Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dissecting Stephen Harper's Reaction

Ottawa Killings: Who Wins? Russell Brand The Trews (E174)

by Russell Brand





Reaction to the violence in Ottawa involving the killings of two officers. Canada's prime minister has called the most recent shooting "the country's second terrorist attack in three days."


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Produced & directed by Gareth Roy. Thanks to Jimi Mackay: @jimimackay
and Urban Nerds: @urban_nerds for our creative services.

Canada's Failure of Accountability Highlighted in D.C. Hearing

Washington, D.C. hearing to spotlight the Canadian Government’s failure to prevent harm and ensure justice for mining-affected communities abroad

by MiningWatch Canada


(Ottawa) - The Canadian Government has failed to respond to a decade’s worth of recommendations to prevent and provide effective recourse for harms related to Canadian mining operations in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a report by the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (http://cnca-rcrce.ca/) that will be presented in a public hearing before the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, October 28th.

MiningWatch Canada, Osgoode Hall’s Justice and Corporate Accountability Project (http://justice-project.org/) (JCAP) and the Canadian Centre for International Justice (http://www.ccij.ca/index-e.php) (CCIJ) will make presentations at the hearing. The Commission has requested the presence of the State of Canada, but it is not clear if they will participate.

According to documented evidence, systematic abuses have been taking place against Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, workers and the environment involving Canadian companies operating in Latin America and the Caribbean with strong support from the Canadian government. The report calls on the Canadian government to take measures to help prevent further harm, including to stop directing overseas development aid and diplomatic services toward the promotion of large-scale mineral extraction overseas. Further, it should enact legislation such that Crown corporations, particularly those that finance and hold equity in companies, comply with international Indigenous and human rights obligations. The report also underscores the need for legally binding standards and effective recourse to address the negative impacts that mining is having on communities, workers and the environment because voluntary standards and other existing measures fall short.

This hearing is part of the 153rd Period of Sessions of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (http://www.oas.org/es/cidh/sesiones/docs/Calendario-153-audiencias-es.pdf) (IACHR). The IACHR is a regional human rights body and an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States. It holds hearings twice a year, in the fall and in the spring.

In October 2013, the IACHR heard from the Working Group on Mining and Human Rights in Latin America (http://upsidedownworld.org/main/international-archives-60/4874-digging-up-the-dirt-on-canadian-mining-in-latin-america) about systematic Indigenous and human rights violations against mining-affected communities. The Working Group profiled 22 case studies involving Canadian companies with strong support from the Canadian state and observed a troubling pattern of abuses.

This hearing comes on the heals of the defeat of Ombudsman Bill (Bill C-584) in the Canadian House of Commons (http://cnca-rcrce.ca/mining-oversight-bill-defeated-by-government-despite-widespread-public-support/) . Tabled by Quebec MP Ѐve Péclet, the bill called for the creation of an independent extractive sector ombudsman with power to investigate and make recommendations regarding the human rights impact of Canadian mining companies operating abroad.

WHAT: IACHR Hearing: Impact of Canadian Mining Activities on Human Rights in Latin America

WHO: Representatives from MiningWatch Canada, Osgoode Hall’s Justice and Corporate Accountability Project (JCAP) and the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ) will make presentations. The Commission has requested the presence of the State of Canada, but it is not clear if they will participate.

WHEN & WHERE: Tuesday, October 28 from 10:45am to 11:45am in the Ruben Dario Room (Eighth Floor), Inter American Commission on Human Rights (http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/) (1889 F St. N.W., Washington D.C.). The event will likely be videotaped and livestreamed for which available links will be provided prior to the hearing.

Contacts:
* Ian Thomson, Coordinator, Canadian Network for Corporate Accountability, ithomson(at)kairoscanada.org, tel. 613-235-9956 ext. 222
* Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada, jen(at)miningwatch.ca, (613) 569-3439
* Shin Imai, Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University and a director of the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project (JCAP), simai(at)justice-project.org, (416) 736-5274

Report: Human Rights, Indigenous Rights and Canada's Extraterritorial Obligations (http://www.miningwatch.ca/sites/www.miningwatch.ca/files/canada_mining_cidh_oct_28_2014_final.pdf)

Police State North: Can Ottawa Attack Kill Canadian Democracy?

Police-State Rhetoric and the Ottawa Attack

by Murray Dobbin - CounterPunch

[Ed.'s note: Reuters reports: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Thursday increased police powers and further rights curtailment in wake of Ottawa Parliament attack Wednesday Oct. 22. ZeroHedge - ape]

Powell River, British Columbia - I expect that the reaction of most Canadians to the deadly attack on Parliament Hill (the home of our Parliament Buildings which house both the Senate and the Commons) was similar to mine: a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, a reaction that was not political but just human. My next reaction was: it has finally happened, as if I knew it had to in these days of the ‘war on terror.’ Given Canada’s recent role in the Middle East it is a miracle it hasn’t happened before.

All sorts of clichés seem to come to mind in moments like this – a “loss of innocence” being one of them. And to some extent this is accurate. Those who have visited Ottawa and the Parliament Buildings will remember by how quiet and benign is the sensibility of the place – with a huge stretch of lawn separating the street from the magnificent stone edifice, dominated by a soaring tower. It is almost bucolic. People regularly picnic on the lawn and play Frisbee. They also engage in demonstrations against the government of the day, or for some policy they care passionately about. There has been a deliberate attempt over the decades to make people feel that this really is their place (even if in terms of progressive public policy it rarely has been).

I think that what makes such terrorist incidents so profoundly disturbing is that they involve ordinary Canadians who suddenly transform into killing monsters effectively willing to commit suicide. For what? Sudden shootings never seems quite so disconcerting when the person is clearly unbalanced or somehow provoked by circumstances. But someone killing for a religion is new and inexplicable. It leaves people off balance.

But the loss of innocence this is only partly accurate because it is now increasingly a myth and the “ownership” of the place even more of a delusion. While not exclusively the fault of the current prime minister, Conservative Stephen Harper, many will put the largest part of the blame on his efforts to transform Canada from a moderate, middle power with a history of virtually inventing UN peacekeeping, into a shrill, warmongering nation ever ready to rattle its (insignificant) sabre at any opportunity.

It’s not who we feel we are, but it’s what have become in the world

We may never know whether this attack has anything to do with ISIS and Canada’s decision to join the bombing campaign (six fighter bombers for six months) and send military advisors to Iraq. But just last week another Islamist convert ran over and killed a Canadian soldier in Montreal (injuring a second soldier) – and he did so explicitly as revenge for Canada’s role in fighting ISIS. The demonic nature of Islamist terror is that the now-dead terrorists didn’t have to have any actual connection with ISIS. All they had to do was “believe,” listen to and read the ISIS propaganda and take matters into his own hands. These are sleeper agents that the mother ship doesn’t even know exist.

Stephen Harper is a man with undeniable psychopathic tendencies and as such he is very likely the biggest risk-taker in Canadian political history. This plays itself out at every level and his recklessness, while it too often pays off, can also have severe blow-back. A few commentators have pointed to Harper’s recklessness and rhetorically asked just why no one in his government seemed to take seriously the ISIS threat to take the fight to Canada. According to a report in the National Post, on September 21st, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani “…urged ISIS supporters to kill Canadians, Americans, Australians, French and other Europeans…Rely upon Allah …Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s verdict.”

Harper, in what has become a standard adolescent response to events in the Middle East, bravely declared he would not be “cowed by threats while innocent children, women, men and religious minorities live in fear of these terrorists.” In a to-hell-with-the-consequences determination and despite a laughably minuscule force, off we went to war yet again. And all for domestic political consumption. To their credit the opposition parties in Parliament, the NDP and the Liberals, voted against the mission for most of the right reasons: what was the mission, what were the expectations of success, how was success even being defined, and why six months when virtually all analysts suggest the ISIS threat will be with us for a very long time. Not one of these questions was answered and instead the questioners were treated to the usual contempt from our narcissistic prime minister.

We are supposed to learn as children that actions have consequences so I suppose we are left to conclude that current leaders of the Anglo-industrialized countries (in particular) were badly neglected by their parents. A monstrous and catastrophic failure of imagination on the part of the West has led us to this point. The first failure belonged to Zbigniew Brzezinski one of the key architects of the mujahideen war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Before the US armed, financed and trained the then-handful of religious zealots opposed to the godless Soviets, they were a threat to no one.

In an interview that appeared in CounterPunch in 1998 Brzezinski revealed his limited imagination when asked if he regretted creating Islamic terrorists: “What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?”

The answer is in.


And the failure of imagination is replicated year after year in the White House and in the Strangelovian world of NATO – and now Canada. Imperial hubris, willful ignorance and breathtaking incompetence accompany it on its journey to permanent catastrophe. And Stephen Harper has, as he likes to say, been punching above his weight in this dance of idiots. He enthusiastically bombed Libya, handing over thousands of tonnes of sophisticated weapons to another branch of radical Islamists, he gives Israel absolute carte blanch in its savaging of Palestinians (In the last invasion of Lebanon, Israel deliberately targeted a UN bunker with over a dozen bombing runs, killing a Canadian soldier. Harper refused to comment.) and he tweaks the tail of the ISIS tiger.

