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Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan war’

Daniel Ellsberg On The CIA Plan To Kidnap And Possibly Kill Julian Assange, The End Of The Afghanistan Occupation, And The Ongoing Us Drone War –

Posted by M. C. on October 19, 2021

So, I think we have to accept that if Biden’s appeal is successful and Assange is brought back here and tried, that will not be the last, and we won’t have to wait for a Republican either or for Trump. Even under Biden it will not be the last, and yes, the New York Times itself will find that it has to defend and maybe a little late because the precedent will have been set.

by Dennis Bernstein

There are many things to say about Legendary Whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg. First and foremost of course is that he blew the whistle on the big lies behind the US Justification for the Vietnam war. Indeed, in 1967 while at the Rand Institute Daniel Ellsberg worked on the top-secret McNamara Study, US Decision Making in Vietnam, which later came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. In 1969 he photocopied the 7,000-page study and gave it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In 1971 he gave it to the New York Times, the Washington Post and 17 other newspapers.

Ellsberg’s subsequent trial on 12 felony counts posing a possible sentence of some 115 years was dismissed in 1973 on the grounds of governmental misconduct against him, leading to the convictions of several White House aides and figuring in the impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon. Now in his 90’s, Dan Ellsberg is front and center in the battle to free Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. We spoke to Ellsberg on the heels of the troubling revelations that the US CIA was considering kidnapping and even killing Assange.

Dennis: Good to speak to you again Dan. Let’s start with this: Why do you think the former CIA Director under Donald Trump thought that it might be necessary not only to kidnap, to maybe kill, Julian Assange? Why did they find him so dangerous?

Dan: You know, the – I notice on the news, on Wiki, Google News, a couple headlines that I haven’t seen yet about why did the CIA want to kill Assange. I’m interested in those stories. I haven’t been able to read them yet. Actually, it’s on a podcast. I’ll have to listen to it in England, because that isn’t self-evident why at that point they would want to kill him, except that yes, they wanted him to come into trial, they wanted to kidnap him, and get him back here. Or now they’re still trying to extradite him under Biden and get him for trial.

But on the other hand, a trial isn’t actually perfect for them because that will certainly bring up two kinds of problems, the crimes that he revealed, the war crimes, the things that Chelsea Manning had given to him about Afghanistan and Iraq revealing enormous numbers of civilians killed which had not been reported, a major program of torture by our Iraqi allies which continued into the Biden – into the, I’m sorry, Obama Administration when Biden was Vice President, and definitely would have constituted war crimes. So, these are not things they wanted discussed in open-ended trial all that much, although they do want to make an example of Julian.

I really think that in one – I’ve always thought that to some extent the best thing for him is just to keep him there in a prison without having to go through a trial and reveal any of this stuff, or have him even in Sweden on that. But since they don’t want to concede that what he did was not criminal, as I would say was not under any constitutional reading of the Espionage Act, they want to continue that and have to at least go through the motions of trying to expedite him.

But of course, assassinating him would cut that short, just keep him silent, keep him out of the way, certainly form a good example, counter, to people who might be tempted to follow in his footsteps as to what to expect if you take on not only the world’s richest and strongest imperial power, the United States, but really this was a challenge to secrecy in all governments in the world. And I doubt if he has very many admirers within state governments, practically anywhere in the world, although there were many countries where he’s extremely popular.

Germany, for example, being one for various reasons. But their – and even their Bundestag has tried to get him to come as a witness about the secrecy system. But governments that want to be tight in hand with their rich uncle here, Uncle Sam, do not want to antagonize America, and that turns out to be Biden as well as Trump. So, he’s challenged all of them, and that puts you by way of a lot of retribution.

Dennis: How would you – how do you consider Julian Assange? Do you see him as a publisher and poet and journalist? People call him lots of different things. And apparently he’s been, although he’s helped a great deal in publishing a number of incredible stories in various news organizations, he’s been sort of betrayed, set aside, forgotten. How do you see him? Is he – is his work important in terms of journalism, and what role does it play in the public knowledge?

Dan: Well first take the position that the government – that he’s put himself in as government, our government, has put him in of being under charges as a publisher, as a journalist. He’s the first actually to be indicted in this country in a way that is blatantly in contradiction to the First Amendment, “Congress shall pass no law abridging freedom of the press, freedom of speech.” There could hardly be a more clear-cut denial of the protection to the press, that the First Amendment author than to be indicting and prosecuting Julian Assange.

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3 Tallest Biden Tales on Foreign Policy | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on March 14, 2020

The Iraq War vote

The raid on Osama bin Laden

An Afghanistan war story

A lying politician. Not fake news, just old news.

