Saturday, November 28, 2009

Blackwater and JSOC in Pakistan going viral - then squashed

Mickey Mouse's brooms go viral in The Sorcerer's Apprentice

[Dear Redditors - see update at the bottom of the page.]

[On Thursday, my previous article "All the news..." - except Blackwater became the number one article on Reddit. The word was spreading like wildfire throughout the internet. The article got over 7,000 hits that day. It got picked up by aggregator sites and was being twittered and emailed around the web. Then the article was suddenly banned by Reddit. The next day the hits went down to a little over 1,000. And today, just two days later, the hits on the article were down around 100.]
Wehe! Wehe!
Beide Teile
steh'n in Eile
schon als Knechte

(Woe is me! Both pieces
come to life anew,
now, to do my bidding
I have servants two!)

Die ich rief, die Geister,
werd' ich nun nicht los.

(From the spirits that I called
Sir, deliver me!)

Excerpts from "Der Zauberlehrling"
written by Goethe in 1797 ("The Sorcerer's Apprentice")

Going viral

With the emergence of the internet came a new phenomenon - going viral. We all remember the video of the Star Wars Kid with the 'lightsaber'. Then there was the "Yes We Can" video of 'will i. am' that helped launch Obama's campaign into the stratosphere.

By this time, we all recognize the power of the internet to shape public opinion. There is even a nouveau name for this - an internet meme. Social media websites attempt to capitalize on this phenomenon by giving users a platform through which to popularize articles or videos which would otherwise go undiscovered. We're all familiar with some of the popular forms of social media.
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Blogs
  • Digg 
  • Reddit
  • and most recently - Twitter
Social media can be viewed as an alternative to mainstream media (MSM) that is inherently democratic and populist. In theory it is a bottom up movement - as opposed to the top down structure of the MSM. It is interactive and vibrant. And it is wildly popular.

So how does an article or video go viral? It has to start out somewhere. I've had articles go viral in the past, so I can speak from my own experience.

A drop in the internet ocean

There is an enormous amount of material being posted on the web on a daily basis these days. So how is it that some articles achieve viral status, while the vast majority sink into obscurity.

There is a certain randomness to this process for sure. If the initial response from a few viewers is negative, then the story will never even get started. But once that first bunch of viewers anoints a story as newsworthy, then the fun really begins. If timing and the synergies are just right, then the story can move into the top spot on a particular social media site.

There is a sort of snowballing/avalanche effect that helps this along. Once an article is popular, then more people will see it and the more likely it is to get more popular.

From there a new process kicks in. Having reached the pinnacle of a particular site, the story then begins to appear on aggregator sites. These are sites that post the top stories on social media websites, and there are lots of them. Many more than you are probably aware of. In addition, some MSM-lite sites like Huffington Post and Wired post links to the top stories as well.

Simultaneously, people that have read the story begin to re-post it on discussion forums (like Democratic Underground), and on their Facebook pages or on their blogs and on twitter.

All of this activity causes web search engines like Google to take notice. The article rises in priority on web searches which causes more traffic to the article and results in yet another positive feedback loop.

This exponentially expanding process is what we mean when we say a story has "gone viral".

Closing the floodgates

Now how would you stop this process. Simple. You just don't let it get started in the first place; you "nip it in the bud"; you squash it at an early stage. This way you cut off the feedback loop that sustains a story as it goes viral - much like a hurricane feeds off warm ocean waters. If you cool the water then you can stop the hurricane dead in its tracks.

Now, cooling off the ocean is a tall task. After all the ocean is vast and is not under the direct control of man. But in the case of the internet, the idea that no one is control is a bit of an illusion. There are centralized pockets of control. And those in control can decide the fate of a story, by shutting it off quickly before it can sprout offspring.

And even if the story isn't caught at its earliest stages of development, it can still be dampened by pulling the plug on it within the powerful social media sites that are the incubators of these viral media storms.

Case in point - my article on Blackwater and JSOC black ops in Pakistan titled "All the news... - except Blackwater". This particular article had attained the number one status on Reddit in the worldnews section which is one of the most popular 'subreddits' on the site. It was starting to show up on aggregators such as OurSignal, JimmyR and Trendalicious.

With a phenomenal Reddit score of 1200, it  was riding high and was at the number 1 spot on in Reddit worldnews (and I assume on Reddit overall). And then suddenly, the plug was pulled on this article. It was banned and totally disappeared from the site rankings - even though you can still find the article on the site if you know the direct link.