The more frightening interpretation of Harper’s mentality relates to his determined expansion of the security and surveillance state in Canada. His efforts to equate environmentalists with terrorism and treason, his abuse of power in targeting of dissent from any quarter, his relentless attack on the institutions of democracy suggest that he may just welcome the political aftermath: a population more willing to give up its civil liberties, more prone to stay home rather than demonstrate and a Parliament more willing to increase funding and authority to security agencies. A member of Canadian Security and Intelligence Service our CIA equivalent – said in response to the shooting: “This will change everything.” He was a little too eager in his pronouncement, perhaps anticipating a greater role, more resources and new laws to control dissent.

And, of course, he didn’t mean it would change our irresponsible foreign policy. Every effort will be made to portray an amateurish attack, facilitated by a stunningly incompetent security service, as a game changer. We will see in the months ahead if Canadian citizens are up to the challenge of rejecting this self-serving police state rhetoric.

Murray Dobbin, now living in Powell River, BC has been a journalist, broadcaster, author and social activist for over forty years. He now writes a bi-weekly column for the on-line journals the Tyee and rabble.ca. He can be reached at murraydobbin@shaw.ca

Terrorism, Psy-Ops, and Undermining Canadian Democracy

Canadian Terror Wave: a Modern-Day Gladio

by Tony Cartalucci - Global Research 

As warned, after multiple staged incidents used to ratchet up fear and paranoia in the build-up to US and its allies’ military intervention in Syria and Iraq, at least two live attacks have now been carried out in Canada – precisely as they were predicted.

The second, most recent attack, involved a shooting in Ottawa injuring several and killing another Canadian soldier on parliament Hill.

The first attack involved a deadly hit-and-run that left one Canadian soldier dead.

AP would report in its article, “Terrorist ideology blamed in Canada car attack,” that:

"A young convert to Islam who killed a Canadian soldier in a hit-and-run had been on the radar of federal investigators, who feared he had jihadist ambitions and seized his passport when he tried to travel to Turkey, authorities said Tuesday."

RT in its article, “Ottawa gunman ‘identified’ as recent Muslim convert, high-risk traveler,” would report that:

"While the name of the Ottawa gunman is yet to be announced, a number of officials told numerous media that the shooter is believed to be Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a recent Muslim convert, allegedly designated as a high-risk traveler.

"Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was born in Quebec as Michael Joseph Hall north of Montreal, two US officials told Reuters, claiming that American law enforcement agencies have been advised that the attacker recently converted to Islam.

"AP sources also identified the man to be Zehaf-Bibeau. A Twitter account associated with Islamic State militants tweeted a photo they identified as the Ottawa shooter. The Globe and Mail reports that the shooter was designated a “high-risk traveler” by the Canadian authorities with his passport seized."

Clearly, both suspects were under the watch of not only Canadian authorities, but also US investigators, before the attacks.

Canada’s Attacks Were Predictable – Western Security Agencies are Prime Suspects


It was warned last month after security agencies staged scares in both the US and Australia, that suspects under investigation, being walked through planned terrorist attacks by Western security agencies as part of “sting operations” would inevitably be switched to live terrorist attacks.

In mid-September A Rochester man, Mufid A. Elfgeeh, was accused by the FBI of attempting to provide material support to ISIS (undercover FBI agents), attempting to kill US soldiers, and possession of firearms and silencers (provided to him by the FBI). The FBI’s own official press release stated (emphasis added):

"According to court records, Elfgeeh attempted to provide material support to ISIS in the form of personnel, namely three individuals, two of whom were cooperating with the FBI. Elfgeeh attempted to assist all three individuals in traveling to Syria to join and fight on behalf of ISIS. Elfgeeh also plotted to shoot and kill members of the United States military who had returned from Iraq. As part of the plan to kill soldiers, Elfgeeh purchased two handguns equipped with firearm silencers and ammunition from a confidential source. The handguns were made inoperable by the FBI before the confidential source gave them to Elfgeeh."

It was warned that only an inoperable firearm stood between Elfgeeh’s arrest and his successful execution of deadly plans hatched by him and his undercover FBI handlers. This script, written by the FBI to entrap Elfgeeh, would be followed almost to the letter in live attacks subsequently carried out in Canada resulting in the death of two Canadian soldiers. Conveniently, both suspects are now dead and little chance remains of ascertaining the truth of who they were in contact with and how they carried out their deadly attacks.

With both suspects having been on both US and Canadian watch lists – it is very likely undercover agents were involved in either one or both cases. While many possibilities exist, Western security agencies should be among the first suspects considered as potential collaborators.

A Modern-Day Operation Gladio - Inducing Fear, Obedience, and Control


Before Elfgeeh’s entrapment and later live attacks in Canada, US policymakers and pundits had begun in earnest setting the rhetorical stage for eventual staged attacks. With serial beheadings failing to raise Western public support necessary for an expedient intervention in Syria, more insidious provocations appeared to be in the works. Setting the stage, a CBS/Associated Press story titled, “Former Deputy CIA Director: ‘I Would Not Be Surprised’ If ISIS Member Shows Up To US Mall Tomorrow With AK-47,” would claim immediately after the initial James Foley ISIS execution video that:

"The short-term concern is the Americans that have gone to fight with ISIS and the west Europeans that have gone to fight with ISIS could be trained and directed by ISIS to come to the United States to conduct small-scale attacks," Morell stated.
"If an ISIS member showed up at a mall in the United States tomorrow with an AK-47 and killed a number of Americans, I would not be surprised."

Morell warned that over the long-term the extremist group could be planning for a 9/11-style attack that killed thousands of Americans.

The FBI has a long list of foiled terror plots of its own creation. More disturbingly are the plots they conceived but “accidentally” allowed to go “live.” One might recall the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. FBI agents, according to the New York Times, were indeed overseeing the bombers that detonated a device killing six and wounding many more at the World Trade Center.

In their article, “Tapes Depict Proposal to Thwart Bomb Used in Trade Center Blast,” NYT reported:

"Law-enforcement officials were told that terrorists were building a bomb that was eventually used to blow up the World Trade Center, and they planned to thwart the plotters by secretly substituting harmless powder for the explosives, an informer said after the blast.

The informer was to have helped the plotters build the bomb and supply the fake powder, but the plan was called off by an F.B.I. supervisor who had other ideas about how the informer, Emad A. Salem, should be used, the informer said."

Image: The FBI has an impressive portfolio of intentionally created, then foiled terror plots. Its methods include allowing suspects to handle both real and inoperable weapons and explosives. These methods allow the FBI to switch entrapment cases “live” at any moment simply by switching out duds and arrests with real explosives and successful attacks. Because the FBI uses “informants,” when attacks go live, these confidential assets can be blamed, obfuscating the FBI’s involvement.


The account, which is given in the transcript of hundreds of hours of tape recordings Mr. Salem secretly made of his talks with law-enforcement agents, portrays the authorities as in a far better position than previously known to foil the Feb. 26 bombing of New York City’s tallest towers. The explosion left six people dead, more than 1,000 injured and damages in excess of half a billion dollars.

Considering the 1993 bombing and the fact that the FBI literally oversaw the construction and deployment of a deadly bomb that killed 6, it is clear that the FBI can at any time through design or disastrous incompetence, turn one of their contrived entrapment cases into a live terror attack. One can only guess at how many similar FBI operations are currently taking place within the United States involving ISIS sympathizers – any one of which could be turned into a live terror attack provided the weapons handed over to potential terrorists are functioning, just as the bomb was in 1993 when it was driven into the lower levels of the World Trade Center.

It is very likely that the recent attacks in Canada involved at least one “informant” working for the FBI. Because the FBI uses confidential informants to handle suspects, if a plot is switched ”live,” the informant will be implicated as an accomplice and the FBI’s covert role will remain uncompromised.

Everything from a mass shooting to a bombing, and even an Operation Northwoods-style false flag attack involving aircraft could be employed to provide Wall Street and London with the support it needs to accelerate its long-stalled agenda of regime change and reordering in both Syria and across the Iranian arc of influence. Readers may recall Operation Northwoods, reported on in an ABC News article titled, “U.S. Military Wanted to Provoke War With Cuba,” which bluntly stated:

In the early 1960s, America’s top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba.

Code named Operation Northwoods, the plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities.

In addition to Operation Northwoods, the public must also consider NATO’s Operation Gladio, and its larger “stay behind” networks established after World War II across Europe and at the center of multiple grisly assassinations, mass shootings, and terrorist bombings designed to demonize the Soviet Union as well as criminalize and crush support for left-leaning political parties growing in popularity in Western Europe. It would be determined that NATO’s own covert militant groups were killing innocent Western Europeans in order to effect a “strategy of tension” used to instill fear, obedience, and control over Western populations.

That the FBI and Australian authorities had coordinated staged security operations in tandem on opposite ends of the globe to terrify their respective populations into line behind an impending war with Syria, and now two highly suspicious attacks have been carried out using the very script Western security agencies were using to lead suspects through “sting operations,” suggests a new “Operation Northwoods” or “Operation Gladio” of sorts is already being executed.

Staged executions on cue by ISIS in the Middle East of US and British citizens at perfectly timed junctures of the West’s attempt to sell intervention both at home and abroad, and now live shootings just in time to heighten a new “strategy of tension” reek of staged mayhem for the sole purpose of provoking war. Could grander and ultimately more tragic mayhem be in store? As ABC News’ article on Operation Northwoods and the Military Channel’s documentary on Operation Gladio suggest, there is no line Western special interests will hesitate to cross.

