Presidents of both parties have asserted that the constitutional separation of powers grants the executive branch an "inherent" right to ignore subpoenas issued by Congress or the judiciary through "executive privilege." The standard argument is that compliance would reveal the internal deliberations of the president, his Cabinet officers, and other government officials who require the presumption of privacy in order to engage in internal debates and deliberations. The ongoing "Fast and Furious" debacle is President Obama's first use of "executive privilege" to avoid such subpoenas, but both by historical and current legal standards, the continued use of the tool is a radical overreach. I put "executive privilege" in quotes because, like terms such as "enemy combatant," it does not appear in law. The closest we have to a definite word on executive privilege dates to the Watergate scandal, when the US Supreme Court ruled against Richard Nixon's attempt to stonewall Congress. As long as a prosecutor could argue that the relevant documents were essential to the justice of a case, and did not compromise national security, Chief Justice Warren Burger said, the president would have to fork over the documents. Operation Fast and Furious, a law enforcement matter, doesn't qualify under the Burger ruling. Yet, it's hard to imagine making a credible case that national security would be compromised if the details were made public. Since run-of-the-mill Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives memos would be covered, the usual top-level internal deliberations justification doesn't apply either. Once again, Obama is following precedent established by George W Bush, whose legal advisers seem to have missed the class about how Americans decided not to be ruled by a King.
As European leaders gather in Brussels to shape the fate of the continent, many eyes turn to Francois Hollande, the newly elected president of France and a world leader championing humane and rational economic policies at a time of great human and economic suffering. Before Hollande's victory over conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy, I wrote on The Hill's Pundits Blog about what I called "Midnight in Paris" and the French Spring I hoped would begin with a Hollande presidency. The people of France made a fateful choice between two competing philosophies. They elected a president and legislature with a mandate for their belief that jobs can be increased, deficits reduced, and prosperity restored with policies that are both enlightened and rational. As Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told me for this column, "The future of Europe lies with its leadership, and French President Hollande is central to that dynamic. He can expand the narrative over the future of Europe to one where stability and opportunity define the continent's future. I encourage him to seize the moment and make the difference." Hollande faces challenges: He must work with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor who governs like a small-minded banker, always does too little too late, and fails to grasp that we are in this together. He must work with David Cameron, the British prime minister who governs like a merchant banker allied with the widely discredited Liberal Democratic party, which surrendered its soul and its heritage for a powerless seat at the table of power.
NATO Proxies Turkey and Saudi Arabia Move to War Footing on Eve of Syrian Peace Summit: The NATO-backed covert aggression against Syria could be reaching a tipping point for all-out war involving state forces. That should be no surprise. For the past 16 months, NATO and its regional proxies have been steadily increasing the violence and turmoil inside and outside Syria, while the Western corporate-controlled media maintain the ridiculous fiction that the bloody chaos is largely due to the government forces of President Bashar Al Assad cracking down on peaceful protesters. Ironically, the crisis is culminating at the same time that the United Nations convenes an emergency summit on Syria in Geneva this weekend. The meeting, which is ostensibly aimed at reviving the Kofi Annan peace plan, will be attended by the five permanent members of the UN security council and other invited regional states. The irony is that leading NATO members, the US, Britain and France, as well as their Turkish and Arab allies who will also be attending the crisis conference, are the very parties that have deliberately created the precipice for all-out war in the Middle East. As dignitaries fly into Geneva to salvage peace in Syria, there is a lockstep military build-up on the northern and southern flanks of Syria underway, with news that Turkey has dispatched battlefield tanks, missile batteries and heavy artillery to its Syrian border, while to the south Saudi Arabia has announced that its military forces have been put on a state of high alert. Ankaras military mobilization along its 800km land border with Syria came within hours of the declaration by Turkeys prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, slating Syria as a hostile state. The immediate cause of the deterioration in relations between the neighboring countries is the downing of a Turkish fighter jet last week in Syrian territorial waters.