(The reason given for banning it from the worldnews subreddit was that it was more of a US story than a "world news" story despite the main issue being US involvement in Pakistan. By that criteria it would seem that any story about US involvement in Iraq or Afghanistan should not be considered a "world news" story either.)

Normally a highly popular article like this would remain on the front page for about a day or two before gradually slipping down the rankings and being replace by newer articles. But in this case it was made to disappear in an instance - as if it had been taken out in a strategic hit by a smart guidance missile. And once it disappeared from Reddit, it also disappeared from all the real-time aggregators - so with one surgical strike, the article was 'disappeared' from multiple internet outlets in a sort of virtual "extraordinary rendition".

(Also keep in mind that Reddit is the property of Condé Nast[y] - a media empire that includes such well known brands as Vogue, Glamour, GQ, Vanity Fair, Wired and The New Yorker. Curiously enough, nowhere on the Condé Nast[y] website does it ever mention Reddit. The question in this case is: Was some high up muckity-muck in Condé Nast[y] involved in the decision to shut down this article? We'll probably never know.)

Score one for the CIA/JSOC/Blackwater bad guys. But before the bad guys had a chance to act, the story was prominently displayed on the internet for a few hours. And hundreds of links were established and twitter messages were sent and resent.

America, the beautiful?

And most importantly Jeremy Scahill's article, "Blackwater's Secret War in Pakistan", is still available online. And the resistance continues. Black ops are the most evil part of the American War Empire. It is the part of the American Empire that most Americans are least aware of, but that everywhere else across the globe is well recognized. Torture, kidnapping and assassinations are being routinely used to squash political dissent around the world in our name.

Why do they hate us? They hate us for our stupidity - our willing blindness to the facts. The Truth is out there, and it is the duty of every American citizen to uncover that Truth. We cannot endlessly blame the MSM for lying to us and deceiving us, when we are the ones who are unwilling to face the ugly facts head-on. It's time to look in the mirror America!

"Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who's the fairest of them all?" You have been told all your life that it is you, America. You have been painted a glorious self-portrait of beauty beyond compare. You have been told a lie. Look at yourself as much of the world sees you - a hideous ogre that feeds on the blood of innocent children.

Related Posts

[UPDATE - NOV 29 11:20 AM]

This article has sparked a lively debate on Reddit. Go here to see the comments and participate in the discussion.

There is a Reddit administrator named jedberg that has joined in on the discussion. Here is a snapshot of all of his comments. (My apologies if I missed any.)
jedberg [A] -13 points(+15/-27) 6 hours ago[-]
Why is it funny? It was banned by a moderator of worldnews for being off-topic.

jedberg [A] (+39/-29)13 points 6 hours ago[-]
We did not remove the link. One of the moderators of the worldnews community removed it for being off-topic.

jedberg [A] -3 points(+22/-24) 6 hours ago[-]
We don't censor. It was removed by one of the worldnews moderators for being off-topic.

jedberg [A] -6 points(+25/-30) 6 hours ago[-]
If we were "censoring" as all of you seem to believe, wouldn't we remove this article?
The post was removed from worldnews for being off-topic.
And here are some of the many supportive comments from redditors.
anonymous-coward (+38/-10)31 points 9 hours ago[-]
Go here to the article:
It is in worldnews.
Now search for "Jeremy Scahill" - the article does not show up in /r/worldnews. Now search for "Jeremy Scahill Pentagon" and a repost shows up in /r/politics, with fewer points.
So it is apparently correct that it was wiped from worldnews. Seems a little funny.

Atman00 20 points(+26/-8) 6 hours ago[-]
Because it's clearly not off topic. This is about a war between two countries that are thousands of miles apart. Just because an article also deals with the US doesn't mean it's not considered world news.

ClittyClittyGangBang 6 points(+9/-3) 5 hours ago* [-]
One would think that after amassing 1000+ points in the subreddit the mod(s) would accept the article was on-topic and relevant for their readers.
Not to the worldnews mods - so much as use the letters "U" and "S" and it's deleted.
Worldnews seems to be a little dictatorship where the mods get to exercise their own anti-U.S. inferiority complex.

cheap_black_hat (+47/-27)24 points 12 hours ago[-]
Conde Nast is part of the dreaded mainstream media. redditors seem to forget that reddit is someone's property, not a bastion of free speech.

shopcat (+27/-3)24 points 5 hours ago[-]
It seems that decision by a single mod hasn't reflected favorably on the reddit community as a whole. We aren't able to edit headlines for fear that we will manipulate them once they get to the front page and yet a single mod can wipe out a story with a score of over a thousand and hundreds of comments.

