Saturday, September 08, 2012

A Paucity of Credibility: The Two Faces of Nuclear Proliferation Policy

US Double Standards and Belligerence Towards Iran

by Sean Fenley

“What’s that old Beach Boys song? Bomb Iran? Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb.”

- Senior Senator from Arizona, John McCain

A nuclear weapon is a weapon that is used, as a deterrent against attack from other countries, nations, and empires. Pakistan is a nation that has already developed nuclear weapons, and there is certainly great potential for a regime that is virulently “anti-American”, and Islamist in nature to come to power there.

The issue of Iran, and the potential of Iran to develop a nuclear munition is all about the Revolution of 1979 (and also about the permanent warfare state and the persistent American “need” for war). When vassal states of the United States empire get uppity, or establish a unique and singular victory, then the United States can become very fervently angry, and continue to insistently hold on to — a petty, time-worn, thoughtless, catty and mean-spirited grudge. It can even not get over such “intolerable” losses, and persist with a fire that rages of a thousand suns.

Need I remind anyone that Israel has a stockpile of anywhere between 150 to 500 nuclear bombs? The answer to this question is, clearly, a Middle East that is free of all WMDs (or at least a nuclear free zone). In late 2011, in fact, the Israeli public was polled, as embracing this enlightened policy (NFZ) by a vote of 64%. Sadly though, the Israeli government has long ago surreptitiously, and unilaterally escalated the situation, and it should, probably, be taken to task; veritably, for all of its manifold, versicolor and innumerable sins. Israel is the nation that should be in question, at present, over its nuclear program, and the Islamic Republic of Iran; as a fact of the matter, should not be the one in the frying pan.

For instance, international law scholar Dr. Francis Boyle has said that all nuclear nations are essentially — from their inception — inherently guilty of the crime to commit a threat of all-inclusive, indiscriminate, far-reaching, and comprehensive extermination of human lives. And furthermore, Israel has also rejected efforts for inspection of its nuclear weapons program, from the sole international nuclear governing authority of their activity (the IAEA). Moreover, Israel, like India and Pakistan, never received any UNSC (United Nations Security Council) sanctions for its nuclear development ambitions.

Therefore, I think that we can clearly see a lack of objectivity in such sanctions, especially considering that Iran (as well as North Korea) did receive these sanctions, in the development of their nuclear programs — in the case of Iran we are, of course, referring to the alleged/intuited development of a nuclear weapons program. In fact, American international affairs scholar, Lawrence Scheinmann, has described the true United States policy towards burgeoning nuclear nation-states/powers as one in which, “…the United States has always opposed the proliferation of nuclear weapons; [however], in cases where this could not be prevented the basic determinant of our attitude, toward the possession of these weapons by other countries is whether the regime is supportive of, or antagonistic to U.S. interests.”

Above and beyond the residually existing rancor, over the removal of the reliably compliant puppet (Mohammad Reza Pahlavi) the United States fancy/pretension is, generally, always looking for additional nations — outside of its primary sphere of influence — to abrade against, and to act in a very belligerent way towards. This ethos is not only about the permanent warfare state (and keeping the wheels greased on the MIC), but simply about — what has already been stated, that is expanding the number of nations that are wholly subordinate to it, and indeed, expanding its overall hegemonical/imperial sphere and reach.

Human rights and other ultra-idealistic (and even utopian ideas and rhetoric) may be applied at times, toward these efforts, but these concerns are actually of no consequence, to the individuals who utter fealty and phony indulgence towards these concepts — via their forked-tongued tropisms, fairy stories, wild musings, anger-filled bombast and extemporaneousness diatribes. Not to say that the human rights of a particular “anti-American” nation-state is never an issue, but it is, certainly, also an issue that pervades a plethora of America’s “finest” client regimes.

When such violations occur in US client nations, the MSM may black out, and/or exhibit little to no interest, at all, towards them. If or when reported, the US State Department will assure its interlocutors that reforms are imminent, that will militate against the purported egregious acts of wrongdoing. One such “reform” occurred in Yemen, where the right-hand man of the former autocratic dictator, came to power via a non-contested “election“. The US State Department, not only signed off on this absurdist and fraudulent “election”, but registered its warm feelings toward the result of such a “reputable”, and notable occurrence/event.

Interestingly enough, virtually all of the reforms proposed in Syria, seem to be met askance by the US State Department. And in contradistinction, in a nation — like the chain of islands, Bahrain — not even an “election” with a single candidate, has, as of yet, been allowed to occur. Still, the US has continued to supply a varying array of dynamic, effective, and potent items, to the (serial human rights violating) monarchical and authoritarian regime. Materiale that United States government insists, are to be used solely, for “external defense” purposes. And moreover, Secretary of State Clinton was only just in Egypt recently (July) where she praised the uber murderous SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) military clique for its “virtuous” practices, during the transitional period between the US-backed authoritarian dictator Mubarak, to that of the government of the newly elected President Dr. Mohamed Morsi.

How such widespread, dubious and rank hypocrisy can lead to anything, but a credibility gap between what the United States says, and what it does — simply averts believing! Any rational observer, one would think, must view this, as perhaps the highest priority in reforming world/universal dynamics and, indeed, global international strictures. For America to continually stand on its high horse, and reprimand alleged rogue actors, it must, certainly, face up to the hard truths that it has brought upon itself, and its once highly thought of exterior picture. In not doing so this will inevitably, catapult (and furthermore invariably boomerang) allegations of rogue state — consistently, pointedly and indelibly back — towards the originally progenitor of the term, which is, of course the United States itself.

Sean Fenley is an independent progressive, who would like to see some sanity brought to the creation and implementation of current and future, US military, economic, foreign and domestic policies. He has been published by a number of websites, and publications throughout the alternative media.


Announcing the 7th Annual Victoria Anarchist Bookfair, September 8 & 9, 2012

Bookfair Location:

Fernwood NRG Community Hall
1240 Gladstone Ave, Victoria, BC, Songhees Territory

September 8th Saturday: 11 am--6 pm
September 9th Sunday: 11 am--5 pm

We are pleased to announce the seventh annual Victoria Anarchist Bookfair, located on unceded Songhees Territory in Victoria, British Columbia. The Bookfair is for anarchists and non-anarchists, with participants from all over North America and beyond.

This year’s workshops focus on a variety of historical and contemporary Indigenous issues, notably efforts to stop proposed pipeline developments on Indigenous territories in British Columbia. Speakers will also address topics such as the Quebec student movement; anarchism; radical labour struggles, alternative parenting, and activist media.

Participating publishers, bookstores and distros from the United States, Canada and elsewhere include: Spartacus Books (Vancouver), AK Press (San Francisco), Camas Books (Victoria), Little Black Cart Press (Oakland), ThoughtCrime Inc. Press (Edmonton), Black Raven Records (Victoria), El Libertario Distro (Venezuela) and Red Lion Press (Nanaimo). We are also featuring tablers with an independent D.I.Y. orientation: zinesters, artists, patch and t-shirt makers, and video/new media producers Medianet.

Additionally, Victoria author Tom Swanky, who is well known for his research exposing the colonial use of small-pox as an early form of germ warfare on indigenous peoples, will be giving a talk to launch his book, The Great Darkening: Canada’s ‘War’ of Extermination on the Pacific Coast.

For more information, including the full bookfair workshop listings and the Festival of Anarchy schedule, please visit our website:

For Immediate Release

Media Contacts:
Sam Peekeekoot: 778.350.8777
Zoe Blunt: 250.813.3569

Destroying the Necessity of Life: Israeli Defense Force Buries Water Wells, Destroys Shelters Near Hebron


Army Destroys 5 Wells, 5 Tents Near Hebron

by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

Israeli soldiers destroyed, on Tuesday morning, five wells and three tents used by local residents of Zannouta area, in addition to removing two tents in a Khirbit Susya village, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

Local sources reported that the army, accompanied by a military bulldozer, destroyed five wells and three tents in Zannouta, and the soldiers violently assaulted a number of Palestinian residents protesting the destruction of their property.

The destroyed wells and tents belong Odah Abu Sharkh, Edeis Abu Sharkh, Nabil Samamra and Mohammad Khaled Samamra.

In Susya, the army removed two tents used by Mohammad Mousa Mghannam and ten family members.

