2010-02-08

Disinformation Tactics: The Methods Used To Keep You In The Dark

By Giordano Bruno

TV pundits are often trained in what are commonly called “Alinsky Tactics.” Saul Alinsky was a moral relativist, and champion of the lie as a tool for the “greater good;” essentially, a modern day Machiavelli. His “Rules for Radicals” were supposedly meant for grassroots activists who opposed the establishment, and emphasized the use of any means necessary to defeat one’s political opposition. But is it truly possible to defeat an establishment built on lies, by use of even more elaborate lies, and by sacrificing one’s ethics?

Today, Alinsky’s rules are used more often by the establishment than by its opposition. These tactics have been adopted by governments and disinformation specialists across the world, but they are most visible in TV debate. While Alinsky sermonized about the need for confrontation in society, his debate tactics are actually designed to circumvent real and honest confrontation of opposing ideas with slippery tricks and diversions. Alinsky’s tactics, and their modern usage, can be summarized as follows:

2010-02-04

Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Are Upending Our Democracy

By Janine Wedel

The mover and shaker who serves at one and the same time as business consultant, think-tanker, TV pundit, and government adviser glides in and around the organizations that enlist his services. It is not just his time that is divided. His loyalties, too, are often flexible. Even the short-term consultant doing one project at a time cannot afford to owe too much allegiance to the company or government agency. Such individuals are in these organizations (some of the time anyway), but they are seldom of them.

Being in, but not of, an organization enables these players to pursue a “coincidence of interests,” that is, to interweave and perform overlapping roles that serve their own goals or those of their associates. Because these “nonstate” actors working for companies, quasi-governmental organizations, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) frequently do work that officials once did, they have privileged access to official information—information that they can deploy to their own ends. And they have more opportunities to use this information for purposes that are neither in the public interest nor easily detected, all the while controlling the message to keep their game going.

...

Meanwhile, the official and private organizations in and out of which such movers and shakers glide either just go along to get along or are ill equipped to know what these actors are up to in the various venues in which they operate. In McCaffrey’s case, no institution, from the Pentagon to the defense contractor to NBC, had an incentive to be anything but complicit. Operators like the general have surpassed their hosts, speeding past the reach of effective monitoring by states, boards of directors, and shareholders, not to mention voters. And while the players sometimes cause raised eyebrows, they are highly effective in achieving their goals—and often benefit from wide acceptance. Much more than the influence peddlers of the past, these players forge a new system of power and influence—one that profoundly shapes governing and society.

This new breed of players is the product of an unprecedented confluence of four transformational developments that arose in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries: the redesign of governing, spawned by the rising tide of government outsourcing and deregulation under a “neoliberal” regime, and the rise of executive power; the end of the Cold War—of relations dominated by two competing alliances—which intensified the first development and created new, sparsely governed, arenas; the advent of evermore complex technologies, especially information and communication technologies; and the embrace of “truthiness,” which allows people to play with how they present themselves to the world, regardless of fact or track record. While it may be jarring to mention such seemingly disparate developments in the same breath—and to name “truthiness” as one of them—the changes unleashed by these developments interact as never before.

The proliferation of roles, and the ability of players to construct coincidences of interest by those who perform them, are the natural outcome of these developments. So, for example, increased authority delegated to private players (facilitated by privatization, the close of the Cold War, and new, complex technologies) has enabled them to become guardians of information once resting in the hands of state and international authorities. While supposedly working on behalf of those authorities, such players (working, say, as consultants for states or as special envoys or intermediaries between them) can guard information and use it for their own purposes, all the while eluding monitoring designed for the past order of states and international bodies.

Mind Control: America's Secret War (43 min)

History Channel video

This powerful History Channel video documents how for decades, top secret government projects worked virtually non-stop to perfect means of controlling the human mind. Though for many years the government denied that these projects even existed, the details have long been preserved in the thousands of pages of now declassified government documents mentioned above, which were reluctantly released through the Freedom of Information Act. LSD and electroshock therapy in huge doses given to unsuspecting citizens are only a part of this unbelievable program.

Mind Control blows the lid off years of chilling experiments, drawing on the declassified documents and interviews with some of the victims and respected experts in the field. Hear from John Marks, the author of In Search of the Manchurian Candidate, who originally broke the story of the CIA's abuses by unraveling the mysteries contained in the declassified documents. Learn how many of the most important records pertaining to the mind control experiments were destroyed by the director of the CIA in an attempt to prevent the details from ever being known.

