MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Pentagon’

Caitlin Johnstone: The next two years will be the Democratic Party at its most transparent — RT Op-ed

Posted by M. C. on January 22, 2021

In one of the more bizarre displays in the Senate hearings, Biden’s nominee to lead the State Department, Tony Blinken, defended his support for the disastrous Libya intervention during his time in the Obama administration by blaming its aftermath on Muammar Gaddafi, the leader who was mutilated to death in the streets after a US-led intervention to oust him.

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/513255-caitlin-johnstone-democratic-party-biden/

By Caitlin Johnstone, an independent journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Her website is here and you can follow her on Twitter @caitoz

Joe Biden is now the president of the USA. His day-one executive orders should have prioritized ending the single worst crisis in the world in Yemen, a war in which he campaigned on ending US involvement, but they did not.

Ending US participation in the Yemen genocide could and should have begun on day one. In These Times reported the following back in November (emphasis added):

“One thing Biden can do, starting on day one, is end U.S. involvement in the Yemen war – involvement that he helped initiate. ​By executive order, Biden could get the Pentagon to end intelligence sharing for the Saudi coalition airstrikes, end logistical support, and end spare parts transfers that keep Saudi warplanes in the air,” Hassan El-Tayyab, lead Middle East policy lobbyist for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a progressive organization, tells In These Times. ​“He could restore humanitarian assistance to northern Yemen. He could use his power as president to put pressure on other nations that are supporting the Saudi coalition – like France, the United Kingdom and Canada – and get them to follow suit. He could have the State Department put a stop on all arms sales to Saudi Arabia unless they meet certain benchmarks.”

Biden did none of these things, which, while unsurprising, is still inexcusable. This isn’t some 10-year infrastructure plan we’re talking about. This is the worst mass atrocity on our entire planet, and it should be treated with proportionate urgency. This administration consciously chose not to end US participation in that atrocity as swiftly as possible, which will remain an inexcusable decision, even if the Yemen war is eventually ended later.

Instead of grilling Biden about his decision not to prioritize his promise to end the Yemen war, which is what any real journalist would do, the press are asking him stupid-nonsense questions about whether he can “unite the country.”

CNN keeps screaming at Biden “can you unite the country” and he keeps ignoring them. Hilariously dumb question, even funnier reaction.— Secular Talk (@KyleKulinski) January 20, 2021

In the lead-up to Biden’s inauguration, we were treated to some Senate hearings on his cabinet picks, in which we learnt that this administration will continue Trump’s murderous coup-mongering in Venezuela, that it will maintain Trump’s incendiary decision to have the US embassy in Jerusalem, that reviving the Iran nuclear deal is a long way off from happening and will first require consultation with Israel, and that it will be continuing Trump’s cold-war escalations against China.

In one of the more bizarre displays in the Senate hearings, Biden’s nominee to lead the State Department, Tony Blinken, defended his support for the disastrous Libya intervention during his time in the Obama administration by blaming its aftermath on Muammar Gaddafi, the leader who was mutilated to death in the streets after a US-led intervention to oust him.

“Here’s what I think we misjudged,” Blinken said. “We didn’t fully appreciate the fact that one of the things Gaddafi had done over the years was to make sure that there was no possible rival to his power, and as a result there was no effective bureaucracy, no effective administration in Libya with which to work when he was gone.”

By “when he was gone,” Blinken means when he was dead, because the United States helped kill him after staging an intervention based on lies. He is defending his push for an intervention that led to a failed state in which people are sold as slaves by saying that, if Gaddafi had run his country better, it would not have collapsed into violence and chaos when the Obama administration murdered him.

This is like an axe murderer blaming his actions on his victim’s bad housekeeping. The brazenness with which imperialist goons can shrug off all responsibility for their actions will never cease to astonish.

At Senate confirmation hearing, Secretary of State nominee Anthony Blinken defends support for war in Libya“In fact, I think it’s been written about. I was [Biden’s] national security adviser, and he didn’t agree with that course of action.” pic.twitter.com/ZyCzTLXtOP— Kevin Gosztola (@kgosztola) January 19, 2021

The next two years will be the Democratic Party at its most transparent. After two years, they are statistically likely to lose control of the House and/or Senate, after which time they’ll be able to pawn off all imperialist bloodshed and lack of progress on an ‘obstructionist Congress’, like they did for the last six years of the Obama administration. But until then, the Democrats are going to have to own all their reactionary depravity and mass murder on their own.

This will set a sharp contrast from the past four years, during which every mundane part of the US empire’s institutionalized abuse was portrayed as an anomaly unique to the Trump administration. Unable to blame their refusal to advance progressive policies and basic human decency on Trump and Vladimir Putin these next two years, they’ll be forced to kill any leftward movement all on their own. Which is why we are now already seeing mass-media articles with headlines such as “Under Biden, it’s time for Democrats to let go of Medicare for All.”

And this period will provide ample opportunities to highlight the fact that’s exactly what the Democratic Party exists to do: kill all leftward movement in the most powerful government on earth. As the US continues its soul-crushing neoliberal policies at home and its murderous neoconservative policies abroad with the same degree of psychopathy it displayed in previous administrations, we must draw attention to the fact that it is the Democratic Party that bears the responsibility for these matters.

The sooner Americans can discredit the Democratic Party as a legitimate vehicle for progressive change, the sooner they can start looking for other tools. The first step to escape is to stop pushing against the fake door falsely labeled ‘exit’.

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Leaked Pentagon Video: Flu Vaccine Used To Modify Human Behavior – YouTube – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on December 30, 2020

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/12/no_author/leaked-pentagon-video-flu-vaccine-use-to-modify-human-behavior-youtube/

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Here’s What the Revolution will Look Like

Posted by M. C. on December 19, 2020

Will your son or daughter soldier be fighting you or your neighbor?

Is this what they signed up for?

Will they succumb?

By Joe Jarvis

In 2018, the Pentagon held a “War Game” depicting a scenario where the military would be deployed against the American people.

