Note features a previously unknown yet familiar saying: 'What a man truly wants, he must dream about, think about, tell about and do.â By Ofer Aderet | Mar. 22, 2014 - Haaretz.com
A rare note written by Theodor Herzl over 100 years ago was sold at an Israeli auction on Wednesday for $100,000.
The note, which was sold to an American collector, was written in German and signed by Herzl. It is dated February 1, 1903, and says âWas man recht will das muss man trĂ€umen denken sagen und tuenâ â âWhat a man truly wants, he must dream about, think about, tell about and do.â
The note came from the estate of a Berlin rabbi. It was publicly auctioned by Ishtar Arts & Antiques, a Tel Aviv auction house.
âThis is an unknown saying by Herzl, and the item aroused great interest worldwide,â said Ishtarâs owner, Jonathan Livny. âTen buyers from around the world competed for it.â
The starting price for the note was $1,000, but because of the great demand, it ultimately went for $81,000. The auction houseâs fee then brought the final price to $100,000.
âAs far as I know, this is the most expensive item connected to Herzl ever sold at auction,â Livny said.
Theodor (Binyamin Zeâev) Herzl, the visionary of Zionism, was born in Budapest in 1860. He was educated in the spirit of the GermanÂJewish Enlightenment of the period, learning to appreciate secular culture. In 1878 the family moved to Vienna, and in 1884 Herzl was awarded a doctorate of law from the University of Vienna. He became a writer, a playwright and a journalist. The Paris correspondent of the influential liberal Vienna newspaper Neue Freie Presse was none other than Theodor Herzl.
Herzl first encountered the anti-Semitism that would shape his life and the fate of the Jews in the twentieth century while studying at the University of Vienna (1882). Later, during his stay in Paris as a journalist, he was brought face-to-face with the problem. At the time, he regarded the Jewish problem as a social issue and wrote a drama, The Ghetto (1894), in which assimilation and conversion are rejected as solutions. He hoped that The Ghetto would lead to debate and ultimately to a solution, based on mutual tolerance and respect between Christians and Jews. The Dreyfus Affair In 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French army, was unjustly accused of treason, mainly because of the prevailing anti-Semitic atmosphere. Herzl witnessed mobs shouting âDeath to the Jewsâ in France, the home of the French Revolution, and resolved that there was only one solution: the mass immigration of Jews to a land that they could call their own. Thus, the Dreyfus Case became one of the determinants in the genesis of Political Zionism. Herzl concluded that anti-Semitism was a stable and immutable factor in human society, which assimilation did not solve. He mulled over the idea of Jewish sovereignty, and, despite ridicule from Jewish leaders, published Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State, 1896). Herzl argued that the essence of the Jewish problem was not individual but national. He declared that the Jews could gain acceptance in the world only if they ceased being a national anomaly. The Jews are one people, he said, and their plight could be transformed into a positive force by the establishment of a Jewish state with the consent of the great powers. He saw the Jewish question as an international political question to be dealt with in the arena of international politics. Herzl proposed a practical program for collecting funds from Jews around the world by a company to be owned by stockholders, which would work toward the practical realization of this goal. (This organization, when it was eventually formed, was called the Zionist Organization.) He saw the future state as a model social state, basing his ideas on the European model of the time, of a modern enlightened society. It would be neutral and peace-seeking, and of a secular nature. In his Zionist novel, Altneuland (Old New Land, 1902), Herzl pictured the future Jewish state as a socialist utopia. He envisioned a new society that was to rise in the Land of Israel on a cooperative basis utilizing science and technology in the development of the Land. He included detailed ideas about how he saw the future stateâs political structure, immigration, fundÂraising, diplomatic relations, social laws and relations between religion and the state. In Altneuland, the Jewish state was foreseen as a pluralist, advanced society, a âlight unto the nations.â This book had a great impact on the Jews of the time and became a symbol of the Zionist vision in the Land of Israel. A Movement Is Started Herzl's ideas were met with enthusiasm by the Jewish masses in Eastern Europe, although Jewish leaders were less ardent. Herzl appealed to wealthy Jews such as Baron Hirsch and Baron Rothschild, to join the national Zionist movement, but in vain. He then appealed to the people, and the result was the convening of the First Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland, on August 29Â31, 1897. The Congress was the first interterritorial gathering of Jews on a national and secular basis. Here the delegates adopted the Basle Program, the program of the Zionist movement, and declared, âZionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Palestine secured under public law.â At the Congress the World Zionist Organization was established as the political arm of the Jewish people, and Herzl was elected its first president. Herzl convened six Zionist Congresses between 1897 and 1902. It was here that the tools for Zionist activism were forged: Otzar Hityashvut Hayehudim, the Jewish National Fund and the movementâs newspaper Die Welt. After the First Zionist Congress, the movement met yearly at an international Zionist Congress. In 1936, the center of the Zionist movement was transferred to Jerusalem. Uganda Isnât Zion Herzl saw the need for encouragement by the great powers of the aims of the Jewish people in the Land. Thus, he traveled to the Land of Israel and Istanbul in 1898 to meet with Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. The meeting with Wilhelm was a failure - the monarch dismissed Herzlâs political entreaties with snide anti-Semitic remarks. When these efforts proved fruitless, he turned to Great Britain, and met with Joseph Chamberlain, the British colonial secretary and others. The only concrete offer he received from the British was the proposal of a Jewish autonomous region in east Africa, in Uganda. In 1899, in an essay entitled âThe Family Afflictionâ written for The American Hebrew, Herzl wrote, âAnyone who wants to work in behalf of the Jews needs - to use a popular phrase - a strong stomach.â The 1903 Kishinev pogrom and the difficult state of Russian Jewry, witnessed firsthand by Herzl during a visit to Russia, had a profound effect on him. He requested that the Russian government assist the Zionist Movement to transfer Jews from Russia to Eretz Yisrael. At the Sixth Zionist Congress (1903), Herzl proposed the British Uganda Program as a temporary refuge for Jews in Russia in immediate danger. While Herzl made it clear that this program would not affect the ultimate aim of Zionism, a Jewish entity in the Land of Israel, the proposal aroused a storm at the Congress and nearly led to a split in the Zionist movement. The Uganda Program was finally rejected by the Zionist movement at the Seventh Zionist Congress in 1905. Herzl died in Vienna in 1904, of pneumonia and a weak heart overworked by his incessant efforts on behalf of Zionism. By then the movement had found its place on the world political map. In 1949, Herzlâs remains were brought to Israel and reinterred on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. Herzlâs books Der Judenstaat (âThe Jewish Stateâ) and Altneuland (âOld New Landâ), his plays and articles have been published frequently and translated into many languages. His name has been commemorated in the Herzl Forests at Ben Shemen and Hulda, the world's first Hebrew gymnasium â âHerzliyaâ â which was established in Tel Aviv, the town of Herzliya in the Sharon and neighborhoods and streets in many Israeli towns and cities. Herzl coined the phrase âIf you will, it is no fairytale,â which became the motto of the Zionist movement. Although at the time no one could have imagined it, Zionism led, only fifty years later, to the establishment of the independent State of Israel. Herzlâs Family Herzl and his wife Julia, who was prone to mental instability, had three children, each of whom met a terrible end. His eldest daughter Pauline was a drug addict who died in a French hospital. His son Hans, who shot himself upon learning of his sisterâs death, had left Judaism for a series of Christian churches. Herzl had failed to have his son circumcised, and the Zionist leadership, following Herzlâs death, saw to it that the oversight be remedied when the boy was 15 years old. His youngest daughter Trude perished in the Nazi concentration camp of Theresienstadt. Her son, Stephen Theodore Norman (born Stephen Neumann), had been sent to safety in England. On November 20, 1946, after learning of the death of his parents, he jumped to his death from the Massachusetts Avenue bridge in Washington, D.C. at the age of 27. Herzl himself was 44-years-old when he died in the summer of 1904, on the 20th of Tammuz in the Jewish calendar. Source: Family information taken from: The Jerusalem Report, July 12, 2004. âIsrael: 100 Years Since Herzlâs Death.â
In this frame grab provided by the Russian Television via the APTN, President Vladimir Putin, during a live feed, answers journalists' questions on the current situation around Ukraine at the Novo-Ogaryovo presidential residence outside Moscow, on Tuesday, March 4, 2014
So, you read the Washington Post and you think Putin is an evil dictator, right? Well, read the actual transcript of what he actually said (as opposed to selected bits and bobs), and then decide.
President of Russia Tue, 04 Mar 2014 by SOTT.net
The President of Russia met with media representatives to answer a number of their questions, in particular with regard to the situation in Ukraine.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
How shall we do this? This is what I'd like to suggest: let's have a conversation, rather than an interview. Therefore, I would ask you to begin by stating all your questions, I will jot them down and try to answer them, and then we will have a more detailed discussion of the specifics that interest you most.
Question: Mr President, I would like to ask (you took a lengthy pause, so we have quite a few questions by now) how you assess the events in Kiev? Do you think that the Government and the Acting President, who are currently in power in Kiev, are legitimate? Are you ready to communicate with them, and on what terms? Do you yourself think it possible now to return to the agreements of February 21, which we all talk about so often?
Question: Mr President, Russia has promised financial aid to Crimea and instructions were issued to the Finance Ministry yesterday. Is there a clear understanding of how much we are giving, where the money is coming from, on what terms and when? The situation there is very difficult.
Question: When, on what terms and in what scope can military force be used in Ukraine? To what extent does this comply with Russia's international agreements? Did the military exercises that have just finished have anything to do with the possible use of force?
Question: We would like to know more about Crimea. Do you think that the provocations are over or that there remains a threat to the Russian citizens who are now in Crimea and to the Russian-speaking population? What are the general dynamics there - is the situation changing for the better or for the worse? We are hearing different reports from there.
Question: If you do decide to use force, have you thought through all the possible risks for yourself, for the country and for the world: economic sanctions, weakened global security, a possible visa ban or greater isolation for Russia, as western politicians are demanding?
Question: Yesterday the Russian stock market fell sharply in response to the Federation Council's vote, and the ruble exchange rates hit record lows. Did you expect such a reaction? What do you think are the possible consequences for the economy? Is there a need for any special measures now, and of what kind? For instance, do you think the Central Bank's decision to shift to a floating ruble exchange rate may have been premature? Do you think it should be revoked?
Vladimir Putin: Fine, let us stop here for now. I will begin, and then we will continue. Don't worry; I will try to answer as many questions as possible.
First of all, my assessment of what happened in Kiev and in Ukraine in general. There can only be one assessment: this was an anti-constitutional takeover, an armed seizure of power. Does anyone question this? Nobody does. There is a question here that neither I, nor my colleagues, with whom I have been discussing the situation in Ukraine a great deal over these past days, as you know - none of us can answer. The question is why was this done?
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that President Yanukovych, through the mediation of the Foreign Ministers of three European countries - Poland, Germany and France - and in the presence of my representative (this was the Russian Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin) signed an agreement with the opposition on February 21. I would like to stress that under that agreement (I am not saying this was good or bad, just stating the fact) Mr Yanukovych actually handed over power. He agreed to all the opposition's demands: he agreed to early parliamentary elections, to early presidential elections, and to return to the 2004 Constitution, as demanded by the opposition. He gave a positive response to our request, the request of western countries and, first of all, of the opposition not to use force. He did not issue a single illegal order to shoot at the poor demonstrators. Moreover, he issued orders to withdraw all police forces from the capital, and they complied. He went to Kharkov to attend an event, and as soon as he left, instead of releasing the occupied administrative buildings, they immediately occupied the President's residence and the Government building - all that instead of acting on the agreement.
I ask myself, what was the purpose of all this? I want to understand why this was done. He had in fact given up his power already, and as I believe, as I told him, he had no chance of being re-elected. Everybody agrees on this, everyone I have been speaking to on the telephone these past few days. What was the purpose of all those illegal, unconstitutional actions, why did they have to create this chaos in the country? Armed and masked militants are still roaming the streets of Kiev. This is a question to which there is no answer. Did they wish to humiliate someone and show their power? I think these actions are absolutely foolish. The result is the absolute opposite of what they expected, because their actions have significantly destabilized the east and southeast of Ukraine.
Now over to how this situation came about.
In my opinion, this revolutionary situation has been brewing for a long time, since the first days of Ukraine's independence. The ordinary Ukrainian citizen, the ordinary guy suffered during the rule of Nicholas II, during the reign of Kuchma, and Yushchenko, and Yanukovych. Nothing or almost nothing has changed for the better. Corruption has reached dimensions that are unheard of here in Russia. Accumulation of wealth and social stratification - problems that are also acute in this country - are much worse in Ukraine, radically worse. Out there, they are beyond anything we can imagine. Generally, people wanted change, but one should not support illegal change.
Only the use of constitutional means should be used on the post-Soviet space, where political structures are still very fragile, and economies are still weak. Going beyond the constitutional field would always be a cardinal mistake in such a situation. Incidentally, I understand those people on Maidan, though I do not support this kind of turnover. I understand the people on Maidan who are calling for radical change rather than some cosmetic remodelling of power. Why are they demanding this? Because they have grown used to seeing one set of thieves being replaced by another. Moreover, the people in the regions do not even participate in forming their own regional governments. There was a period in this country when the President appointed regional leaders, but then the local Council had to approve them, while in Ukraine they are appointed directly. We have now moved on to elections, while they are nowhere near this. And they began appointing all sorts of oligarchs and billionaires to govern the eastern regions of the country. No wonder the people do not accept this, no wonder they think that as a result of dishonest privatisation (just as many people think here as well) people have become rich and now they also have all the power.
For example, Mr Kolomoisky was appointed Governor of Dnepropetrovsk. This is a unique crook. He even managed to cheat our oligarch Roman Abramovich two or three years ago. Scammed him, as our intellectuals like to say. They signed some deal, Abramovich transferred several billion dollars, while this guy never delivered and pocketed the money. When I asked him [Abramovich]: "Why did you do it?" he said: "I never thought this was possible." I do not know, by the way, if he ever got his money back and if the deal was closed. But this really did happen a couple of years ago. And now this crook is appointed Governor of Dnepropetrovsk. No wonder the people are dissatisfied. They were dissatisfied and will remain so if those who refer to themselves the legitimate authorities continue in the same fashion.
Most importantly, people should have the right to determine their own future, that of their families and of their region, and to have equal participation in it. I would like to stress this: wherever a person lives, whatever part of the country, he or she should have the right to equal participation in determining the future of the country.
Are the current authorities legitimate? The Parliament is partially, but all the others are not. The current Acting President is definitely not legitimate. There is only one legitimate President, from a legal standpoint. Clearly, he has no power. However, as I have already said, and will repeat: Yanukovych is the only undoubtedly legitimate President.
There are three ways of removing a President under Ukrainian law: one is his death, the other is when he personally stands down, and the third is impeachment. The latter is a well-deliberated constitutional norm. It has to involve the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and the Rada. This is a complicated and lengthy procedure. It was not carried out. Therefore, from a legal perspective this is an undisputed fact.
Moreover, I think this may be why they disbanded the Constitutional Court, which runs counter to all legal norms of both Ukraine and Europe. They not only disbanded the Constitutional Court in an illegitimate fashion, but they also - just think about it - instructed the Prosecutor General's Office to launch criminal proceedings against members of the Constitutional Court. What is that all about? Is this what they call free justice? How can you instruct anyone to start criminal proceedings? If a crime, a criminal offence, has been committed, the law enforcement agencies see this and react. But instructing them to file criminal charges is nonsense, it's monkey business.
Now about financial aid to Crimea. As you may know, we have decided to organise work in the Russian regions to aid Crimea, which has turned to us for humanitarian support. We will provide it, of course. I cannot say how much, when or how - the Government is working on this, by bringing together the regions bordering on Crimea, by providing additional support to our regions so they could help the people in Crimea. We will do it, of course.
Regarding the deployment of troops, the use of armed forces. So far, there is no need for it, but the possibility remains. I would like to say here that the military exercises we recently held had nothing to do with the events in Ukraine. This was pre-planned, but we did not disclose these plans, naturally, because this was a snap inspection of the forces' combat readiness. We planned this a long time ago, the Defence Minister reported to me and I had the order ready to begin the exercise. As you may know, the exercises are over; I gave the order for the troops to return to their regular dislocations yesterday.
What can serve as a reason to use the Armed Forces? Such a measure would certainly be the very last resort.
First, the issue of legitimacy. As you may know, we have a direct appeal from the incumbent and, as I said, legitimate President of Ukraine, Mr Yanukovych, asking us to use the Armed Forces to protect the lives, freedom and health of the citizens of Ukraine.
What is our biggest concern? We see the rampage of reactionary forces, nationalist and anti-Semitic forces going on in certain parts of Ukraine, including Kiev. I am sure you, members of the media, saw how one of the governors was chained and handcuffed to something and they poured water over him, in the cold of winter. After that, by the way, he was locked up in a cellar and tortured. What is all this about? Is this democracy? Is this some manifestation of democracy? He was actually only recently appointed to this position, in December, I believe. Even if we accept that they are all corrupt there, he had barely had time to steal anything.
And do you know what happened when they seized the Party of Regions building? There were no party members there at all at the time. Some two-three employees came out, one was an engineer, and he said to the attackers: "Could you let us go, and let the women out, please. I'm an engineer, I have nothing to do with politics." He was shot right there in front of the crowd. Another employee was led to a cellar and then they threw Molotov cocktails at him and burned him alive. Is this also a manifestation of democracy?
When we see this we understand what worries the citizens of Ukraine, both Russian and Ukrainian, and the Russian-speaking population in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine. It is this uncontrolled crime that worries them. Therefore, if we see such uncontrolled crime spreading to the eastern regions of the country, and if the people ask us for help, while we already have the official request from the legitimate President, we retain the to use all available means to protect those people. We believe this would be absolutely legitimate. This is our last resort.
Moreover, here is what I would like to say: we have always considered Ukraine not only a neighbour, but also a brotherly neighbouring republic, and will continue to do so. Our Armed Forces are comrades in arms, friends, many of whom know each other personally. I am certain, and I stress, I am certain that the Ukrainian military and the Russian military will not be facing each other, they will be on the same side in a fight.
Incidentally, the things I am talking about - this unity - is what is happening in Crimea. You should note that, thank God, not a single gunshot has been fired there; there are no casualties, except for those crushed by the crowd about a week ago. What was going on there? People came, surrounded units of the armed forces and talked to them, convincing them to follow the demands and the will of the people living in that area. There was not a single armed conflict, not a single gunshot.
Thus the tension in Crimea that was linked to the possibility of using our Armed Forces simply died down and there was no need to use them. The only thing we had to do, and we did it, was to enhance the defence of our military facilities because they were constantly receiving threats and we were aware of the armed nationalists moving in. We did this, it was the right thing to do and very timely. Therefore, I proceed from the idea that we will not have to do anything of the kind in eastern Ukraine.
There is something I would like to stress, however. Obviously, what I am going to say now is not within my authority and we do not intend to interfere. However, we firmly believe that all citizens of Ukraine, I repeat, wherever they live, should be given the same equal right to participate in the life of their country and in determining its future.
If I were in the shoes of those who consider themselves the legitimate authorities, I would not waste time and go through all the necessary procedures, because they do not have a national mandate to conduct the domestic, foreign and economic policy of Ukraine, and especially to determine its future.
Now, the stock market. As you may know, the stock market was jumpy even before the situation in Ukraine deteriorated. This is primarily linked to the policy of the US Federal Reserve, whose recent decisions enhanced the attractiveness of investing in the US economy and investors began moving their funds from the developing markets to the American market. This is a general trend and it has nothing to do with Ukraine. I believe it was India that suffered most, as well as the other BRICS states. Russia was hit as well, not as hard as India, but it was. This is the fundamental reason.
As for the events in Ukraine, politics always influence the stock market in one way or another. Money likes quiet, stability and calm. However, I think this is a tactical, temporary development and a temporary influence.
Your questions, please.
Question: Mr President, can you tell us if you expected such a harsh reaction to Russia's actions from your western partners? Could you give us any details of your conversations with your western partners? All we've heard was a report from the press service. And what do you think about the G8 summit in Sochi - will it take place?
Vladimir Putin: Regarding the expected reaction, whether the G8 will meet and about the conversations. Our conversations are confidential, some are even held over secure lines. Therefore, I am not authorised to disclose what I discussed with my partners. I will, however, refer to some public statements made by my colleagues from the west; without giving any names, I will comment on them in a general sense.
What do we pay attention to? We are often told our actions are illegitimate, but when I ask, "Do you think everything you do is legitimate?" they say "yes". Then, I have to recall the actions of the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, where they either acted without any UN sanctions or completely distorted the content of such resolutions, as was the case with Libya. There, as you may know, the resolution only spoke of closing the airspace for government aircraft, while it all ended with bomb attacks and special forces land operations.
Our partners, especially in the United Sates, always clearly formulate their own geopolitical and state interests and follow them with persistence. Then, using the principle "You're either with us or against us" they draw the whole world in. And those who do not join in get 'beaten' until they do.
Our approach is different. We proceed from the conviction that we always act legitimately. I have personally always been an advocate of acting in compliance with international law. I would like to stress yet again that if we do make the decision, if I do decide to use the Armed Forces, this will be a legitimate decision in full compliance with both general norms of international law, since we have the appeal of the legitimate President, and with our commitments, which in this case coincide with our interests to protect the people with whom we have close historical, cultural and economic ties. Protecting these people is in our national interests. This is a humanitarian mission. We do not intend to subjugate anyone or to dictate to anyone. However, we cannot remain indifferent if we see that they are being persecuted, destroyed and humiliated. However, I sincerely hope it never gets to that.
Question: How do you asses the reaction of the west to the events in Ukraine and their threats regarding Russia: are we facing the possibility of sanctions or withdrawal from the G8?
Vladimir Putin: Regarding sanctions. It is primarily those who intend to apply them that need to consider their consequences. I believe that in the modern world, where everything is interconnected and interdependent, it is possible to cause damage to another country, but this will be mutual damage and one should bear this in mind. This is one thing.
The second and the most important thing. I have already told you what motivates us. And what motivates our partners? They supported an unconstitutional armed take-over, declared these people legitimate and are trying to support them. By the way, despite all of this we have been patient and even ready to cooperate; we do not want to disrupt our cooperation. As you may know, a few days ago I instructed the Government to consider how we can maintain contacts even with those powers in Kiev that we do not consider legitimate in order to retain our ties in the economy and industry. We think our actions have been absolutely reasonable, while any threat against Russia is counterproductive and harmful.
As for the G8, I do not know. We will be ready to host the summit with our colleagues. If they do not want to come - so be it.
Question: Can I add about contacts? The way I see it, you consider the Prime Minister of Crimea Mr Aksyonov to be a legitimate representative of government authorities. Are you ready to have any contacts with those who consider themselves the legitimate authorities in Kiev?
Vladimir Putin: I have just spoken about it. You must have missed it.
Question: I mean, at the top level for a political solution.
Vladimir Putin: I do not have a partner at the top level there. There is no president there, and there cannot be one until the general elections.
As for Crimea, the Parliament there was formed in 2010, in December 2010 if I remember correctly. There are 100 MPs representing six political parties. After the previous Prime Minister resigned, the Crimean Parliament, in compliance with the existing legislation and procedures elected a new Prime Minister at a session of the Crimean Supreme Council. He is definitely legitimate. They have complied with all the procedures envisaged by the law; there is not a single violation. However, when a few days ago a group of armed men tried to occupy the building of the Crimean Supreme Soviet, this caused the concern of the local residents. It seemed as though someone wanted to apply the Kiev scenario in Crimea and to launch a series of terrorist attacks and cause chaos. Naturally, this causes grave concern among the local residents. That is why they set up self-defence committees and took control over all the armed forces.
Incidentally, I was studying the brief yesterday to see what they took over - it is like a fortified zone. There are several dozen C-300 units, several dozen air-defence missile systems, 22,000 service members and a lot more. However, as I said, this is all in the hands of the people of Crimea and without a single gunshot.
Question: Mr President, a clarification if I may. The people who were blocking the Ukrainian Army units in Crimea were wearing uniforms that strongly resembled the Russian Army uniform. Were those Russian soldiers, Russian military?
Vladimir Putin: Why don't you take a look at the post-Soviet states. There are many uniforms there that are similar. You can go to a store and buy any kind of uniform.
Question: But were they Russian soldiers or not?
Vladimir Putin: Those were local self-defence units.
Question: How well trained are they? If we compare them to the self-defence units in Kiev...
Vladimir Putin: My dear colleague, look how well trained the people who operated in Kiev were. As we all know they were trained at special bases in neighbouring states: in Lithuania, Poland and in Ukraine itself too. They were trained by instructors for extended periods. They were divided into dozens and hundreds, their actions were coordinated, they had good communication systems. It was all like clockwork. Did you see them in action? They looked very professional, like special forces. Why do you think those in Crimea should be any worse?
Question: In that case, can I specify: did we take part in training Crimean self-defence forces?
Vladimir Putin: No, we did not.
Question: How do you see the future of Crimea? Do you consider the possibility of it joining Russia?
Vladimir Putin: No, we do not. Generally, I believe that only residents of a given country who have the freedom of will and are in complete safety can and should determine their future. If this right was granted to the Albanians in Kosovo, if this was made possible in many different parts of the world, then nobody has ruled out the right of nations to self-determination, which, as far as I know, is fixed by several UN documents. However, we will in no way provoke any such decision and will not breed such sentiments.
I would like to stress that I believe only the people living in a given territory have the right to determine their own future.
Question: Two questions. You said that sending troops into Ukraine is an extreme measure, but you are nevertheless not ruling it out. Still, if Russian troops enter Ukraine, it could start a war. Doesn't that bother you?
And a second question. You say that Yanukovych did not give the order to shoot people. But somebody shot at the protestors. And clearly, these were snipers, trained snipers.
Vladimir Putin: You know, some people, including those who were recently among the protestors, have expressed the opinion that these were provocateurs from one of the opposition parties. Have you heard this?
Reply: No, I have not heard this.
Vladimir Putin: Look at these materials - they are freely available. That is why it is very difficult to get to the bottom of the situation. But you and I saw for ourselves when the Berkut fighters stood there with their shields and were shot at - and those were not air weapons that were used against them but assault weapons that pierced their shields. That is something we saw for certain. As for who gave the orders - that I do not know. I only know what Mr Yanukovych told me. And he told me that he did not give any orders, and moreover, he gave instructions - after signing a corresponding agreement - to even withdraw all militia units from the capital.
If you want, I can tell you even more. He called me on the phone and I told him not to do it. I said, "You will have anarchy, you will have chaos in the capital. Think about the people." But he did it anyway. And as soon as he did it, his office was seized, and that of the government, and the chaos I had warned him about and which continues to this day, erupted.
Question: What about the first question? Are you concerned that a war could break out?
Vladimir Putin: I am not concerned, because we do not plan and we will not fight with the Ukrainian people.
Question: But there are Ukrainian troops, there is the Ukrainian army.