The former vice president has made a habit of distorting his national security record and telling stories that just aren’t true.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Del., ranking Democrat on Senate Foreign Relations, during an interview in his office about the possibility of war with Iraq, and Secretary of State Colin Powell’s intelligence briefing of the United Nations Security Council earlier today. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

Former vice president Joe Biden has spun his foreign policy bona fides for the better part of two decades in order to make them fit with the political zeitgeist. Now, as he nears the Democratic nomination, it’s time for the media to take a closer look.

With that in mind, here are three of Biden’s most outrageous distortions of his national security record.

The Iraq War vote

Biden was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he voted to give President George W. Bush the broad authority to go to war in Iraq. But he didn’t just vote for the war—he helped sell it to the American public, even though the majority at the time did not support taking immediate military action.

As Tara Golshan and Alex Ward explain:

Biden bought into the Bush administration’s argument. He elevated the administration’s concerns about Hussein in the press. And in the months leading up to the vote authorizing war, he organized a series of Senate hearings, in close coordination with the White House, during which he echoed the administration’s talking points about weapons of mass destruction.

Biden even praised Colin Powell’s notorious United Nations Security Council speech, saying, “I think Secretary Powell made a very powerful, and I think irrefutable, case today.”

“President Bush did not lash out precipitously at Iraq after 9/11,” Biden said in a 2002 floor speech. “He did not snub the U.N. or our allies. He did not dismiss new inspection regimes. He did not ignore Congress. At each pivotal moment, he has chosen a course of moderation and deliberation…in each case in my view he has made the right rational calm deliberate decision.”

On October 11, 2002, the Democratic Senate passed the resolution for authorization of use of military force in Iraq by a vote of 77 to 23, with Biden voting yes.

Just hours before the invasion, on March 19, 2003, Biden told CNN, “I support the president. I support the troops. We should make no distinction. …Let’s get this war done.”

“We voted to give [Bush] the authority to wage that war. We should step back and be supportive,” he said.

But when asked about his Iraq vote during the July 2019 Democratic debate, Biden stated: “From the moment ‘shock and awe’ [the invasion of Iraq] started, from that moment, I was opposed to the effort, and I was outspoken as much as anyone at all in the Congress.”

Biden repeated the claim that he was against the war “immediately, the moment [shock and awe] started” again during an interview on NPR on September 3, 2019.

Biden didn’t actually call the war a “mistake” until 2005—not because he thought his vote for it was wrong, but because in his estimation we should have sent more troops: “We went too soon. We went without sufficient force. And we went without a plan.” Of course by that time, American support for the invasion had also dropped off precipitously.

Now, in his 2020 bid for the presidency, Biden continues to offer “jumbled Iraq war revisionism.” “Yes, I did oppose the war before it began,” Biden said at a September 6 campaign event. During the Democrats’ September debate, he claimed he only voted for the war authorization “to allow inspectors to go in to determine whether or not anything was being done with chemical weapons or nuclear weapons.”

Biden frequently conflates his Iraq vote with the issue of inspections, as if it was necessary to approve the AUMF in order to guarantee those inspections. It was not, and the timeline bears that out. Almost a month before Biden’s pro-war vote, in September 2002, Iraq said it was willing to allow in inspectors without conditions. Those inspections began in November. There were several senators who, unlike Biden, voted against the Iraq war while also arguing for the return of United Nations weapons inspectors to Iraq.

The raid on Osama bin Laden

When President Barack Obama sought advice on whether to carry out the raid that ultimately found and killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, Biden advised him not to strike because he felt the U.S. needed more information.

Vouching for Obama’s stellar “instincts” when he retold the moment to Democratic colleagues at their congressional retreat in 2012, Biden said:

[When he] got to me, he said, “Joe, what do you think?” And I said, “You know, I didn’t know we had so many economists around the table.” I said, “We owe the man a direct answer. Mr. President, my suggestion is don’t go. We have to do two more things to see if he’s there.”

Obama’s then-White House press secretary Jay Carney said that Biden was “speaking accurately” at the retreat about what had taken place in 2011.

By 2015, Biden had changed his story about that fateful 2011 meeting, claiming that “it would have been a mistake” to offer an opinion in front of the group, and that instead of saying to go or not go, he privately advised Obama to “go.”

Biden has continued to proffer this revised account, as recently as January of this year, despite the fact that it is contradicted by senior Obama officials, including none other than Hillary Clinton in her book Hard Choices and former CIA director Leon Panetta in his book Worthy Fights.