US Banks Love Real Dollars, and Illegal Drug Money Comes in Cash. A recent article in The Guardian UK offers evidence that "while cocaine production ravages countries in Central America, consumers in the US and Europe are helping developed economies grow rich from the profits." According to The Guardian UK story, the study by two Colombian professors found that "2.6% of the total street value of cocaine produced remains within Columbia, while a staggering 97.4% of profits are reaped by criminal syndicates, and laundered by banks, in first-world consuming countries." One of the researchers, Alejandro Gaviria said: "We know that authorities in the US and UK know far more than they act upon. The authorities realize things about certain people they think are moving money for the drug trade, but the DEA only acts on a fraction of what it knows." "It's taboo to go after the big banks," added Gaviria's co-researcher Daniel Mejia. "It's political suicide in this economic climate, because the amounts of money recycled are so high." Since Wachovia Bank, now owned by Wells Fargo, was levied a fine in 2010, but without criminal charges, for money laundering of millions, and perhaps billions, of illegal drug cartel dollars, there does not appear to be any large crackdown on the practice in the United States, although lip service is often given to coming down hard on money laundering. Indeed, more than one analyst has speculated that the billions of dollars in drug cash are vitally important to US banks because so many of their financial assets are tied up in non-fluid assets.
On Tuesday, June 26 Belgium time the North Atlantic Council, the highest governing body of the US dominated North Atlantic Treaty Organization military bloc, will take up the issue of Syria under provisions of its founding document that in the past ten and a half years have resulted in military deployments preparatory to and the subsequent waging of full-scale wars. The ambassadors of the alliance's 28 member states constitute the council, nations whose collective population is 900 million. Its founding members include three nuclear powers, the US, Britain and France, the first the self- proclaimed sole military superpower. Until the day before the meeting, NATO was to take up a request by member Turkey to hold consultations under the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty's Article 4, which allows any member state to call on the entire alliance to respond to alleged threats to its territorial integrity and security. On June 25, three days after a Turkish F-14 supersonic fighter-bomber was shot down over Syrian waters, Turkey announced that it was going to ask the military alliance to discuss its Article 5, which states that "an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all" and commits NATO allies to "assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force." Article 5 was invoked for the first and to date only time in October 2001 and is the basis for the deployment of troops from 28 NATO and 22 partner states to Afghanistan over the past decade.
American politicians and the media are lying to the American people. They do so because they hope that their complicity in the greatest fraud in US history will be overtaken by events, that is, the 2012 election. It is the Big Stall to cover up the Big Lie. In the Russian language there is a term called "vranyo." It is loosely defined as telling a white lie or a semi-truth. It may contain fantasy or involve the suppression of unpleasant parts of the truth. In regard to Obama's ineligibility and his alleged felonies, politicians and the media expect the American people to respond in this way. "You know that you are lying. I know that you are lying, and you know that I know you are lying, but we both smile and nod in agreement." Barack Obama, according to Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the US Constitution, is an illegal President. The law requires a candidate for the Presidency to be a "natural born citizen," that is, a second generation American, a US citizen, whose parents were also US citizens at the time of the candidate's birth. Obama's father was a citizen of Kenya and a British subject at the time of his birth, which made him forever ineligible for the Presidency. For the same reason, Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio is ineligible for the Presidency and Vice Presidency because his parents were Cuban citizens, not US citizens at the time of his birth. There is no ambiguity, although those who wish to undermine the Constitution would like the American people to think otherwise. The difference between "citizen," that is, born in the US and "natural born citizen" has been clear since the adoption of the US Constitution on September 17, 1787.