ItsAConspiracy (+7/-1)7 points 1 hour ago[-]
Might be a good idea to remove that power from moderators, once the community in that section judges a story that favorably.

minor9sharp11 (+17/-5)14 points 6 hours ago[-]
Yeah I saw it in the worldnews feed and thought how that would be better placed in politics. I don't think it was not worldnews though since it deals with Pakistani and US relations.
Ohh well.

outhere (+6/-1)6 points 1 hour ago[-]
Hmmm... all this time I thought regular redditors were supposed to downvote off-topic posts. Didn't know mods were editors/censors. My whole opinion of reddit has changed.

Tangurena 15 points(+27/-11) 9 hours ago[-]
People keep asking why newspapers in this country are dying. This story is why they're dying - they keep covering up for the corruption in our government, the newspapers keep covering up for the evil done in our name. They kept news about the illegal wiretaps covered up for more than a year - if they had reported it when it was still news then there would have been no 2nd term for bush. When the last newspaper dies in the US, I will rejoice.

therabbit 5 points(+15/-11) 10 hours ago* [-]
Of course reddit will never admit it and fain disgust when asked if they censor, when we all know they can shadow ban and they do on a daily basis.

ClittyClittyGangBang 9 points(+12/-3) 5 hours ago[-]
And they're effectively
In particular, the article in question had received ~2000+ upvotes. So the opinion of relevance of thousands of redditors is less important than one moderator/censor?
The pernicious thing about censorship is that the censors themselves rarely see it as such. It's almost always seen as "moderation," or some similarly right-thinking synonym.
If it's effectively censorship - it's censorship.

sinn0304 (+9/-1)10 points 4 hours ago[-]
I'm not sure the "censorship" is whats making people upset. It's the fact that 1 mod just overruled thousands of upvotes. You just told us, no matter how much we like a story, and how many upvotes we throw at it, you still reserve the right to remove it and squash the discussion. Nice job telling your users they're no longer important in the decision making process for what's relevant, and what's not.

jules_siegel (+12/-2)11 points 4 hours ago[-]
Please. I'm a journalist. I've been accustomed to hearing the "we just" excuse year after year. You didn't censor it. Of course not. You just buried it through a technical maneuver. And it wasn't you. It was just some moderator. Well, maybe you should have a little talk with that moderator and find out why he/she/it essentially killed a very popular story that just happened to expose official censorship by the powers that be. These incidents are always explained away as honest mistakes or differences of opinion. In my experience (vast, believe me), they rarely are.

sinn0304 10 points(+12/-2) 4 hours ago[-]
This needs to be said over and over again. Thousands of people deem it on-topic enough to upvote it, yet because 1 mod says its not, we all lose. Nice modding policy, jedberg.
I love Reddit. I really do.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"All the news..." - except Blackwater

Blackwater goons in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

[This article is a followup to the one I published yesterday - "Blackwater (aka Xe) exposed by Scahill... again!"]

A threat

Here's the latest interview of Jeremy Scahill that I could find discussing his article in the Nation titled "Blackwater's Secret War in Pakistan".

In this interview (at ~8:00), Jeremy Scahill comes out and explicitly says that he felt that a call he received from the office of Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was "an act of intimidation" to keep him from publishing his story in the Nation. Here's how Wikipedia describes the position of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) is by law the highest ranking military officer in the United States armed forces, and the principal military adviser to the President of the United States, the National Security Council, and the Secretary of Defense.
Any questions? Good. Let's continue.

No news is not good news

The US ambassador in Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson, has called reports of a secret Blackwater operation in Pakistan "false and baseless". I know this because it appeared in a newspaper. Not an American newspaper mind you, but a Pakistani newspaper. Somehow the New York Times and the Washington Post don't think this is worth reporting.

Here's the official press release on the State Department website.
Correction For The Record

November 25, 2009

Islamabad - The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad rejects as completely false the assertions made recently by a U.S. magazine alleging secret Blackwater operations in Pakistan.