The projects involved brutal, at times lethal experiments on thousands of unsuspecting citizens in direct defiance of law, all ethical codes, and basic human rights. Interviews with top psychiatrists, lawyers, and victims send chills up the spine. U.S. intelligence agencies spent millions on these mind control projects with a goal of creating programmable human spies.

2010-02-03

Nullification: It’s Official

By Derek Sheriff

While speaking to a large crowd of over a thousand people on the campus of Arizona State University last December, Congressman Ron Paul mentioned one thing that might come about as the result of the federal government habitually ignoring the Constitution: Nullification.

Attempted Terror Attack Likely, Intelligence Chiefs Warn

By Jason Ryan

An attempted al Qaeda attack against the United States is a high possibility in the next 3 to 6 months, the nations' top intelligence chiefs testified today.

...

CIA director Leon Panetta and FBI director Robert Mueller both told the committee they agreed with Blair's stark assessment, when asked by committee chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

...

The threat warning comes amid an ongoing debate over how the Obama administration and the Justice Department handled the case of Abdulmutallab, accused of attempting to set off a bomb on Christmas Day on Northwest flight 253, and whether the case should have been handled in the criminal justice system.

Abdulmutallab is still being interrogated by FBI agents and is providing useful information to investigators, even though he was read his Miranda rights the day after the attempted bombing of flight 253, Mueller said.

The issue over providing Abdulmutallab the Miranda rights required in the criminal justice system has become a political issue among some Republican members in Congress, who assert that the Obama administration should have moved the terror suspect into the military tribunal process so he could be interrogated for intelligence.

Justice Department officials have said that Abdulmutallab decided to stop speaking with federal investigators the day after the attempted bombing, even before he was given a Miranda warning by FBI agents.

2010-02-01

'Blocked' jetstream to blame for freak weather in Russia and Pakistan, say scientists

By Niall Firth

Last updated at 11:36 AM on 12th August 2010
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1302225/Blocked-jetstream-blame-freak-weather-Russia-Pakistan.html

A massive heatwave in Russia and the current devastating floods in Pakistan could be linked by the unusual behaviour of the jetstream, scientists believe.

The jetstream is the high-altitude wind that circles the globe from west to east and normally pushes a series of wet but mild Atlantic lows across Britain.

But meteorologists who study the phenomenon say that it is producing unusual holding patterns which keep weather systems in one place and produce freak conditions.

Depopulation by Government Edict (2)

By Deanna Spingola

Population control serves the U.S. strategic, economic, and military interests at the expense of the developing Third World or Lesser Developed Countries (LDCs). The plan claims that their population growth is detrimental and a grave threat to U.S. national security in four ways: (1) large nations may gain political power (2) The U.S. and its allies need the strategic materials from those countries. (3) A high birth rate means more young people who are more likely than older people to challenge global power structures (4) Population growth in relatively disadvantaged countries jeopardizes U.S. investments.[27]

NSSM 200 has special implications for thirteen countries – India, Brazil, Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Mexico, Thailand, Turkey, Ethiopia and Colombia. NSSM 200 listed Brazil which, at that time, had a population of over 100 million which dominated the continent demographically. By 2000, the population projections totaled about 212 million people.[28] That kind of population growth was unacceptable to the elite.

...

Nixon and Kissinger, along with John Negroponte, a Kissinger aide and the officer in charge of Vietnam on the National Security Council, arranged a chaos-creating government coup in Cambodia in March 1970. Negroponte would later act as Ambassador to Iraq from 2004 to 2005 and as director of national intelligence from 2005 to 2007. On March 26, 2001, the Los Angeles Times reported, “While ambassador to Honduras from 1981-85, Negroponte directed the secret arming of Nicaragua’s Contra rebels and is accused by human rights groups of overlooking—if not overseeing—a CIA-backed Honduran death squad during his tenure.” The CIA had unlimited funds to assist the government in its depopulation efforts. In concert with Oliver North, “He also helped orchestrate a secret deal, later known as Iran-Contra, to send arms through Honduras to help the Contras overthrow the Sandinista government.”[29] Negroponte had charge of the US Embassy in Honduras when hundreds of Hondurans labeled as “subversives” were seized, raped, tortured and slaughtered by Battalion 316, a Honduran intelligence unit trained, funded and supported by the Pentagon and the CIA. Battalion 316 also participated in the CIA’s covert operations in Nicaragua. [30] Negroponte was Deputy Secretary of State under Condoleezza Rice.

