SM REPOST: EDITORIAL:U.S. must stop spying on WikiLeaks

Just spotted this over at the Wikileaks website.

Fri Mar 26 08:44:46 UTC 2010

Over the last few years, WikiLeaks has been the subject of hostile acts by security organizations. In the developing world, these range from the appalling assassination of two related human rights lawyers in Nairobi last March (an armed attack on my compound there in 2007 is still unattributed) to an unsuccessful mass attack by Chinese computers on our servers in Stockholm, after we published photos of murders in Tibet. In the West this has ranged from the overt, the head of Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, threatening to prosecute us unless we removed a report on CIA activity in Kosovo, to the covert, to an ambush by a “James Bond” character in a Luxembourg car park, an event that ended with a mere “we think it would be in your interest to…”.

Developing world violence aside, we’ve become used to the level of security service interest in us and have established procedures to ignore that interest.

But the increase in surveillance activities this last month, in a time when we are barely publishing due to fundraising, are excessive. Some of the new interest is related to a film exposing a U.S. massacre we will release at the U.S. National Press Club on April 5.

The spying includes attempted covert following, photographng, filming and the overt detention & questioning of a WikiLeaks’ volunteer in Iceland on Monday night.

I, and others were in Iceland to advise Icelandic parliamentarians on the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, a new package of laws designed to protect investigative journalists and internet services from spying and censorship. As such, the spying has an extra poignancy.

The possible triggers:

* our ongoing work on a classified film revealing civilian casualties occurring under the command of the U.S, general, David Petraeus.
* our release of a classified 32 page US intelligence report on how to fatally marginalize WikiLeaks (expose our sources, destroy our reputation for integrity, hack us).
* our release of a classified cable from the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik reporting on contact between the U.S. and the U.K. over billions of euros in claimed loan guarantees.
* pending releases related to the collapse of the Icelandic banks and Icelandic “oligarchs”.

We have discovered half a dozen attempts at covert surveillance in Reykjavik both by native English speakers and Icelanders. On the occasions where these individuals were approached, they ran away. One had marked police equipment and the license plates for another suspicious vehicle track back to the Icelandic private VIP bodyguard firm Terr. What does that mean? We don’t know. But as you will see, other events are clear.

U.S. sources told Icelandic state media’s deputy head of news, that the State Department was aggressively investigating a leak from the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik. I was seen at a private U.S Embassy party at the Ambassador’s residence, late last year and it is known I had contact with Embassay staff, after.

On Thursday March 18, 2010, I took the 2.15 PM flight out of Reykjavik to Copenhagen–on the way to speak at the SKUP investigative journalism conference in Norway. After receiving a tip, we obtained airline records for the flght concerned. Two individuals, recorded as brandishing diplomatic credentials checked in for my flight at 12:03 and 12:06 under the name of “US State Department”. The two are not recorded as having any luggage.

Iceland doesn’t have a separate security service. It folds its intelligence function into its police forces, leading to an uneasy overlap of policing and intelligence functions and values.

On Monday 22, March, at approximately 8.30pm, a WikiLeaks volunteer, a minor, was detained by Icelandic police on a wholly insignificant matter. Police then took the opportunity to hold the youth over night, without charge–a highly unusual act in Iceland. The next day, during the course of interrogation, the volunteer was shown covert photos of me outside the Reykjavik restaurant “Icelandic Fish & Chips”, where a WikiLeaks production meeting took place on Wednesday March 17–the day before individuals operating under the name of the U.S. State Department boarded my flight to Copenhagen.

Our production meeting used a discreet, closed, backroom, because we were working on the analysis of a classified U.S. military video showing civilian kills by U.S. pilots. During the interrogation, a specific reference was made by police to the video—which could not have been understood from that day’s exterior surveillance alone. Another specific reference was made to “important”, but unnamed Icelandic figures. References were also made to the names of two senior journalists at the production meeting.

Who are the Icelandic security services loyal to in their values? The new government of April 2009, the old pro-Iraq war government of the Independence party, or perhaps to their personal relationships with peers from another country who have them on a permanment intelligence information drip?

Only a few years ago, Icelandic airspace was used for CIA rendition flights. Why did the CIA think that this was acceptable? In a classified U.S. profile on the former Icelandic Ambassador to the United States, obtained by WikiLeaks, the Ambassador is praised for helping to quell publicity of the CIA’s activities.

Often when a bold new government arises, bureaucratic institutions remain loyal to the old regime and it can take time to change the guard. Former regime loyalists must be discovered, dissuaded and removed. But for the security services, that first vital step, discovery, is awry. Congenitally scared of the light, such services hide their activities; if it is not known what security services are doing, then it is surely impossible to know who they are doing it for.

Our plans to release the video on April 5 proceed.

We have asked relevant authorities in the Unites States and Iceland to explain. If these countries are to be treated as legitmate states, they need to start obeying the rule of law. Now.

—Julian Assange ([email protected])

The Yes Men – Fix The World

The Modern Anti-War Movement: A Photojournalism Essay

I have listened to various activists describe the goals of Camp Out Now with various degrees of ambition. Only able to obtain permits the day before the event was to begin, they appear to hold in their tents limited supplies of food for the purposes of day living, but the legality of actually sleeping outside on The Mall remains at contention. Pictured at the foot of the Washington Monument are markers representative of some Iraqi and U.S. casualties of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Unknown protester sitting down in the “Postcard zone.”


Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son, Casey, in Iraq in 2004, immediately following her arrest attributed her decision to lay down in the verboten “Postcard zone” as wishing to express solidarity with the also-arrested fellow military mom and anti-war protester Elaine Brower.

After the protesters start laying down in the “Postcard zone,” D.C. police approaching the White House back lawn from the east.