There is no secret operating base in Karachi or anywhere else in Pakistan being run, occupied, or otherwise operated by U.S. military personnel of any command or organization. The article's assertions about U.S. government collusion with Blackwater or any other contracting firm are equally baseless and false.

"U.S. government programs for Pakistan are open and transparent and function in partnership with the Government of Pakistan," said Ambassador Anne W. Patterson. "U.S. personnel and programs in Pakistan have only one purpose - to assist the government and people of Pakistan as they face the complex challenges confronting their nation."
This is a flat denial of the Scahill article. Notice they never mention the article explicitly, but allude to "a U.S. magazine" making "false assertions". If not for a search I did of Google news for 'Blackwater' I would have never been aware of this press release which went unreported in the US media. Clearly this official press release from the US embassy in Islamabad was for local Pakistani consumption only, and was not meant to be repeated by the US mainstream press. Why hasn't this been reported in the US press?

I'll tell you what I think. And you can take it or leave it because it's just my opinion. I don't have any facts to back this up. But I think there has been an edict handed down by the powers in the State Department and the Pentagon saying that Blackwater (aka Xe) is not a subject to be discussed openly in the news media.

Just yesterday, at the State Department's daily briefing the first question was about Jeremy Scahill's article.
MR. KELLY: Okay. Well, let me give you a quick rundown on the Secretary’s events. You know she attended...
[blah, blah, blah... blah, blah] the United States and India can work together to meet global challenges like terrorism and climate change and other matters of regional and bilateral interest. And with that, I’ll take your questions.

QUESTION: Do you have any response to the report in The Nation regarding what it says was a joint operation between the Joint Special Operations Command in Pakistan and Xe Services, nee Blackwater?

MR. KELLY: I do not. I have not seen this article.

QUESTION: So you have no response to that?

MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t know. I’m sorry, you’ve – I just am not aware of this article. We’ll look at it and we’ll see if we can get a response for you.

Yeah, Andy.
So I checked today's briefing to see if State Department spokesperson, Ian Kelly, would give "a response" to Jeremy's article. You can find it here. And a quick search determines that the word 'Blackwater' never comes up. In fact there's no discussion of Pakistan at all. Is this a case of "don't ask, don't tell"?

To me the message is clear. "Blackwater is not something we're going to talk about. We're not going to confirm it or deny it. In fact we're not even 'aware' of it. And if you want to continue to be invited to these briefings, you won't be aware of it either."

Isn't it odd that with literally thousands of newspapers and radio and TV stations in the US, and the existence of a "free press" that not one has come out with any significant follow up to Jeremy Scahill's scathing exposé. Not one.

Yes Jeremy was invited today on to MSNBC's Morning Joe show, but the topic was quickly shifted in what was obviously a pre-arranged script. Sort of as if to say, "See... we do have a free press in the US. See... we gave Jeremy 2 or 3 minutes to talk about Blackwater. It's just that the American public isn't interested. They'd rather hear about how Sarah Palin is going to run for President in 2012."

So as I said, I don't have any facts to back up my allegations of a coordinated coverup. But that's not exactly true because I can give you some statistical evidence courtesy of Google.

In fact here's an experiment you can do yourself. Click on the link below to run a search of articles in the US that mention Scahill's Blackwater article.

Google news search

When I tried this today, I got 15 results. And none of those could be considered mainstream media.

When I do a similar search for blog articles in the past 3 days since the article first appeared with the words 'blackwater scahill' I get 290 hits. (My FNT article from yesterday shows up on the first page.)

And when I do a similar search for articles on the web in general in the past 3 days since the article first appeared with the words 'blackwater scahill' I get thousands of hits.

Conclusion - a news blackout

My conclusion is that the State Department and the Pentagon don't want to talk about this because they know that they will be caught up by their own denials. I also conclude that the word has been sent out to the main stream media not to bring up this subject.

And yet this is a crucial issue which should be discussed as President Obama prepares to send a request next week to Congress for 34,000 more troops in Afghanistan. We can only hope that some of our representatives in Congress will have the courage to bring this up in public hearings when General McChrystal goes before committees to justify this troop build up.

Jeremy Scahill has done his job in uncovering the basic information. Now it is up to the Congress to fulfill its obligation to investigate this further. And it would be a great assistance if the media would do its job of publicizing this issue. But if they won't, then "we the people" must take direct action and insist that Congress not shirk its Constitutional responsibilities. Please call your Congresspeople and urge them to bring up this issue of vital importance to the attention of the State Department and the Pentagon.