On October 2, 1979, Robert S. McNamara, president of the World Bank and former secretary of defense during the Vietnam War, in speaking to a group of international bankers said, “We can begin with the most critical problem of all, population growth,” concluding that, “Either the current birth rates must come down more quickly, or the death rates must go up...There are, of course, many ways in which the death rates can go up. In a thermonuclear age, we can accomplish it very quickly and decisively.” It is a surprising statement in view of the crypto-eugenic position taken by the American Eugenics Society, a stand which McNamara, evidently a dedicated eugenicist, would have certainly been aware of. It can only be assumed that he did not agree with the society’s stand, and was arrogant enough to ignore it.” [31] McNamara and Maurice Strong, a Rockefeller operative and ecological agitator, organized the UN Earth Summit in Stockholm in 1972.[32] The New York Times claimed that Strong was the “Custodian of the Planet.” Strong is indebted to George H. W. Bush who maneuvered Strong into the position of Secretary General of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, the Earth Summit, convened in Rio de Janeiro, which elevated global economic and environmental regulations.[33] Strong thinks that people should be required to have a license in order to have a baby.

The Population Plan was initially implemented by Brent Scowcroft, a long-time Kissinger colleague and Vice-Chairman of Kissinger Associates and National Security Advisor under Ford from 1974–1977 and George H. W. Bush from 1989–1993. CIA Director George H. W. Bush (November 1975 to January 1977) assisted Scowcroft who co-authored A World Transformed with George H. W. Bush. In addition to the National Security Advisor, the Secretaries of the Departments of State, Treasury, Defense, and Agriculture are responsible for executing the population plan. Each administration uses those agencies and determines its own strategy for depopulating the planet. Scowcroft was President George W. Bush’s Chairman of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board from 2001 to 2005 and also assisted President Barrack Obama in selecting his national security team. Scowcroft apparently facilitated Obama’s efforts to continue Bush’s warfare depopulating strategy in the Middle East.

...

The Reagan Administration accommodated Monsanto and other private companies who manufactured questionably safe food products designed for worldwide trade. Genetically modified (GMO) products, with little or no testing, were introduced in the U.S. market. Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush, former CIA Director, was the chief proponent within the Reagan Administration for this innovative field of genetically modified products.[35] U.S. citizens were intentionally vulnerable, as GMO labeling had been forbidden by the FDA.[36] Monsanto’s expensive, elite Terminator seeds, fertile only for one planting, “in the hands of one or more governments intent on using food as a weapon, Terminator was a tool of biological warfare almost ‘too good to believe.’” [37] Given that so many third world countries are managed according to Anglo-American eugenics interests, Terminator seeds provide ample opportunity for tyrants to stage famines.

During the 1960s and 1970s the indigenous non-white population of the U.S., through the Indian Health Service of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, operated an methodical lost generation program against Native American women of childbearing age wherein they sterilized about forty-two percent of those living on reservations without informing them. This was accomplished in conjunction with other medical procedures. Allegedly, this program was terminated in 1976 after allegations were made and confirmed. No officials lost their jobs or suffered judicial consequences as a result of implementing of participating in this program. They were, after all, simply following government procedures as it pertained to domestic non-white populations.[38]

More recently, in the 1990s, the World Health Organization dispensed tetanus shots among women between the ages of fifteen and forty-five in Nicaragua, Mexico, the Philippines and some African countries. Unknown to the women, the tetanus shots were laced with Chorionic Gonadotrophin or (hCG), a natural hormone, which, when combined with tetanus toxoid, prevents a women from sustaining a pregnancy. This program, to impose a state of permanent sterilization, was financed by the Rockefeller Foundation and began in 1972.

...