One particular group, We Are Change Pittsburgh, was upbraiding the direction of the rest of the protesters, cautioning them as to the likelihood of World Trade Center 7, for example, having been wrapped with nano-thermite. When I noticed that one of protesters in that group was sporting one of the “Ron Paul ReLOVEution” shirts, I asked him about why he would support Paul if the representative would say he didn’t think that the buildings’ falls were controlled demolitions. He replied to the effect that Paul knew those demolitions to be the truth, but simply had to deny such knowledge in the practical interest of keeping his congressional seat.

Some part of me wants to scoff at this, but the truth is that most Americans have come to consistently expect their candidates of choice to compromise on absolute facts and all-important truths easily as pertinent as who is in fact killing citizens by the thousands in the streets in broad daylight.



I guess in contrast to all of the self-described communists and socialists running around the protest, there were ”freeper”-flavored counterprotesters of sorts, but they never really got much argument because most of the people there didn’t arrive to discuss health-care legislation or ending the Federal Reserve.


Praying for her enemies, but apparently not hard enough to put down the Starbucks.

Considering the regularity at which NATO members are dying along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, I was a little amazed that the degree of passionate counterprotest seemed to be limited to the case of this heckler of Debra Sweet, an executive at World Can’t Wait, an organization pushing as hard as any for the prosecution of the George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. The heckler seemed to semi-seriously believe that Sweet’s indictments of Bush were a celebration of feticide. Stepping in front of Sweet’s bullhorn, she complained that someone was bullhorning in her ear. Behind Sweet, she would attempt to dangle a crucifix in Sweet’s face as she spoke. What’s kind of startling about this counterprotester is her indignation at someone making it the priority to complain about the death of some foreigner’s wantedchild, as opposed to the death of an American fetus whose mother chose not to bring him or her to term.

I still can’t figure out what the implication was with the Ameri-clowns, one of whom is sporting dog tags. Again, I guess I could have asked. But what’s the purpose of going this far at a political rally if the average person can’t immediately get your point? With so much to see, I just wasn’t satisfied that these women would have a worthy-enough explanation for putting on white face and red wigs.

And, no, they’re not Obama-is-a-death-socialist counterprotesters. That one on the right has a socialist newspaper in her pocket.



A typically flamboyant Code Pink protester, who is on roller skates, sadly not in the frame. He whizzed by me, making the crashing and exploding noise of a Hellfire missile, said, “Sorry, here’s $2,000,” and then sped away in a giddy, albeit embittered fervor.

Juan Torres recently assisted in the production of a documentary about his son, whose superior officers, he has claimed for years, framed him for suicide in order to silence allegations of black-market inner-military opiate trading out of Afghanistan.



At the advent of the Iraq War, you might have recalled hearing former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld praise the humanity of surgical-strike smart bombs.

Former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader approached the podium, and asserted there to be no meaningful difference between the Obama and Bush II presidencies with regard to Iraq policy.


It’s hard to know for sure just how effective government mind control techniques have gotten, but, insofar as they have driven someone to put on a Klan hood, call the impression “rapist of humanity,” and obliquely Bible verses on bed sheets, there is clearly plenty of room for concern.


Here’s an illustration of the fear of domestically-staged psychological operations in the wake of both 9/11 and the anthrax attacks, the latter of which Senator Patrick Leahy (D-MD) has communicated he considers at least partly unsolved.



Former attorney general and Saddam Hussein counsel Ramsey Clark speaking to Al-Jazeera.

I pride myself on my understanding of conspiracy theories, why people start the likely and unlikely ones, and why people got mixed up in historical conspiracies. But this guy was a bit of a head scratcher, even for me. Asked his poster, “Who burned Pentagon & WTC on 911?” The not-even-a-U.S.-senator “Barrack” Obama and Marion Barry, it asserts. Cryptically, the artist added, “Cocaine, e.t.c. (sic).” Setting aside the remote possibility that he viewed the cocaine as having set Mayor Barry into some super strength-bestowing ego rage, we can presume that he takes Barry’s cocaine use as an indicator of some deeper mass-murdering instincts. We’ve all heard the conjecture about Mossad, but what’s up with Specter here? I wasn’t careful enough to take the time to ask this guy questions, but it looks like the now-junior Pennsylvania senator is still taking some blowback from the Magic Bullet theory.

In the interest of time, I’ll have to leave it to others to speculate on former Representative Benjamin Gilman’s role in 9/11. Or scripture’s for that matter.






On Saturday, anti-war protesters heeded the ANSWER Coalition’s call for public grievance regarding the continued U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. While not nearly as epic as the protests in, say, 2007 that attracted hundreds of thousands in the run-up to the surge, attendees represented a dedicated core, gathering in Lafayette Square just behind the White House. Disturbingly, one Iraq War veteran to whom I spoke, Geoff Millard, claimed that the main reason for the lower attendance is the substantially decreased economic means of most Americans relative to three years ago to even make a day trip to Washington, D.C.





Early in the day, members of Iraq Veterans Against The War (IVAW)would attempt to lay down a mud stencil in the so-called “Postcard Zone” in front of the White House, the area where everyone goes to get their picture taken.

Shantelle Bateman, a woman who was in Iraq for seven months starting in August 2004, was one of the people preparing to lay down a mud stencil with fellow members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Police spoke to the group’s police liaison. “They communicated to her,” said Ms. Bateman, “that what were about to do was illegal, citing something about a police – some D.C. case where a man was chalking on the sidewalk, and D.C. decided that it was legal (sic\illegal). Although, this is federal property. They didn’t discuss any of that at all. But, in any event, they told us that we had to cease and desist. We – but before that while our police liaison was talking to the police, usually what we do is we carry on with our action until the police liaison settles it. So we laid down the stencil, anyway, and we’re going to do what we‘re going to do. But then we decided to gather up, and decided to just stand there. And that’s when they called the – then decided to close the sidewalk.”