With the West attempting to claim ISIS now has a “global” reach, the US and its partners’ attempts to obfuscate the very obvious state-sponsorship it is receiving will become exponentially more difficult. That the FBI is admittedly stringing along easily manipulated, malevolent patsies who at any time could be handed real weapons and sent on shooting sprees and/or bombings – and now apparently have been – Americans, Canadians, Europeans, and Australians would be foolish to conclude that their real enemy resides somewhere in Syria and not right beside them at home, upon the very seats of Western power.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

El Salvador to Canada – Democracy as Investor State

From El Salvador to Canada – Democracy and the Investor State

by VIU

The Vancouver Island University Faculty Association’s Human Rights and International Solidarity Committee brings local filmmaker and activist Paul Manly to VIU for a report-back presentation on October 29 at 7pm, building 355 room 203.

This September, Paul spent 10 days in El Salvador representing the Council of Canadians on an international delegation examining metallic mining and investor-state lawsuits and how they affect communities. While in El Salvador the final hearings for the OceanaGold verses El Salvador investor state lawsuit began in the secretive ICSID tribunal (International Center for the Settlement of Investor Disputes) housed at the World Bank in Washington DC. The delegation toured the country and examined the details of this investor state dispute and the toxic social and environmental legacy of mining in El Salvador.

Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms in trade agreements allow corporations to sue governments for lose of potential profits when governments enact laws and policies that constrain corporate activities. The ICSID, which can overrule the decisions of national courts and democratic governments, adjudicates investor disputes based on trade law but does not consider the environmental or social justification for the disputes. OceanaGold, a Canadian-Australian mining company, is suing El Salvador for $301 million for not issuing a mining license for a project called El Dorado. The project has the potential to contaminate the Lempa River, which provides water for two thirds of the population of El Salvador.

In 2013, OceanaGold purchased Pacific Rim, another Canadian mining company for $10.2 million. Pacific Rim launched the original investor state lawsuit over El Dorado for $77 million in 2009. Five environmentalists opposed to the mine have been murdered as a direct result of this dispute. Salvadorans are determined to defend their sovereignty and their democratic authority and the struggle continues.

Canada has signed forty-three agreements with investor state dispute mechanisms and there are currently $2.5 billion in lawsuits against Canada under the North American Free trade agreement alone. Many ISDS agreements do not require that the public be notified about lawsuits or how much taxpayers are on the hook for.

Paul will report back on his experience with this international delegation in El Salvador and will discuss his latest film project, Trade Away, which examines investor state agreements and how they affect communities at home and abroad.

(30)

For Immediate Release

For further information or photographs contact

Eliza Gardener - Eliza.Gardiner@viu.ca

Paul Manly - paulmanly@shaw.ca

From Symbolic to Concrete: British Support for Palestine Manifest in House of Commons

Britain’s Real Promise to Israel: “Symbolic” Vote on Palestine

by Ramzy Baroud - Dissident Voice

The text of the letter was short and precise, leaving no room for any misinterpretation in the “promise” made by Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour to a powerful representative of the Jewish community in Britain, Lord Rothschild on a fateful day of 2 November 1917.

"I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet: His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

The spirit of that declaration altered the very destiny of the Palestinian people until this day. Thirty years after Balfour gave away Palestine – which was neither his to give, nor has it fallen under the control of the British Empire as of yet – a United Nations Partition Plan, as articulated in Resolution 181, divided Mandatory Palestine between Zionist Jews and Palestinian Arabs. Soon, Israel became a state, and the Palestinian people were denied every claim on their own land. In 1967, Israel moved in to occupy the rest of historic Palestine. The British promise, became an unending Palestinian nightmare.

This is precisely why there can be no discussing of the recent British House of Commons’ vote of Monday, 13 October, on a Palestinian state without digging deeper into history. Regardless of the meaning of the non-binding motion, the parliamentary action cannot be brushed off as just another would-be country to recognise Palestine, as was the Swedish government decision on 3 October, for example.

Unlike Sweden, and most of the 130 plus countries to effectively recognise Palestine, Britain is a party in the Middle East’s most protracted conflict. If it were not for Britain, there would be no conflict, or even Israel, of which to speak.

The historic vote passed after a fascinating debate which signals a shift in the way Israel is perceived, not just by the British public – a decided shift has already been registered on that front for years – but also within the British ruling political classes. True, nearly half of the MPs were absent or abstained, but the outcome was undeniably clear. Only 12 MPs voted against, and 272 in favour. After intense pressure and endless lobbying, this is all the support Israel could muster among one of its strongest allies.

Non-binding, of course, but still the vote matters. It matters because the British government remains a member of the ever-shrinking club of Israel’s staunch supporters. Because the Israeli arsenal is rife with British armaments. Because the British government, despite strong protestation of its people, still behaves towards Israel as if the latter is a law-abiding state with a flawless human rights record. It matters despite the dubious language of the motion, linking the recognition of Palestine alongside Israel, to “securing a negotiated two-state solution.”

But there can be no two states in a land that is already inhabited by two nations, who, despite the grossness of the occupation, are, in fact, interconnected geographically, demographically and in other ways as well. Israel has created irreversible realities in Palestine, and the respected MPs of the British parliament should know this.

The MPs votes were motivated by different rationale and reasons. Some voted “yes” because they have been long-time supporters of Palestinians; others are simply fed up with Israel’s behaviour. But if the vote largely reflected an attempt to breathe more life in the obsolete “two-state solution” to a conflict created by the British themselves, then, the terrible British legacy will continue unabated.

Moreover, what is the use of a statehood that seems to grow symbolically with no change in the reality on the ground whatever to ensure its materialization? The list of “symbolic” Palestinian victories continues to grow almost at the same rapid speed in which the Palestinian landscape continues to shrivel.

And what is a state with no rights, neither for those who live within what is supposedly designated as future territories of that state, or the millions who live in what was once Palestine, now ‘Israel’ proper. As for the millions of Palestinian refugees, who continue to suffer the dire consequences of the Nakba (catastrophe of 1948), and every regional crisis since then, neither the British vote, nor all the other recognitions seem to remedy their terrible fate in any way.

Needless to say, Britain’s moral responsibility towards the Palestinians can hardly be addressed in so inapt a gesture, especially as it arrived nearly one hundred years after the original meddling of Balfour and ‘His Majesty’s Government.’

It is inexplicable that one century after the British involvement in Palestine, the current British foreign policy is not far removed from the language and policies executed by the British Empire when Balfour gave Palestine away. In one of his letters at the time, Balfour so conceitedly wrote:

"For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country … The four great powers are committed to Zionism, and Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes of far profounder import than the desire and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land. In my opinion that is right."

Sure, British diplomacy is presently much more savvy to use such abhorrent language, but has the policies been fundamentally altered reflect a measurable shift?

Encouraged by the overwhelming recent vote in favour of Palestine at the parliament one can hardly deny the signs that both the British public and many in the country’s political establishment are simply disenchanted by Israel’s continued war and occupation which are the main reason behind the destabilisation of the region long before the Syria civil war and other upheavals began. Many British MPs are furious over Israel’s violent, expansionist and anti-peace conduct, including those who were once strong allies of Israel. That must not be denied.

But it is hardly enough. When the British government insists on maintaining its pro-Israeli policies, and when the general attitude of those who truly hold the reins of power in London remain committed to a farce vision of two-states, defending Israel and disempowering Palestinians at every turn, the Balfour vision of old will remain the real guidelines for British policy regarding Palestine.

66 years after ending its “mandate” in Palestine, Britain remains a party in a bloody conflict where Israel is still carrying out the same policies of colonial expansion, using western – including British – funds, arms and political support. Only when Britain fully and completely ends its support of Israel and financing of its occupation, and works diligently and actively towards correcting the injustice it had imposed on the Palestinians a century ago, one could consider that a real change in British policies is finally taking hold.

Ramzy Baroud is an author and a journalist. His latest volume is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle (Pluto Press, London). He can be reached at ramzybaroud@hotmail.com. Read other articles by Ramzy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Global War on Ebola

Fighting the Last War: Will the War on Terror Be the Template for the Ebola Crisis?

by Karen J. Greenberg  - TomDispatch

These days, two “wars” are in the headlines: one against the marauding Islamic State and its new caliphate of terror carved out of parts of Iraq and Syria, the other against a marauding disease and potential pandemic, Ebola, spreading across West Africa, with the first cases already reaching the United States and Europe. Both wars seemed to come out of the blue; both were unpredicted by our vast national security apparatus; both have induced fears bordering on hysteria and, in both cases, those fears have been quickly stirred into the political stew of an American election year.

The pundits and experts are already pontificating about the threat of 9/11-like attacks on the homeland, fretting about how they might be countered, and in the case of Ebola, raising analogies to the anthrax attacks of 2001. As the medical authorities weigh in, the precedent of 9/11 seems not far from their minds. 
 
Meanwhile, Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has tried to calm the country down while openly welcoming “new ideas” in the struggle against the disease. Given the almost instinctive way references and comparisons to terrorism are arising, it’s hard not to worry that any new ideas will turn out to be eerily similar to those that, in the post-9/11 period, defined the war on terror.

Tomgram: Karen Greenberg, Will the U.S. Go to "War" Against Ebola?

Sometimes, if you want to catch the essence of a moment, however, grim, you need to turn to humor. Recently, the New Yorker’s resident satirist Andy Borowitz produced one of his patented fake news stories that began this way: “The president of CNN Worldwide, Jeff Zucker, attempted on Wednesday to defuse the brewing controversy over his decision to change the network’s official slogan from ‘The Most Trusted Name in News’ to ‘Holy Crap, We’re All Gonna Die.’”