The Intercept has published documents detailing the background information on the exercise.

The Pentagon imagined a disenfranchised Generation Z, strapped with college debt and no opportunities. They have lost faith in the American Dream, and believe the system is rigged against them. As so they rise up.

To be clear, the scenario is fictitious, and shouldn’t be interpreted as being based on real intelligence. However, the Pentagon tries to make the War Game scenarios realistic.

And it certainly identifies real reasons why people are pissed off at the establishment. “The system”, from the Federal Reserve to the Police State, has kept people under the thumb of the government, and their corporate cronies.

The US military clearly thinks this is along the lines of the threats they will face over the next decade. The exercise material details the scenario:

In early 2025, a cadre of these disaffected Zoomers launch a protest movement. Beginning in “parks, rallies, protests, and coffee shops” — first in Seattle; then New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; Las Vegas; and Austin — a group known as Zbellion begins a “global cyber campaign to expose injustice and corruption and to support causes it deem[s] beneficial.”

During face-to-face recruitment, would-be members of Zbellion are given instructions for going to sites on the dark web that allow them to access sophisticated malware to siphon funds from corporations, financial institutions, and nonprofits that support “the establishment.” The gains are then converted to Bitcoin and distributed to “worthy recipients” including fellow Zbellion members who claim financial need…

Gen Z’s most militant members have essentially taken to privately taxing large corporations and other institutions to combat income inequality or, as the war gamers put it, using the “cyber world to spread a call for anarchy.”

Now here we are in 2020, and sadly the military being used against the American people has become a distinct possibility.

And it starts in Seattle.

“Welcome to CHAZ: Capital Hill Autonomous Zone”

Earlier this year, a section of Seattle declared itself a Free Autonomous Zone.

Protesters, who claimed to have the support of the businesses within the area, set up roadblocks, and occupied an abandoned police precinct.

Police and National Guard units pulled out of the area. Police barricades and walls were used by protesters to create a defensive traffic flow through the area. Armed citizens guarded the entrances to the area– a friendly neighborhood drug lord even provided some security and weapons.

The police department sign was altered to read “People Department.”

Socialist City Council-member, Kshama Sawant, jockeyed for control over the movement. She was one of many speakers to address crowds in the “autonomous zone” saying, “What we are seeing now is an uprising. A rebellion of young people. Not just nationwide but globally.”

A few weeks earlier Kshama Sawant tweeted that, “corporations like Amazon need to be taken into democratic public ownership, to be run by workers for social good. We will need militant mass movements, strike actions at workplaces, to begin to fight to win this. Because it will be a political strike against billionaires.”

This is important to understand in the broader context of the opposition facing the federal, as well as state and local governments.

The Bolsheviks are attempting to co-opt the police brutality protests to accomplish their own socialist goals.

I certainly oppose police brutality, and the federal intrusion into my life. And I recognize that certain replacements would be worse– like replacing a Czar with a genocidal Dictator in Soviet Russia.

It is important to pay attention. But the group that starts the revolution is rarely the same one which declares victory.

Take a look at my video about who wins the game of Risk.

It is the people like Joseph Fouche (his story starts at 2:40 in the video above), who work behind the scenes to hold power while others fight.

Fouche participated in the French Revolution, beheaded some aristocrats, survived waves of beheadings himself, and emerged as Minister of Police in France. He stayed in power through the revolutionary government, Napoleon’s rise, the restoration of the monarchy, Napoleon’s 100 day return to power, and another restoration of the monarchy.

French Statesman Talleyrand had a similar story. His power also survived the French Revolution, before he helped Napoleon take power, then helped overthrow Napoleon, and later helped Napoleon escape imprisonment, and regain power for 100 days. Then Talleyrand also worked for the next government.

What is happening now is the very early stages of a serious economic catastrophe, and widespread social unrest.

Many different scenarios could play out. And some of those possibilities involve a revolution or civil war.

But any revolution will be very fragmented. There will not be one organized force opposing the US government.

And each little rebellion will be different. Some will take over police precincts and government buildings. Others will be entirely online, hacking, taking out cyber-infrastructure, and intercepting information.

Sure, at some point larger, cohesive movements will occur. We might even see state government take a stand against the feds.

But this is a large country, which was never really cohesive to begin with. A decentralized rebellion will spark in many places across the nation. City by city, and state by state, the goals, demands, and ideologies of these movements will be unique.

People who are out in the countryside will see a very different revolution.

It is possible that while the military focuses on urban opposition, the countryside fights a defensive war.

Imagine a well-armed, tight-knit group of people in a relatively small proximity. They can grow and hunt their own food. Hell, they might even has stills making alcohol-fuel for their tractors and trucks.

These people exist all throughout America. When the times comes for them to protect themselves, their livelihoods, their land, their loved ones, and their way of life, it will be only in self defense.

These people are not insurgents. And they aren’t the type to allow insurgents into their communities.

The US government has a big problem on its hands. The USA started with a guerrilla uprising, and the modern US Military has never decisively won a war against guerillas.

Let’s hope enough people in power recognize their precarious positions, and opt for a very simple approach (but one that does not come easy for tyrants):

They can leave people alone and let them be free.

To be honest, I don’t really care if the Bolsheviks take over Seattle. I’m much more concerned about them taking over DC, and being able to force their Socialist agenda on the entire USA.

Really, that’s already happened to a large extent, and fragmentation of government would safeguard us in a sense.

When there is no centralized power structure to control, it allows free people, and all the social and economic benefits they create, to flourish.

But individuals do need to prepare for that fragmentation.

Under many scenarios, supply chains will suffer, and food and medicine will need to be sourced locally.

Alternative currencies to the US dollar will be required in order to continue trade.

Personally, I’d be more interested in fulfilling market demands at a local level than participating in any revolution.

You gain more power by serving the demands of a local market– the more beneficial your contribution, the more you are needed, and can set the tone for local governance.

By producing certain tangible goods that work well as a medium of exchange, you essentially become a money printer.