Although not initially citing a specific legal code, police limited access to a certain stretch of that sidewalk in front of the White House, but only to overt protesters, the people carrying signs. In view of the police and until that time from which the protesters had returned from a loop through downtown D.C., tourists were walking freely where the police would not allow protesters. Later in the day, White House police would cite D.C. Code 22-3312.01, a law against defacing public property whose spirit is in saving the district clean-up costs.


At around 11 a.m., people were making preparations assembling prop coffins draped with Iraqi, American and Afghan flags. This type of exercise is a reference to long years of body counts being hidden away either in photograph or downplayed just in word. Those coffins would play no bit part in the protest that would ensue over the next evening.

Ever since presidents have been able to send soldiers into battle for 90 days without necessarily having congressional approval, there’s been a curious shell game afoot. Essentially, if you’re trying to impress these protesters by being an anti-war candidate, you’re left in the bizarre position of having some question your base patriotism if you don’t fund military operations. (Of course, I’m talking about John Kerry here, but the rules still apply.) If you defund, the opponents accuse you of “not supporting the troops,” regardless of how the troops feel about the operation, anyway. In this way, self-described pro-war and anti-war politicians alike can successfully transfer policy responsibility off of themselves. The policy crisis is obvious. It’s one of the main reasons why Representative Patrick Kennedy has been shouting in agony on the floor of the House in recent weeks. Meanwhile, try to blame a soldier, and naturally he or she will point to the people issuing the marching orders. And why not?

In response to my stating this line of jaded reasoning, Ms. Bateman said, “I mean, personally, I have more loyalty to my ethics and my values than I do to any fucking party or movement or wing or whatever. And what brought me to this place to join IVAW was a look at what my personal role and my personal responsibility is and not just, like, the war that I participated in, but my world in general, and decided to do something about it and to do something different. And I think that individuals need to take that responsibility in the collective, you know. And I don’t think that we do that. It’s a big transfer of who did what to who and whose fault it is. We’re all responsible. Everyone is responsible. Congress is responsible. I am responsible. You are responsible. Anyone who will hear this is responsible. And until you identify and accept that and deal with it, that’s where – here’s where we’ll be.”

While the headlining causes were the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan and Iraq, Palestinian rights groups also figured heavily into the event, which had approximately 6,000 attendees at its peak.

Protesters, however, did not heavily emphasize in their signs or clothing the movement to secure reparations for the former slave colony of Haiti, which, while able to secure sovereignty through violent revolution, were stuck for decade after decade actually having to slowly buy their corporal autonomy from their ancestors’ kidnappers, the French, in the process acceding to picking off the natural resources that might have more easily sustained the island nation’s population.

And this is where the protest really lost a lot of the immediacy perhaps it could have claimed, since Haiti is one of the worst casualties of the brand of colonialism ANSWER’s biggest signs and themes alluded to in Iraq and Afghanistan. That sort of talk has set the stage for apologists talking about how relatively nice the use of drones is.

Near the end of the afternoon, some protesters began stacking the cardboard coffins against the White House fence, and then laying down next to the coffins. This is what would initiate eight arrests.



Blow The Man Down: The Reputational Suicide of Representative Eric Massa (D-NY)

All while painting the pugnacious White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s lobbying efforts as bullying, over the past few days, Eric Massa made good on his promises to not leave his seat quietly, and conducted a series of mind-boggling media appearances. Mr. Massa, in explaining his resignation, cited a cancer diagnosis and political pressure to vote for health-care legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, along with aides’ harassment accusations.

There need not have been any “gotcha” questions. There need not have been any surprise witnesses or mere third parties to decimate the former representative’s reputation. Mr. Massa appeared to be making a desperate, transparent pitch at appearing definitely not homosexual.

In the audio clip from March 8 below, former Rep. Massa, while claiming that he was trying to make the radio show as family-oriented as possible, entered into anecdotes about his Navy days not so much as alarming, but striking for their total lack of necessity in safely contextualizing his resignation and aides’ accusations of physical and verbal abuse. Whatever one concludes about early ‘80s Navy hazing rituals, the truly bizarre implication is that, because these rituals were practiced among men living and working an environment of (ostensibly) enforced heterosexuality, somewhat similar practices are somehow less undesirable in the confines of Capitol offices, which the popular imagination holds are highly formal settings.

Over the last couple of days, media analysts have been pounding their heads trying to make heads or tails of his volunteering information about the hazing rituals, specifically running naked men through trash or having them stick their faces in the crotches of superiors. The representative would then disclose a tactless anecdote about having offered in jest to help one of his Naval bunkmates climax when Massa walked in on him masturbating.

Aides’ sexual harassment charges came at the heel of an incident wherein Mr. Massa admitted, as he did yesterday on Glenn Beck’s show, to having “groped” aides during a tickle fight that eventually resulted in a multi-man pile-on. Curiously, within three hours, appearing on “Larry King Live,” he would deny having “groped” whatsoever.

Not wishing to take on the label of hypocrisy – especially in the wake of accusations against former Republican Representative Mark Foley (R-FL) having made sexual advances toward male pages – House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) communicated to Rep. Massa that he had 48 hours to communicate his aides’ complaints to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. (In 2006 that top House Republicans had been aware of “overfriendly” e-mail messages Mr. Foley, who represented Palm Beach, had sent to a 16-year-old page, and did not speak against Foley publicly until more explicit text messages were revealed.) It is apparent that to one degree or another Mr. Foley’s actions would damage the Republican Party’s standing in Congress in 2006. It is especially important to understand the most serious of the allegations against Mr. Massa in the context of the Foley scandal.

