desperation) will be roughly the opposite of what was intended (confidence), and will hurt rather than help.
10. You Weren’t Supposed to See It.
Only in the 2015 Air Force, which is doing its best to bring Joseph Heller’s vision to life, can you find public affairs guidance allegedly created for a public audience, yet so “sensitive” that it can’t be shared with the public.
In this case, the paradox is laughable, with the word “public” appearing twice in the same quarter-inch space, at once communicating and restricting the same information.
The fact the Air Force doesn’t want this guidance shared is the most revealing thing of all. Apparently, the purpose here is not so much to communicate as to distract, obfuscate, and dazzle … and dazzling is only possible if the audience hasn’t been predisposed. But with a trillion-plus dollars and the future of national defense at stake, attempts to dazzle are not just inappropriate, but irresponsible. This is a moment for transparency.
In that spirit, we lay bare the Air Force’s F-35 Public Affairs Guidance. Read it for yourself and form your own opinion. It’s unclassified, so share it freely. An informed public is more likely than an uninformed one to make and influence the best choices about defending itself with diminishing resources.
F-35 Public Affairs Guidance PDF Version
The Radically Changing Story of the U.S. Airstrike on Afghan Hospital: From Mistake to Justification
by Glenn Greenwald
When news first broke of the U.S. airstrike on the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, the response from the U.S. military was predictable and familiar. It was all just a big, terrible mistake, its official statement suggested: an airstrike it carried out in Kunduz “may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.” Oops: our bad. Fog of war, errant bombs, and all that.
This obfuscation tactic is the standard one the U.S. and Israel both use whenever they blow up civilian structures and slaughter large numbers of innocent people with airstrikes. Citizens of both countries are well-trained – like some tough, war-weary, cigar-chomping general – to reflexively spout the phrase “collateral damage,” which lets them forget about the whole thing and sleep soundly, telling themselves that these sorts of innocent little mistakes are inevitable even among the noblest and most well-intentioned war-fighters, such as their own governments. The phrase itself is beautifully technocratic: it requires no awareness of how many lives get extinguished, let alone acceptance of culpability. Just invoke that phrase and throw enough doubt on what happened in the first 48 hours and the media will quickly lose interest.
But there’s something significantly different about this incident that has caused this “mistake” claim to fail. Usually, the only voices protesting or challenging the claims of the U.S. military are the foreign, non-western victims who live in the cities and villages where the bombs fall. Those are easily ignored, or dismissed as either ignorant or dishonest. Those voices barely find their way into U.S. news stories, and when they do, they are stream-rolled by the official and/or anonymous claims of the U.S. military, which are typically treated by U.S. media outlets as unassailable authority.
In this case, though, the U.S. military bombed the hospital of an organization – Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)) – run by western-based physicians and other medical care professionals. They are not so easily ignored. Doctors who travel to dangerous war zones to treat injured human beings are regarded as noble and trustworthy. They’re difficult to marginalize and demonize. They give compelling, articulate interviews in English to U.S. media outlets. They are heard, and listened to.
MSF has used this platform, unapologetically and aggressively. They are clearly infuriated at the attack on their hospital and the deaths of their colleagues and patients. From the start, they have signaled an unwillingness to be shunted away with the usual “collateral damage” banalities and, more important, have refused to let the U.S. military and its allies get away with spouting obvious falsehoods. They want real answers. As the Guardian‘s Spencer Ackerman put it last night: “MSF’s been going incredibly hard, challenging every US/Afgh claim made about hospital bombing.”
In particular, MSF quickly publicized numerous facts that cast serious doubt on the original U.S. claim that the strike on the hospital was just an accident. To begin with, the organization had repeatedly advised the U.S. military of the exact GPS coordinates of the hospital. They did so most recently on September 29, just five days before the strike. Beyond that, MSF personnel at the facility “frantically” called U.S. military officials during the strike to advise them that the hospital was being hit and to plead with them to stop, but the strikes continued in a “sustained” manner for 30 more minutes. Finally, MSF yesterday said this:
All of these facts make it extremely difficult – even for U.S. media outlets – to sell the “accident” story. At least as likely is that the hospital was deliberately targeted, chosen either by Afghan military officials who fed the coordinates to their U.S. military allies and/or by the U.S. military itself.
Even cynical critics of the U.S. have a hard time believing that the U.S. military would deliberately target a hospital with an airstrike (despite how many times the U.S. has destroyed hospitals with airstrikes). But in this case, there is long-standing tension between the Afghan military and this specific MSF hospital, grounded in the fact that the MSF – true to its name – treats all wounded human beings without first determining on which side they fight. That they provide medical treatment to wounded civilians and Taliban fighters alike has made them a target before.
In July – just 3 months ago – Reuters reported that Afghan special forces “raided” this exact MSF hospital in Kunduz, claiming an Al Qaeda member was a patient. This raid infuriated MSF staff:
The French aid group said its hospital was temporarily closed to new patients after armed soldiers had entered and behaved violently towards staff.
“This incident demonstrates a serious lack of respect for the medical mission, which is safeguarded under international humanitarian law,” MSF said in a statement.
A staff member who works for the aid group said, “The foreign doctors tried to stop the Afghan Special Operations guys, but they went in anyway, searching the hospital.”
The U.S. had previously targeted a hospital in a similar manner: “In 2009, a Swedish aid group accused U.S. forces of violating humanitarian principles by raiding a hospital in Wardak province, west of Kabul.”
News accounts of this weekend’s U.S. airstrike on that same hospital hinted cryptically at the hostility from the Afghan military. The first NYT story on the strike – while obscuring who carried out the strike – noted deep into the article that “the hospital treated the wounded from all sides of the conflict, a policy that has long irked Afghan security forces.” Al Jazeera similarly alluded to this tension, noting that “a caretaker at the hospital, who was severely injured in the air strike, told Al Jazeera that clinic’s medical staff did not favour any side of the conflict. ‘We are here to help and treat civilians,’ Abdul Manar said.”
September 10, 2015
By Douglas Valentine
The corrupt connections between U.S. intelligence and drug enforcement go back more than seven decades as American spies and drug investigators routinely crossed paths and collaborated — with the interests of average citizens never high on the agenda.
Legendary CIA officer Ted Shackley.