Can there be any question that a pandemic disease, which may, by December, be spreading at the rate of 10,000 cases per week in West Africa and, in a deeply interconnected world, can head anywhere is worthy of attention, preparation, and planning? Can there be any question that a major global humanitarian effort to stem Ebola’s course in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea is imperative? Still, you have to wonder whether the second-by-second coverage of the two cases so far transmitted in this country, including the quarantining of a dog, isn't just the usual media overkill. It’s a story that, like massive storms and extreme weather, has so many upsides for a media world that feels itself up against the wall: it’s easy to write (or film); there’s no need for “balance”; it’s guaranteed to instantly glue eyeballs at a time when your audience can be elsewhere in no-seconds flat; and it breeds overreaction and the sort of hysteria that brings in yet larger audiences, the sort that Borowitz captured so well. On the other hand, it makes reality almost impossible to grasp by denying context or perspective. Think of Ebola as the disease version of ISIS beheading videos.

Add into the mix an election year in which Republicans are ready to tar Democrats with any kind of prospective disaster (and Democrats eager to blame Republican cost-cutting for the imagined pandemic-to-come). The result: a growing mood that couldn’t be uglier or less amenable to thinking clearly about the actual dangers we face and what is to be done.

As TomDispatch regular Karen Greenberg points out today, given an administration already on the ropes over its new war in the Middle East, it would be all too easy for U.S. officials, amid the usual panic, to fall back on that comfortable template of the post-9/11 years, the war on terror, when it comes to Ebola. After all, it’s already enscribed in the DNA of a national security state that is, effectively, a shadow government. So no one should be surprised that Washington's first response to the Ebola crisis was to militarize it. U.S. boots are already on the ground in West Africa and preparations are underway for a possible future call-up of the reserves and the National Guard. In other words, in his initial move to contain Ebola, President Obama sent in the U.S. military, an organization as ill equipped to deal with a pandemic disease as it was to deal with “nation-building” in Afghanistan or Iraq. He also called for the formation of medical “SWAT teams” to fight Ebola in this country -- not perhaps your typical image for responding to a disease, but one that fits this American moment to a T. And the Pentagon has already responded by organizing "a 30-person rapid-response team that could provide quick medical support to civilian healthcare workers if additional cases of the Ebola virus are diagnosed in the United States."

Since we already live in the United States of Hysteria, TomDispatch sets out on a tour today of possible future front lines as Greenberg explores how, in our strange land, a disease could end up being treated as the latest terror operation against this country. Tom 

Fighting the Last War: Will the War on Terror 

Be the Template for the Ebola Crisis?

by Karen J. Greenberg

 
The differences between the two “wars” may seem too obvious to belabor, since Ebola is a disease with a medical etiology and scientific remedies, while ISIS is a sentient enemy. Nevertheless, Ebola does seem to mimic some of the characteristics experts long ago assigned to al-Qaeda and its various wannabe and successor outfits. It lurks in the shadows until it strikes. It threatens the safety of civilians across the United States. Its root causes lie in the poverty and squalor of distant countries. Its spread must be stopped at its region of origin -- in this case, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in West Africa -- just as both the Bush and Obama administrations were convinced that the fight against al-Qaeda had to be taken militarily to the backlands of the planet from Pakistan’s tribal borderlands to Yemen’s rural areas.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised then that, while President Obama was sending at least 1,600 military personnel (and the drones and bombers) to fight ISIS, his first response to the Ebola crisis was also to send 3,000 troops into Liberia in what the media has been calling an “Ebola surge” (a reflexive nod to the American troop “surge” in Iraq in 2007). The Obama administration’s second act: to beef up border protections for the screening of people entering the United States (a move whose efficacy has been questioned by some medical experts), just as the authorities moved swiftly in the wake of 9/11 to turn airports and borders into massive security zones. The third act was to begin to trace points of contact for those with Ebola, which, while logical and necessary, eerily mimics the way the national security state began to build a picture of terror networks, establish watch lists, and the like.

The next step under consideration for those who might have been exposed to Ebola, quarantine (that is, detention), is controversial among medical experts, but should similarly remind us of where the war on terror went after 9/11: to Guantanamo. As if the playbook for the post-9/11 response to terrorism were indeed the playbook for Ebola, Pennsylvania Congressman Tim Murphy, questioning Dr. Frieden, noted that, without putting policies of surveillance, containment, and quarantine in place, “we still have a risk.”

While any of these steps individually may prove sensible, the ease with which non-medical authorities seem to be falling into a familiar war on terror-style response to the disease should be examined -- and quickly. If it becomes the default template for Ebola and the country ends up marching down the road to “war” against a disease, matters could be made so much worse.

So perhaps it’s time to refresh our memories about that war on terror template and offer four cautionary lessons about a road that should never be taken again, not in developing a policy against the latest non-state actors, nor in pursuit of the containment of a disease.

Lesson One: Don’t turn the “war” on Ebola into another set of programs that reflect the national security establishment’s well-developed reliance on intelligence, surveillance, and the military. Looking, for instance, for people complaining about Ebola-like symptoms in private or searching the metadata of citizens for calls to doctors would be a fool’s errand, the equivalent of finding needles in a field full of haystacks.

And keep in mind that, as far as we can tell, from 9/11 on, despite the overblown claims of its adherents, the surveillance system they constructed has regularly failed to work as promised. It did not, for instance, stop the Shoe Bomber, the Times Square bomber, or the Boston Marathon bombers. Nor did the intelligence authorities, despite all the money invested since 9/11, prevent the Benghazi attack or the killing of seven CIA agents by a suicide bomber believed to be an American double agent in Khost, Afghanistan, in December 2009, or predict the rise of ISIS for that matter. Similarly, it is hard to imagine how the usual military might, from drones and special ops teams to those much-discussed boots on the ground, will help solve the problem of Ebola.

In the post-9/11 era, military solutions have often prevailed, no matter the problem at hand. Yet, at the end of the day, from the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq to the air operation in Libya to the CIA’s drone campaigns across tribal backlands, just about no militarized solution has led to anything approximating victory -- and the new war against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq is already following the same dismal pattern. Against a virus, the U.S. military is likely to be even less successful at anything more than aiding health workers and officials in disease-ridden areas.

The tools that the national security state has relied on in its war on terror not only didn’t work then (and are highly unlikely to work when it comes to the present Middle Eastern conflict either), but applied to Ebola would undoubtedly prove catastrophic. And yet -- count on it -- they will also prove irresistible in the face of fear of that disease. They are what the government knows how to do even if, in the war on terror itself, they created a vulnerability so much greater than the sum of its parts, helped foster the growth of jihadist movements globally, and eroded the sense of trust that existed between the government and the American people.

Lesson Two: Keep public health professionals in charge of what needs to be done. All too often in the war on terror, professionals with areas of expertise were cast aside by the security establishment. The judicial system, for instance, was left in the lurch when it came to dealing with accused al-Qaeda operatives, while the expertise of those who found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2002-2003 was ignored.

Only by trusting our medical professionals will we avoid turning the campaign against Ebola over to the influence of the security state. And only by refusing to militarize the potential crisis, as so many others were in the post-9/11 era, will we avoid the usual set of ensuing disasters. The key thing here is to keep the Ebola struggle a primarily civilian one. The more it is left in the hands of doctors and public health experts who know the disease and understand what it means practically to commit the government to keeping people as safe as possible from the spread of the virus, the better.

Lesson Three: Don’t cloak the response to Ebola in secrecy. The architects of the war on terror invoked secrecy as one of the prime pillars of their new state of being. From the beginning, the Bush administration cavalierly hid its policies under a shroud of secrecy, claiming that national security demanded that information about what the government was doing should be kept from the American people for their own “safety.” Although Barack Obama entered the Oval Office proclaiming a “sunshine” presidency, his administration has acted ever more fiercely to keep the actions of both the White House and the national security state under wraps, including, to mention just two examples, its justifications for policies surrounding its drone assassination campaigns and the extent of its warrantless surveillance programs.

As it happened, that wall of secrecy proved endlessly breachable, as leaks came flooding out of that world. Nonetheless, the urge to recreate such a state of secrecy elsewhere may be all too tempting. Don’t be surprised if the war on Ebola heads into the shadows, too -- and that’s the last thing the country needs or deserves when it comes to a public health crisis. To date, with medical professionals still at the forefront of those dealing publicly with Ebola, this impulse has yet to truly rise to the surface. Under their aegis, information about the first Ebola cases to reach this country and the problems involved hasn’t disappeared behind a cloak of secrecy, but don’t count on transparency lasting if things get worse. Yet keeping important facts about a potential pandemic under wraps is guaranteed to lead to panic and a rapid deterioration of trust between Americans and their government, a relationship already sorely tested in the war on terror years.

Realistically, secrecy and allied tools of the trade would represent a particularly inauspicious starting point for launching a counter-Ebola strategy at a time when it would be crucial for Americans to know about failures as well as successes. Outbreaks of panic enveloped in hysteria wrapped in ignorance are no way to stop a disease from spreading.

Lesson Four: Don’t apply the “black site” approach to Ebola. The war on terror was marked by the creation of special prisons or “black sites” beyond the reach of the U.S. justice system for the detention (in the case of Ebola think: isolation and quarantine) of terrorist suspects, places where anything went. There can, of course, be no question that Ebola patients, once diagnosed with the disease, need to be isolated. Protective gear and isolation units are already being used in treating cases here.

The larger issue of quarantine, however, looms as potentially the first major public policy debate of the Ebola era. Keep an eye on this. After all, quarantine-style thinking is already imprinted in the government’s way of life, thanks to the war on terror, so moving toward quarantines will seem natural to its officials.