The point of these particularly egregious examples of providing what seems like too much information remains mysterious. Mr. Massa would repeatedly claim that his outing was politically motivated, as he supports a single-payer health insurance program quite distinct from the legislation now under consideration by congressional leadership through a legislative budgetary process called reconciliation. Reconciliation runs around the filibuster rule requiring a 60-vote majority. The former representative claims that while in the congressional shower room, Mr. Emanuel, himself naked, approached Mr. Massa, and proceeded to browbeat him and poke him in the chest. The White House denies that the incident took place.

Of Mr. Emanuel himself, Mr. Massa would subsequently say during a radio show, “Rahm Emanuel is son of the devil’s spawn,” adding, “He is an individual who would sell his mother to get a vote. He would strap his children to the front end of a steam locomotive.”

On both King and Beck’s shows, Massa would repeat what was apparently a joke apology to Emanuel, saying that the chief of staff would merely be willing to tie Mr. Massa’s children to rail tracks, as opposed to his own.

On “Larry King Live,” Mr. Massa refused to answer whether he was gay.

Blow The Man Down

The Reputational Suicide of Representative Eric Massa (D-NY)

All while painting the pugnacious White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s lobbying efforts as bullying, over the past few days, Eric Massa made good on his promises to not leave his seat quietly, and conducted series of mind-boggling media appearances. Mr. Massa, in explaining his resignation, cited a cancer diagnosis and political pressure to vote for health-care legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, along with aides’ harassment accusations.

There need not have been any “gotcha” questions. There need not have been any surprise witnesses or mere third parties to decimate the former representative’s reputation. Mr. Massa appeared to be making a desperate, transparent pitch at appearing definitely not homosexual.

In the audio clip from March 8 below, former Rep. Massa, while claiming that he was trying to make the radio show as family-oriented as possible, entered into anecdotes about his Navy days not so much as alarming, but striking for their total lack of necessity in safely contextualizing his resignation and aides’ accusations of physical and verbal abuse. Whatever one concludes about early ‘80s Navy hazing rituals, the truly bizarre implication is that, because these rituals were practiced among men living and working an environment of (ostensibly) enforced heterosexuality, somewhat similar practices are somehow less undesirable in the confines of Capitol offices, which the popular imagination holds are highly formal settings.

Over the last couple of days, media analysts have been pounding their heads trying to make heads or tails of his volunteering information about the hazing rituals, specifically running naked men through trash or having them stick their faces in the crotches of superiors. The representative would then disclose a tactless anecdote about having offered in jest to help one of his Naval bunkmates climax when Massa walked in on him masturbating.


Aides’ sexual harassment charges came at the heel of an incident wherein Mr. Massa admitted, as he did yesterday on Glenn Beck’s show, to having “groped” aides during a tickle fight that eventually resulted in a multi-man pile-on. Curiously, within three hours, appearing on “Larry King Live,” he would deny having “groped” whatsoever.

Not wishing to take on the label of hypocrisy – especially in the wake of accusations against former Republican Representative Mark Foley (R-FL) having made sexual advances toward male pages – House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) communicated to Rep. Massa that he had 48 hours to communicate his aides’ complaints to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. (In 2006 that top House Republicans had been aware of “overfriendly” e-mail messages Mr. Foley, who represented Palm Beach, had sent to a 16-year-old page, and did not speak against Foley publicly until more explicit text messages were revealed.) It is apparent that to one degree or another Mr. Foley’s actions would damage the Republican Party’s standing in Congress in 2006. It is especially important to understand the most serious of the allegations against Mr. Massa in the context of the Foley scandal.

The point of these particularly egregious examples of providing what seems like too much information remains mysterious. Mr. Massa would repeatedly claim that his outing was politically motivated, as he supports a single-payer health insurance program quite distinct from the legislation now under consideration by congressional leadership through a legislative budgetary process called reconciliation. Reconciliation runs around the filibuster rule requiring a 60-vote majority. The former representative claims that while in the congressional shower room, Mr. Emanuel, himself naked, approached Mr. Massa, and proceeded to browbeat him and poke him in the chest. The White House denies that the incident took place.

Of Mr. Emanuel himself, Mr. Massa would subsequently say during a radio show, “Rahm Emanuel is son of the devil’s spawn,” adding, “He is an individual who would sell his mother to get a vote. He would strap his children to the front end of a steam locomotive.”

On both King and Beck’s shows, Massa would repeat what was apparently a joke apology to Emanuel, saying that the chief of staff would merely be willing to tie Mr. Massa’s children to rail tracks, as opposed to his own.

On “Larry King Live,” Mr. Massa refused to answer whether he was gay.

Movie Chase Scene Escalates To Rooftop

LOS ANGELES, CA–In a shocking turn of events today, an action-packed chase scene has led both a protagonist and an antagonist to a downtown rooftop.
article-0-02E6A4D700000578-311_468x414The chase scene began earlier today as the adversary hijacked an exotic, foreign car and was pursued by the detective/cop protagonist’s unmarked Dodge Charger on a Los Angeles freeway around rush hour. Things began to escalate rapidly when the stolen, high-powered vehicle began traveling on the wrong side of the highway into oncoming traffic, causing several minor accidents. The vehicle hit speeds up to 95 mph before crashing into a slower, generic sedan, triggering an extraneous explosion. The antagonist was able to escape the vehicle seemingly unharmed, prompting the pursuit to advance on-foot towards downtown.

Once the chase scene reached a rooftop via an oddly convenient stairwell, both individuals were seen leaping from one building to another, a gap of at least five feet. A viewer watching the events unfold told the Times, “It’s like nothing [he'd] ever seen before,” adding that he had not seen many action films.

At press time, the rooftop pursuit was still underway, leaving limited outcomes, but likely will end with the suspect leaping from the building, landing on parked vehicle or crashing through an adjacent window.

Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad?

On Saturday, January 16, in the context of public discussion in the middle of the previous week and public talks by former CIA analyst Ray McGovern and a December suicide bombing that left eight CIA agents dead, a protest of roughly 70 people occurred on a strip of land outside of the CIA outside Dolly Madison Boulevard. Its number dwindled to approximately 20 before concluding at the nearby corner of the street where Dick Cheney now lives. Attempting to approach strangers and seriously discuss the war a block away from the CIA’s Langley, Virginia headquarters was as frustrating as trying to initiate a meaningful conversation on chatroulette.com; every single discussion was tinged with the unknown. The governmental intelligence gathering and military arm’s past activities left a lingering possibility of being duped by a shill, a lunatic or a misinformed reactionary. What is the nature, though, of some of the biggest legitimate critics of the U.S. covert military apparatus?

At approximately 1 p.m. that day, I was making a miscalculated approach from the north through one of America’s wealthiest suburbs. A handful of men in black uniforms awaited my pulling up through the north gate at 38.956641,-77.145633, two of them with AR-system rifles pointed away from me. They asked if I was going to the protest, and I offered an affirmation, awkwardly and very conspicuously turning the vehicle around. The whole experience was pretty nerve-wracking because I kept imagining all of the very likely ways in which my trunk and car contents were being scanned. I don’t think I’ll feel more naked in front of the genital-splaying full body scanner at the airport.

The protest was, let’s just say, a big, big tent of interests.

Speaking of tents, the largest group of most obviously organized protesters appear in the orange jumpsuits, outfits which are a hybridization of the iconic Abu Ghraib prison image of the detainee standing on a box like some sort of bizarro Statute of Liberty, except with wires coming off of him – the black hoods are a reference to that specific image – and the orange jumpsuits of Guantanamo Bay. In actuality of course, the latter lucky individuals wear goggles, presumably so they don’t get that nasty itch which comes from wool. I’m pretty sure that, later in the day on the walk to Dick Cheney’s house, that figure giving the pro-Taliban protester the most flack was the one arguing to me for the careful maintenance of a relatively strict, smaller tent, if you will. Immediately, the irony of what he tried to maintain in his arguments to David and me was apparent in light of the CIA’s long-celebrated history of destabilizing protest.

If this protest can be said to have succeeded in any sense, it is only because Cheney’s opulently wealthy neighbors may have been forced to deal with on an – ahem, enhanced – basis possibly being ID’d as they attempt to approach their own dwellings. It’s simple, but it probably gave them at least a less vague idea of what it’s like to have to go through a military checkpoint in Iraq. But don’t get me wrong. The people who live in Dick Cheney’s neighborhood inhabit silk-lined crystal goblets. These are the kind of people who fly their dogs to each other on private planes.

Sheehan’s most impassioned accusation regarding Dick Cheney is that he is in fact directly and in no uncertain terms responsible for her son’s death. As has been widely reported for years, Cindy Sheehan lost her son Casey when his helicopter was shot down over Iraq while he had gone along on a mission that, his mother says, he had immediately protested. The myriad ways in which the role of the military is discussed in conversation, the blame for death in war behaves as a bullet striking a concrete surface and breaking apart, each piece destroying a part of different people’s reputations. Politicians, fawning for the soldiers, accept bold pronouncements of their culpability much as Harry Truman did with the sign he kept on his desk, “The buck stops here.” Meanwhile, conversations with actual soldiers inevitably reveal a lot of skepticism about the motives of their elected superiors and of course for good reason. However, the mindset of anyone in an organized warring setting is the displacement of personal responsibility for a killing by a discrete yet distinct virtue in serving one hierarchy’s orders and ostensibly, by extension, the multitude of one’s national group.

Famously, in the lobby of the CIA are inscribed words from the books of Psalms that say the truth will “set you free.” If one only barely extends CIA management’s skill in theology, the biblical verse can be understood in the context of lying to close family members “for their own good” and “trying to suppress that twitch.” Whether it was Nancy Pelosi and the CIA last year unable to match stories about whether they had informed her about waterboarding (e.g. – torture to anyone with nothing to personally gain by saying otherwise), or Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas this year getting the agency to back off claims that he’d sanctioned their destruction of assuredly brutal interrogation videos, the blood has been flowing down both sides of the aisle as freely as slime on Double Dare. The CIA is now like either Congress’ drop rifle, or the main instigator of Congress becoming the CIA’s.

The whole event was happening in the context of Ray McGovern’s having appeared at Café Gutenberg in the District of Columbia beside Cindy Sheehan. McGovern made a ton of headlines for his having cornered Donald Rumsfeld on having manipulated the information regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in the run-up to the war. McGovern noted an interesting tidbit from history that he says surprises a lot of the students that he addresses, that in The Washington Post, there was an op-ed by Harry Truman a month following the assassination of JFK that decried the CIA’s role as having moved from an information-gathering conduit to an organization carrying out covert action. After having provided so many intelligence briefings to so many presidents since, he bitterly reminded the crowd at the café of how prophetic Truman’s words have proven.

It was at that same evening event in the auditorium of sorts of the café that Sheehan really began to flesh out what she meant by Peace of the Action, her brainchild for nonviolent resistance to the military operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. As spring approaches, she said, she was planning to set up a camp on The Mall, and from there enlist a larger coalition to stage sit-ins in the Senate and House Office buildings. She claimed in a TV interview with Russia Today that the whole thing begins early next month. Don’t expect her to go all William Thomas and literally set up tent as Thomas did outside of the White House for 26 years. I think that’s about as likely as the machine, grinding along like a slug with razor-sharp teeth on his belly, is to get enough.

As recently as late last year, Sheehan got herself arrested by handcuffing herself to the White House, adamant that Barack Obama’s work for peace is as negligible as Bush’s. Much in the same way that exaggeratedly hawkish voices skate by faster for their children’s military roles, there is a similar bubble around Sheehan. Her son’s decision to enlist, her own father’s work for Lockheed Martin, all of it hovers as a paradox around the woman. Cindy Sheehan has become iconic because that same spirit that leads people to say nothing at all about murders like those the drones are carrying out is that guilt, that guilt that says we’re suckers to judge anyone who pats their kids on their behinds on the way to the firing line and/or daresay, actually loses a child to war and then happens to ramp up her strident demands for rapid demilitarization. The truth is if you criticize these types, hawks or doves, you’re going to look like a real asshole to a number of people actually relatively disinterested in these peoples’ personal causes: ending or escalating the conflicts. And in self-obsessed, painfully monolingual, low-turnout America, that means just about everybody!

The moment I saw “David” (or so he called himself) was the moment I suspected that he might work for the CIA. A crowd of four or five was standing around him trying to block his posterboard sign which said “Victory to the Taliban.” Immediately, I tried to make him shift his frame of reference to catch him in a lie, requesting his defense of the Taliban’s destruction of some impossibly old statues of Buddha. Surprisingly, his answer was very zen, saying that he believed that the Buddha would have supported the destruction of the statues. It really seemed very sympathetic to Buddhist beliefs, namely Linji’s koan, “If you meet the Buddha, kill him.” Somehow, this didn’t awaken any cheerleading for the Taliban in me, but the nuance of the answer did satisfy my instincts asking me if I was simply dealing with a provocateur. After all, I thought, why would a guy rooting for the Taliban be willing to transfer blame off of Casey Sheehan for enlisting in the first place and then onto Dick Cheney? Still, still, I had to remind myself, this guy shared none of Sheehan’s apparent commitment to nonviolence. It was pretty obvious that the rest of the protesters had a great deal of trouble reconciling themselves with the Taliban’s social policies, too. But, blockers all around him, David would contend that since the Taliban were the only organized group expressing direct opposition to U.S. forces and that the others were foolish not to support them.

Watching while Debra Sweet went up to address the crowd, like one of those South American tree frogs, David just starting excreting the sort of distilled stupid that’s absolutely undoing everything good humans have ever accomplished. Her denouncement of any fundamentalist strain of any religion was approached by David with the claim that she was being racist. So frustrating is the way this runs: Criticize a belief, and it’s automatically like saying you don’t like the way someone looks or their entire lineage. You see, that made me think that maybe David was just an actor.

One of the speakers, Joshua Smith, was handing out DVDs containing technical materials and recent news write-ups about the capabilities of the drone attacks along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Smith attributed the biggest problems to the agency’s assumptions about how much it really knows about the people at whom it’s pointing the 100-pound, five-foot Hellfire missiles fired from out of sight from the Reaper and Predator-brand drones. He said, “The problem is they’re not doing their due diligence in their intelligence gathering. And when they strike a home, they always label ‘suspected militants’ who were killed. That encompasses civilians. Anybody in a dwelling of a high-value target they label a ‘suspected militant.’ And, as I’ve said, I think, onstage, if you go and Google ‘suspected militants, drones,” you’ll see page after page of drone attack reports, and the word or the term ‘suspected militant’ is used throughout. And ‘suspected’ is the key word, of course. That flies in the face of most all customary international law and in regards to the Geneva Convention(s) and the Additional Protocols (of 1977). There are many protocols stated to protect at the utmost civilian life. And that is not being followed at all.”

By saying “customary international law,” Smith was referencing his documentation, author Max Kantar’s citing the Additional Protocols of 1977 against the United States. Kantar says that, while these were not ratified by the United States, non-ratifiers have been held accountable. Last November, Kantar published a report called “International Law: The First Casualty of the Drone War,” which very seriously decimates conclusions such as the “31 percent to 33 percent” casualty ratio for the drone strikes forwarded by Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann last year through The New Republic and the New America Foundation.

“Mechanisms for enforcing the protocols exist,” explains Kantar. “In the report I wrote, I cited the cases of Rwanda, Yugoslavia, and Sierra Leone, where several war criminals from those countries were prosecuted in the ICC. And I don’t think there was very much opposition in the international community to do so. However, who gets prosecuted and who doesn’t and who is held accountable and who isn’t, is determined entirely by power. That is why there’s a warrant out for the arrest of al-Bashir from Sudan but not for Ehud Olmert or George W. Bush. This isn’t to say that al-Bashir shouldn’t be indicted. He should. But George Bush is a much bigger criminal and he should be indicted too. There’s the famous saying by Thucydides, which basically says that the powerful do what they can and the weak accept what they must. Unfortunately we live in a world ruled by force and this is also reflected in the UN.”

Smith indicated his belief that the war is most likely over natural gas. “And there is another theory that we are only there to destabilize Pakistan for the pipeline to not be able to be built. And that would be in the aspects regarding a proxy war on China so that China cannot have access to all of that natural gas.”

Although former congresswoman, Green Party presidential candidate and ardent Gaza activist Cynthia McKinney had said she would make it, Sheehan says that she had to step out of it due to her father’s health.

So I said to Smith, who has protested near the Gazan border, “Well, do you think that – to what extent do you – this is largely painted by people like Robert Gates. When, you know, this larger surge was announced, it was viewed in terms of Islamic extremism and fundamentalism.

Do you feel that – to what extent do you feel that really motivates the people who orchestrate and who actually make the decisions about doing these attacks? Are they really – or just by what their intent – you know, I’m talking about their intentions, you know. Do they really believe that this is about Islamic extremism? When they say that, are they really ‘we got to get that natural gas?’ I mean, I think that that’s a worthy question.”

