Tag Archives: police state

WikiLeaks email release reveals hacking by governments worldwide

By Mike Head
July 13, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

5aa4f-government-spyingWikiLeaks last week published more than one million emails from the Italian surveillance malware vendor Hacking Team, shedding further light on the extent of the spying being conducted by governments around the world against their populations.

Emails in the searchable database disclose the company’s negotiations with intelligence and police agencies to supply some of the advanced technology used to secretly hack into, take control over and monitor computers and smart phones.

In its emails, Hacking Team boasts that its programs can “attack, infect and monitor target PCs and smart phones, in a stealth way” and “bypass encryption, collect relevant data out of any device, and keep monitoring your targets wherever they are, even outside your monitoring domain.”

At least 46 countries are identified as purchasing, or preparing to purchase, Hacking Team software. The list features Western powers, such as the United States, Britain and Australia, along with openly repressive regimes around the world, including military dictatorships such as Egypt and Thailand.

On July 5 the company’s Twitter account was reportedly compromised. Over 400GB of data, featuring internal emails, invoices and source codes were revealed via BitTorrent. Revelations so far include that Hacking Team works with the major imperialist spy agencies, together with police units such as Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion, a paramilitary agency notorious for torture and extrajudicial killings.

The US is a customer via the FBI, the military and the Drug Enforcement Agency. Police agencies in the United Kingdom have trialled Hacking Team’s technology, despite acknowledging that its use could be illegal. Australia’s purchasers include the main domestic spy agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), and the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

According to a survey of the database published by the Intercept web site, Hacking Team’s biggest sales in recent years have come from these countries, in descending order of sales: Mexico, Italy, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Hungary, Malaysia, UAE, the US, Singapore, Kazakhstan, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Panama, Ethiopia, Egypt, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, South Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam, Spain, Ecuador, Oman, Switzerland, Thailand, Russia, Nigeria, Turkey, Cyprus, Honduras, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Poland, and Bahrain.

The company was pushing for contracts in Brazil, Belarus, Guatemala, Israel, Kuwait, Finland, Georgia, Greece, India, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and elsewhere. Several intelligence and police agencies in India sought technology that was not just target-specific, but could create a sweeping net of surveillance.

One Hacking Team email sent to Maharashtra police provided an insight into the far-reaching capabilities of the company’s Remote Control System (RCS) to manipulate and monitor computer networks and smart phones.

“It allows you to covertly collect data from the most common desktop operating systems, such as: Windows, OS X, Linux,” the email claimed. “Furthermore, Remote Control System can monitor all the modern smart phones: Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows phone. Once a target is infected, you can access all the information, including: Skype calls, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Line, Viber and many more—device location, files, screenshots, microphone, virtual currencies and much more.”

A brochure for RCS stated: “Take control of your targets and monitor them regardless of encryption and mobility … Remote Control System is invisible to the user, evades anti-virus and firewalls, and doesn’t affect the devices’ performance or battery life.”

Other promotional material emphasised that RCS could remotely activate microphones and cameras and send the data back for analysis, and monitor people logging in to Gmail and Facebook.

Emails relating to Australia showed company representatives identifying state and territory police forces, and a Victorian state anti-corruption body, as well as ASIO and the AFP, as being in confidential negotiations with Hacking Team. Victoria’s anti-corruption commission was considering signing a $500,000 contract for monitoring software as recently as two weeks ago.

Another email chain named a Canberra company, Criterion Solutions, signing a non-disclosure agreement for access to information about the RCS program last November. The Hacking Team’s Singaporean representatives later said Criterion Solutions was acting for ASIO.

For further exposing the surveillance being conducted against millions of people internationally, WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, will come under renewed assault by the governments and agencies involved. WikiLeaks is already being branded as “criminal,” while the anti-democratic operations of the so-called security agencies are regarded as legitimate.

Eric Rabe, the chief marketing and communications officer for Hacking Team, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the hacking of the company’s data was “reckless and dangerous.” It was “a criminal attack” conducted with “no regard for public safety.” Rabe insisted that Hacking Team’s services helped police and investigators “keep the rest of us safe.”

In reality, as documented by previous WikiLeaks releases, the US and its allies are engaged in criminal activities on a worldwide scale, including massacres, torture, regime-change operations and illegal bugging. In addition, their mass surveillance operations, spanning the globe, have been laid bare by US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The UK-based Privacy International expressed shock at the scale of the Hacking Team’s operations disclosed by WikiLeaks. The organisation suggested that Western governments had not realised the “full picture” and needed to “ensure the integrity of their contractors.” It urged them to confine access to surveillance technology to “governments with strong human rights records,” rather than “governments with awful human rights records.”

The truth of the matter is that the US and other Western imperialist powers are leading the establishment of police-state conditions, ripping up basic legal and democratic rights in the process. Amid mounting political and social discontent, they are the most intent of all governments on utilising the technology now available to establish the scaffolding of a police state.

In Australia, the Abbott government, with the Labor Party’s bipartisan support, has pushed through parliament four major surveillance bills in the past six months, on the pretext of combating the threat of ISIS terrorism. The very first bill, brought forward last September, specifically allows ASIO to use listening, optical and tracking devices without warrants, and hack into and “disrupt” entire computer networks, while imposing lengthy jail terms for whistleblowers and journalists who alert the public to the undercover operations.

The fourth bill, passed this year despite widespread popular opposition, compels all Internet providers and social media platforms, including Google and Facebook, to retain vast amounts of data for two years so that the security services can trawl through it, permitting them to compile a full picture of everyone’s spending habits, political views, friends and associates and geographical locations.

The BBC’s Shameful Film: “Children of the Gaza War”. Coverup of Israel’s Orchestrated Massacre

By John Hilley
Global Research, July 10, 2015
Zenpolitics, July 9, 2015

 

gaza-children-rubleA truly disgraceful piece of distortion from the BBC’s Lyse Doucet.

The title of this film is a clear hint of the propaganda to come, based, as ever, on the fatuous ‘two sides’ narrative. There was no ‘war’, only another orchestrated massacre, a campaign of civil terror, in order to maintain Israel’s wicked, illegal siege. From the first minute of this shoddy film, one just wants to urge Doucet: tell the truth, give the context!

Yes, children suffer and die, but why is this happening?

Why have so many Palestinians been murdered? Why have over 500 children been slaughtered?

Why are an entire population, notably the children, so deeply traumatised? Tell the truth, provide the context!

Israel is the aggressor force. Gaza is the key target. It lies in ruins. Yet, this truly despicable film affects to argue that Sderot is part of the same ‘war zone’.

Continual reference is made to Israel targeting populated areas from where, it’s claimed, Hamas were launching rockets, just part of the loaded message that Hamas are largely responsible for the carnage.

A key section of the film is given over to Hamas fighters, youth camp training and wielded weaponry. But there’s not a single frame of an Israeli soldier, or the mass military operation engaged in the attempted annihilation of Gaza’s people. There’s no questioning, either, of how Israel has socialised so much of its youth to hate and fear Palestinians.

Standing at a Hamas training camp, Doucet laments: “For the outside world it’s hard to comprehend why parents would put children in situations like this.” But there’s no exploration of how Israel as a militarist, occupying state has conditioned so much of its own population to join in the historic oppression and mass murder of Palestinians. Indeed, the word ‘occupation’ is never used.

