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Posts Tagged ‘CIA’

David Petraeus and the Art of Staying the Same | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on February 28, 2020

But what was really accomplished here? Frankly, having Petraeus speak laid down some simple but important markers. He was never a man of “big ideas,” just a man with political survival instincts who always said exactly what people wanted to hear. But I think we saw his limits here.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/state-of-the-union/david-petraeus-and-the-art-of-staying-the-same/

David Petraeus hasn’t changed a bit.

There was some vexation over his invitation to speak at today’s Quincy Institute/Foreign Policy conference, considering the event, entitled, “A New Vision for America in the World” was widely seen as a coming out of sorts for the ascendent restrainers and non-interventionist movement in Washington. Quincy, having brought together the powerhouse backers of both the Koch and Soros orbits, is in a way a manifestation of this moment, and a real Left-Right alignment against the old world order.

In response to some of the negative Petraeus buzz, some suggested that his presence might indicate that he is “coming around” to the new foreign policy approach, that the place to be right now is among a growing consensus against endless, expeditionary wars, and for rethinking our role in the world.

His remarks Wednesday, however, put that rosy notion to rest, quick.

In short, the “sycophant savior” believes the U.S. still needs to be deployed abroad (including Afghanistan) to control terrorism; we “almost always have to lead,” and yes, this “campaign” can be forever, as long as we are willing to spend the blood and treasure to sustain it.

And he really, really doesn’t like the word “interventionism.”

“Are we ‘intervening’ by having 30,000 troops in Korea? What do you mean by intervention?” he quipped to Jonathan Tepperman, editor of Foreign Policy, who had gently raised the idea that the American public was ripe for new non-interventionist approaches. It was Petraeus’s first flash of real personality in the 30-minute exchange, but it came off a bit testy. He ticked off a few other “endless” (and ultimately positive) U.S. occupations, including Germany and Japan. The usual jive, and a non-starter with this crowd—they’d heard that tune before.

Plus, wasn’t this supposed to be about a “new vision for America in the world”? The problem with Petraeus, a former general and CIA director who spent years around yes-men and failed up into a lucrative consulting career for the military industrial complex, is that he hasn’t had to be “new” at anything. Like Wednesday, he sprinkles a few anecdotes about being “downrange” in the last six years of his military career, and how “nobody wants to end endless wars more than those who have been fighting endless wars,” before offering assessments and solutions that are barely distinguishable from what he has prescribed for audiences over the last decade. More importantly, there is no sense of enlightenment or growth. Just a stubborn adherence to the status quo.

His “big ideas” amount to the same old dogma. If we leave Afghanistan it will create a haven for terrorists. Like Iraq. Then we’ll have to do something about it. “The problems just don’t go away.”

“Generally the U.S. has to lead,” he said, because we spend more and have superior capability than anyone else in the world. He talked about global drone surveillance, like a paternalistic watchman in the sky. “Having said that, we have to have allies, coalitions… And we want Muslim coalitions. This is a fight for the heart of the Muslim world, this is an existential struggle.”

And, “you cannot counter terrorists with just counterterrorism operations.” There has to be a “comprehensive civilian-military campaign,” although “host nations” will be doing all the fighting and negotiating. In other words, we’ll continue to put our troops and contractors in vulnerable positions in places where really angry people want to kill us, begetting more angry people who want to kill us the longer we have a presence there, while pouring all of our resources down an interminable black hole. But if we don’t lose a lot of guys and no one feels the pinch in the pocketbook, “then people will regard it like the long commitment we’ve had in Korea.”

Was he so elevated at the end of his career, so disconnected that he did not see the devastating toll the multiple deployments had taken on our armed forces? Does he not acknowledge the PTSD, the toxic exposures, the brain injuries? The painful family separations? Sure the military has “sustained” its tempo over the years, but at what cost to the rank-and-file?

“I was wondering when he was going to say something ‘new,’ something we haven’t heard in the last 20 years,” charged Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., who spoke after Petraeus had made a beeline for the door, no time for questions from the audience. Khanna, unlike the man once referred to as “King David,” has only grown in stature as he has found common ground with other restrainers across the spectrum over the last two years. He even spoke at TAC’s foreign policy conference in 2018. And he stayed for questions.

There seems to be no other explanation for Petraeus’s presence here other than he provided a good foil for the non-interventionists who followed—Khanna, Will Ruger, Mark Perry, and others. We suppose someone thought he added a sheen to the proceedings, though there was really no opportunity for a “debate” as suggested. His appearance took place in a carefully controlled format—a “conversation” opposite a sympathetic host (Tepperman) who actually spent time afterwards “clarifying” some the ex-general’s comments for the audience (he’s a general, “not a politician”). Cue laugh track.

But what was really accomplished here? Frankly, having Petraeus speak laid down some simple but important markers. He was never a man of “big ideas,” just a man with political survival instincts who always said exactly what people wanted to hear. But I think we saw his limits here. He knew what we wanted to hear, and he couldn’t say it. It will take a very long time for someone like him to come over to our way of thinking (if ever) because his very identity, his livelihood, is tied to the old order and any new approach that would cut off lifeblood to his world is a threat.

There are countless men and women just like Petraeus in Washington. Quincy will have a hard time winning them over. And maybe that doesn’t matter, just as long as they know, at some point, that a new vision, is winning. His hasty exit today suggests that at some level, he knows that already.

UPDATE 2/27 : This Free Beacon article notes that Petraeus’s remarks drew serious fire from members of the Quincy Institute as well, and appears to confirm my own suspicions, that the ex-general was brought in by the Foreign Policy magazine partner, not Quincy.

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Brain Injuries from Interventionism – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on February 15, 2020

One thing is for certain: If those U.S. troops were not in Iraq and were
instead here at home, where they belong, they would not be suffering
from those brain injuries. They suffered those brain injuries because
they were over there occupying a foreign country, where they don’t
belong.

Notice how over 100 soldiers with brain trauma went unnoticed until someone decided an attack by Iran that produced no injuries was traumatic?