Check out my recent video on currencies in a worst case scenario.

It should be obvious by now: 2020 is the elite’s big move.

We are entering the climax of a long planned crisis. Your family, your community, and your countrymen need honest leaders to guide them out of the elite’s traps.

Learn how to turn the elite’s own tactics against them, divert their attacks, and grow your own sphere of power.

Subscribe and immediately receive TWO FREE TACTICAL REPORTS:

1. Four Ways The Elite Control You

2. How to Infiltrate the Elite and Steal Their Power for Yourself

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

An Expert Military Analysis of War with China, by Fred Reed – The Unz Review

Posted by M. C. on December 15, 2020

The said war is discussed either in emotional terms by idiots or in purely naval terms by those familiar with such things, so we hear of the First Island Chain and the Second Island Chain and whose missiles against the other’s missiles and so on. This would be appropriate if we were fighting World War Two again. Which we aren’t. Let’s take a quick-and-dirty look at how such a war might go.

https://www.unz.com/freed/an-expert-military-analysis-of-war-with-china/

Fred Reed

The Correlation of Armed Forces: U.S. goods and services trade with China totaled an estimated $634.8 billion in 2019. Exports were $163.0 billion; imports were $471.8 billion. The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with China was $308.8 billion in 2019. Trade in services with China (exports and imports) totaled an estimated $76.7 billion in 2019. Services exports were $56.5 billion; services imports were $20.1 billion. The U.S. services trade surplus with China was $36.4 billion in 2019.

There is talk within the Washingtoniat of a possible war with China. Steve Bannon, who apparently was dropped on his head as a child, actually favors such a war. We hear the usual shoo-the-boobs alarm about how the Chinese are doing something terrible and we must gird our loins and American values and show them what for, bow wow, woof. The danger is that the current game of who-blinks-first in Asian waters might actually provoke a shooting war. You know the kind of thing: One warship refuses to get out of the way of another, a collision ensues, some retard lieutenant who signed up on waivers opens fire, and we’re off and running. It is not a good idea to let children play with matches.

The said war is discussed either in emotional terms by idiots or in purely naval terms by those familiar with such things, so we hear of the First Island Chain and the Second Island Chain and whose missiles against the other’s missiles and so on. This would be appropriate if we were fighting World War Two again. Which we aren’t. Let’s take a quick-and-dirty look at how such a war might go.

To begin the war, America would overestimate itself and underestimate China. This is doctrine in the Pentagon. There is probably a manual on it. Inside the DC Bubble, fern-bar Napoleons would assure us that it would be a short war, a cakewalk, a matter of days, not weeks. You know, like Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria. When it turned out that the Chinese had other ideas, among which surrendering was not, and the months dragged on, various fascinating things would happen.

Rand, a thinktank wholly owned by the Pentagon, at least mentally, has wargamed both the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea, concluding that the war could be both very long and a loss for America. We no longer live in 1960.

OK, the war: On day one, all the multitudinous American factories in China shut down. Example: Apple loses its factories, products from those factories, and the Chinese market of 1.4 billion consumers. Its stores close. Tim Cook’s gratitude will know no bounds. American auto manufacturers sell googolplexes of cars in China (or at least lots), mostly made in China. Overnight they will lose factories, cars, and Chinese customers. Overall, China buys many more cars than does the US. This analysis, if anything so obvious may be called analysis, can be repeated for industry after industry after industry. Goodbye, business vote.

Within weeks, Walmart’s shelves go bare. Walk down the aisles and read the “Made in” labels. We are not talking only plastic buckets and mops but chain saws, pharmaceuticals, motorcycles, and blood-pressure cuffs. So much for the blue-collar vote. The US buys 472 billion in goods annually from China, high-tech, low-tech, consumer goods, manufacturing components. No more.

China buys over $163 billion annually in American goods: petroleum, semiconductors, airline engines, soybeans, airliners, on and on. No more. It is hard to underestimate the joy this will cause in influential boardrooms. And of course the American workers who would have produced these things for China will be laid off. As electoral politics, this will prove suboptimal.

China produces a great majority of the rare earth elements crucial to the manufacture of electronics, such as semiconductors. No quick substitute is in sight. Just about everything in America uses these, to include the computers that run the electrical systems of cars. Though I haven’t checked, it is quite possible that the computers themselves are made in China. If you want a new and deeper understanding of the word “hostile,” check the influential CEOs of businesses on their second chipless day.

In a real war, it is likely that China, having thought of the foregoing, would (intelligently) destroy Taiwan’s semiconductor fabs, notably those of TSMC, as well as other factories of electronics. This would hardly be difficult since the Taiwan Strait is only a hundred or so miles wide. Losing these industries would be exceedingly painful for the US since its high-end chips come from Taiwan. It would take America years to replace this capacity domestically. Some of the necessary equipment, extreme ultraviolet lithography machines, is not made in America and in any event cannot be stamped out like beer cans.

In America it would quickly be discovered that the country is rather more dependent on China than some might think. If I may make up an example: The automotive industry finds that its sparkplugs come from China. While America could certainly make spark plugs, it turns out that a decade back the industry found that China could make them for forty percent less. In the cooperative commercial world pre-Trump, this was no problem. Not now. So much for sales of cars. And for the jobs of the workers who make them.

I will bet you all my diamond mines in South Africa and cattle lands in Argentina, that if you went through a parts list for, say, Boeing’s airliners, you would find lots of them made in China. Sure, the US could manufacture most of them, eventually. But companies need parts now, not eventually.

The effects on other countries of a large war against China would be catastrophic if not worse. Other countries also get many things, from China or Taiwan, such as semiconductors. Google on “country x largest trading partner.” A strong pattern quickly becomes clear: China is huge in trading with practically everybody. “Everybody” includes Germany, Japan, Australia, Russia, and South America as a whole. The world economy in its entirety would collapse.