At one point, Doucet sits with the smiling Gazan kids and asks one of them: ‘Why do you want to be a journalist?’ The child replies in lovely innocence: ‘So I can tell people what’s going on in wars like this one’. If only Doucet could aspire to that same basic aim. One might ask Doucet, in turn: Why do you want to be a stenographer rather than a journalist?

We see more pictures of Gaza’s ruins. Doucet says: “The donors promise a lot. But politics on all sides gets in the way.” This is the extent of her ‘explanation’ of the carnage Israel has caused, the devastation it’s unleashed, its refusal to help rebuild.

Doucet’s grating commentary, over inappropriately lilting music, continues, with affected questions on whether the hate and suspicion can ever be overcome.

A scene of more families coming to settle in Israel’s border locale raises not a word of comment on the nature of Israel’s land appropriation, historic displacement of people and enduring occupation. The indoctrination of Israeli children in defending this is never mentioned, nor is the stark privilege of Israeli kids against the appalling conditions and despair of the children in Gaza. Doucet just smiles and says nothing of the staggering disparities.

I hope the families that Doucet interviewed in Gaza get to see how they’ve been used and exploited in this shabby, deceitful film.

An end credit announces that both Israel and Hamas could be indicted for war crimes, and that: ‘In May and June there were more rounds of rockets fired from Gaza and Israeli airstrikes’, the clear inference, as throughout this deeply-loaded film, that Israel is always ‘responding’ to provocative weaponry.

This is one of the worst examples of ’two sides’ reportage ever shown. Israel couldn’t have hoped for a greater piece of mitigating hasbara. Doucet’s film is one of the most shameful pieces of ‘war journalism’ ever put out by the BBC.

She doesn’t lack human empathy for the suffering Palestinian kids, such as little Syed, still haunted by the murder of his brother and three cousins on Gaza’s beach. What she lacks, much more profoundly, is a sense of compassionate duty to say why these appalling things happened, and are still happening, to name the principal perpetrators, to be a witness for truth and justice.

Doucet’s film is an abuse of journalism, and, in its pretentious evasions, an abuse of Gaza’s suffering children.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b061vbdj/children-of-the-gaza-war

– See more at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-bbcs-shameful-film-children-of-the-gaza-war-coverup-of-israels-orchestrated-massacre/5461466#sthash.N1r1o6OT.dpuf

The U.S. Still Tortures with Impunity

By Robert Abele
July 09, 2015
Global Research

 

torture USA 2Here we go again. More disturbing news arises about the depth of the U.S. torture program; a few politicians express their disgust at it; the U.S. media complex becomes complicit in the continuation of the program either by their adumbration of torture (Fair.org reported extensively on this in December and January), or by their silence; and the torture program itself continues and deepens, until the next report, when the cycle will repeat again.

So once again, with the latest news of U.S. torture policies, we must raise the salient issues concerning torture, and rekindle the anti-torture movement until others can see not only the degree to which our own government conducts its confinement policies with such sadistic brutality, but to realize that the same degree of brutality which the government is willing to inflict on “foreigners” is the degree of brutality to which we become susceptible from our own domestic jailers, as well as from those who confront U.S. intervention abroad.

Specifically, by the end of June, we learned two new crucial things about the U.S. torture program that, once again, the corporate media ignored almost in entirety. First, we learned through a report from the Center for Constitutional Rights, that Guantanamo prisoner Majid Khan testified that he had been subjected to torture that was far more brutal than the U.S. Senate report on torture made public last year. Khan testified that, among other tortures, he had been waterboarded, raped, sexually abused, subjected to solitary confinement in total darkness, and hung by his wrists for days at a time from ceiling beams. Every one of these actions is a direct violation of international law and of our deepest and most humane ethical convictions. Any one of these treatments, by themselves, would constitute an international crime against humanity. Taken together, the obvious conclusion is that the U.S. torture program is not only alive and well (unlike its prisoners), but is a program that is itself flaunting international conventions and basic ethical behavior.

The second—and more horrifying—thing we learned in June was that the CIA crafted its own internal regulations that permitted the agency’s director to override all international law in its torture practices, and to go the furthest ends of sadism: experimentation on human beings. Again ignored by the U.S. media, it took the Guardian from London to publish the document “AR 2-2, Law and Policy Governing the Conduct of Intelligence Activities.”

Don’t feel bad if you had not heard of these developments. Most people haven’t, thanks to our enabling media complex.

But now that the information has become public through non-mainstream media channels, we can respond to such deliberate and culpable media ignorance by continuing to underscore four issues in public discourse and protest: the definition of torture, international laws on torture, reminders of what substantive ethical arguments condemning torture should say, and understanding the final purpose of torture: control over people.

1) Defining Torture

The internationally accepted definition of torture comes from the U.N. Convention against Torture (UNCAT, which came into force in June, 1987): “the intentional infliction of severe physical or mental pain or suffering for purposes such as obtaining information or a confession, or punishing, intimidating or coercing someone.”  Treating civilians in such fashion would be illegal, according to this convention.

2) International Law and Treaties on Torture

That torture is heartily disapproved by nations worldwide may be seen by examining some international laws concerning torture. For example,

–The U.N. Convention against Torture (UNCAT): Article 1, Section 2: If a nation has signed the treaty without reservations, then there are no exceptional circumstances whatsoever where a nation can use torture; and Article 3: “No State Party shall expel, return or extradite a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.”

–The U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 5: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

–The Third Convention: Article 3; Part III, Section I; Article 87 (“Collective punishment for individual acts, corporal punishment, imprisonment in premises without daylight and, in general, any form of torture or cruelty, are forbidden”); Article 130: (condemns “torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health”)

–The Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 3; Article 32 (“This prohibition applies not only to murder, torture, corporal punishments, mutilation and medical or scientific experiments not necessitated by the medical treatment of a protected person, but also to any other measures of brutality whether applied by civilian or military agents”); and Article 147.

–The Geneva Conventions Additional Protocol I, Article 75

–The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Article 7: Torture and abusive treatment are “crimes against humanity” and Article 8: Torture is a war crime

–The European Convention on Human Rights, Article 3: “Prohibition of torture:” “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

The United States has ratified and signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, and UNCAT.

Furthermore, U.S. Federal law specifically defines and prohibits torture (U.S. Code, Chapter 113C, 2340): “torture means… [inflicting] severe physical or mental pain or suffering,” including the administering of mind-altering substances,…threats of death, [and/or] threats of severe physical pain.”

3) An ethical argument against torture

Premise #1: As a general moral principle, most people intuitively reject torture as abusive to persons physically and psychologically

Premise #2: International Law consistently condemns abusive treatment of detainees (dealt with above).

Premise #3: Torturing a “suspect” is immoral and illegal as well. “Suspect” means “innocent,” both legally and morally. Thus, if torturing a morally innocent person is immoral, so is the torturing a suspect.

Premise #4: Empirical givens. First, Torture almost never accomplishes the stated goal of information-gathering (see Alfred McCoy, A Question of Torture). Second, once torture starts, even with low level actions such as face-slapping, there is no stopping it, both in method or in regular use.