Imagine how bad the injuries would have been if there had not been several hours notice and no bunkers to hunker in?

https://www.fff.org/2020/02/11/brain-injuries-from-interventionism/

by

The number of U.S. soldiers who have suffered traumatic brain injuries from the Iranian missile attack last month in Iraq has now risen to more than 100. The injuries demonstrate the sheer inanity of foreign interventionism.

The Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises pointed out that when a government intervenes in economic affairs, the intervention inevitably produces a bad result, which then requires another intervention to fix the problem. But then that intervention causes even more problems, which then necessitates more interventions. By the time the process is over, the interventions have led to a government takeover of that part of the economy, along with the destruction of liberty in the process.

While Mises was referring to economic policies, the principle he enunciated applies equally well in foreign policy. The federal government’s history with Iran is a classic example of this phenomenon. And those U.S. soldiers who suffered those brain injuries are only the latest group of soldiers who are paying the price for U.S. interventionism against Iran.

The interventionist process with Iran began in 1953, when the CIA initiated a coup in Iran that succeeded in ousting the democratically elected prime minister of the country, a man named Mohammad Mossadegh, from his position and restoring the omnipotent, unelected dictatorship of the Shah of Iran.

The purpose of the CIA’s intervention? Mossadegh had nationalized British oil interests in the country and had thrown British officials out of the country. The British Empire did not take kindly to that type of treatment. It sought the help of the CIA, which tied Mossadegh to the supposed worldwide communist conspiracy to take over the world during the Cold War.

That intervention led to another intervention. To ensure that the Iranian people could not succeed in restoring their experiment with democracy, the CIA helped the Shah to establish a domestic police force called the SAVAK, which was a combination Pentagon, CIA, NSA, and FBI. The CIA then proceeded to train SAVAK agents in the arts of torture, indefinite detention, secret surveillance, and other dark-side practices to ensure that no one could resist the oppressive tyranny of the Shah.

In 1979, the Iranian people revolted against the CIA’s dictatorship by forcibly ousting the Shah from power. Fearful that the CIA would restore the Shah to power, the revolutionaries took U.S. diplomats hostage to make sure that that wouldn’t happen.

Unfortunately, the Iranian revolution was unsuccessful in restoring its experiment with democracy that the CIA had destroyed some 26 years before. They ended up with a theocracy that turned out to be every bit as tyrannical as the regime of the Shah.

The Iranian revolution led to more U.S. interventions. One big one was when Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein initiated a war against Iran. The U.S. national-security establishment came to his assistance and helped him kill, injure, and maim tens of thousands of Iranian soldiers.

After Iran defeated Iraq in their 8-year war, the U.S. government turned on its old partner and ally Saddam Hussein by intervening in the Persian Gulf War in 1991. That intervention, however, failed to oust Saddam from power. That led to more interventions, such as 11 years of economic sanctions that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. Other interventions included so-called no-fly zones, stationing of U.S. troops on Islamic holy lands, and unconditional support of the Israeli government.

Those interventions produced  deep anger and hatred for the United States in the Middle East, which led to anti-American terrorism, including the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the attack on the USS Cole, the attacks on the U.S. embassies in East Africa, the 9/11 attacks, the Fort Hood attacks, and more.

The 9/11 attacks, which U.S. officials blamed on hatred for America’s “freedom and values,”
led, not surprisingly, to even more U.S. interventionism, including the U.S. invasion and long-term occupation of Iraq, which ended up, ironically enough, with a regime that is more closely aligned with Iran than with the United States.

That intervention led to the rise of ISIS, which U.S. officials maintained was a grave threat to U.S. “national security,” even though ISIS was not threatening to invade and occupy the United States.

In the meantime, U.S. relations with Iran led to more U.S. interventions, including economic sanctions that target the Iranian populace with death and impoverishment as well as the recent assassination of an Iranian major general who was visiting Iraq with the consent of the Iraqi regime. Ironically, and less noticed but no less important, U.S. officials assassinated an Iraqi official at the same time.

The assassination of that Iranian official is what motivated Iran to fire missiles at the military base in Iraq where those U.S. soldiers were stationed.

One thing is for certain: If those U.S. troops were not in Iraq and were instead here at home, where they belong, they would not be suffering from those brain injuries. They suffered those brain injuries because they were over there occupying a foreign country, where they don’t belong. They are only the latest example of the destructive consequences of foreign interventionism.

 

 

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No. 1 Sponsor of Terrorism? US Media Name Iran, but Overlook a Candidate Closer to Home | FAIR

Posted by M. C. on February 14, 2020

If you defined it, say, as “deliberately and violently targeting civilians for political purposes,” that would tend to rule out roadside bombs hitting US military patrols, and rule in Saudi Arabia’s US-backed bombing of Yemeni civilians.

The New York Times (4/8/19) also raised the limited consideration of whether “other government intelligence agencies that use violence—including those of Israel, Pakistan and Russia—also now meet that standard.”…CIA?

https://fair.org/home/no-1-sponsor-of-terrorism-us-media-name-iran-but-overlook-a-candidate-closer-to-home/

After the illegal assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, FAIR (1/9/20) noted that the corporate media offered no moral objections to murdering another country’s high-ranking state official. The media consensus was that Soleimani was a despicable “terrorist” responsible for the deaths of “hundreds of Americans”—a formula that buried the crucial distinction between terrorism and armed resistance, presenting military combat against the US and its allies’ occupation forces in the Middle East as inherently illegitimate.

'The Game Has Changed'

The New York Times’ editorial board (1/3/20) declared that the “real question” about the Trump administration’s drone strike was “not whether it was justified, but whether it was wise,” because Soleimani was “indisputably an enemy of the American people,” and an “architect of international terrorism responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and a great many others in the region, from Yemen to Syria.” The LA Times editorial board (1/3/20) claimed that Soleimani was a

key architect in Iran’s destabilizing policies in the Middle East, and a force behind militias and terror groups that have killed and maimed countless civilians and soldiers, including US troops and contractors.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board (1/3/20) proclaimed that “Mr. Trump’s decisive action” has struck “a blow against terror in the cause of justice and American interests,” and dismissed the need for evidence of Soleimani’s alleged plans to “attack American diplomats and service members.” because it was “belated justice” for the “hundreds of Americans whom Soleimani had a hand in killing,” and was another successful “show of force” to “deter terrorism against Americans.”