How smart would this be? The United States is already in serious trouble, what with a currency rapidly being debased, a sinking middle class, businesses dying of Covid, jobs disappearing abroad, people living paycheck to paycheck, and social unhappiness resulting in continent-wide riots. Do you suppose the public will gladly support an unfathomably stupid war causing an instant, profound, and murderous economic depression? If so, you probably already have a collection of bridges.

This can be inflicted on the entire earth by a half-dozen loons in or circling around the White House unhindered by a worthless Congress. Six loons. Yes, I know, Trump is unlikely deliberately to start a Third world War, even as a publicity stunt. No, the generals in the Pentagon are not nearly stupid enough. (They might even refuse, pointing out that starting a war requires a declaration by Congress.) The problem is that for years America has been, if not actually looking for a fight, at least daring other countries to start one. For example, murdering Iranian officials, pulling out of arms-control treaties, pushing NATO ever closer to Russia, sanctioning countries far beyond anything that can be called a trade war, and playing chicken with China in the South China Sea. Under these circumstances you can get a fight without quite looking for one.

Write Fred at jet.possum@gmail.com. Put the letters pdq anywhere in the subject line to avoid heartless autodeletion.

Buy Fred’s Splendid Books!

They prevent Covid, cure baldness, and make you more attractive to the opposite sex. You can even read them.

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Pentagon Took Money for Covid-19 Relief and Bought… More Weapons – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on October 3, 2020

The military says that the “health” of the defense industry is crucial to national security. But the CARES Act money was specifically allocated to protect the health of the people of this country – not the companies that build weapons.

Burn pits, agent orange and sacking a carrier captain for putting the health of his crew over government PR should tell you what the pentagram thinks of soldiers health.

https://original.antiwar.com/?p=2012341064

by Phyllis Bennis

As the pandemic continues to claim lives across the country, new information keeps coming out about how the Trump administration has made it harder for Americans to protect themselves.

We now know, for example, that early in the pandemic the U.S. Postal Service had planned to deliver five face masks to every US household. It could have made mask-wearing a lot more common a lot earlier – and maybe saved a lot of lives. But the White House scrapped the idea.

Now we also know that the Trump administration took $1 billion in stimulus funds that were supposed to go towards making masks and other protective equipment for the pandemic – and gave most of it to weapons manufacturers.

Those funds were part of $10.6 billion in CARES Act money allocated to the Pentagon – a staggering sum, especially since the bloated military budget already claims 53 cents of every discretionary federal dollar available to Congress.

The Pentagon’s CARES money was supposed to help military employees and military families survive the pandemic.

The $1 billion in question was granted under a special law that lets the Pentagon require companies to manufacture urgently needed goods in case of a national emergency. This time, it was to make sure companies producing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), like N-95 masks, ventilators, and more, were making all they could.

But most of that money didn’t go to making PPE at all. Trump’s defense department gave it to corporations that make jet engines, drone flight controllers, and dress uniforms for the military. Two-thirds of it was distributed in big contracts worth more than $5 million each.

The military says that the “health” of the defense industry is crucial to national security. But the CARES Act money was specifically allocated to protect the health of the people of this country – not the companies that build weapons.

This comes at a moment when US military spending is already near all-time highs – and when military contractors are doing better than lots of other companies.

“Major defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman,” the Washington Post reports, “have remained financially healthy despite some pandemic-related disruption, and have continued to pay stock dividends to investors.”

Indeed, the CEOs of those companies rank among the highest paid corporate executives in the country. Last year General Dynamics’s CEO raked in $18 million, Northrup Grumman’s made $20 million, and Lockheed-Martin’s pulled in a whopping $31 million.

Still, many of those same military corporations paid out of the $1 billion Pentagon slush fund also applied for – and received – funds from the federal Paycheck Protection Program that Congress designated specifically to prevent COVID-related layoffs. These extra Pentagon grants came on top of that, except without any requirements to protect jobs. Those companies could take the money and still fire as many employees as they want.

An additional $1 billion would have made a huge difference in the fight against COVID-19. My colleagues created a federal budget calculator. It shows that $1 billion could have funded nearly 28 million COVID-19 tests or purchased over 294 million N-95 respirator masks.

What makes us safer in the pandemic – access to more testing and a lot more face masks, or helping military corporations and their CEOs make a killing on our tax money?

Add that to the canceled Postal Service plan to distribute hundreds of millions more masks, and the record keeps getting more appalling. Make no mistake: The Trump administration’s heartlessness and militarism are costing lives.

Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. She’s the author of Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror: A Primer. Reprinted with permission from OtherWords.

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

US Confirms Will Pull 2,200 Troops Out of Iraq – News From Antiwar.com

Posted by M. C. on September 10, 2020

Don’t believe it even if you see it.

They will likely go to some other Godforsaken place, dying doing some other government’s dirty work.

https://news.antiwar.com/2020/09/09/us-confirms-will-pull-2200-troops-out-of-iraq/

CENTCOM officials say that the process has been considered for months, and confirmed Wednesday what the administration has said recently, that there will be a US drawdown in Iraq before the election. 2,200 troops will leave Iraq by the end of this month.

At times the Pentagon has resisted major troop cuts by the administration, but seems resigned to it this time, emphasizing that the US has made a “great sacrifice” in decades of Iraqi war, and vowing that the US would continue supporting the Iraqi government.

That is not a small point for them to emphasize, either. When the Iraqi parliament asked the US to withdraw, there was talk of the US cutting ties with Iraq entirely to punish them. That no longer seems to be contemplated.

With a pro-US premier now, Iraq isn’t pushing for an immediate pullout, and the US may want to lower troop levels this month, but probably won’t be out of Iraq entirely by the election either, leaving open whether the US is on their way out of Iraq until 2021.

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The Pentagon is a shrine to antiquated technology where creative thinking goes to die – Task & Purpose

Posted by M. C. on August 31, 2020

“Instead of interjecting their own questions or raising alternative points of view, they’re encouraged to ‘stay in their own lane,’” Kroger wrote. “The purpose of many of these meetings is not to make a decision, but to ‘update leaders on progress.’ There are no whiteboards, no thinking out loud, and usually no analysis. Almost everything is scripted.”