Under President Chavez, Venezuela is enjoying good relations with Russia as one of its most important trade and military partners in Latin America. By strengthening Venezuelan-Russian ties, Hugo Chavez wants to help create a multi-polar world, " a world that permits the rights of peoples to liberty, self-determination and sovereignty". Over the past years, while the Russian Federation has been led by Vladimir Putin either as Prime Minister or as President, the ties between Chavez and Putin have become stronger. Both leaders are ardent patriots, proud to serve their respective countries which they love with great intensity. Both men share similar views on many topics, for example the role of the USA in global economics. Hugo Chavez agreed with Vladimir Putin's opinion that the USA is an "economic parasite" because of its "constant instability and high debts, living far beyond its means, and transferring the burden of its problems to the entire world economy." On Venezuelan television (VTV), President Chavez repeated Vladimir Putin's words, demanding Venezuela to "free itself from the parasite." Venezuela has the largest oil reserves, and is the fifth biggest oil exporter worldwide. In the twelve years of Hugo Chavez' government, Venezuela transferred its international funds from US banks to other banks in different parts of the world. Furthermore, Venezuela paid back all of its debts to US banks and ended its dependence on the IMF. Venezuela is a strategic business partner for Russia in the exploitation of gas and crude oil. Since 2005, Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA and the Russian oil company Lukoil have been drilling in the Venezuelan Orinoco Oil Belt together. Another joint venture contract was signed in 2011 between Russia's Rosneft and PDVSA to exploit the oil reserves of the blocs Carabobo-2 North and East. Rosneft holds 40 percent, PDVSA owns the majority of 60 percent.
Is staying in Afghanistan OK with you, as long as we call it leaving? President Obama has signed an agreement with President Karzai to keep major US military presence in Afghanistan, currently about three times the size Obama began with, through the end of 2014, and to allow a significant unspecified presence beyond that date, with no end date stipulated. Obama stresses that no permanent US bases will be involved, but his agreement requires Afghanistan to let US troops use "Afghan" bases. Obama forgot to provide any reason not to withdraw from Afghanistan now, given majority US desire to end the war. Like Newt Gingrich promising to quit campaigning before actually doing so, Obama is promising to leave Afghanistan, but not yet, except that he isn't promising to ever leave at all. The agreement is open-ended. Obama spoke recently of a transition to Afghan control, but we've heard that talk for a decade. That's not some new bright idea that requires two-and-a-half more years to develop. Obama talked of fighting al Qaeda, but the US has not been fighting al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and has admitted for years that there is virtually no al Qaeda presence there. That's not the two-year project, and it's not the reason to remain indefinitely after 2014. The agreement requires that all "entities" involved in a peace process renounce violence, but the Taliban will no more do that while under foreign occupation, than the United States will do so while occupying. This is not a serious plan to leave, nor is it a plan based on Afghan sovereignty, numerous claims to the contrary notwithstanding. This is a treaty for more years of war, on the model of the Bush-Maliki treaty for Iraq, but with the difference that theirs included an end date.
Senior Israeli officials now confirm that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has, "decided to attack Iran before the US elections in November." Netanyahu's agenda is much broader than knocking out Iranian nuclear installations for his aim is to reshape the political landscape in the USA and Israel, shifting everything to the far, far right in order to create a new comfort zone for religious fundamentalists. Netanyahu's major backer,, Sheldon Adelson, is now firmly behind Mitt Romney, and they are known to believe that an Israeli attack in September or October will displace Obama and many dovish Democrats in Congress and establish a hawkish regime in Washington. Israel has agreed to restrain any attack on Iran until after the current round of five talks between Iran and the P5+1 that will come to an end in either late July or August: "US, Israel continue preparations for strike on Iran nuclear facilities. The website cites US defense contracts and Israel's new military preparations, suggesting that all sides are getting ready for whatever may come. Israel and the US are pushing forward with preparations to jointly strike Iran's nuclear facilities, the US blog Business Insider reported on Saturday. "US defense contracts, an Iranian F-16 acquisition, and Israel's new military preparations suggest that all sides are getting ready for whatever may come," the report says. According to the blog, the US navy has recently signed a $338 million contract with defense contractor Raytheon to "provide the Navy with 361 Tomahawk cruise missiles in their most recent configuration. According to the website, the US is either renewing its stock of missiles or planning ahead.