This credulous acceptance of the US government’s practice of branding Official Enemies as “terrorists” goes far beyond Soleimani. If there are any questions, they are often confined to whether this will negatively impact the US, with the credibility of US “terrorist” designations, with all of their repercussions, being unimpeachable. For years, corporate media have uncritically parroted the US State Department’s absurd assertions of Iran being the world’s “leading state sponsor of terrorism” with a “near-global reach” (Washington Post, 9/19/18; CNN, 6/2/16, Fox News, 11/2/19). According to the US State Department’s “Country Reports on Terrorism 2018,” Iran is the “world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism” because it supports

Hezbollah, Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, and various groups in Syria, Iraq and throughout the Middle East.  Iran used the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to provide support to terrorist organizations, provide cover for associated covert operations, and create instability in the region.  Iran has acknowledged the involvement of the IRGC-QF in the Iraq and Syria conflicts, and the IRGC-QF is Iran’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad.

FAIR (Extra!, 3/02; FAIR.org, 3/13/19) has repeatedly pointed out that US media conveniently avoid defining “terrorism,” because a consistent definition would undermine the conventional usage—that terrorism is what you call weak, nonstate actors using homemade bombs, regardless of their target. If you defined it, say, as “deliberately and violently targeting civilians for political purposes,” that would tend to rule out roadside bombs hitting US military patrols, and rule in Saudi Arabia’s US-backed bombing of Yemeni civilians.

Defining terrorism by the means used to carry out violence rather than the targets of that violence, and emphasizing the identity of the perpetrators rather than their political motives, is a convenient way to avoid the conclusion that the US’s so-called “War on Terror” is a hypocritical farce (FAIR.org, 3/29/18). Glenn Greenwald noted the dishonesty and hypocrisy of US media covering attacks on military targets as terrorism, while the Obama administration redefined “combatant” to mean “all military-age males in a strike zone”—which, in practice, can be anywhere.

Nevertheless, when the State Department declared that Soleimani’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is a “terrorist” organization, many reports offered little pushback, except for the possibility that it might “complicate military and diplomatic work by prohibiting contact with foreign officials who have worked with the Guard” (The Hill, 4/8/19)  or “incite retaliation by Tehran against American troops and intelligence officers” (New York Times, 4/8/19).

NYT: Trump Designates Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a Foreign Terrorist Group

The New York Times (4/8/19) also raised the limited consideration of whether “other government intelligence agencies that use violence—including those of Israel, Pakistan and Russia—also now meet that standard.” Politico (4/8/19) tellingly remarked that it’s the “first time the United States has designated an official military force of another country a terrorist group,” because such designations are “typically reserved for non-state actors.”

But when one examines the State Department’s rationale for designating Iran as the “world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism,” it should be clear that Iran is considered so because it supports armed resistance groups opposing the US and Israel’s illegal occupation of Middle Eastern territories. As FAIR (6/6/19, 1/21/20) noted, if US media tend to consider the imperial violence committed by the US and its allies to be righteous and inherently defensive by default, then any anti-imperialist violence must be considered aggressive and illegitimate, simply because it resists US-backed violence.

Of course, as Stephen Zunes and Gareth Porter have already pointed out (FAIR.org, 1/21/20), there is little evidence that the IRGC-Quds Force formerly headed by Soleimani were responsible for the 13-year old talking point of Iran killing “hundreds of Americans” in Iraq—a country the US illegally invaded and is currently occupying against the will of its elected representatives—except for the far-fetched claim that those IEDs were too “sophisticated” to have been made in Iraq. Contrary to reports, Soleimani did not seem to have “imminent” plans to attack the US, because he had arrived in Baghdad to attend regional peace talks with Saudi Arabia on behest of the Iraqi prime minister, with Trump’s knowledge. Soleimani was also a widely respected adversary of ISIS and the US-backed Syrian rebels linked to Al Qaeda (FAIR.org, 3/21/16, 1/4/17, 7/27/17).

Corporate media’s propagandistic coverage is most apparent when they consistently refuse to hold the US government accountable to its own standards for what constitutes “state sponsors of terrorism.” Comparing Iran’s relationship with armed Middle Eastern resistance groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and Houthi rebels with the US’ relationship with Israel and Saudi Arabia make it abundantly clear that the US far eclipses Iran in terrorism sponsorship.

If Iran is a “state sponsor of terrorism” because it provides support to “Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza,” then does the US providing cash, weapons and surveillance for Israel’s state terrorism against Palestinians qualify the US as a “state sponsor of terrorism”? According to B’Tselem’s figures from 2000 all the way through the end of 2019, while Palestinian militants have killed a total of 301 Israeli civilians, Israeli security forces have killed 5,279 Palestinians who did not take part in hostilities, or were killed during the course of targeted killings (which are illegal under international law).

Likewise, if Iran is considered a state sponsor of terrorism because it provides material support to Hezbollah, what does that say about US support for Israel, whose illegal occupation of southern Lebanon prompted Hezbollah’s rise? In the conflict over Lebanon, Israel has been responsible for shedding far more civilian blood: According to Human Rights Watch, the 2006 Lebanon War resulted in the deaths of 43 Israeli civilians from Hezbollah’s indiscriminate rocket attacks, and around 900 Lebanese civilian deaths from Israeli airstrikes.

Even though the vast majority of State Department–designated terrorist groups are Sunni extremists that view the West and Iran as their biggest enemies, Grayzone reporter Ben Norton has repeatedly noted that US officials dishonestly conflate Sunni miitant groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS—who advocate a genocidal takfiri policy towards civilians and fellow Muslims—with Shi’a Islamist groups like Hezbollah, which primarily attack military and government targets for the purpose of expelling US presence from the region.