Vladimir Putin: Listen carefully. I want you to understand me clearly: if we make that decision, it will only be to protect Ukrainian citizens. And let's see those troops try to shoot their own people, with us behind them - not in the front, but behind. Let them just try to shoot at women and children! I would like to see those who would give that order in Ukraine.
Question: Can I ask a question, Mr President? Our colleagues, my colleagues, who are currently working in Ukraine, are saying practically every day that the situation for the Berkut fighters is only getting worse (perhaps with the exception of Crimea). In particular, in Kiev, there are injured Berkut officers who are in hospitals now, where nobody is treating them and they are not even getting fed. And their families, including elderly family members, they simply cannot leave the house, because they are not being allowed; there are barricades all around, they are being humiliated. Can you comment on this? And can Russia help these families and colleagues?
Vladimir Putin: Yes, this issue is of great concern to us. After all, these are not Russia's Interior Ministry officers, and we were not managing the situation there. But out of humanitarian considerations, it would be good if our human rights organisations got involved in this as well; we might ask Vladimir Lukin, either alone or together with his colleagues, representatives from France, Germany and Poland, with whom he participated in developing the well-known document of February 21, 2014, to go on location and see what is happening there with these Berkut officers, who have not broken any laws and acted in accordance with their orders. They are military service members, they stood there facing bullets, they were doused with fire and had Molotov cocktails thrown at them. They have been wounded and injured and are now in a hospital. It is even hard to imagine - even prisoners of war are being fed and treated. But they not only stopped treating them, they even stopped feeding them. And they have surrounded the building where these fighters' families live and are bullying them. I think that human rights organisations must pay attention to this. And we, for our part, are ready to provide them with medical care here in Russia.
Question: Mr President, getting back to the West's reaction. Following the US Secretary of State's harsh statement, the Federation Council suggested that we recall our ambassador to the United States. Do you support this idea?
Vladimir Putin: The US Secretary of State is certainly an important person, but he is not the ultimate authority that determines the United States' foreign policy. We hear statements from various politicians and representatives of various political forces. This would be an extreme measure. If necessary, it will be used. But I really don't want to use it, because I think Russia is not the only one interested in cooperation with its partners on an international level and in such areas as economy, politics and foreign security; our partners are just as interested in this cooperation. It is very easy to destroy these instruments of cooperation and it would be very difficult to rebuild them.
Question: Russia got involved in Yanukovych's fate. How do you see his future role and his future destiny?
Vladimir Putin: You know, it is very hard for me to say; I have not analysed it carefully. I think he has no political future, and I have told him so. As for "getting involved in his fate" - we did this on purely humanitarian grounds. Death is the easiest way for getting rid of a legitimate president, and I think that is what would have happened. I think they would have simply killed him. Incidentally, the question arises: what for?
After all, look at how it all began, what triggered these events. The formal reason was that he did not sign the European Union Association Agreement. Today, this seems like nonsense; it is ridiculous to even talk about. But I want to point out that he did not refuse to sign the association agreement. He said: "We have carefully analysed it, and its content does not correspond with our national interests. We cannot sharply increase energy prices for our people, because our people are already in a rather difficult position. We cannot do this, and that, and that. We cannot immediately break our economic ties with Russia, because our cooperation is very extensive."
I have already presented these figures: out of approximately 14 billion [dollars] in export, approximately 5 billion represents second and third technological processing level products exported to Russia. In other words, just about all engineering products are exported to Russia; the West is not buying any Ukrainian products. And to take all this and break it apart, to introduce European technical standards in the Ukrainian economy, which, thankfully or unfortunately, we are not using at the moment. We will adopt those standards at some point, but currently, we do not have those standards in Russia. This means the next day, our relations and cooperation ties will be broken, enterprises will come to a standstill and unemployment will increase. And what did Yanukovych say? He said, "I cannot do this so suddenly, let's discuss this further." He did not refuse to sign it, he asked for a chance to discuss this document some more, and then all this craziness began.
And why? Did he do something outside the scope of his authority? He acted absolutely within the scope of his authority; he did not infringe on anything. It was simply an excuse to support the forces opposing him in a fight for power. Overall, this is nothing special. But did it really need to be taken to this level of anarchy, to an unconstitutional overthrow and armed seizure of power, subsequently plunging the nation into the chaos where it finds itself today? I think this is unacceptable. And it is not the first time our Western partners are doing this in Ukraine. I sometimes get the feeling that somewhere across that huge puddle, in America, people sit in a lab and conduct experiments, as if with rats, without actually understanding the consequences of what they are doing. Why did they need to do this? Who can explain this? There is no explanation at all for it.
The same thing happened during the first Maidan uprising, when Yanukovych was blocked from power. Why did we need that third round of elections? In other words, it was turned into a farce - Ukraine's political life was turned into a farce. There was no compliance with the Constitution at all. You see, we are now teaching people that if one person can violate any law, anyone else can do the same, and that's what causes chaos. That is the danger. Instead, we need to teach our society to follow other traditions: traditions of respecting the main law of the nation, the Constitution, and all other laws. Of course, we will not always succeed, but I think acting like this - like a bull in a china shop is counterproductive and very dangerous.
Question: Mr President, Turchynov is illegitimate, from your point of view.
Vladimir Putin: As President, yes.
Question: But the Rada is partially legitimate.
Vladimir Putin: Yes.
Question: Are Yatsenyuk and the Cabinet legitimate? And if Russia is concerned about the growing strength of radical elements, they grow stronger every time they find themselves facing a hypothetical enemy, which in their view, they currently consider Russia and Russia's position of being ready to send in troops. Does it make sense and is it possible to hold talks with moderate forces in the Ukrainian government, with Yatsenyuk, and is he legitimate?
Vladimir Putin: Listen, it seems like you didn't hear what I have said. I already said that three days ago, I gave instructions to the Government to renew contacts at the government level with their colleagues in the corresponding ministries and departments in Ukraine, in order not to disrupt economic ties, to support them in their attempts to reconstruct the economy. Those were my direct instructions to the Russian Government. Moreover, Mr Medvedev is in contact with [Arseniy] Yatsenyuk. And I know that Sergei Naryshkin, as speaker of the Russian parliament, is in contact with [Oleksandr] Turchynov. But, I repeat, all our trade and economic and other ties, our humanitarian ties, can be developed in full only after the situation is normalised and presidential elections are held.
Question: Gazprom has already said that it is reverting to its old gas prices beginning in April.
Vladimir Putin: Gazprom could not have said that; you were not listening carefully or it did not express itself clearly. Gazprom is not reverting to the old prices. It simply does not want to extend the current discounts, which it had agreed to apply or not apply on a quarterly basis. Even before all these events, even before they hit the crisis point. I know about the negotiations between Gazprom and its partners. Gazprom and the Government of the Russian Federation agreed that Gazprom would introduce a discount by reducing gas prices to $268.50 per 1,000 cubic metres. The Government of Russia provides the first tranche of the loan, which is formally not a loan but a bond purchase - a quasi-loan, $3 billion dollars in the first stage. And the Ukrainian side undertakes to fully repay its debt that arose in the second half of last year and to make regular payments for what they are consuming - for the gas. The debt has not been repaid, regular payments are not being made in full.
Moreover, if the Ukrainian partners fail to make the February payment, the debt will grow even bigger. Today it is around $1.5-1.6 billion. And if they do not fully pay for February, it will be nearly $2 billion. Naturally, in these circumstances, Gazprom says, "Listen guys, since you don't pay us anyway, and we are only seeing an increase in your debt, let's lock into the regular price, which is still reduced." This is a purely commercial component of Gazprom's activities, which plans for revenues and expenditures in its investment plans like any other major company. If they do not receive the money from their Ukrainian partners on time, then they are undercutting their own investment programmes; this is a real problem for them. And incidentally, this does not have to do with the events in Ukraine or any politics. There was an agreement: "We give you money and reduced gas rates, and you give us regular payments." They gave them money and reduced gas rates, but the payments are not being made. So naturally, Gazprom says, "Guys, that won't work."
Question: Mr President, [German Federal Chancellor] Merkel's Press Service said after your telephone conversation that you had agreed to send an international fact-finding mission to Ukraine and set up a contact group.
Vladimir Putin: I said that we have people who have the training and skills needed to be able to examine this issue and discuss it with our German colleagues. This is all possible. I gave the instruction accordingly to our Foreign Minister, who was to or will meet with the German Foreign Minister, Mr Steinmeier, yesterday or today to discuss this matter.
Question: All eyes are on Crimea at the moment of course, but we see what is happening in other parts of Ukraine too, in the east and south. We see what is happening in Kharkov, Donetsk, Lugansk and Odessa. People are raising the Russian flag over government buildings and appealing to Russia for aid and support. Will Russia respond to these events?
Vladimir Putin: Do you think we have not made any response? I think we've just spent the last hour discussing this response. In some cases though, the developments taking place are unexpected in my view. I will not go into the specific details of what I am referring to here, but the reaction that we are seeing from people is understandable, in principle. Did our partners in the West and those who call themselves the government in Kiev now not foresee that events would take this turn? I said to them over and over: Why are you whipping the country into a frenzy like this? What are you doing? But they keep on pushing forward. Of course people in the eastern part of the country realise that they have been left out of the decision-making process.
Essentially, what is needed now is to adopt a new constitution and put it to a referendum so that all of Ukraine's citizens can take part in the process and influence the choice of basic principles that will form the foundations of their country's government. But this is not our affair of course. This is something for the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian authorities to decided one way or another. I think that once a legitimate government is in place and a new president and parliament are elected, which is what is planned, this will probably go ahead. If I were them, I would return to the matter of adopting a constitution and, as I said, putting it to a referendum so that everyone can have their say on it, cast their vote, and then everyone will have to respect it. If people feel they are left out of this process, they will never agree with it and will keep on fighting it. Who needs this kind of thing? But as I said, this is all not our affair.
Question: Will Russia recognise the planned presidential election that will take place in Ukraine?
Vladimir Putin: Let's see how it goes. If it is accompanied by the same kind of terror that we are seeing now in Kiev, we will not recognise it.
Question: I want to come back to the West's reaction. As all this tough talk continues, we have the Paralympics opening in a few days' time in Sochi. Are these Games at risk of ending up on the brink of disruption, at least as far as international media coverage goes?
Vladimir Putin: I don't know, I think it would be the height of cynicism to put the Paralympics at risk. We all know that this is an international sports event at which people with disabilities can show their capabilities, prove to themselves and the entire world that they are not people with limitations, but on the contrary, people with unlimited possibilities, and demonstrate their achievements in sport. If there are people ready to try to disrupt this event, it would show that these are people for whom there really is nothing sacred.
Question: I want to ask about the hypothetical possibility of using the military. People in the West have said that if Russia makes such a decision, it would violate the Budapest Memorandum, under which the United States and some NATO partners consecrated territorial integrity of Ukraine in exchange for its promise to give up nuclear weapons. If developments take this turn, could global players intervene in this local conflict and turn it into a global conflict? Have you taken these risks into account?
Vladimir Putin: Before making public statements, and all the more so before taking practical steps, we give issues due thought and attention and try to foresee the consequences and reactions that the various potential players could have.
As for the Memorandum that you mentioned, you said you are from Reuters, is that right?
Vladimir Putin: How do the public and political circles in your country view these events that have taken place? It is clear after all that this was an armed seizure of power. That is a clear and evident fact. And it is clear too that this goes against the Constitution. That is also a clear fact, is it not?
Response: I live in Russia.
Vladimir Putin: Good on you! You should join the diplomatic service; you'd make a good diplomat. Diplomats' tongues, as we know, are there to hide their thoughts. So, we say that what we are seeing is an anti-constitutional coup, and we get told, no, it isn't. You have probably heard plenty of times now that this was not an anti-constitutional coup and not an armed seizure of power, but a revolution. Have you heard this?
Vladimir Putin: Yes, but if this is revolution, what does this mean? In such a case it is hard not to agree with some of our experts who say that a new state is now emerging in this territory. This is just like what happened when the Russian Empire collapsed after the 1917 revolution and a new state emerged. And this would be a new state with which we have signed no binding agreements.
Question: I want to clarify a point. You said that if the USA imposes sanctions, this would deal a blow to both economies. Does this imply that Russia might impose counter-sanctions of its own, and if so, would they be a symmetrical response?
You spoke about gas discounts too. But there was also the agreement to buy $15 billion worth of Ukrainian bonds. Ukraine received the first tranche at the end of last year. Has payment of the remaining money been suspended? If Russia provides aid, on what specific economic and political terms will this be done? And what political and economic risks are you taking into consideration in this case?
Vladimir Putin: To answer your question, we are in principle ready to look at taking the steps needed to make the other tranches available with regard to the purchase of bonds. But our Western partners have asked us not to do this. They have asked us to work together through the IMF to encourage the Ukrainian authorities to carry out the reforms needed to bring about recovery in the Ukrainian economy. We will continue working in this direction. But given that Naftogaz of Ukraine is not paying Gazprom now, the Government is considering various options.
Question: Mr President, is the dynamic of events in Ukraine changing for the better or for the worse?
Vladimir Putin: Overall, I think it is gradually starting to level out. We absolutely must send the signal to people in Ukraine's southeast that they can feel safe, and know that they will be able to take part in the general political process of stabilising the country.
Question: You have made several mentions now of future legitimate elections in Ukraine. Who do you see as compromise candidate? Of course you will say that this for the Ukrainian people to decide, but I ask you all the same.
Vladimir Putin: To be honest, I really don't know.
Response: It seems that the people also don't know, because no matter who you talk to, everyone seems to be at a loss.
Vladimir Putin: I really can't say. You know, it's hard to make predictions after events of this kind. I have already said that I do not agree with this method of taking power and removing the incumbent authorities and president, and I strongly oppose this kind of method in Ukraine and in the post-Soviet area in general. I oppose this because this kind of method does not inculcate legal culture, respect for the law. If one person can get away with doing this, it means that everyone is allowed to try, and this only means chaos. You have to understand that this kind of chaos is the worst possible thing for countries with a shaky economy and unstable political system. In this kind of situation you never know what kind of people events will bring to the fore. Just recall, for example, the role that [Ernst] Roehm's storm troopers played during Hitler's rise to power. Later, these storm troopers were liquidated, but they played their part in bringing Hitler to power. Events can take all kinds of unexpected turns.
Let me say again that in situations when people call for fundamental political reform and new faces at the top, and with full justification too - and in this I agree with the Maidan - there is a risk too that you'll suddenly get some upstart nationalist or semi-fascist lot sprout up, like the genie suddenly let out of the bottle - and we see them today, people wearing armbands with something resembling swastikas, still roaming around Kiev at this moment - or some anti-Semite or other. This danger is there too.
Question: Just today, incidentally, the Ukrainian envoy to the UN said that the crimes committed by Bandera's followers were falsified by the Soviet Union. With May 9 coming closer, we can see now who is in power there today. Should we even have any contacts with them at all?
Vladimir Putin: We need to have contact with everyone except for obvious criminals, but as I said, in this kind of situation, there is always the risk that events of this kind will bring people with extreme views to the fore, and this of course has serious consequences for the country.
Question: You said that we should make contact with everyone. Yulia Tymoshenko was planning it seems, to come to Moscow.
Vladimir Putin: As you know, we always worked quite productively with all of the different Ukrainian governments, no matter what their political colour. We worked with Leonid Kuchma, and with [Viktor] Yushchenko. When I was Prime Minister, I worked with Tymoshenko. I visited her in Ukraine and she came here to Russia. We had to deal with all kinds of different situations in our work to manage our countries' economies. We had our differences, but we also reached agreements. Overall it was constructive work. If she wants to come to Russia, let her come. It's another matter that she is no longer prime minister now. In what capacity will she come? But I personally have no intention of stopping her from coming to Russia.
Question: Just a brief question: who do you think is behind this coup, as you called it, in Ukraine?
Vladimir Putin: As I said before, I think this was a well-prepared action. Of course there were combat detachments. They are still there, and we all saw how efficiently they worked. Their Western instructors tried hard of course. But this is not the real problem. If the Ukrainian government had been strong, confident, and had built a stable system, no nationalists would have been able to carry out those programs and achieve the results that we see now.
The real problem is that none of the previous Ukrainian governments gave proper attention to people's needs. Here in Russia we have many problems, and many of them are similar to those in Ukraine, but they are not as serious as in Ukraine. Average per capita [monthly] income in Russia, for example, is 29,700 rubles, but in Ukraine, if we convert it into rubles, it is 11,900 rubles, I think - almost three times lower than in Russia. The average pension in Russia is 10,700 rubles, but in Ukraine it is 5,500 rubles - twice lower than in Russia. Great Patriotic War veterans in Russia receive almost as much as the average worker each month. In other words, there is a substantial difference in living standards. This was what the various governments should have been focusing on right from the start. Of course they needed to fight crime, nepotism, clans and so on, especially in the economy. People see what is going on, and this creates lack of confidence in the authorities.
This has continued as several generations of modern Ukrainian politicians have come and gone, and the ultimate result is that people are disappointed and want to see a new system and new people in power. This was the main source of fuel for the events that took place. But let me say again: a change of power, judging by the whole situation, was probably necessary in Ukraine, but it should have taken place only through legitimate means, in respect for and not in violation of the current Constitution.
Question: Mr President, if Crimea holds a referendum and the people there vote to secede from Ukraine, that is, if the majority of the region's residents vote for secession, would you support it?
Vladimir Putin: You can never use the conditional mood in politics. I will stick to that rule.
Question: Is Yanukovych even still alive? There have been rumours that he died.
Vladimir Putin: I have seen him once since he arrived in Russia. That was just two days ago. He was alive and well and wishes you the same. He'll still have a chance of catching a cold at the funeral of those who are spreading these rumours of his demise.
Question: Mr President, what mistakes do you think Yanukovych made over these last months as the situation intensified in Ukraine?
Vladimir Putin: I would rather not answer this question, not because I do not have an opinion to express, but because I do not think it would be proper on my part. You have to understand, after all...
Question: Do you sympathise with him?
Vladimir Putin: No, I have completely different feelings. Anyone in this office bears an enormous responsibility on their shoulders as head of state, and they have rights and also obligations. But the biggest obligation of all is to carry out the will of the people who have entrusted you with the country, acting within the law. And so we need to analyse, did he do everything that the law and the voters' mandate empowered him to do? You can analyse this yourselves and draw your own conclusions.
Question: But what feelings do you have for him? You said "not sympathy, but other feelings". What feelings exactly?
Vladimir Putin: Let's talk later.
Question: You said just two questions back that we must above all send a clear signal to people in the south and southeast of Ukraine. The southeast, that's understandable, but...
Vladimir Putin: We need to make our position clear to everyone, really.
We need to be heard by all of Ukraine's people. We have no enemies in Ukraine. Let me say again that Ukraine is a friendly country. Do you know how many people came from Ukraine to Russia last year? 3.3 million came, and of that number almost 3 million people came to Russia for work. These people are working here - around 3 million people. Do you know how much money they send back home to Ukraine to support their families? Count up the average wage of 3 million people. This comes to billions of dollars and makes a big contribution to Ukraine's GDP. This is no joking matter. We welcome all of them, and among the people coming here to work are also many from western Ukraine. They are all equal in our eyes, all brothers to us.
Question: This is just what I wanted to ask about. We are hearing above all about the southeast of Ukraine at the moment, which is understandable, but there are ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking people living in western Ukraine too, and their situation is probably even worse. They probably cannot raise their heads at all and are a downtrodden minority there. What can Russia do to help them?
Vladimir Putin: Our position is that if the people who call themselves the government now hope to be considered a civilised government, they must ensure the safety of all of their citizens, no matter in which part of the country, and we of course will follow this situation closely.
Power centers in DC and the corporate corridors of Manhattan and Silicon Valley are calling the shots.
By Mike Lofgren - BillMoyers.com - Alternet.org - February 21, 2014
Rome lived upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face. Industry is the only true source of wealth, and there was no industry in Rome. By day the Ostia road was crowded with carts and muleteers, carrying to the great city the silks and spices of the East, the marble of Asia Minor, the timber of the Atlas, the grain of Africa and Egypt; and the carts brought out nothing but loads of dung. That was their return cargo. â"The Martyrdom of Man" by Winwood Reade (1871)
There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol. The former is traditional Washington partisan politics: the tip of the iceberg that a public watching C-SPAN sees daily and which is theoretically controllable via elections. The subsurface part of the iceberg I shall call the Deep State, which operates on its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power. 
During the last five years, the news media have been flooded with pundits decrying the broken politics of Washington. The conventional wisdom has it that partisan gridlock and dysfunction have become the new normal. That is certainly the case, and I have been among the harshest critics of this development. But it is also imperative to acknowledge the limits of this critique as it applies to the American governmental system. On one level, the critique is self-evident: in the domain that the public can see, Congress is hopelessly deadlocked in the worst manner since the 1850s, the violently rancorous decade preceding the Civil War.
As I wrote in " The Party is Over," the present objective of congressional Republicans is to render the executive branch powerless, at least until a Republican president is elected (a goal which voter suppression laws in GOP-controlled states are clearly intended to accomplish). President Obama cannot enact his domestic policies and budgets; because of incessant GOP filibustering, not only could he not fill the large number of vacancies in the federal judiciary, he could not even get his most innocuous presidential appointees into office. Democrats controlling the Senate have responded by weakening the filibuster of nominations, but Republicans are sure to react with other parliamentary delaying tactics. This strategy amounts to congressional nullification of executive branch powers by a party that controls a majority in only one house of Congress.
Despite this apparent impotence, President Obama can liquidate American citizens without due processes, detain prisoners indefinitely without charge, conduct âdragnetâ surveillance on the American people without judicial warrant and engage in unprecedented â at least since the McCarthy era â witch hunts against federal employees (the so-called âInsider Threat Programâ). Within the United States, this power is characterized by massive displays of intimidating force by militarized federal, state and local law enforcement. Abroad, President Obama can start wars at will and engage in virtually any other activity whatever without so much as a by-your-leave from Congress, to include arranging the forced landing of a plane carrying a sovereign head of state over foreign territory. Despite their habitual cant about executive overreach by Obama, the would-be dictator, we have until recently heard very little from congressional Republicans about these actions â with the minor exception of a gadfly like Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Democrats, save for a few mavericks like Ron Wyden of Oregon, are not unduly troubled, either â even to the extent of permitting seemingly perjured congressional testimony under oath by executive branch officials on the subject of illegal surveillance.
These are not isolated instances of a contradiction; they have been so pervasive that they tend to be disregarded as background noise. During the time in 2011 when political warfare over the debt ceiling was beginning to paralyze the business of governance in Washington, the United States government somehow summoned the resources to overthrow Muammar Ghaddafiâs regime in Libya, and, when the instability created by that coup spilled over into Mali, provide overt and covert assistance to French intervention there. At a time when there was heated debate about continuing meat inspections and civilian air traffic control because of the budget crisis, our government was somehow able to commit $115 millionto keeping a civil war going in Syria and to pay at least ÂŁ100m to the United Kingdomâs Government Communications Headquarters to buy influence over and access to that countryâs intelligence. Since 2007, two bridges carrying interstate highways have collapsed due to inadequate maintenance of infrastructure, one killing thirteen people; during that same period of time, the government has spent $1.7 billion constructing a building in Utah that is the size of seventeen football fields. This mammoth structure is intended to allow the National Security Agency to store a yottabyte of information, the largest numerical designator computer scientists have. A yottabyte is equal to 500 quintillion pages of text. They need that much storage to archive every single electronic trace you make.
How did I come to write an analysis of the Deep State, and why am I equipped to write it? As a congressional staff member for 28 years specializing in national security and possessing a top secret security clearance, I was at least on the fringes of the world I am describing, if neither totally in it by virtue of full membership nor of it by psychological disposition. But like virtually every employed person, I became to some extent assimilated by the culture of the institution I worked for, and only by slow degrees, starting before the invasion of Iraq, did I begin fundamentally to question the reasons of state that motivate the people who are, to quote George W. Bush, âthe deciders.â
Cultural assimilation is partly a matter of what psychologist Irving L. Janis called âgroupthink,â the chameleon-like ability of people to adopt the views of their superiors and peers. This syndrome is endemic to Washington: the town is characterized by sudden fads, be it biennial budgeting, grand bargains, or invading countries. Then, after a while, all the townâs cool kids drop those ideas as if they were radioactive. As in the military, everybody has to get on board with the mission, and it is not a career-enhancing move to question the mission. The universe of people who will critically examine the goings-on at the institutions they work for is always going to be a small one. As Upton Sinclair said, âIt is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.â
A more elusive aspect of cultural assimilation is the sheer dead weight of the ordinariness of it all once you have planted yourself in your office chair for the ten thousandth time. Your life is typically not some vignette from an Allen Drury novel about intrigue under the Capitol dome. Sitting and staring at the clock on the off-white office wall when itâs eleven in the evening and you are vowing never, ever to eat another piece of take-out pizza in your life is not an experience that summons the higher literary instincts of a would-be memoirist. After a while, a functionary of the state begins to hear things that, in another context, would be quite remarkable, or at least noteworthy, and yet they simply bounce off oneâs consciousness like pebbles off steel plate: âYou mean the number of terrorist groups we are fighting isclassified?â No wonder few people are whistleblowers, quite apart from the vicious retaliation whistleblowing often provokes: unless one is blessed with imagination and a fine sense of irony, it is easy to grow immune to the curiousness of oneâs surroundings. To paraphrase the inimitable Donald Rumsfeld, I didnât know all that I knew, at least until I had had a couple of years away from the government to reflect upon it.
The Deep State does not consist of the entire government. It is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Justice Department. We also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions, and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street. All these agencies are coordinated by the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council. Certain key areas of the judiciary belong to the Deep State, like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose actions are mysterious even to most members of Congress. Also included are a handful of vital federal trial courts, such as the Eastern District of Virginia and the Southern District of Manhattan, where sensitive proceedings in national security cases are conducted. The final government component (and possibly last in precedence among the formal branches of government established by the Constitution) is a kind of rump Congress consisting of the congressional leadership and some (but not all) of the members of the defense and intelligence committees. The rest of Congress, normally so fractious and partisan, is mostly only intermittently aware of the Deep State and when required usually submits to a few well-chosen words from the Stateâs emissaries.
I saw this submissiveness on many occasions. One memorable incident was passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act of 2008. This legislation retroactively legalized the Bush administrationâs illegal and unconstitutional surveillance first revealed by The New York Times in 2005, and indemnified the telecommunications companies for their cooperation in these acts. The bill passed easily: all that was required was the invocation of the word âterrorismâ and most members of Congress responded like iron filings obeying a magnet. One who responded in that fashion was Senator Barack Obama, soon to be coronated as the Democratic presidential nominee at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. He had already won the most delegates by campaigning to the left of his main opponent, Hillary Clinton, on the excesses of the war on terrorism and the erosion of constitutional liberties.
