Bradley Manning: Guilty of Doing the Right Thing

Stephen Lendman

Final arguments were presented last week. Judge Col. Denise Lind adjourned for the weekend. Tuesday 1PM EDT was verdict day and time. It didn't surprise. Earlier she refused to dismiss aiding the enemy charges. She let multiple Espionage Act violations stand. She did so disgracefully.

Manning faces possible life in prison. We'll know once sentence is imposed. We'll know more if it holds on appeal. We know plenty now. Lind threw the book at Manning except entirely. She exonerated him of aiding the enemy. She convicted him of 20 of 22 charges. They include five Espionage Act counts. Expect sentencing to be harsh. Manning faces longterm imprisonment. He may never be free again.

According to Brennan Center for Justice Liberty and National Security Program co-director Elizabeth Goitein:

"Manning is one of very few people ever charged under the Espionage Act (prosecuted) for leaks to the media. The only other person who was convicted after trial was pardoned. Despite the lack of any evidence that he intended any harm to the United States, Manning faces decades in prison. That's a very scary precedent."

The conviction of Bradley Manning: A travesty of justice

Barry Grey

The trial itself was a legal farce. It was a show trial aimed at intimidating popular opposition to the wars and further subordinating an already cowed press.

The guilty verdict handed down Tuesday in the court-martial of whistle-blower Bradley Manning is a travesty of justice. The judge, Col. Denise Lind, found the 25-year-old Army private guilty of 19 of the 21 counts lodged against him, including five counts under the 1917 Espionage Act.

Manning faces a prison term of up to 136 years in the sentencing phase of the trial that begins today at Fort Meade, Maryland.

Manning‘s acquittal on the charge of “aiding the enemy,” which carries a potential death sentence, reflects the awareness of the military and the Obama administration of the broad popular opposition to the proceedings against the young soldier. At the same time, it underscores the fraudulent character of the entire trial.

The prosecution denounced Manning as a “traitor” and charged him with aiding Al Qaeda and carrying out espionage even though there were no allegations that he handed over information to any foreign government or terrorist organization.

Instead, in a sinister and unprecedented attempt to make the revealing of government secrets potentially a capital crime and undermine First Amendment guarantees of speech and press freedom, the government argued that any leaking of classified information constituted espionage because the information could be accessed by those deemed to be enemies. As the government well knows, the “enemy” for whose benefit Manning courageously exposed proof of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, was the American people.

The American Surveillance State Is Here. Can It Be Evaded?

John W. Whitehead

“If, as it seems, we are in the process of becoming a totalitarian society in which the state apparatus is all-powerful, the ethics most important for the survival of the true, free, human individual would be: cheat, lie, evade, fake it, be elsewhere, forge documents, build improved electronic gadgets in your garage that’ll outwit the gadgets used by the authorities.” – Philip K. Dick, author of Minority Report

On any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears.

A byproduct of this new age in which we live, whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior. As I point out in my new book, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, this doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.

The revelations by Edward Snowden only scrape the surface in revealing the lengths to which government agencies and their corporate allies will go to conduct mass surveillance on all communications and transactions within the United States. Erected in secret, without any public input, these surveillance programs amount to an electronic concentration camp which houses every single person in the United States today.

Cuban government announces acceleration of privatization and austerity measures

Alexander Fangmann

Cuba is not a workers’ state, and never underwent a socialist revolution.

Earlier this month, Marino Murillo, vice president of the Cuban Council of Ministers, announced that during the rest of this year and through the next the state would enact and carry through the next phase of its privatization and austerity measures, creating “the most profound transformations.”

The measures, which were first announced in 2010 by Cuban President Raul Castro as part of a 300-point plan, represent the deepest changes to the Cuban economy since the taking of power by the Castro regime in 1959. Like austerity plans being carried out elsewhere in the world, the aim of these measures is to make the working class pay for the world capitalist crisis through mass layoffs, privatization, speed-ups, and the elimination of social welfare measures.