In other words, the purpose of these meetings is for Pentagon leaders to let everyone know that they are handling things perfectly. Any objection to group-think is heresy because it implies subordinates might actually understand an issue better than their superiors. The meetings themselves are useless and the information could have just as easily been sent by email.

https://taskandpurpose.com/pentagon-run-down/pentagon-obsolete-technology-no-creative-thinking

The fact that the Pentagon is a technologically backward outpost where innovation is considered a thought crime should come as no surprise to anyone who has spent any time either in or working for the military.

But former Navy Chief Learning Officer John Kroger’s recent column for Wired beautifully lays bare the initial shock that newbies feel when they arrive at the building, only to find that the only military in the world with a budget of more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars has a headquarters that essentially predates the internet.

Since there is no WiFi in the Pentagon and only a few spots where cell phones get service, he was essentially out of touch with his office while in meetings for most of the day, wrote Kroger, who announced in June that he was leaving his job with the Navy after eight months.

“We didn’t even have pagers, so if something needed immediate attention, a staff member who monitored my phone and email had to come locate me among the Pentagon’s 6.5 million square feet,” he wrote.

I can attest to the accuracy of Kroger’s observation. People simply don’t believe me when I tell them that I don’t get cell service in the Pentagon. My phone whirls to life when I’m leaving the building as I see all the people who tried reaching me.

In fact, I was trying to get a cell phone signal at the precise moment when President Donald Trump tweeted that Defense Secretary James Mattis was leaving. (When I turned around and saw the entire Pentagon press corps sprinting in the same direction, I had a clue something was afoot.)

Kroger also wrote that there was no internet connectivity during the many meetings he attended, just underscoring the fact that the Pentagon is essentially a Sears mail-in catalogue that is struggling to stay relevant in an Amazon Prime world.

More disturbing than the Pentagon’s antiquated information technology was Kroger’s description of meetings in the building, where subordinates are expected to keep quiet rather than ask questions.

“Instead of interjecting their own questions or raising alternative points of view, they’re encouraged to ‘stay in their own lane,’” Kroger wrote. “The purpose of many of these meetings is not to make a decision, but to ‘update leaders on progress.’ There are no whiteboards, no thinking out loud, and usually no analysis. Almost everything is scripted.”

In other words, the purpose of these meetings is for Pentagon leaders to let everyone know that they are handling things perfectly. Any objection to group-think is heresy because it implies subordinates might actually understand an issue better than their superiors. The meetings themselves are useless and the information could have just as easily been sent by email.

As a survivor of the newspaper industry, the imperviousness to creative thinking that Kroger describes is painfully familiar. If you want to know why newspapers are only now trying to increase digital subscriptions, it’s because every editorial meeting from 2000 to 2019 went exactly like this:

JUNIOR REPORTERS: We need to stop our emphasis on print because it’s going away and we should grow our audience online, especially for people who read their news on mobile devices.

BABY BOOMER EDITORS: I agree! We need to double down on the print product and we can water down our online products because people will always want to feel newspapers in their hands.

The practical implications of the military’s phobia of meaningful discussions is that problems often go ignored and unsolved.

You don’t get promoted in the military by telling your superiors, “We have real challenges that are putting service members under undue stress and I have a number of proposed solutions.”

Instead, many get promoted by telling superiors that things are working exactly as they planned. The entire rank and file is not only happy with the status quo, but they love their leadership more than they care for their own children.

Everything is awesome and there is absolutely no reason to rock the boat.

This is how toxic leaders rise through the ranks. It’s also how Nicholas II, Russia’s last czar, deluded himself into believing his people really loved him. In fact, they did not.

If the Pentagon really wants to be ready for a war against China or Russia, it needs to invest in practical technology – like reliable email – instead of shelling out billions of dollars on new planes and ships that will never quite be ready for the big game.

Both the Pentagon and the military as a whole also need to stop living in stovepipes, put rank aside, and allow enlisted service members and junior officers to provide honest feedback to their superiors without fear of reprisal.

Will any of this happen?

Of course not! The Pentagon – and the rest of the military – is like your uncle who swears every January that this will be the year he’ll finally stop drinking. You know he won’t. You know he’ll die of liver failure. But you love him all the same.

Not getting the Pentagon Run-Down? Sign up here!

Jeff Schogol covers the Pentagon for Task & Purpose. He has covered the military for 15 years and embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq and Haiti. Prior to joining T&P, he covered the Marine Corps and Air Force at Military Times. Comments or thoughts to share? Send them to Jeff Schogol via email at schogol@taskandpurpose.com or direct message @JeffSchogol on Twitter.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Evil, Immoral, Vicious, and Hypocritical Embargo Against Cuba – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on July 24, 2020

A dark irony, of course, is that the embargo has enabled the U.S. government to wield and exercise the same type of economic control over the American people that the Cuban socialist regime exercises over the Cuban people. It’s called adopting socialism to oppose socialism.

https://www.fff.org/2020/07/20/the-evil-immoral-vicious-and-hypocritical-embargo-against-cuba/?utm_source=FFF%2BDaily&utm_campaign=ddd8480a92-FFF%2BDaily%2B07-20-2020&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1139d80dff-ddd8480a92-317323329

by

The banality of evil that characterizes the U.S. national security state is demonstrated perfectly by the continuation of its deadly economic embargo against Cuba, which has been ongoing for some 60 years.

What’s the point of the embargo? After all, the Pentagon’s, CIA’s, and NSA’s official enemy Fidel Castro died years ago. Why continue to intentionally inflict harm on the Cuban people?

And make no mistake about it: Inflicting harm on the Cuban people is the purpose of the embargo. Its aim is to impoverish or starve Cubans into ousting their post-Castro regime and installing another pro-U.S. right-wing brutal dictatorship similar to the one that Castro ousted from power in the Cuban revolution.