As the indemnification vote showed, the Deep State does not consist only of government agencies. What is euphemistically called private enterprise is an integral part of its operations. In a special series in The Washington Post called âTop Secret America,â Dana Priest and William K. Arkin described the scope of the privatized Deep State, and the degree to which it has metastasized after the September 11 attacks. There are now 854,000 contract personnel with top secret clearances â a number greater than that of top secret-cleared civilian employees of the government.While they work throughout the country and the world, their heavy concentration in and around the Washington suburbs is unmistakable: since 9/11, 33 facilities for top-secret intelligence have been built or are under construction. Combined, they occupy the floor space of almost three Pentagons â about 17 million square feet. Seventy percent of the intelligence communityâs budget goes to paying contracts. And the membrane between government and industry is highly permeable: the Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, is a former executive of Booz Allen, one of the governmentâs largest intelligence contractors. His predecessor as director, Admiral Mike McConnell, is the current vice chairman of the same company; Booz Allen is 99 percent dependent on government business. These contractors now set the political and social tone of Washington, just as they are increasingly setting the direction of the country, but they are doing it quietly, their doings unrecorded in the Congressional Record or the Federal Register, and are rarely subject to congressional hearings
Washington is the most important node of the Deep State that has taken over America, but it is not the only one. Invisible threads of money and ambition connect the town to other nodes. One is Wall Street, which supplies the cash that keeps the political machine quiescent and operating as a diversionary marionette theater. Should the politicians forget their lines and threaten the status quo, Wall Street floods the town with cash and lawyers to help the hired hands remember their own best interests. The executives of the financial giants even have de facto criminal immunity. On March 6, 2013, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder stated the following: âI am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.â This from the chief law enforcement officer of a justice system that has practically abolished the constitutional right to trial for poorer defendants charged with certain crimes. It is not too much to say that Wall Street may be the ultimate owner of the Deep State and its strategies, if for no other reason than that it has the money to reward government operatives with a second career that is lucrative beyond the dreams of avarice â certainly beyond the dreams of a government salaryman. 
The corridor between Manhattan and Washington is a well-trodden highway for the personalities we all got to know in the period since the massive deregulation of Wall Street: Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers, Henry Paulson, Timothy Geithner and many others. Not all the traffic involves persons connected with the purely financial operations of the government: in 2013, General David Petraeus joined KKR (formerly Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) of 9 West 57 Street, New York, a private equity firm with $62.3 billion in assets. KKR specializes in management buyouts and leveraged finance; General Petraeusâs expertise in these areas is unclear; his ability to peddle influence, however, is a known and valued commodity. Unlike Cincinnatus, the military commanders of the Deep State do not take up the plow once they lay down the sword. He also obtained a sinecure as a non-resident senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. The Ivy League is of course the preferred bleaching tub and charm school of the American oligarchy. 
Petraeus, and most of the avatars of the Deep State â the White House advisers who urged Obama not to impose compensation limits on Wall Street CEOs, the contractor-connected think tank experts who besought us to âstay the courseâ in Iraq, the economic gurus who perpetually demonstrate that globalization and deregulation are a blessing that makes us all better off in the long run â are careful to pretend that they have no ideology. Their preferred pose is that of the politically neutral technocrat offering well-considered advice based on profound expertise. That is nonsense. They are deeply dyed in the hue of the official ideology of the governing class, an ideology that is neither specifically Democrat nor Republican. Domestically, whatever they might privately believe about essentially diversionary social issues like abortion or gay marriage, they almost invariably believe in the âWashington Consensus:â financialization, outsourcing, privatization, deregulation and the commodification of labor. Internationally, they espouse twenty-first century American Exceptionalism: the right and duty of the United States to meddle in every region of the world, coercive diplomacy, boots on the ground, and the right to ignore painfully-won international norms of civilized behavior. To paraphrase what Sir John Harrington said over 400 years ago about treason, now that the ideology of the Deep State has prospered, none dare call it ideology.  That is why describing torture with the word torture on broadcast television is treated less as political heresy than as an inexcusable lapse of Washington etiquette: like smoking a cigarette on camera, these days it is simply ânot done.â
After Edward Snowdenâs revelations about the extent and depth of surveillance by the National Security Agency, it has become publicly evident that Silicon Valley is a vital node of the Deep State as well. Unlike military and intelligence contractors, Silicon Valley overwhelmingly sells to the private market; but its business is so important to the government that a strange relationship has emerged. While the government could simply dragoon the high technology companies to do the NSAâs bidding, it would prefer cooperation with so important an engine of the nationâs economy, perhaps with an implied quid pro quo. Perhaps this explains the extraordinary indulgence the government shows the Valley in intellectual property matters â if an American âjailbreaksâ his smartphone (i.e., modifies it so that it can use another service provider than the one dictated by the manufacturer), he could receive a fine of up to $500,000 and several years in prison; so much for a citizenâs vaunted property rights to what he purchases. The libertarian pose of the Silicon Valley moguls, so carefully cultivated in their public relations, has always been a sham. Silicon Valley has long been tracking for commercial purposes the activities of every person who uses an electronic device; it is hardly surprising that the Deep State should emulate the Valley and do the same for its own purposes. Nor is it surprising that it should conscript the Valleyâs assistance.
Still, despite the essential roles of Lower Manhattan and Silicon Valley, the center of gravity of the Deep State is firmly situated in and around the Beltway. The Deep Stateâs physical expansion and consolidation around the Beltway would seem to make a mockery of the frequent pronouncements that governance in Washington is dysfunctional and broken. That the secret and unaccountable Deep State floats freely above the gridlock between both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue is the paradox of American government in the twenty-first century: drone strikes, data mining, secret prisons and Panopticon-like control on the one hand; and on the other, the ordinary, visible parliamentary institutions of self-government declining to the status of a banana republic amid the gradual collapse of public infrastructure.
The results of this contradiction are not abstract, as a tour of the rotting, decaying, bankrupt cities of the American Midwest will attest. It is not even confined to those parts of the country left behind by a Washington Consensus that decreed the financialization and deindustrialization of the economy in the interests of efficiency and shareholder value. This paradox is evident even within the Beltway itself, the richest metropolitan area in the nation. Although demographers and urban researchers invariably count Washington as a âworld city,â that is not always evident to those who live there. Virtually every time there is a severe summer thunderstorm, tens â or even hundreds â of thousands of residents lose power, often for many days. There are occasional water restrictions over wide areas because water mains, poorly constructed and inadequately maintained, have burst.  The Washington metropolitan area considers it a Herculean task just to build a rail link to its international airport â with luck it may be completed by 2018.
It is as if Hadrianâs Wall was still fully manned and the fortifications along the border with Germania were never stronger, even as the city of Rome disintegrated from within and the life-sustaining aqueducts leading down from the hills began to crumble. The governing classes of the Deep State may continue to deceive themselves with their dreams of Zeus-like omnipotence, but others disagree. A 2013 Pew Poll that interviewed 38,000 people around the world found that in 23 of 39 countries surveyed, a plurality of respondents said they believed China already had or would in the future replace the United States as the worldâs top economic power.
The Deep State is the big story of our time; it is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure and political dysfunction. Washington is the headquarters of the Deep State, and its time in the sun as a rival to Rome, Constantinople, or London may be term-limited by its overweening sense of self-importance and its habit, as Winwood Reade said of Rome, to âlived upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face.â Living upon its principal in this case means that the Deep State has been extracting value from the American people in vampire-like fashion.
We are faced with two disagreeable implications. First, that the Deep State is so heavily entrenched, so well protected by surveillance, firepower, money and its ability to co-opt resistance that it is almost impervious to change. Second, that just as in so many previous empires, the Deep State is populated with those whose instinctive reaction to the failure of their policies is to double down on those very policies in the future. Iraq was a failure briefly camouflaged by the wholly propagandistic success of the so-called surge; this legerdemain allowed for the surge in Afghanistan, which equally came to naught. Undeterred by that failure, the functionaries of the Deep State plunged into Libya; the smoking rubble of the Benghazi consulate, rather than discouraging further misadventure, seemed merely to incite the itch to bomb Syria. Will the Deep State ride on the back of the American people from failure to failure until the country itself, despite its huge reserves of human and material capital, is slowly exhausted? The dusty road of empire is strewn with the bones of former great powers that exhausted themselves in like manner.
But there are signs of resistance to the Deep State and its demands. In the aftermath of the Snowden revelations, the House narrowly failed to pass an amendment that would have defunded the NSAâs warrantless collection of data from U.S. persons. Shortly thereafter, the president, advocating yet another military intervention in the Middle East, this time in Syria, met with such overwhelming congressional skepticism that he changed the subject by grasping at a diplomatic lifeline thrown to him by Vladimir Putin. 
Has the visible, constitutional state, the one envisaged by Madison and the other Founders, finally begun to reassert itself against the claims and usurpations of the Deep State? To some extent, perhaps. The unfolding revelations of the scope of the NSAâs warrantless surveillance have become so egregious that even institutional apologists, such as Senator Diane Feinstein, have begun to backpedal â if only rhetorically â from their kneejerk defense of the agency. As more people begin to waken from the fearful and suggestible state that 9/11 created in their minds, it is possible that the Deep Stateâs decade-old tactic of crying âterrorism!â every time it faces resistance is no longer eliciting the same Pavlovian response of meek obedience. And the American people, possibly even their legislators, are growing tired of endless quagmires in the Middle East.
But there is another more structural reason the Deep State may have peaked in the extent of its dominance. While it seems to float above the constitutional state, its essentially parasitic, extractive nature means that it is still tethered to the formal proceedings of governance. The Deep State thrives when there is tolerable functionality in the day-to-day operations of the federal government. As long as appropriations bills get passed on time, promotion lists get confirmed, black (i.e., secret) budgets get rubber stamped, special tax subsidies for certain corporations are approved without controversy, as long as too many awkward questions are not asked, the gears of the hybrid state will mesh noiselessly. But when one house of Congress is taken over by Tea Party wahhabites, life for the ruling class becomes more trying.
If there is anything the Deep State requires it is silent, uninterrupted cash flow and the confidence that things will go on as they have in the past. It is even willing to tolerate a degree of gridlock: partisan mudwrestling over cultural issues may be a useful distraction from its agenda. But recent Congressional antics involving sequestration, the government shutdown and the threat of default over the debt ceiling extension have been disrupting that equilibrium. And an extreme gridlock dynamic has developed between the two parties such that continuing some level of sequestration is politically the least bad option for both parties, albeit for different reasons. As much as many Republicans might want to give budget relief to the organs of national security, they cannot fully reverse sequestration without the Democrats demanding revenue increases. And Democrats wanting to spend more on domestic discretionary programs cannot void sequestration on either domestic or defense programs without Republicans insisting on entitlement cuts. So, for the foreseeable future, the Deep State must restrain its appetite for taxpayer dollars: limited deals may soften sequestration but it is unlikely agency requests will be fully funded anytime soon. Even Wall Streetâs rentier operations have been affected: after helping finance the Tea Party to advance its own plutocratic ambitions, Americaâs Big Money is now regretting the Frankensteinâs monster it has created. Like children playing with dynamite, the Tea Partyâs compulsion to drive the nation into credit default has alarmed the grownups commanding the heights of capital; the latter are now telling the politicians they thought they had hired to knock it off.
The House vote to defund the NSAâs illegal surveillance programs was equally illustrative of the disruptive nature of the Tea Party insurgency. Civil-liberties Democrats alone would never have come so close to victory; Tea Party stalwart Justin Amash (R-MI), who has also upset the business community for his debt-limit fundamentalism, was the lead Republican sponsor of the NSA amendment, and most of the Republicans who voted with him were aligned with the Tea Party.
The final factor is Silicon Valley. Owing to secrecy and obfuscation, it is hard to know how much of the NSAâs relationship with the Valley is based on voluntary cooperation, how much is legal compulsion through FISA warrants and how much is a matter of the NSA surreptitiously breaking into technology companiesâ systems. Given the Valleyâs public relations requirement to mollify its customers who have privacy concerns, it is difficult to take the tech firmsâ libertarian protestations about government compromise of their systems at face value, especially since they engage in similar activity against their own customers for commercial purposes. That said, evidence is accumulating that Silicon Valley is losing billions in overseas business from companies, individuals and governments that want to maintain privacy. For high-tech entrepreneurs, the cash nexus is ultimately more compelling than the Deep Stateâs demand for patriotic cooperation. Even legal compulsion can be combatted: unlike the individual citizen, tech firms have deep pockets and batteries of lawyers with which to fight government diktat.
This pushback has gone so far that on Jan. 17, President Obama announced revisions to the NSAâs data collection programs, including withdrawing the NSAâs custody of a domestic telephone record database, expanding requirements for judicial warrants and ceasing to spy on (undefined) âfriendly foreign leaders.â Critics have denounced the changes as a cosmetic public relations move, but they are still significant in that the clamor has gotten so loud that the president feels the political need to address it.
When the contradictions within a ruling ideology are pushed too far, factionalism appears and that ideology begins slowly to crumble. Corporate oligarchs like the Koch brothers are no longer entirely happy with the faux-populist political front group they helped fund and groom. Silicon Valley, for all the Ayn Rand-like tendencies of its major players, its off-shoring strategies and its further exacerbation of income inequality, is now lobbying Congress to restrain the NSA, a core component of the Deep State. Some tech firms are moving to encrypt their data. High-tech corporations and governments alike seek dominance over people though collection of personal data, but the corporations are jumping ship now that adverse public reaction to the NSA scandals threatens their profits.
The outcome of all these developments is uncertain. The Deep State, based on the twin pillars of national security imperative and corporate hegemony, has until recently seemed unshakable, and the latest events may only be a temporary perturbation in its trajectory. But history has a way of toppling the altars of the mighty. While the two great materialist and determinist ideologies of the twentieth century, Marxism and the Washington Consensus, successively decreed that the dictatorship of the proletariat and the dictatorship of the market were inevitable, the future is actually indeterminate. It may be that deep economic and social currents create the framework of history, but those currents can be channeled, eddied, or even reversed by circumstance, chance and human agency. We have only to reflect upon defunct glacial despotisms like the USSR or East Germany to realize that nothing is forever.
The second strategy is one embraced to varying degrees and with differing goals by figures of such contrasting personalities as Mustafa Kemal AttatĂŒrk, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Charles de Gaulle and Deng Xiaoping. They were certainly not revolutionaries by temperament; if anything, their natures were conservative. But they understood that the political cultures in which they lived were fossilized and incapable of adapting to the times. In their drive to reform and modernize the political systems they inherited, their first obstacles to overcome were the outworn myths that encrusted the thinking of the elites of their time.
As the United States confronts its future after experiencing two failed wars, a precarious economy and $17 trillion in accumulated debt, the national punditry has split into two camps: the first, the declinists, sees a broken, dysfunctional political system incapable of reform and an economy soon to be overtaken by China. The other camp, the reformers, offers a profusion of nostrums to turn the nation around: public financing of elections to sever the artery of money between the corporate components of the Deep State and financially dependent elected officials; government âinsourcing,â to reverse the tide of outsourcing of government functions and the conflicts of interest that it creates; a tax policy that values human labor over financial manipulation; and a trade policy that favors exporting manufactured goods over exporting investment capital.
All of that is necessary, but not sufficient. The Snowden revelations, the impact of which have been surprisingly strong; the derailed drive for military intervention in Syria; and a fractious Congress, whose dysfunctions have begun to be a serious inconvenience to the Deep State, show that there is now a deep but as yet inchoate hunger for change. What America lacks is a figure with the serene self-confidence to tell us that the twin idols of national security and corporate power are outworn dogmas that have nothing more to offer us. Thus disenthralled, the people themselves will unravel the Deep State with surprising speed.
 Twenty five years ago the sociologist Robert Nisbet described this phenomenon as âthe attribute of No Fault. ... Presidents, secretaries and generals and admirals in America seemingly subscribe to the doctrine that no fault ever attaches to policy and operations. This No Fault conviction prevents them from taking too seriously such notorious foul-ups as Desert One, Grenada, Lebanon and now the Persian Gulf.â To his list we might add 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
 The attitude of many members of Congress towards Wall Street was memorably expressed by Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), the incoming chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, in 2010: âIn Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.â
 Beginning in 1988, every U.S. president has been a graduate of Harvard or Yale. Beginning in 2000, every losing presidential candidate has been a Harvard or Yale graduate, with the exception of John McCain in 2008.
 In recent months the American public has seen a vivid example of a Deep State operative marketing his ideology under the banner of pragmatism. Former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates â a one-time career CIA officer and deeply political Bush family retainer â has camouflaged his retrospective defense of military escalations that have brought us nothing but casualties and fiscal grief as the straight-from-the-shoulder memoir from a plain-spoken son of Kansas who disdains Washington and its politicians.
 Meanwhile, the U.S. government took the lead in restoring Baghdadâs sewer system at a cost of $7 billion.
 Obamaâs abrupt about-face suggests he may have been skeptical of military intervention in Syria all along but only dropped that policy once Congress and Putin gave him the running room to do so. In 2009, he went ahead with the Afghanistan âsurgeâ partly because General Petraeusâs public relations campaign and back-channel lobbying on the Hill for implementation of his pet military strategy pre-empted other options. These incidents raise the disturbing question of how much the democratically-elected president â any president â sets the policy of the national security state, and how much the policy is set for him by the professional operatives of that state who engineer faits accomplisthat force his hand.
Mike Lofgren is a former congressional staff member who served on both the House and Senate budget committees. His book about Congress, "The Party is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted," appeared in paperback on Aug. 27, 2013.
In the video you are about to see, Hungarian Zionist George Soros (Obama's Puppet master) talks about âthe creation of a New World Orderâ, he discusses the need for a âmanaged declineâ of the U.S. dollar and he talks at length of the global need for a true world currency. So just who is George Soros? Well, he is a billionaire âphilanthropistâ who came to be known as âthe Man Who Broke the Bank of Englandâ when he raked in a staggering one billion dollars during the 1992 âBlack Wednesdayâ currency crisis. These days Soros is most famous for being perhaps the most âpolitically activeâ (at least openly) billionaire in the world. His Open Society Institute is in more than 60 countries and it spends approximately $600 million a year promoting the ideals that Soros wants promoted. Soros and his pet organizations have played a key role in quite a few ârevolutionsâ around the globe over the last several decades, but these days the main goal of George Soros is to bring political change to the United States.
Soros group triples its lobbying spending
By Holly Yeager, Published: February 23
The latest list of big lobbying spenders contains a surprising name: George Soros.
Well, not the billionaire himself, but the Open Society Policy Center, the Washington-based advocacy affiliate of his Open Society Foundations.
Soros and his generous support of liberal causes, through his philanthropy and his personal political spending, have long been the subject of conservative ire. But, until now, he hasnât done much on the formal lobbying front, and the groupâs huge increase in reported spending â it hit $11 million in 2013, more than triple the $3.25 million it spent the previous year â has drawn remarkably little notice.
The big jump placed the Soros group 27th in a recent year-end lobbying tally by the Center for Responsive Politics â just below defense giant General Dynamics and ahead of corporate powerhouses Dow Chemical, Chevron and Microsoft.
Such large companies as those tend to rely on healthy in-house government relations teams and legions of outside lobbyists. But the Soros group takes a different approach: Most of its advocacy millions were spent in grants to activist organizations that do their own lobbying.
âA bunch of things that weâve worked on forever have moved into the legislative phase,â said Stephen Rickard, executive director of the policy center, explaining the big increase. He mentioned several areas, including criminal justice reform, national security issues and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which the Senate Foreign Relations Committee considered last year.
But, Rickard said, the majority of last yearâs spending increase was due to the groupâs support for comprehensive immigration reform, and its largest grantee was the Alliance for Citizenship, a broad-based coalition of labor, immigration, community and faith-based groups and a leading voice in the debate.
The Alliance for Citizenship organized hundreds of events across the country in August, hoping that its town halls, prayer vigils and sit-ins would propel action on immigration. While momentum has stalled, the organization is still at it , marching and meeting with members of Congress and their staffs.
The Open Society Foundations reported last summer that it had spent more than $100 million on immigrant rights in the United States since 1997. But private foundations like Sorosâs are prohibited by the tax code from lobbying, and the grants they make generally include similar restrictions. Instead, through its advocacy affiliate â donations to which are not tax deductible â they can lobby and support others.
âThereâs only so much you can do [with money from a private foundation] when it comes to a straight-out legislative push,â said one leading immigration activist. But the lobbying grant âfrees up advocates considerably to talk straight about whatâs happening, what needs to happen and whoâs blocking it.â
The Open Society Policy Center isnât required to provide a complete list of its grant recipients until about a year from now, with its tax filing. But Rickard said its largest 2013 grants outside domestic policy went to Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture and the U.S. International Council on Disabilities.
The group currently lists one staff member â Lora Lumpe, who works on human rights and foreign military assistance â as an active lobbyist. And it had small contracts last year with two outside shops: the Mitchell Firm, paid $90,000 for work on corrections and sentencing reform, and Orion Strategies, which received $20,000 for work on democracy and human rights issues in Burma, Malaysia and the region.
(Itâs worth noting that Americans for Prosperity , the conservative advocacy group backed by those other billionaires, Charles and David Koch, last week filed its first lobbying registration forms. But soon after The Hill noticed the paperwork , a spokesman for the group said it intended to de-register, after realizing that a staff member who visits Capitol Hill doesnât in fact spend 20 percent of his or her time dealing with policymakers, the threshold for registration.)
Itâs too soon to know whether 2014 lobbying spending will be up or down, Rickard said, but he doesnât expect a big increase like last yearâs.
The picture may be clearer on the political front. While Soros was slow to start spending on politics in 2012, he has jumped in this time around â with a candidate who hasnât even announced. Soros agreed in October to be a co-chairman of the national finance council for Ready for Hillary, a super PAC mobilizing support for a possible White House bid by Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Billionaire George Soros backs pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC By Matea Gold, Published: 10-24-2013 WashingtonPost.com
Billionaire investor George Soros has signed on to be a co-chairman of the national finance council for Ready for Hillary, a super PAC mobilizing support for a possible White House bid by Hillary Rodham Clinton.
âGeorge Soros is delighted to join more than one million Americans in supporting Ready for Hillary,â Michael Vachon, Sorosâs political director, said in a statement Thursday. âHis support for Ready for Hillary is an extension of his long-held belief in the power of grass-roots organizing.â
The commitment represents an early engagement in the 2016 presidential race by Soros, a longtime backer of liberal causes. In 2012, he waited until a month ahead of Election Day before giving $1 million to Priorities USA Action, a super PAC backing President Obamaâs reelection bid.
For Ready for Hillary, which Clinton supporters started earlier this year, scoring the support of such a heavyweight donor helps bolster its establishment credentials. Other members of its national finance council â who must contribute or raise $25,000 â include Esprit co-founder Susie Tompkins Buell, entrepreneur Jo Ousterhout and lawyers Steve and Amber Mostyn.
Officials with the super PAC said they are developing a national grass-roots network that will prepare volunteers and organizers to help Clinton if she runs. Clinton has not commented on the group, which is prohibited from directly coordinating with candidates or parties.
âItâs not about pressuring her,â Executive Director Adam Parkhomenko said. âItâs giving her the time to make the decision, knowing that thereâs an operation out there of grass-roots supporters who are organizing.â
The super PAC says it has more than 1 million supporters, including 30,000 new online sign-ups last weekend when Clinton campaigned for Democratic Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, a longtime friend. The group plans to back other candidates Clinton may endorse in the coming year.
âOur strategy is to amplify what Hillary is doing and promote the candidates she is out there advocating for,â spokesman Seth Bringman said.
New Book by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya - Global Research - 02-24-2014
THE GLOBALIZATION OF NATO
Author: Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya Clarity Press (2012) Pages: 411 with complete index
Now Available: Order directly from Global Research
The world is enveloped in a blanket of perpetual conflict. Invasions, occupation, illicit sanctions, and regime change have become currencies and orders of the day. One organization â the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) â is repeatedly, and very controversially, involved in some form or another in many of these conflicts led by the US and its allies. NATO spawned from the Cold War. Its existence was justified by Washington and Western Bloc politicians as a guarantor against any Soviet and Eastern Bloc invasion of Western Europe, but all along the Alliance served to cement Washingtonâs influence in Europe and continue what was actually Americaâs post-World War II occupation of the European continent. In 1991 the raison dâĂȘtre of the Soviet threat ended with the collapse of the USSR and the end of the Cold War. Nevertheless NATO remains and continues to alarmingly expand eastward, antagonizing Russia and its ex-Soviet allies. China and Iran are also increasingly monitoring NATOâs moves as it comes into more frequent contact with them.
Yugoslavia was a turning point for the Atlantic Alliance and its mandate. The organization moved from the guise of a defensive posture into an offensive pose under the pretexts of humanitarianism. Starting from Yugoslavia, NATO began its journey towards becoming a global military force. From its wars in the Balkans, it began to broaden its international area of operations outside of the Euro-Atlantic zone into the Caucasus, Central Asia, East Africa, the Middle East, North Africa, and the Indian Ocean. It has virtually turned the Mediterranean Sea into a NATO lake with the NATO Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, while it seeks to do the same to the Black Sea and gain a strategic foothold in the Caspian Sea region. The Gulf Security Initiative between NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council seeks to also dominate the Persian Gulf and to hem in Iran. Israel has become a de facto member of the military organization. At the same time, NATO vessels sail the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. These warships are deployed off the coasts of Somalia, Djibouti, and Yemen as part of NATOâs objectives to create a naval cordon of the seas controlling important strategic waterways and maritime transit routes.
The Atlantic Allianceâs ultimate aim is to fix and fasten the American Empire. NATO has clearly played an important role in complementing the US strategy for dominating Eurasia. This includes the encirclement of Russia, China, Iran, and their allies with a military ring subservient to Washington. The global missile shield project, the militarization of Japan, the insurgencies in Libya and Syria, the threats against Iran, and the formation of a NATO-like military alliance in the Asia-Pacific region are components of this colossal geopolitical project. NATOâs globalization, however, is bringing together a new series of Eurasian counter-alliances with global linkages that stretch as far as Latin America. The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) have been formed by Russia, China, and their allies as shields against the US and NATO and as a means to challenge them. As the globalization of NATO unfolds the risks of nuclear war become more and more serious with the Atlantic Alliance headed towards a collision course with Russia, China, and Iran that could ignite World War III.
Global Research Editorâs Note
We bring to the attention of our readers this important and timely book by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, award winning author, geopolitical analyst and Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).
This book analyses in detail the historical evolution of NATOâs post-Cold War mandate and military interventions.
The author takes the reader across the Eurasian geopolitical chessboard, from the Balkans and Eastern Europe, to Central Asia and the Far East, through the âmilitary corridorsâ of the Atlantic Alliance, the Pentagon and the Washington think tanks, where the new post-Cold War military doctrine of global warfare is decided upon.
And from the formulation of military doctrine, Nazemroaya examines NATOâs mandate, its military campaigns, focusing on the geopolitical regions where Global NATO has extended its Worldwide grip.