Murillo contrasted the upcoming changes with the first phase of reforms that “entailed eliminating the prohibitions in society.” The previous round, a centerpiece of which was the announcement of layoffs of 500,000 state workers, was accompanied by the relaxation of prohibitions on petty business activity, the hiring of labor by individuals, and property transfers as the government cynically encouraged the newly unemployed to go into business for themselves selling candy, cutting hair, or raising rabbits. Politically, however, the encouragement and even adulation of “entrepreneurship” and the use of unemployment as a disciplinary tool represents a shift in the orientation of the Cuban elite toward openly capitalist relations.

The next phase of changes to the economy will deal substantially with the privatization of state-owned companies. Murillo put forward the perspective of the Cuban elite, which is now no longer even interested in maintaining the fiction that Cuba is a socialist society. He indicated that state-owned companies will no longer play even a nominal social role in regard to maintaining employment levels, but will be held to performance measures typical of the market, and said: “We must eliminate all the hurdles that are holding them back.”

How we are impoverished, gentrified and silenced - and what to do about it

John Pilger

Rise like lions from your slumber - Ye are many, they are few." ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

I have known my postman for more than 20 years. Conscientious and good-humoured, he is the embodiment of public service at its best. The other day, I asked him, "Why are you standing in front of each door like a soldier on parade?"

"New system," he replied, "I am no longer required simply to post the letters through the door. I have to approach every door in a certain way and put the letters through in a certain way."


"Ask him."

Across the street was a solemn young man, clipboard in hand, whose job was to stalk postmen and see they abided by the new rules, no doubt in preparation for privatisation. I told the stalker my postman was admirable. His face remained flat, except for a momentary flicker of confusion.

In 'Brave New World Revisited', Aldous Huxley describes a new class conditioned to a normality that is not normal "because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does".

Surveillance is normal in the Age of Regression - as Edward Snowden revealed. Ubiquitous cameras are normal. Subverted freedoms are normal. Effective public dissent is now controlled by police, whose intimidation is normal.

The Lobby Never Sleeps

Philip Giraldi

The pandering to the Israel Lobby à la Samantha Power is incessant and, quite frankly, should be seen as humiliating by every American.

Developments in Syria and Egypt have been a godsend for Israel. The bloodshed and political turmoil have meant that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can continue with business as usual, with no one paying much attention to what is going on as he dismembers Palestine. Amidst all the fun and games, Israel launched a new air attack on Syria, the fourth such incident this year and an act of war, which was scarcely reported in the media while Netanyahu characteristically signaled his contempt for the Obama Administration by announcing a new settlement expansion just as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived to jump start a new round of pointless peace talks with the Palestinians. Israel’s government is also simultaneously moving ahead with the Prawer Plan, which will remove as many as 70,000 Palestinian Bedouin from their ancestral homes in the Negev Desert, the latest phase in the ethnic cleansing of Arabs which has been going on since 1947.

But even when Israel is not featured in the headline, it somehow finds its way into the story. Here in Washington last Wednesday Samantha Power was questioned by Senators to determine her worthiness to become US Ambassador to the United Nations. Power was confronted by the redoubtable Senator Marco Rubio for having suggested on a book tour in 2002 that if the Palestinian-Israeli conflict were moving toward genocide America should be prepared to alienate a powerful "domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import" – meaning the American-Jewish community – to send in a "mammoth protection force" to prevent another Rwanda. The proposal itself might well be considered idiotic, just what one might expect from a Harvard professor, but Power’s comment was also construed as being both anti-Israeli and borderline anti-Semitic because it implies that Jews have a lot of money and political clout while at the same time combining in one sentence "Israel" and "genocide" with the clear presumption that the Palestinians would be on the receiving end.

Israeli-Palestinian talks a cover for US aggression in Middle East

Jean Shaoul

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stepping off a helicopter
after flying from Amman, Jordan, to Ramallah, West Bank,
to meet with "Palestinian Authority" stooge M. Abbas.