In 1998, in South Africa at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission the following testimony was given, “The United States encouraged South Africa’s apartheid regime to develop a Chemical Biological Weapons program that was aimed at the country’s black population. Dr. Wouter Basson, the South African general who headed the project from its inception in 1981, testified from notes he made of a meeting with US Major General William Augerson. He (Augerson) feels that chemical warfare is an ideal strategic weapon because infrastructure is preserved together with facilities and only living people are killed. The warm climate of Africa is ideal for this type of weapon because the diffusion of the poison is better and the absorption is increased by perspiration and increased blood flow in the persons who are targets.” [43]

Genocidal war is about body counts – un-armed men, women and children are all total war targets to fulfill the objective of world population reduction. However, war destroys a lot of infrastructure. Accordingly, other methods were developed that are equally effective and might even increase profits in other service industries, also affiliated with the elite who consistently view other humans as sources of profit or commodities, even in death. Genocide, under other pretenses, is regularly practiced to limit “excesses” in order to preserve the earth and its resources for the “fittest.” Elite-controlled governments are indifferent to the slaughter, starvation, slave labor, and suffering of others, as evidenced by a callous response from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright when questioned about the 500,000 children who died in Iraq as a result of the U.S.-imposed sanctions. She said, “It was worth it.” [44]

27, National Security Study Memorandum NSSM 200, Implications of Worldwide Population Growth, For U.S. Security and Overseas Interests (NSSM 200) – December 10, 1974, pp. 57-58

28, National Security Study Memorandum, NSSM 200, Implications of Worldwide Population Growth, For U.S. Security and Overseas Interests, (The Kissinger Report), December 10, 1974, p. 31

29, Bush UN Choice Faces a Fight By Maggie Farley and Norman Kempster, Los Angeles Times, March 26, 2001

30, John Negroponte & The Death-Squad Connection, Bush Nominates Terrorist for National Intelligence Director by Frank Morales, World War 4 Report

31, Bush, Eugenics and Population Control by Alf Mendes

32, Seeds of Destruction, the Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation by F. William Engdahl, Global Research, Montreal, Canada, 2007, p. 127

33, Who is Maurice Strong? by Ronald Bailey, National Review, Sept 1, 1997

34, Seeds of Destruction, the Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation by F. William Engdahl, Global Research, Centre for Research on Globalization, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 2007, p. 43

35, Ibid, p. 4

36, Ibid, p. 13

37, Ibid, p. 261

38, A Little Matter of Genocide, Holocaust and Denial in the Americas 1492 to the Present by Ward Churchill, City Lights Books, San Francisco, p. 249

39, The State of Native America: Genocide, Colonization, and Resistance edited by M. Annette Jaimes, South End Press, Boston, Massachusetts, 1992, p. 7 Jaimes Notes: Jacobs, Wilbur R., "British Indian Policies to 1783," in Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 4: History of Indian-White Relations, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1988, p. 10). As regards inculcation of smallpox among the Mandans in 1837, see Connell, Evan S., Son of the Morning Star: Custer and the Little Big Horn, North Point Press, San Francisco, 1984, pp. 15-6.

40, Catlin and His Contemporaries: The Politics of Patronage by Brian W. Dippie, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1990, p. 331

41, Death Stalks the Yakama: Epidemiological Transitions and Mortality on the Yakama Indian Reservation, 1888-1964 by Clifford E. Trafzer, Michigan State University Press, East Lansing, Michigan, 1997, p. 151

42, Rotting face : smallpox and the American Indian by R. G. Robertson, Caxton Press, 2001, Introduction, pp. 107-113

43, Rogue State, a Guide to the World's Only Superpower by William Blum, Common Courage Press, Monroe, Maine, 2005, pp. 120-121

44, "We Think the Price Is Worth It" By Rahul Mahajan

Depopulation by Government Edict

By Deanna Spingola

[T]he concept of ‘eugenics’ ... encourages the reproductive efforts of those deemed to have ‘good’ genes, while discouraging or stopping procreation by undesirables.

...

George H. W. Bush of Texas, who served in Congress from January 3, 1967 to January 3, 1971, originated a legislative investigation of world overpopulation.[18] Dr. D. M. MacArthur, Deputy Director of Research & Technology for the Pentagon, Department of Defense, requested $10 million from the Congressional House Subcommittee on Appropriations to develop a biological weapon through House Bill 15090. On June 9, 1969, the House Republican research task committee, chaired by George H. W. Bush, heard testimony from General William H. Draper, of the Population Crisis Committee and Dr. William Moran of the Population Reference Bureau. Draper reported that there were three issues relevant to population control – the census of 1970 in the U.S. and of 1971 in Britain should be worldwide and not limited to two countries, accelerating contraception, and the World Health Organization should implement their international programs such as inoculations, etc.[19] Leading World Health Organization scientists, as noted in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, had requested that viruses be created in order to study their affects on humans.