Premise #5: Normative premises:

a) Using a person as a means to an end is immoral, according to the normative argument used in Terrorism, above.

b) International Law forbidding all torture is based on a moral conception of human rights.

c) Human rights is based on notions of human dignity and autonomy. Thus, any justification for torture must include a rejection of: i) conception of common human nature; ii) universal human rights.

d) There is no “moral ought” to torture. But if torture is in fact taken in this way, then anything is permitted, since torture is the final crossing point between civilized behavior and barbarity.

Compare these five premises to U.S. history. The U.S. has a long history of ignoring any law that does not suit its own self-interest. Torture is no different. (See Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture). For example, from 1950-1962, the CIA conducted massive, secret research into coercion and the malleability of human consciousness which, by the late 1950’s, was costing a billion dollars a year.  This research produced a new method of torture, “no-touch” torture. Additionally, by 1967, the CIA was operating 40 interrogation centers in South Vietnam that killed over 20,000 Viet Cong suspects. Finally, this practice was the same one used in Kabul on Al Qaeda suspects in 2002, and seen in Abu Ghraib. Now, here we are once again confronted in June and July of 2015, with powerful instances in which the U.S. has not only ignored its international law obligations, but has sought to flout them completely.

The standard objection to my argument against torture is, of course, to appeal to cases of one-off instances, such as the ticking-bomb scenario (i.e. a bomb is going to explode in a heavily-populated area, and under routine questioning, the suspect will not provide information as to its location). There are several replies to such concocted scenarios.

First, it is important to note that the empirical evidence shows not only that the torture will not merit the intended goal of information, but that even if it does result in getting information, tests show that in 60 out of 100 instances, interrogators could not distinguish between the truth or falsity of the information they got.

Further, there are several false assumptions about the ticking-bomb dilemma. First, the objection assumes that the evidentiary requirements for police to act to defuse the bomb or vacate people cannot and would not be met in real-time. It assumes further that there is no other way to obtain information regarding the bomb than to torture a suspect; that the suspect has all the knowledge the detainers need to get to and defuse the bomb; that the suspect will surrender all this knowledge without leaving any pertinent detail out, prior to the bomb exploding, etc. Second, these types of scenarios all presume that our legal and governmental institutions can make the necessary determinations about when torture is called for a permissible. Third, they all presume that our legal and governmental institutions can control when and how torture is used, and to what extent.

4) The ultimate purpose of torture

The most important thing to keep in mind in discussing torture is that it is the complete denial of the humanity of the tortured, and simultaneously the total control over another person, reducing them to the moral status of an inanimate object. Presumably, that is precisely what those who torture, such as our own CIA and some local police departments in the U.S., want: not information, but total control over people. On the other hand, if a state and its people are willing to embrace or willfully ignore their own government’s torture practices, the only form of government that is possible for that society is totalitarianism: complete control of people, with no limitation.

It is a truism because it has been repeatedly demonstrated, that any government that is willing to inflict such extreme violence on the hated “other,” the “foreigner,” will be willing to inflict it on their citizens as well, in order to maintain and control them and to enhance its own power. U.S. citizens, especially minorities, have testified to such torture being used against them in our own domestic prisons. Thus, to fight it before it becomes entrenched as an instrument of local as well as federal government policy to control its citizens is not only a practical imperative, it is a moral imperative as well.

Dr. Robert Abele holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Marquette University and M.A. degrees in Theology and Divinity. He is a professor of philosophy at Diablo Valley College, located in Pleasant Hill, California in the San Francisco Bay area, and is the author of five books and numerous articles. His new book, Rationality and Justice, will be out in 2016.

Jade Helm, Terrorist Attacks, Surveillance and Other Fairy Tales for a Gullible Nation

By John W. Whitehead
July 8, 2015
The Rutherford Institute, July 06, 2015

 

“Strange how paranoia can link up with reality now and then.” ― Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly

Once upon a time, there was a nation of people who believed everything they were told by their government.

When terrorists attacked the country, and government officials claimed to have been caught by surprise, the people believed them. And when the government passed massive laws aimed at locking down the nation and opening the door to total government surveillance, the people believed it was done merely to keep them safe. The few who disagreed were labeled traitors.

When the government waged costly preemptive wars on foreign countries, insisting it was necessary to protect the nation, the citizens believed it. And when the government brought the weapons and tactics of war home to use against the populace, claiming it was just a way to recycle old equipment, the people believed that too. The few who disagreed were labeled unpatriotic.

When the government spied on its own citizens, claiming they were looking for terrorists hiding among them, the people believed it. And when the government began tracking the citizenry’s movements, monitoring their spending, snooping on their social media, and surveying their habits—supposedly in an effort to make their lives more efficient—the people believed that, too. The few who disagreed were labeled paranoid.

When the government let private companies take over the prison industry and agreed to keep the jails full, justifying it as a cost-saving measure, the people believed them. And when the government started arresting and jailing people for minor infractions, claiming the only way to keep communities safe was to be tough on crime, the people believed that too. The few who disagreed were labeled soft on crime.

When the government hired crisis actors to take part in disaster drills, never alerting the public to which “disasters” were staged, the people genuinely believed they were under attack. And when the government insisted it needed greater powers to prevent such attacks from happening again, the people believed that too. The few who disagreed were told to shut up or leave the country.

Finally, the government started carrying out covert military drills around the country, insisting they were necessary to train the troops for foreign combat, and most of the people believed them. The few who disagreed, warning that perhaps all was not what it seemed, were dismissed as conspiracy theorists and quacks.

By the time the government locked down the nation, using local police and the military to impose martial law, there was no one left in doubt of the government’s true motives—total control and domination—but there was also no one left to fight back.

Now every fable has a moral, and the moral of this story is to beware of anyone who urges you to ignore your better instincts and trust the government.

In other words, if it looks like trouble and it smells like trouble, you can bet there’s trouble afoot.

For instance, while there is certainly no shortage of foul-smelling government activities taking place right now, the one giving off the greatest stench is Jade Helm 15. This covert, multi-agency, multi-state, eight-week military training exercise is set to take place from July 15 through Sept. 15 in states across the American Southwest.

According to official government sources, “Jade Helm: Mastering the Human Domain” is a planned military exercise that will test and practice unconventional warfare including, but not limited to, guerrilla warfare, subversion, sabotage, intelligence activities, and unconventional assisted recovery. The training exercise will take place in seven different southwestern states: California, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Utah and Nevada.

U.S. Army Special Operations Command will primarily lead this interagency training program but the Navy Seals, Air Force Special Operations, Marine Special Operations Command, Marine Expeditionary Units, 82nd Airborne Division, and other interagency partners will also be involved. Approximately 1,200 troops are expected to participate in these exercises.

The training is known as Realistic Military Training because it will be conducted outside of federal property. The exercises are going to be carried out on both public and private land, with the military reportedly asking permission of local authorities and landowners prior to land usage. The military map listing the locations that will host the exercise shows Texas, Utah, and the southern part of California as “hostile territory.” According to U.S. officials, these three areas are marked as hostile to simulate environments where American troops are viewed as the enemy. The other areas on the map are marked as permissive, uncertain (leaning friendly), or uncertain (leaning hostile).

Military officials claim that the southwestern states were chosen because this exercise requires large areas of undeveloped land as well as access to towns and population hubs. These states purportedly also provide a climate and terrain that is similar to that of potential areas of combat for the United States, particularly Iraq, Iran and Syria.