Despite the dubious media consensus on Iran being the world’s greatest state sponsor of terrorism, annual reports from the National Counterterrorism Center attribute the vast majority of terrorist attacks since 2001 to “Sunni extremists” who adhere to the Wahabbi-Salafi ideology, held in common by ISIS and Al Qaeda. US ally Saudi Arabia spends vast sums of money to export this extremist Sunni ideology—while Iranian/Shi’ite terrorism isn’t even a category in US counterterrorism reporting, and is a much smaller threat than domestic white nationalist terrorist attacks. Yet, under current US law, Americans can sue Iran, but not Saudi Arabia, for terrorism in US courts, because Iran is on the US list of designated state sponsors of terrorism and Saudi Arabia is not.

Aside from the alleged link between Saudi officials and the 9/11 attacks killing nearly 3,000 people on US soil, Saudi Arabia’s genocidal war to crush Yemeni independence (considered by the UN to be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis) can also qualify as state sponsorship of terrorism.

According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), the conflict has caused over 100,000 deaths since 2015. While the Houthi rebels have killed over 2,000 civilians, Saudi Arabia has killed 8,000 by deliberately attacking civilian targets. The US sponsors Saudi Arabia by being its biggest arms dealer, as well as providing intelligence, training and refueling, which makes the US a partner to the Saudi-led coalition’s war crimes (Guardian, 10/3/19).

Despite US media obfuscation, it’s often admitted that Saudi Arabia couldn’t wage this war without crucial US support, meaning the US could end this conflict anytime it wants to by withdrawing that support.

Even on the debate’s own terms, there’s a much stronger case that the US rather than Iran is actually the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism. A country that supported bringing “the terrors of the earth” to Cuba to sabotage its revolutionary government, and funded terrorist Contra groups in Nicaragua with cash gained from selling weapons to Iran, as well as providing the groundwork for Al Qaeda and ISIS to emerge (Extra!, 1/02; FAIR.org, 11/22/19), has no credibility to designate any other state as a terrorist organization.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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CIA secretly owned world’s top encryption supplier, read enemy and ally messages for decades

Posted by M. C. on February 11, 2020

A little bigger than the FIB and Best Buy’s Geek Squad.

https://boingboing.net/2020/02/11/cia-secretly-owned-worlds-to.html

Xeni Jardin

For more than half a century, governments all over the world trusted a single company to keep the communications of their spies, soldiers and diplomats secret. That company was secretly run by the CIA, which had the ability to read all those communications for decades.

Greg Miller at the Washington Post:

The company, Crypto AG, got its first break with a contract to build code-making machines for U.S. troops during World War II. Flush with cash, it became a dominant maker of encryption devices for decades, navigating waves of technology from mechanical gears to electronic circuits and, finally, silicon chips and software.

The Swiss firm made millions of dollars selling equipment to more than 120 countries well into the 21st century. Its clients included Iran, military juntas in Latin America, nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, and even the Vatican.

But what none of its customers ever knew was that Crypto AG was secretly owned by the CIA in a highly classified partnership with West German intelligence. These spy agencies rigged the company’s devices so they could easily break the codes that countries used to send encrypted messages.

The decades-long arrangement, among the most closely guarded secrets of the Cold War, is laid bare in a classified, comprehensive CIA history of the operation obtained by The Washington Post and ZDF, a German public broadcaster, in a joint reporting project.

Read more:

‘The intelligence coup of the century’

[washingtonpost.com, Greg Miller Feb. 11, 2020, via techmeme, image modified from a photograph by theglobalpanorama CC BY-SA 2.0 ]

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The Trial of Joshua Schulte – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on February 8, 2020

Better to destroy their minds, their sanity and their reputations, and lock them away in Supermax.

…and we may wonder at the strangeness of classification and clearance rules that required the FBI, on behalf of the DoJ, to gather its court evidence about the CIA cyber tools at a Starbuck’s, for the reliable wifi among other things. 

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/02/karen-kwiatkowski/the-trial-of-joshua-schulte/

By

The Vault 7 leaks revealed to Americans an ambitious and venal organization that sees enemies all around it. When the CIA found out about the leak, along with the rest of the world, on March 7th, 2017, it was horrified – in part because the leak had occurred a year earlier unbeknownst to the agency, and in part because of the loss of years and billions of US taxpayer dollars invested in the development of secret malware and spytools.

Cyberscoop has some useful articles on the case, just in case no one saw anything in the mainstream media.

Joshua Schulte’s trial started this week, and the transcript of the first day is interesting. We learn that the quality of federal government expert witnesses can be hysterically low, and that defense lawyer Sabrina Schroff has a gold standard sense of humor.

We may marvel at the loose security in the CIA – as recently as 2016 – and its sexist and racist banter behind vault doors, and we may wonder at the strangeness of classification and clearance rules that required the FBI, on behalf of the DoJ, to gather its court evidence about the CIA cyber tools at a Starbuck’s, for the reliable wifi among other things.

We may tentatively conclude that it is way more fun to be tried for crimes against the state – that you probably did not commit – in the US District Court, Southern District of New York, than it is to be tried by the national security state’s wholly-owned subsidiary, the US District Court, Eastern District of Virginia.

Joshua Schulte has been incarcerated since his arrest in August 2017, on child pornography charges – charges that have since been split out from his current trial.

The US reporting on this case is typical: accusatory Fed-speak and respeak, questionable blogs carrying the torch of righteous patriotism, and a generalized focus on the horrid terribleness of the whole thing from the CIA’s point of view, and my goodness, the nasty man is also nuts, trying to sue the government from prison, claiming he’s innocent, he’s been tortured, and he will work to destroy the US government if he ever gets out of jail.