The book from the outset examines the economic dimension of NATOâs military undertakings, how the latter support the imposition of deadly macroeconomic reforms on sovereign countries. War and globalization are intricately related. Economic globalization under the helm of Wall Street and the IMF is endorsed by a global military agenda.
Nazemroaya explores how dominant economic interests are supported by the âinternationalizationâ of NATO as a military entity, which has extended its areas of jurisdiction from the European-North Atlantic region into new frontiers. âThe Globalization of NATOâ endorses and sustains the Worldwide imposition of neoliberal economic doctrine.
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a man of tremendous courage and conviction. Having lived through the extensive NATO bombing raids of Tripoli at the height of NATOâs humanitarianâ war on Libya, the lives of others within his entourage were always more important than his own life.
It is within this frame of mind and commitment, having witnessed firsthand the horrors of NATOâs âResponsibility to Protectâ, that upon returning from Libya in September 2011, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya started working relentlessly on his manuscript.
While the conclusions of Nazemroayaâs detailed analysis and investigation are by no means optimistic, this globally military agenda can be reversed when people around the world, in the true spirit of internationalism and national sovereignty, join hands in dismantling the NATO killing machine and its corporate sponsors.
That is why this book is an important landmark, a handbook for action.
Through commitment, courage and truth at all levels of society, across the land, nationally and internationally, this process of âglobal militarizationâ described by Nazemroaya, can be forcefully reversed.
At this critical juncture in our history, âthe criminalization of warâ is the avenue which must be sought, as a means to instating World peace.
Can the objective of World peace be achieved? In the words of former UN Assistant Secretary General Denis Halliday, read Nazemroayaâs book âbefore it is too late.â
âThe Globalization of NATO by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is simply magnificent, erudite and devoid of the ethnocentrism to which one has become so accustomed from Western authors. The book deals with what doubtless are the most important and relevant issues of the day for all those committed to saving life and protecting Mother Earth from rampant human irresponsibility and crime. There is no other book that, at this particular time, I would most heartily endorse. I think Africans, Near Eastern peoples, Iranians, Russians, Chinese, Asians and Europeans generally and all the progressive Latin American countries of today will find a much needed reinforcement and support for their peaceful ideals in this excellent must-read book.â âMIGUEL DâESCOTO BROCKMANN, Foreign Minister of Nicaragua (1979-1990) and President of the 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (2008-2009): Managua, Nicaragua.
âWe are far away from the principles and objectives for which the United Nations was created and the decisions of the Nuremberg Tribunal stipulating that some state actions can be considered crimes against peace. Nazemroayaâs book, in addition to reminding us that the role of the United Nations has been confiscated by NATO, elaborates the danger that the North Atlantic Treaty represents to world peace.â âJOSĂ L. GĂMEZ DEL PRADO, Chairman of the United Nations Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries (2005-2011): Ferney-Voltaire, France.
âA very timely book. Yes, US-led NATO is globalizing, like the US-led finance economy. No doubt also for it to protect the latter, the âfree market.â It is a classical case of overstretch to help save the crumbling US Empire and Western influence in general, by countries most of whom are bankrupt by their own economic mismanagement. All their interventions share two characteristics. The conflicts could have been solved with a little patience and creativity, but NATO does not want solutions. It uses conflicts as raw material it can process into interventions to tell the world that it is the strongest in military terms. And, with the help of the mainstream media, it sees Hitler everywhere, in a Milosevic, a bin Laden, a Hussein, a Qaddafi, in Assad, insensitive to the enormous differences between all these cases. I hope this book will be read by very, very many who can turn this morbid fascination with violence into constructive conflict resolution.â âJOHAN GALTUNG, Professor Emeritus of Peace Studies and Sociology at the University of Oslo and Founder of the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo (PRIO), the Galtung- Institut, and the Transcend Network: Oslo, Norway.
âMahdi Darius Nazemroayaâs prolific writings give us a comprehensive understanding of the character of the military thrust and itâs all out, no holds barred STRATEGIC plans and moves to invade, occupy and plunder the resources of nations, inflicting unprecedented barbaric acts on civilian populations. He is one of the prescient thinkers and writers of contemporary times who deserves to be read and acted upon by people with a conscience and concern for humanityâs future.â âVISHNU BHAGWAT, Admiral and Chief of the Naval Staff of India (1996-1998): Mumbai, India.
âThis is a book really necessary to understanding the role of NATO within the frame of long-term US strategy. The Globalization of NATO by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya not only provides an articulate analysis on the Atlantic Alliance: it is the best modern text devoted to the hegemonic alliance. With this book Nazemroaya reconfirms his ability as a brilliant geopolitical analyst.â -TIBERIO GRAZIANI, President of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Geopolitics and Auxiliary Sciences/LâIstituto di Alti Studi in Geopolitica e Scienze Ausiliarie (IsAG): Rome, Italy.
âNazemroaya is an unbelievable prolific writer. What has often amazed many is his almost nonstop writing on extremely important issues for the contemporary world and his analysis about the globalization of NATO. What amazes many of us in other parts of the world are his seemingly limitless depth, breadth and the thoroughness of his knowledge that has been repeatedly appearing in his work. We are deeply indebted to Nazemroayaâs humble, tireless and invaluable contributions through his fearless, insightful and powerful writings.â âKIYUL CHUNG, Editor-in-Chief of The 4th Media and Visiting Professor at the School of Journalism and Communication at Tsinghua University: Beijing, Peopleâs Republic of China.
âThe Journalistsâ Press Club in Mexico is grateful and privileged to know a man who respects the written word and used it in an ethical way without another interest other than showing the reality about the other side of power in the world. Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya gives voice to the âvoiceless.â He can see the other side of the moon, the side without lights.â âCELESE SĂENZ DE MIERA, Mexican Broadcaster and Secretary-General of the Mexican Press Club: Federal District of Mexico City, Mexico.
âWith his very well documented analysis, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya has conducted a remarkable decryption of the strategies implemented by NATO â in the interests of the United States, the European Union and Israel â to expand its military grip on the world, ensure its control over energy resources and transit routes, and encircling the countries likely to be a barrier or a threat to its goals, whether it be Iran, Russia or China. Nazemroayaâs work is essential reading for those that want to understand what is being played out right now on the map in all the worldâs trouble spots; Libya and Africa; Syria and the Middle East; the Persian Gulf and Eurasia.â âSILVIA CATTORI, Swiss political analyst and journalist: Geneva, Switzerland.
NATO Moving East, Building âA Roman Empireâ in the Balkans and Eastern Europe
By Ćœivadin JovanoviÄ and John Robles - Global Research - 02-24-2014 - Voice of Russia
NATOâs first act of illegal âhumanitarianâ aggressive war called âOperation Deliberate Forceâ in 1995 against the Republic Srpska which it got away with and emboldened it to later carry out âOperation Allied Forceâ, the merciless brutal air campaign against civilian targets in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The fact that NATO was allowed to get away with these acts of aggressive war and that the US/NATO architects were allowed to carry out such scenarios emboldened the âallianceâ even further and has led to the recent global expansion by NATO and the scores of âregime changeâ and âresource warsâ presented as âhumanitarian interventionsâ.
The scenario is almost identical every time and is currently being played out in Ukraine. On the 15 year anniversary of the aggression on Yugoslavia, in an exclusive interview, the Voice of Russia spoke to the last Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Ćœivadin JovanoviÄ.
This is John Robles, Iâm speaking with Ćœivadin JovanoviÄ. He is the former Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia and the Chairman of the Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals. This is part 1 of a longer interview. You can find the rest of this interview on our website at voiceofrussia.com.
Robles: Hello Sir! How are you this evening?
JovanoviÄ: Fine, John. Iâm glad to be able to talk for the Voice of Russia.
Robles: Thank you! And it is a pleasure for me to speaking with you. Iâve read a lot of your work. Given your background as the Foreign Minister of the former Yugoslavia, you were the Foreign Minister during the upheavals and the foreign-initiated revolutions that destroyed the country, can you tell us a little bit about the histories, maybe, something we donât know about and give us your views on what is happening now in Ukraine and in Bosnia etc?
JovanoviÄ: Well, I would like to recall that the Dayton Peace Agreement about peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina was reached in 1995 and the key figure in reaching the peace in Bosnia was Slobodan Milosevic, at the time President of the Republic of Serbia and later on the President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
I would like to say that his role was widely recognized, at that time, as a peace-maker in the Balkans. And indeed, no one of the other leaders of the former Yugoslav Republics did contribute to reaching peace in the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as Slobodan Milosevic did. This was repeatedly stated at the Paris Conference which formally marks the signing of the peace agreement and he was hailed by the presidents of the US, of France and many other countries.
But we know now that in Dayton Americans wanted also to discuss the problem of the Serbian southern province of Kosovo and Metohija. And they wanted to include this into the Dayton Negotiations agenda. Slobodan Milosevic and the Yugoslav delegation decisively refused this, even saying that if the Americans want to discuss the internal issue of Yugoslavia, of Serbia, at an international forum, they would not take part in such an exercise.
So, faced with this refusal of Slobodan Milosevic, Americans, first of all, Richard Holbrook (the then State Secretary) and the other officials of the US accepted to discuss only how to reach the peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And the peace was really reached in Dayton.
But later on they needed Milosevic in the process of implementing the Dayton peace agreement. Many conferences, many meetings were held all over Europe: in Geneva, in Rome, in Berlin and various other capitals and in Moscow too, as to how secure the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement.
All this time Yugoslavia and President Milosevic were needed as a key peace factor. Without Yugoslavia and President Milosevic nobody could imagine reaching the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement. But this was also a period when Yugoslavia was freed from UN sanctions, which were based on accusations that Yugoslavia was committing aggression in the Bosnian civil war.
The sanctions were adopted at the Security Council in May 1992 and they lasted until 1995 when the Dayton Peace Agreement was reached. They were afterwards abolished, first suspended and then, finally, abolished. But the USA did not abolish its own sanctions, the so-called âouter wallâ of sanctions. That means that the Americans did not allow Yugoslavia to renew its membership in OSCE, in the UN, position in the World Bank, in IMF and many other international organizations.
They kept these tools for the reason that they had other plans. And they didnât actually forget that Milosevic was not willing to allow treatment of the internal issue of Kosovo and Metohija on the international scene.
So, after the stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina was settled, after Milosevic was not needed any longer to cooperate on Bosnia and Herzegovina, they opened the problem of Kosovo and Metohija.
Well, they not only opened, but they were financing, training and organizing terrorist organization: the so-called KLA. It was not actually only the US who did it, but the American European allies, like Germany, like Great Britain and some other countries were very cooperative in supporting separatist movements and the terrorist organization of KLA in Kosovo and Metohija.
So, they were bringing up this internal problem of Serbia in various international forums and they were actually provoking clashes on the territory of Serbia. Many policemen, many teachers, many soldiers and many Serbian public workers were killed in 1997-1998. And so in 1998 the government did not have any other possibility than to confront the rising terrorism in Kosovo and Metohija.
At that time the US started to initiate negotiations with Milosevic. Richard Holbrook was leading negotiations, there were rounds and rounds of negotiations. All the time it was clearly seen that Americans are siding and propping up separatism in Kosovo and Metohija, and squeezing Serbia, squeezing Milosevic to accept various conditions that in principle were not acceptable.
âFrom that moment onwards it was absolutely irrelevant what we thought about KLA, whether it was a terrorist or a liberation organization, because âthe center of powerâ decided it was an ally.â
This organization later on, during military NATO aggression against Yugoslavia which started March 24rth 1999, became a ground force of NATO. NATO was in the air and KLA was on the ground.
So, we actually see a certain period of preparation of this aggression. First stage o preparations had objective to stigmatize President Milosevic and the Government of Yugoslavia as intolerant, authoritarian, uncooperative and unpredictable. The whole network of western propaganda, of NATO propaganda, was repeating accusa\tions of the State Department and of the Foreign Office in London. The stigmatization was the first stage of preparing the European and international public for what was to follow later â for the war.
Then, they staged the so-called massacre of Albanian civilians in RaÄak, in Kosovo and Metohija. In RaÄak there was a security action of the security forces of Yugoslavia against units of KLA. And it was announced to the OSCE and to the so-called âinternational communityâ that there will be a security operation against the terrorist organization.
And everybody in place, in Kosovo and Metohija and from the international community were informed. And some of them really did observe, some of them even filmed the operation. It was a legitimate operation of the government forces against terrorism.
But nevertheless, the American Ambassador Walker who was in charge of the OSCE mission in Kosovo and Metohija proclaimed: âIt was a massacre of civilians!â
This was like a triggering moment for NATO to take action. And this is a detail which was to be repeated in many ways later on.
Before that we had, in Bosnia, the so-called Markale incident when civilians queuing in front of a bakery were bombed and killed and accusations were immediately directed at the Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while today we have even the military from the former Muslim side and IzetbegoviÄâs side, and Russian experts and other experts from the UN claiming that there was no proof of the Serbian side being involved in that. Everybody says that Muslims had provoked this massacre themselves in order to attribute it to the Serbian âenemyâ.
We have in Syria, you know, about the Sarin gas and so on.
Robles: If we could, before we get too far along here, because I have a lot of questions, because this is the exact same thing that theyâve done in Libya, in Syria, in Ukraine, now in Bosnia they are trying to do it again, in EgyptâŠ Every country they want to overthrow they do the same thing. Theyâll support any terrorist. In Ukraine they are supporting neo-Nazis. It doesnât matter, as long as they can overthrow the government. In the Middle East they are supporting Al-Qaeda. In Libya, in Syria it is Al-Qaeda terrorists. I agree with you 100%. Iâd like to ask you some questions. If you could, give me some more details aboutâŠ you were the Foreign Minister, you knew what was going on: why and when exactly did they start talking about Kosovo? That appears to be their initial goal â Kosovo â from the beginning.
Robles: Why is that?
JovanoviÄ: Well, I always claimed from the very beginning, it was not for regional or local objectives. It was a matter of geopolitical objectives of the US and of the leading NATO countries.
Recently at one conference in Germany I was asked: âWhat were the geopolitical reasons for the aggression of NATO on Kosovo?â
I said: âWell it is first of all the realization of the policy of expansion of NATO towards the east. The objective was to make a base for further military expansion towards the Russian borders.â
I was even blunt to say that they want to get closer to the resources of Siberia, to the resources of the Middle East, to the Caspian Basin and so on and so forth.
And the people who asked me the question were quite silent after that, they didnât have any other comments. I think everybody realized that we completely understand the essence of the American strategy.
The American strategy has been tabled in April 2000 at the NATO summit in Bratislava. We have a written document of the renown German politician Willy Wimmer, who was present at that NATO summit, in the form of his report to the then Chancellor Gerhard Schroder. Willy Wimmer among other things in his report quotes that the American strategist informed the NATO allies in Bratislava in April 2000 that the NATO strategy is to establish a similar situation in Europe as it was in times when the Roman Empire was at the peak of its might.
So, they said, from the Baltic to Anatolia, in Turkey, there should be the same situation as in the era of the Roman Empire. And they quoted some concrete examples. They said Poland should be surrounded by friendly countries, Bulgaria and Romania should be a bridge towards Asia, and Serbia should be permanently kept out of European development.
So, we see that conquering Kosovo was a starting point of a US/NATO/EU expansion towards the East. In 1999, exactly 15 years ago the Americans established their military base Bondsteel, which by many political analysts is considered to be the largest American military base in the world outside of the American territory.
Robles: Yet it is!
JovanoviÄ: And if we presume that it is the largest or one of the largest, the question is why it should be based in Kosovo, when Kosovo and Serbia are so small, so tiny places. And there is no explanation from a regional point of view.
This is part 1 of an interview with Ćœivadin JovanoviÄ. You can find the rest of this interview on our website at voiceofrussia.com.
File photo shows the aftermath of twin bomb attacks during the Boston Marathon in April 2013.
By Kevin Barrett - Sun Feb 23, 2014 - PressTV
âBe afraid. Be very afraid.â Yesterday it was a tag-line from a horror movie, but today it is the unofficial motto of the US government.
David Cronenberg's film The Fly told us to âbe very afraidâ of human beings turning into insects â a warning originally issued by Franz Kafka's novel The Metamorphosis.
Kafka and Cronenberg were right. Behavior control experts have learned to âhiveâ the mass mind, effectively turning human beings into the moral, intellectual and spiritual equivalent of insects. And their biggest social control tool is fear.
When people are terrorized, they let their leaders get away with murder. So corrupt leaders have applied âTerror Management Theoryâ to controlling and exploiting populations.
The Wikipedia entry on Terror Management Theory explains: âWhen a follower's mortality is made prominent they will tend to show a strong preference for iconic leaders. An example of this occurred when George W. Bush's approval rating jumped almost 50 percent following the September 11 attacks in the United States.â
George W. Bush an iconic leader?! The notion is laughable. Bush is a doltish drunk who failed at everything he tried. Unlike Obama, Bush is a bad liar â which would have disqualified him from political office were it not for his money and connections and ties to the companies that manufacture voting machines.
But when Americans were terrorized by hideous images of plane crashes, fireballs, and tall buildings exploding into pyroclastic dust clouds chasing screaming crowds through the streets of New York, they would have willingly submitted to a chattering purple-rump baboon as their âiconic leader.â Though Bush's ratings rose 50 percent, the baboon probably could have gotten 60 percent.
How does Terror Management Theory (TMT) work?
According to TMT, human activity is driven by fear of death. People keep busy to avoid facing their own mortality. When reminded of death, they react in predictable ways â including giving up their rights and handing money and power to authoritarian leaders. So unscrupulous leaders, by highlighting certain kinds of threats, can terrorize people into submitting to corrupt authority. In reality, lightning strikes and bathtub drownings are more of a threat than terrorism. But no politician can get away with saying âgive me money and power and I will protect you from bathtubs and lightning.â
Instead, they say: âBe afraid that a plane you are on will be hijacked and crash into a building. Be afraid that a building you are in will be demolished by a plane. Be afraid that anthrax may arrive in your mailbox. Be afraid that a bomb may explode next to you on the street, or that your children will be shot by a maniac while they are at school, or that you and your family will be mowed down by a crazed gunman in a theater or a house of worship.â
Spectacular Hollywood-style violence featuring terror attacks, crazed gunmen firing into crowds, and similar imagery is â according to Terror Management Theory â the perfect tool of social control. All the leaders need to do is stage a certain number of terror incidents and blame someone else. Then they can âcrack down on the terrorists and criminalsâ and keep the population in a state of slavish obedience.
Have US leaders ever staged a fake terror incident?
The answer is yes. The CIA has used false-flag terror attacks to overthrow leaders it doesn't like, and empower leaders on its payroll, all over the world. Recently-declassified documents confirm that the CIA used false-flag shootings and bombings when it installed the Shah on the throne in Iran in 1953.
Another example: Operation Gladio. This was a US-led terror operation that slaughtered European civilians in shootings and bombings during the Cold War. Caught and prosecuted, one low-level participant explained: âYou had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple: to force...the public to turn to the state to ask for greater security.â
Though an investigation by the European Parliament proved that the American Pentagon was behind the wave of âradical leftistâ terror that swept Europe during the Cold War, none of the planners or commanders of Operation Gladio has ever been prosecuted. So Europeans have good reason to suspect that the Madrid train bombings of 2004, the 7/7 London bombings of 2005, and other âterror attacksâ are also Gladio operations directed by corrupt elements of the Western military and intelligence apparatus. Today, a growing number of Americans believe that Operation Gladio never ended. They suspect that the Colorado theater shooting, the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the Sandy Hook school shooting were Gladio-style operations.
These skeptics have good reason to be suspicious.
The Boston bombing was an obvious false-flag operation. Photographs taken at the scene show that Craft International paramilitary forces carried out the bombings, while the Tsarnaev brothers were innocent patsies.
Now the authorities are killing everyone who could reveal the truth. Corrupt police shot Tamerlan Tsarnaev to death while he was naked and handcuffed; then repeatedly ran over his body with a vehicle. Witness Ibragim Todashev was arrested by the FBI, interrogated for several hours, then murdered execution-style â probably because he knew the Tsarnaevs were innocent and refused to change his story. Honest FBI agents connected with the Boston bombing have been âfalling out of helicopters.â Now the Terror Management Theory forces are seeking the death penalty for Dzokhar Tsarnaev in hope of pressuring him to falsely admit guilt by accepting a plea bargain. The Sandy Hook school shooting also appears to have been an exercise in Terror Management Theory. A recent article entitled âTop Ten Reasons: Sandy Hook Was an Elaborate Hoaxâ by professors James Fetzer, James Tracy, and co-authors builds a compelling case that this âschool shootingâ was a contrived spectacle.
During an interview Friday on Truth Jihad Radio, Drs. Tracy and Fetzer discussed evidence that both the Boston bombing and the Sandy Hook shooting may have featured âcrisis actorsâ posing as victims and survivors. If so, both events must have been âterror drillsâ that âwent liveâ as part of a highly-classified Terror Management Theory social-engineering project. James Fetzer cited a recent investigation by former Florida State Trooper and school security expert Wolfgang Halbig: âWolf thinks this (the Sandy Hook false-flag event) was in the planning for years...it was very elaborate.â Halbig's investigation has been hampered by the pervasive secrecy surrounding the Sandy Hook shooting. For example, when Halbig asked for the FBI's report on Sandy Hook, Fetzer says, the FBI personnel âlaughed in his face and told him it wouldn't be released in his lifetime.â
Why would a domestic school shooting be a classified national security secret?
James Tracy speculated on possible motives for staging a school shooting at Sandy Hook: âThere was the realization that it would have given a two to three week window in terms of gun control legislation. And keep in mind that this is also the rationale in the matter of school safety and safety in public places. If we can't expect our children to be safe in public schools, can we expect ourselves and our families to be safe in broader public spaces?â
A nation that cowers in fear at home in front of the television is a nation vulnerable to being manipulated and swindled by its corrupt leadership. Dr. Fetzer has been targeted by bomb threats and Dr. Tracy by media and academic harassment. The media will not mention the obvious questions about these events, except to heap ridicule on those asking them. This adds yet another layer of terror â fear of ridicule and social ostracism â to the mix.
It seems that scary television images are capable of terrorizing people so badly that they become incapable of asking questions. That was the lesson of 9/11.
Today, America is a nation paralyzed by fear; while its larcenous leaders â empowered to shred the Constitution and steal trillions of dollars through the shrewd use of Terror Management Theory â are laughing all the way to the bank.
Obama threatens consequences for Ukraine violence President Yanukovych announces truce has been reached with opposition leaders; US imposes visa bans on 20 Ukranian officials
BY JIM KUHNHENN February 20, 2014 | The Times of Israel
Mexico (AP) â President Barack Obama on Wednesday urged Ukraine to avoid violence against peaceful protesters or face consequences, as the United States considered joining European partners to impose sanctions aimed at ending deadly street clashes that are sparking fears of civil war.
âThere will be consequences if people step over the line,â Obama said shortly after landing in Mexico for a summit with the leaders of Mexico and Canada, as fires burned in central Kiev. âAnd that includes making sure that the Ukrainian military does not step in to what should be a set of issues that can be resolved by civilians.â
Shortly after Obamaâs remarks, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovychâs office said he and opposition leaders had agreed on a truce, although the brief statement offered no details about what it would entail or how it would be implemented.
Meanwhile, the European Union called an extraordinary meeting of its 28 member countries on Thursday to address the situation.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters in Paris that he and his counterparts from Germany and Poland would travel to Ukraine, meeting with the Ukrainian government and opposition before the emergency EU meeting. EU sanctions would typically include banning leading officials from traveling to the EU countries and freezing their assets there.
Obama said he is monitoring the Ukrainian violence âvery carefully.â
âWe expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint and to not resort to violence when dealing with peaceful protesters,â Obama said.
âWe hold the Ukrainian government primarily responsible for making sure that it is dealing with peaceful protesters in an appropriate way, that the Ukrainian people are able to assemble and speak freely about their interests without fear of repression,â Obama said, adding he also expects protesters to remain peaceful.
Secretary of State John Kerry, in Paris for meetings with Fabius and others, said he was disturbed by the level of abuse demonstrated by the Ukrainian government and protesters.
âWe are talking about the possibility of sanctions or other steps in order to create the atmosphere for compromise,â he said.
It was not immediately clear Wednesday what sort of sanctions or penalties the US could impose.
State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said visa restrictions already have been imposed against some members of the Ukrainian government, and cited âdifferent kinds of individual sanctions that can be leviedâ without being specific. She said officials are still trying to determine who is responsible for the violence and described a sense of urgency within the Obama administration âto make decisions very, very soon about what we will do next.â
Kerry said the situation is bad but thereâs room for dialogue and that itâs up to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to decide the future of his country.
âOur desire is for President Yanukovych to bring people together, dialogue with the opposition and find (a way) to compromise and put the broad interests of the people of Ukraine out front,â he said.
âWe are convinced there is still space for that to happen. The violence can be avoided and, in the end, the aspirations of the people of Ukraine can be met through that kind of dialogue. That is our hope,â he added.
Deadly clashes between police and anti-government protesters in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev on Tuesday left at least 25 people dead and hundreds injured.
Ben Rhodes, Obamaâs deputy national security adviser, told reporters traveling with Obama aboard Air Force one that what happened Tuesday was âcompletely outrageousâ and will be a factor in US decision-making.
Rhodes said there was still time for the Ukrainian government to avoid sanctions or other punishment by pulling back its âriot police,â respecting peopleâs right to protest peacefully, releasing protesters who have been arrested and pursuing a âserious dialogueâ with the opposition about how to unify the country.
A senior State Department official, who is closely following the unrest in Ukraine, said Wednesday that US officials were concerned about the Ukrainian presidentâs decision to replace the army chief. The military has announced that it would take part in a national anti-terrorist operation to restore order. US officials have been able to stay in direct contact senior security force leaders in the Ukrainian government, but in the past 24 hours that has been difficult because they are not answering their phones, the official said.
The official was not authorized to be quoted by name and would brief reporters only on condition of anonymity.
In January, the US Embassy in Kiev revoked existing visas of Ukrainians the US suspected were complicit in violence against protesters in December. On Wednesday, the US denied admission to the United States for about 20 individual Ukrainians the US believes are responsible for the actions against the most recent violence Tuesday night in Kievâs Independence Square, also known as the Maidan. This action means that if they were to apply for visas, they would be denied.
The official said these individuals represent the âfull chain of command that we consider responsible for ordering security forces to move against the Maidan yesterday.â
On Capitol Hill, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said they were working on legislation that would impose narrowly focused sanctions against Ukrainians who have committed, ordered or supported acts of violence against peaceful protesters, or who are complicit in a rollback of Ukraineâs democracy.
âThere must be consequences for the escalation of violence in Ukraine,â they said in a statement. âUnfortunately, that time has now come.â
Visiting the Golan Heights on Tuesday, Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of âarming those who are carrying out the slaughterâ in neighbouring Syria Photo: AFP
US Homeland Security says Israeli arms dealers have been sending spare military jet parts to Iran in breach of sanctions.