In fact, the first embargo that the U.S. implemented against Cuba was during the reign of the crooked, corrupt, and brutal pro-U.S. right-wing dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. That was an arms embargo. U.S. officials didn’t want weaponry imported into Cuba because that might enable the Cuban people to oppose Batista in a violent revolution.

During his reign, Batista partnered with the Mafia, the premier criminal organization that was smuggling drugs into the United States. As part of their partnership agreement, Batista let the Mafia operate gambling casinos in Cuba. As part of that cozy relationship, Batista would have his henchmen kidnap underaged girls in Cuba and turn them over to the Mafia, which would then provide them as perks to the high-rollers in its casinos. That’s one of the things that brought on the Cuban Revolution.

That’s the guy that the U.S. national-security state was hell-bent on keeping in power. Thus, it should surprise no one that the CIA, like Batista, later entered into partnership with the Mafia, knowing full well that the Mafia was engaged in massive criminal activity. The purpose of the CIA-Mafia partnership was assassination. They were working together to assassinate Castro.

It stands to reason that the Mafia would try to assassinate Castro. It has lost all its casinos to Castro’s nationalization. And it was in the business of killing people.

But the U.S. government? In the business of murder? And in partnership with the biggest criminal organization in the world?

Don’t forget something important here: Castro, Cuba, and the Cuban people have never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. No invasion. No terrorist attacks. No assassinations.

In fact, it has always been the other way around. In the more than six decades of bad relations between Cuba and the U.S., it has always been the U.S. government that has been the aggressor. An invasion, terrorist attacks, assassination attempts, and the embargo, all on the part of the U.S. government.

U.S. national-security state officials always justified such actions under the notion that Cuba was the spearhead of a worldwide communist conspiracy to take over the United States, one that was supposedly based in Moscow. It was always a ridiculous notion but that was the mindset of CIA, NSA, and Pentagon officials during the Cold War — that Cuba’s communist regime posed a grave threat to U.S. “national security.”

But the Cold War ended more than 30 years ago. Do the CIA, NSA, and Pentagon still think that the United States is in danger of falling to the Cuban communists?

Of course not. Now, it’s just sheer viciousness. Now, it’s just a matter of doing everything possible to oust the current regime in Cuba from power and restoring a Batista-like dictatorship, one that will be loyal and deferential to the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA.

The viciousness is demonstrated by the fact that the embargo doesn’t just criminalize Americans who do business with Cuba. It also targets foreign companies who do so. If they are caught doing so, they are targeted for prosecution or economic banishment here in the United States. In the minds of U.S. officials, it’s more imperative than ever to squeeze as many Cubans as possible into death and suffering.

Needless to say, the embargo has made things significantly worse for the Cuban people during the COVID-19 crisis. That’s fine with U.S. officials. The more Cubans who die, the greater the chance of an internal regime-change operation.

Sure, there is no doubt that Cuba’s socialist economic system is a major factor in the economic suffering of the Cuban people. But there is also no doubt that the U.S. embargo has served as the other side of a vise that has squeezed the economic lifeblood out of the Cuban people.

A dark irony, of course, is that the embargo has enabled the U.S. government to wield and exercise the same type of economic control over the American people that the Cuban socialist regime exercises over the Cuban people. It’s called adopting socialism to oppose socialism.

When will the evil, immoral, vicious, and hypocritical U.S. embargo against Cuba be lifted? When a critical mass of the American people, including those who go to church every Sunday, have a crisis of conscience and demand that it be lifted.


This post was written by:

 

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.

Be seeing you

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How the Pentagon failed to sell Afghan government’s bunk ‘Bountygate’ story to US intelligence agencies  | The Grayzone

Posted by M. C. on July 11, 2020

The Times reported first on June 28, then again on June 30, that a large amount of cash found at a “Taliban outpost” or a “Taliban site” had led U.S. intelligence to suspect the Russian plot.  But the Times had to walk that claim back, revealing on July 1 that the raid that turned up $500,000 in cash had in fact targeted the Kabul home of Rahmatullah Azizi, an Afghan businessmen said to have been involved in both drug trafficking and contracting for part of the billions of dollars the United States spent on construction projects.

https://thegrayzone.com/2020/07/07/pentagon-afghan-bountygate-us-intelligence-agencies/

Another New York Times Russiagate bombshell turns out to be a dud, as dodgy stories spun out by Afghan intelligence and exploited by the Pentagon ultimately failed to convince US intelligence agencies.

By Gareth Porter

The New York Times dropped another Russiagate bombshell on June 26 with a sensational front-page story headlined, “Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says.”  A predictable media and political frenzy followed, reviving the anti-Russian hysteria that has excited the Beltway establishment for the past four years.

But a closer look at the reporting by the Times and other mainstream outlets vying to confirm its coverage reveals another scandal not unlike Russiagate itself: the core elements of the story appear to have been fabricated by Afghan government intelligence to derail a potential US troop withdrawal from the country. And they were leaked to the Times and other outlets by US national security state officials who shared an agenda with their Afghan allies.

In the days following the story’s publication, the maneuvers of the Afghan regime and US national security bureaucracy encountered an unexpected political obstacle: US intelligence agencies began offering a series of low confidence assessments in the Afghan government’s self-interested intelligence claims, judging them to be highly suspect at best, and altogether bogus at worst.

In light of this dramatic development, the Times’ initial report appears to have been the product of a sensationalistic disinformation dump aimed at prolonging the failed Afghan war in the face of President Donald Trump’s plans to withdraw US troops from it.

The Times quietly reveals its own sources’ falsehoods

The Times not only broke the Bountygate story but commissioned squads of reporters comprising nine different correspondents to write eight articles hyping the supposed scandal in the course of eight days. Its coverage displayed the paper’s usual habit of regurgitating bits of dubious information furnished to its correspondents by faceless national security sources. In the days after the Times’ dramatic publication, its correspondent squads were forced to revise the story line to correct an account that ultimately turned out to be false on practically every important point.