The Department of Defense, now funded with $10 million, intended to conduct studies on immune-system-destroying agents for biological warfare. In 1983 Dr. Robert Strecker, an internist and gastro-enterologist who is also a trained pathologist with a Ph.D. in pharmacology, produced The Strecker Memorandum wherein he claims that the AIDS virus is man-made. Working in conjunction with his brother, attorney Ted Strecker, they discovered thousands of documents verifying the man-made origin of AIDS. Strecker maintains that it was virologically impossible for HIV to have emanated from monkeys; the disease was unknown in Africa before 1975. Strecker claims that the World Health Organization (WHO), funded by the Department of Defense, initiated testing on a lymphotrophic virus, a bovine virus that could also infect humans. In 1977, the WHO instigated a massive campaign in Africa to eradicate smallpox among the urban population. Over 100 million Africans were deliberately inoculated with AIDS-contaminated smallpox vaccine. In 1978, over 2,000 white male homosexuals were inoculated against hepatitis B by the Centers for Disease Control and the New York Blood Center, also with AIDS-contaminated vaccine.[20] Merck, Sharp and Dohme (MSD) funded the hepatitis B vaccine research that Dr. Strecker claimed spread HIV to homosexuals in the U.S.[21] These kinds of weapons were apparently a viable concern immediately after 9/11 as John Bolton gave an address at the Biological Weapons Convention on November 19, 2001 in Geneva, Switzerland, stating our concerns about “terrorists” using biological and chemical weapons.[22] We have trained many foreigners in the use of biological and chemical weapons at Fort McClellan, Alabama.

Kissinger received the Nobel Peace Prize after he directed the dispersion of tons of Monsanto’s toxic Agent Orange in Vietnam. This chemical, containing dioxin, continues to negatively affect Vietnamese citizens and former U.S. military personnel and their children with horrendous birth defects and neurological disorders. Conversely, Ali Hassan al-Majid, who dispersed chemicals in Halabja, was recently executed for the same activities. Kissinger orchestrated the precedent-setting secret bombing of neutral Cambodia over a four-year period, allegedly to protect Americans in Vietnam.

18, Emerging Viruses, Aids & Ebola, Nature, Accident or Intentional? By Leonard G. Horowitz, Tetrahedron Publishing, Inc., Rockport, Massachusetts, 1996, p. 521

19, Ibid, pp. 156, 159

20, Ibid, pp. 3-5

21, Ibid, p. 12

22, Biological Weapons Convention

2010-01-21

Information Operations Roadmap

By Adam Brookes

The operations described in the document include a surprising range of military activities: public affairs officers who brief journalists, psychological operations troops who try to manipulate the thoughts and beliefs of an enemy, computer network attack specialists who seek to destroy enemy networks.

All these are engaged in information operations.

...

Perhaps the most startling aspect of the roadmap is its acknowledgement that information put out as part of the military's psychological operations, or Psyops, is finding its way onto the computer and television screens of ordinary Americans.

"Information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and Psyops, is increasingly consumed by our domestic audience," it reads.

"Psyops messages will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public," it goes on.

The document's authors acknowledge that American news media should not unwittingly broadcast military propaganda. "Specific boundaries should be established," they write. But they don't seem to explain how.

2010-01-20

Obama confidant's spine-chilling proposal

By Glenn Greenwald

Cass Sunstein is currently Obama's head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs where, among other things, he is responsible for "overseeing policies relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs." In 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Sunstein co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-"independent" advocates to "cognitively infiltrate" online groups and websites - as well as other activist groups - which advocate views that Sunstein deems "false conspiracy theories" about the Government. This would be designed to increase citizens' faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists. The paper's abstract can be read, and the full paper downloaded, here.

Sunstein advocates that the Government's stealth infiltration should be accomplished by sending covert agents into "chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups." He also proposes that the Government make secret payments to so-called "independent" credible voices to bolster the Government's messaging (on the ground that those who don't believe government sources will be more inclined to listen to those who appear independent while secretly acting on behalf of the Government). This program would target those advocating false "conspiracy theories," which they define to mean: "an attempt to explain an event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role." Sunstein's 2008 paper was flagged by this blogger, and then amplified in an excellent report by Raw Story's Daniel Tencer.