He replied, “Well, I don’t believe the war or the global war on terror have anything to do with Islamic extremists. I think it is strictly imperialism, domination, profits for the military-industrial complex, and of course natural resources. I think the factor of Islamic extremists is the scapegoat for everything.

I said, “But – so the people being killed in essence were either – they’re standing in the way of the pipelines being built or they’re for the pipelines being built? I’m trying to understand the victims’ relationship to, you know, that larger economic goal.”

Smith said, “Well, victims in relation to Taliban and al Qaeda, and those victims being the innocent people, primarily, they are heavily against U.S. occupation, I believe. There are a lot of reports about that. But also the Taliban have come in with their initial laws, and attempted to help the people. Now, this is a common occurrence. However, it ends up actually being” – and here Smith trails off, confident that the politician-as-heartbreaker theme has been thoroughly articulated elsewhere. “This an occurrence we see here in America with promises of politicians. I saw it in Gaza where Hamas had taken over.”

“So we see it with America. We see it with – in Israel with the Palestinians and then within Gaza’s own, quote, unquote, ‘government,’ and we’re seeing that there in Pakistan and Afghanistan now.”

I asked, “So what extent does the trade of opiates and heroin reflect on motivating the war and the drug trade as a whole?”

Smith said, “Well, the motivation in regard to drugs, I would believe, is that the United States wants to protect the drug trade. They – the drug trade here in America is primarily used to somewhat infiltrate and undermine lower levels, as they would say, of, you know, society.”

“Poor people,” I suggested.

“Poor people. Yes. And, in urban areas, the CIA has been exposed as protecting quite a bit of the cocaine trafficking.”

I asked Smith, “What is the relationship between the CIA’s funding, apparent funding, of Ahmed Karzai and yet the pushing of these lower-level military people into trying to stop the drug trade? Why do they get them into that if they’re paying a drug dealer?”

“Well, I think what a lot of people need to understand is the drug trade is an entire economy unto itself, and, especially in countries such – when we were in Vietnam and just as we are now in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the drug trade being an economy is also somewhat a source of currency. Bundles of any drug from those regions are traded openly and around the regions, and that’s only my suspicion. My father was in Vietnam, and he told me all the facts of that. My father told me of the military escorting loads of drugs in U.S. helicopters.”

The nature of assassinations is that they constitute a weighed balance. Insofar as people rationalize killing those whose actions they cannot properly assess; and that is to say they concede the incalculability of collateral damage. Interchangeably, the most callous killer and most righteous actor inevitably and must take into the cost of this sort of action, if for no other reason than people may make associations whose outrageously dubious behavior may be unknown to them. At their most organized, acts of violence enter a realm in which regarding individuals’ actions must be set aside in order to accomplish some perceived greater goal.

The battles of Central Asia recall the words of the iconic Mohammed ibn Abdullah that oppression is worse than slaughter. The Americans, NATO and now even Japan are locked in combat with a variety of belligerents, Pakistani criminals and apparently others with no apparent affiliation with any of these groups. But as surely as the mission there rolls on and everyone who matters at House Armed Services Committee like Chair Ike Skelton (D-MO) and the White House continue to approve, the only apparent calculus, if their words are taken on their face, is that the deaths have much greater meaning. The Bush administration’s tactic of trying to curb the poppy trade by burning crops has been abandoned to take on a different strategy, the more public advocacy of simply paying the people who would otherwise be fighting NATO.

At least from my contact in Karachi, there seems to be a degree of uncertainty about the relationship between the assassination of Benazhir Bhutto and Baitelluh Mahsud, taken out by one of the CIA’s drones, not unlikely to have been operated from a center such as Kreech Air Force Base in Nevada. The Times was reported significantly higher civilian casualty rates than the U.S. military sources.

The cynics claim that NATO is making the big push into Central Asia for the purposes of holding onto Central Asian natural gas pipelines, that even the sparsely populated mountainous regions around the Khyber Pass. Is this just raw, albeit abashed imperialism? Will these movements in Central Asia really provide freer societies for the Pakistanis and the Afghans? The United States is cleaning up an old mess, having set up a bunch of particularly wealthy Saudi Wahhabists against the Soviet Union. By all accounts, the remnants of this organization have only a hundred or so members even in Afghanistan. From the very limited information available on official ongoing investigations into the organization, it’s not amazing that the struggle has become so demagogued. Just as the 9/11-spawned (and recently respawned!) USA PATRIOT Act has been mostly used against those uninvolved in terrorism per se, the self-definitional spirit of al Qaeda seems to be totally lost.

What happened that I had least expected were counterprotesters who were most certainly born and raised in Central Asia. One of them had difficulty understanding one of my questions due to the language barrier. They were slightly closer to the highway, more towards the traffic of luxury sedans and SUVs, as well as the Fairfax County Police. Their reactions to my questions are here. They seemed totally oblivious to the reports of the scale of civilian deaths that Kantar had managed to piece together from old CNN reports.

I showed this footage to a guy I know in Karachi, way to the south, and he thought it was amazing. “I am grateful to you that you shared this video to me because after watching this I amazed to know that someone (seems to be from) my land really supports drone attacks and termed them defensive measures. I am not sure about the identity of these guys but I can tell you that, even those people who [defend] or justify U.S. existence in Afghanistan and the policy of Pakistani government to give land and transportation to U.S., don’t support drone attacks. Who they guys are? Why they stand for drones’ favor? And before CIA center? These are questions which would be answered by you, but I don’t look something genuine-voiced in all of this. That’s I think so.”

One of the Pashtun gentlemen said that he would have respected the protest with Sweet, Sheehan and Smith had they first protested the atrocities of the Taliban before protesting the drone attacks. And while Sweet had gotten up to a microphone and denounced the Taliban, it’s true that the crux of the blame that day among the main organizers had gone first to the American and Pakistani authorities who were authorizing murder, insofar at least as the assassinations were outside of a court. I had remembered meeting a Pakistani man in Washingtob four months before the protest who had told me that he was very glad to hear that such a drone attack had killed Baitullah Mehsud, a man, many argued, had ordered the killing of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007. I didn’t ask them their names on camera, because I honestly thought they would refuse and I didn’t want to break the flow of natural conversation when approaching their most honest inclinations about the subject matter. Last names weren’t really something I would have pushed with anyone at the outdoor CIA state-sanctioned murder symposium.

The Third World War on the Third World

Got filthy communism?  Try Napalm Brand

Got filthy Communism? Try Napalm

Now that the “War on Terror” has been declared officially over, President Hussein Obama has declared war on the Third World, which in fact has been going on since Vietnam. His policy of honesty has been met with complete apathy. America and its satellite nations are engaged in a campaign to eradicate any progress in developing countries which may threaten future corporate profit. Vietnamese, Iraqis, and Afghanis have learned how powerless they are as they drink Coca Cola in lieu of a clean water supply.

In America, things are very quiet.  Airplanes are loaded with Prozac and leave aerosol trails of obedience and submissive behavior in a perfect grid over the nation. The only people who seem to be capable of any type of outrage are only expressing it towards the most trivial changes in their lives. So-called “Tea Parties,” have shifted most of their vitriolic hate-protest towards the new Facebook layout.

Energy, Budget Cut, Tax, Lift American Spirits. A proper Tea Party.

Energy, Budget Cut, Tax, Lift American Spirits. A proper Tea Party.

Sarah Palin has gripped the reins of this hateful group and begun steering it towards her own agenda. Palin’s pseudo-revolutionary rhetoric has been ramped up tenfold by her newly discovered technique of writing and reading from her hand. Palin’s bestselling memoir Going Rogue: An American Life is now on sale at Wal Mart for a suspiciously low price. Originally “My Struggle: An American Life,” the title was changed by the publisher at the last-minute for an undisclosed reason.

In Italy, America has bastardized traditional Italian ingredients to form a “partially edible” new sandwich cleverly named the McItaly. This sandwich is obviously a collusion between McDonald’s and the highest levels of Italian government. Elf Wax sources have revealed McDonald’s plans for the McHaiti-a sandwich made entirely with misappropriated food relief. McHaitis will be distributed to crowds of hungry people with compressed air guns by employees dressed as Ronald McDonald, the Hamburglar, and other beloved McDonald’s friends.

Your Nervous System Does Not Belong To Rob Bell

Under this crook’s logic, if we allowed marijuana as a prescription drug, we might as well be selling it in schools to children. At that same time, where are his complaints about the prescriptions offered for the more dangerous, addictive Oxycontin in light of the risk that would end up in children’s hands by default? Where are his complaints about the state’s sale of alcohol? Of course, all that is really in effect coming out of his mouth is “I want cops to waste time” and “I want poor people randomly incarcerated.”

Too often in life, if we take the easy route and refuse to do what’s right, we become complicit in unconscionable wrongs. Late last month, some of Virginia’s legislators failed once again to free their fellow citizens from the immoral bounds of a system of law that treats adults as if they are less-than-human animals unworthy of deciding their frame of psychological reference without the permission of the collective. Those who push for the continued criminalization of cannabis — and I want to underline this next part — while not standing upon disallowing the distribution of the obviously more harmful alcohol are intellectually bankrupt, dishonest and have thus made themselves more serious criminals than anyone trafficking marijuana per se. It is our civic duty to make their reprimand common and accessible to as many people as possible. I urge you to distribute the numbers in this message as far and as widely as possible, particularly to Virginians you may know.

The contents of the voice vote which killed Virginia House Bill 1134, which would have decriminalized the simple possession of marijuana, are not widely known because the mass media has refused to take seriously what a majority of Americans, including the Republican pharmacist who introduced the measure, now understand. Here’s what we face.

Here are the names and numbers of the supporters so they can be thanked. This is a very important step.
Delegate H. Morgan Griffith (R) – House District 8
+18046981008
Delegate Vivian E. Watts (D) – House District 39
+18046981039
Delegate Charniele L. Herring (D) – House District 46
+18046981046

And here are the people whose numbers we should distribute for the carrying out of ardent, strongly-worded phone calls of disapproval.
Delegate David B. Albo (R) – House District 42
+18046981042
Delegate Benjamin L. Cline (R) – House District 24
+18046981024
Delegate Ward L. Armstrong (D) – House District 10
+18046981010
Delegate C. Todd Gilbert (R) – House District 15
+18046981015
And ESPECIALLY
Delegate Robert B. Bell (R) – House District 58
+18046981058

(Here, by the way, is my source, Virginia NORML.)

Albo, Cline, Armstrong, Gilbert and Bell must be strongly reminded of the treachery and shame which has accompanied the United States leading the industrialized world in incarceration rates. While our opponents would rather turn this matter into a big joke, there is nothing funny at all about putting people in prison for years of their life without their having caused some serious harm to other people. We must not let up despite this bill’s having been tabled for a year.

I will spare no words in reminding each of you that we are up against cold, hardened evil racism here. While there are amazingly still a few who can honestly claim ignorance of the fact that alcohol is more harmful than marijuana, some of the deniers are blatantly dishonest people who simply want any excuse they can to incarcerate people who look a certain way. If we do nothing, we might as well travel back in time and help Governor Wallace block a doorway to keep a public school segregated. If we say nothing, even when the words in our heads are guiding us the right way, we might as well be turning on Bull Connor’s fire hose. I seriously believe this policy’s level of underlying violence is as serious because the sentencing statistics say it all.

Do the right thing. Distribute these telephone numbers and names. Power to the people.