Quarantine is a phenomenon feared by civil libertarians and others as an overreaction that will prove ineffective when it comes to the spread of the disease. It stands to punish individuals for their associations, however inadvertent, rather than dealing with them when they actually display signs of the disease. To many, though, it will seem like a quick-fix solution, the Ebola counterpart to Guantanamo, a facility for those who were deemed potential carriers of the disease of terrorism.

The fears a threat of massive quarantines can raise will only make things harder for health officials. So, too, will increasing calls for travel bans for those coming from West African countries, a suggestion reminiscent of sweeping police profiling policies that target groups rather than individuals. Avoiding such bans is not just a matter of preserving civil liberties, but a safety issue as well. Fears of broad quarantines and blanket travel bans could potentially lead affected individuals to become far more secretive about sharing information on the disease and far more deceptive in their travel planning. It could, that is, spread, not halt the dissemination of Ebola. As Thomas Frieden of the CDC argues, “Right now we know who’s coming in. If we try to eliminate travel, the possibility that some will travel over land, will come from other places, and we don’t know that they’re coming in will mean that we won’t be able to do multiple things. We won’t be able to check them for fever when they leave. We won’t be able to check them for fever when they arrive. We won’t be able, as we do currently, to take a detailed history to see if they were exposed when they arrive.” In other words, an overly aggressive reaction could actually make medical deterrence exponentially more difficult.

The United States is about to be tested by a disease in ways that could dovetail remarkably well with the war on terror. In this context, think of Ebola as the universe’s unfair challenge to everything that war bred in our governmental system. As it happens, those things that the U.S. did, often ineffectively and counterproductively, to thwart its enemies, potential enemies, and even its own citizenry will not be an antidote to this “enemy” either. It, too, may be transnational, originate in fragile states, and affect those who come in contact with it, but it cannot be stopped by the methods of the national security state.

Countering Ebola will require a whole new set of protections and priorities, which should emerge from the medical and public health communities. The now sadly underfunded National Institutes of Health and other such organizations have been looking at possible pandemic situations for years. It is imperative that our officials heed the lessons of their research as they have failed to do many times over with their counterparts in public policy in the war on terror years. To once again invoke the powers of the state to address fantasies and fears rather than the realities of a spreading disease would be to recklessly taunt the fates.

Karen J. Greenberg is the director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law, the author of The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First One Hundred Days, a TomDispatch regular, and the editor-in-chief of the Morning Brief, a daily round-up of national security news. CNS Legal Fellow Kevin Garnett helped research this article.

Copyright 2014 Karen J. Greenberg

CLG Bulletin

News Updates from CLG

by Lori Price - http://www.legitgov.org/

21 October 2014


All links are here:  http://www.legitgov.org/#breaking_news

Previous edition: 'Mutant Ebola warning: Leading U.S. scientist warns deadly virus is already changing to become more contagious,' which Google relegated to the sp*m bin. See: Google Filter Instructions for CLG Newsletter.

US Army withheld promise from Germany that Ebola virus wouldn't be weaponized 20 Oct 2014 The United States has withheld assurances from Germany that the Ebola virus - among other related diseases - would not be weaponized in the event of Germany exporting it to the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases.

German MFA Deputy Head of Division for Export Control Markus Klinger provided a paper to the US consulate's Economics Office (Econoff), "seeking additional assurances related to a proposed export of extremely dangerous pathogens." Germany subsequently made two follow-up requests and clarifications to the Army, according to the unclassified Wikileaks cable.

Germany Requests Assurances on Virus Export (WikiLeaks) 15 Dec 2009 From: Germany Berlin To: Secretary of Defense | Secretary of State "For Official Use Only" --A German firm has applied for the approval of the export of 184 genetic elements with nucleic acid sequences of viruses for the production of recombinant viruses.

The viruses will be used in optical imaging to identify host factors required for viral replication.

The recipient in the USA is, according to the enclosed end use certificate, the Department of the Army "US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID)" Fort Detrick, Maryland...The goods are controlled by the Australia Group and are subject to compulsory export approval (List position C1C353A).

This matter concerns the complete genome of viruses such as the Zaire Ebola virus, the Lake Victoria Marburg virus, the Machupo virus and the Lassa virus, which are absolutely among the most dangerous pathogens in the world. The delivery would place the recipient in the position of being able to create replicating recombinant infectious species of these viruses. Because of the particular criticality of these goods, the German federal government practices an exceptionally restrictive approval policy for such exports...The enclosed end use certificate is on the letterhead of the U.S. Army. The required official seal is missing, however.

Hagel orders military medical team, led by USNORTHCOM, to get ready for quick response to more Ebola cases in US --The members of the 30-member military team will be selected and led by Northern Command Commander Gen. Chuck Jacoby. 19 Oct 2014 The Defense Department said Sunday that it is preparing a quick-response medical team to help health-care professionals should the Ebola virus spread in the United States. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the training of the 30-member team and said the effort was in response to a Department of Health and Human Services request...The U.S. military is working to build medical centers in hard-hit Liberia and may eventually send as many as 4,000 soldiers to West Africa.

US troops deployed to battle Ebola in West Africa WON'T be equipped with Hazmat suits --Soldiers from 101st Airborne Division will be given only masks and gloves --Commander of US troops in Africa said soldiers do not need the full suits 20 Oct 2014 Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division deployed to Ebola hotspots in West Africa to battle the deadly disease will not receive full protective Hazmat suits for their mission [of ensuring the pandemic takes hold in West Africa, so USociopaths can seize the oil]. Instead, the troops will be given only masks and gloves to protect them from the potentially fatal virus, General David Rodriguez said at a Pentagon briefing. General Rodriguez said that soldiers' health will be monitored through surveys and taking their temperatures on their way in and out of camps. If a serviceman does get sick, they will be flown home [the U.S.] immediately for treatment.

New Ebola Guidelines for Hospitals to Require Full Body Cover 19 Oct 2014 New, more stringent hospital guidelines for treating Ebola patients will require full body coverings and mandate that health-care workers be monitored while putting on and taking off protective garb, a top U.S. health official said. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, said the new guidelines will be "much more stringent" and require that no skin be exposed...The U.S. has designated Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Mont., and Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha to handle Ebola cases.

120 people being monitored for Ebola in Texas 20 Oct 2014 About 120 people are now being monitored for possible infection with Ebola because they may have had contact with one of the three people in Dallas who had the disease, Texas health officials said Monday. Officials said 43 of 48 people on an original watch list have passed the 21-day maximum incubation period for the viral disease and are now in the clear.

Obama Could Resume Bush-Era Acceptance of Torture 19 Oct 2014 When the Bush administration revealed in 2005 that it was secretly interpreting a treaty ban on "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" as not applying to C.I.A. and military prisons overseas, [CIAciopath] Barack Obama, then a newly elected Democratic senator from Illinois, joined in a bipartisan protest. But the Obama administration has never officially declared its position on the treaty, and now, President Obama's legal team is debating whether to back away from his earlier view. It is considering reaffirming the Bush administration's position that the treaty imposes no legal obligation on the United States to bar cruelty torture outside its borders, according to officials who discussed the deliberations on the condition of anonymity.

German journo: European media writing pro-US stories under CIA pressure 19 Oct 2014 German journalist and editor Udo Ulfkotte says he was forced to publish the works of intelligence agents under his own name, adding that noncompliance ran the risk of being fired. Ulfkotte made the revelations during interviews with RT and Russia Insider. "I ended up publishing articles under my own name written by agents of the CIA and other intelligence services, especially the German secret service," Ulfkotte told Russia Insider..."That article was how Gaddafi tried to secretly build a poison gas factory. It was a story that was printed worldwide two days later."


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Liberians Claim US Military Ebola Lab Link to Outbreak

Ebola: Are U.S. Bioweapons Labs the Solution, or the Problem?

by Frances Boyle

If, as some in the Liberian press are claiming, this outbreak of Ebola is from one of the labs in west Africa run by the CDC and Tulane University, it could be an unprecedented human disaster. That could mean it was GMOed into a 'Fluebola.' Recall that the 2001 weaponized anthrax attacks were traced to a U.S. government lab.

It's incredibly odd that this outbreak occurred 1,000 miles from past outbreaks and it is clearly more easily transmissible.

"Scientists like Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin have been 'researching' Ebola for years. Since the anthrax attacks, some $79 billion has been spent. But we still don't have a vaccine ready to protect us. These labs have actually spent government money, including from the National Institutes of Health, to make viruses more deadly. The work done at these labs shouldn't be curtailed or temporarily suspended as the administration seems to be talking about, but stopped. This work is criminal. It violates the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, which I wrote. It was passed unanimously by both Houses of Congress and states:

"'Whoever knowingly develops, produces, stockpiles, transfers, acquires, retains, or possesses any biological agent, toxin, or delivery system for use as a weapon, or knowingly assists a foreign state or any organization to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both. There is extraterritorial Federal jurisdiction over an offense under this section committed by or against a national of the United States.'

"After the law was passed, the government has claimed that it's not violating it because it is creating these more deadly viruses to help protect against them should they develop elsewhere. It's a ridiculous argument to get around the blanket prohibition in the law. This policy has been a catastrophe waiting to happen -- a statistical certainty.”

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle@illinois.edu - Professor at the University of Illinois College of Law, Boyle drafted the U.S. Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, which is the U.S. domestic implementing legislation for the Biological Weapons Convention. His books include Biowarfare and Terrorism.