Now the mainstream media has happily regurgitated the government’s official explanation about Jade Helm. However, there is a growing concern among those who are not overly worried about being labeled conspiratorialists or paranoid that the government is using Jade Helm as a cover to institute martial law, bring about total population control, or carry out greater surveillance on the citizenry.

In the first camp are those who fear that Jade Helm will usher in martial law. These individuals believe that by designating the two traditionally conservative and Republican-dominated states, Utah and Texas, as hostile territory, while more Democratic states like Colorado and California are marked as friendly, the military plans to infiltrate the states with large numbers of gun owners and attempt to disarm them.

Adding fuel to the fire is the mysterious and sudden temporary closures of five Walmart stores in Texas, California, Oklahoma and Florida, two of which are located near Jade Helm training sites. Those in this camp contend that the military is planning to use the Walmart stores as processing facilities for Americans once martial law is enacted.

Pointing to the mission’s official title, “Jade Helm: Mastering the Human Domain,” there is a second camp that fears that the military exercises are merely a means to an end—namely total population control—by allowing the military to discern between friendly civilians and hostiles. This concern is reinforced by military documents stating that a major portion of Jade Helm training will be about blending in with civilians, understanding how to work with civilians, using these civilians to find enemy combatants, and then neutralizing the target.

In this way, the United States military is effectively using psychological warfare to learn how people function and how to control them.

As a study written by military personnel states, mastering the human domain, also known as identity processes, means “use of enhanced capabilities to identify and classify the human domain; to determine whether they are adversarial, friendly, neutral, or unknown.” The study later states that identity processes can be used to “manage local populations during major combat, stability, and humanitarian assistance and/or disaster relief operations.”

While the military has promised that the work they are doing is aimed for use overseas, we have seen first-hand how quickly the military’s weapons and tactics used overseas are brought home to be used against the populace. In fact, some of the nation’s evolutionary psychologists, demographers, sociologists, historians and anthropologists have been working with the Department of Defense’s Minerva Initiative to master the human domain. This security research includes “Understanding the Origin, Characteristics, and Implications of Mass Political Movements” at the University of Washington and “Who Does Not Become a Terrorist and Why?” at the Naval Academy Post Graduate School. Both studies focus on Americans and the different movements and patterns that the government can track to ensure “safety and security.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is also working to infiltrate churches across the country to establish a Christian Emergency Network, carry out emergency training exercises to prevent and prepare for disasters (active shooter drills and natural disaster preparedness), and foster two-way information sharing, while at the same time instituting a media blackout of their activities. As the DHS continues to establish itself within churches, a growing number of churches are adopting facial recognition systems to survey their congregations, identify and track who attends their events, and target individuals for financial contributions or further monitoring. As the partnership between churches and the DHS grows, their facial recognition databases may be shared with the federal government, if that is not already happening.

Finally, there is the third camp which fears that Jade Helm is merely the first of many exercises to be incorporated into regular American life so that the government can watch, study, and better understand how to control the masses. Certainly, psychological control techniques could be used in the future to halt protests and ensure that the nation runs “smoothly.”

It remains to be seen whether Jade Helm 15 proves to be a thinly veiled military plot to take over the country (one lifted straight out of director John Frankenheimer’s 1964 political thriller Seven Days in May), turn the population into automatons and psychological experiments, or is merely a “routine” exercise for troops, albeit a blatantly intimidating flexing of the military’s muscles.

However, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the problem arises when you add Jade Helm to the list of other troubling developments that have taken place over the past 30 years or more: the expansion of the military industrial complex and its influence in Washington DC, the rampant surveillance, the corporate-funded elections and revolving door between lobbyists and elected officials, the militarized police, the loss of our freedoms, the injustice of the courts, the privatized prisons, the school lockdowns, the roadside strip searches, the military drills on domestic soil, the fusion centers and the simultaneous fusing of every branch of law enforcement (federal, state and local), the stockpiling of ammunition by various government agencies, the active shooter drills that are indistinguishable from actual crises, the economy flirting with near collapse, the growing social unrest, the socio-psychological experiments being carried out by government agencies, etc.

Suddenly, the overall picture seems that much more sinister. Clearly, there’s a larger agenda at work here, and it’s one the American people had better clue into before it’s too late to do anything about it.

Call me paranoid, but I think we’d better take James Madison’s advice and “take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties.”

– See more at: https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/jade_helm_terrorist_attacks_surveillance_and_other_fairy_tales_for_a_g#sthash.LGhKlYNH.dpuf

If the ‘product’ is wrong, a rebrand won’t help Israel

By Jonathan Cook
July 07, 2015
Jonathan Cook: the Blog from Nazareth

 

War Propaganda: Western Media, Not Israeli HasbaraThe Israeli government believes it is locked in an epic struggle to save Israel from the growing movement calling for an international boycott. Benjamin Netanyahu warns that Israel must “rebrand” itself to avoid pariah status. Ordinary Israelis are therefore being conscripted into an army of spin doctors in a campaign termed “hasbara” – Hebrew for “public diplomacy” or, most literally, propaganda.

In the latest offensive, the education ministry has launched a compulsory hasbara course for students travelling abroad. All youth delegations are now required to learn how to justify Israel’s policies in the occupied territories to outsiders. According to officials, the students must challenge those who “seek to delegitimise Israel”.

It is yet more evidence that hasbara has become a national obsession in Israel – and that the line between support for one’s country and support for the subjugation of another people has been erased.

Some 85 per cent of Israelis say they are keen to become hasbara ambassadors. A hasbara ministry already targets the international media with good news, while cultural events abroad, from food fairs to Israeli entries at film festivals, are designed to prove that Israel has another side.

For years the Israeli government has relied on paid workers – and thousands of volunteers – to surf the net posting pro-Israel comments. At Israel’s international airport, Israeli holidaymakers are offered brochures explaining the importance of persuading those they meet that Israel is misunderstood.

And yet the latest hasbara drive is unlikely to reverse Israel’s slow slide into ignominy.

The hasbara industry’s chief flaw, as Israeli political scientist Neve Gordon observes, is its assumption that “the merchandise is fine, and only the packaging needs to be replaced”.

But rapid developments in information technology mean Israel has less control over manipulating its image than ever before. First it was 24-hour news, then the internet. Now, smartphones make every Palestinian a potential documentary-maker, ensuring that moments of cruelty and oppression are captured and available for anyone who cares to look.

Palestinians post online videos of their everyday abuse: from demolition of homes to stone-throwers being shot with live ammunition.

Last week, Zaki Sabah, 56, a cake vendor in Jerusalem’s Old City, starred in one such video. Bystanders filmed him being savagely beaten by Israeli police on a busy road. Denied a permit for years by the occupation authorities, Sabah has been repeatedly fined and jailed.

Meanwhile, another video exposed Israel’s deceitful account of its supposedly peaceful interception of a boat trying to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. As more than a dozen passengers were held captive over the weekend, footage was smuggled out showing that Israeli commandos had electrocuted some of them with tasers.

Troubling imagery is not restricted to the occupied territories. Film of the charred interior of a historic church next to the Sea of Galilee highlighted last month the latest hate crime by Jewish extremists against Israel’s large Palestinian minority.

The futility of trying to stem the tide of evidence damning Israel on media old and new was exemplified last week by Moshe Yaalon, the defence minister.