It's bad enough that Blackwater is bribing Iraqi officials "to silence their criticism and buy their support". Don't let something similar happen here in the US.

[UPDATE 1 - NOV 26]

It seems the cat's out of the bag in Pakistan. The mainstream  Pakistani press is featuring Scahill's article in today's papers.

The Nation (a Pakistani newspaper - not the US magazine that originally published the story) has reproduced the entire article. It also has a short article titled "Will Mr. Malik resign now?".
ISLAMABAD – The Nation [Pakistani newspaper] has been exposing the Blackwater (now renamed Xe Worldwide) and DynaCorp presence in Pakistan for some time now with evidence, but the Interior Minister has continued to deny this presence - although he has finally conceded the presence of Dynacorp.

To begin with, Rehman Malik was hiding behind the fact that Blackwater had altered its name; but equally important Blackwater has also become a generic term for US military/security contractors, especially in the minds of most Pakistanis.

But now an American journalist, Jeremy Scahill, who has authored the definitive book on Blackwater has revealed the presence of this group in Pakistan as well as all its activities here. Since Mr. Malik had publicly claimed he would resign if the Blackwater presence was proven in Pakistan, we wonder whether he will do so now that his bluff has been called.
The Pakistan Daily Times also has an article on this subject titled "Blackwater launching missions from Karachi", which gives a good summary of the Scahill article.

Coincidentally, yesterday US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson announced "the Obama Administration was going to release direct budgetary support of $175 million hard cash to Pakistan". Is this hush money which will be used to grease the palms of Pakistani officials to keep them from criticizing the role of Blackwater and the JSOC in Pakistan?

Will the US mainstream press continue to ignore the Scahill article now that it has been widely publicized in Pakistan? I'll bet the State Department longs for the days before the internet. Personally, I'm hoping that Jeremy's revelations about Blackwater go totally viral on the web to the point where the MSM can ignore them no longer. And then the Pentagon and the State Department will be forced to come up with some answers, and the Blackwater goons will be forced out of the murky shadows in which they like to operate and into the glaring public spotlight.

[UPDATE 2 - NOV 26]

Russia Today has picked up the story of Blackwater's secret operation in Pakistan as reported by Jeremy Scahill. There's no new revelations in this report which features investigative reporter Wayne Madsen, but it shows that the news is spreading. But what about pseudo-left MSM outlets like Rachel Maddow. Why hasn't she reported this story? Oh right, the military censors. I almost forgot.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blackwater (aka Xe) exposed by Scahill... again!

Jeremy Scahill has a new article in the Nation about Blackwater. He's the journalist that first exposed Blackwater and has written the book on the subject, "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army".

[UPDATE - NOV 24: Jeremy Scahill appeared this morning on Democracy Now for his first interview on the subject. (I've added the video below.) As of this morning no MSM news source is reporting on this story - not even to deny it. They are just quietly ignoring it. Meanwhile, the blogosphere has exploded with this news. Of course the MSM has always tried to pretend that Blackwater doesn't exist, so at least they are consistent. As President Obama gets ready to announce ~34,000 new troops to Afghanistan on December 1 following the corrupt "elections" there, the MSM doesn't want to spoil the party. Will General McChrystal be questioned about Scahill's Blackwater allegations in upcoming congressional hearings about the new troop request?]

[UPDATE - NOV 25: The chattering idiots on MSNBC's Morning Joe show have Jeremy Scahill on to discuss his article. How did they manage to spin this into a story on anti-Latino Lou Dobbs running for President? Pathetic! What a bunch of morons.]

In his latest article Scahill reports that Blackwater is running a secret operation for the US military in Pakistan. You should read the whole story in the Nation titled "Blackwater's Secret War in Pakistan". Here's an excerpt to whet your appetite.
At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, "snatch and grabs" of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help run a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus.
"This is a parallel operation to the CIA," said the source. "They are two separate beasts." The program puts Blackwater at the epicenter of a US military operation within the borders of a nation against which the United States has not declared war--knowledge that could further strain the already tense relations between the United States and Pakistan.
One thing you should know about this article - it's full of anonymous sources. If it was anyone other than Jeremy Scahill reporting this stuff, I would be quite leary. But given Scahill's track record, I am accepting as truth everything he says until someone proves it to be false.