There's no evidence that the Obama administration has actually implemented a program exactly of the type advocated by Sunstein, though in light of this paper and the fact that Sunstein's position would include exactly such policies, that question certainly ought to be asked. Regardless, Sunstein's closeness to the President, as well as the highly influential position he occupies, merits an examination of the mentality behind what he wrote. This isn't an instance where some government official wrote a bizarre paper in college 30 years ago about matters unrelated to his official powers; this was written 18 months ago, at a time when the ascendancy of Sunstein's close friend to the Presidency looked likely, in exactly the area he now oversees. Additionally, the government-controlled messaging that Sunstein desires has been a prominent feature of U.S. Government actions over the last decade, including in some recently revealed practices of the current administration, and the mindset in which it is grounded explains a great deal about our political class. All of that makes Sunstein's paper worth examining in greater detail.

...

Sunstein's response to these criticisms is easy to find in what he writes, and is as telling as the proposal itself. He acknowledges that some "conspiracy theories" previously dismissed as insane and fringe have turned out to be entirely true... Given that history, how could it possibly be justified for the U.S. Government to institute covert programs designed to undermine anti-government "conspiracy theories," discredit government critics, and increase faith and trust in government pronouncements? Because, says Sunstein, such powers are warranted only when wielded by truly well-intentioned government officials who want to spread The Truth and Do Good

i.e., when used by people like Cass Sunstein and Barack Obama:
Throughout, we assume a well-motivated government that aims to eliminate conspiracy theories, or draw their poison, if and only if social welfare is improved by doing so.


But it's precisely because the Government is so often not "well-motivated" that such powers are so dangerous. Advocating them on the ground that "we will use them well" is every authoritarian's claim. More than anything else, this is the toxic mentality that consumes our political culture: when our side does X, X is Good, because we're Good and are working for Good outcomes. That was what led hordes of Bush followers to endorse the same large-government surveillance programs they long claimed to oppose, and what leads so many Obama supporters now to justify actions that they spent the last eight years opposing.

...

Sunstein himself - as part of his 2008 paper - explicitly advocates that the Government should pay what he calls "credible independent experts" to advocate on the Government's behalf, a policy he says would be more effective because people don't trust the Government itself and would only listen to people they believe are "independent."

...

What is most odious and revealing about Sunstein's worldview is his condescending, self-loving belief that "false conspiracy theories" are largely the province of fringe, ignorant Internet masses and the Muslim world. That, he claims, is where these conspiracy theories thrive most vibrantly, and he focuses on various 9/11 theories - both domestically and in Muslim countries - as his prime example.

It's certainly true that one can easily find irrational conspiracy theories in those venues, but some of the most destructive "false conspiracy theories" have emanated from the very entity Sunstein wants to endow with covert propaganda power: namely, the U.S. Government itself, along with its elite media defenders. Moreover, "crazy conspiracy theorist" has long been the favorite epithet of those same parties to discredit people trying to expose elite wrongdoing and corruption.

Who is it who relentlessly spread "false conspiracy theories" of Saddam-engineered anthrax attacks and Iraq-created mushroom clouds and a Ba'athist/Al-Qaeda alliance

the most destructive conspiracy theories of the last generation? And who is it who demonized as "conspiracy-mongers" people who warned that the U.S. Government was illegally spying on its citizens, systematically torturing people, attempting to establish permanent bases in the Middle East, or engineering massive bailout plans to transfer extreme wealth to the industries which own the Government? The most chronic and dangerous purveyors of "conspiracy theory" games are the very people Sunstein thinks should be empowered to control our political debates through deceit and government resources: namely, the Government itself and the Enlightened Elite like him.

It is this history of government deceit and wrongdoing that renders Sunstein's desire to use covert propaganda to "undermine" anti-government speech so repugnant. The reason conspiracy theories resonate so much is precisely that people have learned - rationally - to distrust government actions and statements. Sunstein's proposed covert propaganda scheme is a perfect illustration of why that is. In other words, people don't trust the Government and "conspiracy theories" are so pervasive precisely because government is typically filled with people like Cass Sunstein, who think that systematic deceit and government-sponsored manipulation are justified by their own Goodness and Superior Wisdom.

...

Just to get a sense for what an extremist Cass Sunstein is (which itself is ironic, given that his paper calls for "cognitive infiltration of extremist groups," as the Abstract puts it), marvel at this paragraph:



So Sunstein isn't calling right now for proposals (1) and (2) - having Government "ban conspiracy theorizing" or "impose some kind of tax on those who" do it - but he says "each will have a place under imaginable conditions." I'd love to know the "conditions" under which the government-enforced banning of conspiracy theories or the imposition of taxes on those who advocate them will "have a place." That would require, at a bare minumum, a repeal of the First Amendment. Anyone who believes this should, for that reason alone, be barred from any meaningful government position.

2010-01-18

666 to 1: The US Military, Al-Qaeda and a War of Futility

By Nick Turse and Tom Engelhardt

According to U.S. intelligence estimates, there are currently about 100 al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan, as well as "several hundred" in Pakistan and, so the latest reports tell us, a similar number in Yemen. Members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Algeria, Mali, and Mauritania) and those based in Somalia undoubtedly fall into the same category at several hundred each. According to authorities from the Iraq Study Group to the U.S. State Department, even at the height of the insurgency and civil war in Iraq, al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia never had more than 1,300-4,000 active fighters. Today, it is believed to consist only of "small, roving cells."

...

Over the years, and sometimes with good reason, Washington has lumped Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan with al-Qaeda and counted various militant groups, including Somalia's al-Shabab Islamic rebels, as al-Qaeda affiliates. Add such fighters in and you would swell these numbers by many thousands.

Additionally, al-Qaeda has an arsenal of weaponry. Members have access to rocket-propelled grenades, small arms of various sorts, the materials for making deadly roadside bombs, car bombs, and of course underwear bombs.

...

The active duty U.S. military alone enjoys a 666:1 advantage over the estimated number of al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Algeria, Mauritania, Mali, and Somalia. Adding in the reserves, the ratio jumps to an embarrassingly-high 1,286:1. Even if you were to factor in those hordes of nonexistent al-Qaeda sleeper agents, 300 each for 195 countries from Australia to Vatican City, the U.S. military would still enjoy a 23:1 advantage (or 45:1 if you included the reserves, now regularly sent into war zones on multiple tours of duty).

In sum, after the better part of a decade of conflict, the United States has spent trillions of taxpayer dollars on bullets and bombs, soldiers and drones. It has waged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have yet to end, launched strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, dispatched Special Ops troops to those nations and others, like the Philippines, and built or expanded hundreds of new bases all over the world. Yet Osama bin Laden remains at large and al-Qaeda continues to target and kill Americans.

...

Al-Qaeda has no tanks, Humvees, nuclear submarines, or aircraft carriers, no fleets of attack helicopters or fighter jets. Al-Qaeda has never launched a spy satellite and isn't developing advanced drone technology (although it may be hacking into U.S. video feeds). Al-Qaeda specializes in low-budget operations ranging from the incredibly deadly to the incredibly ineffectual -- from murderous car bombs and airplanes-used-as-missiles to faulty shoe- and underwear-explosives.

Of course, comparisons of the strengths of the U.S. military and al-Qaeda "at war" would be absurd, if it weren't for the fact that the United States actually went to war against such a group. It was a decision about as effective as firing a machine gun at a swarm of gnats. Some may die, but the process is visibly self-defeating.

In the present War on Terror, called by whatever name (or, as at present, by no name at all), the two "sides" might as well be in different worlds. After all, al-Qaeda today isn't even an organization in the normal sense of the term, no less a fighting bureaucracy. It is a loose collection of ideas and a looser collection of individuals waging open-source warfare.

...

The Pentagon, with its giant bureaucracy and its miles of offices and corridors, is the headquarters of the U.S. war effort, but there is no central al-Qaeda headquarters, not in Afghanistan or Pakistan

not anywhere. There is probably no longer even an "al-Qaeda central." Osama bin Laden has vanished or, for all we know, may be dead. Think of it, at best, as an open-source organization that is remarkably capable of replicating by a process of self-franchising.

Isn't it time, then, to stop imagining al-Qaeda as a complex organization of terrorist supermen capable of committing super-deeds, or as an organization that bears any resemblance to a traditional enemy military force? With al-Qaeda, the path of war has undoubtedly been the road to perdition -- as we should have discovered by now, more than one trillion dollars later.