Nasr Nawaj’a, a resident of Susya, said that the army first demolished the structures nearly a month ago, and demolished them again today in order to expand the illegal Susia settlement, built on the residents land.

On Monday, the army handed several residents of nearby villages military orders informing them to leave their homes in preparation to demolish them.

The attack comes in implementation of an order made by Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, who decided to displace eight Palestinian villages south of Hebron in order to transform the area into a military zone.

Furthermore, residents of Kbhirbit At-Tabban village, received notices handed to them by the army ordering them to remove solar panels that provide them with power.

In related news, a number of extremist settlers burnt, on Monday at night, three Palestinian cars in Wad Khamis area, close to Sa’ir town, near Hebron. The torched vehicles belong to residents Zein Ed-Deen, Mohammad and Mahdi Al-Froukh.

Friday, September 07, 2012


The March of Folly

by Uri Avnery

Nothing could be more scary than the thought that this duo – Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak – is in a position to start a war, the dimensions and outcome of which are incalculable.

It’s scary not only because of their ideological fixations and mental outlook, but also because of the level of their intelligence.

The last month gave us a small sample. By itself it was but a passing episode. But as an illustration of their decision-making abilities, it was frightening enough.

THE ROUTINE conference of the Movement of Non-Aligned Nations was to take place in Tehran. 120 states promised to attend, many of them represented by their presidents or prime ministers.

This was bad news for the Israeli government, which has devoted much of its energies during the last three years to the strenuous effort to isolate Iran – while Iran was devoted to a no less strenuous effort to isolate Israel.

If the location of the conference was not bad enough, the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, announced that he would attend, too. And as if this was still not bad enough, the new president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, also promised to come.

Netanyahu was faced with a problem: how to react?

IF A wise expert had been consulted, he might have asked: why react at all?

The Non-Aligned Movement is an empty shell. It was created [or “founded”] 51 years ago, at the height of the Cold War, by Nehru of India, Tito of Yugoslavia, Sukarno of Indonesia and Abd-al-Nasser of Egypt. 120 nations joined. They wanted to steer a course between the American and the Soviet blocs.

Since then, circumstances have changed completely. The Soviets have disappeared, and the US is also not what it was. Tito, Nehru, Nasser and Sukarno are all dead. The Non-Aligned have no real function anymore. But it is much easier to set up an international organization than to disband it. Its secretariat provides jobs, its conferences provide photo opportunities, world leaders like to travel and schmooze.

If Netanyahu had kept quiet, chances are that the world media would have ignored the non-event altogether. CNN and Aljazeera might have devoted a full three minutes to it, out of courtesy, and that would have been that.

But for Netanyahu, keeping quiet is not an option. So he did something exceedingly foolish: he told Ban Ki-moon not to go to Tehran. More precisely: he ordered him not to go.

The aforementioned wise expert – if he existed – would have told Netanyahu: Don’t! The Non-aligned make up more than 60% of the UN membership. Ban wants to be re-elected in due course, and he is not going to insult 120 voters, much as you wouldn’t want to insult 80 members of the Knesset. His predecessors have attended all former conferences. He cannot refuse now – especially not after you publicly ordered him around.

Then there was Morsi. What to do about him?

If another wise expert, this time on Egypt, had been asked, he would have given much the same advice: let it be.

Egypt wants to resume its role as the leader of the Arab world and as an actor on the international stage. The new president, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, certainly would not want to be seen giving in to Israeli pressure.

So, as the Hebrew saying goes, better to swallow a frog – even two frogs – then do something foolish.

BUT NETANYAHU couldn’t possibly follow such advice. It’s would be contrary to his nature. So he and his assistants proclaimed loudly – very loudly – that the 120 attending countries are supporting Iran’s effort to annihilate Israel, and that Ban and Morsi are promoting a Second Holocaust.

Instead of isolating Iran, Netanyahu helped Iran to isolate Israel.

The more so as both Ban and Morsi used the Tehran stage to castigate the Iranian leadership and its Syrian allies. Ban condemned Ahmadinejad’s denial of the holocaust as well as his proclaimed hopes for the disappearance of the “Zionist entity”. Morsi went even further and castigated the murderous Syrian regime, Iran’s main ally.

(This speech was broadcast live on Iranian television. The translator evoked general admiration for his presence of mind. Whenever Morsi said in Arabic “Syria”, the translator said in Farsi “Bahrain”.)

THIS WHOLE episode is important only insofar as it illustrates the incredible folly of Netanyahu and his close advisers (all of them handpicked by his wife, Sarah, easily the most unpopular person in the country). They seem to be cut off from the real world and to live in an imagined world of their own.

In this imaginary world, Israel is the center of the universe, and Netanyahu can give orders to the leaders of the nations, from Barack Obama and Angela Merkel to Mohamed Morsi and Ban Ki-moon.

Well, we are not the center of the world. We have a lot of influence, owing in part to our history. We are a regional power, much beyond our actual size. But to be really effective, we need allies, moral standing and the support of international public opinion, just like everybody else. Without this, Netanyahu’s pet project, to secure for himself a place in the history books by attacking Iran, cannot be carried out.

I know that many eyebrows were raised when I categorically stated that neither Israel nor the US would attack Iran. It seemed that I was risking my reputation – such as it is – while Netanyahu and Barak were preparing for the inevitable bombing run. When talk about the impending attack reached a crescendo, my few well-wishers were sincerely worried.

However, during the last few days, there has been an almost imperceptible change of tone here. Netanyahu declared that the “family of nations” must lay down a “red line” and timetable for stopping Iran’s nuclear arms effort.

Translated into simple Hebrew: there will be no Israeli attack, unless approved by the US. Such approval is impossible before the coming US elections. It is highly unlikely afterwards, too, for the reasons I tried to set out. Geographical, military, political and economic circumstances make it impossible. Diplomacy is called for. A compromise based on mutual interests and respect may be the best outcome.

An Israeli commentator has made the interesting suggestion that the President of the United States – after the elections – personally travel to Teheran and reach out to the Iranian people. That is no more improbable than Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China. I would add the suggestion that while he is at it, the President come to Jerusalem, too, to seal the compromise.

A YEAR and a half ago, I also dared to suggest that the Arab Spring would be good for Israel.

At the time, it was a common assumption in Israel, and throughout the West, that Arab democracy would lead to a surge of political Islam, and that this would present a mortal danger to Israel. The first part of the assumption was right, the second was wrong.

The obscurantist demonization of Islam can be dangerously misleading. The painting of Islam as a murderous, inherently anti-Semitic religion, can lead to destructive consequences. Fortunately, the dire forecasts are being disproved daily.

In the homeland of the Arab Awakening, Tunisia, a moderate Islamic regime has taken root. In Libya, where commentators foresaw chaos and permanent civil war between the tribes, chances for stability are growing. So are the chances that Islamists will play a positive role in post-Assad Syria.

And most importantly – the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is behaving with exemplary caution. Six thousand years of Egyptian wisdom is having a moderating effect on the Brothers, including Brother Morsi. In the few weeks of his rule, he has already demonstrated a remarkable ability for compromising with divergent interests – with the secular liberals and the army command in his own country, with the US, even with Israel. He is now engaged in an effort to settle things with the Sinai Bedouins, addressing their (justified) grievances and calling a halt to military action.

It is, of course, much too early to tell, but I believe that a rejuvenated Arab world, in which moderate Islamic forces play an important role (as they do in Turkey), may form the environment for Israeli-Arab peace. If we desire peace.

For this to happen, we must break out of Netanyahu’s imaginary world and return to the real world, the exciting, changing, challenging world of the 21st century.

Otherwise we will just add another sad chapter to the late Barbara Tuchman’s brilliant book, The March of Folly.

Back to CLASSE: What Parti Quebecois Win Means for Student Movement

Quebec Election Gives Students a Victory on Tuition Hikes, Fight for Free Education Continues

by TRNN 

Jérémie Bédard-Wien: Quebec student activists work to create a global movement for the right to a free education.

Watch full multipart Quebec Student Strike

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Can the Republicans Steal 2012 too?

Will the GOP Steal America's 2012 Election?

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman

The Republican Party could steal the 2012 US Presidential election with relative ease.

Six basic factors make this year’s theft a possibility:

The power of corporate money, now vastly enhanced by the US Supreme Court’s Citizens’ United decisions;

The Electoral College, which narrows the number of votes needed to be moved to swing a presidential election;

The systematic disenfranchisement of---according to the Brennan Center---ten million or more citizens, most of whom would otherwise be likely to vote Democratic. More than a million voters have also been purged from the rolls in Ohio, almost 20% of the total vote count in 2008;

The accelerating use of electronic voting machines, which make election theft a relatively simple task for those who control them, including their owners and operators, who are predominantly Republican;

The GOP control of nine of the governorships in the dozen swing states that will decide the outcome of the 2012 campaign; and,

The likelihood that the core of the activist “election protection” community that turned out in droves to monitor the vote for Barack Obama in 2008 has not been energized by his presidency and is thus unlikely to work for him again in 2012.
Winning a fair and reliable electoral system can be achieved only with a massive grassroots upheaval.

The power of money is now enshrined by the infamous Citizens United decision. In at least 90% of our Congressional races and at least 80% of our US Senate races, the candidate who spends the most money wins.
( )

From the presidency to the local level, our elections---and thus control of our government---are dominated by cash.

For more than a century, the ability of corporations and the super-rich to buy in directly has been legally constrained. But the concentration of media ownership in the hands of ever-fewer corporations has vastly enhanced their power.

Already in 2012, the tsunami of dollars pouring in from corporations and super-rich individuals has soared to entirely new levels. Even the floodgates opened by Citizens United can’t handle the flow. With its June decision denying Montana’s attempt to keep some spending restrictions in tact, the John Roberts US Supreme Court has inaugurated an era in which virtually unrestrained “pay-to-play” money will re-define the electoral process. Republicans in the US Senate have also blocked attempts to require that these campaign “donations” be made public.

It’s not hard to guess where this leads. The June, 2012, recall election in Wisconsin saw at least 8 times as much money being spent on protecting Republican governor Scott Walker as was spent to oust him.

Barack Obama has spent much of his presidency courting corporate interests. But he will be out-raised by the corporate/super-rich 1% backing Mitt Romney. A handful of high-profile billionaires will spend “whatever it takes” to put the GOP back into the White House. Just a dozen of them have already provided more than 70% of Romney’s early campaign budget.

Most of this corporate money is being used to persuade voters to oust Obama, which they may well decide to do. But US history shows that some of it can also restrict the ability of Americans to vote. It can then “bend” the vote count in ways the public may not want.

Our nation’s history shows that given the same chance, the Democrats would gladly do the same to the Republicans. And it’s happened many times, especially in the Jim Crow south.

But in 2012, it will be primarily Republicans using gargantuan sums of corporate money to take control of the government from Democrats, and democracy be damned.

We are not writing this in support of Barack Obama or the Democratic Party. We are mystified by their unwillingness to fight for meaningful electoral reform. Both Al Gore and John Kerry were legitimately elected president, but neither was willing to fight for us. When we broke many of the major stories on the theft of Ohio 2004, it was the Democrats who most fiercely attacked us.

We’re continually asked why the Democrats have been willing since 2000 to sit back and let the GOP get away with this. Frankly, we have no answer.

But for us, the more important reality is that this electoral corruption dooms the ballot as an instrument of real democracy. A system this badly broken means a bi-partisan oligarchy can always deny third and other grassroots parties the use of elections to challenge the status quo, in this case one increasingly defined by war, bigotry, injustice, moneyed privilege and ecological suicide.

Thus it’s been a century since the last significant electoral challenges to the Democrat-Republican corporate domination of the political system.

That challenge was staged by the People’s (Populist) and then Socialist Parties. In rapid succession they rallied huge grassroots followings demanding core changes to the corporate domination of American politics. The 30-year upheaval they represented laid the groundwork for major changes. But it failed to crack the corporate domination of our political system.

The Populists were shattered in 1896 with a combination of co-option by William Jennings Bryan’s Democratic Party and election theft engineered by Mark Hanna’s Republicans. (Republican strategist Karl Rove, a serious student of the 1896 election, considers Mark Hanna to be one of his great heroes).

The Socialists were co-opted and divided in 1916 by the Democrat Woodrow Wilson, who then crushed them in the most violent wave of physical repression ever imposed by a US President on a mass movement that derived from the heart of America’s working public.

No third party has since risen up with enough real political clout to threaten corporate power through the electoral system. As long as our ballot box is corrupted and unaccountable, none will.

That one party could steal an election from the other means our democracy, if it could still be called that, is essentially in shambles.

But whatever the corporate parties do to each other separately---as the GOP is likely to do to the Democrats this year--- pales before what they can and will do in concert to crush grassroots movements aimed at challenging the core assumptions of the status quo: ie, winning peace, justice, corporate accountability and ecological preservation. This applies to candidates running for office and---as in Ohio 2005---to referenda meant to directly change corporate policy.

Who really believes that the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, the Chamber of Commerce and their related billionaires would spend tens of millions of dollars to win the White House but stop short of spending the relatively small amount it would take to flip the vote?

In the larger view, the ability of either (or both) corporate parties to do this means no grassroots party will be allowed to force meaningful change in America---at least not through the ballot box.

No reality could be more grim for those of us who believe in grassroots democracy. But we are citizens of a nation born with the bottom-up overthrow of the planet’s then-most powerful king. As believers in grassroots democracy, we know that the survival instinct is ultimately more powerful than the profit motive. When it comes to the basics, we have no doubt the power of the people will ultimately prevail.

But for those of you wanting in 2012 to return Barack Obama to the White House, big money may be about to slam the door. The new Jim Crow and the realities of electronic vote theft have made the likelihood of a Romney-Ryan president far stronger than you might want to believe.

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are authors of WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA’S 2012 ELECTION, an e-book at and , their fifth book on election protection.

Billionaires and Ballot Bandits: The Colonels

Chapter One: Colonels in Mirrored Sunglasses

by Greg Palast

[Excerpted from Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Elections in 9 Easy Steps Greg Palast with comics by Ted Rall, introduction by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. ]

Here are the facts, ma'am: In the 2008 election, no less than:
  • 767,023 provisional ballots were cast and not counted;
  • 1,451,116 ballots were "spoiled," not counted;
  • 488,136 absentee ballots were mailed in, but not counted.
Add it up: in the last presidential election, no less than 2,706,275 ballots were cast—and never counted. I have not included a quarter million (251,936) provisional ballots counted only in part (that is, for some offices). That's the official number I've calculated from the records of the US Election Assistance Commission. Approximately three million votes flushed away are ugly enough. But it gets worse. In addition to the roughly three million ballots cast and not counted, no less than:
  • 2,383,587 would-be voters had their registrations rejected;
  • 491,952 voters already registered were wrongly purged from the rolls; and
  • 320,000 properly registered voters were simply turned away from the polls when they tried to vote, mostly for not having IDs acceptable to a poll worker.
Add it up again and total grows to no less than 5,901,814 legitimate votes and voters tossed out of the count. Let’s call it the Missing Six Million. Karl Rove, when he was senior advisor to President George W. Bush, summed it up perfectly:
“We are beginning to look like we have elections like those run in countries where the guys in charge are, you know, colonels in mirrored sunglasses.”
Rove is not complaining, he’s boasting about his own accomplishments. But for strategist Rove, six million isn’t enough. Through several front organizations and affiliates, Rove and his comrades have launched a campaign making brilliant use of the tactics originating from the Red Scare and the War on Terror.

Now, instead of the communist lurking under your bed or the al-Qaeda sleeper cell next door, they’ve created a new monster to fear, to hunt, and to destroy: the Fraudulent Voter.

There aren’t any, of course. Or, to be accurate, so few you can literally count them on your fingers—about six in any year—not six million, half a dozen jerks convicted of voting illegally. In the whole country.

But in Rove’s echo chamber of fear, in the Voter-Fraud Hysteria Factory, these six become so threatening and dangerous that they will be used to take away the vote from six million. Tracking ballot-bending tricksters, figuring out how they game US elections and snatch the choice away from the electorate, that’s my job, my beat for more than a decade, for the Guardian newspaper and BBC television, and in 2008, for Rolling Stone.

I started covering the election games in November 2000 when I got my hands on two computer disks from the office of Secretary of State Katherine Harris of Florida. My team cracked the computer codes and found the names of ninety-one thousand criminals—felons—Harris listed to purge from voter rolls. We went through Harris’s list name by name. We didn't find felons. But most were guilty of VWB: Voting While Black. “Purging” is one way to get rid of legal voters. There are eight more tricks, and I’ll take you through each in turn. It was bad in 2000. It was worse in 2004 and 2008. But in 2012, it will be much worse. And in 2016, worse than in 2012.

Chapter Two:
"Why Obama is Likely to Lose in 2012"

"Why Obama Is Likely to Lose in 2012" is the title of a column Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal in June 2011. It’s not Rove’s prediction: this is his plan to make sure Obama will lose. That's fine with me—if Rove prefers vanilla to chocolate, hey, it's a free country. But how Rove plans to take Obama down is contained in the subhead, and it gives me the chills...

Copyright © 2012 Greg Palast, All rights reserved.
I'm sending this to you because you're a real journalist, not a jerk.
My mailing address is:
Greg Palast
PO Box 90
Greenport, NY 11944

Killing Liberally

Convenient Myths And Liberal Imperialism

by John Pilger 

"Information Clearing House" - What is the world’s most powerful and violent “ism”? The question will summon the usual demons, such as Islamism, now that communism has left the stage. The answer, wrote Harold Pinter, is only “superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged,” because only one ideology claims to be non-ideological, neither left nor right, the supreme way. This is liberalism.

In his 1859 essay, On Liberty, to which modern liberals pay homage, John Stuart Mills described the power of empire. “Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians,” he wrote, “provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end.” The “barbarians” were large sections of humanity of whom “implicit obedience” was required. The French liberal Alexis de Tocqueville also believed in the bloody conquest of others as “a triumph of Christianity and civilization” that was “clearly pre-ordained in the sight of Providence.”

“It’s a nice and convenient myth that liberals are the peacemakers and conservatives the warmongers,” wrote the historian Hywel Williams in 2001, “but the imperialism of the liberal way may be more dangerous because of its open-ended nature — its conviction that it represents a superior form of life [while denying its] self-righteous fanaticism.” He had in mind a speech by Tony Blair in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 attacks, in which Blair promised to “reorder this world around us” according to his “moral values.” At least a million dead later – in Iraq alone – this tribune of liberalism is today employed by the tyranny in Kazakhstan for a fee of $13 million.

Blair’s crimes are not unusual. Since 1945, more than a third of the membership of the United Nations – 69 countries – have suffered some or all of the following. They have been invaded, their governments overthrown, their popular movements suppressed, their elections subverted and their people bombed. The historian Mark Curtis estimates the death toll in the millions.

This has been principally the project of the liberal flame carrier, the United States, whose celebrated “progressive” president John F. Kennedy, according to new research, authorized the bombing of Moscow during the Cuban crisis in 1962. “If we have to use force,” said Madeleine Albright, US Secretary of State in the liberal administration of Bill Clinton, “it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future.” How succinctly she defines modern, violent liberalism.

Syria is an enduring project. This is a leaked joint US-UK intelligence file:

“In order to facilitate the action of liberative [sic] forces … a special effort should bemade to eliminate certain key individuals [and] to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria. CIA is prepared, and SIS (MI6) will attempt to mount minor sabotage and coup demain [sic] incidents within Syria,working through contacts with individuals … a necessary degree of fear … frontier and [staged] border clashes [will] provide a pretext for intervention … the CIA and SIS should use … capabilities in both psychological and action fields to augment tension.”

That was written in 1957, though it might have come from a recent report by the Royal United Services Institute, A Collision Course for Intervention , whose author says, with witty understatement: “It is highly likely that some western special forces and intelligence sources have been in Syria for a considerable time.”

And so a world war beckons in Syria and Iran. Israel, the west’s violent creation, already occupies part of Syria. This is not news. Israelis take picnics to the Golan Heights to watch a civil war directed by western intelligence from Turkey and bankrolled and armed by the medievalists in Saudi Arabia.

Having stolen most of Palestine, viciously attacked Lebanon, starved the people of Gaza and built an illegal nuclear arsenal, Israel is exempt from the current disinformation campaign aimed at installing western clients in Damascus and Tehran.

On 21 July, the Guardian commentator Jonathan Freedland warned that “the west will not stay aloof for long … Both the US and Israel are also anxiously eyeing Syria’s supply of chemical and nuclear weapons, now said to be unlocked and on the move, fearing Assad may choose to go down in a lethal blaze of glory.” Said by whom? The usual “experts” and spooks.

Like them, Freedland desires “a revolution without the full-blown intervention required in Libya.” According to its own records, NATO launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were civilian targets. These included missiles with uranium warheads. Look at the photographs of the rubble of Misurata and Sirte, and the mass graves identified by the Red Cross. Read the UICEF report on the children killed, “most [of them] under the age of ten.” Like the destruction of the Iraqi city of Fallujah, these crimes were not news, because news as disinformation is a fully integrated weapon of attack.

On 14 July, the Libyan Observatory for Human Rights, which opposed the Gaddafi regime, reported, “The human rights situation in Libya now is far worse than under Gaddafi.” Ethnic cleansing is rife. According to Amnesty, the entire population of the town of Tawargha “are still barred from returning [while] their homes have been looted and burned down.”

In Anglo-American scholarship, influential theorists known as “liberal realists” have long taught that liberal imperialists – a term they never use – are the world’s peacebrokers and crisis managers, rather than the cause of a crisis. They have taken the humanity out of the study of nations and congealed it with a jargon that serves warmongering power. Laying out whole nations for autopsy, they have identified “failed states” (nations difficult to exploit) and “rogue states” (nations resistant to western dominance).

Whether or not the regime is a democracy or dictatorship is irrelevant. The same is true of those contracted to do the dirty work. In the Middle East, from Nasser’s time to Syria today, western liberalism’s collaborators have been Islamists, lately al-Qaeda, while long discredited notions of democracy and human rights serve as rhetorical cover for conquest, “as required.” Plus ca change…

John Pilger, renowned investigative journalist and documentary film-maker, is one of only two to have twice won British journalism's top award; his documentaries have won academy awards in both the UK and the US. In a New Statesman survey of the 50 heroes of our time, Pilger came fourth behind Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela. "John Pilger," wrote Harold Pinter, "unearths, with steely attention facts, the filthy truth. I salute him."

Former Safety Minister to Account for Security Certification in Mahjoub Case


Ex-Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day asked to account for issuing Security Certificates


Vancouver, Toronto - Ex-Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day will appear in court today in Mohammad Mahjoub's security certificate reasonability hearing. Despite strong government opposition, Mr. Mahjoub's lawyers won the right to cross-examine Mr. Day about his involvement in issuing a security certificate against the Egyptian-born refugee, who has spent the last twelve years in detention (prison, house arrest or intrusive conditions) without charge.

In Toronto, a press briefing will be held at the beginning of the lunch-break (generally around 12:30) outside the Federal Court House, 180 Queen West, followed by rally and teach-in with music and performers.

WHAT: Press Briefing, followed by Rally and Musical performances
WHEN: Thursday, September 6, 2012, lunch-break (at court discretion, usually c. 12:30)
WHERE: Outside Federal Court, 180 Queen West, Toronto

The court hearings are also open to media: in Toronto: 6th floor, 180 Queen West, Toronto, 11am to 6pm (local time). In Vancouver:  701 Georgia Street West, 3rd floor, Vancouver, 8am to 3pm (local time)

NOTE: Mr. Day will be testifying in Vancouver. He will be present in Toronto by video-link only. Mr. Mahjoub, his lawyers and the Court will remain in Toronto.

Hearings are subject to last minute change, so please stay in touch with our website,, where updates will be posted.


After a year's delay, Mohammad Mahjoub's “reasonability hearings” have started again. Reasonability hearings are supposed to allow the judge to determine whether the “security certificate” against Mr. Mahjoub is reasonable. In parallel to secret hearings (which Mr. Mahjoub and his lawyers are not allowed to attend), public hearings are scheduled to continue through the fall.

It was an eventful year: last summer, Department of Justice employees made off with boxes of Mr. Mahjoub's confidential defence documents, leading to the suspension of reasonability hearings for an entire year. In December, media released court summaries of confidential memos dating from 2008 in which CSIS admitted that the “bulk” of their case against Mr. Mahjoub was based on information likely obtained under torture. In February, for the first time in 12 years, Mr. Mahjoub was permitted to leave Toronto; he immediately embarked on a seven-city speaking tour to tell his story to the public. In May, the Federal Court dismissed 11 government lawyers and clerks who were involved in seizing Mr. Mahjoub's confidential defence documents but ruled that the case should proceed. Finally, in June, on the eve of 12th anniversary protests in support of Mr. Mahjoub, the Federal Court threw out key parts of CSIS's case against Mr. Mahjoub. The decision acknowledged that CSIS-prepared summaries were not reliable as evidence and were no substitute for the original transcripts of intercepted conversations, which CSIS had destroyed.

Mr. Mahjoub (arrested in June 2000) is one of three Muslim men, including Mahmoud Jaballah (arrested 2001 in Toronto) and Mohamed Harkat (arrested 2002 in Ottawa) still fighting to free themselves from the injustice of security certificates.


Media contacts:

416 721 3471
514 222 0205

More information:
Justice for Mahjoub Network

Wednesday, September 05, 2012



We demand: US President Obama- Free the Cuban 5 NOW!

** September/October International Days of Action to Free the Cuban 5!**
Every year September and October are important months in the world-wide campaign to Free the 5 Cuban Heroes. September 4, marks the anniversary of the Havana hotel bombing that killed Canadian resident Fabio Di Celmo. Then on September 5 & October 5, the international campaign “5th for the 5” will organize days of protest for the Cuban 5. September 12, 2012 will mark 14 years of unjust imprisonment for the Cuban 5 and 14 years of struggle for their freedom. October 6, marks the horrific anniversary of the bombing of the Cubana airliner in 1976 which killed all 73 passengers on board. The Free the Cuban 5 Committee – Vancouver invites its members and supporters to get involved in this important education and protest campaign as we build a movement urging US President Obama- Free the Cuban 5 NOW!

Calendar of events:
((1)) September 5 – Monthly Picket Action to Free the 5 Cuban Heroes (Vancouver, Canada)
((2)) September 12 – Vigil for the Cuban 5 and victims of US sponsored terrorism in Cuba at the US Consulate (Vancouver, Canada)
((3)) September 12 – Forum & Cultural event for the Cuban 5 (Vancouver, Canada)
((4)) September 13 – Picket Action to Free the 5 Cuban Heroes (Montreal, Quebec)
((5)) September 21-23 – People’s Tribunal and Assembly to Free the Cuban 5 (Toronto, Canada)
((6)) October 5 – Monthly Picket Action to Free the 5 Cuban Heroes (Vancouver, Canada)
+ “Who are the Cuban 5?” information and links

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----- (( 1 )) -----
Join the Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver as we continue to build the campaign to free the Cuban 5 with our 82nd monthly picket action in front of the U.S Consulate in Vancouver!

We Demand:

September 5, 2012
U.S. Consulate, 1075 W. Pender St.
(Downtown Vancouver)

To see the picket poster, please visit:

To join the event on Facebook, please visit:

Organized by:
Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver
604-719-6947 |

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Join the Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver as we mark 14 years of unjust imprisonment for the Cuba 5!

September 12, 2012
U.S. Consulate, 1075 W. Pender St.
(Downtown Vancouver)

Organized by:
Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver
604-719-6947 |

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----- (( 3 )) -----
Join the Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver as we mark 14 years of unjust imprisonment for the Cuba 5!

September 12, 2012
Joe’s Café [In Large North Hall]
1150 Commercial Dr. at William St

This event will feature:
** Vancouver Premier of the Documentary
Watch this great film about the Cuban children’s theatre group “La Colmenita” on their first trip to the United States to perform their play about the case of the Cuban 5 and its impact on Cuban children. This is a beautiful film by renowned Cuban documentarian Roberto Chile.

** A speech by Merli Vanegas, Consul General of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Vancouver.

** Video greetings from:
- Gloria La Riva coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban 5 in the US

** Also featuring live music, poetry and a raffle!

Organized by:
Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver
604-719-6947 |

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----- (( 4 )) -----
Join Le comité Fabio Di Celmo pour les Cinq and Table de concertation de solidarité Québec-Cuba for their monthly picket action to free the Cuban 5 in Montreal, Quebec.

“Venez en grand nombre exiger la libération des Cinq! Faites passer le mot!”
September 13, 2012
In front of Saint James United Church  - 463 Ste-Catherine Ouest (near St-Alexandre st.)
At the US Consulate in Montreal - St-Alexandre & René-Lévesque Streets

Organized by:
Le comité Fabio Di Celmo pour les Cinq & Table de concertation de solidarité Québec-Cuba
514-728-7222 (Montréal, Québec), info : Sean O'Donoghue

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----- (( 5 )) -----
Breaking the Silence Peoples' Tribunal & Assembly For the Cuban Five 

September 21-23, 2012
Toronto City Hall
(Toronto, Canada)

The Free the Cuban 5 Committee - Vancouver  is an official endorser of the People's Tribunal and Assembly to Free the Cuban Five taking place in Toronto this September 21st to 23rd.

The Peoples' Tribunal & Assembly aims are:
- To act as a forum for education and for launching an appeal to get justice for the Cuban Five;
- To break the silence of the mainstream media about this case; and
- To map out the next steps of a broad and united campaign on the Cuban Five in Québec and across the rest of Canada.

For more information please visit:

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----- (( 6 )) -----
Join the Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver as we continue to build the campaign to free the Cuban 5 with our 83rd monthly picket action in front of the U.S Consulate in Vancouver!

We Demand:

October 5th, 2012
U.S. Consulate, 1075 W. Pender St.
(Downtown Vancouver)

Organized by:
Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver
604-719-6947 |

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Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González, also known as the Cuban 5, are currently serving outrageously long sentences including even a double-life sentence plus fifteen years. They were wrongly accused and convicted in a U.S. Federal Court of “conspiracy to commit espionage” and other fabricated charges. The 5 were actually unarmed men involved in monitoring Miami-based terrorist organizations, which since 1959 have been
responsible for the deaths of over 3,400  people in Cuba, including one resident of Canada, Fabio di Celmo, in 1997. Through their important work, these 5 men were able to prevent further deaths in Cuba.

For more information:

-- | 778-882-5223

Syria's Forgotten People: Palestinians "Lost and Betrayed"


Palestinian Refugees from Syria Lost and ‘Betrayed’

 by Ramzy Baroud

The official position of Arab nations is unambiguous: solidarity with Palestine is paramount. But facts on the ground point to a disturbingly different reality, one in which Palestinians are mistreated beyond any rational justification in various Arab countries. The worst-fated among them are stateless refugees, who have for decades been granted only precarious legal status. In times of crisis thee refugees have repeatedly found themselves in a state of legal and political limbo.

At the recent Non-Aligned Movement summit held in Tehran, Arab leaders spoke with the same ardent passion about justice for the Palestinians. One Arab Emir warned that “preoccupation with issues of the Arab Spring…should not distract us from the Arab central cause of Palestine.” He labored to count all Israeli violations of Palestinian rights, as heads of states nodded in agreement. Absent from the speech, however, was any reference to the ongoing suffering of Palestinian refugees in Arab countries, where, arguably, Israel has no sway.

While there is no question that displaced Syrian refugees are going through a truly horrific experience during the civil war, the fate of Palestinian refugees is markedly worse. This is because Palestinians do not have the basic rights that passport-holding Syrian citizens do. ‘Stuck’, ‘stranded’ and ‘imprisoned’ are only some of the terms used to describe the state of Palestinian refugees, ill-treated and subjugated by none other than their ‘Arab brethren’.

Due to geographic necessity, thousands of Palestinian refugees are escaping the war to nearby borders in both Jordan and Lebanon. The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) has registered nearly 5,000 fleeing refugees. But the number is likely much higher and will continue to grow as fighting escalates.

There are nearly half a million Palestinian refugees in Syria. Despite all attempts at sparing them the bloody outcomes of the conflict, they have still become embroiled in the fight. Regional powers desperate to gain ground in Syria have used their media to exploit the Palestinian issue, knowing well the sentimental value of the Palestinian narrative within the larger Arab discourse. The outcome has been devastating, and many Palestinians have been on the run for nearly a year and a half. Areas with a concentration of Palestinian refugees are no longer neutral territories. Despite pleas and assurances, Palestinian refugees in Syria remain most vulnerable.

In Jordan, hundreds of Palestinian refugees who fled Syria have been crammed into a poorly equipped living facility known as Cyber City, about 90km north of the capital, Amman. Human Rights Watch and other organizations have decried the mistreatment of refugees in Cyber City, reporting forced deportations back to Syria, and the prisoner-like status of those who have remained in Jordan.

In a July 4 report, ‘Jordan: Bias at the Syria Border’, Human Rights Watch claimed that those fortunate enough not to be deported are still threatened with deportation. “Since April 2012, the authorities have also arbitrarily detained Palestinians fleeing Syria in a refugee holding center without any options for release other than return to Syria,” stated the report.

One Cyber City resident, Samir, told UN humanitarian news network, IRIN: “It has been quite bad living like a prisoner, especially when you see other people come and go but you are trapped.” According to the report, “Palestinian refugees from Syria feel abandoned” and Palestinian refugees of Cyber City cannot cross over 30 meters from the main building.

Some of the stories imparted by Human Rights Watch are very disturbing to say the least. The organization acknowledges that Jordan has not signed or ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention; it is still required under international human rights law to respect the principle of non-refoulement, which “prohibits countries from sending anyone back to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened.” However, the phenomenon is reportedly recurring in the case of Palestinian refugees.

The situation is Lebanon is equally distressing. Margaret Besheer wrote from Beirut on the double misery of Palestinian refugees fleeing to Lebanon, mostly seeking shelter in the slums of the Shatilla refugee camp. There are 455,000 registered Palestinian refugees in Lebanon who are mostly distributed among 12 refugee camps throughout the country and subsisting in terrible conditions.

Since Lebanon’s Palestinian refugees are already victims of a host of discriminatory laws, one can only imagine the dilemma of newly arriving refugees. Ibtisam’s family shares one room with eight other people in the Shatilla camp. “We are three families staying in one room. What can we do? We escaped from the killing and shelling and now we are living like this.”

Ibtisam can be considered lucky for being allowed entry in the first place. However, unlike other refugees from Syria, Palestinians who are permitted to enter are expected to renew their permit on a monthly basis - at a cost of 50,000 LBP (US$33), an unaffordable feat for families lacking access to proper food or health care.

Many are not even fortunate enough to be able to leave Syria in the first place. According to NGO worker Rawan Nassar, families are forced to deposit large sums of money to obtain permission from authorities. The poor are naturally denied an exit permit, and some families risk their entire lifesavings to escape. Once at the Lebanon border, even more bribing is necessary. “I saw a Palestinian woman at the border, who did not know anyone in Lebanon and she was forced to pay $300 in bribes, $40 for each child,” a Syrian eyewitness told IRIN.

While hostility towards Palestinian refugees is rooted in histories laden with civil wars and conflicts, it is hard to justify the attitude of UN refugee agency, UNHCR, which manifestly differentiates between refugees of other countries and Palestinian refugees. The latter are supposedly the sole responsibility of UNRWA, which has only a tiny relief budget that is unable to keep up with even the most basic demands of those who bother to register.

The crisis ensuing from Palestinian refugees escaping regional conflict is not a new phenomenon, as wars in Iraq, Kuwait and Lebanon have demonstrated in the past. The tragedy is multiplied, however, because no real, long-term solution has been put in place despite the recurring humanitarian catastrophe.

Meanwhile, official speech decrying Israeli crimes continues unabated, with little attention paid to crimes committed elsewhere. This results only in the same disheartening outcome.

One refugee was quoted in UN news as saying: “People come and take pictures and speak with us, but they all leave at the end.” Such is the plight of the Palestinian refugees, sixty-four years after the Nakba.

- Ramzy Baroud ( is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London.)

Spain's Robin Hood Mayor

TRNN Exclusive Interview with Spain's Robin Hood Mayor


Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo has become the face of the growing protest movement in Spain

Watch full multipart Protests In Spain

Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo has become the face of the growing protest movement in Spain. The mayor of a small town in Southern Spain called Marinaleda, he has become well-known for leading combative protests and sit-ins, including a protest in a supermarket in which food was taken and redistributed to the poor. But Sánchez Gordillo has backed up his critiques of capitalism with a viable alternative. In his town of Marinaleda, there is full employment, people rent homes for 15 Euros a month, and everybody who works in the agricultural cooperative that was formed, including the mayor, earns the same salary.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Afghanistan Boom: Building Bases to...Save a Country?

Afghanistan’s Base Bonanza Total Tops Iraq at That War’s Height

by Nick Turse

Afghanistan may turn out to be one of the great misbegotten “stimulus packages” of the modern era, a construction boom in the middle of nowhere with materials largely shipped in at enormous expense to no lasting purpose whatsoever. 
With the U.S. military officially drawing down its troops there, the Pentagon is now evidently reversing the process and embarking on a major deconstruction program. 
It’s tearing up tarmacs, shutting down outposts, and packing up some of its smaller facilities. Next year, the number of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) coalition bases in the southwest of the country alone is scheduled to plummet from 214 to 70, according to the New York Times.

But anyone who wanted to know just what the Pentagon built in Afghanistan and what it is now tearing down won’t have an easy time of it.

At the height of the American occupation of Iraq, the United States had 505 bases there, ranging from small outposts to mega-sized air bases. Press estimates at the time, however, always put the number at about 300. Only as U.S. troops prepared to leave the country was the actual -- startlingly large -- total reported. Today, as the U.S. prepares for a long drawdown from Afghanistan, the true number of U.S. and coalition bases in that country is similarly murky, with official sources offering conflicting and imprecise figures. Still, the available numbers for what the Pentagon built since 2001 are nothing short of staggering.

Despite years of talk about American withdrawal, there has in fact been a long-term building boom during which the number of bases steadily expanded. In early 2010, the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) claimed that it had nearly 400 Afghan bases. Early this year, that number had grown to 450. Today, a military spokesperson tells TomDispatch, the total tops out at around 550.

And that may only be the tip of the iceberg.

When you add in ISAF checkpoints -- those small baselets used to secure roads and villages -- to the already bloated number of mega-bases, forward operating bases, combat outposts, and patrol bases, the number jumps to 750. Count all foreign military installations of every type, including logistical, administrative, and support facilities, and the official count offered by ISAF Joint Command reaches a whopping 1,500 sites. Differing methods of counting probably explain at least some of this phenomenal rise over the course of this year. Still, the new figures suggest one conclusion that should startle: no matter how you tally them, Afghan bases garrisoned by U.S.-led forces far exceed the 505 American bases in Iraq at the height of that war.

Bases of Confusion

There is much confusion surrounding the number of ISAF bases in Afghanistan. Recently, the Associated Press reported that as of October 2011, according to spokesman Lieutenant Colonel David Olson, NATO was operating as many as 800 bases in Afghanistan, but has since closed 202 of them and transferred another 282 to Afghan control. As a result, the AP claims that NATO is now operating only about 400 bases, not the 550 to 1,500 bases reported to me by ISAF.

This muddled basing picture and a seeming failure by the U.S. and its international partners to keep an accurate count of their bases in the country has been a persistent feature of the Afghan conflict. Some of the discrepancies may result from terminology or from the confusion that can result from communications in any international coalition. ISAF, NATO, and the U.S. military all seem to keep different counts. Mainly, however, the incongruities appear to stem from fundamental issues of record-keeping -- of, in particular, a lack of interest in chronicling just how extensively Afghanistan has been garrisoned.

In January 2010, for example, Colonel Wayne Shanks, an ISAF spokesman, told me that there were nearly 400 U.S. and coalition bases in Afghanistan, including camps, forward operating bases, and combat outposts. He assured me that he only expected that number to increase by 12 or a few more over the course of that year.

In September 2010, I contacted ISAF’s Joint Command Public Affairs Office to follow up. To my surprise, I was told that “there are approximately 350 forward operating bases with two major military installations, Bagram and Kandahar airfields.” Perplexed by the apparent loss of 50 bases instead of a gain of 12, I contacted Gary Younger, a public affairs officer with the International Security Assistance Force. “There are less than 10 NATO bases in Afghanistan,” he wrote in an October 2010 email. “There are over 250 U.S. bases in Afghanistan.”

By then, it seemed, ISAF had lost up to 150 bases and I was thoroughly confused. When I contacted the military to sort out the discrepancies and listed the numbers I had been given -- from Shanks’s 400 base tally to the count of around 250 by Younger -- I was handed off again and again until I ended up with Sergeant First Class Eric Brown at ISAF Joint Command’s Public Affairs Office. “The number of bases in Afghanistan is roughly 411,” Brown wrote in a November 2010 email, “which is a figure comprised of large base[s], all the way down to the Combat Out Post-level.”

If the numbers supplied by Olson to the Associated Press are to be believed, then between November 2010 and October 2011, the number of foreign military bases in Afghanistan nearly doubled, from 411 to about 800. Then, if official figures are again accurate, those numbers precipitously dropped by nearly 350 in just four months.

In February of this year, Lieutenant Lauren Rago of ISAF public affairs told me that there were only 451 ISAF bases in Afghanistan. In July, the ISAF Joint Command Press Desk informed me that the number of bases was now 550, 750, or 1,500, depending on what facilities you chose to count, while NATO’s Olson and the Associated Press put the number back down at the January 2010 figure of around 400. TomDispatch did not receive a response to a request for further clarification from a spokesman for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan before this article went to press.

Reconciling the numbers may never be possible or particularly edifying. Whatever the true current count of bases, it seems beyond question that the number has far exceeded the level reached in Iraq at the height of the conflict in that country. And while the sheer quantity of ISAF bases in Afghanistan may be shrinking, don’t think deconstruction is all that’s going on. There is still plenty of building underway.

The Continuing Base Build-Up

In 2011, it was hardly more than an empty lot: a few large metal shipping containers sitting on a bed of gravel inside a razor-wire-topped fence at Kandahar Air Field, the massive American base in southern Afghanistan. When I asked about it this spring, the military was tight-lipped, refusing to discuss plans for the facility. But construction is ongoing and sometime next year, as I’ve previously reported, that once-vacant lot is slated to be the site of a two-story concrete intelligence facility for America’s drone war. It will boast almost 7,000 square feet of offices, briefing and conference rooms, and a large “processing, exploitation, and dissemination” operations center.

The hush-hush, high-tech, super-secure facility under construction is just one of many building projects the U.S. military currently has planned or underway there. While some U.S. bases are indeed closing down or being transferred to the Afghan government, and there’s talk of combat operations slowing, as well as a plan for the withdrawal of American combat forces, the U.S. military is still preparing for a much longer haul at mega-bases like Kandahar and Bagram, a gigantic air base about 40 miles north of Kabul. “Bagram is going through a significant transition during the next year to two years,” Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Gerdes of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Bagram Office told Freedom Builder, a Corps of Engineers publication, last year. “We’re transitioning... into a long-term, five-year, 10-year vision for the base.”

According to contract solicitation documents released earlier this year and examined by TomDispatch, plans are in the works for a Special Operations Forces’ Joint Operations Center at Kandahar Air Field. The 3,000-square-meter facility -- slated to include offices for commanders, conference rooms, training areas, and a secure communications room -- will serve as the hub for future special ops missions in southern and western Afghanistan, assumedly after the last U.S. “combat troops” leave the country at the end of 2014.

Thus far in 2012, no fewer than eight contracts have been awarded for the construction of facilities ranging from a command and control center and a dining hall to barracks and a detention center at either Kandahar or Bagram. Just one of these contracts covered seven separate Air Force projects at Bagram that are slated to be completed in 2013, including the construction of a new headquarters facility, a control room, and a maintenance facility for fighter aircraft.

Improvements and expansions are planned for other bases as well. Documents examined by TomDispatch shed light on a $10 to $25 million construction project at Camp Marmal near Mazar-e-Sharif in Balkh Province on the Uzbekistan and Tajikistan borders. Designated as a logistics hub for the north of the country, the base will see a significant expansion of its infrastructure including an increase in fuel storage capacity, new roads, an upgraded water distribution system, and close to 150 acres of space for stowing equipment and other cargo. According to David Lakin, a spokesman for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, a contract for work on the base will be awarded by the end of the year with an expected completion date in the summer of 2013.

Base World

Even before the new figures on basing in Afghanistan were available, it was known that the U.S. military maintained a global inventory of more than 1,000 foreign bases. (By some counts, around 1,200 or more.) It’s possible that no one knows for sure. Numbers are increasing rapidly in Africa and Latin America and, as is clear from the muddled situation in Afghanistan, the U.S. military has been known to lose count of its facilities.

Of those 505 U.S. bases in Iraq, some today have been stripped clean by Iraqis, others have become ghost towns. One former prison base -- Camp Bucca -- became a hotel, and another former American post is now a base for some members of an Iranian "terrorist" group. It wasn’t supposed to end this way. But while a token number of U.S. troops and a highly militarized State Department contingent remain in Baghdad, the Iraqi government thwarted American dreams of keeping long-term garrisons in the center of the Middle East’s oil heartlands.

Clearly, U.S. planners are having similar dreams about the long-term garrisoning of Afghanistan. Whether the fate of those Afghan bases will be similar to Iraq’s remains unknown, but with as many as 550 of them still there -- and up to 1,500 installations when you count assorted ammunition storage facilities, barracks, equipment depots, checkpoints, and training centers -- it’s clear that the U.S. military and its partners are continuing to build with an eye to an enduring military presence.

Whatever the outcome, vestiges of the current base-building boom will endure and become part of America’s Afghan legacy. What that will ultimately mean in terms of blood, treasure, and possibly blowback remains to be seen.

Nick Turse is the associate editor of and a fellow at the Nation Institute. An award-winning journalist, his work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and regularly at TomDispatch. He is the author/editor of several books, including the recently published Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050 (with Tom Engelhardt). This piece is the latest article in his series on the changing face of American empire, which is being underwritten by Lannan Foundation. You can follow him on Tumblr.

Copyright 2012 Nick Turse

Bipartisan Corruption: Dems and Republicans Cross the Rubicon Together

The Republicans Cross The Rubicon

by Paul Craig Roberts

Does anyone remember when National Public Radio was an independent voice?

During the 1980s NPR was continually on the case of the Reagan administration. NPR certainly had a Democratic slant, and a lot of its reporting about the Reagan administration was one-sided. Yet, NPR was an independent voice, and it sometimes got things correct.

In the 21st century that voice has disappeared, which was the intention of the George W. Bush regime. Bush put a Republican woman in charge who made it clear to NPR producers and show hosts that the federal part of their funding was at risk.

Money often over-rules principle, and when corporations added their really big money NPR collapsed. Today the local stations still pretend to be funded by listeners, but if you have noticed, as I have, there are now a large number of corporate advertisements, disguised in the traditional terms “with support from . . .” If you are not listening to classical music, you are listening to corporate advertisements.

Today the entire “mainstream media” is closed to truth-tellers. The US media is Washington’s propaganda ministry. The US media has only one function–to lie for Washington.

What reminded me of NPR’s surrender was NPR’s August 31 report with its two regular talking voice political pundits discussing the Republican Convention and Romney’s speech. After witnessing the Republicans at their nominating convention at Tampa violate all their own rules and ride roughshod over the Ron Paul delegates, one expected some discussion of the Republican Party’s refusal to allow Ron Paul to be placed in nomination or his delegate account to be announced.

The operative question was obvious: How can the American people trust the Republicans with the awesome power of the executive branch when the Republican Party just finished demonstrating for all to see its Stalinist qualities by crushing the anti-war, anti-police state wing of its party?

The authoritarianism was gratuitous. Romney had a sufficient number of delegates to be nominated. It would have cost Romney nothing to follow the rules and allow Ron Paul to be placed in nomination and his delegate numbers to be reported. Instead, Romney wrote off the liberty contingent of the Republican Party. The Brownshirts demonstrated their power.

The last Republican who wrote off a chunk of his own party was Barry Goldwater, and he went down to crushing defeat. Makes one wonder if the Republicans are relying on those electronic voting machines programed with proprietary Republican software that leave no paper trail. The Democrats have acquiesced to Republican election theft. There have been numerous cases where exit polls indicate that voters chose a different candidate than the one chosen by the Republican programmed voting machines.

One would have thought that NPR and its pundits would have found the parallel with Goldwater worth comment, but the suppression of the Ron Paul delegates was already down the memory hole.

One would also have thought that NPR and its pundits would have found Clint Eastwood’s speech a fascinating topic of discussion. Eastwood had a Republican National Committee approved speech, but discarded it. Instead, Eastwood stood beside an empty chair and pretended to be talking to Obama, but it could just as well have been Romney in the chair. By pretending to be talking to Obama, Eastwood made his points without eliciting boos from the Republican audience.

Not many in the Republican audience caught on, but there were some stony faces when Eastwood said “I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there are 23 million unemployed people in this country.” More stony Republican faces when Eastwood showed his opposition to the Iraq and Afghan wars and asks the chair, “why don’t you just bring them [the troops] home tomorrow morning?” Those who thought he was digging at Obama cheered; those who realized he was criticizing hardline Republican positions were displeased.

But NPR and the US media in general are uncomfortable with such real news as a political party being told off by one of its heroes and a political party sufficiently stupid to repeat Barry Goldwater’s mistake. The establishment might complain. The money might dry up or employees be fired for permitting such a story to be aired. The Democrats lost their independent financing when jobs offshoring destroyed the unions. There are no longer countervailing powers to Wall Street and the corporations, which have been endowed by the Republican US Supreme Court with First Amendment rights to purchase US elections, and placed in charge of the US Treasury, the regulatory agencies and the Federal Reserve.

In Tampa the Republicans wrote off the Ron Paul vote, because they are enamored of power and its gratuitous demonstration. Can people so desirous of power and the thrill of its use be trusted to let go of power when they lose the next election? There are enough presidential executive orders and national security orders, even some signed by the Democrat Obama, that any president can assert them and refuse to face election.

Once Rome accepted Julius Caesar’s coup, the Roman Republic was gone. Those who tried to save the Roman Republic by assassinating Caesar failed, because the majority of the legions had gone over to the dictatorship, which promised them more money than the Republic had. Caesar’s name became the title for Rome’s dictators.

In the US, even your friendly local police have gone over to dictatorship. And they are armed with its tools. A friend, a competitive shooter for accuracy, told me that as he left his gun club on August 27, a local sheriff department entered in a military armored vehicle, something one would expect to see on a battlefield, followed by a large sheriff’s department truck full of military equipment. He says that the gun club allows local police to use the club’s facilities so that club members are not stopped and harassed about their firearms as they go to and from the club. He reports that the police will line up 30 abreast, with automatic weapons, not allowed to club members, and fire at one target, with 30 police emptying 30-round magazines at the same target.

He once asked our protectors if they were practicing for some competition. The answer was, “No, we are preparing to control the outcome when there is trouble.”

Control is the operative word. We have seen for a number of years now that the Republican Party is power-addicted. Remember when the Bush administration fired the US Attorneys who refused the order to indict only Democrats? Remember the Republican Party’s transparent frame-up of popular Alabama Democratic governor Don Siegelman? Evidence indicates that the Republican operative Karl Rove took advantage of a Republican federal judge, vulnerable according to news reports to corruption charges, and a compliant Republican US attorney in Alabama to railroad Governor Siegelman. The message to Democrats was: if you get elected in our Southern Territory, we will get you.

But never fear, we have “freedom and democracy.” George W. Bush told us so himself.

The weak, chicken-hearted Obama administration has not commuted Siegelman’s outrageous sentence. The inability of the Democrats to stand up for their own members and their own principles is the best indication we have that Republican tyranny will prevail.

It didn’t take Caesar George W. Bush 10 minutes to wipe out the prison sentence of vice president Dick Cheney’s chief aid for revealing the identity of a CIA operative, a felony under US law. But the Obama Justice (sic) Department supports Karl Rove’s destruction of one of its most popular governors.

It was the German left-wing’s weak opposition to the National Socialists that gave the world Hitler.

The Republican Party has become the Party of Hate. Decades of frustration have made Republicans mean. They object to everything that has happened since the Great Depression in the 1930s to make the US a more just and humane society.

The Republican Party wants power so that it can smash all vestiges of regulation and welfare and all those of whom Republicans disapprove: the poor, the minorities, liberals, the imagined “foreign enemies,” war protestors and others who challenge authority, those American weaklings who have compassion for the unfortunate, the US Constitution, that pinko-liberal-commie document that coddles criminals, illegal aliens, and terrorists, and all dissenters from the policy of enriching the one percent at the expense of the 99 percent.

Above all else, the Republicans want to turn Social Security and Medicare into profit centers for private corporations.

Would the world be surprised if Republicans donned brown shirts? America has declared itself to be “the indispensable nation,” justifying its hegemony over the world. Any country that does not submit to Washington is “a foe.” The neoconservative propaganda that America is the indispensable nation with a right to world hegemony sounds a lot like “Deutschland uber alles.”

A decade ago the Bush regime demonstrated that it could over-ride US statutory law, the US Constitution, and the constitutional separation of powers in order to concentrate unaccountable power in the office of the president.

The Democrats, when they gained control of Congress in the mid-term elections, did nothing about the unprecedented legal and constitutional crimes of George W. Bush. The Democratic Speaker of the US House of Representatives, who could easily have impeached George W. Bush for his obvious crimes against US law and the US Constitution, announced that “impeachment is off the table.” Money was more important to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi than the rule of law.

When a people have no political party that represents them, they are doomed to tyranny.

And to war.

Russia and China are in the way of Washington’s hegemony. Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, has declared Russia to be “our number one geopolitical foe” for opposing Washington’s plans to overthrow by violence the Syrian government. Why is overthrowing the Syrian government so advantageous to Washington that Romney in a fit of pique recklessly brought the United States into direct confrontation with Russia?

Arrogance and hubris lead to wars. Do Americans really want a person as president who is so reckless as to gratuitously declare a large nuclear-armed country to be our number one enemy? The American and Israeli trained Georgian army did not last an hour when the former Soviet republic foolishly, on Washington’s encouragement, provoked the Russian bear.

Meanwhile the Obama regime, concerned with China’s rapid economic rise, has indicated that it thinks China is the number one enemy. The Obama regime has forgot that China, when a primitive, backward country, fought the US to a stalemate in Korea more than a half century ago.

The Obama regime has announced that the US Navy is being repositioned to the Eastern Pacific, that the US regards the South China Sea as America’s national interest, and that new naval, air, and troop bases are being established in the Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere in the region. The purpose of these bases is to block China’s access to energy and raw materials, which is what Washington did to Japan in the 1930s.

Are Americans aware that the hubris and idiocy of their political leaders have now saddled Americans with the burden of two number one enemies, both well equipped with armies and nuclear weapons? Only Iran can be happy about this as it moves Iran off the front burner.

Washington is putting its forward military bases in place, and the propaganda war is being cranked up. The subservient British press was quick to fall in line with Washington. A British reader of my column reports that the Guardian/Observer and New Statesman are at Putin’s throat: “Every day this week we’ve had Russia/Putin hate stories. Headlines such as ‘medieval dictatorship’ as we saw in last Sunday’s Observer [August 26] are common. In this week’s New Statesman we have a front page picture of Putin with the headline ‘Putin’s reign of terror.’ They’ve got Putin with a crown on his head and dressed as a Tsar-like figure. It’s a relentless information battlefield assault on Russia.”

Another line of Washington’s attack on Russia is Washington’s covert backing of Chechnya terrorist groups in the Caucasus and funding of front groups in Russia for protest and terrorist organizations. Allegations of corruption and stolen elections come primarily from Washington-funded groups operating in Russia. See and Through these methods, Washington hopes to destabilize the Russian government and to isolate it internationally in order to remove a barrier to Washington’s hegemony.

Two of Romney’s right-wing neoconservative advisors said that Romney as president would “confront Moscow on its poor record on democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.” The western media will not comment on the irony of these propagandistic allegations against Russia issuing from the US, the country that has destroyed habeas corpus and due process protections of the accused, tortured detainees in violation of the Geneva Conventions and its own statutory law, kidnaps, tortures, and assassinates foreign nationals as well as its own citizens, supports terrorism against Libya, Syria, Iran, and Russia, runs roughshod over international law, never submitting to law itself but using law as a weapon against governments that it has demonized, while it carries on military operations against seven Muslim countries without a declaration of war.

The Nuremberg Trials of Germans after World War II established that naked aggression is a war crime. Naked aggression, renamed by Washington, “preemptive war,” has become the operative principle of US foreign policy.

As Putin remarked, Washington is guilty of the crimes of which it accuses others, but Washington permits all things to “the indispensable nation.”

Amerika uber alles!

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following.