The Bountygate saga began on June 26, with a Times report declaring, “The United States concluded months ago” that the Russians “had covertly offered rewards for successful attacks last year.” The report suggested that US intelligence analysts had reached a firm conclusion on Russian bounties as early as January. A follow-up Times report portrayed the shocking discovery of the lurid Russian plot thanks to the recovery of a large amount of U.S. cash from a “raid on a Taliban outpost.” That article sourced its claim to the interrogations of “captured Afghan militants and criminals.”

However, subsequent reporting revealed that the “US intelligence reports” about a Russian plot to distribute bounties through Afghan middlemen were not generated by US intelligence at all.

The Times reported first on June 28, then again on June 30, that a large amount of cash found at a “Taliban outpost” or a “Taliban site” had led U.S. intelligence to suspect the Russian plot.  But the Times had to walk that claim back, revealing on July 1 that the raid that turned up $500,000 in cash had in fact targeted the Kabul home of Rahmatullah Azizi, an Afghan businessmen said to have been involved in both drug trafficking and contracting for part of the billions of dollars the United States spent on construction projects.

The Times also disclosed that the information provided by “captured militants and criminals” under “interrogation” had been the main source of suspicion of a Russian bounty scheme in Afghanistan. But those “militants and criminals” turned out to be thirteen relatives and business associates of the businessman whose house was raided.

The Times reported that those detainees were arrested and interrogated following the January 2020 raids based on suspicions by Afghan intelligence that they belonged to a “ring of middlemen” operating between the Russian GRU and so-called “Taliban-linked militants,” as Afghan sources made clear.

Furthermore, contrary to the initial report by the Times, those raids had actually been carried out exclusively by the Afghan intelligence service known as the National Directorate of Security (NDS). The Times disclosed this on July 1. Indeed, the interrogation of those detained in the raids was carried out by the NDS, which explains why the Times reporting referred repeatedly to “interrogations” without ever explaining who actually did the questioning.

Given the notorious record of the NDS, it must be assumed that its interrogators used torture or at least the threat of it to obtain accounts from the detainees that would support the Afghan government’s narrative. Both the Toronto Globe and Mail and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) have documented as recently as 2019 the frequent use of torture by the NDS to obtain information from detainees.  The primary objective of the NDS was to establish an air of plausibility around the claim that the fugitive businessman Azizi was the main “middleman” for a purported GRU scheme to offer bounties for killing Americans.

NDS clearly fashioned its story to suit the sensibilities of the U.S. national security state. The narrative echoed previous intelligence reports about Russian bounties in Afghanistan that circulated in early 2019, and which were even discussed at NSC meetings. Nothing was done about these reports, however, because nothing had been confirmed.

The idea that hardcore Taliban fighters needed or wanted foreign money to kill American invaders could have been dismissed on its face. So Afghan officials spun out claims that Russian bounties were paid to incentivize violence by “militants and criminals” supposedly “linked” to the Taliban.

These elements zeroed in on the April 2019 IED attack on a vehicle near the U.S. military base at Bagram in Parwan province that killed three US Marines, insisting that the Taliban had paid local criminal networks in the region to carry out attacks.

As former Parwan police chief Gen. Zaman Mamozai told the Times, Taliban commanders were based in only two of the province’s ten districts, forcing them to depend on a wider network of non-Taliban killers-for-hire to carry out attacks elsewhere in the province. These areas included the region around Bagram, according to the Afghan government’s argument.

But Dr. Thomas H. Johnson of the Naval Postgraduate School, a leading expert on insurgency and counter-insurgency in Afghanistan who has been researching war in the country for three decades,  dismissed the idea that the Taliban would need a criminal network to operate effectively in Parwan.

“The Taliban are all over Parwan,” Johnson stated in an interview with The Grayzone, observing that its fighters had repeatedly carried out attacks on or near the Bagram base throughout the war.

With withdrawal looming, the national security state plays its Bountygate card

Senior U.S. national security officials had clear ulterior motives for embracing the dubious NDS narrative. More than anything, those officials were determined to scuttle Trump’s push for a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan. For Pentagon brass and civilian leadership, the fear of withdrawal became more acute in early 2020 as Trump began to demand an even more rapid timetable for a complete pullout than the 12-14 months being negotiated with the Taliban.

It was little surprise then that this element leapt at the opportunity to exploit the self-interested claims by the Afghan NDS to serve its own agenda, especially as the November election loomed. The Times even cited one “senior [US] official” musing that “the evidence about Russia could have threatened that [Afghanistan] deal, because it suggested that after eighteen year of war, Mr. Trump was letting Russia chase the last American troops out of the country.”

In fact, the intelligence reporting from the CIA Station in Kabul on the NDS Russia bounty claims was included in the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) on or about February 27 — just as the negotiation of the U.S. peace agreement with the Taliban was about to be signed. That was too late to prevent the signing but timed well enough to ratchet up pressure on Trump to back away from his threat to pull all US troops out of Afghanistan.

Trump may have been briefed orally on the issue at the time, but even if he had not been, the presence of a summary description of the intelligence in the PDB could obviously have been used to embarrass him on Afghanistan by leaking it to the media.

According to Ray McGovern, a former CIA official who was responsible for preparing the PDB for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the insertion of raw, unconfirmed intelligence from a self-interested Afghan intelligence agency into the PDB was a departure from normal practice.

Unless it was a two or three-sentence summary of a current intelligence report, McGovern explained, an item in the PDB normally involved only important intelligence that had been confirmed.  Furthermore, according to McGovern, PDB items are normally shorter versions of items prepared the same day as part of the CIA’s “World Intelligence Review” or “WIRe.”

Information about the purported Russian bounty scheme, however, was not part of the WIRe until May 4, well over two months later, according to the Times. That discrepancy added weight to the suggestion that the CIA had political motivations for planting the raw NDS reporting in the PDB before it could be evaluated.

This June, Trump’s National Security Council (NSC) convened a meeting to discuss the intelligence report, officials told the Times. NSC members drew up a range of options in response to the alleged Russian plot, from a diplomatic protest to more forceful responses. Any public indication that US troops in Afghanistan had been targeted by Russian spies would have inevitably threatened Trump’s plan for withdrawal from Afghanistan.