“There is no humanitarian distress in Gaza,” he averred, while the media illustrated reports of his speech with pictures of mountains of rubble and children still homeless a year after Israel’s assault on the enclave.

Mr Yaalon’s sophistry may placate Israel’s supporters but the rest of us are more often incensed by such insults to our intelligence.

The hasbara offensive is doomed for another reason.

With the Palestinians’ case substantiated by evidence, rather than Israel’s, the evangelists of hasbara have only one recourse: to blame the messenger. Critics of Israel, it is implied, are either inveterate dupes or unabashed anti-semites. Either they have been deceived by the Israel-haters, or they are haters themselves.

As the hasbara industry moves into overdrive, such slurs are becoming common – including against those Israel needs to cultivate as allies.

Judith Nir Mozes, the wife of interior minister Silvan Shalom, himself a Netanyahu confidant, possibly reflected high-level thinking in Israel when she tweeted last month a racist “joke” about President Barack Obama. “Do u know what Obama Coffee is? Black and weak,” she wrote, ridiculing the leader of Israel’s most important ally.

Similarly, the Israeli foreign ministry mocked foreign journalists, even though they are hasbara’s target audience.

In a short animated video, a naive reporter is shown claiming that the people of Gaza simply want peace as militants fire rockets just behind him. Next the reporter misidentified Hamas’s tunnelling as the “first Palestinian subway system”. The video ends with a warning: “Open your eyes, terror rules Gaza.” The video has since been removed.

Michael Oren, Israel’s recently departed ambassador to the US, has joined the fray too, castigating American Jewish journalists as “self-haters”.

Hasbara’s cartoon version of reality is not only unconvincing but, in alienating friends as much as foes, self-defeating. Mr Netanyahu may hope to repackage Israel, but his product – continuing oppression of Palestinians – is one few can be persuaded to buy.

Study Shows U.S. Police Far More Concerned About “Anti-Government” Domestic Extremists than Al-Qaeda

By Michael Krieger
July 3, 2015
Liberty Blitzkrieg

 

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 2.43.11 PMU.S. law enforcement agencies rank the threat of violence from anti-government  extremists higher than the threat from radicalized Muslims, according to a report released Thursday by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security (TCTHS).

The report, “Law Enforcement Assessment of the Violent Extremism Threat,” was based on survey research by Charles Kurzman, professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and David Schanzer, director of TCTHS and associate professor of the practice at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

The survey — conducted by the center with the Police Executive Research Forum — found that 74 percent of 382 law enforcement agencies rated anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction. By comparison, 39 percent listed extremism connected with Al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist organizations as a Top 3 terrorist threat.

– From Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy

Since September 11, 2001, the frightened and emotionally pliable American public has gullibly relinquished its civil liberties and free heritage in order to allow the U.S. government to wage unaccountable and unconstitutional war again Al-Qaeda and radical Islamic terrorism across the world.

Many of us have warned for years, that preemptively giving up freedoms to protect freedom could only make sense to a propagandized, ignorant public completely clueless of human history. We warned that any totalitarian apparatus implemented to fight an outside enemy, would ultimately be turned around and used upon the public domestically. We already know this is happening with the NSA’s bulk spying and data collection, and we are starting to see a proliferation of the meme that “domestic extremists are more dangerous than Al-Qaeda,” spreading from the mouths of a corrupt and paranoid political class. I’ve covered this topic on several occasions, for example:

The “War on Terror” Turns Inward – DHS Report Warns of Right Wing Terror Threat

Eric Holder Announces Task Force to Focus on “Domestic Terrorists”

Rep. Steve Cohen Calls Tea Party Republicans “Domestic Enemies” on MSNBC

New Hampshire City Requests a Tank to Deal with “Domestic Terrorist” Groups Like Occupy Wall Street and Libertarians

It’s Official: The FBI Classifies Peaceful American Protestors as “Terrorists”

If all that’s not enough to convince you we’ve got a problem, I bring to you conclusions from the recently released study, “Law Enforcement Assessment of the Violent Extremism Threat.” This study was based on a survey conducted by Charles Kurzman and David Schanzer, who recently penned an op-ed in the New York Times. Here are some excerpts from their article:

In a survey we conducted with the Police Executive Research Forum last year of 382 law enforcement agencies, 74 percent reported anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction; 39 percent listed extremism connected with Al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist organizations. And only 3 percent identified the threat from Muslim extremists as severe, compared with 7 percent for anti-government and other forms of extremism.

The self-proclaimed Islamic State’s efforts to radicalize American Muslims, which began just after the survey ended, may have increased threat perceptions somewhat, but not by much, as we found in follow-up interviews over the past year with counterterrorism specialists at 19 law enforcement agencies. These officers, selected from urban and rural areas around the country, said that radicalization from the Middle East was a concern, but not as dangerous as radicalization among right-wing extremists.

Law enforcement agencies around the country are training their officers to recognize signs of anti-government extremism and to exercise caution during routine traffic stops, criminal investigations and other interactions with potential extremists. “The threat is real,” says the handout from one training program sponsored by the Department of Justice. Since 2000, the handout notes, 25 law enforcement officers have been killed by right-wing extremists, who share a “fear that government will confiscate firearms” and a “belief in the approaching collapse of government and the economy.”

Meanwhile, terrorism of all forms has accounted for a tiny proportion of violence in America. There have been more than 215,000 murders in the United States since 9/11. For every person killed by Muslim extremists, there have been 4,300 homicides from other threats.

Perhaps if the police didn’t harbor such negative thoughts about the general public, there wouldn’t be as many citizens killed by police. The recent tally is up to 463 killed so far in 2015, or an average of 2.5 Americans killed by police every day.

Finally, I came across the following excerpt from a recently published National Journal article:

Senate Democrats are calling for Congress to shift its focus from solely jihadist-fueled terrorism and hold hearings on the threats from domestic groups in upcoming weeks. And the Department of Justice has already opened up a domestic-terrorism investigation into the Charleston church shooting.

The real enemy of the corrupt corporate state is none other than, “we the people.”

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

The trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and the political issues surrounding the Boston Marathon bombing

By Nick Barrickman
July 2, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Dzhokhar TsarnaevDzokhar Tsarnaev, one of the perpetrators of the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, was sentenced to death on June 25 by federal judge George A. O’Toole. The formal sentencing followed the jury’s decision in the sentencing phase of the trial, announced May 15, to support the US Justice Department’s call for Tsarnaev to be executed.

On April 15, 2013, Tsarnaev and his older brother Tamerlan carried out the most deadly terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11, detonating pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in downtown Boston. Three people were killed and another 264 were wounded, many severely. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police in the early morning hours of April 19.

The ten-week trial was conducted in a manner to suppress critical facts and fundamental political issues surrounding the bombings. As with previous terror attacks on US soil, from the September 11, 2001 bombings in New York and Washington DC to the abortive attempt by a Nigerian terrorist to blow up a commercial jet over Detroit on Christmas Day, 2009, the Boston Marathon bombers were well known to American intelligence, national security and police agencies, which nevertheless allowed them to come and go as they pleased and carry out their criminal conspiracy.

And as in the previous cases, the Boston attack was used to justify massive violations of civil liberties and establish new precedents for the imposition of police state conditions.

The Obama administration seized on the Boston bombings to impose a de facto state of siege in the city of Boston and its environs for most of May 19, 2013. Millions of people in one of America’s major urban centers were ordered to “shelter in place” while military-armed SWAT teams conducted warrantless searches of entire city blocks.