In January, Biden was asked by Fox News: “As commander in chief, if you were ever handed a piece of intelligence that said you could stop an imminent attack on Americans—but you have to use an airstrike to take out a terrorist leader—would you pull the trigger?”

Biden replied: “Well we did—the guy’s name was Osama bin Laden.”

“Didn’t you tell President Obama not to go after bin Laden that day?” Fox News asked.

“No, I didn’t,” Biden said.

An Afghanistan war story

Biden has misstated multiple key facts in a war story that he’s repeated on several occasions, according to The Washington Post:

Joe Biden painted a vivid scene for the 400 people packed into a college meeting hall. A four-star general had asked the then-vice president to travel to Konar province in Afghanistan, a dangerous foray into “godforsaken country” to recognize the remarkable heroism of a Navy captain.

Some told him it was too risky, but Biden said he brushed off their concerns.

“We can lose a vice president,” he said. “We can’t lose many more of these kids. Not a joke.”

The Navy captain…had rappelled down a 60-foot ravine under fire and retrieved the body of an American comrade, carrying him on his back. Now the general wanted Biden to pin a Silver Star on the American hero who, despite his bravery, felt like a failure. He said, “Sir, I don’t want the damn thing!” Biden said, his jaw clenched and his voice rising to a shout. “Do not pin it on me, Sir! Please, Sir. Do not do that! He died. He died!” …”This is the God’s honest truth,” Biden had said as he told the story. “My word as a Biden.”

The problem with Biden’s moving account is that, as the Post puts it, “almost every detail in the story appears to be false” and that Biden seems to have “jumbled elements of at least three actual events into one story of bravery, compassion and regret that never happened.”

Biden did visit Kunar province in 2008, but as a senator, not as vice president. Twenty-year-old Army specialist Kyle J. White, not a Navy captain, performed the rescue. And Biden did not pin the medal on White; then-president Obama did six years after Biden’s trip.

In one short story, Biden managed to be wrong on the time the event took place, the location, the person being honored, the rank and branch of the military the honoree belonged to, the type of medal awarded, the heroic act itself, and his own role in the event.

Unlike Brian Williams’ “I was there” Iraq account and Hillary Clinton’s claim to have “landed under sniper fire” in Bosnia, both tales that exaggerate the tellers’ heroism, it is muddier what Biden’s mixed-up, mish-mashed Afghanistan account was supposed to achieve. The most charitable take may be that it is simply a result of his alleged cognitive decline.

The same cannot be said for his record, however. Unlike his plagiarism, Biden’s foreign policy decisions had far-reaching, devastating, international consequences. If he becomes president, that will be doubly true.

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The News Churn Memory Hole: How The MSM Lies Even When Telling The Truth – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on December 19, 2019

“This goofy ass Trump letter is gonna get more outraged coverage than the bombshell report on the entire Afghanistan war being a lie and frankly I don’t know if I can handle that right now,” popular Youtube commentator Kyle Kulinski tweeted today.

The post was just one of the many observations that Kulinski tosses into the Twitterverse every day, presented in his typical casual, offhand way without any self-significance. But if you actually pause and think about what he’s saying here, how true it is and what it says about the mass media institutions which people rely upon to form their worldviews, it’s actually a damning indictment of our entire society.

It is a fact that far more news media energy is going into one trivial aspect of an impeachment agenda that will with absolute certainty fail to remove Trump from office than there is for the known fact that the US government fought to suppress indisputable proof that American officials have been consistently lying about an 18-year military occupation which continues to this day. This fact should, by itself, be sufficient to completely discredit the mainstream press. This one tiny piece of information, that there’s vastly more buzz about an irrelevant impeachment sideshow than there is over the Afghanistan Papers, should in and of itself cause everyone to regard the entire establishment media complex with the same amount of respect as it gives the Flat Earth Society.

But it doesn’t. People are so hypnotized by the endless drama of the mass media news churn that all context and sense of proportionality is lost to them. They stand transfixed by the latest kayfabe combat between the two puppets in America’s two-headed one-party system like an infant distracted from the cause of its outrage by a set of shiny, dangling keys.

The public’s total immersion in whatever sparkly clickbait drama gets served before them by the waiters and waitresses of corporate news media enables the narrative managers responsible for manipulating public thought to simply pace mainstream attention away from inconvenient news stories, even after reporting on those very news stories themselves the day before.