Washington is using “peace talks” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to provide cover for its pursuit of hegemony over the oil-rich Middle East.

For the Obama administration, the talks beginning Monday are a necessary quid pro quo for the support of Jordan’s King Abdullah, the military junta in Egypt and the venal oil sheikhdoms in the Gulf for the war to unseat the Assad regime in Syria and the isolation of Iran. All these sclerotic regimes face a restive working class, for whom the Israel-Palestine conflict and the US-led interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria are explosive issues.

The talks offer nothing to the Palestinians except more suffering and misery, even as they give Israel everything it wants. So blatant is the cynicism and bullying on the part of both the US and its European allies that chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat had said that he would not attend. Erekat, a professional windbag, will naturally attend—on the basis of having secured a measly promise that 104 Palestinian prisoners will be released.

He will be joined by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, confirmation that the PLO and Fatah, its dominant faction, function as little more than clients of US imperialism.

Father of Edward Snowden issues open letter to Obama denouncing “Orwellian surveillance programs”

Thomas Gaist

Lon Snowden, father of Edward Snowden, has written an open letter to President Barack Obama denouncing the NSA surveillance programs exposed by his son and the Obama administration’s international witch-hunt in response to the disclosures.

The letter, dated July 26, 2013, was written together with Lon Snowden’s lawyer, Bruce Fein.

In the letter, Snowden compares the NSA surveillance programs to the Fugitive Slave Act and the Jim Crow laws in the American South and writes that the United States has lessons to learn from “the dynamics of the Third Reich.” The letter further compares the present situation to the post-World War II Nuremburg trials “in which ‘following orders’ was rejected as a defense.”

It comes amid new revelations concerning the expansive scope of the programs. In an interview on ABC News’ “This Week” program on Sunday, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald commented: “The NSA has trillions of telephone calls and emails in their databases that they’ve collected over the last several years.”

China: The Bo factor

Pepe Escobar

Mr Bo was removed from his post in March 2012

The larger-than-life geopolitical-economic question of our time, arguably, is not Syria, Iran, or even NSA spying. It's all about China; how on Earth the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will be successful in tweaking Beijing's economic growth model, and how China will manage its now slowed-down ascension.

But first there's no less than a "trial of the century" to get rid of.

Disgraced former Politburo superstar Bo Xilai - of the "Chongqing model" fame - was finally indicted this week, accused of relatively minor charges of accepting bribes of US$3.2 million and embezzling roughly $800,000.

The fascinating screenplay opens with how Chinese media reacted to it. Three minutes before Xinhua announced it, the People's Daily was already meticulously drawing a distinction between "Bo Xilai's personal issues" and "the successes in the economic and social development" of Chongqing.

Fifteen minutes later, Xinhua followed with a commentary essentially warning that Bo had fallen because a local "tiger" had become too powerful; and thus "the nation's long-term stability can only be secured by protecting the authority of the central leadership".

Also 15 minutes after, the Global Times sealed the deal, stressing that corrupt Party bigwigs like Bo were "a cancer" and should be dealt with by the letter of the law.

The problem is all this heavy artillery does not even begin to tell the story.

The Two Faux Democracies Threaten Life On Earth

Paul Craig Roberts

For the past 68 years, most military aggression can be sourced to the US and Israel. Yet, these two originators of wars pretend to be the victims of aggression.

Amitai Etzioni has raised an important question: “Who authorized preparations for war with China?” Etzioni says that the war plan is not the sort of contingency plan that might be on hand for an improbable event. Etzioni also reports that the Pentagon’s war plan was not ordered by, and has not been reviewed by, US civilian authorities. We are confronted with a neoconized US military out of control endangering Americans and the rest of the world.