The situation for Schulte is perilous, whether he is innocent or guilty.  He’s behaving kind of like an innocent guy, in the sense that since his arrest he has consistently denied all the charges, and accused his former employer of planting the porn on his computer as a means of justifying his arrest. The feds clearly don’t have the usable evidence they would actually need to convict Schulte on any of the charges.  I’m sure they will convict, through parallel construction or normal fabrication, but the destruction of Schulte’s reputation and tainting any potential jury is typical.  It’s how the CIA and FBI deals with its enemies on any normal day.  Of course, the federal government would never put illegal software or distasteful material on your computer.

Julian Assange has been at UK’s Belmarsh Prison since last spring, where he has been physically, mentally and chemically tortured by US contractors on US orders. The CIA and its contractors conducted these euphemistically described “interviews” for months, seeking passwords, codes, names and encryption keys that would allow the US DoJ and CIA to track down the donors of material to Wikileaks, and arrest or extradite them.  This work was largely complete by the end of the summer, and a number of arrests have been made throughout European countries. Information tortured out of a stubborn Australian by Americans in Britain – cloaked, ironed, laundered, and dyed – is already being used in a variety of ongoing and upcoming cases. These are kangaroo courts, trials conducted by mad submarine captains obsessed with shirttails and strawberries, proposing an Alice in Wonderland world of evidence, like Lewis Carroll’s unicorn, “…if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you. Is that a bargain?”

We know that we are cannot know the identities of the five CIA lawyers who repeated advised the magistrate during court proceedings in Assange’s brief public appearance last November.  We know that all ongoing and upcoming trials of suspected Wikileaks’s contributors are being prosecuted using information gained through the chemical and physical interrogation of the famous inmate the Belmarsh staff nicknamed “Prisoner Bootsy,” a play on the UK’s ubiquitous drugstore chain.

We know that the CIA and FBI have to tread carefully in any trials relating to Wikileaks, in part because of what might be revealed of the US Government’s compromise of the tools and methods of potential whistleblowers, like Tor, the maturation of the US surveillance state, and the sophistication of US information warfare against and manipulation of its own citizens. The Democratic wing of the US uniparty is not interested in the Seth Rich leaks to Wikileaks, nor is it interested in discovering if their problematic caucus app is bugged, malwared, and accessible in real-time to certain US government agencies.  The GOP wing of the uniparty is likewise uninterested in bringing its celebrated and massive security and surveillance state to heel, as if that devil dog is even on a leash they hold.

Better to destroy their minds, their sanity and their reputations, and lock them away in Supermax.

While the dystopian plain enjoys the soothing release of a national championship, complete with impossibly fit middle-aged pole dancers, and applaud the Blue and Grey Theater of Impeachment, there is another very different world, where puppetmasters meet to drink and dine, discuss and plot.

Our country is not openly wracked with war, violence and disaster yet.  But like those who live in war zones, hot zones, and dead zones, Americans must tread carefully, trust sparingly, and keep our eyes wide open.

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The United States: a Record-Holder in Political Assassinations — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on January 31, 2020

Reagan’s Executive Order 12333, which updated those of Ford and Carter, stipulated: “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.” Executive Order 12333 was weakened by follow-on orders signed by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The relaxed presidential orders permitted the assassination of specially designated terrorist leaders.

The US has been in the assassination biz big time since the CIA was created. We aren’t the only ones.

…and look at all the progress we have made.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/01/22/the-united-states-a-record-holder-in-political-assassinations/

Wayne Madsen

The crowing by Donald Trump that he “terminated” the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force, Major General Qaseem Soleimani, simply because Trump believed, mobster-style, that he had it coming, should remind the world that the United States government stands as the world’s record-holder in either directly carrying out or coordinating with other parties the assassination of political leaders, American and foreign.

In most cases in the past, assassinations ordered by the U.S. intelligence infrastructure had the veneer of “plausible deniability.” Even with the release of millions of formerly classified intelligence documents, the Central Intelligence Agency continues to manage to hide behind the plausible deniability façade. The recent order by Trump for the U.S. military to assassinate Soleimani was not only made public, but it also involved a major international assassination program that also successfully targeted Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the Iraqi commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), the closest thing Iraq has to a National Guard. Al-Muhandis and Soleimani were traveling in the same motorcade at Baghdad International Airport when their vehicles were struck by a drone-launched missile. In another attempted assassination by missile, the chief treasurer for the Quds Force, General Abdul Reza Shahlai, escaped being targeted by a U.S. missile aimed at what believed to have been his location in Yemen.

Trump’s assassination program was eerily similar to a plan the CIA developed in 2001 as a result of strong pressure from Vice President Dick Cheney. Although Cheney’s CIA operation supposedly targeted Al Qaeda leaders for assassination, it came dangerously close to violating a series of presidential orders from Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan prohibiting the targeting of foreign government officials for assassination. Reagan’s Executive Order 12333, which updated those of Ford and Carter, stipulated: “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.” Executive Order 12333 was weakened by follow-on orders signed by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The relaxed presidential orders permitted the assassination of specially designated terrorist leaders.

In June 2009, CIA director Leon Panetta canceled the assassination program because of its potential illegality and the fact that Cheney had hidden its existence from congressional overseers. The Cheney program had relied on armed drones to carry out assassinations of presumed terrorist leaders. With the Trump-ordered assassinations of Soleimani and al-Muhandis, both of whom cooperated with U.S. and other forces in the battles against the Islamic State and other Sunni jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria, the old Cheney program appears to have been reinstated.

There is a big difference between assassinating Al Qaeda and Islamic State leaders and the commanders of government military forces of United Nations member states like Iran and Iraq.

President Ford enacted the first presidential order against foreign assassinations in 1976 after the CIA’s involvement in the assassinations of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, Dominican Republic President Rafael Trujillo, Chilean President Salvador Allende, and other foreign officials became public. Exposed as a result of Senate, House of Representatives, and Rockefeller Commission investigations were repeated attempts by the CIA to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

The U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) conducted studies and hearings on the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy and that of Dr. Martin Luther King in 1968. The HCSA, which did not receive full cooperation from the U.S. intelligence and federal law enforcement communities, concluded Kennedy and King were likely assassinated as the result of conspiracies. The HCSA, against mountains of evidence to the contrary, also concluded that no agency of the U.S. government was involved in either of the two assassinations. The HCSA did not examine evidence of wider conspiracies involving the U.S. government in the June 1968 assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, the 1970 airplane crash that killed United Auto Workers union president Walter Reuther, or the 1972 attempted assassination of Alabama Governor and presidential candidate George Wallace.