The individual mandate in the health care law was originally proposed by the Heritage Foundation, the most conservative think tank in the country. It was supported by almost every Republican in the country, including the first President Bush, Mitt Romney and conservative stalwarts like Orrin Hatch. Simply put, it was a conservative idea. There is no question about that, it is a fact. Let me immediately digress to point out how terrible our media is, since about 2% of the country knows that fact. If you asked the average American now, I'm sure they would say it was a liberal idea, originally proposed by Barack Obama. Another fact, Barack Obama was originally opposed to the mandate during his campaign for president. So, this brings us to the central problem with President Obama's administration. They were under the unbelievable mistaken impression that if they worked with the Republicans, compromised with them, and gave them what they wanted, that the Republicans would react likewise. Progressives warned them that would not be the case. We were dismissed. Now look at what's happened. Not only did the Republicans not thank the president for including their mandate in the health care law, they have turned around and pretended they are against it. But of course it goes much deeper than that. In fact, they are now using it as the principal argument to take down the whole law. They have no sense of shame or propriety. They will do whatever it takes to win and support the corporate interests they are sworn and paid to defend. They also know that Democrats, generally speaking, are horrible at defending themselves and the media will help them tremendously by calling everything even. So, we warned the president: Don't ever, ever agree with the Republicans, they will only use it against you.
In a stinging, 22-page dissent to Monday's decision striking down most of Arizona's tough anti-illegal immigration law, Justice Antonin Scalia criticized President Barack Obama's announcement earlier this month, that he would stay the deportation of young illegal immigrants, and suggested that the federal government does not want to enforce its immigration laws. "The president said at a news conference that the new program is 'the right thing to do' in light of Congress's failure to pass the administration's proposed revision of the Immigration Act, " Scalia, a Reagan appointee, wrote in his dissent. "Perhaps it is, though Arizona may not think so. But to say, as the Court does, that Arizona contradicts federal law by enforcing applications of the Immigration Act that the President declines to enforce boggles the mind." Scalia went on to write: Arizona bears the brunt of the country's illegal immigration problem. Its citizens feel themselves under siege by large numbers of illegal immigrants who invade their country. Federal officials have been unable to remedy the problem, and indeed have recently shown that they are unwilling to do so. Thousands of Arizona's estimated 400,000 illegal immigrants, including not just children, but men and women under 30, are now assured immunity from enforcement, and will be able to compete openly with Arizona citizens for employment. Scalia also repeatedly referenced Obama's policy of prosecutorial discretion, which directs Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to prioritize deporting the illegal immigrants who are frequent border crossers, have committed crimes, or recently entered the country illegally. The Obama administration has deported a record number of illegal immigrants, but its prosecutorial discretion policy still draws the ire of illegal immigration hawks. Scalia also repeatedly referenced Obama's policy of prosecutorial discretion, which directs Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to prioritize deporting the illegal immigrants who are frequent border crossers, have committed crimes, or recently entered the country illegally.
"In order to facilitate the action of liberative forces, a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals, to be accomplished early in the course of the uprising and intervention. Once a political decision has been reached to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria, CIA is prepared, and SIS (MI6) will attempt to mount minor sabotage and coup de main incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals. Incidents should not be concentrated in Damascus. Further, a "necessary degree of fear, frontier incidents and staged border clashes", would provide a pretext for intervention. The CIA and SIS should use capabilities in both psychological and action fields to augment tension." (Joint US-UK leaked Intelligence Document, London and Washington, 1957) In this online interactive I-book, we bring to the attention of our readers a selection of feature articles on the Syrian crisis. Our objective is to dispel the tide of media lies and government propaganda, which presents the events in Syria as a "peaceful protest movement". The "protests" did not emanate from internal cleavages as described by the mainstream media. From the very outset, they were the result of a covert US-NATO intelligence operation geared towards triggering social chaos, with a view to eventually discrediting the Syrian government of Bashar Al Assad and destabilizing Syria as a Nation State. Since the middle of March 2011, Islamist armed groups, covertly supported by Western and Israeli intelligence, have conducted terrorist attacks directed against government buildings, including acts of arson. Amply documented, trained gunmen and snipers, including mercenaries have targeted the police, armed forces, as well as innocent civilians. There is ample evidence, as outlined in the Arab League Observer Mission report, that these armed groups of mercenaries are responsible for killing civilians.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, one of America's most prescient voices, wrote an article for Vanity Fair several months before Occupy Wall Street was born. "Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% called attention to the widening gap between rich and poor, and its deadly impact on our society and its democratic institutions. In his newly released book, "The Price of Inequality, Stiglitz returns to this theme of a divided society, delving into the origins and consequences of economic unfairness. I caught up with Professor Stiglitz and talked to him about how the persistent myths and beliefs associated with our capitalist system help to drive this trend, turning America from a land of opportunity to a land of broken dreams. Joseph Stiglitz: Capitalism does have a lot of strengths, including producing things that are very innovative, but what drives capitalism is the profit motive. You can profit not only by making good things, but also by exploiting people, by exploiting the environment, by doing things that are not so good. The narrative that you describe ignores the extent to which a lot of the inequalities in the United States are not the result of creative activity, but of exploitive activity, and if you look at the people at the top, what is so striking is that the people who've made the most important creative contributions are not there: By that I mean the really foundational things like the computer, the transistor, the laser. And how many people at the top are people who made their money out of monopoly, exercising monopoly power? Like bankers who exploited through predatory lending practices and abusive credit card practices, or CEOs who took advantage of deficiencies in corporate governance.