Etzioni is correct that this is a momentous decision made by a neoconized military. China is obviously aware that Washington is preparing for war with China. If the Yale Journal knows it, China knows it. If the Chinese government is realistic, the government is aware that Washington is planning a pre-emptive nuclear attack against China. No other kind of war makes any sense from Washington’s standpoint. The “superpower” was never able to occupy Baghdad, and after 11 years of war has been defeated in Afghanistan by a few thousand lightly armed Taliban. It would be curtains for Washington to get into a conventional war with China.

When China was a primitive third world country, it fought the US military to a stalemate in Korea. Today China has the world’s second largest economy and is rapidly overtaking the failing US economy destroyed by jobs offshoring, bankster fraud, and corporate and congressional treason.

The Pentagon’s war plan for China is called “AirSea Battle.” The plan describes itself as “interoperable air and naval forces that can execute networked, integrated attacks-in-depth to disrupt, destroy, and defeat enemy anti-access area denial capabilities.”

Yes, what does that mean? It means many billions of dollars of more profits for the military/security complex while the 99 percent are ground under the boot. It is also clear that this nonsensical jargon cannot defeat a Chinese army. But this kind of saber-rattling can lead to war, and if the Washington morons get a war going, the only way Washington can prevail is with nuclear weapons. The radiation, of course, will kill Americans as well.

Remember the Torture at Abu Ghraib?

David Duke

Our policies in the Mideast and elsewhere are actually Israeli policies rather than truly American ones.

Probably no event in recent history has been more damaging to the image of America than the tortures that occurred at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. President Bush claimed that one of the justifications of attacking Iraq, was that people were being tortured by Saddam Hussein in that country.

Now that the graphic, disgusting pictures of Abu Ghraib reveal unspeakable tortures of Iraqi men and women in American custody (and the world only saw a very small portion of them), it is certain that America’s enemies will use Bush’s own logic to inspire and justify murderous attacks on Americans.

What happened at Abu Ghraib is as unAmerican and as damaging to America as any attack by al-Qaeda . The tortures that occurred there are symbolic of the fact that America has lost its way and that those in control of our nation have no sense of American justice or our honorable traditions.

No appeal to patriotism is any excuse for the tortures. I am a Patriot. I love America. I even instructed anti-Communist officers for the U.S. Government in Laos during the Viet Nam War. But, what happened at Abu Ghraib is symbolic that America has lost her heart and soul, and I grieve for our lost sense of morality and justice.

Any government that would spawn those kinds of injustices on other peoples will someday commit them on its own. Once the line is crossed, there is no going back.

They Know Much More Than You Think

James Bamford

In mid-May, Edward Snowden, an American in his late twenties, walked through the onyx entrance of the Mira Hotel on Nathan Road in Hong Kong and checked in. He was pulling a small black travel bag and had a number of laptop cases draped over his shoulders. Inside those cases were four computers packed with some of his country’s most closely held secrets.

Within days of Snowden’s documents appearing in The Guardian and The Washington Post, revealing several of the National Security Agency’s extensive domestic surveillance programs, bookstores reported a sudden spike in the sales of George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel 1984. On, the book made the “Movers & Shakers” list and skyrocketed 6,021 percent in a single day. Written sixty-five years ago, it described a fictitious totalitarian society where a shadowy leader known as “Big Brother” controls his population through invasive surveillance. “The telescreens,” Orwell wrote, “have hidden microphones and cameras. These devices, alongside informers, permit the Thought Police to spy upon everyone….”

Today, as the Snowden documents make clear, it is the NSA that keeps track of phone calls, monitors communications, and analyzes people’s thoughts through data mining of Google searches and other online activity. “Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it,” Orwell wrote about his protagonist, Winston Smith.

There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.

US Congress defends the methods of a police state

Bill Van Auken

The chief benefit of the vote by the US House of Representatives Wednesday–on an amendment to the Defense Department appropriations bill that would have placed limited restrictions on wholesale domestic spying by the National Security Agency–is its public confirmation that the majority of the US Congress supports a police state in America.