At some point in the weeks that followed, the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency each undertook evaluations of the Afghan intelligence claims. Once the Times began publishing stories about the issue, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe directed the National Intelligence Council, which is responsible for managing all common intelligence community assessments, to write a memorandum summarizing the intelligence organizations’ conclusions.

The memorandum revealed that the intelligence agencies were not impressed with what they’d seen. The CIA and National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC) each gave the NDS intelligence an assessment of “moderate confidence,” according to memorandum.

An official guide to intelligence community terminology used by policymakers to determine how much they should rely on assessments indicates that “moderate confidence” generally indicates that “the information being used in the analysis may be interpreted in various ways….” It was hardly a ringing endorsement of the NDS intelligence when the CIA and NCTC arrived at this finding.

The assessment by the National Security Agency was even more important, given that it had obtained intercepts of electronic data on financial transfers “from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked account,” according to the Times’ sources.  But the NSA evidently had no idea what the transfers related to, and essentially disavowed the information from the Afghan intelligence agency.

The NIC memorandum reported that NSA gave the information from Afghan intelligence “low confidence” — the lowest of the three possible levels of confidence used in the intelligence community.  According to the official guide to intelligence community terminology, that meant that “information used in the analysis is scant, questionable, fragmented, or that solid analytical conclusions cannot be inferred from the information.”

Other intelligence agencies reportedly assigned “low confidence” to the information as well, according to the memorandum. Even the Defense Intelligence Agency, known for its tendency to issue alarmist warnings about activities by US adversaries, found no evidence in the material linking the Kremlin to any bounty offers.

Less than two weeks after the Times rolled out its supposed bombshell on Russian bounties, relying entirely on national security officials pushing their own bureaucratic interests on Afghanistan, the story was effectively discredited by the intelligence community itself. In a healthy political climate, this would have produced a major setback for the elements determined to keep US troops entrenched in Afghanistan.

But the political hysteria generated by the Times and the hyper-partisan elements triggered by the appearance of another sordid Trump-Putin connection easily overwhelmed the countervailing facts. It was all the Pentagon and its bureaucratic allies needed to push back on plans for a speedy withdrawal from a long and costly war.

Gareth Porter

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist who has covered national security policy since 2005 and was the recipient of Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in 2012.  His most recent book is The CIA Insider’s Guide to the Iran Crisis co-authored with John Kiriakou, just published in February.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Warren and Khanna Introduce Bill To Increase Military Accountability for Civilian Casualties – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on June 13, 2020

Good Luck

The president has kept his promise, and civilian deaths have soared in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Somalia during his tenure. The Trump administration has also loosened rules of engagement meant to protect civilians, and last year the president revoked an Obama-era rule that required the government to disclose annual estimates of civilians killed by US air strikes outside of conventional war zones.

https://original.antiwar.com/Brett_Wilkins/2020/06/12/warren-and-khanna-introduce-bill-to-increase-military-accountability-for-civilian-casualties/

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) this week introduced a bicameral bill meant to improve reporting, investigation and, ultimately, prevention of civilian casualties.

On Wednesday, Khanna introduced the Protection of Civilians In Military Operations Act, which he said will “ensure that the Pentagon provides accurate data not only on civilians killed in direct US military operations, but also on civilians killed by US partner forces, such as the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.”

“This bill also takes the essential step of requiring the Pentagon to establish a publicly accessible database of its investigations into civilian casualties,” he added. “Maximizing transparency will prevent further loss of life.”

On Thursday, Warren, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced the bill in the Senate. The former Democratic presidential candidate said that protecting civilians was not only “a national security priority” but also a “moral and ethical imperative.”

As it is currently written, the bill requires military commanders to appoint officers from outside their unit or chain of command to investigate civilian casualties caused by their unit. It also requires personnel involved in investigating civilian casualties to stay away from troops directly involved in military operations. Each commander of a geographic combatant command must also establish uninterrupted lines of communications between their command and the chief of mission in any country where they are operating.

The bill also requires the secretary of defense to create a publicly accessible and searchable database of all Pentagon reports of investigations of civilian casualties, including the results of such probes. Furthermore, it requires the appointment of at least two designated officials in seven of the 11 US military combatant commands – Central Command, Africa Command, Special Operations Command, European Command, Southern Command, Indo-Pacific Command and Northern Command – who will oversee casualty prevention and response. It allocates a modest $5 million annual budget for casualty prevention training and response, and for maintenance of the investigation database. Finally, the bill requires the Pentagon to include in its annual civilian casualties report a list of each advise, assist and accompany mission on which such casualties or human rights abuses by foreign partner forces are observed.

The Protection of Civilians in Military Operations Act is supported by the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), Human Rights First, Common Defense, Human Rights Watch, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) and Amnesty International USA.

Since waging the world’s only nuclear war at the end of World War II, the United States military has killed more foreign civilians than any other armed force on the planet, by far. Poor accounting and accountability mean that no one can say for sure how many innocent men, women and children have been killed by US bombs and bullets in the more than 20 nations subjected to American attack, invasion or occupation over the past 75 years, but the number is certainly in the millions. Estimates of the number of civilians killed in the current war against terrorism, now in its 19th year, range from hundreds of thousands to over 2 million. But again, nobody knows for sure, because, as General Tommy Franks said during the early years of the war in Afghanistan, “we don’t do body counts.”

Accountability, which was already lacking during the Bush and Obama administrations, has been rolled back even further under President Donald Trump, who campaigned on a promise to “bomb the shit out of” Islamic State militants and “take out their families,” a war crime. The president has kept his promise, and civilian deaths have soared in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Somalia during his tenure. The Trump administration has also loosened rules of engagement meant to protect civilians, and last year the president revoked an Obama-era rule that required the government to disclose annual estimates of civilians killed by US air strikes outside of conventional war zones.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »