Tuesday, May 19, 2015

It Was Only a Movie

Update: The Frontline program
In the days leading up to the nationwide release of Zero Dark Thirty, the 2012 blockbuster movie about the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Sen. Dianne Feinstein was given an advanced screening. How did the then-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, whose investigators were working on their own story about the hunt for bin Laden and the role that torture may have played, react to Hollywood’s depiction?

“I walked out of Zero Dark Thirty, candidly,” Feinstein says. “We were having a showing and I got into it about 15, 20 minutes and left. I couldn’t handle it. Because it’s so false.”

False, in Feinstein’s estimation, because she says the film inaccurately portrays torture as a key tool in obtaining information about bin Laden’s whereabouts. Feinstein recounts her revulsion in a new documentary from Frontline, airing Tuesday night on PBS, about the CIA’s torture program and whether brutal interrogations of detainees helped surface intelligence that led to bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, where U.S. special operations forces killed him in 2011.

  Daily Beast
I am no Feinstein fan, by a long shot. But good on her for this.  Even if she is just cashing in on the turning tide.

And of course, there's this:
Investigative journalist Michael Isikoff told Frontline that many more people will see Zero Dark Thirty than will read the countless newspaper articles about the CIA’s interrogation techniques. The movie, he thinks, will stand as the dominant narrative for what really happened in the search for bin Laden.

Wacko, Texas ... Another Shootout

WACO (May 18, 2015) About 170 suspects arrested after a shootout between rival biker gangs and police Sunday at Waco’s Twin Peaks restaurant that left nine dead and 18 injured were ordered held in lieu of $1 million bonds Monday while investigators continued the painstaking process of gathering evidence at the crime scene.

  KWTX

Social Issues as Military Propaganda

Before the invasion of Afghanistan, Americans were inundated with stories about the Taliban’s oppression of women: as though feminism was part of the cause of that war. To help justify the invasion of that country, the Bush State Department suddenly discovered its profound concern for the plight of “Afghan women and girls.”

[...]

What Good Progressive could oppose a war like that? The fact that the U.S. not only refrained from invading, but lavishly supported, all sorts of regimes that were at least as repressive to women as the Taliban went unmentioned. That might suggest that liberation of women was merely a propagandistic pretext for that war rather than an actual desired outcome — just as Saddam Hussein’s “gassing of his own people” and other human rights abuses (committed when he was a close U.S. ally) had exactly zero to do with that war other than providing a feel-good means for liberals to support it.

These days, animosity toward leading U.S. adversaries — Vladimir Putin and Iranian mullahs — is bolstered through a sustained focus on their maltreatment of their LGBT citizens. The most war-craving neocons endlessly focus on the plight of gay Iranians — as though that’s what motivates their hostility, as though neocons care about any of that in the slightest — while completely ignoring brutal LGBT suppression by regimes that are highly deferential to the U.S. and Israel. All of this, though blatantly manipulative, is also a remarkably effective tactic: Obama-aligned gay groups in the U.S. such as Human Rights Campaign regularly churn out anti-Russia screeds, and do the same for Iran.

Like any effective propaganda, all of this is grounded in some semblance of truth. The Taliban really are grotesquely oppressive to women; Saddam really was a severe human rights violator; Iran really does punish and sometimes even executes its gay citizens, while Putin has cultivated an anti-gay climate for domestic political benefits.

But none of that has the even the remotest connection to U.S. foreign policy or to the reasons these countries are deemed American adversaries. [...] The U.S. government doesn’t mind in the slightest if a government is oppressive to its gay or female citizens: quite the contrary, as a look at its closest allies proves. It just exploits those social issues as a means of propagandizing the public into hating the regimes that oppose its dictates, and well-intentioned people then dutifully march into line.

[...]

This is human rights concerns as a cynical propaganda tactic, not anything remotely approaching an actual belief.

[...]

Militarism and aggression don’t become any more palatable because the institutions that perpetrate them let women and gays participate in those abuses, nor do American wars become less criminal or destructive because their targets share the same primitive social issue stances as America’s closest allies.
  Glenn Greenwald
And, who can not notice the timing of gay exploitation for militarization when it is within the past several months only that gay rights, in the form of marriage, have taken hold in this country.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Oh My

I haven't been following the presidential candidate coverage, but apparently Jeb Bush isn't an improvement over W.





And, apparently, he said he would have invaded Iraq had he been president when W was, but now is saying he wouldn't have gone into Iraq.



Which they will, no doubt.


...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

(Contentious) Sy Hersh Interview

In case anyone reading is too young to know, Sy Hersh is the journalist who broke the My Lai massacre story during the Vietnam war.  He also had sources who told him about the criminality and torture at Abu Ghraib, but his claims were roundly dismissed. The U.S. Government and its media shills do not like Mr. Hersh.
[Seymour] Hersh’s piece claims that Bin Laden was being held prisoner by the Pakistani military and intelligence service (the ISI), who were using him as a means to control Taliban and al-Qaida elements, and hoping to use him as leverage in their relationship with the United States. According to Hersh, who relied largely on an anonymous intelligence source, the Obama administration found out that Pakistan had Bin Laden, and eventually convinced Pakistani military leaders to allow a raid on the compound where Bin Laden was being held. The plan, Hersh writes, was to say publicly that Bin Laden was killed not in the raid but in a drone strike. The White House, however, supposedly broke this deal because of the political value of making the details of the raid public.

Hersh’s story has been much debated over the past several days, with many calling it into question and (a comparable few) others applauding its willingness to undercut the official narrative. NBC News and the AFP have both backed up small elements of Hersh’s story, although both outlets have also called other elements of his piece into question (and NBC later backed away from its original reporting). And no news source has supported Hersh’s largest claim—that the president lied about the raid.

I spoke to Hersh by phone this week. Here is a transcript of our conversation….

   Isaac Chotiner: Slate
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2015/05/seymour_hersh_interview_on_his_bin_laden_story_the_new_yorker_journalism.single.html

"I just said what I said. I don’t want to hear what the upshot is. If you have another question then ask it. This is going on too long. I am too old and too cranky and too tired. I have been doing this fucking thing for a day. I told you, I warned you, that I am really irritable."

Thanks Only to Edward Snowden

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a bill that would end spy agencies' bulk collections of Americans' telephone data, setting up a potential showdown with the U.S. Senate over the program that expires on June 1.

As voting continued, the House overwhelmingly backed the USA Freedom Act, which would end the bulk collection program and instead give intelligence agencies access to telephone data and other records only when a court finds there is reasonable suspicion about a link to international terrorism.

  Huffington Post
Of course, just because there's a law against it doesn't mean they won't do it.
The bill's fate is much less certain in the Senate, where many key lawmakers would rather reauthorize the existing bulk data collection program than approve the Freedom Act.
And, there’s that.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Where Is This Going?



May I just say...Holy Shit.

And we thought Tony Blair was bad.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Dick Cheney Is Not Happy

In the immediate aftermath of Seymour Hersh’s winding narrative on the killing of Osama bin Laden and an alleged cover-up by the U.S. government, officials, spies and even other journalists have been quick to label the story a sham.

But now, multiple news sources are backing up at least one aspect of Hersh’s controversial account on the 2011 raid: It was a Pakistani tipster who ultimately led U.S. special forces to the fugitive’s Abbottabad compound, not the courier Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, whose identity was supposedly revealed by CIA detainees.

Which, if true, would mean the key to bin Laden’s location was not, as the agency tells it, torture.

  Huffington Post