Machine gun-mounted armored vehicles along with thousands of troops and police occupied the streets and Blackhawk helicopters hovered overhead, all ostensibly in the search for a single 19-year-old fugitive. Public transit, air travel and businesses were shut down and individuals who stepped outdoors were surrounded by heavily-armed police and “advised” to go home.

There was no significant protest from any section of the political or media establishment, or from academia, against this flagrant violation of the US Constitution and dry run for military dictatorship. Subsequent government and academic investigations hailed the official response to the bombings.

After the younger Tsarnaev was captured, the Obama administration waived the suspect’s Miranda rights, declaring that a public safety exemption (after state and local officials had announced that the public was in no danger) warranted prolonged police interrogation without the presence of a lawyer. Much of the federal prosecutors’ case against Tsarnaev was based on statements made by the defendant during this encounter.

The decision of the federal government to seek the death penalty was calculated to uphold the “right” of the state to kill and to reinforce the so-called “war on terror.” The decision was not based on popular sentiment. According to numerous opinion polls, a majority of residents of both Boston and the state of Massachusetts, which long ago abolished the death penalty for state trials, were opposed to executing Tsarnaev.

No accounting has ever been given to explain the government’s failure to heed numerous warnings about Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s links to Islamist terrorist groups in Chechnya and Dagestan fighting against Russian rule, or the many encounters between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Tamerlan and his family.

Facts that emerged following the Boston bombings that have since been buried by the media include:

  • In the summer of 2011, FBI officials initiated a threat assessment of Tamerlan Tsarnaev after receiving warnings from Russian intelligence officials of links between the elder Tsarnaev brother and Chechen terrorists. For several months, authorities monitored Tsarnaev’s telephone and Internet communications and conducted interviews with the suspect and his family.
  • Despite this, the security threat assessment was closed in late 2011, with FBI agents claiming no “derogatory” information could be found about Tsarnaev.
  • The FBI now alleges that during this period, Tamerlan Tsarnaev participated in a brutal triple homicide in the Boston suburb of Waltham on the ten-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Three Jewish men, including the suspect’s “best friend,” were murdered in the incident.
  • In November 2011, after further warnings from Russian and Saudi officials about Tsarnaev, Tamerlan was placed on a federal “no fly” list, with instructions to “Detain, [isolate] and immediately call the lookout duty officer at NTC [National Counter-Terrorism Center],” should he attempt to leave the country. Officials at the CIA have admitted receiving similar warnings.
  • Nevertheless, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was allowed to board a flight to Russia in early 2012, without being detained or questioned. He spent over six months attempting to link up with Islamic extremist and anti-Russian separatist movements in the Northern Caucasus region of Dagestan.
  • After returning to the US from his trip to Dagestan, without being stopped or questioned at the airport, Tsarnaev became more pronounced in his sympathies toward radical Islam, publicly denouncing lecturers at his local Boston mosque for being pro-US and frequenting jihadist Internet web sites.

Despite this, in the run-up to the Boston Marathon, an event that attracts tens of thousands of visitors, no efforts were made by the FBI to notify local law enforcement of the Tsarnaevs’ existence.

Attempts made last year by Tsarnaev’s defense team to obtain documents proving that the FBI sought to recruit the older Tsarnaev brother as an informer within the Muslim community, claiming such visits may have influenced the older brother to carry out an attack, were rebuffed in court. A second request made by lawyers in late 2014 to gain access to information pertaining to Tamerlan’s involvement in the triple homicide in Waltham was similarly denied.

Information pertaining to the May 22, 2013 FBI killing of key Marathon bombing witness Ibragim Todashev, an ethnic Chechen and acquaintance of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, has been suppressed. Todashev, who has been posthumously implicated along with Tsarnaev in the 2011 Waltham killings, was shot to death while being interrogated by Boston-based FBI officials and local police at his Florida residence. Several acquaintances of the Tsarnaevs and Todashev have since been deported or imprisoned.

The ties between the Boston Marathon bombers and US intelligence extend to family members of the Tsarnaevs. Ruslan Tsarni, the uncle of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan, at one time headed a group called the Congress of Chechen International Organizations, which supplied anti-Russian rebels fighting in the Caucasus with military equipment. The organization was run from the suburban Maryland home of former National Intelligence Council Vice Chairman Graham Fuller, Tsarni’s then-father-in-law. Fuller served as the CIA station chief in Kabul, Afghanistan during the 1980s, supplying anti-Russian Islamists with equipment to fight the Soviet-aligned Afghan government.

US Justice Department finds that police provoked unrest in Ferguson

By Kevin Martinez
July 3, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Capitalism3On Monday, the US Justice Department released a report detailing the official police response to the protests last year in Ferguson, Missouri following the police killing of Michael Brown. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the report documents how inappropriate military and police tactics alienated and provoked the crowd of peaceful protesters into violent confrontation. The limited rioting and looting, universally denounced and vilified in the corporate media, was in effect, incited by the police.

The summary of the report states, “Had law enforcement released information on the officer-involved shooting in a timely manner and continued the information flow as it became available, community distrust and media skepticism would most likely have been lessened.” The report documents the 16 days following the August 9, 2014 shooting of Brown by police officer Darren Wilson and the “highly elevated tactical response” on the part of 50 different police departments. The findings hardly justify the disproportionate use of paramilitary tactics against unarmed civilians exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly.

The report stated that the use of police dogs “exacerbated tensions by unnecessarily inciting fear and anger among amassing crowds.” Tear gas was used inappropriately, “without proper warning, without sufficient attention paid to egress, and without consideration given to environmental conditions.”

Throughout the ensuing protests, citizens were told to “keep moving” by police. According to the report, these “vague and arbitrary” orders “violated citizens’ rights to assembly and free speech, as determined by a U.S. federal court injunction.”

From the standpoint of the Obama administration, which was coordinating the crackdown in Ferguson from the beginning, the report serves as a guidebook to preparing for unrest in the future. That is why, despite the brazen, unconstitutional tactics deployed by Ferguson police, there will be no accountability for the actions taken. Nevertheless, the report is a damning indictment of the authorities.

The report states that the various police agencies who responded to the protests were trained “on operational and tactical skills without appropriate balance of de-escalation and problem-solving training.” Snipers who fixed their scopes on unarmed civilians “exacerbate(d) tensions between protesters and police.” Moreover the military show of force was “not justified and served to escalate rather than de-escalate the overall situation.”

The lack of citizen complaints during the time period assessed by the report was “misleading” because, “a lack of confidence in the complaint process likely deterred citizens from filing complaints about police behavior.”

The report was addressed to the 50 police departments that were involved in repressing protesters in Ferguson. St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson declined to comment as did the Missouri Department of Public Safety, which oversees the Highway Patrol. Dotson told the Post-Dispatch that he had asked officials from the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) what was the best way to handle such protests. “I was told, ‘There are none, you are forging new ground.’”

The report is addressed to inappropriate actions and not individuals and stresses the need for law enforcement to better coordinate in the future as well as provide recommendations that better suppress social opposition while utilizing military gear in a more effective way. Thus it faults the “ineffective” training given to police and the failure in traffic control which supposedly presented “tactical advantages to the protesters and activists and safety hazards to the deployed officers.”

Further, the police “underestimated” social media and hacks of police computers which led to threats and the theft of some officers’ identities. This, in turn, led to some officers removing their name tags at the protests, which, the report says, “defeated an essential level of on-scene accountability that is fundamental to the perception of procedural justice and legitimacy.”

Many of the recommendations included in the report are significant in that they change nothing aside from placing the paramilitary SWAT teams in a somewhat lower profile. These include: possible color-coding of non-lethal weapons for officer and civilian clarification, “officers wearing defensive and tactical equipment should be staged out of sight during peaceful demonstrations,” and “armored vehicles should not be visible to protesters except in narrowly defined circumstances, for example when shots are fired and in some active shooter situations.”

Despite the Obama administration’s feigned appearance of sympathy, or at least neutrality, when it came to the protests in Ferguson and Baltimore, it has been complicit in the whole affair. Much of the military equipment used by Ferguson police was paid for by federal counterterrorism grants, which have been freely given to police nationwide since the start of the so-called war on terror.

Moreover, this is the third Justice Department report which, despite documenting rampant criminal behavior on the part of police, metes out absolutely zero punishments. The first report was the decision not to bring federal civil rights charges against Darren Wilson for murdering Michael Brown, and the second was a review of the Ferguson Police Department, which was found to have systematically violated its citizens constitutional and human rights on a daily basis.

The Emergence of Orwellian Newspeak and the Death of Free Speech

By John W. Whitehead
July 02, 2015
The Rutherford Institute, June 29, 2015

“If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it…. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change.” ― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

How do you change the way people think? You start by changing the words they use.

In totalitarian regimes—a.k.a. police states—where conformity and compliance are enforced at the end of a loaded gun, the government dictates what words can and cannot be used. In countries where the police state hides behind a benevolent mask and disguises itself as tolerance, the citizens censor themselves, policing their words and thoughts to conform to the dictates of the mass mind.

Even when the motives behind this rigidly calibrated reorientation of societal language appear well-intentioned—discouraging racism, condemning violence, denouncing discrimination and hatred—inevitably, the end result is the same: intolerance, indoctrination and infantilism.

It’s political correctness disguised as tolerance, civility and love, but what it really amounts to is the chilling of free speech and the demonizing of viewpoints that run counter to the cultural elite.

As a society, we’ve become fearfully polite, careful to avoid offense, and largely unwilling to be labeled intolerant, hateful, closed-minded or any of the other toxic labels that carry a badge of shame today. The result is a nation where no one says what they really think anymore, at least if it runs counter to the prevailing views. Intolerance is the new scarlet letter of our day, a badge to be worn in shame and humiliation, deserving of society’s fear, loathing and utter banishment from society.

For those “haters” who dare to voice a different opinion, retribution is swift: they will be shamed, shouted down, silenced, censored, fired, cast out and generally relegated to the dust heap of ignorant, mean-spirited bullies who are guilty of various “word crimes.”

We have entered a new age where, as commentator Mark Steyn notes, “we have to tiptoe around on ever thinner eggshells” and “the forces of ‘tolerance’ are intolerant of anything less than full-blown celebratory approval.”

In such a climate of intolerance, there can be no freedom speech, expression or thought.

Yet what the forces of political correctness fail to realize is that they owe a debt to the so-called “haters” who have kept the First Amendment robust. From swastika-wearing Neo-Nazis marching through Skokie, Illinois, and underaged cross burners to “God hates fags” protesters assembled near military funerals, those who have inadvertently done the most to preserve the right to freedom of speech for all have espoused views that were downright unpopular, if not hateful.

Until recently, the U.S. Supreme Court has reiterated that the First Amendment prevents the government from proscribing speech, or even expressive conduct, because it disapproves of the ideas expressed. However, that long-vaunted, Court-enforced tolerance for “intolerant” speech has now given way to a paradigm in which the government can discriminate freely against First Amendment activity that takes place within a government forum. Justifying such discrimination as “government speech,” the Court ruled that the Texas Dept. of Motor Vehicles could refuse to issue specialty license plate designs featuring a Confederate battle flag. Why? Because it was deemed offensive.

The Court’s ruling came on the heels of a shooting in which a 21-year-old white gunman killed nine African-Americans during a Wednesday night Bible study at a church in Charleston, N.C. The two events, coupled with the fact that gunman Dylann Roof was reportedly pictured on several social media sites with a Confederate flag, have resulted in an emotionally charged stampede to sanitize the nation’s public places of anything that smacks of racism, starting with the Confederate flag and ballooning into a list that includes the removal of various Civil War monuments.

These tactics are nothing new. This nation, birthed from puritanical roots, has always struggled to balance its love of liberty with its moralistic need to censor books, music, art, language, symbols etc. As author Ray Bradbury notes, “There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.”

Indeed, thanks to the rise of political correctness, the population of book burners, censors, and judges has greatly expanded over the years so that they run the gamut from left-leaning to right-leaning and everything in between. By eliminating words, phrases and symbols from public discourse, the powers-that-be are sowing hate, distrust and paranoia. In this way, by bottling up dissent, they are creating a pressure cooker of stifled misery that will eventually blow.

For instance, the word “Christmas” is now taboo in the public schools, as is the word “gun.” Even childish drawings of soldiers result in detention or suspension under rigid zero tolerance policies. On college campuses, trigger warnings are being used to alert students to any material they might read, see or hear that might upset them, while free speech zones restrict anyone wishing to communicate a particular viewpoint to a specially designated area on campus. Things have gotten so bad that comedians such as Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld refuse to perform stand-up routines to college crowds anymore.

Clearly, the country is undergoing a nervous breakdown, and the news media is helping to push us to the brink of insanity by bombarding us with wall-to-wall news coverage and news cycles that change every few days.

In this way, it’s difficult to think or debate, let alone stay focused on one thing—namely, holding the government accountable to abiding by the rule of law—and the powers-that-be understand this.

As I document in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, regularly scheduled trivia and/or distractions keep the citizenry tuned into the various breaking news headlines and entertainment spectacles and tuned out to the government’s steady encroachments on our freedoms. These sleight-of-hand distractions and diversions are how you control a population, either inadvertently or intentionally, advancing a political agenda agenda without much opposition from the citizenry.

Professor Jacques Ellul studied this phenomenon of overwhelming news, short memories and the use of propaganda to advance hidden agendas. “One thought drives away another; old facts are chased by new ones,” wrote Ellul.

Under these conditions there can be no thought. And, in fact, modern man does not think about current problems; he feels them. He reacts, but he does not understand them any more than he takes responsibility for them. He is even less capable of spotting any inconsistency between successive facts; man’s capacity to forget is unlimited. This is one of the most important and useful points for the propagandists, who can always be sure that a particular propaganda theme, statement, or event will be forgotten within a few weeks.

Already, the outrage over the Charleston shooting and racism are fading from the news headlines, yet the determination to censor the Confederate symbol remains. Before long, we will censor it from our thoughts, sanitize it from our history books, and eradicate it from our monuments without even recalling why. The question, of course, is what’s next on the list to be banned?

It was for the sake of preserving individuality and independence that James Madison, the author of the Bill of Rights, fought for a First Amendment that protected the “minority” against the majority, ensuring that even in the face of overwhelming pressure, a minority of one—even one who espouses distasteful viewpoints—would still have the right to speak freely, pray freely, assemble freely, challenge the government freely, and broadcast his views in the press freely.