Menelaos Tzafalias, Athens - Robert Tait, Jerusalem - 19 Feb 2014 - Telegraph.co.uk
Israeli arms dealers twice tried to send spare parts for fighter planes to Iran, The Telegraph has established, flouting an international arms embargo and openly contradicting the bitter enmity between the Jewish state and the Islamic regime.
The illegal shipments are now being investigated by the US Homeland Security Department after they were intercepted by authorities in Greece.
The potentially explosive revelation came as six world powers resumed negotiations with Iran in Vienna aimed at reaching a long-term agreement over Tehranâs nuclear programme.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, marked the event with a renewed call for increased pressure on Iran to force it to abandon a programme that Israel regards as a front for building an atomic bomb and a threat to its existence.
Visiting the Golan Heights on Tuesday, he accused Iran of âarming those who are carrying out the slaughterâ in neighbouring Syria.
âI would like to tell the world, today, as the talks between the major powers and Iran are being resumed, that Iran has changed neither its aggressive policy nor its brutal character. Iran is continuing to support the Assad regime, which is slaughtering its own people,â Mr Netanyahu said. But a court in Athens has told The Telegraph that parts appearing on an American list of forbidden military-grade materials had been shipped from Israel on two occasions, apparently destined for Iran.
The seized items comprised spare parts for military aircraft: a constant speed drive designed for the F-4 Phantom jet, and a voltage output sensor used in the F-14 Tomcat. The parts were confiscated by Greeceâs financial crimes squad and were being sent to the US for investigation, court officials said.
The defence and foreign ministries in Israel declined to comment on the seizures, which were first revealed by Kathimerini, a Greek newspaper.
The shipments - one in Dec 2012 and the other last April - were sent by courier from the Israeli town of Binyamina-Givat Ada, near Haifa, via a company in Greece, the newspaper reported.
The firm was later established to be a ghost company. Its contact number was said to belong to a British national in the Greek city of Thessaloniki, who could not be traced.
Israeli media carried only brief versions of the report, suggesting that the matter may be subject to the countryâs strict military censorship.
Writing in Yedioth Ahronoth, Israelâs biggest-selling newspaper, Alex Fishman, a military-affairs commentator, suggested that the report may have been leaked by US officials as a coded warning to Israel not to try to sabotage the nuclear negotiations with Iran, which were continuing yesterday.
A blogger, Richard Silverstein pointed the finger at two possible culprits who he said were well-known arms dealers living in Binyamina-Givat Ada. The pair had come to the attention of Israeli and US authorities on suspicion of violating the arms embargo on Iran in the past, Silverstein wrote, but had never been charged or prosecuted. âThere can be no doubt that they are colluding with Israeli intelligence,â he added.
Previous illicit Israeli arms shipments to Iran have come to the public attention, notably in the 1986 Iran-Contra scandal, when it emerged that Israel was acting as a conduit to send weapons to from the US to Iran in exchange for its help in winning the release of American hostages held in Lebanon. In 1998, an Israeli court sentenced Nahum Manbar, a businessman and former decorated soldier, to 16 years in prison after he was convicted of secretly selling Iran equipment to make chemical weapons.
Iranâs ageing fleets of up to 75 US-made F-4 Phantoms and 19 F-14 Tomcats were purchased under the Shah, when the country was close to Washington. Israel, once the largest foreign operator of the Phantom, retired its last F-4s in 2004, suggesting that the spare sold may have been second hand. The Pentagon stopped selling spare parts for the F-14 in 2007, fearing that they might end up in Iran, the only country where the F14 is still in operation.
The US later shredded its own fleet to ensure that spare parts could not be acquired. Iranâs need of equipment for its Tomcats was exposed in Jan 2012 when one crashed shortly after take-off, killing both crew members.
Brown: Is This The Scandal That Will Bring Obama Down? By Floyd and Mary Beth Brown - GOPusa.com - Jan 11, 2013 6:53 am
It's even worse than we previously thought. A retired four-star admiral is now claiming that Barack Obama intentionally conspired with America's enemies to stage a bogus attack and the kidnapping of an American ambassador so he could "negotiate" the release of a "hostage" and bolster his mediocre approval ratings just prior to the election?
The Washington Examiner, quoting retired Four-Star Admiral James Lyons, writes: "the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi... was the result of a bungled abduction attempt.... the first stage of an international prisoner exchange... that would have ensured the release of Omar Abdel Rahman, the 'Blind Sheik'..."
But something went horribly wrong with Obama's "October Surprise." Although the Obama Administration intentionally gutted security at the consulate prior to the staged kidnapping, former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty disobeyed direct orders to stand down, saved American lives, single-handedly killed scores of attackers...and the attackers, believing that the Obama had betrayed them, tortured Ambassador Chris Stevens and dragged his body through the streets.
Some will say that Admiral Lyons' accusation is not a smoking gun. We agree, that's exactly why Congress must investigate Benghazi-gate.
Moreover, we firmly believe the problem with Admiral Lyons' assertion is that he is only scratching the surface the full and complete truth may be much, much worse.
Benghazi-gate is not about a bogus YouTube video series of lies. It's not about the Obama Administration's foreign policy ineptitude. We are dealing with something much more sinister... something potentially treasonous... and the following questions, posed in an article in The New American, go to the heart of the matter:
1. "What was the Obama administration's full role in helping violent Jihadists, self-styled al Qaeda terrorists, and Western-backed "revolutionaries" take over Libya in the first place?
2. Did that half-baked scheme to arm Jihadist leaders, who... had previously fought U.S. troops in Iraq, contribute to the attack, as countless experts and officials have suggested?
3. What was actually going on at the compound in Benghazi, which as the report states, was never a "consulate" despite establishment media claims?
4. Was Ambassador Stevens recruiting and arming Jihadists and terrorists to wage war on the Syrian regime after what Obama called the "success" in Libya, as a growing body of credible evidence suggests?
5. Why did the administration claim for so long that the attack was just a "protest" over a YouTube video gone awry, even when it knew definitively that was not the case?
6. Was the lack of security at the compound a political ploy to conceal the extent of the lawlessness and utter chaos left in the wake of Obama's unconstitutional "regime change" war on Libya, as even members of Congress have alleged?"
It's clear. Benghazi-Gate is only a small piece of a much larger operation, an attempt to conceal what The New American calls; "the Obama administration's full role in helping violent Jihadists and self-styled al Qaeda terrorists."
Prior to the election Barack Obama continually told us that "Osama bin-Laden is dead and GM is alive," but the sad truth is that Osama bin-Laden's organization is alive and well and the Obama Regime may be giving aid and comfort to this terrorist network.
And prior to the election, Fox News' Geraldo Rivera pontificated that Republicans shouldn't "politicize" Benghazi-gate. Swaggering onto the set of Fox and Friends Rivera bloviated: "I think we have to stop this politicizing" and Rivera issued the following veiled warning to Republicans: "Do we want to try and influence the election with a tragedy that happened in North Africa?"
Ironic, isn't it? Barack Obama played politics with the lives of Americans, like Rivera, the media covered Obama's rear and threatened to accuse anyone and everyone who mentioned it of "playing politics."
Weak-willed Republicans apparently took Rivera's threat to heart as Rivera also said that Republican Senators John Barrasso, James Inhofe and Bob Corker, who all sit on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee "all agree that the supercharged atmosphere around the story â prudence dictates that these hearings be postponed until" after the election.
Well, the election has come and gone. Congress now has no excuse. The American people needed the truth before the election, but now that Obama is back in the White House real conservatives must demand answers.
The American people deserve to have those questions answered and moreover the American people deserve justice.
Sources suggest the Benghazi attack was a bungled abduction attempt November 15, 2012 - Examiner.com
Retired Four-Star Admiral James âAceâ Lyons, one of the guests on âLou Dobbs Tonightâ this past Wednesday evening, suggests the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11 was the result of a bungled abduction attempt.
Admiral Lyons, whose career in the United States (U.S.) Navy was capped by two years of service as the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet from 1985 to 1987, thinks this kidnapping was planned to be the first stage of an international prisoner exchange. This transfer of prisoners would have ensured the release of Omar Abdel Rahman, the âBlind Sheikâ convicted of orchestrating the World Trade Center Bombing in 1993.
Lyons' analysis of the evidence led him to the failed kidnapping conclusion
Admiral James Lyons suggests the Obama administration intentionally lessened the levels of security at the consulate compound in Benghazi in the weeks leading up to the attack. This plan should have worked to reduce the possibility of resistance as the Ansar al-Sharia terrorist organization captured Chris Stevens, the American Ambassador to Libya.
According to information obtained by Fox News, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, both former U.S. Navy Seals, ignored orders to "stand down" and fought vigorously for hours in their attempt to defend the compound from the impending attack.
Ultimately, these armed assaults on the U.S. Consulate and CIA annex claimed the life of four Americans--Ambassador Chris Stevens, former U.S. Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, and State Department information manager Sean Smith.
Failed kidnapping attempt theory proposed by Western Center for Journalism
In October 2012, the Western Center for Journalism released two separate articles suggesting the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in the Benghazi attack was the result of a failed kidnapping attempt aborted by the complicit terrorists when they encountered the unexpected armed resistance at the U.S. Consulate.
On October 20, Kris Zane published the centerâs initial article âMuslim Brotherhood Behind Benghazi Attack with Link to Obama.â Zane suggests the âInnocence of Muslimsâ video was nothing more than a scapegoat the Obama administration utilized to distract the public from the incriminating information being gathered from the investigations into the attack at Benghazi, Libya.
Within 24 hours of the incident, ground intelligence had already linked the assault on the compound to Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt. Therefore, the Obama administration had already determined by September 12 the online video had absolutely nothing to do with the armed assault on the American Consulate and CIA annex.
Later in the article, Zane cites an anonymous source from inside the White House that explained the Benghazi debacle had been constructed in order to deliver an âOctober surprise for Obama.â The administrationâs plan was to abduct Ambassador Stevens to ensure the release of Abdel Rahman would be more âpalatable to the American people.â
By winning the release of Stevens, Obama would have boosted his mediocre approval ratings just in time for Election Day, and Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood could have secured the freedom of their beloved âBlind Sheik.â
On October 23, news networks received and released emails confirming that all vital intelligence agencies had been informed of the severity of the attack within two hours of the confrontation. These same communications had also been forwarded to the White House Situation Room.
On October 25, Kris Zane published his second article on the incident âObama Linked to Benghazi Attack.â This submission also included a video detailing the facts and research Zane had gathered to support his conclusion that this botched abduction attempt was the real reason behind the deadly Benghazi attack.
Judge Mukasey links Obama to release of sheik
Almost a month before the Western Center for Journalism shared its conclusions in regards to the Benghazi attack, the Wall Street Journal had published an article on September 24, 2012 from Judge Michael Mukasey entitled âWill Obama Free the Blind Sheik?â
In his submission, Mukasey questioned the wisdom of releasing this âpoisonously influential Islamic Clericâ Omar Abdel Rahman back to his homeland. Upon Rahmanâs release to Egypt, Judge Mukasey concluded the sheik would incite additional domestic and international acts of terror against Americans.
Judge Mukasey, who presided over Abdel Rahmanâs trial in 1995, had sentenced the sheik to life in prison upon his conviction for the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing, numerous plots to destroy other landmarks in New York City, and conspiring to assassinate Hosni Mubarak, the President of Egypt.
According to Mukasey, Rahmanâs âlegacyâ as an âtotemic figureâ for Islamic militants originated in 1981, when his "pronouncements" were used by Egyptian soldiers to justify their assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
Mukasey informs his readers of the June 2012 meeting at the White House when Hani Nour Eldin urged that Abdel Rahman be transferred to Egypt. Questions immediately arose as to how Eldin, who had just completed an 11 year sentence for terrorism charges and was also a professed member of a designated terrorist organization, could have even been granted a visa to enter the U.S., much less secure a visit to the White House.
After an adamant series of interrogations from Congress, Homeland Security official Nelson Peacock admitted that while the issuance of Eldinâs visa failed to raise âwarning flags,â regulations would have required him to receive âwaiver from someone in authorityâ for admittance to the U.S.
Sources suggest Clintonâs documents confirm orders for additional security
Well-renowned writer Ed Klein appeared as a guest on The Blaze TVâs âWilkow!â on October 24 to discuss the existence of documents confirming Clinton ordered additional security for the compound in Benghazi, Libya prior to the attack on September 11 2012.
Host Andrew Wilkow spoke with Klein, who reported âlegal counselâ for the Clintons had informed him of Bill and Hillaryâs numerous heated discussions in recent weeks regarding the release of these papers.
Ed Klein insisted these communications written by Hillary Clinton had ordered additional security to be provided in Benghazi, and Obama blatantly refused her request. These documents could be used to further support the rampant suspicions Obama had ulterior motives for leaving the American outpost virtually unguarded from outside aggressors.
Bill Clinton tried to convince Hillary to go forward with her written requests so she would be exonerated from any wrong-doing in the attack. Hillary refused to disclose the orders for additional security out of fear she would be labeled as a "betrayer" of the Democratic Party. This "betrayal" would have eliminated her chance to run for president in 2016.
It is worth noting that within days of Obamaâs reelection, Hillary Clinton resigned from her cabinet position as Secretary of State. This resignation infers there is truth to the widely reported rumors that the relationship between the Clintons and Obama has always been "tense at best."
Congress and the media question timing of General Petraeusâ resignation
Further confounding analysts trying to determine what really happened in Benghazi on the night of September 11 are the recent revelations about General David Petraeusâ affair with his Biographer Paula Broadwell.
General Petraeus publicly stated this affair with his biographer was the reason he submitted his resignation. News of this sex scandal surfaced less than a week after Election Day, when a slim majority of American voters had re-elected Barack Obama as President of the United States.
Reports indicate the FBI initiated an investigation over the summer regarding General Petraeusâ extramarital affair and the potential related threats to national security. However, the agency never alerted Congress of the potential compromise of confidential information.
The Obama administration has also insisted it was never notified by the FBI of the pending investigation prior to the election. However, many critics now conclude the White House intentionally delayed the announcement of Petraeusâ resignation to avoid any impact on Obamaâs reelection bid.
Tracking down the truths behind the Benghazi attack will take time and tenacity
The circumstantial evidence increasingly supports the various sources currently suggesting the attacks on the U.S. Consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya was in fact an aborted abduction attempt resulting in the murder of four Americans. However, tracking down the truth will take time and tenacity for all of the investigators involved in the hunt for honest answers.
Voters can play a pivotal role in ensuring the actual account of events will be released by repeatedly contacting local and national media sources, as well as their elected congressional representatives. It is imperative the American electorate demand honesty, transparency, and accountability in the investigation of the attack that lead the death of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
While the establishment press has failed to notice the corruption allegations so far, analysts are already calling for a special prosecutor to properly investigate the charges and restore accountability. Based on the accusations laid out in the warning to the public, IRS attorney Bill Henck has tried unsuccessfully to have authorities investigate and deal with the corruption. When nothing significant to rein in the abuses happened, he eventually went to the press. Despite exposure of some of the lawlessness in at least two major newspapers, however, the scams and abuses victimizing taxpayers continued, Henck said. He was then subjected to a âretaliatory auditâ by IRS officials for his efforts, he added.
âI have personally witnessed improper giveaways of billions of dollars to taxpayers with inside access at the agency, bullying of elderly taxpayers, the cover-up of managerial embezzlement and misappropriation of thousands of dollars in government funds, and a retaliatory audit,â Henck wrote in his blistering account of the decades he spent working at the IRS, which was published on February 6. âI have also heard credible accounts of, among other things, further improper giveaways, blatant sexual harassment, and anti-Semitism. All of these matters have been swept under the rug.â Henck said he had no personal knowledge of the IRS being used as a political attack dog to target conservative organizations and individuals. However, he also noted that the âenvironment within the agency is ripe for such activity and there is nothing to prevent it from occurring.â Further down in the letter, the IRS attorney also said he fears that the stories told by ordinary citizens of IRS abuse due to political views are true. In fact, Henck added, based on what he has experienced while at the agency, it would be ânaĂŻveâ to think that IRS executives would draw the line at politically motivated harassment while engaging in everything else he described.
Of course, the latest IRS scandal involving harassment and targeting of Tea Party groups for extra audits and scrutiny to muzzle the voices of Americans in elections is now well known. One of the key players in the lawlessness â or at least the fall person, depending on oneâs point of view â was senior IRS official Lois Lerner, who pled the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying and incriminating herself. Countless analysts and critics suspect the corruption went much higher â potentially all the way to the White House. More recently, Dr. Benjamin Carson, who lambasted Obama to his face during a National Prayer Breakfast last year, accused the agency of retaliating against him and his family for the criticism.
âThe IRS has investigated me. They said, âI want to look at your real estate holdings.â There was nothing there,â Dr. Carson told Newsmax TV this week. ââWell, letâs expand to an entire [year], everything.â There was nothing there. âLetâs do another year.â Finally, after a few months, they went away. But theyâve come after my family, theyâve come after my friends, theyâve come after associates.â He added: "We live in a Gestapo age, people donât realize it. But what I say is the Congress has to, at some point, step up to the plate.â
Henck, who still works at the agency, says the âvast majorityâ of his colleagues at the IRS are honest and do their jobs in a âconscientious manner.â However, what he called the âculture of corruptionâ within the agency goes beyond the typical âshare of bad apples and misconductâ that exists within other organizations. âWhat separates the IRS is its junkyard dog ferocity in covering up misconduct,â he said. âThere is no accountability for IRS misconduct and people within the agency are scared to speak out and also believe, with considerable justification, that such action would be futileâ â not to mention potentially fatal to their careers.
Among the scandals Henck described within the agency is abuse of taxpayers, who he said âwere denigrated in writing as âupper class twitsâ.â Despite weaknesses in the IRSâs legal positions, he continued, at least one âcadre memberâ on an IRS team argued that âthe taxpayers in these cases were typically elderly and could be forced into settling their cases.â Henck had suggested in one of the cases that the IRS concede due to errors in its position, but higher-ups refused. Other revelations include how lobbyists meet with top IRS officials to organize schemes benefiting their clients, how taxpayers are being ripped off using a variety of scams, and much more.
âI am reporting the information stated above because as a federal employee, I took an oath to the United States. I have a legal and moral obligation to report this information,â Henck said after detailing multiple abuses at the agency. âAll Americans should be concerned when IRS officials see themselves as above the law because they are, in fact, above the law. The misconduct described above is united in the complete lack of accountability on the part of IRS officials.â
Citing the allegations made by Henck and other recent scandals surrounding the administration, Thomas Lifson at the American Thinker said it was time for serious action. âThese charges deserve official investigation, and because the Eric Holder Department of Justice cannot be trusted to appoint someone with an interest in getting at the truth, the charges ought to be part of a special prosecutor's mandate,â he wrote, adding that Congress should investigate. âOf all government agencies, the IRS has the most arbitrary and easily-abused power. Corruption within its ranks cannot be tolerated, for it has the potential to metastasize rapidly into banana republic tyranny.â
âThe mess at the IRS must be taken very, very seriously, or else we shall lose our republic,â Lifson continued. âIt is now time for the House to investigate and loudly call for a special prosecutor.â While Henckâs allegations have spread rapidly across the Internet and the alternative media, the establishment press and lawmakers in Congress do not appear to have noticed yet. However, as the scandals surrounding the IRS continue to grow, it is becoming increasingly obvious that there is much more than just smoke. In fact, it is amazing that what appears to be a raging inferno has been allowed to burn for so long without any serious efforts to stamp it out.
Incredibly, as if the tsunami of scandals plaguing the agency was not enough to at least rein in the lawless behavior, the IRS is now openly seeking to re-write its âregulationsâ in a brazen effort to silence conservative Americans. Around the world, meanwhile, the agency is seeking to impose a radical U.S. tax regime known as FATCA on every bank and government on Earth. Canadian authorities recently capitulated, and Russiaâs Vladimir Putin government is now negotiating a âdata-sharingâ deal with the IRS as well. All of it is being done without any statutory or constitutional authority whatsoever, according to lawmakers and experts. It is past time for Congress to get involved.
BILL HENCK: INSIDE THE IRS POSTED ON FEBRUARY 6, 2014 BY SCOTT JOHNSON IN IRS
As noted at the top, William Henck has worked inside the IRS Office of the General Counsel as an attorney for over 26 years. We submit the following personal account by Mr. Henck for the consideration of readers in the context of current controversies without further comment. He writes:
I have been an attorney in the IRS Office of Chief Counsel for over 26 years. Over a number of years, I have attempted, largely unsuccessfully, to alert the public to abuse within the IRS. One of my kids suggested that I contact a blog and Power Line has graciously agreed to publish this account.
I do not personally know whether the IRS has targeted conservative groups or individuals, but I do know that the environment within the agency is ripe for such activity and there is nothing to prevent it from occurring. As stated in more detail below, I have personally witnessed improper giveaways of billions of dollars to taxpayers with inside access at the agency, bullying of elderly taxpayers, the cover-up of managerial embezzlement and misappropriation of thousands of dollars in government funds, and a retaliatory audit. I have also heard credible accounts of, among other things, further improper giveaways, blatant sexual harassment, and anti-Semitism. All of these matters have been swept under the rug.
A number of years ago, a manager in my office was embezzling thousands of dollars in travel funds. His actions were common knowledge, but other managers, including a currently high ranking executive in the office of chief counsel, did not report him. I did report his conduct to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), but they did not investigate the matter for a considerable length of time. After I complained to my local congressmanâs office, TIGTA finally forwarded the matter to the office of chief counsel to be handled internally. Eventually, the office of chief counsel made the manager pay the money back, but took no other disciplinary action, even though others who committed the same type of scheme were punished severely.
The manager in question has led a charmed life. Several years after this episode, he decided to retire, but was starting a new job in a different city two months before he was eligible to retire. He could have retired early or taken annual leave for two months before retiring. However, he did not want to take annual leave because federal employees can cash out annual leave when they retire. Rather than have him burn at least $20,000 in annual leave, the IRS transferred him to the new city, but did not give him any work, allowing him to work his new job while still receiving a government paycheck. I obtained an e-mail from this manager, in which he admitted that he had no work, that the IRS was not planning to give him any work in the new city, and that he was working on matters related to his new job while at the IRS. I forwarded this e-mail to TIGTA, but of course it was ignored by both TIGTA and the office of chief counsel. TIGTA has a well deserved reputation for protecting IRS managers. In fact, a TIGTA agent once stated that âwe donât investigate [IRS] managers.â
At the same time the manager was embezzling travel funds, I was working on a case involving what I call the Elmerâs Glue scam. Tax shelter operators misused a synthetic fuel credit by spraying watered down household glue on marketable coal, degrading the coal, but producing huge tax credits for investors. This was costing the Treasury at least $3 billion a year. The IRS turned a blind eye to this activity and harassed those of us in the agency who were trying to stop it. Since I had witnessed TIGTA help cover up embezzlement, I decided to go to the press about the Elmerâs Glue scam. The Wall Street Journal published a story about it, but the scam continued.
As a result of complaining about TIGTAâs inaction regarding embezzlement and speaking out about the Elmerâs Glue scam, my wife and I were subjected to a retaliatory IRS audit. After an experienced revenue agent from Fairfax spent an entire day auditing our tax returns, he stated that they were clean. Soon thereafter, he called me and apologetically stated that his âspecial projectsâ manager had ordered him to return to Richmond and âkeep diggingâ into our returns. He stated that his regular manager would not have ordered this (I believe that because in 26 years at the IRS, I have never heard of an agent being sent back to continue a straightforward individual return that had been judged to be clean). I contacted the Washington Post and gave them a privacy waiver to discuss our tax returns with the Service. When the Post presented that waiver to the Service, they quickly dropped our audit.
Within the past few years, the IRS has used a âcadreâ to pursue a particular type of case. I was assigned one of those cases that was in Tax Court. I believed that we should concede the case in question because our legal position was incorrect. As a result, I was called a quitter and a coward, was threatened with retaliation, and in fact suffered retaliation. The âcadreâ (I hate that term, but thatâs what they call themselves) pushed cases with an obvious legal defect. Taxpayers were denigrated in writing as âupper class twitsâ and one cadre member stated that, despite the weakness in our legal position, the taxpayers in these cases were typically elderly and could be forced into settling their cases. I stated my ethical concerns to management, but they answered with a short non-response and did not even bother to ask for the name of the cadre member who stated that we could bully elderly taxpayers into settling their cases. (The Tax Court ultimately rejected the Serviceâs position regarding the legal issue.)
Finally, there is the matter of black liquor. Black liquor is a byproduct of paper manufacture. Paper manufacturers were able to persuade the IRS to qualify black liquor for a refundable tax credit. This cost the Treasury approximately $6 to 7 billion a year. Congress in fact put a stop to it after tax year 2009. Thatâs when the real backroom abuse started. Most of the companies reported the refundable credits as taxable income on their tax returns and the position within the IRS internally was that these credits were taxable income. In fact, there is a revenue ruling issued by the IRS that states that farmers with similar refundable credits have to report the credits as taxable income. However, Washington lobbyists met with high ranking IRS, chief counsel, and Treasury Department officials and got the decision regarding black liquor reversed. Taxpayers then filed refund claims with respect to the amounts that they had previously reported as taxable income and the IRS exam teams were told to stand down. This cost the Treasury at least $2 billion for tax year 2009.
I was assisting an exam team involved with this issue. The revenue agents and I discussed the issue with a high-ranking official in the IRS. He told us not to pursue the issue of whether the credit amounts were taxable income. When I asked that he put that instruction in writing, even in an e-mail, since he was asking the exam team to ignore published IRS guidance, he stated that the IRS chief counsel had ordered that nothing be put in writing on the subject. I raised my ethical concerns with management, but was ignored.
I contacted Steve Mufson, a reporter for the Washington Post. Steve wrote a detailed story in July that laid out the abusive situation. The response in Washington was a collective yawn. I contacted numerous congressional staffers and journalists about the story, but no one cared about the $2 billion loss to the Treasury. One result of the story, however, was that it smoked out the IRS. In early November, the Service issued low level guidance called a chief counsel advice (CCA, but it should be a CYA), that attempted to defend the indefensible. In addition, the IRS had contacted the Treasury Department about the CCA prior to its issuance, but did not list Treasury as a third party contact in the CCA, in violation of IRC section 6110(d). I have attempted to simplify a complex subject, but suffice it to say that if you are a farmer, a refundable tax credit associated with an excise tax is taxable income. If you have inside access at the IRS, it is not taxable income. That is the bottom line.
I am reporting the information stated above because as a federal employee, I took an oath to the United States. I have a legal and moral obligation to report this information. I am proud of my colleagues in the IRS. The vast majority of us attempt to do our jobs in a conscientious manner. However, there is a culture of corruption within the IRS that dishonors that majority and the government we serve. Any organization will have its share of bad apples and misconduct. What separates the IRS is its junkyard dog ferocity in covering up misconduct. There is a strong cultural imperative within the IRS to protect the organization and high-ranking officialsâ positions within it. If you report misconduct or dissent from the party line, your career is finished. Period. (For example, I still as of this moment have a job, but my career was finished as soon as I reported that manager for embezzlement.)
Some may read this account and view much of the misconduct I have reported as minor. However, to quote former FBI profiler John Douglas, no one wakes up one day and decides to become a serial killer. In other words, there is a pattern to human behavior. All Americans should be concerned when IRS officials see themselves as above the law because they are, in fact, above the law. The misconduct described above is united in the complete lack of accountability on the part of IRS officials.
As stated above, I have no direct knowledge of harassment for political reasons. I fear, however, that the ordinary citizens recounting stories of IRS abuse due to their political beliefs are telling the truth. (It is naĂŻve to think that IRS executives would engage in the activities described above, but somehow draw the line at politically motivated harassment.) If these taxpayer accounts are true, then the IRS executives are doing it for a very simple reason: because they can. There is no accountability for IRS misconduct and people within the agency are scared to speak out and also believe, with considerable justification, that such action would be futile.
I have chosen to speak out in part because I have personally experienced the horrific damage that bureaucratic bullies can inflict. I also have tried to live up to the admonition in Romans 12:21: do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. I could sit around and knock down Jim Beam and complain, or I could try to do something constructive about the situation. I chose the latter option.
NBC-Comcast agrees to buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion - Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable TV company, agreed to buy No. 2 Time Warner Cable Inc. for about $45.2 billion in stock, or $158.82 per share, the two companies announced Thursday morning.
The proposed merger with Time Warner means Comcast wants to screw you over even more.
Ten Even Worse Things You Donât Know About Comcastâs Proposed Merger With Time Warner A greedy, arrogant, connected corporation wants a bigger monopoly.
By Steven Rosenfeld - 2/14/2014 - AlterNet
Talk about revenge of the C students! The nationâs biggest telecom company, Comcast, which took over NBCUniversal a year ago, wants to buy the second biggest company, Time-Warner Cable, to create an empire of 30-million subscribers. Thatâs a third of all American homes with cable for its TV, internet service and telephones.
The merger has to be approved by federal regulators as being in the public interest and not a monopoly. How Comcast, the worldâs largest media company and one of Americaâs most reviled companies threads that needle will be a sight to behold. Here are 10 things about its recordâon customer service, profiteering, lobbying and sky-high political connectionsâthat you may not know.
1. Worst Company In America Lists. Itâs bad enough that both Comcast and Time-Warner are regularly cited on âworst companyâ lists and are at the bottom of consumer surveys for subscription television services. Consumerist, which ranked it the third worst company in 2013, has a string of reports describing the numerous ways that Comcast rips off subscribersâoverpromising and underdeliveringâincluding CEO Brian Robertsâs reply last fall blaming his customers for Comcastâs bad reputation, saying that it is noticed only because a giant company like his gets lots and lots of service calls.
2. Local Cable Already Is A Monopoly. As most cable users know, cable companies already are a monopoly. There is no alternative provider offering the mix of TV, internet and phone in most locales. The nationâs business press thinks thatâs fine and has lauded Comcastâsuch as this Forbes articleâfor succeeding âby providing less customer service.â Industry spin like that has lead to a phenomenon rarely seen in online journalism: torrents of incredibly detailed comments describing just how much people despise Comcast and wish there was competition for telecom services.
âComcast is one of the worst companies in this country,â replied Sandi D to that Forbes piece, saying how she spent nine weeks to resolve issues and only got a response after filing a formal complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Another writer, Allawash, was billed for data speeds that Comcastâs equipment wouldnât deliver, telling Forbes, âThey are relying on customerâs lack of knowledge to nickel and dime them.â Commenter Craig Oren said, âHalf of the [customer service] representatives cannot speak English fluently.â Other websites have dozens and dozens of comments following Comcast articles with examples detailing their lousy experiences with the service, tech support and billing.
3. Their Pricing Is Predatory And Will Become Worse. Like big banks, Comcast is always looking for new fees and charges to top off its pricey monthly costâwhich is four times as expensive as Europe. Last November, it announced a new $1.50 âbroadcast TV feeâ would begin in 2014 in addition to the monthly rate, Consumerist reported. âOthers, like AT&T and Charter have similar tack-on fees, but unlike those companies, which have not benefitted in any way from increased retransmission fees charged by broadcasters, Comcast also happens to own NBC,â it said, making the point that Comcast already owns much of the contentâsuch as coverage of the Olympicsâthat itâs charging double for.
What will customers receive for this fee? According to TechDirt.com, more commercials, especially when people are watching reruns of old TV series. âBasically, Comcast wants to flip the current advertising system upsides-down and have older episodes of primetime shows carrying the same commercial load as the most recent episode,â it reported. These are examples of why a deal giving Comcastâalready Americaâs biggest cable company and internet-service providerâmore monopoly power is bad for the public.
4. Comcastâs Contempt for Customers Is More Widespread. Itâs astounding to read what Comcast executives have said about how they treat customers. Matt Strauss, senior vice-president of video services, boasted to The New York Post in December that their on-demand video service system disables fast-forwarding through commercials, which frustrates users but earns Comcast billions more from ad sales. In another example of its greed trumping the video viewersâ experience, The Wall Street Journal reports that it is talking to Netflix about making its shows available to subscribers, but Comcast wonât give Netflix access to the best-quality video streaming. âNetflix believes the technology is critical,â the Journal reported last October, adding, âNo deal is imminent.â
5. Comcastâs Antics Include Its Broadband Service. Comcast isnât just a TV company. It is a giant internet service provider, as well as phone company for some people. When it comes to the internet, TechDirt reports that Comcast âis still continuing its stealthy push toward capped broadband.â Techdirt is referring to charging people by how much data flows into their homes. The trade journals DSLreports.com said Comcast recently raised prices in âuncompetitiveâ rural media markets in Maine and Georgia. It said, âAugusta locals tell the local media they were surprised to suddenly see they had a 300 GB cap and had to pay $10 for every 50 GB they travel.â Predatory pricing like that is what accounts for its $64.76 in revenues in 2013, with $7.1 billion in net profits.
6. Comcast Blames Users For Its Predatory Pricing. As TechDirt notes, price gouging in media markets where Comcast is the only provider is accompanied by more ridiculous industry spin: Comcast âspokespeople âinformingâ reporters that âmost peopleâ donât use that much data and that sneaking in usage caps is the âfairestâ way to make sure data hogs donât use up all the Internet.â TechDirtâs bottom-line: âItâs just a way to make users pay more for their services.â
7. Comcast says Americans Donât Want Faster Broadband. That explanation for price gouging is the tip of the distorted public relations iceberg that its top executive roll out. A Philadelphia Enquirer op-ed by lobbyist David Cohen touts mediocre broadband speeds by claiming that few people want anything faster. âThe reality is that the United States is leading the way in speed, reach, and accessâand doing so in a vast, rural nation that poses logistical connectivity challenges unlike any other country,â he wrote, ignoring the fact that much of world has far faster and much cheaper internet service. Comcastâs âtriple-playâ monthly packagesâfor TV, internet and phoneâcost from $100 to $200, compared to France, for example, where itâs $40 a month and download speeds are 10 times faster and upload speeds are 20 times faster.
As Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law Professor Susan Crawford detailed in Salon, the broadband service in the U.S.âprovided by Comcast and other telecomsâis far inferior to most of Europe and East Asia. âIn a nutshell, America has a series of regional cable monopolies controlling the pricing and capacity of fixed high-speed Internet access (and every other form of data reaching Americans),â she said.
8. Comcast Also Says People Donât Want Alternatives. In that same Philadelphia Enquirer op-ed, lobbyist Cohen says that Americans donât need what a real competitor, Google Fiber, is offeringâa one-gigabit per second connection via a fiber-optic line. âMost websites canât deliver content as fast as current networks move,â he said, adding, âmost U.S. homes have routers that canât support the speed thatâs already available.â Nowhere in this dig at Googledoes Comcastâs lobbyist suggest that his company would upgrade the gear that itâs put in millions of homes unless user paid more to do it.
âConsumers are demanding faster speeds, though,â TechDirt countered. âWhen someone like Google comes along and offers a gigabit connection for $30/month, itâs delivering what consumers actually want: higher speeds and lower pricesâŠ Comcast frequently throw(s) data caps into the mix, which nullifies the positive effects of a speed boost.â
9. Comcast Wants The Next Big Telecom Monopoly. Comcastâs corporate goal in its pending takeover of Time Warner Cable goes far beyond subscriptions to television and video and todayâs most popular internet uses. They want to stand like sentries at a toll gate that prevent people from crossing and using every emerging broadband-based tool unless they pay its fees. âThe cable companies, with their inherently better bandwidth than phone company DSL lines, are becoming natural monopolies for wired-line internet access except in the few places where other providers have installed fiber lines,â wrote Dan Gillmor in The Guardian. Every era has its highways. In the late 1800s, it was the railroads and telegraph lines. In the mid-20th century, it was telephones, highways and broadcast networks. In the early 21st century, itâs the internet and broadband.
10. Comcast Has Political Friends In The Highest Places. By any objective standard, Comcastâs proposed takeover of Time Warner is not the public interest. But there are real reasons to more than suspect that neither the Federal Communications Commission nor the Department of Justice will veto the deal, citing anti-monopoly legal standards. The companyâs power and influence is enormous. Last year, after the FCC approved the deal acquiring NBC Universal, FCC Commissioner Meredith Baker was hired by Comcast. Top lobbyist Cohen held a fundraiser at his home for President Obama in 2011 netting $1.2 million. And last summer, Obama and other top White House officials, including Attorney General Eric Holderâwho heads the Justice Department that must approve Comcastâs merger with Time Warnerâvacationed at Comcast CEO Brian Robertsâ Marthaâs Vineyard home.
As The New York Post noted, âA source told us the reception was âvery relaxed, with no speeches. People were sitting out on the terrace.â Roberts has reportedly been close to the president for years and endorsed the Affordable Care Act.â
COMCAST-TWC MERGER WORRIES, OUTRAGES CONSUMERS AP - 2/14/2014 LOS ANGELES (AP) â Comcast and Time Warner Cable regularly rank at the bottom of the pay TV industry when it comes to customer satisfaction. So it didn't take long for customers to vent frustrations online over high prices, spotty service and fears of a monopoly after Comcast announced its $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable.
Outrage that these two big cable companies would join hands to form an even more massive entity spurred a cascade of sarcastic tweets and satirical memes: the killer Death Star battle station from "Star Wars," the evil Eye of Sauron from "The Lord of the Rings," and a "South Park" snippet where character Eric Cartman and friends are tormented by cable employees before a logo curiously similar to Time Warner Cable's own.
Consumers weren't buying the assertion of Comcast CEO Brian Roberts that the combination, which will have 30 million TV and Internet subscribers, would be "pro-consumer and pro-competitive." The two companies are expected to argue to anti-trust regulators that the fact they don't directly compete against each other in many parts of America shows the deal won't reduce competition and therefore should be approved.
But it is that lack of overlap, and lack of choice, which is at the root of customer frustration, according America Customer Satisfaction Index managing director David VanAmburg. Cable companies that purposely don't compete against each other to provide fast Internet or reliable TV service can get away with not fully meeting customer needs in markets where they dominate. "It's almost subconsciously built into their business model that they don't have to worry so much you're going to leave for a competitor," said VanAmburg. "It's definitely a big factor." Skepticism about the benefits of the deal to consumers was visible in many of the tweets that surfaced after the takeover announcement.
"I love that we're headed back to the era of the monopoly," tweeted Chris Buecheler. "'Eh, I'm sure it'll work out this time!'"
"A Time Warner/Comcast merger would create a combined customer service department of well over 10 employees," tweeted MrScottFletcher.
"The sale of Time Warner Cable to Comcast will be completed between 8am and 1pm depending on if the CEO is late at another appointment," read a tweet by William Gallahue that made fun of service appointment windows that seem designed to cause inconvenience.
Michael Pinto, a 48-year-old Time Warner Cable customer in Brooklyn, N.Y., said a lot of people in the city are trapped into whatever service happens to run into their building that the landlord allows. He worries that a lot of creativity could be stifled if control of Internet and TV service is consolidated into too few hands.
"I suppose it's good news for shareholders. You get a bigger, growing company with smaller cost structures," said Pinto, a website designer and chief creative officer at Very Memorable Inc. "But I think as a democracy - not just a democracy in politics but in a creative sense - I wonder what new channels are we missing out on?"
Simon Eldridge, a 36-year-old media technology consultant in San Jose, Calif., is concerned about everything from the combined company raising prices to throttling back the streaming speeds of online video companies such as Netflix.
The British native is a Comcast Internet customer, mainly because no other provider in his area will give him the speed he needs to work from home. He pays about $80 a month for a download speed of 50 Megabits per second. He says that's about one-third pricier than in the U.K., where there is more competition.
"This kind of a merger is going to give them a third of the Internet market in the U.S. and they can charge even more," he said.
He's read up about their reputation for poor service, although Comcast has been "pretty decent" to him. Eldridge is hopeful that the companies fulfill pledges they made Thursday to boost Internet speeds and reliability for consumers if the deal is approved.
"Hopefully some good will come out of it rather than the worst side of both," he said.
Comcast to buy Time Warner Cable: Say goodbye to the public interest - Reports are swirling around the media universe that Comcast is prepared to announce, as early as Thursday, a deal to acquire Time Warner Cable for north of $45 billion.
The deal would combine the nation's biggest and second-biggest cable firms. Comcast, already No. 1 in subscribers, would end up with about 30 million video customers, a net gain of 8 million (following a reported commitment to divest 3 million subs). It would put that subscriber base together with its ownership of NBCUniversal -- the network, the film studio and several other cable channels.
Let's get to the bottom line. There's no way this combination can conceivably be in the public interest. The deal is a blunt challenge to the Federal Communications Commission and its new chairman, Tom Wheeler; the question is whether the FCC will fold against the economic and political power of these two behemoths.
As the leading provider of Internet services to American homes, Comcast has already shown that it's not above using its effective near-monopoly on Internet connectivity in its service area to stifle competitors. The FCC slapped its wrist after it was caught engaging in this illicit behavior in 2007, but then inexplicably waved through Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2011.
The acquisition of Time Warner Cable will simply expand the geographical area subject to its ruthless competitive practices. (Comcast is committed to adhering to standards of net neutrality, which forbid its discriminating among Web services in carrying them to subscribers' homes, until January 2018. That was a condition of the NBCUniversal deal, but after that date the shackles are off.)
Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal was a deal that the FCC should never have approved. Here's what we wrote about it in 2011: "Neither Comcast nor NBC needs this merger for its survival. It won't improve cable TV or Internet technology. It won't by itself lead to more innovative or even more popular television programming. It won't result in more efficient entertainment production. "In fact, by concentrating economic power in fewer hands, it may lead to less of all that." Nothing that's happened since the merger has contradicted those predictions.
In fact, since then the threat to a free and open Internet from the concentration of economic power over online services has increased. A federal appeals court ruling last month threw out the FCC's rules protecting the open Internet (on the urging of Verizon, which is Comcast's counterpart as an excessively powerful player in the wireless sphere).
As we wrote at the time, the court ruling made clear that the FCC has all the authority it needs to protect net neutrality, if it only goes about it the right way, but Wheeler has yet to tip his hand about whether, or how, he will do that.
Wheeler spoke publicly just three days ago about "the primacy of 'competition, competition, competition,'" in safeguarding the public interest: "Our competition policy will take the 'see-saw' approach," he told a high-tech conference in Boulder, Colo. "When competition is high, regulation can be low; when competition is low, we are willing to act in the public interest."
The Comcast-Time Warner deal manifestly would be disastrous for the competitive landscape Wheeler says is his paramount goal. The principles he articulated dictate that he and his fellow FCC commissioners must block it. Will he stick to his guns?
Revolving Door: Top Obama Admin Antitrust Officials Tied To Comcast - The news that cable and news giant Comcast has struck a deal to purchase Time Warner, another large cable business, has raised concerns over market concentration. Observers note that the combined company, even if it divests some holdings, would create monopoly-like conditions for the industry.
Many are predicting a lobbying blitz by both companies to pressure governments officials to accept the deal. When Comcast purchased NBC Universal, lobbyists were hired to ensure the merger went through. Critics charge that the payments went beyond the traditional influence industry: after signing off on the Comcast-NBC deal, FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker was hired by Comcast for an undisclosed amount.
Could the revolving door shape the antitrust enforcement for the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner? Republic Report looked into the officials responsible for overseeing antitrust enforcement, and found that at least two have close ties to Comcast.
The recently installed head of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, William Baer, was a lawyer representing GE and NBC in their push for the merger with Comcast. At the time, Baer was an attorney with the firm Arnold & Porter. To his credit, Baer said last month that he is skeptical of further consolidation of the cable market. Disclosures reviewed by Republic Report show that Baer will continue receiving payments from Arnold & Porter for the next eleven years as part of his retirement package.
Maureen Ohlhausen, one of four commissioners on the Federal Trade Commission, which oversees antitrust enforcement, provided legal counsel for Comcast as an attorney just before joining the FTC. She also represented NBC Universal in the year before before becoming a commissioner in April of 2012. NBC Universal completed its merger with Comcast in January of 2011.
Still, several officials have signaled that they may reject the Comcast-Time Warner deal. FTC Commissioner Ajit Pai told the Wall Street Journal that the merger could face âa number of hurdles in the Obama administration.â
Comcast and Time Warner are major players in both political parties.
Comcast takeover of Time Warner Cable 'will throttle choice on the web' - Angry consumer groups say proposed $45.2bn mega-deal will drive up costs for millions â and call on FCC to block takeover Dominic Rushe - 02-12-2014 - TheGuardian.com
Consumer groups reacted angrily to the merger of cable giant Comcast and Time Warner Cable on Thursday, claiming the combination could âthrottleâ choice on the internet.
Comcastâs proposed $45.2bn takeover of TWC will create a media behemoth that will dominate broadband internet access across the US. Comcast, which owns NBC Universal, will also cement its position as the pre-eminent force in cable TV.
Jodie Griffin, senior staff attorney at consumer rights group Public Knowledge said: âThis is a deal that needs to be blocked.â She said Comcast was likely to use the extra leverage to âdrive up costs and reduce choices for consumers.â, and claimed the new company would be too powerful, becoming a âgatekeeperâ capable of âthrottling competition.â
Comcast, Americaâs largest cable company, took over NBC Universal in 2011 and was given a long list of conditions by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Among them was a commitment to net neutrality â a ban on internet service providers from favouring affiliated content or blocking or slowing web content sent to homes and businesses. At present, Comcast is bound to abide by net neutrality rules until the end of 2017.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has attacked Comcast, accusing the cable firm of capping data it provides to streaming companies like his own in order to favour Comcastâs own Xfinity video-on-demand app. Recent studies show that Comcast users receive their Netflix media at significantly slower speeds than those using other internet service providers.
Griffin said there were other examples where Comcast had failed to live up the pledges it had made or was pushing hard at the limits of the rules. She cited Comcastâs dispute with Bloomberg Television. Bloomberg clashed with Comcast after the cable firm refused to put its business news channel alongside its own affiliated news stations â including rival finance channel CNBC and MSNBC â in its cable lineup. The FCC ruled last year that the refusal to âneighbourhoodâ Bloombergâs channel close to its rivals contravened the conditions of its NBC merger.
âIn our experience, allowing this merger to go through with added conditions is not a workable solution,â said Griffin.
Craig Aaron, president of internet rights lobby group Free Press, said that while the immediate effects of the merger were likely to be price rises and less competition, the long-term consequences could be even more serious.
Alongside Netflix, Comcast has been criticised for slowing usersâ broadband connections by the lobby group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and by file-sharing and copyright website TorrentFreak for interfering with legal file-sharing on the web.
âThis is a company that has already been caught blocking internet traffic,â said Aaron. âBut itâs clear their long-term plan is to take a free and open internet and turn it into something like cable TV, where they pick the channels and they speed them up and slow them down based on who pays them the most.â
âIf you hate your cable guy now, you are going to hate your cable guy on steroids,â said Aaron.
EFF attorney Mitch Stoltz called the merger âdangerousâ.
âOne company will effectively control the only data pipe going into a near majority of American homes, whether thatâs internet TV or phones,â Stoltz said. âIf that company gets to play favourites âŠ thatâs dangerous.â
Stoltz said the companies might not compete directly, but that their combined marketing and purchasing power would give them unprecedented clout over programming whether it was delivered to TVs or to the internet. âAt this point that is largely an irrelevance,â he said.
The two firms have begun what looks set to be an expensive and protracted lobbying effort to sell the consumer benefits of the deal.
On a conference call with journalists Thursday, Brian Roberts, the chairman and CEO of Comcast, and Robert Marcus, the chairman and CEO of TWC, argued the deal was a âpro-consumerâ. They said the two firms did not directly compete geographically and would sell off the small areas where they do.
âIf there is a benefit of a national scale of being able to grow in the future with capabilities that are expensive and untested that require a national presence, we are able to do that,â said Roberts.
Marcus said: âFirst of all, the broadband market today is more competitive than you give it credit for. But most importantly, by combining Time Warner and Comcast in cable, we are not removing a competitor from any consumer. We are not removing a choice from any consumer.â
By Pam Martens/Russ Martens - Feb 12, 2014 - WallStreetOnParade.com
The nonstop crime news swirling around JPMorgan Chase for a solid 18 months has started to feel a little spooky â they do lots of crime but never any time; and with each closed case, a trail of unanswered questions remains in the publicâs mind.
Just last month, JPMorgan Chase acknowledged that it facilitated the largest Ponzi scheme in history, looking the other way as Bernie Madoff brazenly turned his business bank account at JPMorgan Chase into an unprecedented money laundering operation that would have set off bells, whistles and sirens at any other bank.
The U.S. Justice Department allowed JPMorgan to pay $1.7 billion and sign a deferred prosecution agreement, meaning no one goes to jail at JPMorgan â again. The largest question that no one can or will answer is how the compliance, legal and anti-money laundering personnel at JPMorgan ignored for years hundreds of transfers and billions of dollars in round trip maneuvers between Madoff and the account of Norman Levy. Even one such maneuver should set off an investigation. (Levy is now deceased and the Trustee for Madoffâs victims has settled with his estate.)
Then there was the report done by the U.S. Senateâs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the London Whale episode which left the public in the dark about just what JPMorgan was doing with stock trading in its Chief Investment Office in London, redacting all information in the 300-page report that related to that topic.
Wall Street On Parade has been filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Federal government in these matters, and despite the pledge from our President to set a new era of transparency, thus far we have had few answers coming our way.
One reason that JPMorgan may have such a spooky feel is that it has aligned itself in no small way with real-life spooks, the CIA kind.
Just when the public was numbing itself to the endless stream of financial malfeasance which cost JPMorgan over $30 billion in fines and settlements in just the past 13 months, we learned on January 28 of this year that a happy, healthy 39-year old technology Vice President, Gabriel Magee, was found dead on a 9th level rooftop of the bankâs 33-story European headquarters building in the Canary Wharf section of London.
The way the news of this tragic and sudden death was stage-managed by highly skilled but invisible hands, turning a demonstrably suspicious incident into a cut-and-dried suicide leap from the rooftop (devoid of eyewitnesses or motivation) had all the hallmarks of a sophisticated covert operation or coverup.
The London Evening Standard newspaper reported the same day that âA man plunged to his death from a Canary Wharf tower in front of thousands of horrified commuters today.â Who gave that completely fabricated story to the press? Commuters on the street had no view of the body because it was 9 floors up on a rooftop â a rooftop that is accessible from a stairwell inside the building, not just via a fall from the roof. Adding to the suspicions, Magee had emailed his girlfriend the evening before telling her he was finishing up and would be home shortly.
If JPMorganâs CEO, Jamie Dimon, needed a little crisis management help from operatives, he has no shortage of people to call upon. Thomas Higgins was, until a few months ago, a Managing Director and Global Head of Operational Control for JPMorgan. (A BusinessWeek profile shows Higgins still employed at JPMorgan while the New York Post reported that he left late last year.) What is not in question is that Higgins was previously the Senior Officer and Station Chief in the CIAâs National Clandestine Service, a component of which is the National Resources Division. (Higginsâ bio is printed in past brochures of the CIA Officers Memorial Foundation, where Higgins is listed with his JPMorgan job title, former CIA job title, and as a member of the Foundationâs Board of Directors for 2013.)
According to Jeff Stein, writing in Newsweek on November 14, the National Resources Division (NR) is the âbiggest little CIA shop youâve never heard of.â One good reason youâve never heard of it until now is that the New York Times was asked not to name it in 2001. James Risen writes in a New York Times piece:
[the CIAâs] âNew York station was behind the false front of another federal organization, which intelligence officials requested that The Times not identify. The station was, among other things, a base of operations to spy on and recruit foreign diplomats stationed at the United Nations, while debriefing selected American business executives and others willing to talk to the C.I.A. after returning from overseas.â
Stein gets much of that out in the open in his piece for Newsweek, citing sources who say that âits intimate relations with top U.S. corporate executives willing to have their companies fronting for the CIA invites trouble at home and abroad.â Stein goes on to say that NR operatives âcultivate their own sources on Wall Street, especially looking for help keeping track of foreign money sloshing around in the global financial system, while recruiting companies to provide cover for CIA operations abroad. And once theyâve seen how the other 1 percent lives, CIA operatives, some say, are tempted to go over to the other side.â
We now know that it was not only the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Treasury Departmentâs FinCEN, and bank examiners from the Comptroller of the Currency who missed the Madoff fraud, it was top snoops at the CIA in the very city where Madoff was headquartered.
Stein gives us even less reason to feel confident about this situation, writing that the NR âknows some titans of finance are not above being romanced. Most love hanging out with the agencyâs top spies â James Bond and all that â and being solicited for their views on everything from the streetâs latest tricks to their meetings with, say, Chinaâs finance minister. JPMorgan Chaseâs Jamie Dimon and Goldman Sachâs Lloyd Blankfein, one former CIA executive recalls, loved to get visitors from Langley. And the CIA loves them back, not just for their patriotic cooperation with the spy agency, sources say, but for the influence they have on Capitol Hill, where the intelligence budgets are hashed out.â
Higgins is not the only former CIA operative to work at JPMorgan. According to aLinkedIn profile, Bud Cato, a Regional Security Manager for JPMorgan Chase, worked for the CIA in foreign clandestine operations from 1982 to 1995; then went to work for The Coca-Cola Company until 2001; then back to the CIA as an Operations Officer in Afghanistan, Iraq and other Middle East countries until he joined JPMorgan in 2011.