After the HCSA completed its inquiry, there would be future questions over the use of U.S. intelligence assets to carry out domestic political assassinations, including the 1980 assassination of famed musician John Lennon and the attempted assassination of President Reagan in 1981. Both, as well as that of Senator Robert Kennedy, bore the signature of the use of pre-programmed assassins, which was a central feature of a mind-control operation the CIA codenamed MK-ULTRA.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has indicated that the Trump administration has not only restored the Cheney policy of targeted assassinations but reserves the right to carry out assassinations of other “challengers” to U.S. interests. In a speech at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, which was titled “The Restoration of Deterrence: The Iranian Example,” Pompeo stressed that additional leaders of Iran, presumably including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as leaders of Russia and China, could be targeted for assassination as part of America’s “bigger strategy.” Pompeo stressed that the new U.S. deterrence through assassination policy “isn’t confined to Iran.” In addition to Iran, Russia, and China, Pompeo indicated that political and religious leaders in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, and elsewhere were subject to U.S. assassination. That has been taken by many in the Middle East to include the leadership of Lebanese Hezbollah, the Houthis in Yemen, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Pompeo indicated that prior to assassination, targets will be treated to pre-assassination measures, including freezes on their foreign bank accounts and other financial assets. Those officials currently in the pre-assassination phase of being sanctioned include Ali Shamkhani, the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council; Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, the Deputy Chief of Staff of Iranian armed forces; and Gholamreza Soleimani, the head of the Basij militia of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Lebanese officials in the pre-assassination category include Amin Sherri and Muhammad Hasan Ra’d, both Hezbollah members of the Lebanese Parliament, and Wafiq Safa, a Hezbollah liaison officer to the Lebanese security forces.

All Pompeo has managed to accomplish is that any future suspicious deaths or assassinations of any world leader or policy maker will be seen as having possible American fingerprints, and justifiably so. Pompeo’s speech has refocused attention on the October 2, 2018 assassination by Saudi intelligence agents of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate-General in Istanbul. That assassination appears to have been known in advance to Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who maintains a close personal relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the main architect of Khashoggi’s murder.

Pompeo insists that the new U.S. policy is to deter foreign threats to the United States. Skeptics of the policy believe that it is not U.S. national security that Pompeo is interested in protecting, but Donald Trump’s personal welfare. The suspicious death in a New York federal detention center of one-time Trump friend Jeffrey Epstein, who was arrested in July 2019 and charged with international underage female sex trafficking, have many in the United States and abroad concerned that Pompeo, and Attorney General William Barr are running some sort of “Murder, Incorporated” to silence those who pose a threat to Trump and his vested interests. An Epstein trial could have revealed information about the nature of his relationship with Trump that would have posed a direct threat to the Trump presidency.

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The Establishment Doesn’t Fear Trump, And It Doesn’t Fear Bernie. It Fears You. – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on January 29, 2020

If enough people decide that the status quo isn’t working for them and begin rising up to force it to change, there’s not really anything the establishment can do to stop them. Right now the only thing keeping people from rising up in this way is the fact that they’ve been successfully propagandized not to, and the propagandists intend to keep it that way.

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/01/27/the-establishment-doesnt-fear-trump-and-it-doesnt-fear-bernie-it-fears-you/

During the George W Bush administration it was popular in conspiracy circles to speculate that events might be orchestrated which would allow the Bush family to complete a coup against the US Constitution and hold on to power indefinitely.

Such paranoia and suspicion of government power in the wake of the extraordinary post-9/11 advancements in Orwellian surveillance programs and unprecedented military expansionism were perfectly understandable, but predictions that the younger Bush would not cede power at the end of his second term proved incorrect. In today’s hysterical Trump-centric political environment we now see mainstream voices in mainstream outlets openly advancing the same conspiratorial speculations about the current administration, and those will prove incorrect as well.

What these paranoid presidential prognostications get wrong is not their extreme suspicion of government, but their assumption that America’s real power structures require a certain president to be in place in order to advance depraved totalitarian agendas. As anyone paying attention knows, intense suspicion of the US government is the only sane position that anyone can possibly have; the error is in assuming that there is no mechanism in place to ensure that the same agendas carry forward from one presidential administration to the next.

In a sense, the conspiracy theories about a Bush coup were actually correct: the Bush administration didn’t truly end. All of its imperialist, power-serving agendas remained in place and were expanded under the apparent oversight of the following administration. The same thing happened after the Obama administration, and the same thing–whether in 2021 or 2025–will happen after the Trump administration. The disturbing fact of the matter is that if you ignore election dates and just look at the numbers and raw data of US government behavior over the years, you can’t really tell who is president or which political party is in power at any given point in time.

The mechanism which ensures the perpetuation of the same policies from administration to administration used to be referred to by analysts as the “deep state”, back before Trump and his supporters hijacked that term and began using it to essentially mean something like “Democrats and anyone who doesn’t like Trump”. Originally the term deep state referred not to one political party, nor to some shadowy cabal of Illuminati or Satanists or reptilians, but to the simple and undeniable fact that unelected power structures exist and tend to influence America’s official elected government. It wasn’t a conspiracy theory, it was a concept used in political analysis to describe how US government agencies and plutocrats form loose alliances with each other and with official Washington to influence government policy and behavior.

It is inevitable that such a permanent second government would exist in the current iteration of the United States, if you think about it. It’s impossible to have a globe-spanning empire of the sort America now has without long-term plans spanning years or decades for securing control of world resources, undermining rivals, securing more compliant allies, and ensuring military and economic hegemony. If the US were a normal nation which simply minded its own affairs, a permanent government wouldn’t be necessary. But because it isn’t, one is.