The outlawing of narcotic drugs at the start of the Twentieth Century, the turning of the matter from public health to social control, coincided with the belief that the U.S. government had an obligation to American industrialists to create markets in every nation in the world, whether those nations liked it or not.
Civic institutions, like public education, were required to sanctify this policy, while “security” bureaucracies were established to ensure the citizenry conformed to the state ideology. Secret services, both public and private, were likewise established to promote the expansion of private American economic interests overseas.
It takes a book to explain the economic foundations of the war on drugs, and the reasons behind the regulation of the medical, pharmaceutical and drug manufacturers industries. Suffice it to say that by 1943, the nations of the “free world” were relying on America for their opium derivatives, under the guardianship of Harry Anslinger, the Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN).
Narcotic drugs are a strategic resource, and when Anslinger learned that Peru had built a cocaine factory, he and the Board of Economic Warfare confiscated its product before it could be sold to Germany or Japan. In another instance, Anslinger and his counterpart at the State Department prevented a drug manufacturer in Argentina from selling drugs to Germany.
At the same time, Anslinger permitted “an American company to ship drugs to Southeast Asia despite receiving intelligence reports that French authorities were permitting opiate smuggling into China and collaborating with Japanese drug traffickers,” according to Douglas Clark Kinder and William O. Walker III in their article, “Stable Force In a Storm: Harry J. Anslinger and United States Narcotic Policy, 1930-1962.”
Federal drug law enforcement’s relationship with the espionage establishment matured with the creation of CIA’s predecessor organization, the Office of Strategic Services. Prior to the Second World War, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was the government agency most adept at conducting covert operations at home and abroad. As a result, OSS chief William Donovan asked Anslinger to provide seasoned FBN agents to help organize the OSS and train its agents to work undercover, avoid security forces in hostile nations, manage agent networks, and engage in sabotage and subversion.
The relationship expanded during the war, when FBN executives and agents worked with OSS scientists in domestic “truth drug” experiments involving marijuana. The “extralegal” nature of the relationship continued after the war: when the CIA decided to test LSD on unsuspecting American citizens, FBN agents were chosen to operate the safehouses where the experiments were conducted.
A Formal Relationship
The relationship was formalized overseas in 1951, when Agent Charlie Siragusa opened an office in Rome and began to develop the FBN’s foreign operations. In the 1950s, FBN agents posted overseas spent half their time doing “favors” for the CIA, such as investigating diversions of strategic materials behind the Iron Curtain. A handful of FBN agents were actually recruited into the CIA while maintaining their FBN credentials as cover.
Officially, FBN agents set limits. Siragusa, for example, claimed to object when the CIA asked him to mount a “controlled delivery” into the U.S. as a way of identifying the American members of a smuggling ring with Communist affiliations.
As Siragusa said, “The FBN could never knowingly allow two pounds of heroin to be delivered into the United States and be pushed to Mafia customers in the New York City area, even if in the long run we could seize a bigger haul.” [For citations to this and other quotations/interviews, as well as documents, please refer to the author’s books, The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America’s War on Drugs (Verso 2004) and The Strength of the Pack: The Personalities, Politics, and Espionage Intrigues that Shaped the DEA (TrineDay 2009). See also www.douglasvalentine.com]
And in 1960, when the CIA asked him to recruit assassins from his stable of underworld contacts, Siragusa again claimed to have refused. But drug traffickers, including most prominently Santo Trafficante Jr, were soon participating in CIA attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro.
As the dominant partner in the relationship, the CIA exploited its affinity with the FBN. “Like the CIA,” FBN Agent Robert DeFauw explained, “narcotic agents mount covert operations. We pose as members of the narcotics trade. The big difference is that we were in foreign countries legally, and through our police and intelligence sources, we could check out just about anyone or anything. Not only that, we were operational. So the CIA jumped in our stirrups.”
Jumping in the FBN’s stirrups afforded the CIA deniability, which in turn affords it impunity. To ensure that the CIA’s criminal activities are not revealed, narcotic agents are organized militarily within an inviolable chain of command. Highly indoctrinated, they blindly obey based on a “need to know.” This institutionalized ignorance sustains the illusion of righteousness, in the name of national security, upon which their motivation depends.
As FBN Agent Martin Pera explained, “Most FBN agents were corrupted by the lure of the underworld. They thought they could check their morality at the door – go out and lie, cheat, and steal – then come back and retrieve it. But you can’t. In fact, if you’re successful because you can lie, cheat, and steal, those things become tools you use in the bureaucracy.”
Corruption from the Top
Institutionalized corruption began at headquarters, where FBN executives provided cover for CIA assets engaged in drug trafficking. In 1966, Agent John Evans was assigned as an assistant to enforcement chief John Enright.
“And that’s when I got to see what the CIA was doing,” Evans said. “I saw a report on the Kuomintang saying they were the biggest drug dealers in the world, and that the CIA was underwriting them. Air America was transporting tons of Kuomintang opium.” Evans bristled. “I took the report to Enright. He said, ‘Leave it here. Forget about it.’
“Other things came to my attention,” Evans added, “that proved that the CIA contributed to drug use in America. We were in constant conflict with the CIA because it was hiding its budget in ours, and because CIA people were smuggling drugs into the U.S. We weren’t allowed to tell, and that fostered corruption in the Bureau.”
Heroin smuggled by “CIA people” into the U.S. was channeled by Mafia distributors primarily to African-American communities. Local narcotic agents then targeted disenfranchised blacks as an easy way of preserving the white ruling class’ privileges.
“We didn’t need a search warrant,” explains New Orleans narcotics officer Clarence Giarusso. “It allowed us to meet our quota. And it was ongoing. If I find dope on a black man, I can put him in jail for a few days. He’s got no money for a lawyer and the courts are ready to convict. There’s no expectation on the jury’s part that we have to make a case.
“So rather than go cold turkey, the addict becomes an informant, which means I can make more cases in the neighborhood, which is all we’re interested in. We don’t care about Carlos Marcello or the Mafia. City cops have no interest in who brings dope in. That’s the job of the federal agents.”
The Establishment’s race and class privileges have always been equated with national security, and FBN executives dutifully preserved the social order. Not until 1968, when Civil Rights reforms were imposed upon government bureaucracies, were black FBN agents allowed to become supervisors and manage white agents.