I park my car in the lot in front of the rectory of Sacred Heart in Camden, NJ, and walk through a gray drizzle to Emerald Street. My friend Lolly Davis, whose blood pressure recently shot up, and whose kidneys shut down, had been taken to a hospital in an ambulance, but now was home. I climb the concrete steps to her row house and ring the bell. There is an overpowering stench of garbage in the street. Her house is set amid other brick and wooden residences, some of which have been refurbished under Monsignor Michael Doyle's Heart of Camden project at Sacred Heart, a Roman Catholic parish. Other structures on Davis' street sit derelict or bear the scars of decay and long abandonment. Lolly's grandson, nicknamed Boom Boom or Boomer, answers the door. He tells me his grandmother is upstairs. I enter and sit on a beige chair in the living room near closed blinds that cover the windows looking out on Emerald Street. The living room has a large flat screen television and two beige couches with brown and burnt-red floral patterns that match the chair. There is a stone fireplace with a mantel crowded with family photos. Her grandson, one of numerous children from the neighborhood whom she adopted and raised, yells upstairs to let Lolly know I have arrived. Lolly, 69, appears at the top of the stairs. Clutching the railing, she makes her way gingerly down the steep wooden steps. Boomer, who is 21 and recently completed a special education program at a high school, goes back to the kitchen, where he was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Lolly's two Chihuahuas, Big Pepsi Cola and Little Pepsi Cola, father and son who get into frequent growling matches, scamper around the room. I have interviewed Lolly several times over the past two years for the new book, "Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt," that I wrote with the cartoonist Joe Sacco.
As West berates Syria for "killing civilians" Western weapons flow into terrorist hands from NATO. The New York Times in their article, "CIA Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition," confirms what many have long known, that the West, led by the US and its Gulf State proxies, have been arming terrorists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, while berating the Syrian government for "violating" a UN mandated ceasefire and for "failing to protect" its population. The Muslim Brotherhood has been combated by nations across the Arab World to stem the tide of their sectarian extremism, violence, and their targeted erosion of secular nation-states. Ironically, the US, which has claimed to have been fighting the forces of sectarian extremism and "terrorism" for over a decade now, have been revealed as the primary enabler of the most violent and extreme terrorist organizations in the world. These include, in addition to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) in Libya, Baluch terrorists in Pakistan, and the Mujhideen-e-Khaig (MEK) currently based in Iraq and being used as proxies against Iran. The New York Times claims that, "the CIA officers have been in southern Turkey for several weeks, in part to help keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, one senior American official said, an unsubstantiated"claim that was similarly made in Libya before Al Qaeda flags were run up poles in Benghazi by rebels flush with NATO cash, and arms used o collapse the government of Muammar Qaddafi. In fact, it is confirmed that Libyan LIFG rebels, led by Al Qaeda commander Abdul Hakim Beshaj, have now made their way by the hundreds to Syria. Despite months of the US claiming the "international community" sought to end the violence and protect the population of Syria, the New York Times now admits that the US is engaged in supporting a "military campaign" against the Syrian government aimed at increasing "pressure" on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
On November 19, 1863 during the Consecration of the National Cemetery following the July 1-3, 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln pondered whether the new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal could long endure. Contrary to Lincoln's hope, the government of the people, by the people and for the people is now perishing from the earth. Military historian Edward Luttwak described a coup d'etat as an infiltration of a small, but critical segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder. The US government has been infiltrated by ambitious and greedy men and women, whose allegiance is not to their country, but to themselves and their political party. The aims and conduct of the Democrat