I very seldom use the term deep state anymore, because its meaning in mainstream discourse has been completely corrupted. Now when I want to point to America’s permanent unelected power structures I usually use the word “oligarchy” or “empire”, or simply “establishment”.

This is why I haven’t been especially focused on the US presidential race, despite the Democratic primaries hitting fever pitch intensity. While I believe the race can be a useful tool for forcing establishment propagandists to expose themselves (virulent “never Trump” neocon Bret Stephens just came out in support of Trump if the Democratic nominee is anyone to the left of Pete Buttigeig, for example), the result of the 2020 election isn’t going to change a whole hell of a lot.

This might be a bit offensive to both Trump supporters and Sanders supporters, but it’s true.

Whenever I point out that the current administration has been advancing many longstanding agendas of the CIA and neoconservative war pigs–agendas like military expansionism, imprisoning Assange, regime change interventionism in Iran and Venezuela, and reigniting the Cold War–his supporters always come in saying “If he’s working for the establishment how come the establishment is working so hard to get rid of him, huh?”

Well, for starters, they’re not. Nobody who can count Senate seats believes Trump will be removed from office in the current impeachment sideshow, and everyone who understood Russiagate knew it was going to dead-end at nothing. If they really wanted Trump gone they wouldn’t be pussyfooting around with a bunch of kayfabe combat that they know will never hurt him. Obviously he wasn’t the preferred 2016 choice of certain factions within the establishment, but there are mechanisms in place to ensure that the empire can tick right along with a less-than-ideal president in the White House.

This will also hold true if Sanders miraculously makes his way through another rigged primary, and then through whatever sabotage gets thrown his way in the general election. Sure he might be able to sign a few somewhat beneficial executive orders and we probably wouldn’t see him flirting with an Iran war, but US imperialism will march on more or less unimpeded and his popular progressive domestic policies would require congress to successfully implement. At best he’d be a mild reformer who uses the bully pulpit to help spread awareness while being narrative managed on all sides by the billionaire media, and any changes he manages to squeak through which inconvenience the establishment at all will be reversed by a subsequent administration.

Obviously the establishment would rather have someone in the White House who doesn’t constantly put an ugly face on the empire by accidentally exposing its mechanics all the time as Trump does, and obviously it would rather have an incompetent oaf like Trump in office than someone who actively points out the evils of oligarchy and imperialism like Sanders. But the establishment which runs the US-centralized empire is not afraid of Trump, and it is not afraid of Sanders. It’s afraid of you.

The unelected power establishment has ways of ensuring its dominance amid the comings and goings of America’s official elected government; they are perfectly capable of dealing with one man being a less than ideal steward of the empire. What they absolutely cannot deal with, at all, is the prospect of ordinary people finally rising up and using the power of their numbers to force real change. That is what they are really fighting against when they try to sabotage populist candidates: not the candidates themselves, but populism itself.

You wouldn’t know it from reading the billionaire media, but the Yellow Vests protests in France are still going on and have remained widespread for more than a year now. This lack of coverage is partially due to the fact that establishment narrative managers are responsible for conveying the idea that the only governments whose citizens dislike them are those which haven’t been absorbed into the imperial blob like China and Iran. But it’s also because the propagandists don’t want us getting any ideas.

The reason the propagandists work so hard to manufacture the consent of the governed is because they absolutely do require that consent. If enough people decide that the status quo isn’t working for them and begin rising up to force it to change, there’s not really anything the establishment can do to stop them. Right now the only thing keeping people from rising up in this way is the fact that they’ve been successfully propagandized not to, and the propagandists intend to keep it that way.

But eyes are beginning to open. If real change is coming, it will come from there. Not from electing anyone president, but from a large-scale awakening to the reality of our situation. The only thing standing in the way is a thin layer of narrative fluff.

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Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemit, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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MIT Technology Review: Amazon’s Alexa Devices Are Recording Your Life

Posted by M. C. on January 27, 2020

I acknowledge my responsibility here as a consumer. I knew the array of seven microphones I had put in the center of my house could hear what we were saying and act on it. I also knew that things we asked Alexa to do were being recorded and sent to Amazon, and that I could play back these recordings and delete them if I wanted to.

MIT, buddies with the CIA, ought to know what they are talking about.

A lot of Baa Baa Baa’s are recorded from the sheeple.

https://www.breitbart.com/economy/2020/01/27/mit-technology-review-amazons-alexa-devices-are-recording-your-life/

by Lucas Nolan

A recent report from the MIT Technology Review claims that Amazon Alexa home assistant devices may actually be listening in on people’s daily lives even when not given commands.

The MIT Technology Review reports in an article titled “Yes, Alexa is recording mundane details of your life, and it’s creepy as hell,” that Amazon Alexa home assistant devices are listening in on people’s conversations, a theory that has been around for some time but has never been confirmed.

The MIT Technology Review reports:

 

Beyond all the things I’ve clearly asked Alexa to do, in the past several months it has also tuned in, frequently several times a day, for no obvious reason. It’s heard me complain to my dad about something work-related, chide my toddler about eating dinner, and talk to my husband—the kinds of normal, everyday things you say at home when you think no one else is listening.

And that’s precisely why it’s terrifying: this sort of mundane chitchat is my mundane chitchat. I invited Alexa into our living room to make it easier to listen to Pandora and occasionally check the weather, not to keep a log of intimate family details or record my kid saying “Mommy, we going car” and forward it to Amazon’s cloud storage.

The MIT Technology Review notes that constant recording is one of the unfortunate downsides of home assistants that constantly listen for wake words such as “Alexa!” or “Hey, Siri!”

The MIT Technology Review notes that this is essentially an inherent issue with the technology, writing:

I acknowledge my responsibility here as a consumer. I knew the array of seven microphones I had put in the center of my house could hear what we were saying and act on it. I also knew that things we asked Alexa to do were being recorded and sent to Amazon, and that I could play back these recordings and delete them if I wanted to.