This freedom for those in the unpopular minority constitutes the ultimate tolerance in a free society. Conversely, when we fail to abide by Madison’s dictates about greater tolerance for all viewpoints, no matter how distasteful, the end result is always the same: an indoctrinated, infantilized citizenry that marches in lockstep with the governmental regime.

Some of this past century’s greatest dystopian literature shows what happens when the populace is transformed into mindless automatons. In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, reading is banned and books are burned in order to suppress dissenting ideas, while televised entertainment is used to anesthetize the populace and render them easily pacified, distracted and controlled.

In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, serious literature, scientific thinking and experimentation are banned as subversive, while critical thinking is discouraged through the use of conditioning, social taboos and inferior education. Likewise, expressions of individuality, independence and morality are viewed as vulgar and abnormal.

And in George Orwell’s 1984, Big Brother does away with all undesirable and unnecessary words and meanings, even going so far as to routinely rewrite history and punish “thoughtcrimes.” In this dystopian vision of the future, the Thought Police serve as the eyes and ears of Big Brother, while the Ministry of Peace deals with war and defense, the Ministry of Plenty deals with economic affairs (rationing and starvation), the Ministry of Love deals with law and order (torture and brainwashing), and the Ministry of Truth deals with news, entertainment, education and art (propaganda). The mottos of Oceania: WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

All three—Bradbury, Huxley and Orwell—had an uncanny knack for realizing the future, yet it is Orwell who best understood the power of language to manipulate the masses. Orwell’s Big Brother relied on Newspeak to eliminate undesirable words, strip such words as remained of unorthodox meanings and make independent, non-government-approved thought altogether unnecessary. To give a single example, as psychologist Erich Fromm illustrates in his afterword to 1984:

The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such statements as “This dog is free from lice” or “This field is free from weeds.” It could not be used in its old sense of “politically free” or “intellectually free,” since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed as concepts….

Where we stand now is at the juncture of OldSpeak (where words have meanings, and ideas can be dangerous) and Newspeak (where only that which is “safe” and “accepted” by the majority is permitted). The power elite has made their intentions clear: they will pursue and prosecute any and all words, thoughts and expressions that challenge their authority.

This is the final link in the police state chain.

Having been reduced to a cowering citizenry—mute in the face of elected officials who refuse to represent us, helpless in the face of police brutality, powerless in the face of militarized tactics and technology that treat us like enemy combatants on a battlefield, and naked in the face of government surveillance that sees and hears all—we have nowhere left to go. Our backs are to the walls. From this point on, we have only two options: go down fighting, or capitulate and betray our loved ones, our friends and our selves by insisting that, as a brainwashed Winston Smith does at the end of Orwell’s 1984, yes, 2+2 does equal 5.

– See more at: https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/the_emergence_of_orwellian_newspeak_and_the_death_of_free_speech#sthash.TzikVABy.dpuf

The West Has Normalised Racist Wars – But You Can’t Solve Complex Problems With 1,000lb Bombs

‘Radicalisation’ is our new dirty word in the US and UK, yet radical change is needed. Here’s an idea: stop trying to fix the world with high explosives

By Frankie Boyle
July 01, 2015
Information Clearing House

 

31eae-hateflagJune 30, 2015 “Information Clearing House” – “The Guardian” – I suppose that whether this article prompted by the Charleston shootings feels topical enough will depend on whether America has another mass shooting before it goes to print. If you’re in the US, there’s a fair chance it will seem dated because you are actually being gunned down as you read it, so I’ll try to get straight to the point. It’s surely worth wondering whether it’s time to retire the flag that has for so long been a rallying point for racists and murderers, the stars and stripes. There’s a genuine question to be asked here: what responsibility does the US state bear for the Charleston shootings when racist murder seems to be part of its policing strategy and most of its foreign policy?

Occasionally I wonder whether at some point in the past 100 years the US gave the rest of the world a safe word and we’ve simply forgotten it. Or maybe we’re just saying it wrong (Aluminium? I’m sure you said it was aluminium …) Hillary Clinton has been speaking out against the “racist terrorism” of Dylann Roof despite being the architect of the US military intervention in Libya. The US’s record of invasions, assassinations and government overthrows is racist, I think. Imagining that you can kill people and seize control of their resources without believing them to be inferior requires a certain amount of intellectual flexibility. The same sort of intellectual flexibility that allows people to express grief for the migrants who drown in the Mediterranean and hatred for the ones who survive.

Part of the American mindset comes from the fact that the US was formed through the racist murder of indigenous people. The reason that whole country is such a horror story is that the entire thing is built on an Old Indian Graveyard. I worry that perhaps white America wants to believe that its racial fault lines only run as deep as the Confederate flag. Hence the current uproar at names of southern civil-war generals being on street signs while the faces of slave owners are still on the currency.

Of course not everybody gets behind the US’s view of itself, which is why it is the world’s largest producer of propaganda. Last year’s biggest movie, American Sniper, was billed as the story of the US army’s deadliest soldier, which must have felt pretty galling for the guy who dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. It was basically Star Wars from the point of view of one of the stormtroopers, and the director (Clint Eastwood – I’m not even joking) encouraged us to get behind the idea that you should take moral decisions when women and children are in your crosshairs, rather than long, long before. You got the feeling that the clunky scene explaining that sniper Chris Kyle’s unit painted skulls on their gear as a tribute to the Punisher was necessary in case viewers made the more logical supposition that it was a tribute to the Waffen-SS.

There are many indicators of advanced civilisations, but unthinking hero worship of the military isn’t one of them. The US, like the UK, has been forced to move away from a conscription army and now has a mercenary army. It’s the reason you don’t get war poets any more.

Indeed, before Britain feels too superior, we should perhaps remember that Roof’s main problem here would have been feeling torn between quite a few of the main parties at the last election. We live in a country where posting “Let’s riot or something bruv!” on Facebook will get you a couple of years in prison, while writing a column saying we should bomb Syria is practically an entrance exam for public intellectuals. Of course, it’s never phrased as a plea to kill shepherds in pursuit of our geopolitical interests. By the time it hits the broadsheets, it’s a plea to arm moderate rebels (they’ve got a moderate vision of the country’s future and they’re going to kill until they get it!). It’s a humanitarian intervention. We’re not fighting wars for control of resources. We’re not the aggressor in countries such as Iraq, we’re actually defending Iraq. From the Iraqis. The most obvious anti-war argument that none of this has ever worked just doesn’t seem to come up.

Of course our governments are just trying to protect us from terror. In the same way that someone banging a hornets’ nest with a stick is trying to protect us from hornets. Maybe I’ll even give them the benefit of the doubt and concede that they are just naive do-gooders trying to bring the world peace and stability through the medium of high explosives. What gets me is that the new dirty word in the west is “radicalisation”, as if radical change wasn’t obviously needed; as if the status quo has any decency, or is even survivable. It’s not actually difficult to see solutions to the US’s problems: children can do it, until we educate them out of it. Internationally, I propose the radical step of not trying to solve complex political problems with 1,000lb bombs; domestically, I propose they start addressing inequality by paying reparations for slavery. I’m well aware that in a society where war and discrimination are now almost entirely normalised, both options sound like madness.

 

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