and Republican establishments have become antithetical to the principles upon which the nation was founded. Their aims are driven by political expediency and winning elections for the sole purpose of attaining and maintaining personal power and profit. Their conduct is based on remaining unconstrained by the Constitution and the rule of law, and unaccountable to the American people. Elections are in no way about representative government, but instead are contests to determine who will possess the power to allocate favors and redistribute wealth from ordinary Americans to a small group of political supporters. Corrupt politicians, the front men and operational arm of networked financiers, siphon off the wealth created by hard-working Americans, while preserving the illusion of democracy for the now disenfranchised voters. Faux journalists, who falsely proclaim themselves as tireless defenders of liberty, then distort the news in an effort to manipulate public opinion to further the goals of selected politicians and their wealthy benefactors.
The end of the Bilderberg meeting means impending trouble for the world. The good news is that independent journalists are digging the mainstream media's grave as each day passes. Who needs the mainstream media when you have videos from educated people? The protesters that gather with them are wrecking the plans of these global elitists. Ron Paul's Death: No Bulls**t but bullhorns from Alex Jones who is a hard charger in the fight for freedom. The Infowars.com reporter leads the pack with Jim Tucker's inside man, saying they wanted Ron Paul and his supporters dead in a video. Ron Paul must be good for America if the Bilderbergers hate him. Ron Paul, Republican, seems to be the only honest politician left, but even the Right wing conservative radio shows in America make him out to be a "nut case", because he says Iran is not a threat. He is similar to Pat Buchanan who was fired from MSNBC. They both have been saying the same thing about Iran having no nukes, and that Israel has 300 nuclear warheads. As Buchanan once said," you can't replicate the Middle West of America in the Middle East". The Bilderbergers are picking the vice-presidential candidates for both parties. According to Tucker, Senator and former presidential candidate, John Kerry will be on the Democratic ticket, and the Governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels, will be on the ticket with Romney. Both men are at the Bilderberg meeting. Infowars.com says Florida senator Marco Rubio, who recently spoke before the Council on Foreign Relations, may be the VP choice. See their article and videos. Tucker says, with the exception of Reagan, the Bilderbergers have been choosing VP's and presidents since 1964. This probably explains why Reagan was shot, since he was not Bilderberg approved. Good thing he survived. I guess Kennedy was not approved either!
On November 19, 1863 during the Consecration of the National Cemetery following the July 1-3, 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln pondered whether the new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal could long endure. Contrary to Lincoln's hope, the government of the people, by the people and for the people is now perishing from the earth. Military historian Edward Luttwak described a coup d'etat as an infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder. The US government has been infiltrated by ambitious and greedy men and women, whose allegiance is not to their country, but to themselves and their political party. The aims and conduct of the Democrat and Republican establishments have become antithetical to the principles upon which the nation was founded. Their aims are driven by political expediency and winning elections for the sole purpose of attaining and maintaining personal power and profit. Their conduct is based on remaining unconstrained by the Constitution and the rule of law and unaccountable to the American people. Elections are in no way about representative government, but instead are contests to determine who will possess the power to allocate favors and re-distribute wealth from ordinary Americans to a small group of political supporters. Corrupt politicians, the front men and operational arm of networked financiers, siphon off the wealth created by hard-working Americans while preserving the illusion of democracy for the now disenfranchised voters. Faux journalists, who falsely proclaim themselves as tireless defenders of liberty, then distort the news in an effort to manipulate public opinion to further the goals of selected politicians, and their wealthy benefactors.