But it’s actually quite frustrating to sort through them. You can scroll through months’ worth in the app, but after you select and listen to one, tapping the Back button brings you to the very top of the list again. Deleting hundreds of rogue recordings one by one in this way would take me a very long time. I could delete everything, including the legitimate recordings, in one go, but Amazon warns that this will make Alexa work less well, so of course I’m unlikely to do it.

Breitbart News has previously published a guide explaining how to stop Amazon employees from having access to Alexa recordings, however, this does not stop the device from recording users’ daily interactions but rather protects them from being listened to by Amazon employees directly. Read the full guide here.

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Will alleged CIA misbehavior set Julian Assange free?

Posted by M. C. on January 13, 2020

There is Hope!

https://thehill.com/opinion/criminal-justice/477939-will-cia-misbehavior-set-julian-assange-free

A few days before Christmas, Julian Assange testified to a Spanish court that a Spanish security company, UC Global S.L., acting in coordination with the CIA, illegally recorded all his actions and conversations, including with his lawyers, and streamed them back in real time to the CIA. He will, at the end of February, make a similar complaint to a British extradition court about the CIA’s alleged misbehavior.

Will such misbehavior, if proven, set Assange free?

The Daniel Ellsberg case may be instructive. You may recall that after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the “Pentagon Papers” case, Ellsberg was indicted under the Espionage Act for leaking Pentagon documents to the New York Times and the Washington Post.

After the trial commenced in San Francisco, it was brought to the judge’s attention that the “White House plumbers” broke into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist. Based on that information and other complaints of government misbehavior, including the FBI’s interception of Ellsberg’s telephone conversations with a government official, Judge William Matthew Byrne decided that the case should be dismissed with prejudice because the government acted outrageously.

For similar reasons, the case against Assange should be dismissed, if it reaches the U.S. courts.

The “plumbers” were a covert group formed by the Nixon White House to stop leaks of information from the government, such as the Pentagon Papers. They are notorious for their burglary at the Watergate Complex, which led to President Richard Nixon’s downfall. Approximately nine months before the Watergate break-in, the plumbers, led by former CIA agent E. Howard Hunt, burglarized a psychiatrist’s office to find information that could discredit Ellsberg.

The CIA also was involved with the break-in. It prepared a psychiatric profile of Ellsberg as well as an ID kit for the plumbers, including drivers’ licenses, Social Security cards, and disguises consisting of red wigs, glasses and speech alteration devices.

Additionally, the CIA allowed Hunt and his sidekick, G. Gordon Liddy, to use two CIA safe houses in the D.C. area for meetings and storage purposes. Clearly, the CIA knew the plumbers were up to no good. It is unclear whether the CIA knew Ellsberg was the target, but it would not have taken much to figure it out.

The Spanish newspaper El Pais broke the story that UC Global invaded Assange’s privacy at the Ecuadorian embassy and shared its surveillance with the CIA. It demonstrated step-by-step, document-by-document, UC Global’s actions and its contacts with the CIA. UC Global reportedly installed cameras throughout Assange’s space in the embassy — including his bathroom — and captured Assange’s every word and apparently live-streamed it, giving the CIA a free TV show of Assange’s daily life.

After reading El Pais’s series, you would have to be a dunce not to believe the CIA didn’t monitor Assange’s every move at the Ecuadorian embassy, including trips to the bathroom.

Ecuador granted Assange asylum in their embassy for seven years, after he jumped bail in London to avoid extradition to Sweden for allegedly raping two Swedish women. (Those charges are now dismissed.) If you can believe it, Ecuador had hired UC Global to protect the Ecuadorian embassy and Assange. Not surprisingly, the CIA later made UC Global its spy to surveil Assange.

When there was a change of administration in Ecuador, Assange’s asylum was withdrawn, and he was immediately arrested by British police at the request of U.S. officials. The United States subsequently indicted him for violating the Espionage Act, for publishing the very same information published roughly contemporaneously by the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde and Der Spiegel. (Assange already was subject to a sealed indictment in the United States for computer hacking.)

The behavior of UC Global and the CIA seems indistinguishable from the government’s behavior in the Ellsberg case, which a federal judge found to have “offended a sense of justice” and “incurably infected the prosecution” of the case. Accordingly, he concluded that the only remedy to ensure due process and the fair administration of justice was to dismiss Ellsberg’s case “with prejudice,” meaning that Ellsberg could not be retried…

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Will alleged CIA misbehavior set Julian Assange free?

 

 

 

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When did it become acceptable to kill a top leader of a country we aren’t even at war with?

Posted by M. C. on January 11, 2020

How did it become acceptable to assassinate one of the top military officers of a country with whom we are not formally at war during a public visit to a third country that had no opposition to his presence?

Mr. Webb has the question wrong. When hasn’t it been acceptable?

https://outline.com/6fqZfB

Jim Webb, a Democrat from Virginia, served in the U.S. Senate from 2007 to 2013 and was secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan from 1987 to 1988.

Strongly held views are unlikely to change regarding the morality and tactical wisdom of President Trump’s decision to kill Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani as he traveled on a road outside the Baghdad airport after having arrived on a commercial flight. But the debate regarding the long-term impact of this act on America’s place in the world, and the potential vulnerability of U.S. government officials to similar reprisals, has just begun.

How did it become acceptable to assassinate one of the top military officers of a country with whom we are not formally at war during a public visit to a third country that had no opposition to his presence? And what precedent has this assassination established on the acceptable conduct of nation-states toward military leaders of countries with which we might have strong disagreement short of actual war — or for their future actions toward our own people?…

Now, despite Trump’s previous assertions that he wants to dramatically reduce the United States’ footprint in the Middle East, it seems clear that he has been seduced into making unwise announcements similar to the rhetoric used by his immediate predecessors of both parties. Their blunders — in Iraq, Libya and Syria — destabilized the region and distracted the United States from its greatest long-term challenge: China’s military and economic expansion throughout the world…

What happens next:

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