Francis A. Boyle
Law Building
504 E. Pennsylvania Ave.
Champaign, IL 61820 USA

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Nedjo Rogers, Robert Parry, Janine Bandcroft Oct. 22, 2014

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook - Gorilla-Radio.com

Resistance takes many forms, and in the fight against the criminality and impunity enjoyed by Canadian-flagged mining corporations around the world a diversity of tactics is required. With that in mind, the Victoria's Mining Justice Action Committee or MJAC is hosting Communities in Resistance and the Art of Solidarity Project, a visual arts exhibition and spoken word performance event presented this Friday at the Fernwood Community Association Theatre.

Nedjo Rogers is a playwright and performer, coordinator for the BC-Peru partnership project, (focused on the environmental impacts of Canadian mining) and member of MJAC. His mock epic verse play, The Trois-Rivières Tales featured in this year's Fringe Festival.

Nedjo Rogers in the first half.

And; the recent Hollywood release 'Kill the Messenger' has rekindled interest in investigative reporter, Gary Webb. Nearly twenty years ago, Webb's expose on CIA involvement in creating the 1980's crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles threatened a political firestorm. Instead, the story was effectively extinguished by major media outlets who rather than expand on Webb's Dark Alliance series, chose to intimidate the publishers and challenge the reporter's credibility.

Robert Parry is an investigative reporter, author, editor, and co-founder of Consortium News.com, the internet's first news magazine website. Parry broke many stories from Latin America during the Dirty War years for Newsweek and the Associated Press, and followed those with revelations of the Iran-Contra scandal that contributed greatly to George H.W. Bush's single term presidency. Parry, along with Brian Barger, first exposed the Contra-cocaine scandal for the Associated Press in 1985, and recently wrote a piece about the Washington Post's attempts, in light no doubt of its unflattering portrayal in 'Kill the Messenger,' to smear again the late Gary Webb. The Post says Webb's story made "extraordinary claims [and] require extraordinary proof" not provided.

Robert Parry's book titles include: 'Secrecy and Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq,' 'Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush,' and his latest 'America's Stolen Narrative: From Washington and Madison, to Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes, to Barack Obama'.

Robert Parry and the press sliming again Gary Webb in the second half.


And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will join us at the bottom of the hour to bring us news of good things and otherwise going on on our streets, and beyond there too, in the coming week.

But first, Nedjo Rogers and the Arts of Resistance.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at: http://cfuv.uvic.ca. And now heard at Simon Fraser University's http://www.cjsf.ca . He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, http://www.pacificfreepress.com. Check out the GR blog at: http://gorillaradioblog.blogspot.ca/

G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

Mr. Blair, Meet Stephen: Israel to ISIS, Canada's "Orwellian" Foeign Policy


From Israel to ISIS: Harper's 'Orwellian' Foreign Policy

by Murray Dobbin - Rabble.ca

It's getting difficult to remember a time when the Canadian Parliament actually tried to make principled decisions regarding foreign policy and our place in the community of nations. But we should try. Perhaps a first step in returning to such a time was the decision of the NDP and Liberal Party to oppose Stephen Harper's most recent ill-considered and cynical march to war with his decision to join the bombing of Iraq.

Harper's amoral political calculations about who and when to bomb people has little to do with any genuine consideration of the geopolitical situation or what role Canada might usefully play -- or even in what Canada's "interests" are. So long as he is prime minister it will be the same: every calculation will be made with the single-minded goal of staying in power long enough to dismantle the post-war activist state. The nurturing of his core constituency includes appeals to a thinly disguised pseudo-crusade against Islamic infidels, a phony appeal to national security (preceded by fear-mongering) and in the case of Ukraine, a crude appeal to ethnic votes.

Reinforcing this legacy is a mainstream media that lets him get away with it, and in particular, refuses to do its homework while the bombing -- or posturing -- is taking place and then refuses to expose the negative consequences of the reckless adventures. The result is what cultural critic Henry Giroux calls "the fog of historical and social amnesia."

The three most obvious examples are Harper's extremist policy in support of Israel, his joining with France and the U.S. in the catastrophic destruction of the Libyan state and his infantile posturing on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. And now we have Harper's mini-crusade (six fighter bombers for six months) against ISIS or the Islamic State. With rare exceptions the media has gone along with him at every turn, treating Canadians as children incapable of navigating the nuances of foreign policy.

Regarding Israel, Harper, with widespread support in the media, has gone so far as to try to establish criticism of Israel as a kind of Orwellian "thought crime." 

By declaring repeatedly (and even threatening supportive legislation) that criticism of Israel was anti-Semitic, Harper hoped to establish what Orwell referred to as "protective stupidity" -- a kind of mass denial of the obvious. Freud referred to it as "knowing with not knowing" and when it comes to most of Canada's military adventures, it is epidemic.

In Afghanistan the war went for so long that the facts eventually broke through the protective stupidity, but only partially. Even with the total failure of the mission to accomplish a single worthwhile goal, it is likely that most Canadians still see it as having been a "good war."

Everyone who reads the news or watches it on television knows that Libya is now a failed state, swarming with literally scores of heavily armed and murderous Islamist militias, and facing an almost total collapse of central government authority and public services (formerly the best in Africa). Life in Libya is ten times more insecure and dangerous now than it ever was under the "madman" Gadhafi. Yet we choose not to know what we know.

This was supposed to be a humanitarian mission -- the much-touted "duty to protect" principle in action. The catastrophe of the failure soon spread of course to Mali and elsewhere as Gadhafi's carefully constructed balancing of competing tribal interests collapsed. In the ensuing chaos massive supplies of weapons seized by the "democratic forces" were distributed to lunatic militias (including the ISIS) across the Middle East. But still there are no mea culpas, no accountability, and no price to pay for the misery created. The cheerleading pundits have gone silent as if they had never written a word in support of the war. Planned amnesia.

As Giroux puts it: "Neoliberal authoritarianism has changed the language of politics and everyday life through a poisonous public pedagogy that turns reason on its head and normalizes a culture of fear, war and exploitation."

Harper's response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict has been similar: a maximum of infantile, simplistic sabre rattling rhetoric with an absolute minimum of reflection on the historical context or even the immediate facts of the situation. 

This is foreign policy for the willingly -- if not willfully -- ignorant. We are encouraged -- or perhaps enlisted is a better word -- to treat facts and history with a disdain bordering on contempt. Facts, context, history and thoughtful anticipation of the consequences of our actions -- all of this is for sissies and Putin apologists. The nay-sayers are all Neville Chamberlain clones.

The fact that the boys with their military toys in NATO have been provoking Russia for 20 years, encircling it with hostile regimes aligned with members of this military alliance, promising to put missiles on its border, breaking promise after promise made in agreements with Russia -- it's all irrelevant. So is the fact that the "revolution" in Kyiv -- don't dare call it a coup, the thought police will knock on your door -- was promoted with millions of American "democracy" dollars.

And the fact that the movement was hijacked by neo-Nazis? Just an inconvenient detail to be assigned to the amnesia machine. And the consequences? Just how is driving Russia away from integration with Europe (which it had been seeking throughout Putin's reign) and into the arms of the imperial Chinese in Canada's interests? The $400-billion natural gas deal Putin signed with China -- accelerated and made a certainty by NATO's aggression -- will likely kill B.C.'s dream of billions in LNG investment (a silver lining in my view but hardly a smart move for an "energy superpower").

All of this is swept aside when foreign policy is decided in a kindergarten class instead of a graduate class. But there will be no lasting consequences for governments -- Harper's or anyone else's. The structure of protective stupidity is in place and without a radical change in consciousness the current political consensus will prevail. All will be forgotten.

Which brings us to the Islamic State. Here, too, the conventional approach to making intelligent foreign policy is cast aside on the basis of reacting to a handful of Westerners being beheaded (as happens on a regular basis already to citizens of Saudi Arabia). Can it be possible that our policy making has been reduced to this level of drunken barroom reaction? We know that the ISIS did this precisely to provoke a Western military response. But "we don't know."

We prefer denial and the simplistic -- the notion that we can correct 25 years of imperial hubris, ignorance and gross incompetence by Western powers by bombing our own creation.

Ooops, sorry for introducing a fact here -- a bad habit. The West fostered these murderous madmen decades ago when the U.S. funded, armed and advised the nascent mujahedeen to drive the Russians out of Afghanistan. They are now a permanent feature of the Middle East and beyond, an evolving monster the U.S. Department of Defense and CIA lost control of a long time ago. Yet politicians like Obama and Harper think we can correct it with bombs.
Ironically after decades of treating their citizens like children, our governments are reduced to behaving like them. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Challenging Corporate Impunity at the Supreme Court of Canada

Supreme Court of Canada should not impose additional hurdles for Indigenous peoples harmed by transnational corporations trying to access justice

by MiningWatch Canada

MiningWatch joins the case against Chevron's Ecuadorian operations, now before the Supreme Court of Canada. Not because we're now taking on Big Oil as well as Big Mining, but because it's an opportunity to dismantle some of the key principles of corporate impunity in Canada.
Ottawa/Toronto  -  On Friday, the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law (IHRP), MiningWatch Canada (MiningWatch) and the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ) filed their factum with the Supreme Court of Canada in Yaiguaje et al. v. Chevron. The joint interveners provided the Court with submissions on the proper interpretation of private international law and corporate law principles in light of the international law obligation to provide effective remedies for human rights violations.

The Lago Agrio litigation is a decades-long struggle between Chevron and Amazonian indigenous peoples from Ecuador who are seeking compensation for extensive pollution of the Amazon Rainforest between 1972 and 1990. In February 2011, after years of litigation in Ecuador, an Ecuadorian court found Chevron liable in the amount of US$18 billion. The award was subsequently reduced to $9.51 billion on appeal. This award is now final for the purposes of Ecuadorian law. Chevron has wound up all of its Ecuadorian operations such that the plaintiffs have not been able to collect.

In 2013, the plaintiffs filed a claim in Ontario seeking to enforce the Ecuadorian judgment against the assets of Chevron Corporation and Chevron Canada. The Supreme Court is considering the preliminary issue of whether the plaintiffs are able to attempt to enforce the Ecuadorian judgment in Canada. Notably, the Supreme Court will not determine whether the Ecuadorian judgment will actually be enforced in Canada – that is a question for another day.

Relying on international human rights law, the joint interveners argue that established private international law principles regarding enforcement of foreign judgments should not be saddled with jurisdictional hurdles that would thwart the right to an effective remedy for victims of human rights violations. They also submit that there may be instances where the corporate veil must be pierced to ensure that transnational corporations are held accountable for human rights violations committed by their wholly- owned and controlled subsidiaries.

“This case is essentially about access to justice for those harmed by transnational corporations,” says Renu Mandhane, director of the IHRP. 
Matt Eisenbrandt, Legal Director at CCIJ stated: “We are honoured to be interveners in this case along with our partners and to advocate for the position that Canadian courts should remain open to foreign plaintiffs, particularly those affected by transnational corporations, seeking to enforce judgments obtained in their countries.” 
Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch notes that: “transnational corporations should not be allowed to avoid providing remedy to those they have harmed by evading court judgments against them, Canada can show leadership by providing access to justice for these indigenous victims.”

The IHRP, MiningWatch and CCIJ are represented by a team of UofT law alumni: Murray Klippenstein, Cory Wanless, and IHRP Director Renu Mandhane. IHRP clinic students Alison Mintoff (3L) and James Rendell (2L/MGA) provided invaluable research assistance.


For more information, please contact:

Renu Mandhane, IHRP renu.mandhane(at)utoronto.ca (mailto:renu.mandhane@utoronto.ca)

Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada (catherine(at)miningwatch.ca (mailto:catherine@miningwatch.ca)

Read the Joint Interveners' submissions to the court here (http://ihrp.law.utoronto.ca/utfl_file/count/PUBLICATIONS/KLIPPENSTEINSChevronFactum%20-OTT_LAW-4722211-v1.pdf) .


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Spooky Times for Whistleblowers and Spies

Edward Snowden and the Golden Age of Spying: A TomDispatch Interview with Laura Poitras

by Tom Engelhardt - TomDispatch

Here’s a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! stat from our new age of national security. How many Americans have security clearances? The answer: 5.1 million, a figure that reflects the explosive growth of the national security state in the post-9/11 era. Imagine the kind of system needed just to vet that many people for access to our secret world (to the tune of billions of dollars). We’re talking here about the total population of Norway and significantly more people than you can find in Costa Rica, Ireland, or New Zealand. And yet it’s only about 1.6% of the American population, while on ever more matters, the unvetted 98.4% of us are meant to be left in the dark.

For our own safety, of course. That goes without saying.

All of this offers a new definition of democracy in which we, the people, are to know only what the national security state cares to tell us. Under this system, ignorance is the necessary, legally enforced prerequisite for feeling protected. In this sense, it is telling that the only crime for which those inside the national security state can be held accountable in post-9/11 Washington is not potential perjury before Congress, or the destruction of evidence of a crime, or torture, or kidnapping, or assassination, or the deaths of prisoners in an extralegal prison system, but whistleblowing; that is, telling the American people something about what their government is actually doing. And that crime, and only that crime, has been prosecuted to the full extent of the law (and beyond) with a vigor unmatched in American history. To offer a single example, the only American to go to jail for the CIA’s Bush-era torture program was John Kiriakou, a CIA whistleblower who revealed the name of an agent involved in the program to a reporter.

Tomgram: Laura Poitras and Tom Engelhardt, The Snowden Reboot

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Call me moved. I recently went to the premiere of Citizenfour, Laura Poitras's engrossing new film on Edward Snowden, at the New York Film Festival. The breaking news at film's end: as speculation had it this summer, there is indeed at least one new, post-Snowden whistleblower who has come forward from somewhere inside the U.S. intelligence world with information about a watchlist (that includes Poitras) with "more than 1.2 million names" on it and on the American drone assassination program.

Here's what moved me, however. My new book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World, ends with a "Letter to an Unknown Whistleblower," whose first lines are: "I don't know who you are or what you do or how old you may be. I just know that you exist somewhere in our future as surely as does tomorrow or next year... And how exactly do I know this? Because despite our striking inability to predict the future, it’s a no-brainer that the national security state is already building you into its labyrinthine systems.” And now, of course, such a whistleblower is officially here and no matter how fiercely the government may set out after whistleblowers, there will be more. It’s unstoppable, in part thanks to figures like Poitras, who is the subject of today’s TomDispatch interview. Tom

Edward Snowden and the Golden Age of Spying: A TomDispatch Interview with Laura Poitras

by Tom Engelhardt

In these years, as power drained from Congress, an increasingly imperial White House has launched various wars (redefined by its lawyers as anything but), as well as a global assassination campaign in which the White House has its own “kill list” and the president himself decides on global hits. Then, without regard for national sovereignty or the fact that someone is an American citizen (and upon the secret invocation of legal mumbo-jumbo), the drones are sent off to do the necessary killing.

And yet that doesn’t mean that we, the people, know nothing. Against increasing odds, there has been some fine reporting in the mainstream media by the likes of James Risen and Barton Gellman on the security state’s post-legal activities and above all, despite the Obama administration’s regular use of the World War I era Espionage Act, whistleblowers have stepped forward from within the government to offer us sometimes staggering amounts of information about the system that has been set up in our name but without our knowledge.

Among them, one young man, whose name is now known worldwide, stands out. In June of last year, thanks to journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras, Edward Snowden, a contractor for the NSA and previously the CIA, stepped into our lives from a hotel room in Hong Kong. With a treasure trove of documents that are still being released, he changed the way just about all of us view our world. He has been charged under the Espionage Act. If indeed he was a “spy,” then the spying he did was for us, for the American people and for the world. What he revealed to a stunned planet was a global surveillance state whose reach and ambitions were unique, a system based on a single premise: that privacy was no more and that no one was, in theory (and to a remarkable extent in practice), unsurveillable.

Its builders imagined only one exemption: themselves. This was undoubtedly at least part of the reason why, when Snowden let us peek in on them, they reacted with such over-the-top venom. Whatever they felt at a policy level, it’s clear that they also felt violated, something that, as far as we can tell, left them with no empathy whatsoever for the rest of us. One thing that Snowden proved, however, was that the system they built was ready-made for blowback.

Sixteen months after his NSA documents began to be released by the Guardian and the Washington Post, I think it may be possible to speak of the Snowden Era. And now, a remarkable new film, Citizenfour, which had its premiere at the New York Film Festival on October 10th and will open in select theaters nationwide on October 24th, offers us a window into just how it all happened. It is already being mentioned as a possible Oscar winner.

Director Laura Poitras, like reporter Glenn Greenwald, is now known almost as widely as Snowden himself, for helping facilitate his entry into the world. Her new film, the last in a trilogy she’s completed (the previous two being My Country, My Country on the Iraq War and The Oath on Guantanamo), takes you back to June 2013 and locks you in that Hong Kong hotel room with Snowden, Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill of the Guardian, and Poitras herself for eight days that changed the world. It’s a riveting, surprisingly unclaustrophic, and unforgettable experience.

Before that moment, we were quite literally in the dark. After it, we have a better sense, at least, of the nature of the darkness that envelops us. Having seen her film in a packed house at the New York Film Festival, I sat down with Poitras in a tiny conference room at the Loews Regency Hotel in New York City to discuss just how our world has changed and her part in it.

Tom Engelhardt: Could you start by laying out briefly what you think we've learned from Edward Snowden about how our world really works?

Laura Poitras: The most striking thing Snowden has revealed is the depth of what the NSA and the Five Eyes countries [Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Great Britain, and the U.S.] are doing, their hunger for all data, for total bulk dragnet surveillance where they try to collect all communications and do it all sorts of different ways. Their ethos is "collect it all." I worked on a story with Jim Risen of the New York Times about a document -- a four-year plan for signals intelligence -- in which they describe the era as being "the golden age of signals intelligence." For them, that’s what the Internet is: the basis for a golden age to spy on everyone.

This focus on bulk, dragnet, suspicionless surveillance of the planet is certainly what’s most staggering. There were many programs that did that. In addition, you have both the NSA and the GCHQ [British intelligence] doing things like targeting engineers at telecoms. There was an article published at The Intercept that cited an NSA document Snowden provided, part of which was titled "I Hunt Sysadmins" [systems administrators]. They try to find the custodians of information, the people who are the gateway to customer data, and target them. So there's this passive collection of everything, and then things that they can't get that way, they go after in other ways.

I think one of the most shocking things is how little our elected officials knew about what the NSA was doing. Congress is learning from the reporting and that's staggering. Snowden and [former NSA employee] William Binney, who's also in the film as a whistleblower from a different generation, are technical people who understand the dangers. We laypeople may have some understanding of these technologies, but they really grasp the dangers of how they can be used. One of the most frightening things, I think, is the capacity for retroactive searching, so you can go back in time and trace who someone is in contact with and where they've been. Certainly, when it comes to my profession as a journalist, that allows the government to trace what you're reporting, who you're talking to, and where you've been. So no matter whether or not I have a commitment to protect my sources, the government may still have information that might allow them to identify whom I'm talking to.

TE: To ask the same question another way, what would the world be like without Edward Snowden? After all, it seems to me that, in some sense, we are now in the Snowden era.

LP: I agree that Snowden has presented us with choices on how we want to move forward into the future. We're at a crossroads and we still don't quite know which path we're going to take. Without Snowden, just about everyone would still be in the dark about the amount of information the government is collecting. I think that Snowden has changed consciousness about the dangers of surveillance. We see lawyers who take their phones out of meetings now. People are starting to understand that the devices we carry with us reveal our location, who we're talking to, and all kinds of other information. So you have a genuine shift of consciousness post the Snowden revelations.

TE: There's clearly been no evidence of a shift in governmental consciousness, though.

LP: Those who are experts in the fields of surveillance, privacy, and technology say that there need to be two tracks: a policy track and a technology track. The technology track is encryption. It works and if you want privacy, then you should use it. We’ve already seen shifts happening in some of the big companies -- Google, Apple -- that now understand how vulnerable their customer data is, and that if it’s vulnerable, then their business is, too, and so you see a beefing up of encryption technologies. At the same time, no programs have been dismantled at the governmental level, despite international pressure.

TE: In Citizenfour, we spend what must be an hour essentially locked in a room in a Hong Kong hotel with Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, Ewan MacAskill, and you, and it’s riveting. Snowden is almost preternaturally prepossessing and self-possessed. I think of a novelist whose dream character just walks into his or her head. It must have been like that with you and Snowden. But what if he’d been a graying guy with the same documents and far less intelligent things to say about them? In other words, how exactly did who he was make your movie and remake our world?

LP: Those are two questions. One is: What was my initial experience? The other: How do I think it impacted the movie? We've been editing it and showing it to small groups, and I had no doubt that he's articulate and genuine on screen. But to see him in a full room [at the New York Film Festival premiere on the night of October 10th], I'm like, wow! He really commands the screen! And I experienced the film in a new way with a packed house.

TE: But how did you experience him the first time yourself? I mean you didn't know who you were going to meet, right?

LP: So I was in correspondence with an anonymous source for about five months and in the process of developing a dialogue you build ideas, of course, about who that person might be. My idea was that he was in his late forties, early fifties. I figured he must be Internet generation because he was super tech-savvy, but I thought that, given the level of access and information he was able to discuss, he had to be older. And so my first experience was that I had to do a reboot of my expectations. Like fantastic, great, he's young and charismatic and I was like wow, this is so disorienting, I have to reboot. In retrospect, I can see that it's really powerful that somebody so smart, so young, and with so much to lose risked so much.

He was so at peace with the choice he had made and knowing that the consequences could mean the end of his life and that this was still the right decision. He believed in it, and whatever the consequences, he was willing to accept them. To meet somebody who has made those kinds of decisions is extraordinary. And to be able to document that and also how Glenn [Greenwald] stepped in and pushed for this reporting to happen in an aggressive way changed the narrative. Because Glenn and I come at it from an outsider’s perspective, the narrative unfolded in a way that nobody quite knew how to respond to. That’s why I think the government was initially on its heels. You know, it's not everyday that a whistleblower is actually willing to be identified.

TE: My guess is that Snowden has given us the feeling that we now grasp the nature of the global surveillance state that is watching us, but I always think to myself, well, he was just one guy coming out of one of 17 interlocked intelligence outfits. Given the remarkable way your film ends -- the punch line, you might say -- with another source or sources coming forward from somewhere inside that world to reveal, among other things, information about the enormous watchlist that you yourself are on, I’m curious: What do you think is still to be known? I suspect that if whistleblowers were to emerge from the top five or six agencies, the CIA, the DIA, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, and so on, with similar documentation to Snowden’s, we would simply be staggered by the system that's been created in our name.

LP: I can't speculate on what we don't know, but I think you're right in terms of the scale and scope of things and the need for that information to be made public. I mean, just consider the CIA and its effort to suppress the Senate’s review of its torture program. Take in the fact that we live in a country that a) legalized torture and b) where no one was ever held to account for it, and now the government's internal look at what happened is being suppressed by the CIA. That's a frightening landscape to be in.

In terms of sources coming forward, I really reject this idea of talking about one, two, three sources. There are many sources that have informed the reporting we've done and I think that Americans owe them a debt of gratitude for taking the risk they do. From a personal perspective, because I’m on a watchlist and went through years of trying to find out why, of having the government refuse to confirm or deny the very existence of such a list, it’s so meaningful to have its existence brought into the open so that the public knows there is a watchlist, and so that the courts can now address the legality of it. I mean, the person who revealed this has done a huge public service and I’m personally thankful.

TE: You’re referring to the unknown leaker who's mentioned visually and elliptically at the end of your movie and who revealed that the major watchlist your on has more than 1.2 million names on it. In that context, what's it like to travel as Laura Poitras today? How do you embody the new national security state?

LP: In 2012, I was ready to edit and I chose to leave the U.S. because I didn't feel I could protect my source footage when I crossed the U.S. border. The decision was based on six years of being stopped and questioned every time I returned to the United States. And I just did the math and realized that the risks were too high to edit in the U.S., so I started working in Berlin in 2012. And then, in January 2013, I got the first email from Snowden.

TE: So you were protecting...

LP: ...other footage. I had been filming with NSA whistleblower William Binney, with Julian Assange, with Jacob Appelbaum of the Tor Project, people who have also been targeted by the U.S., and I felt that this material I had was not safe. I was put on a watchlist in 2006. I was detained and questioned at the border returning to the U.S. probably around 40 times. If I counted domestic stops and every time I was stopped at European transit points, you're probably getting closer to 80 to 100 times. It became a regular thing, being asked where I’d been and who I’d met with. I found myself caught up in a system you can't ever seem to get out of, this Kafkaesque watchlist that the U.S. doesn't even acknowledge.

TE: Were you stopped this time coming in?

LP: I was not. The detentions stopped in 2012 after a pretty extraordinary incident.

I was coming back in through Newark Airport and I was stopped. I took out my notebook because I always take notes on what time I'm stopped and who the agents are and stuff like that. This time, they threatened to handcuff me for taking notes. They said, "Put the pen down!" They claimed my pen could be a weapon and hurt someone.

"Put the pen down! The pen is dangerous!" And I'm like, you're not... you've got to be crazy. Several people yelled at me every time I moved my pen down to take notes as if it were a knife. After that, I decided this has gotten crazy, I'd better do something and I called Glenn. He wrote a piece about my experiences. In response to his article, they actually backed off.

TE: Snowden has told us a lot about the global surveillance structure that's been built. We know a lot less about what they are doing with all this information. I'm struck at how poorly they've been able to use such information in, for example, their war on terror. I mean, they always seem to be a step behind in the Middle East -- not just behind events but behind what I think someone using purely open source information could tell them. This I find startling. What sense do you have of what they're doing with the reams, the yottabytes, of data they're pulling in?

LP: Snowden and many other people, including Bill Binney, have said that this mentality -- of trying to suck up everything they can -- has left them drowning in information and so they miss what would be considered more obvious leads. In the end, the system they’ve created doesn't lead to what they describe as their goal, which is security, because they have too much information to process.

I don't quite know how to fully understand it. I think about this a lot because I made a film about the Iraq War and one about Guantanamo. From my perspective, in response to the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. took a small, very radical group of terrorists and engaged in activities that have created two generations of anti-American sentiment motivated by things like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Instead of figuring out a way to respond to a small group of people, we've created generations of people who are really angry and hate us. And then I think, if the goal is security, how do these two things align, because there are more people who hate the United States right now, more people intent on doing us harm? So either the goal that they proclaim is not the goal or they're just unable to come to terms with the fact that we've made huge mistakes in how we've responded.

TE: I'm struck by the fact that failure has, in its own way, been a launching pad for success. I mean, the building of an unparallelled intelligence apparatus and the greatest explosion of intelligence gathering in history came out of the 9/11 failure. Nobody was held accountable, nobody was punished, nobody was demoted or anything, and every similar failure, including the one on the White House lawn recently, simply leads to the bolstering of the system.

LP: So how do you understand that?

TE: I don't think that these are people who are thinking: we need to fail to succeed. I'm not conspiratorial in that way, but I do think that, strangely, failure has built the system and I find that odd. More than that I don't know.

LP: I don't disagree. The fact that the CIA knew that two of the 9/11 hijackers were entering the United States and didn't notify the FBI and that nobody lost their job is shocking. Instead, we occupied Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11. I mean, how did those choices get made?


Laura Poitras is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, and artist. She has just finished Citizenfour, the third in a trilogy of films about post-9/11 America that includes My Country, My Country, nominated for an Academy Award, and The Oath, which received two Emmy nominations. In June 2013, she traveled to Hong Kong with Glenn Greenwald to interview Edward Snowden and made history. She has reported on Snowden’s disclosures about the NSA for a variety of news outlets, including the Guardian, Der Spiegel, and the New York Times. Her NSA reporting received a George Polk award for National Security Reporting and the Henri Nannen Prize for Services to Press Freedom.

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com. His new book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World (Haymarket Books), has just been published.

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Copyright 2014 Laura Poitras and Tom Engelhardt