These words are true now as they were when Major General Smedley Butler first delivered them in a series of speeches in the 1930s. And he should have known. As one of the most decorated and celebrated marines in the history of the Corps, Butler drew on his own experiences around the globe to rail against the business interests that use the US military as muscle men to protect their racket from perceived threats. From National City Bank interests in Haiti to United Fruit plantations in Honduras, from Standard Oil access to China to Brown Brothers operations in Nicaragua, Butler pointed out how intervention after intervention served the business interests of the well-connected, even as American taxpayer money went to foot the bill for these adventures. The names and places may have changed, but the old adage holds: the more things change, the more they stay the same. The National Transitional Council that is nominally in charge of what is left of Libya, announced this week that they're beginning a probe of foreign oil contracts brokered during Gaddafi;s reign by his son, Saif al-Islam. Libya is sitting on the largest oil reserves in Africa, and it is no coincidence that within weeks of the start of the NATO campaign last year, the rebels had already secured the country's oil ports and refineries on the Gulf of Sidra and established their own national oil company for negotiating contracts with the invading forces. Although the oil contract probes are supposedly meant to show the transparency of the new "government" and their willingness to root out the graft and kickbacks inherent in the old regime, it's quietly acknowledged that the process will be used to reward the nations that most visibly supported last year's invasions and punish those who were more reticent.
Kosovo's "Mafia State" and Camp Bondsteel: Towards a Permanent US Military Presence in Southeast Europe Washington's Bizarre Kosovo Strategy could destroy NATO. In one of the more bizarre foreign policy announcements of a bizarre Obama Administration, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced that Washington will "help" Kosovo to join NATO as well as the European Union. She made the pledge after a recent Washington meeting with Kosovan Prime Minister Hashim Thaci in Washington, where she praised the progress of the Thaci government in its progress in "European integration and economic development." Her announcement no doubt caused serious gas pains among government and military officials in the various capitals of European NATO. Few people appreciate just how mad Clinton's plan to push Kosovo into NATO and the EU is. The controversial piece of real estate today called Kosovo was a part of Yugoslavia and tied to Serbia until the NATO bombing campaign in 1999 demolished what remained of Milosevic's Serbia and opened the way for the United States, with the dubious assist of EU nations, above all Germany, to carve up the former Yugoslavia into tiny, dependent pseudo states. Kosovo became one, as did Macedonia. Slovenia and Croatia had earlier split off from Yugoslavia with a strong assist from the German Foreign Ministry. Some brief review of the circumstances leading to the secession of Kosovo from Yugoslavia will help locate how risky a NATO membership or EU membership would be for the future of Europe. Hashim Thaci, the current Kosovo Prime Minister, got his job, so to speak, through the US State Department and not via free democratic Kosovo elections.
At 2 am yesterday, the Watergate scandal turned 40. Maybe it was appropriate that most of America slept through the occasion. I can tell you exactly where it was the night when it all went down, when those burglars were arrested inside the Watergate Hotel. I was asleep in my bedroom in a suburb of New York, a 13-year-old boy, still trying to make sense of this strange world I'd been born into, where police in blue helmets fought young people i the street, and great men were gunned down in their prime. The arrest of the Watergate burglars may have happened in the dead of night, but what came in the months ahead was truly an awakening. This was our time, our story. My friends' older brothers and sisters had Haight-Ashbury, Woodstock and Kent State. But we were the backwash of the Baby Boom. We had Watergate. From the age of 13 to 15, I embraced the scandal with all the geek force that puberty could muster. Sunburned from swimming laps in the forced labor of summer recreation camp, I raced home so I could catch John Dean's afternoon testimony before the Senate Watergate committee, and the next summer I read the paperback version of the committee's report by flashlight at a campground along the Delaware River, while raccoons scurried under my tent. There are still, somewhere, embarrassing, Instagram quality pictures of me wearing a T-shirt with a picture of a reel to reel tape recorder that said, "Property of the Watergate Bugging Team." It wasn't just me, a culture was defined. Listen to the music that blared in static-y mono glory from 77, WABC, on the beach those Watergate summers, from Lynyrd Skynyrd "Now Watergate does not bother me" to David Bowie, "Do you remember your President Nixon?"