The war on drugs is largely a projection of two things: the racism that has defined America since its inception and the government policy of allowing political allies to traffic in narcotics. These unstated but official policies reinforce the belief among CIA and drug law enforcement officials that the Bill of Rights is an obstacle to national security.
Blanket immunity from prosecution for turning these policies into practice engenders a belief among bureaucrats that they are above the law, which fosters corruption in other forms. FBN agents, for example, routinely “created a crime” by breaking and entering, planting evidence, using illegal wiretaps, and falsifying reports. They tampered with heroin, transferred it to informants for sale, and even murdered other agents who threatened to expose them.
All of this was secretly known at the highest level of government, and in 1965 the Treasury Department launched a corruption investigation of the FBN. Headed by Andrew Tartaglino, the investigation ended in 1968 with the resignation of 32 agents and the indictment of five. That same year the FBN was reconstructed in the Department of Justice as the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD).
But, as Tartaglino said dejectedly, “The job was only half done.”
Richard Nixon was elected president based on a vow to restore “law and order” to America. To prove that it intended to keep that promise, the White House in 1969 launched Operation Intercept along the Mexican border. This massive “stop and search” operation so badly damaged relations with Mexico, however, that National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger formed the Ad Hoc Committee on Narcotics (the Heroin Committee), to coordinate drug policy and prevent further diplomatic disasters.
The Heroin Committee was composed of cabinet members represented by their deputies. James Ludlum represented CIA Director Richard Helms. A member of the CIA’s Counter-Intelligence staff, Ludlum had been the CIA’s liaison officer to the FBN since 1962.
“When Kissinger set up the Heroin Committee,” Ludlum recalled, “the CIA certainly didn’t take it seriously, because drug control wasn’t part of their mission.”
Indeed, as John Evans noted above and as the government was aware, the CIA for years had sanctioned the heroin traffic from the Golden Triangle region of Burma, Thailand and Laos into South Vietnam as a way of rewarding top foreign officials for advancing U.S. policies. This reality presented the Nixon White House with a dilemma, given that addiction among U.S. troops in Vietnam was soaring and that massive amounts of Southeast Asian heroin were being smuggled into the U.S. for use by middle-class white kids on the verge of revolution.
Nixon’s response was to make drug law enforcement part of the CIA’s mission. Although reluctant to betray the CIA’s clients in South Vietnam, Helms told Ludlum: “We’re going to break their rice bowls.”
This betrayal occurred incrementally. Fred Dick, the BNDD agent assigned to Saigon, passed the names of the complicit military officers and politicians to the White House. But, as Dick recalled, “Ambassador [Ellsworth] Bunker called a meeting in Saigon at which CIA Station Chief Ted Shackley appeared and explained that there was ‘a delicate balance.’ What he said, in effect, was that no one was willing to do anything.”
Meanwhile, to protect its global network of drug trafficking assets, the CIA began infiltrating the BNDD and commandeering its internal security, intelligence, and foreign operations branches. This massive reorganization required the placement of CIA officers in influential positions in every federal agency concerned with drug law enforcement.
CIA Officer Paul Van Marx, for example, was assigned as the U.S. Ambassador to France’s assistant on narcotics. From this vantage point, Van Marx ensured that BNDD conspiracy cases against European traffickers did not compromise CIA operations and assets. Van Marx also vetted potential BNDD assets to make sure they were not enemy spies.
The FBN never had more than 16 agents stationed overseas, but Nixon dramatically increased funding for the BNDD and hundreds of agents were posted abroad. The success of these overseas agents soon came to depend on CIA intelligence, as BNDD Director John Ingersoll understood.
BNDD agents immediately felt the impact of the CIA’s involvement in drug law enforcement operations within the United States. Operation Eagle was the flashpoint. Launched in 1970, Eagle targeted anti-Castro Cubans smuggling cocaine from Latin America to the Trafficante organization in Florida. Of the dozens of traffickers arrested in June, many were found to be members of Operation 40, a CIA terror organization active in the U.S., the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Mexico.
The revelation that CIA drug smuggling assets were operating within the U.S. led to the assignment of CIA officers as counterparts to mid-level BNDD enforcement officials, including Latin American division chief Jerry Strickler. Like Van Marks in France, these CIA officers served to protect CIA assets from exposure, while facilitating their recruitment as informants for the BNDD.
Many Cuban exiles arrested in Operation Eagle were indeed hired by the BNDD and sent throughout Latin America. They got “fantastic intelligence,” Strickler noted. But many were secretly serving the CIA and playing a double game.
By 1970, BNDD Director Ingersoll’s inspections staff had gathered enough evidence to warrant the investigation of dozens of corrupt FBN agents who had risen to management positions in the BNDD. But Ingersoll could not investigate his top managers while simultaneously investigating drug traffickers. So he asked CIA Director Helms for help building a “counter-intelligence” capacity within the BNDD.
The result was Operation Twofold, in which 19 CIA officers were infiltrated into the BNDD, ostensibly to spy on corrupt BNDD officials. According to the BNDD’s Chief Inspector Patrick Fuller, “A corporation engaged in law enforcement hired three CIA officers posing as private businessmen to do the contact and interview work.”
CIA recruiter Jerry Soul, a former Operation 40 case officer, primarily selected officers whose careers had stalled due to the gradual reduction of forces in Southeast Asia. Those hired were put through the BNDD’s training course and assigned to spy on a particular regional director. No records were kept and some participants have never been identified.
Charles Gutensohn was a typical Twofold “torpedo.” Prior to his recruitment into the BNDD, Gutensohn had spent two years at the CIA’s base in Pakse, a major heroin transit point between Laos and South Vietnam. “Fuller said that when we communicated, I was to be known as Leo Adams for Los Angeles,” Gutensohn said. “He was to be Walter DeCarlo, for Washington, DC.”
Gutensohn’s cover, however, was blown before he got to Los Angeles. “Someone at headquarters was talking and everyone knew,” he recalled. “About a month after I arrived, one of the agents said to me, ‘I hear that Pat Fuller signed your credentials’.”
Twofold, which existed at least until 1974, was deemed by the Rockefeller Commission to have “violated the 1947 Act which prohibits the CIA’s participation in law enforcement activities.” It also, as shall be discussed later, served as a cover for clandestine CIA operations.
October 5, 2015
By Robert Parry
Journalistic objectivity was never high on Rupert Murdoch’s ethics list, but “secret” records from the 1980s show how far the media magnate went to ingratiate himself with President Reagan by collaborating with U.S. propaganda operations.
President Reagan meets with publisher Rupert Murdoch, U.S. Information Agency Director Charles Wick, lawyers Roy Cohn and Thomas Bolan in the Oval Office on Jan. 18, 1983. (Photo credit: Reagan presidential library)
In February 1983, global media magnate Rupert Murdoch volunteered to help the Reagan administration’s propaganda strategy for deploying U.S. mid-range nuclear missiles in Europe by using his newspapers to exacerbate public fears about the Soviet Union, according to a recently declassified “secret” letter.
Murdoch, then an Australian citizen with major newspaper holdings in Great Britain and some in the United States, had already established close political ties with British Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and was developing them with President Ronald Reagan, partly through one of Murdoch’s lawyers, the infamous Red-baiter Roy Cohn, who had served as counsel to Sen. Joe McCarthy’s investigations in the 1950s.
By February 1983, Cohn had already arranged a face-to-face meeting between Reagan and Murdoch (on Jan. 18, 1983) and had brokered a collaborative relationship between Murdoch and Charles Z. Wick, director of the U.S. Information Agency who oversaw U.S. propaganda operations worldwide.
On Feb. 14, 1983, in a “secret” letter to Reagan’s National Security Advisor William P. Clark, USIA Director Wick described a phone call from Murdoch in which they discussed ways to heighten European and American fears about Soviet SS-20 intermediate-range missiles and thus undermine activists pushing for nuclear disarmament. Murdoch said his comments reflected the views of high-ranking British officials with whom Murdoch had talked.
In the letter, Wick told Clark that CIA Director William J. Casey was eager to help Murdoch’s efforts by releasing classified satellite photos of the Soviet missiles in eastern Europe but was confronting resistance from the spy agency’s professional analysts.
“Rupert Murdoch … called me on February 9 ,” Wick told Clark. “Senior British officials have been telling him of their increasing concern with the rapid progress being made by the unilateralists,” a reference to the anti-nuclear activists who were rallying millions of Europeans to the cause of nuclear disarmament.
“According to Murdoch, the majority of the people just do not understand the SS-20 threat. He asked if we could release satellite photographs of Soviet SS-20s to dramatically stem the rising opposition to GLCM [U.S. ground-launched cruise missiles] and Pershing II deployment. He felt that the delineation of the SS-20 threat graphically could be very persuasive. It would give the press – the friendly press in particular – an opportunity to counter the growing wave of unilateralism.
“I pointed out to Murdoch that I had seen these photographs and they are not comprehensible to the lay person. Murdoch responded that he would commission credible analysts to be briefed here. They could make the photographs understandable to the average individual with circles, arrows, and other enhancements.” The next section of Wick’s letter remains classified – more than three decades later – on national security grounds.
On the letter’s second page, Wick describes his contact with CIA Director Casey regarding Murdoch’s phone call to seek the CIA’s cooperation in releasing the satellite photographs and making other public relations moves to influence domestic and international public opinion, including “a presidential press conference similar to President Kennedy’s during the Cuban missile crisis.”
Wick said President Reagan “could present large blow-ups while experts would be on hand to provide explanations in greater detail. Bill Casey agreed to re-check the objections raised by his people when we initially discussed release of the photographs last year. Bill’s people still oppose release of the photographs for ‘legal and security considerations.’ However, Bill said we do not want to be too rigid and protective, given Murdoch’s observations and with so much hanging in the balance on the upcoming German elections.”
Wick added that he and Casey wanted NSC Advisor Clark to take this “major public diplomacy question” to the Senior Policy Group (SPG) to consider overriding the CIA staff’s objections. (Wick’s letter was declassified last month by the National Archives in response to a Freedom of Information Act request that I filed in 2013.)
In 1983, the escalating tensions with the Soviet Union over the SS-20s and the deployment of U.S. cruise missiles in Europe led to what became known as “the New Cold War,” with Reagan rapidly expanding the U.S. military budget and engaging in extreme anti-Soviet rhetoric.
In a March 23, 1983 speech to the nation about the supposed Soviet threat, Reagan did release a few satellite images but they were of facilities in Cuba and Central America, not eastern Europe and the SS-20s. “I wish I could show you more without compromising our most sensitive intelligence sources and methods,” Reagan said.
A CIA historical review in 2007 revealed that the Reagan administration in the early 1980s was intentionally raising tensions with the Soviet Union, in part, by mounting provocative military exercises near its borders. In response, Moscow raised its nuclear alert levels fearing a possible U.S. first strike, a hair-trigger risk for an accidental nuclear conflict that was not well understood in Washington at the time.
The CIA study reported: “New information suggests that Moscow … was reacting to US-led naval and air operations, including psychological warfare missions conducted close to the Soviet Union. These operations employed sophisticated concealment and deception measures to thwart Soviet early warning systems and to offset the Soviets’ ability … to read US naval communications.”
The Soviets were also spooked by Reagan’s harsh “evil empire” rhetoric and weapons build-up, prompting “Soviet officials and much of the populace to voice concern over the prospect of a US nuclear attack,” the CIA study said. “Moscow’s threat perceptions and Operation RYAN [a special intelligence operation to collect data on the U.S. threat] were influenced by memories of Hitler’s 1941 surprise attack on the USSR (Operation BARBAROSSA).”
As a major global publisher with close ties to Thatcher’s government, Murdoch saw himself as part of this ideological struggle and volunteered his news outlets to support hard-line Thatcher-Reagan policies against the Soviets. Documents previously released by Reagan’s presidential library in Simi Valley, California, revealed the key role played by Cohn in connecting Murdoch with the top echelon of the Reagan administration.
Both Roy Cohn and Ronald Reagan got their starts in politics during the anti-communist purges in the 1950s, Cohn as Sen. Joe McCarthy’s chief counsel and Reagan as a witness against alleged communists in Hollywood. Cohn, a hardball political player, built his reputation as both an anti-communist and anti-gay crusader who aggressively interrogated witnesses during the Red Scare and the Lavender Scare, claiming that the U.S. government was infiltrated by communists and homosexuals who threatened the nation’s security.
Cohn’s high-profile role in the McCarthy hearings ultimately ended when he was forced to resign over charges that he targeted the U.S. Army for an anti-communist purge because it had refused to give preferential treatment to one of his close associates, G. David Shine. Though Cohn denied he was romantically involved with Shine – and a homosexual relationship was never proven – Cohn’s own homosexuality became publicly known after he underwent treatment for AIDS in the 1980s, leading to his death in 1986.
However, in Cohn’s final years, he enjoyed close personal ties to the Reagan administration and exchanged warm notes with Reagan himself. But, more significantly, Cohn, as one of Murdoch’s lawyers, brought the influential publisher into the Oval Office on Jan. 18, 1983, to meet with Reagan and Wick. A photograph of that meeting – also released by the Reagan library – shows Cohn leaning forward, speaking to Reagan who is seated next to Murdoch.
“I had one interest when Tom [Bolan, Cohn’s law partner] and I first brought Rupert Murdoch and Governor Reagan together – and that was that at least one major publisher in this country … would become and remain pro-Reagan,” Cohn wrote in a Jan. 27, 1983 letter to senior White House aides Edwin Meese, James Baker and Michael Deaver. “Mr. Murdoch has performed to the limit up through and including today.”
The letter noted that Murdoch then owned the “New York Post – over one million, third largest and largest afternoon; New York Magazine; Village Voice; San Antonio Express; Houston Ring papers; and now the Boston Herald; and internationally influential London Times, etc.” [For more details on Cohn’s role, see Consortiumnews.com’s “How Roy Cohn Helped Rupert Murdoch.”]
Following the Jan. 18, 1983 meeting, Murdoch became involved in a privately funded propaganda project to help sell Reagan’s hard-line Central American policies, according to other documents. That PR operation was overseen by senior CIA propaganda specialist Walter Raymond Jr. and CIA Director Casey.
Oct 5th, 2015
The deployment of Canadian Forces overseas to take part in operations in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine and Yugoslavia have been and are illegal under Article 31 of the National Defence Act yet not one of the major parties has ever raised this issue in parliament nor have any of the media addressed it any of their coverage of these multiple operations. One has to wonder why it is that the rest of us are required to obey to the laws of Canada but the federal government leadership itself and the Armed Forces are not.
Article 31 states,
“The Governor in Council may place the Canadian Forces or any component, unit or other element thereof or any officer or non-commissioned member thereof on active service anywhere in or beyond Canada at any time when it appears advisable to do so
(a) by reason of an emergency, for the defence of Canada;
(b) in consequence of any action undertaken by Canada under the United Nations Charter; or
(c) in consequence of any action undertaken by Canada under the North Atlantic Treaty, the North American Aerospace Defence Command Agreement or any other similar instrument to which Canada is a party.
In none of the situations mentioned in the opening paragraph have these conditions been satisfied. Therefore all these operations have been in violation of the National Defence Act and illegal under Canadian law.
It is clear that none of these operations have been conducted under the authority of the United Nations and none of them are for the defence of Canada or in consequence of any action under the NATO Treaty which is officially a defensive alliance and which requires Canada to act only if a NATO country has come under attack, in Europe or North America, and is acting pursuant to the right of self-defence recognised in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter since the NATO Treaty stipulates that NATO actions must be in accordance with member countries rights and obligations under the United Nations Charter.
Therefore the Canadian forces military aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999 was in violation of the National Defence Act, as was the Canadian Forces involvement in attacks on Hutu refugees in Congo in 1996,1997 the overthrow of President Aristide of Haiti in 2004, the Canadian Forces operations in Afghanistan, the aggression and destruction of Libya in 2011, and now Canadian Forces operations in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine.
Yet it appears that none of the major parties have any respect for Canadian law. None of the government’s or Armed Forces lawyers seem to know the law nor that all orders given Canadian Forces to take part in these operations are illegal under Canadian law. Nor has anyone in the media raised this problem. One has to wonder why.
Why have the parties in power and all the opposition parties with seats in Parliament kept silent on the continuous violation of the National Defence Act? Why has no one raised this in the Parliamentary debates about these operations? Why has no one stood up in Parliament and said, “The government cannot do this. It cannot send our forces to this place or that unless the National Defence Act is amended to allow it? Why has not one single journalist mentioned it? The conspiracy of silence surrounding this law, and the real reason Canada continues to violate its own laws to engage in these illegal operations needs to be broken. Something must be said. Something must be done.
One thing that could be done is for citizens groups to file an action in the Federal Court for an order for mandamus, that is an order compelling the government to obey the law as contained in the National Defence Act and an order prohibiting the government from further violations of the Act. Citizens have a right as citizens to expect their government to obey the law and since there is no specific remedy contained in the National Defence Act itself whose provisions deal generally with military discipline, an application for an order for mandamus is the appropriate action to seek and one which any citizen could demand.
There is no doubt that the federal authorities would resist such an order even being issued by the Canadian courts and would try to argue that citizens have no right or standing to ask for it. But what can be of more concern to any citizen than the use of our armed forces in illegal operations that are spending our money for the benefit of a foreign power and when these operations cause immense harm to the countries and peoples subject to them, and that have brought our nation into complete disrepute around the world?
By Nicolas J S Davies
The apparent U.S. slaughter of at least 22 people at an Afghan hospital, including Doctors Without Borders medical staff, is part of the grim reality of indiscriminate death when U.S. Special Forces undertake their secret raids and often toss aside the rules of warfare.
Seen through a night-vision device, U.S. Marines conduct a combat logistics patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 21, 2013. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Anthony L. Ortiz)
On Dec. 26, 2009, a U.S. Special Operations team flew from Kabul to Ghazi Khan village in the Narang district of Kunar province. They attacked three houses, where they killed two adults and eight children. Seven of the children were handcuffed before they were shot. The youngest was 11 or 12, three more were 12, and one was 15. Both the United Nations and the Afghan government conducted investigations and confirmed all the details of the attack.
U.S. officials conducted their own inquiry, but no report was published and no U.S. military or civilian officials were held accountable. Finally, more than five years later, a New York Times report on Joint Special Operations Command’s (JSOC) Seal Team 6 named it as the U.S. force involved. But JSOC operations are officially secret and, to all practical purposes, immune from accountability. As a senior U.S. officer told the Times, “JSOC investigates JSOC, that’s part of the problem.”
Accountability for the U.S. attack on the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz on Saturday, killing at least 22 people, is likely to be just as elusive. The bilateral security agreement that President Karzai refused to sign, but which President Ghani signed in September 2014, provides total immunity from Afghan law for U.S. forces and officials. So whoever should be held legally responsible for the massacre at the hospital will only be subject to accountability under U.S. military and civilian legal systems, which routinely fail to prosecute anyone for similar war crimes.
What makes this attack unique is not that U.S.-led forces attacked a hospital or killed civilians, but that, for the first time in many years, a Western NGO found itself operating behind enemy lines in territory controlled by Anti-Coalition Forces (ACF) or Taliban. Doctors Without Borders (or MSF for its French initials) thus found itself subject to U.S. rules of engagement under which Afghans have lived and died in their thousands for the past 14 years, effectively excluded from the protections formally guaranteed to civilians, the wounded and medical facilities by the Geneva Conventions.
While UN officials have condemned the attack on MSF in Kunduz, the UN itself has been complicit in the under-reporting of civilian casualties in ACF-held territory in Afghanistan. The UN has issued reports on civilian casualties based only on the small number of civilian deaths that it has fully investigated. When Western officials and media have cited these numbers as estimates of total civilian deaths in Afghanistan, the UN has failed to correct that misleading and dangerous impression.
For instance, when the UN documented 80 civilian killings in U.S. night raids in 2010, this was based on completed investigations of only 13 of the 73 incidents reported to the UN that year. Nader Nadery of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, who worked on the UN report, estimated that 420 civilians were killed in all 73 incidents.
But Nadery still failed to make it clear that these 73 incidents were only the ones reported to the UN, which had little or no access to ACF-held areas that were targeted by thousands of U.S. night raids and the bulk of 5,100 U.S. air strikes in 2010. U.S. officials and the Western media have used these absurdly low estimates of civilian casualties in Afghanistan to whitewash the deadly effects of 60,000 U.S. air strikes and thousands of special forces night raids over the past 14 years.
‘War Is Not Pretty’
As a former U.S. Navy Seal told the New York Times, “War is not this pretty thing the United States has come to believe it to be.” But it is not really “the United States” that has come to see war as a “pretty thing.” Rather it is our leaders who have targeted the American public with propaganda or “Stratcom” – “strategic communications” — to disguise the horrific reality of war, while providing JSOC and other U.S. forces with secrecy and legal cover to systematically violate the Geneva Conventions.
As retired Admiral James Stavridis told the Times, “If you want these forces to do things that occasionally bend the rules of international law, you certainly don’t want that out in public.”
While U.S. forces feel free to disregard the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law, the People On War survey conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) found that ordinary people in war-torn countries like Afghanistan hold strongly to the international legal conventions that are supposed to protect them.
This ICRC report did find the United States exceptional, not in believing war to be “pretty,” but in its failure to educate its people and its soldiers about the Geneva Conventions and the protections they guarantee to civilians in wartime.
While three-quarters of people in other developed countries knew that soldiers in war “must attack only other combatants and leave civilians alone,” only 52 percent of Americans were aware of this basic principle of military law. Twice as many Americans as people in other countries subscribed to an erroneous and lower legal standard that military operations should only “avoid civilians as much as possible.”
The ICRC concluded that, “Across a wide range of questions, in fact, American attitudes towards attacks on civilians were much more lax.”
U.S. officials claim that their air strikes are carefully designed and vetted by military lawyers and planners to ensure minimum “collateral damage,” but William Arkin discovered a dirty little secret about this process when he was invited to observe an attack on an alleged ACF leader in Afghanistan from the safety of the U.S. Combined Air and Space Operations Center in Qatar.
Arkin watched on a large TV screen as A-10 Warthog planes dropped two 500-pound bombs on a convoy of vehicles. U.S. officials explained that 1,000-pound bombs would have caused more casualties, while 150-pound Hellfire missiles might have missed their target, so the 500-pound bombs were carefully chosen to kill the target without causing unnecessary casualties.
But then one of the planes did something unexpected. It turned to make a second pass and blanketed the whole area with 30mm armor-piercing shells from its Gatling gun, which fires 65 shells per second. A “precision strike” had just turned into an indiscriminate massacre. A U.S. official quickly told Arkin that this was “not unauthorized.”
The dirty little secret Arkin had discovered was that, once such an operation is under way, special forces ground controllers in the area take full control, and the plans drawn up by lawyers and controllers far from the action no longer apply. Similar rules may have applied to the U.S. air strikes on the MSF hospital in Kunduz, making it difficult for anyone in Washington or Kabul to stop them once they were under way.
Senior U.S. military officers have told Dana Priest of the Washington Post that more than 50 percent of U.S. special forces night raids target the wrong person or house. But that didn’t stop President Obama making them a central tactic in his escalation of the war in Afghanistan, boosting the number of night raids from 20 raids in May 2009 to 1,000 per month a year later.
October 2, 2015
Yet another man has used a deadly weapon to commit a monstrosity. Sooner or later, we have to actually do something.
It’s hurricane season and all along the east coast residents are girding themselves for major weather. Every once in a while a major storm makes landfall and property is destroyed and lives are lost. One hopes that doesn’t happen this year. But natural disasters are a fact of life people just learn to live with. Tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunamis, major floods and fires are considered to be acts of God and while we try to mitigate the damage everyone knows that we cannot stop them. It’s just the way it is.
In America, gun violence is just another natural disaster. Like an earthquake for which you can never really be prepared, most people have come to see a mass killing like that which happened in Oregon yesterday as being unpreventable. We might as well try to stop the sun from coming up in the morning. All we can do is try to comfort the survivors and help people cope with the aftermath. On any given day we could personally be the victims of gun violence or turn on our TVs and computers and witness some kind of mass shooting, horrifying domestic dispute that ends in carnage, accidents or criminal activity. And that’s normal.
To the rest of the world, this is simply insane. Elsewhere they treat gun violence like a public health threat and limit the public’s exposure to it through strict gun regulation. Different cultures have slightly different approaches but there is no other developed country in the world that treats gun violence as if it were a simple fact of life they must live with.
But the fact that Americans accept this, doesn’t mean they want it to be this way. The polling shows that majorities of Americans support common sense gun regulations of the kind which are proven to work in other countries. The problem is that the political system is corrupted by the pro-gun lobbying groups which not only insist that society has no right to regulate their killing toys, they ensures that it has no ability to do it. Once again it has to be noted that after a disturbed young man went into an elementary school and gunned down 20 tiny first graders and 6 adults, everyone was so shocked that it was assumed that something would have to change. It was unthinkable that it wouldn’t.
But it didn’t.
I wrote about why in my last piece about gun carnage, after a disgruntled employee shot two former co-workers on live TV. We can thank one man who runs one powerful lobbying group, Wayne LaPierre of the NRA. According to the Frontline documentary “Gunned Down” it was clear that the NRA was thrown by the Newtown massacre and there was personal pressure on board members to accede to some kind of gun safety regulation to appease the national sense of horror over the event. At the very least, they thought it would be wise for the organization to keep a low profile in the aftermath. But without telling anyone LaPierre staged a press conference in Washington DC and came out swinging. He said in no uncertain terms that there would be no compromise, no negotiation. He doubled down on the vacuous, insincere NRA logic that the reason those tiny children were gunned down in their 1st grade classrooms was the fact that there weren’t enough guns there. He infamously declared:
“The only way — the only way — to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun… What if, when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook elementary school last Friday, he’d been confronted by qualified armed security?
“Our children— we as a society leave them every day utterly defenseless, and the monsters and the predators of the world know it and exploit it.”
The best they can do is to say that if we had sharp-shooters stationed in classrooms all over the country we could maybe cut the death toll. There would still be dead kids, of course. Maybe even more would die. But it is simply inconceivable to them that we might seek ways to end this violence in the first place. They say the world is full of monsters and predators. But just as we cannot hold back the tides it is impossible to keep deadly weapons out of their hands.
October 1, 2015
As Israel passes laws meting out 20-year sentences to stone throwers, an American visits its West Bank military prison.
I have often felt that the worst aspect of Israel’s prolonged military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip is how official procedures strip people of their dignity. Oppressive processes have become so routine that people just expect them. People tell me “This is our life” when I express outrage at the system of Israeli military checkpoints, permit and military courts lacking fundamental due process protections. Israel’s Ofer military court provides a singular vantage point from which to observe the human impact of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
I knew the military court was not going to resemble a “Law and Order” courtroom or be like one of my visits to Chicago’s Cook County courtrooms, but as I saw Ofer’s barbed wire and concrete walls I knew I was stepping into the heart of the occupation. This was where the state of Israel put children on trial after they were detained by heavily armed soldiers, and it was where Israeli military law allows potential maximum sentences up to 20 years for a charge of stone throwing. A new law enacted recently inside Israeli targets Palestinian youth in East Jerusalem and allows for similarly harsh penalties.
To enter Ofer military prison, all Palestinian visitors must walk a nearly half-mile stretch between military checkpoints. I went to Ofer accompanied by a lawyer from Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP). As an American with a U.S. passport, I was allowed to ride in a car down this stretch, reinforcing the fact that the no-car rule applies only to Palestinians.
After parking our car in the space reserved for legal staff, we proceeded to the court entrance, which resembles a military checkpoint. Families and friends wait outside near a small building in an open area with a tin roof. Israeli soldiers sitting behind tinted bulletproof glass summon visitors to approach and have their identity cards checked. Visitors are then unhurriedly ushered through a series of other checkpoints.
My name was called and I walked through a locked steel door to a metal detector. I was then subjected to a body search. I could carry nothing beyond this point except a notebook and pen. I walked down a barbed wire alleyway to meet the DCIP lawyer who would accompany me to the court proceedings.
In front of me were several small trailers, numbered to indicate which “courtroom” one was entering. I entered trailer number four. Inside the small air-conditioned space, I was asked to sit in the back, which had six chairs allotted for family members. I settled in to observe the proceedings.
I was struck by the youthfulness of those involved. The Israeli army judge could not have been 30 years old, and the stenographer and prosecutor (both women) looked like they were still possibly doing their military service (18-21 years old). The detained young men, all clad in brown prisoner uniforms except one young man (who I told was just taken out of interrogation and thus has not yet been in prison), were the same age of the people handing out their sentences. Private security guards — many, I am told, Palestinian citizens living in Israel — were stationed in the corners of the small room and accompanied each shackled prisoner as he entered.
Lawyers arrived in the trailer holding sheets of paper listing the names of the clients they were to represent that day in court. This is often the first time the lawyer sees the client, and while talking is prohibited in the court, the lawyers typically try to whisper questions to the prisoners to get any relevant information that might help their cases. The proceedings took place in Hebrew with a translator reading from the stenographer's notes (posted on a computer screen) in Arabic. The cases were read out by the judge, who then immediately made a sentence, sometimes with a quick plea from one of the lawyers to lessen the fine or sentence.
As I watched this surreal scene, in walked the mother of the detained young man dressed in civilian clothes. She gasped as she saw her son and was quickly ordered by the guards to sit in the corner next to me. Her son looked our way and began to mouth words of encouragement: “I’m OK,” “Thanks to God, he will protect me, don’t worry,” “Send my love to my sisters and brothers.” She anxiously replied in a whisper, “But are you OK?” “Are you eating?” “Do you see anyone you know?” As her questions continued, the young man’s eyes turned red and began to water, and within minutes I noticed that the mother sitting beside me was silently weeping, tears streaming down her face. No one seemed to notice. The court cases continued without interruption.
87.5 x 106.6 km
54.2 x 66.2 mi
4860 x 5923 pixels
18m (59 ft)
Download Feature Image
SO WHERE'S THE ALIEN CIVILIZATION? The famous mesa formerly known as The Face lies in the foreground at right, where it is slowly eroding along with the other mesas in Cydonia. About 300 meters (1,000 feet) high, its north and east sides (seen here) are covered with "pasted-on terrain." This is the term geologists give to a mantle of material that may be ice-rich and which they think was deposited during the last Martian ice age, more than half a million years ago. This view looks south. (A 340 kB version of the image is available.) Credit: NASA/JPL/Arizona State University, R. Luk.
Hey Stu and Stu!!! Bamf wondered aloud to Dr.neukum back in the old days.
"If Odessey shows no knob on the forehead... Where is it???"
Dr.Neukum couldn't duck the issue.
Bamf knows now that Stu Stu just realised those taunts will haunt them Courtesy of THM
And Malin and Edgett can't planetocentric fudge it either.
Admin Note: Thanx EA http://thehiddenmission.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=337&page=13
Also see middle of :Consolidated Administrative Notes http://ow.ly/Sy3Jk #Consolidated #Administrative #Notes #Flat #Facts #Imperialism #Zionism #Nazism
September 29, 2015
by Henry Giroux
The forces of free-market fundamentalism are on the march ushering in a terrifying horizon of what Hannah Arendt once called “dark times.” Across the globe, the tension between democratic values and market fundamentalism has reached a breaking point.  The social contract is under assault, neo-Nazism is on the rise, right wing populism is propelling extremist political candidates and social movements into the forefront of political life, anti-immigrant sentiment is now wrapped in the poisonous logic of nationalism and exceptionalism, racism has become a mark of celebrated audacity, and a politics of disposability comes dangerously close to its endgame of extermination for those considered excess. Under such circumstances, it becomes frightfully clear that the conditions for totalitarianism and state violence are still with us smothering critical thought, social responsibility, the ethical imagination, and politics itself. As Bill Dixon observes:
[T]he totalitarian form is still with us because the all too protean origins of totalitarianism are still with us: loneliness as the normal register of social life, the frenzied lawfulness of ideological certitude, mass poverty and mass homelessness, the routine use of terror as a political instrument, and the ever growing speeds and scales of media, economics, and warfare. 
In the United States, the extreme right in both political parties no longer needs the comfort of a counterfeit ideology in which appeals are made to the common good, human decency, and democratic values. On the contrary, power is now concentrated in the hands of relatively few people and corporations while power is global and free from the limited politics of the democratic state. In fact, the state for all intent and purposes has become the corporate state. Dominant power is now all too visible and the policies, practices, and wrecking ball it has imposed on society appear to be largely unchecked. Any compromising notion of ideology has been replaced by a discourse of command and certainty backed up by the militarization of local police forces, the surveillance state, and all of the resources brought to bear by a culture of fear and a punishing state aligned with the permanent war on terror. Informed judgment has given way to a corporate controlled media apparatus that celebrates the banality of balance and the spectacle of violence, all the while reinforcing the politics and value systems of the financial elite.
Following Arendt, a dark cloud of political and ethical ignorance has descended on the United States creating both a crisis of memory and agency. Thoughtlessness has become something that now occupies a privileged, if not celebrated, place in the political landscape and the mainstream cultural apparatuses. A new kind of infantilism and culture of ignorance now shapes daily life as agency devolves into a kind of anti-intellectual cretinism evident in the babble of banality produced by Fox News, celebrity culture, schools modeled after prisons, and politicians who support creationism, argue against climate change, and denounce almost any form of reason. Education is no longer viewed as a public good but a private right, just as critical thinking is devalued as a fundamental necessity for creating an engaged and socially responsible citizenship.
Politics has become an extension of war, just as systemic economic uncertainty and state sponsored violence increasingly find legitimation in the discourses of privatization and demonization which promote anxiety, moral panics, fear and undermine any sense of communal responsibility for the well-being of others. Too many people today learn quickly that their fate is solely a matter of individual responsibility, irrespective of wider structural forces. This is a much promoted hyper-competitive ideology whose message is that surviving in a society demands reducing social relations to forms of social combat. People today are expected to inhabit a set of relations in which the only obligation is to live for one’s own self-interest and to reduce the responsibilities of citizenship to the demands of a consumer culture. Yet, there is more at work here than a flight from social responsibility, if not politics itself. Also lost is the importance of those social bonds, modes of collective reasoning, public spheres and cultural apparatuses crucial to the formation of a sustainable democratic society.
With the return of the Gilded Age and its dream worlds of consumption, privatization, and deregulation, both democratic values and social protections at risk. At the same time, the civic and formative cultures that make such values and protections central to democratic life are in danger of being eliminated altogether. As market mentalities and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, democratic institutions and public spheres are being downsized, if not altogether disappearing. As these institutions vanish—from public schools to health care centers– there is also a serious erosion of the discourses of community, justice, equality, public values, and the common good. One consequence is a society stripped of its inspiring and energizing public spheres and the “thick mesh of mutual obligations and social responsibilities to be found in” any viable democracy. This grim reality marks a failure in the power of the civic imagination, political will, and open democracy.  It is also part of a politics that strips the social of any democratic ideals and undermines any understanding of higher education as a public good and pedagogy as an empowering practice, a practice which acts directly upon the conditions which bear down on our lives in order to change them when necessary.
At a time when the public good is under attack and there seems to be a growing apathy toward the social contract, or any other civic minded investment in public values and the larger common good, education has to be seen as more than a credential or a pathway to a job. It has to be viewed as crucial to understanding and overcoming the current crisis of agency, politics, and historical memory faced by many young people today. One of the challenges facing the current generation of educators and students is the need to reclaim the role that education has historically played in developing critical literacies and civic capacities. There is a need to use education to mobilize students to be critically engaged agents, attentive to addressing important social issues and being alert to the responsibility of deepening and expanding the meaning and practices of a vibrant democracy. At the heart of such a challenge is the question of what education should accomplish in a democracy? What work do educators have to do to create the economic, political, and ethical conditions necessary to endow young people with the capacities to think, question, doubt, imagine the unimaginable, and defend education as essential for inspiring and energizing the citizens necessary for the existence of a robust democracy? In a world in which there is an increasing abandonment of egalitarian and democratic impulses, what will it take to educate young people to challenge authority and in the words of James Baldwin “rob history of its tyrannical power, and illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.”