In addition to Higgins and Cato, JPMorgan has a large roster of former Secret Service, former FBI and former law enforcement personnel employed in security jobs. And, as we have reported repeatedly, it still shares a space with the NYPD in a massive surveillance operation in lower Manhattan which has been dubbed the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center.
JPMorgan and Jamie Dimon have received a great deal of press attention for the whopping $4.6 million that JPMorgan donated to the New York City Police Foundation. Leonard Levitt, of NYPD Confidential, wrote in 2011 that New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly âhas amended his financial disclosure forms after this column revealed last October that the Police Foundation had paid his dues and meals at the Harvard Club for the past eight years. Kelly now acknowledges he spent $30,000 at the Harvard Club between 2006 and 2009, according to the Daily News.â
JPMorgan is also listed as one of the largest donors to a nonprofit Foundation that provides college tuition assistance to the children of fallen CIA operatives, the CIA Officers Memorial Foundation. The Foundation also notes in a November 2013 publication, the Compass, that it has enjoyed the fundraising support of Maurice (Hank) Greenberg. According to the publication, Greenberg âsponsored a fundraiser on our behalf. His guest list included the whoâs who of the financial services industry in New York, and they gave generously.â
Hank Greenberg is the former Chairman and CEO of AIG which collapsed into the arms of the U.S. taxpayer, requiring a $182 billion bailout. In 2006, AIG paid $1.64 billion to settle federal and state probes into fraudulent activities. In 2010, the company settled a shareholdersâ lawsuit for $725 million that accused it of accounting fraud and stock price manipulation. In 2009, Greenberg settled SEC fraud charges against him related to AIG for $15 million.
Before the death of Gabriel Magee, the public had lost trust in the Justice Department and Wall Street regulators to bring these financial firms to justice for an unending spree of fleecing the public. Now there is a young manâs unexplained death at JPMorgan. This is no longer about money. This is about a heartbroken family that will never be the same again; who can never find peace or closure until credible and documented facts are put before them by independent, credible law enforcement.
The London Coronerâs office will hold a formal inquest into the death of Gabriel Magee on May 15. Wall Street On Parade has asked that the inquest be available on a live webcast as well as an archived webcast so that the American public can observe for itself if this matter has been given the kind of serious investigation it deserves. We ask other media outlets who were initially misled about the facts in this case to do the same.
Another JPMorgan Banker Dies, 37 Year Old Executive Director Of Program Trading By Tyler Durden - 02/12/2014 - ZeroHedge.com Ordinarily we would ignore the news of another banker's death - after all these sad events happen all the time - if it wasn't for several contextual aspects of this most recent passage. First, the death in question, as reported by the Stamford Daily Voice is that of Ryan Henry Crane, a Harvard graduate, who is survived by his wife, son and parents at the very young age of 37. Second, Ryan Henry Crane was formerly employed by JPMorgan - a bank which was featured prominently in the news as recently as two weeks ago when another of its London-based employees committed suicide by jumping from the top floor of its Canary Wharf building. Third: Crane was an Executive Director in JPM's Global Program Trading desk, founded in 1999 by an ex-DE Shaw'er, a function of the firm which is instrumental to preserving JPM's impeccable and (so far in 2013) flawless trading record of zero trading losses.
Experts: U.S. 'defenseless' against high-altitude explosion
F. MICHAEL MALOOF - 02-11-14 - WND.com
WASHINGTON â National security experts have expressed alarm over the announcement by Iran that it will position its warships off the coast of the United States, from where they could launch a nuclear warhead to explode at high altitude to create an electromagnetic pulse.
That could knock the American electrical grid out of commission, disrupting supplies of energy, food, communications, fuel and more for a long period.
These experts agree that there would be no warning and that the U.S. missile defense system would not be able to respond in time to prevent the high altitude nuclear explosion. They also believe that if such a missile were launched, it would not be from an Iranian warship but from a commercial vessel sailing along the East Coast or in the Gulf of Mexico.
âIt shows they could put a weapon on a boat or freighter, and if Iran has ballistic missiles it could put it anywhere on the U.S. coast,â said John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and currently a senior fellow at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute.
Last month, the Iranian Fars News Agency announced that the fleet would undertake a three-month mission and would consist of a destroyer and a helicopter-carrying vessel.
While the Iranian deployment may consist of two vessels, the commander of Iranâs Northern Navy Fleet, Adm.l Afshin Rezayee Haddad, said that Iran would send a âfleetâ to the Atlantic Ocean.
These ships undoubtedly would be under constant U.S. Navy observation while trolling along the U.S. East Coast and possibly in the Gulf of Mexico.
The ships could use Venezuela as station to refuel and resupply, or could return to Iran.
Iranâs decision to place its warships off the U.S. East Coast was prompted by the U.S. decision to place warships of the U.S. Navyâs 5th Fleet at Bahrain, not far from Iran. And there are U.S. carrier task forces constantly patrolling through the Strait of Hormuz, which skirts Iranian territory.
This deployment to the U.S. East Coast would be the first time Iran has stationed ships outside the Persian Gulf. For the past three years, it has been sending its warships through the Suez Canal and into the Mediterranean to show its capabilities.
Bolton said that the Iranian exercise is more of a training mission to show that it can sail across the Atlantic and come up to the U.S. coast.
âTheyâre building up capabilities,â Bolton said. âThatâs what training missions do.â
The coastal deployment plan comes as the United States and its allies again meet on Feb. 18 with Iranian officials in Vienna to come to a comprehensive agreement on Iranâs nuclear program.
Iran wants to end Western economic sanctions while the U.S. and its allies seek to halt any effort by Iran to develop nuclear weapons, which Iran claims it is not doing with its nascent nuclear program.
Some national security experts are worried that Iran could park is warships outside U.S. territorial waters and be in a position to launch an EMP attack should the U.S. decide to bomb Iranâs nuclear facilities.
Retired Army Brig. Gen. Kenneth Chrosniak said that the Iranian warships will be âextensively tracked and, if need be, engaged by an overwhelming triad of conventional U.S. forces if they attempt to fire a missile.
âHowever, if they home port out of Venezuela, we may be more vulnerable to engagement to our exposed southern shores,â Chrosniak said. âEven so, I believe weâll have adequate âvisability/awareness.ââ
Former Ambassador Henry Cooper, who heads High Frontier and was the Strategic Defense Initiative Director under former President George H.W. Bush, said that the issue is not one just of awareness.
âWhat if they covertly erect and launch a nuclear armed ballistic missile from near our coast?â Cooper asked. âAnd actually, I am more concerned that they could do this from a more conventional vessel than a warship â perhaps while we are watching the few warships and ignoring the hundreds of commercial vessels.â
Cooper, who is a member of the newly formed EMP Coalition headed by former Central Intelligence Director James Woolsey and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, has expressed concern about Americaâs exposure to any missile launches from the south.
His main concern is that the U.S. lacks a ballistic missile system to watch the south part of the U.S. should there be a missile launch from either North Korea or Iran, both which have previously tested missiles over the southern polar icecap.
Cooper would like to see the U.S. Navy move more of its Aegis warships into the Gulf and off the southern portion of the East Coast to respond to any missile attack.
However, other experts agree that a missile fired by North Korea, Iran or any other nation with missile and nuclear warhead stockpiles off the coast so close to the East or Gulf Coasts could not be intercepted in time.
In referring to the impending arrival of the Iranian warships off the U.S. East Coast, former CIA operative Reza Kahlili said that they are test runs âfor a long term presence in collaboration with their allies in this region.â
In addition to Venezuela, those other countries close to Iran include Nicaragua, Cuba and Ecuador.
âIf (the Iranians) do anything, it will be via a commercial vessel,â Kahlili said.
Experts have suggested that an EMP strike could disable most electronics, which control food, water, fuel, energy and other supplies, as well as communications links and more. Ultimately, such a strike on an unprepared U.S. is estimated to result in tens of millions of casualties.
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2014/02/approaching-iranian-warships-raise-emp-threat/#LSFw6A4PcAztzzx3.99
Ohio National Guard Training Envisions Right-Wing Terrorism By: Jesse Hathaway | February 10, 2014 MediaTrackers.org
Documents from an Ohio National Guard (ONG) training drill conducted last January reveal the details of a mock disaster where Second Amendment supporters with âanti-governmentâ opinions were portrayed as domestic terrorists.
The ONG 52nd Civil Support Team training scenario involved a plot from local school district employees to use biological weapons in order to advance their beliefs about âprotecting Gun Rights and Second Amendment rights.â
Portsmouth Chief of Police Bill Raisin told NBC 3 WSAZ-TV in Huntington, West Virginia that the drill accurately represented âthe reality of the world we live in,â adding that such training âhelps us all be prepared.â
Internal ONG documents provided to Media Trackers after repeated delays provide further context to what WSAZ-TV reported last winter.
In the disaster-preparedness scenario, two Portsmouth Junior High School employees poisoned school lunches with mustard gas, acting on orders from white-nationalist leader William Pierce.
The ONG team discovered biological weapons being produced in the school, requiring activation of containment and decontamination procedures.
Participants in the disaster drill located documents expressing the school employeesâ âanti-governmentâ sentiments, as well as a note identifying Pierce as the fictional right-wing terroristsâ leader.
ONGâs 52nd Civil Support Unit participated in a similar drill involving left-wing terrorists with Athens County first responders last year; public officials apologized for that training the next day in response to complaints from local environmentalist groups.
No apology to Ohioans who support limited government and the Second Amendment appears to be forthcoming.
Scioto County Emergency Management Agency director Kim Carver refused to comment, telling Media Trackers she was ânot going to get into an Ohio Army National Guard issue that you have with them.â
Ohio National Guard Communications Director James Sims II suggested Media Trackers was âinferringâ from the ONG documentâs contents as opposed to âwhatâs actually in the report.â
After excerpts of the report were read to him, Sims said it was ânot relevantâ to understand why conservatives may feel unduly targeted by ONGâs training scenario.
âOkay, Iâm gonna stop ya there. Iâm going to quit this conversation,â Sims concluded. âYou have a good day.â
Buckeye Firearms Association spokesman Chad Baus told Media Trackers that âit is a scary day indeed when law enforcement are being trained that Second Amendment advocates are the enemy,â
âThe revelation of this information is appalling to me, and to all citizens of Ohio who are true conservatives and patriots, who donât have guns for any other reason than that the Second Amendment gives them that right,â Portage County TEA Party Executive Director Tom Zawistowski said in a separate Media Trackers interview.
Media Trackers reached out to Portsmouth-area state legislators Representative Terry Johnson and Senator Joe Uecker for comment about the drill, which took place within their respective districts. Neither replied to phone calls or emails in time for publication.
ONGâs January 2013 training exercise is one of many instances where government officials have identified those with limited-government or pro-Second Amendment opinions as potential terror threats.
In 2009, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned law enforcement agencies that a predicted rise inâright-wing extremismâ would be fueled by âproposed imposition of firearms restrictions and weapons bansâ and âthe election of the first African American president.â
Throughout modern history, groups and individuals associated with left-wing causes have proven far more likely to commit acts of domestic terror.
In 2012, members of the anarcho-socialist Occupy Cleveland movement were arrested and prosecuted for attempting to destroy the Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge with explosives, to commemorate International Workersâ Day.
Last year, leftist groups Earth First and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) claimed responsibility for the sabotage and property destruction of businesses in Washington and Van Wert counties.
Ohio National Guard portrayed gun rights supporters as domestic terrorists during drill Published: February 11, 2014 - RT America
Questions are being raised about the Ohio National Guard after internal documents revealed that the agency conducted a training drill last year in which Second Amendment advocates were portrayed as domestic terrorists.
WSAZ News reported out of Portsmouth, Ohio early last year that a mock disaster had been staged in order to see first responders from Scioto County and the Ohio Army National Guardâs Fifty-Second Civil Support Unit would react to a make-believe scenario in which school officials plotted to use chemical, biological and radiological agents against members of the community.
"It's the reality of the world we live in," Portsmouth Police Chief Bill Raisin told the network last January. "Don't forget there is such a thing as domestic terrorism. This helps us all be prepared."
This week, though, the website MediaTrackers published documents pertaining to that drill, and with it theyâve raised concerns regarding how gun rights activists were depicted.
Those documents, Jesse Hathaway wrote for MediaTrackers on Monday, âreveal the details of a mock disaster where Second Amendment supporters with âanti-governmentâ opinions were portrayed as domestic terrorists.â
One of those documents referenced by Hathaway is an incident summary that appears to have been completed by the first responders who participated in last yearâs exercise.
According to that report, the first responders who handled the mock emergency took special note of what appeared in the classroom of a school that was searched during the exercise.
âOn the chalkboard as well as the tables there were several statements about protecting Gun Rights and Second Amendment rights,â the summary read.
The summary also suggests that the first-responders took note of documents found inside the building pertaining to the schoolâs lunch schedule, as well as instructions and informational sheets on the poisonous compound ricin. Although itâs not referenced specifically in the incident summary report, the 38 pages of documents obtained by MediaTrackers also includes a 2011 article pertaining to gun control thatâs on file alongside other evidence obtained from the school, including the name and phone number purportedly belonging to William Pierce, a now-deceased notorious neo-Nazi. MediaTrackersâ Hathaway says the documents that have been made public show that Pierce was portrayed during the trill as the âfiction right-wing terroristsâ leader.â
When MediaTrackers approached the Scioto County Emergency Management Agency director Kim Carver about the documents, though, she said she was ânot going to get into an Ohio Army National Guard issue that you have with them.â
Ohio National Guard Communications Director James Sims II, MediaTrackers claims, told the website that it was ânot relevantâ as to why conservatives may feel targeted by being portrayed as anti-government extremists.
âOkay, Iâm gonna stop ya there. Iâm going to quit this conversation,â Sims told the site when reached for comment. âYou have a good day.â
Those who did agree to speak to MediaTrackers, however, had much more to say.
âThe revelation of this information is appalling to me, and to all citizens of Ohio who are true conservatives and patriots, who donât have guns for any other reason than that the Second Amendment gives them that right,â Portage County TEA Party Executive Director Tom Zawistowski told the website.
â[I]t is a scary day indeed when law enforcement are being trained that Second Amendment advocates are the enemy,â added Buckeye Firearms Association spokesman Chad Baus.
Glenn Greenwald on security and liberty - TheGuardian.com
Are you ok with any one person or administration having a secret kill list without due process. Not only does the NDAA say you can be detained indefinitely without charge or trial, read this about being assassinated without charge or trial. Can it happen to anyone? Yes it can and it already has happened to at least two American citizens and one was only 16 years old... JB - Glenn Greenwald The president's partisan lawyers purport to vest him with the most extreme power a political leader can seize - The most extremist power any political leader can assert is the power to target his own citizens for execution without any charges or due process, far from any battlefield. The Obama administration has not only asserted exactly that power in theory, but has exercised it in practice. In September 2011, it killed US citizen Anwar Awlaki in a drone strike in Yemen, along with US citizen Samir Khan, and then, in circumstances that are still unexplained, two weeks later killed Awlaki's 16-year-old American son Abdulrahman with a separate drone strike in Yemen.
Since then, senior Obama officials including Attorney General Eric Holder and John Brennan, Obama's top terrorism adviser and his current nominee to lead the CIA, have explicitly argued that the president is and should be vested with this power. Meanwhile, a Washington Post article from October reported that the administration is formally institutionalizing this president's power to decide who dies under the Orwellian title "disposition matrix".
When the New York Times back in April, 2010 first confirmed the existence of Obama's hit list, it made clear just what an extremist power this is, noting: "It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing." The NYT quoted a Bush intelligence official as saying "he did not know of any American who was approved for targeted killing under the former president". When the existence of Obama's hit list was first reported several months earlier by the Washington Post's Dana Priest, she wrote that the "list includes three Americans".
What has made these actions all the more radical is the absolute secrecy with which Obama has draped all of this. Not only is the entire process carried out solely within the Executive branch - with no checks or oversight of any kind - but there is zero transparency and zero accountability. The president's underlings compile their proposed lists of who should be executed, and the president - at a charming weekly event dubbed by White House aides as "Terror Tuesday" - then chooses from "baseball cards" and decrees in total secrecy who should die. The power of accuser, prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner are all consolidated in this one man, and those powers are exercised in the dark.
In fact, The Most Transparent Administration Everâą has been so fixated on secrecy that they have refused even to disclose the legal memoranda prepared by Obama lawyers setting forth their legal rationale for why the president has this power. During the Bush years, when Bush refused to disclose the memoranda from his Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that legally authorized torture, rendition, warrantless eavesdropping and the like, leading Democratic lawyers such as Dawn Johnsen (Obama's first choice to lead the OLC) vehemently denounced this practice as a grave threat, warning that "the Bush Administration's excessive reliance on 'secret law' threatens the effective functioning of American democracy" and "the withholding from Congress and the public of legal interpretations by the [OLC] upsets the system of checks and balances between the executive and legislative branches of government."
But when it comes to Obama's assassination power, this is exactly what his administration has done. It has repeatedly refused to disclose the principal legal memoranda prepared by Obama OLC lawyers that justified his kill list. It is, right now, vigorously resisting lawsuits from the New York Times and the ACLU to obtain that OLC memorandum. In sum, Obama not only claims he has the power to order US citizens killed with no transparency, but that even the documents explaining the legal rationale for this power are to be concealed. He's maintaining secret law on the most extremist power he can assert.
Last night, NBC News' Michael Isikoff released a 16-page "white paper" prepared by the Obama DOJ that purports to justify Obama's power to target even Americans for assassination without due process (the memo is embedded in full below). This is not the primary OLC memo justifying Obama's kill list - that is still concealed - but it appears to track the reasoning of that memo as anonymously described to the New York Times in October 2011.
This new memo is entitled: "Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a US Citizen Who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al-Qa'ida or An Associated Force". It claims its conclusion is "reached with recognition of the extraordinary seriousness of a lethal operation by the United States against a US citizen". Yet it is every bit as chilling as the Bush OLC torture memos in how its clinical, legalistic tone completely sanitizes the radical and dangerous power it purports to authorize.
I've written many times at length about why the Obama assassination program is such an extreme and radical threat - see here for one of the most comprehensive discussions, with documentation of how completely all of this violates Obama and Holder's statements before obtaining power - and won't repeat those arguments here. Instead, there are numerous points that should be emphasized about the fundamentally misleading nature of this new memo:
1. Equating government accusations with guilt
The core distortion of the War on Terror under both Bush and Obama is the Orwellian practice of equating government accusations of terrorism with proof of guilt. One constantly hears US government defenders referring to "terrorists" when what they actually mean is: those accused by the government of terrorism. This entire memo is grounded in this deceit.
Time and again, it emphasizes that the authorized assassinations are carried out "against a senior operational leader of al-Qaida or its associated forces who poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States." Undoubtedly fearing that this document would one day be public, Obama lawyers made certain to incorporate this deceit into the title itself: "Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a US Citizen Who is a Senior Operational Leader of al-Qaida or An Associated Force."
This ensures that huge numbers of citizens - those who spend little time thinking about such things and/or authoritarians who assume all government claims are true - will instinctively justify what is being done here on the ground that we must kill the Terrorists or joining al-Qaida means you should be killed. That's the "reasoning" process that has driven the War on Terror since it commenced: if the US government simply asserts without evidence or trial that someone is a terrorist, then they are assumed to be, and they can then be punished as such - with indefinite imprisonment or death.
But of course, when this memo refers to "a Senior Operational Leader of al-Qaida", what it actually means is this: someone whom the President - in total secrecy and with no due process - has accused of being that. Indeed, the memo itself makes this clear, as it baldly states that presidential assassinations are justified when "an informed, high-level official of the US government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the US".
This is the crucial point: the memo isn't justifying the due-process-free execution of senior al-Qaida leaders who pose an imminent threat to the US. It is justifying the due-process-free execution of people secretly accused by the president and his underlings, with no due process, of being that. The distinction between (a) government accusations and (b) proof of guilt is central to every free society, by definition, yet this memo - and those who defend Obama's assassination power - willfully ignore it.
Those who justify all of this by arguing that Obama can and should kill al-Qaida leaders who are trying to kill Americans are engaged in supreme question-begging. Without any due process, transparency or oversight, there is no way to know who is a "senior al-Qaida leader" and who is posing an "imminent threat" to Americans. All that can be known is who Obama, in total secrecy, accuses of this.
(Indeed, membership in al-Qaida is not even required to be assassinated, as one can be a member of a group deemed to be an "associated force" of al-Qaida, whatever that might mean: a formulation so broad and ill-defined that, as Law Professor Kevin Jon Heller argues, it means the memo "authorizes the use of lethal force against individuals whose targeting is, without more, prohibited by international law".)
The definition of an extreme authoritarian is one who is willing blindly to assume that government accusations are true without any evidence presented or opportunity to contest those accusations. This memo - and the entire theory justifying Obama's kill list - centrally relies on this authoritarian conflation of government accusations and valid proof of guilt.
They are not the same and never have been. Political leaders who decree guilt in secret and with no oversight inevitably succumb to error and/or abuse of power. Such unchecked accusatory decrees are inherently untrustworthy (indeed, Yemen experts have vehemently contested the claim that Awlaki himself was a senior al-Qaida leader posing an imminent threat to the US). That's why due process is guaranteed in the Constitution and why judicial review of government accusations has been a staple of western justice since the Magna Carta: because leaders can't be trusted to decree guilt and punish citizens without evidence and an adversarial process. That is the age-old basic right on which this memo, and the Obama presidency, is waging war.
2. Creating a ceiling, not a floor
The most vital fact to note about this memorandum is that it is not purporting to impose requirements on the president's power to assassinate US citizens. When it concludes that the president has the authority to assassinate "a Senior Operational Leader of al-Qaida" who "poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the US" where capture is "infeasible", it is not concluding that assassinations are permissible only in those circumstances.
To the contrary, the memo expressly makes clear that presidential assassinations may be permitted even when none of those circumstances prevail: "This paper does not attempt to determine the minimum requirements necessary to render such an operation lawful." Instead, as the last line of the memo states: "it concludes only that the stated conditions would be sufficient to make lawful a lethal operation" - not that such conditions are necessary to find these assassinations legal. The memo explicitly leaves open the possibility that presidential assassinations of US citizens may be permissible even when the target is not a senior al-Qaida leader posing an imminent threat and/or when capture is feasible.
Critically, the rationale of the memo - that the US is engaged in a global war against al-Qaida and "associated forces" - can be easily used to justify presidential assassinations of US citizens in circumstances far beyond the ones described in this memo. If you believe the president has the power to execute US citizens based on the accusation that the citizen has joined al-Qaida, what possible limiting principle can you cite as to why that shouldn't apply to a low-level al-Qaida member, including ones found in places where capture may be feasible (including US soil)? The purported limitations on this power set forth in this memo, aside from being incredibly vague, can be easily discarded once the central theory of presidential power is embraced.
3. Relies on the core Bush/Cheney theory of a global battlefield
The primary theory embraced by the Bush administration to justify its War on Terror policies was that the "battlefield" is no longer confined to identifiable geographical areas, but instead, the entire globe is now one big, unlimited "battlefield". That theory is both radical and dangerous because a president's powers are basically omnipotent on a "battlefield". There, state power is shielded from law, from courts, from constitutional guarantees, from all forms of accountability: anyone on a battlefield can be killed or imprisoned without charges. Thus, to posit the world as a battlefield is, by definition, to create an imperial, omnipotent presidency. That is the radical theory that unleashed all the rest of the controversial and lawless Bush/Cheney policies.
This "world-is-a-battlefield" theory was once highly controversial among Democrats. John Kerry famously denounced it when running for president, arguing instead that the effort against terrorism is "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world".
But this global-war theory is exactly what lies at heart of the Obama approach to Terrorism generally and this memo specifically. It is impossible to defend Obama's assassination powers without embracing it (which is why key Obama officials have consistently done so). That's because these assassinations are taking place in countries far from any war zone, such as Yemen and Somalia. You can't defend the application of "war powers" in these countries without embracing the once-very-controversial Bush/Cheney view that the whole is now a "battlefield" and the president's war powers thus exist without geographic limits.
This new memo makes clear that this Bush/Cheney worldview is at the heart of the Obama presidency. The president, it claims, "retains authority to use force against al-Qaida and associated forces outside the area of active hostilities". In other words: there are, subject to the entirely optional "feasibility of capture" element, no geographic limits to the president's authority to kill anyone he wants. This power applies not only to war zones, but everywhere in the world that he claims a member of al-Qaida is found. This memo embraces and institutionalizes the core Bush/Cheney theory that justified the entire panoply of policies Democrats back then pretended to find so objectionable.
4. Expanding the concept of "imminence" beyond recognition
The memo claims that the president's assassination power applies to a senior al-Qaida member who "poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States". That is designed to convince citizens to accept this power by leading them to believe it's similar to common and familiar domestic uses of lethal force on US soil: if, for instance, an armed criminal is in the process of robbing a bank or is about to shoot hostages, then the "imminence" of the threat he poses justifies the use of lethal force against him by the police.
But this rhetorical tactic is totally misleading. The memo is authorizing assassinations against citizens in circumstances far beyond this understanding of "imminence". Indeed, the memo expressly states that it is inventing "a broader concept of imminence" than is typically used in domestic law. Specifically, the president's assassination power "does not require that the US have clear evidence that a specific attack . . . will take place in the immediate future". The US routinely assassinates its targets not when they are engaged in or plotting attacks but when they are at home, with family members, riding in a car, at work, at funerals, rescuing other drone victims, etc.
Many of the early objections to this new memo have focused on this warped and incredibly broad definition of "imminence". The ACLU's Jameel Jaffer told Isikoff that the memo "redefines the word imminence in a way that deprives the word of its ordinary meaning". Law Professor Kevin Jon Heller called Jaffer's objection "an understatement", noting that the memo's understanding of "imminence" is "wildly overbroad" under international law.
Crucially, Heller points out what I noted above: once you accept the memo's reasoning - that the US is engaged in a global war, that the world is a battlefield, and the president has the power to assassinate any member of al-Qaida or associated forces - then there is no way coherent way to limit this power to places where capture is infeasible or to persons posing an "imminent" threat. The legal framework adopted by the memo means the president can kill anyone he claims is a member of al-Qaida regardless of where they are found or what they are doing.
The only reason to add these limitations of "imminence" and "feasibility of capture" is, as Heller said, purely political: to make the theories more politically palatable. But the definitions for these terms are so vague and broad that they provide no real limits on the president's assassination power. As the ACLU's Jaffer says: "This is a chilling document" because "it argues that the government has the right to carry out the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen" and the purported limits "are elastic and vaguely defined, and it's easy to see how they could be manipulated."
5. Converting Obama underlings into objective courts
This memo is not a judicial opinion. It was not written by anyone independent of the president. To the contrary, it was written by life-long partisan lackeys: lawyers whose careerist interests depend upon staying in the good graces of Obama and the Democrats, almost certainly Marty Lederman and David Barron. Treating this document as though it confers any authority on Obama is like treating the statements of one's lawyer as a judicial finding or jury verdict.
Indeed, recall the primary excuse used to shield Bush officials from prosecution for their crimes of torture and illegal eavesdropping: namely, they got Bush-appointed lawyers in the DOJ to say that their conduct was legal, and therefore, it should be treated as such. This tactic - getting partisan lawyers and underlings of the president to say that the president's conduct is legal - was appropriately treated with scorn when invoked by Bush officials to justify their radical programs. As Digby wrote about Bush officials who pointed to the OLC memos it got its lawyers to issue about torture and eavesdropping, such a practice amounts to:
"validating the idea that obscure Justice Department officials can be granted the authority to essentially immunize officials at all levels of the government, from the president down to the lowest field officer, by issuing a secret memo. This is a very important new development in western jurisprudence and one that surely requires more study and consideration. If Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan had known about this, they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble."
Life-long Democratic Party lawyers are not going to oppose the terrorism policies of the president who appointed them. A president can always find underlings and political appointees to endorse whatever he wants to do. That's all this memo is: the by-product of obsequious lawyers telling their Party's leader that he is (of course) free to do exactly that which he wants to do, in exactly the same way that Bush got John Yoo to tell him that torture was not torture, and that even it if were, it was legal.
That's why courts, not the president's partisan lawyers, should be making these determinations. But when the ACLU tried to obtain a judicial determination as to whether Obama is actually authorized to assassinate US citizens, the Obama DOJ went to extreme lengths to block the court from ruling on that question. They didn't want independent judges to determine the law. They wanted their own lawyers to do so.
That's all this memo is: Obama-loyal appointees telling their leader that he has the authority to do what he wants. But in the warped world of US politics, this - secret memos from partisan lackeys - has replaced judicial review as the means to determine the legality of the president's conduct.
6. Making a mockery of "due process"
The core freedom most under attack by the War on Terror is the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of due process. It provides that "no person shall be . . . deprived of life . . . without due process of law". Like putting people in cages for life on island prisons with no trial, claiming that the president has the right to assassinate US citizens far from any battlefield without any charges or trial is the supreme evisceration of this right.
The memo pays lip service to the right it is destroying: "Under the traditional due process balancing analysis . . . . we recognize that there is no private interest more weighty than a person's interest in his life." But it nonetheless argues that a "balancing test" is necessary to determine the extent of the process that is due before the president can deprive someone of their life, and further argues that, as the New York Times put it when this theory was first unveiled: "while the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of due process applied, it could be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch."
Stephen Colbert perfectly mocked this theory when Eric Holder first unveiled it to defend the president's assassination program. At the time, Holder actually said: "due process and judicial process are not one and the same." Colbert interpreted that claim as follows:
"Trial by jury, trial by fire, rock, paper scissors, who cares? Due process just means that there is a process that you do. The current process is apparently, first the president meets with his advisers and decides who he can kill. Then he kills them."
It is fitting indeed that the memo expressly embraces two core Bush/Cheney theories to justify this view of what "due process" requires. First, it cites the Bush DOJ's core view, as enunciated by John Yoo, that courts have no role to play in what the president does in the War on Terror because judicial review constitutes "judicial encroachment" on the "judgments by the President and his national security advisers as to when and how to use force". And then it cites the Bush DOJ's mostly successful arguments in the 2004 Hamdi case that the president has the authority even to imprison US citizens without trial provided that he accuses them of being a terrorist.
The reason this is so fitting is because, as I've detailed many times, it was these same early Bush/Cheney theories that made me want to begin writing about politics, all driven by my perception that the US government was becoming extremist and dangerous. During the early Bush years, the very idea that the US government asserted the power to imprison US citizens without charges and due process (or to eavesdrop on them) was so radical that, at the time, I could hardly believe they were being asserted out in the open.
Yet here we are almost a full decade later. And we have the current president asserting the power not merely to imprison or eavesdrop on US citizens without charges or trial, but to order them executed - and to do so in total secrecy, with no checks or oversight. If you believe the president has the power to order US citizens executed far from any battlefield with no charges or trial, then it's truly hard to conceive of any asserted power you would find objectionable.
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) -- A federal appeals court ruled Friday that bloggers and the public have the same First Amendment protections as journalists when sued for defamation: If the issue is of public concern, plaintiffs have to prove negligence to win damages.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial in a defamation lawsuit brought by an Oregon bankruptcy trustee against a Montana blogger who wrote online that the court-appointed trustee criminally mishandled a bankruptcy case.
The appeals court ruled that the trustee was not a public figure, which could have invoked an even higher standard of showing the writer acted with malice, but the issue was of public concern, so the negligence standard applied.
Gregg Leslie of the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press said the ruling affirms what many have long argued: Standards set by a 1974 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Gertz v. Robert Welch Inc., apply to everyone, not just journalists.
"It's not a special right to the news media," he said. "So it's a good thing for bloggers and citizen journalists and others."
Crystal L. Cox, a blogger from Eureka, Mont., now living in Port Townshend, Wash., was sued for defamation by Bend attorney Kevin Padrick and his company, Obsidian Finance Group LLC, after she made posts on several websites she created accusing them of fraud, corruption, money-laundering and other illegal activities. The appeals court noted Padrick and Obsidian were hired by Summit Accommodators to advise them before filing for bankruptcy, and that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court later appointed Padrick trustee in the Chapter 11 case. The court added that Summit had defrauded investors in its real estate operations through a Ponzi scheme.
A jury in 2011 had awarded Padrick and Obsidian $2.5 million.
"Because Cox's blog post addressed a matter of public concern, even assuming that Gertz is limited to such speech, the district court should have instructed the jury that it could not find Cox liable for defamation unless it found that she acted negligently," judge Andrew D. Hurwitz wrote. "We hold that liability for a defamatory blog post involving a matter of public concern cannot be imposed without proof of fault and actual damages."
The appeals court upheld rulings by the District Court that other posts by Cox were constitutionally protected opinion.
Though Cox acted as her own attorney, UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, who had written an article on the issue, learned of her case and offered to represent her in an appeal. Volokh said such cases usually end up settled without trial, and it was rare for one to reach the federal appeals court level.
"It makes clear that bloggers have the same First Amendment rights as professional journalists," he said. "There had been similar precedents before concerning advocacy groups, other writers and book authors. This follows a fairly well established chain of precedents. I believe it is the first federal appeals court level ruling that applies to bloggers."
An attorney for Padrick said in an email that while they were disappointed in the ruling, they noted the court found "there was no dispute that the statements were false and defamatory."
"Ms. Cox's false and defamatory statements have caused substantial damage to our clients, and we are evaluating our options with respect to the court's decision," wrote Steven M. Wilker.
Bloggers, public have First Amendment protection â US court
Published time: January 18, 2014 - RT
A federal appeals court has ruled that bloggers and the general public have the same protection of the First Amendment as journalists when sued for defamation. Should the issue be of public concern, the claimant has to prove negligence to win the case.
"It's not a special right to the news media," he said. "So it's a good thing for bloggers and citizen journalists and others," Gregg Leslie, of the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, told AP.
The federal courtâs ruling came after a new trial in a defamation case: an Oregon bankruptcy trustee was the plaintiff against a Montana blogger who wrote on the Internet that the trustee criminally mishandled a bankruptcy case.
In 2011, Crystal Cox, a blogger from Montana was sued by attorney Kevin Padrick and his company, Obsidian Finance Group LLC, following her posts disclosing the alleged fraud, corruption, money-laundering and other criminal activities carried out by Obsidian. It should be noted that Padrick is not a public figure, so the facts exposed by Cox couldnât inflict reputational damage on him.
Padrick and Obsidian won the case, and were granted $2.5 million.
Cox addressed the court of appeals, and was joined by UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, who found out about her case and offered her to represent her as an attorney in court.
"Because Cox's blog post addressed a matter of public concern, even assuming that Gertz is limited to such speech, the district court should have instructed the jury that it could not find Cox liable for defamation unless it found that she acted negligently," Judge Andrew Hurwitz wrote for a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
"We hold that liability for a defamatory blog post involving a matter of public concern cannot be imposed without proof of fault and actual damages," he added.
Eugene Volokh, who wrote an article on the issue, stated that the case ensures that bloggers have the same First Amendment rights as professional media workers.
"There had been similar precedents before concerning advocacy groups, other writers and book authors. This follows a fairly well established chain of precedents. I believe it is the first federal appeals court level ruling that applies to bloggers," Volokh said.
The plaintiff, however, disagreed with the decision and was disappointed with the ruling.
"Ms. Cox's false and defamatory statements have caused substantial damage to our clients, and we are evaluating our options with respect to the court's decision," AP reported Steven Wilker, an attorney for Obsidian and Padrick, as saying.
The issue of defining the term âjournalistâ has been on the table for a long time.
In 1974, the Gertz v. Robert Welch Inc. case marked the beginning of the debate on the level of state protection for public or private figures.
In September 2013, the US Senate committee voted 13-to-5 early Thursday to approve S.987, a bill meant to protect members of the press from government intrusion and âmaintain the free flow of information to the public.â
The legislation covered bloggers and freelancers both paid and unpaid who work with the "primary intent to investigate events and procure material in order to disseminate to the public news or information."
Officials at the U.S. Department of State on Friday torpedoed the controversial New York Times story on the Benghazi terrorist attack which blamed an Internet motion picture that "blasphemed" against the Muslim religion for the destruction and killing of four Americans including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
A State Department announcement blamed certain terrorist groups for the 2012 Benghazi attack, designating them as terrorists which refutes President Barack Obama's and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's claims that the attack was spontaneous, as well as contradicts the New York Times recent news story which many believe was written in order to provide "cover" for Hillary Clinton in her pursuit of the presidency.
"It is unacceptable that the New York Times would lie to it's readers and tell them that the attack wasn't a planned assault by al-Qaida aligned terrorists, but instead was a spontaneous political protest over a YouTube video," said officials at the Conservative Campaign Committee.
The State Department also reported that the leader of the al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group that attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi had been released from the military detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
According to the U.S. Department of State, Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi, Ansar al-Sharia in Darnah, and Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia are now separately Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) and Specially Designated Global Terrorist entities.
Besides the group designations, U.S. officials also designated Ahmed Abu Khattalah, Sufian bin Qumu, and Seifallah Ben Hassine, a/k/a âAbou Iyadh,â as Specially Designated Global Terrorists. Bin Qumu's background includes training at Osama bin Laden's training camp and being a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo). He was released in 2010 from the detention center and became a top Ansar al-Sharia commander.
Catherine Herridge of Fox News had previously reported Ansar al-Sharia was a prime suspect in the Bengahzi attack. And despite State Department claims that Al Qaeda leadership was not involved and the recent New York Times news report echoing that assessment, Fox News had learned that bin Qumu has Al Qaeda ties, according to his Gitmo records.
Created separately after the fall of Libyan dictator Col. Moamar Khaddhafi, Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi and Ansar al-Sharia in Darnah have been involved in terrorist attacks against civilian targets, frequent assassinations, and attempted assassinations of security officials and political actors in eastern Libya, and the September 11, 2012 attacks against the U.S. Special Mission and Annex in Benghazi, Libya, according to past Examiner news stories.
Members of both organizations continue to pose a threat to U.S. interests in Libya.Ahmed Abu Khattalah is a senior leader of Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi and Sufian bin Qumu is the leader of Ansar al-Sharia in Darnah.
January 10, 2014 10:24 AM - AUSTIN, Texas (CBS Houston/AP)
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has told a conservative conference that President Barack Obama is lawless, providing the rightwing rhetoric that makes him so popular in his home state. The conservative Republican laid out his reasoning for why he thinks the president is âdangerous and terrifying.â The public policy conference at which he spoke was sponsored by the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation. Minutes before his address, the organization posted a photograph of Cruz on their official Facebook page. Cruz has garnered national attention by frequently condemning the Obama administration and the federal health care overhaul. He called for the complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act and said he would replace it with a conservative alternative that would expand health care coverage. Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured in the nation. Cruz also criticized Obama for not enforcing drug laws in states that have legalized use of marijuana.
By Bob Woodward - Tuesday, January 7, 7:32 PM - WashingtonPost
In a new memoir, former defense secretary Robert Gates unleashes harsh judgments about President Obamaâs leadership and his commitment to the Afghanistan war, writing that by early 2010 he had concluded the president âdoesnât believe in his own strategy, and doesnât consider the war to be his. For him, itâs all about getting out.â
Leveling one of the more serious charges that a defense secretary could make against a commander in chief sending forces into combat, Gates asserts that Obama had more than doubts about the course he had charted in Afghanistan. The president was âskeptical if not outright convinced it would fail,â Gates writes in âDuty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.â
Obama, after months of contentious discussion with Gates and other top advisers, deployed 30,000 more troops in a final push to stabilize Afghanistan before a phased withdrawal beginning in mid-2011. âI never doubted Obamaâs support for the troops, only his support for their mission,â Gates writes.
As a candidate, Obama had made plain his opposition to the 2003 Iraq invasion while embracing the Afghanistan war as a necessary response to the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, requiring even more military resources to succeed. In Gatesâs highly emotional account, Obama remains uncomfortable with the inherited wars and distrustful of the military that is providing him options. Their different worldviews produced a rift that, at least for Gates, became personally wounding and impossible to repair.
In a statement Tuesday evening, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Obama âdeeply appreciates Bob Gatesâ service as Secretary of Defense, and his lifetime of service to our country.â
âAs has always been the case, the President welcomes differences of view among his national security team, which broaden his options and enhance our policies,â Hayden said in the statement. âThe President wishes Secretary Gates well as he recovers from his recent injury, and discusses his book.â Gates fractured his first vertebra last week in a fall at his home in Washington state.
It is rare for a former Cabinet member, let alone a defense secretary occupying a central position in the chain of command, to publish such an antagonistic portrait of a sitting president.
Gatesâs severe criticism is even more surprising â some might say contradictory â because toward the end of âDuty,â he says of Obamaâs chief Afghanistan policies, âI believe Obama was right in each of these decisions.â That particular view is not a universal one; like much of the debate about the best path to take in Afghanistan, there is disagreement on how well the surge strategy worked, including among military officials.
The sometimes bitter tone in Gatesâs 594-page account contrasts sharply with the even-tempered image that he cultivated during his many years of government service, including stints at the CIA and National Security Council. That image endured through his nearly five years in the Pentagonâs top job, beginning in President George W. Bushâs second term and continuing after Obama asked him to remain in the post. In âDuty,â Gates describes his outwardly calm demeanor as a facade. Underneath, he writes, he was frequently âseethingâ and ârunning out of patience on multiple fronts.â
The book, published by Knopf, is scheduled for release Jan. 14.
[PHOTOS: A look at Robert Gatesâs career in government]
Gates, a Republican, writes about Obama with an ambivalence that he does not resolve, praising him as âa man of personal integrityâ even as he faults his leadership. Though the book simmers with disappointment in Obama, it reflects outright contempt for Vice President Biden and many of Obamaâs top aides.
Biden is accused of âpoisoning the wellâ against the military leadership. Thomas Donilon, initially Obamaâs deputy national security adviser, and then-Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, the White House coordinator for the wars, are described as regularly engaged in âaggressive, suspicious, and sometimes condescending and insulting questioning of our military leaders.â
In her statement, Hayden said Obama âdisagrees with Secretary Gatesâ assessmentâ of the vice president.
âFrom his leadership on the Balkans in the Senate, to his efforts to end the war in Iraq, Joe Biden has been one of the leading statesmen of his time, and has helped advance Americaâs leadership in the world,â Hayden said. âPresident Obama relies on his good counsel every day.â
Gates is 70, nearly 20 years older than Obama. He has worked for every president going back to Richard Nixon, with the exception of Bill Clinton. Throughout his government career, he was known for his bipartisan detachment, the consummate team player. âDutyâ is likely to provide ammunition for those who believe it is risky for a president to fill such a key Cabinet post with a holdover from the opposition party.
He writes, âI have tried to be fair in describing actions and motivations of others.â He seems well aware that Obama and his aides will not see it that way.
While serving as defense secretary, Gates gave Obama high marks, saying privately in the summer of 2010 that the president is âvery thoughtful and analytical, but he is also quite decisive.â He added, âI think we have a similar approach to dealing with national security issues.â
Obama echoed Gatesâs comments in a July 10, 2010, interview for my book âObamaâs Wars.â The president said: âBob Gates has, I think, served me extraordinarily well. And part of the reason is, you know, Iâm not sure if he considers this an insult or a compliment, but he and I actually think a lot alike, in broad terms.â
During that interview, Obama said he believed he âhad garnered confidence and trust in Gates.â In âDuty,â Gates complains repeatedly that confidence and trust were what he felt was lacking in his dealings with Obama and his team. âWhy did I feel I was constantly at war with everybody, as I have detailed in these pages?â he writes. âWhy was I so often angry? Why did I so dislike being back in government and in Washington?ââ
His answer is that âthe broad dysfunction in Washington wore me down, especially as I tried to maintain a public posture of nonpartisan calm, reason and conciliation.â
His lament about Washington was not the only factor contributing to his unhappiness. Gates also writes of the toll taken by the difficulty of overseeing wars against terrorism and insurgencies in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Such wars do not end with a clear surrender; Gates acknowledges having ambiguous feelings about both conflicts. For example, he writes that he does not know what he would have recommended if he had been asked his opinion on Bushâs 2003 decision to invade Iraq.
Three years later, Bush recruited Gates â who had served his father for 15 months as CIA director in the early 1990s â to take on the defense job. The first half of âDutyâ covers those final two years in the Bush administration. Gates reveals some disagreements from that period, but none as fundamental or as personal as those he describes with Obama and his aides in the bookâs second half.
âAll too early in the [Obama] administration,â he writes, âsuspicion and distrust of senior military officers by senior White House officials â including the president and vice president â became a big problem for me as I tried to manage the relationship between the commander in chief and his military leaders.â
Gates offers a catalogue of various meetings, based in part on notes that he and his aides made at the time, including an exchange between Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that he calls âremarkable.â
He writes: âHillary told the president that her opposition to the  surge in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary. .â.â. The president conceded vaguely that opposition to the Iraq surge had been political. To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying.â
Earlier in the book, he describes Hillary Clinton in the sort of glowing terms that might be used in a political endorsement. âI found her smart, idealistic but pragmatic, tough-minded, indefatigable, funny, a very valuable colleague, and a superb representative of the United States all over the world,â he wrote.
[READ: The Fix on what Gatesâs memoir could mean for a Clinton campaign]
March 3, 2011
âDutyâ reflects the memoir genre, declaring that this is how the writer saw it, warts and all, including his own. That focus tends to give short shrift to the fuller, established record. For example, in recounting the difficult discussions that led to the Afghan surge strategy in 2009, Gates makes no reference to the six-page âterms sheetâ that Obama drafted at the end, laying out the rationale for the surge and withdrawal timetable. Obama asked everyone involved to sign on, signaling agreement.
According to the meeting notes of another participant, Gates is quoted as telling Obama, âYou sound the bugle . . . Mr. President, and Mike [Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] and I will be the first to charge the hill.â
Gates does not include such a moment in âDuty.â He picks up the story a bit later, after Gen. David H. Petraeus, then the central commander in charge of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, made remarks to the press suggesting he was not comfortable with setting a fixed date to start withdrawal.
At a March 3, 2011, National Security Council meeting, Gates writes, the president opened with a âblast.â Obama criticized the military for âpopping off in the pressâ and said he would push back hard against any delay in beginning the withdrawal.
According to Gates, Obama concluded, âââIf I believe I am being gamed . . .â and left the sentence hanging there with the clear implication the consequences would be dire.â
Gates continues: âI was pretty upset myself. I thought implicitly accusingâ Petraeus, and perhaps Mullen and Gates himself, âof gaming him in front of thirty people in the Situation Room was inappropriate, not to mention highly disrespectful of Petraeus. As I sat there, I thought: the president doesnât trust his commander, canât stand [Afghanistan President Hamid] Karzai, doesnât believe in his own strategy, and doesnât consider the war to be his. For him, itâs all about getting out.â
[READ: World Views: Gates was wrong on the most important issue he ever faced]
âBreaches of faithâ
Lack of trust is a major thread in Gatesâs account, along with his unsparing criticism of Obamaâs aides. At times, the two threads intertwine. For example, after the devastating 2010 Haitian earthquake that had left tens of thousands dead, Gates met with Obama and Donilon, the deputy national security adviser, about disaster relief.
Donilon was âcomplaining about how long we were taking,â Gates writes. âThen he went too far, questioning in front of the president and a roomful of people whether General [Douglas] Fraser [head of the U.S. Southern Command] was competent to lead this effort. Iâve rarely been angrier in the Oval Office than I was at that moment. .â.â. My initial instinct was to storm out, telling the president on the way that he didnât need two secretaries of defense. It took every bit of my self-discipline to stay seated on the sofa.â
Gates confirms a previously reported statement in which he told Obamaâs first national security adviser, retired Marine Gen. James Jones, that he thought Donilon would be a âdisasterâ if he succeeded Jones (as Donilon did in late 2010). Gates writes that Obama quizzed him about this characterization; a one-on-one meeting with Donilon followed, and that âcleared the air,â according to Gates.
His second year with Obama proved as tough as the first. âFor me, 2010 was a year of continued conflict and a couple of important White House breaches of faith,â he writes.
The first, he says, was Obamaâs decision to seek the repeal of the âdonât ask, donât tellâ policy toward gays serving in the military. Though Gates says he supported the decision, there had been months and months of debate, with details still to work out. On one dayâs notice, Obama informed Gates and Mullen that he would announce his request for a repeal of the law. Obama had âblindsided Admiral Mullen and me,â Gates writes.
Similarly, in a battle over defense spending, âI was extremely angry with President Obama,â Gates writes. âI felt he had breached faith with me . . . on the budget numbers.â As with âdonât ask, donât tell,â âI felt that agreements with the Obama White House were good for only as long as they were politically convenient.â
Gates acknowledges forthrightly in âDutyâ that he did not reveal his dismay. âI never confronted Obama directly over what I (as well as [Hillary] Clinton, [then-CIA Director Leon] Panetta, and others) saw as the presidentâs determination that the White House tightly control every aspect of national security policy and even operations. His White House was by far the most centralized and controlling in national security of any I had seen since Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger ruled the roost.â
It got so bad during internal debates over whether to intervene in Libya in 2011 that Gates says he felt compelled to deliver a ârantâ because the White House staff was âtalking about military options with the president without Defense being involved.â
Gates says his instructions to the Pentagon were: âDonât give the White House staff and [national security staff] too much information on the military options. They donât understand it, and âexpertsâ like Samantha Power will decide when we should move militarily.â Power, then on the national security staff and now U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has been a strong advocate for humanitarian intervention.
Another time, after Donilon and Biden tried to pass orders to Gates, he told the two, âThe last time I checked, neither of you are in the chain of command,â and said he expected to get orders directly from Obama.
Life at the top was no picnic, Gates writes. He did little or no socializing. âEvery evening I could not wait to get home, get my office homework out of the way, write condolence letters to the families of the fallen, pour a stiff drink, wolf down a frozen dinner or carry out,â since his wife, Becky, often remained at their home in Washington state.
âI got up at five every morning to run two miles around the Mall in Washington, past the World War II, Korean, and Vietnam memorials, and in front of the Lincoln Memorial. And every morning before dawn, I would ritually look up at that stunning white statue of Lincoln, say good morning, and sadly ask him, How did you do it?â
The memoirâs title comes from a quote, âGod help me to do my duty,â that Gates says he kept on his desk. The quote has been attributed to Abraham Lincolnâs war secretary, Edwin Stanton.
At his confirmation hearings to be Bushâs defense secretary in late 2006, Gates told the senators that he had not âcome back to Washington to be a bump on a log and not say exactly what I think, and to speak candidly and, frankly, boldly to people at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue about what I believe and what I think needs to be done.â
But Gates says he did not speak his mind when the committee chairman listed the problems he would face as secretary. âI remember sitting at the witness table listening to this litany of woe and thinking, âWhat the hell am I doing here? I have walked right into the middle of a category-five shitstorm. It was the first of many, many times I would sit at the witness table thinking something very different from what I was saying.â
âDutyâ offers the familiar criticism of Congress and its culture, describing it as âtruly ugly.â Gatesâs cold feelings toward the legislative branch stand in stark contrast to his warmth for the military. He repeatedly describes his affection for the troops, especially those in combat.
Gates wanted to quit at the end of 2010 but agreed to stay at Obamaâs urging, finally leaving in mid-2011. He later joined a consulting firm with two of Bushâs closest foreign policy advisers â former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser during Bushâs second term. The firm is called Rice-Hadley-Gates. In October, he became president-elect of the Boy Scouts of America.
Gates writes, âI did not enjoy being secretary of defense,â or as he e-mailed one friend while still serving, âPeople have no idea how much I detest this job.â
Posted By Devonia Smith - 01-07-2014 - Political - Examiner
On Jan. 7, 2013, Matt Drudge of the politically influential Drudge Report declared, "I've opted out of Obamacare for life. Not interested. Pay the tax. Monopoly money anyway."
Ezra Klein tried to pin Matt down, asking,
@DRUDGE Are you going to be uninsured? Or are you just buying qualifying insurance (in which case you're not opting out)? Ezra Klein @ezraklein Follow Klein is making the point that Matt's statment could be all bravado, because it only qualifies if Drudge is buying insurance, not self-insuring. Since all insurance purchases now must meet qualifying Obamacare standards, whether Matt goes through the health care exchange or purchases private insurance, any new insurance he purchases would fall under the Obamacare umbrella as long as ithe Affordable Health Care Act remains the law of the land.
In short order the Twitchy team pondered, "Is the Drudge Report founder uninsured?" Whether Matt is merely adhering to his status as top pot-stirrer or not, there appears to be several schools of thought on the wording of Drudge's provocative declaration. Some are parsing his use of "for life." Over on Twitchy, a very confident BoscoBolt opined, "'For life' might only mean another year (or a few) - Obamacare will eventually be repealed."
Others are clearly offended that Drudge appeared to refer to the tax as "Monopoly money," with one a quick snark from Michele @haymakers, "It's nice that you've got Monopoly money to burn. Millions aren't as fortunate as you."
Like Obamacare, Matt's possibly soon-to-be-viral statement is confusing. The same Washington Postâs Ezra Klein who questioned Matt Drudge questioned the Obama administration's decision to allow those whose insurance was canceled to opt for the catastrophic plans closed to others, pointing out that âA 45-year-old whose plan just got canceled can now purchase catastrophic coverage. A 45-year-old who didnât have insurance at all canât.â
Since the cancellation of thousands of private policies, policies many thought would automatically be "grandfathered" in, there has been considerable anger. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey of the employer health benefits of 2013, information found in Chapter 13 indicates that since ACA has been even partially implemented, the percentage of grandfathered plans have substantially decreased. See the percentages of grandfathered plans below: http://www.examiner.com/article/drudge-i-ve-opted-out-of-obamacare-for-life-the-tax-is-monopoly-money?cid=rss