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It's time to put al-Qaeda back in perspective

a human perspective, which would include its stunning successes, its dismal failures, and its monumental goof-ups, as well as its unrealizable dreams. (No, Virginia, there will never be an al-Qaeda caliphate in or across the Greater Middle East.) The fact is: al-Qaeda is not an apocalyptic threat. Its partisans can cause damage, but only Americans can bring down this country.

The wealthy accumulate wealth

By chlamor

The wealthy accumulate wealth by appropriating the wealth created by those who sell their wealth creating power to the wealthy. Everyone who receives a paycheck enhances the wealth of the wealthy by being paid less than the amount of wealth they produce. If you do not produce excess wealth for the wealthy, or otherwise contribute to the profit of the wealthy, your employment will be terminated.

The wealthy distribute that which they appropriate in a manner that in their judgment best insures their continued accumulation of wealth. Those who best serve the wealthy are best compensated for their successful efforts at accumulation of wealth from the producers of wealth for appropriation by the wealthy.

People commonly understand the wealthy as creators of wealth rather than appropriators of wealth. People desire to serve those whom they see as the the source of wealth for a share of the wealth, misunderstanding that in serving the wealthy they are serving the distributors of wealth, those who are also the appropriators of wealth, but not the producers of wealth.

Wealth production, appropriation, and distribution: this is the means by which the people are incentivized to serve the boards of directors, whether of capitalist enterprises or capitalist governments.

Peoples movements will always be secondary when the first choice available is to serve the wealthy masters. The masters have the power to distribute wealth to those who serve them best; and those who do not sufficiently demonstrate loyalty to the wealthy are cast out of the system and exposed to risks and insecurity of poverty.

2010-01-11

President Obama's Secret: Only 100 al Qaeda Now in Afghanistan

By Richard Esposito, Matthew Cole, Brian Ross

As he justified sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan at a cost of $30 billion a year, President Barack Obama's description Tuesday of the al Qaeda "cancer" in that country left out one key fact: U.S. intelligence officials have concluded there are only about 100 al Qaeda fighters in the entire country.

A senior U.S. intelligence official told ABCNews.com the approximate estimate of 100 al Qaeda members left in Afghanistan reflects the conclusion of American intelligence agencies and the Defense Department. The relatively small number was part of the intelligence passed on to the White House as President Obama conducted his deliberations.

President Obama made only a vague reference to the size of the al Qaeda presence in his speech at West Point, when he said, "al Qaeda has not reemerged in Afghanistan in the same number as before 9/11, but they retain their safe havens along the border."

A spokesperson at the White House's National Security Council, Chris Hensman, said he could not comment on intelligence matters.

2010-01-10

Israeli firm blasted for letting would-be plane bomber slip through

By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent

The Israeli firm ICTS International (not to be confused with ICTS Europe, which is a different company), and two of its subsidiaries are at the crux of an international investigation in recent days, as experts try to pinpoint the reasons for the security failure that enabled Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board Northwest flight 253 and attempt to set alight explosives hidden in his underwear.

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The failure was a twin flop: An intelligence failure, which U.S. President Barack Obama has already stated, in the poor handling of information that arrived at the State Department and probably also the CIA from both the father of the would-be bomber and the British security service; and a failure within the security system, including that of the Israeli firm ICTS.

The ICTS daughter company, I-SEC, has another daughter company - called PI (Pro-Check International). The firms provide security services to airports: consultation, instruction, training, inspection and supervision.

Two decades ago, ICTS adopted the system used in Israel, namely of profiling and assessing the degree to which a passenger is a potential threat on the basis of a number indicators (including age, name, origin and behavior during questioning). At the same time, a decade ago, the company developed a technological system called APS (Advanced Passenger Screening).

This system is based on a computerized algorithm, and is fed passenger information from the airline company. The system was offered to the Israel Airports Authority and the Shin Bet in the past, but rejected. According to the company's Web site, most of the large airlines in the United States use the system.

However - in real time - the system of ICTS failed. Even if U.S. intelligence failed and the name of the Nigerian passenger was not pinpointed as a suspect for the airline, he should have stirred the suspicion of the security officers. His age, name, illogical travel route, high-priced ticket purchased at the last minute, his boarding without luggage (only a carry on) and many other signs should have been sufficient to alert the security officers and warrant further examination of the suspect.

However, the security supervisor representing I-SEC and PI allowed him to get on the flight.