This ability to memory-hole attention away from inconvenient truths using the drama of the relentless news churn is the final line of defense for the establishment propaganda machine, and, much like a video game, they save the hardest boss fight for last. Even if a little truth manages to squeak past the wall of billionaire-controlled media employees who are conditioned to understand that they’ll only be able to advance their careers by promoting narratives which favor the establishment upon which those billionaires have built their respective kingdoms, even if that truth then squeaks past the steadily thickening walls of government secrecy, past the increasingly overt infiltration of media organizations by powerful government agencies, and past the empire’s increasingly aggressive war on oppositional journalism, it still has to face the final boss fight of news churn memory-holing. And boy, it’s almost unbeatable.

A lot of dissident-minded optimists got hopeful that maybe once the lies of the Iraq war were exposed, people would lose trust in the political/media class which deceived them about such a massively significant atrocity. These hopes were of course dashed as public attention was simply paced on to the next new, shiny thing, and then on to another and then on to another, and on now to the point where everyone’s babbling about impeachment over some political shenanigans with Ukraine and Joe Biden without hardly anybody bellowing in unmitigated rage that this same party refused to impeach Bush over mountains of literal war crimes. There is no actual correlation between a story’s newsworthiness and the amount of news coverage it ends up getting, so the still earth-shakingly consequential repercussions of Bush administration’s malfeasance have been eclipsed by today’s set of sparkly keys.

This infuriating tactic has been employed time and time again against inconvenient truths which miraculously managed to surmount the many other roadblocks which obstruct people’s understanding that they do not live in a free or just society but a murderous, oppressive and exploitative one. They are able to employ this immensely crucial strategic advantage because the social engineers whose employers benefit from the status quo don’t just work to manipulate information, but narratives as well.

It doesn’t matter how much information gets leaked to the public by whistleblowers, how much information the public gains access to via successful Freedom of Information Act requests, how much information is brought to public attention by investigative journalists combing through documents to connect the dots on the behavior of the powerful, as long as the establishment can manipulate or suppress any narratives that might get told about that information. No matter how much truth gets exposed about the depravity of the powerful, it won’t make one drop of difference in terms of public accountability if nobody’s talking about it. We see this in the way narratives still depict Trump as a Russian stooge despite the information about his many reckless escalations against Russia being publicly available, we see it in the way mainstream media is suppressing all discussion about the OPCW scandal, and we are now seeing it in the way the Afghanistan Papers are being memory-holed despite their temporarily featuring as front-page mainstream news.

This is all proof that simply getting information published isn’t enough. As important as whistleblowers, investigative journalists and leak publishing outlets like WikiLeaks are, by themselves they’re completely impotent, because all they do is reveal information while leaving the control of the dominant narrative in the hands of the establishment spinmeisters. There is no truth that could possibly be exposed that is so damning and so salacious that it couldn’t be manipulated away by establishment narrative control.

This doesn’t mean there’s no hope of ever awakening a critical mass to the fact that they live in a society which is ruled by oligarchs who benefit from keeping everyone else poor and powerless and profit from deceiving us into sending our children overseas to murder other people’s children. All it means is that we need to approach the problem with a very specific focus. It isn’t enough to simply expose the truth; we need to expose the truth while forcefully driving home the message that the media organizations which people rely on to form their entire understanding of the world have been deceiving them.

Yes, expose the truth, but do it while also saying “Look! See? This proves that the mainstream media have been lying to you this entire time! They lie to you about everything!” Drive this point home constantly, as often as possible. The propaganda machine is only able to manipulate people away from inconvenient truths when people trust it; if you can weaken their trust in the plutocratic media and the political class which regurgitates their narratives, you will cripple the machine’s ability to manipulate them in that way.

It’s not enough to simply expose the truth. You must also fully, repeatedly and consistently expose the ones who are telling lies.

This is simply a matter of an adjustment of focus. Far too many truth-tellers think it’s enough to keep their energy close to their chests and mildly speak truths as correctly as they can into the information ecosystem. This is like being in a cage fight and thinking it’s enough to simply have a good fighting stance. We are being attacked by an enemy who seeks to destroy our ability to understand and respond sensibly to our world, so we need to fight back. We need to be moving our feet and ducking and weaving and throwing strikes in combinations, not just standing there with a textbook-perfect fighting posture.

It’s not enough to be right, we’ve also got to win. We win by pouring our energy into sowing distrust in the establishment propaganda machine, mocking it, ridiculing it, showing everyone how absurdly phony it is, until everyone’s laughing at it and treating it with the same amount of deference that they give to flat-earthers. When we’ve accomplished that, that’s how we’ll know that we’ve won. And from there it will be possible to build a healthy world based on truth.


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