The legislative body that was referred to in a long-gone era as “the people’s house” stands exposed as an impotent appendage of the US military and intelligence apparatus that dominates the American state. Its members are bought and paid for by the financial and corporate interests that the massive surveillance against the American people and related illegal and unconstitutional repressive measures are meant to defend.

That the amendment even came to a vote in the House is a distorted reflection of the massive and growing hostility of the majority of the US population to these measures. A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Wednesday found that nearly three quarters of the American people believe that the NSA spying operation constitutes an infringement on privacy rights enshrined in the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protection against unwarranted search and seizure.

Equally revealing, more than half held the view that the domestic spying operations either make no difference or make the US less safe against terrorism, the pretext and universal bogeyman that is trotted out by the government whenever its criminal conspiracies are challenged.

After nearly a dozen years, this bipartisan scaremongering has clearly worn thin with the American public. Not so with official Washington, however, as the Obama administration and both the Democratic and Republican House leaderships warned darkly that halting the indiscriminate collection of telephone data on every American would render the country vulnerable to attack.

The vote provided the usual profiles in duplicity and cowardice, with the House leaderships of both parties marshaling the majority–134 Republicans and 83 Democrats–needed to defeat the amendment, while allowing those who have more to fear in terms of voter retribution to cast “aye” ballots or abstain.

Obama's Way: Waging Financial War on Humanity

Stephen Lendman

Class war rages in America. Institutionalized inequality defines it. Obama continues what began decades ago. He exceeds the worst of his predecessors. He supports capital's divine right. He transferred unprecedented wealth amounts from ordinary Americans to Wall Street, war profiteers, other corporate favorites and privileged elites. He's ideologically over-the-top. He's no progressive. He's polar opposite. He's not what most people expected. He's not what they deserve. He's pro-business, pro-privilege, pro-super wealth, anti-populist, and anti-government of, by and for everyone equitably. He targets middle America for destruction. He ignores popular needs. He's done so throughout his tenure. He's done it during economic crisis conditions. They're the worst since Great Depression levels. He reflects rogue leadership. He's a scoundrel writ large. He's a moral coward. He's a serial liar. He broke every major promise made. Monied interests own him. Whatever they want they get. It comes at the expense of popular needs. They've gone begging on his watch.

His rhetoric reflects doublespeak duplicity. Demagogic mumbo jumbo defines it. His Knox College Galesburg, IL speech was no exception. It kicked off his planned tour. He's selling same old, same old. Lump of coal harshness defines it. Wealth, power and privilege alone matter. Vital human needs don't count. Unemployment, poverty, homelessness, hunger and overall deprivation are at Depression era levels. Roosevelt prioritized getting people back to work.

Obama's a jobs destroyer. He's uncaring. He doesn't give a damn. He pretends otherwise. Growing millions suffer. They struggle to get by. Austerity makes things harder. It continues. It's prioritized. It's getting worse. Obama's notion of change is double downed harshness. He's in lockstep with Republicans. So are most Democrats. They pretend otherwise. Social injustice defines their agenda. Major domestic spending cuts were made. Much more's planned. Medicare, Social Security, and other vital programs are on the chopping block for elimination.

German report on horrendous treatment of refugees on Europe’s borders

Stefan Steinberg

On Tuesday, the German television news program “Report Mainz” broadcast a [short film][go to the 16:30 mark] dealing with the horrendous treatment of refugees trying to reach Europe.

The report began with the picture of a dead body of a man washed up on the beaches of the Greek island of Lesbos, a holiday destination 6 miles off the coast of Turkey. At the end of the report we learn that the same corpse was transported away by the island’s authorities and dumped in an anonymous grave next to a local rubbish tip.

The nameless individual was one of the many thousands of refugees fleeing war and repression in Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia who travel to Turkey and then try to cross to Greece and the European mainland in flimsy rubber dinghies.

Many of them do not make it. According to figures from Amnesty International cited in the program, up to 100 refugees are washed up dead on the beaches of Lesbos every year. The corpses are cleared away and buried unceremoniously in order to make the beaches free for holidaymakers.

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