And you should also know that Scahill reports that the US Defense Dept. and Blackwater are denying everything he is saying. He includes quotes to this effect in the article.
A defense official, on background, specifically denied that Blackwater performs work on drone strikes or intelligence for JSOC in Pakistan. "We don't have any contracts to do that work for us. We don't contract that kind of work out, period," the official said. "There has not been, and is not now, contracts between JSOC and that organization for these types of services."
Blackwater, which recently changed its name to Xe Services and US Training Center, denies the company is operating in Pakistan. "Xe Services has only one employee in Pakistan performing construction oversight for the U.S. Government," Blackwater spokesperson Mark Corallo said in a statement to The Nation, adding that the company has "no other operations of any kind in Pakistan."
So someone is not giving us the true story. As I said before, my money is on Scahill. Which means that Blackwater (aka Xe) and the US Defense Department have got a lot of 'splaining to do.

Scahill strongly suggests that the Blackwater operation is being run in such a way to deliberately mislead Congress and public opinion in both the US and Pakistan. He even suggests that the whole operation has been hidden from the Obama administration. The whole structure of the operation seems to be designed for maximum deniability.
The source said that the program is so "compartmentalized" that senior figures within the Obama administration and the US military chain of command may not be aware of its existence.
While JSOC technically runs the operations in Karachi, he said, it is largely staffed by former US special operations soldiers working for a division of Blackwater, once known as Blackwater SELECT, and intelligence analysts working for a Blackwater affiliate, Total Intelligence Solutions (TIS), which is owned by Blackwater's founder, Erik Prince. The military source said that the name Blackwater SELECT may have been changed recently. Total Intelligence, which is run out of an office on the ninth floor of a building in the Ballston area of Arlington, Virginia, is staffed by former analysts and operatives from the CIA, DIA, FBI and other agencies. It is modeled after the CIA's counterterrorism center. In Karachi, TIS runs a "media-scouring/open-source network," according to the source. Until recently, Total Intelligence was run by two former top CIA officials, Cofer Black and Robert Richer, both of whom have left the company. In Pakistan, Blackwater is not using either its original name or its new moniker, Xe Services, according to the former Blackwater executive. "They are running most of their work through TIS because the other two [names] have such a stain on them," he said.
Another thing you need to know in order to fully appreciate this story is just what exactly the JSOC is. Scahill does get into it in the article, but its a bit buried and he doesn't get into great detail. So here's some supplementary information from the ever reliable Wikipedia. (You should give them a donation if you haven't already.)
The Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) also commands and controls the Special Mission Units (SMU) of United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). These units perform highly classified activities. So far, only three SMUs have been publicly disclosed: The Army's 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment - Delta (Delta Force), the Navy's SEAL Team 6 or Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), and the Air Force's 24th Special Tactics Squadron. Intelligence Support Activity (ISA) which often operates under various cover names such as Royal Cape, Granite Rock and Powder Keg were some, Centra Spike and Torn Victor. However, its most recent known cover name was Gray Fox. The army once maintained the Activity, but after September 11 attacks the Pentagon shifted direct control to Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) at Fort Bragg, NC. If needed, Army Rangers and Night Stalkers can be transferred under the JSOC command. JSOC’s primary mission is believed to be identifying and destroying terrorists and terror cells worldwide.

USSOCOM/JSOC cannot conduct covert action operations, as the CIA is the only organization that has the authority to conduct these actions. However, USSOCOM has an excellent relationship with the CIA's elite Special Activities Division and the two forces often operate together with exceptional results. The CIA's Special Activities Division's Special Operations Group often selects their recruits from JSOC.
The way I interpret this information is that the JSOC is in charge of all Special Forces within the military. These are elite units that are trained to do clandestine operations among other things. The relationship with the CIA is a little fuzzy - probably intentionally so. What does it mean that the JSOC cannot perform "covert action operations"? It seems to me like a large part of their mission is based on doing covert operations.

As I said, I think there is an intent to keep secret from the public the full extent of JSOC operations. As for example, the information that Jeremy Scahill reveals in his article. For me, this was the first I'd ever heard of the JSOC and I suspect this will be true for most of the American public.

Another thing you should know about the JSOC. General Stanley A. McChrystal, the current commander of US forces in Afghanistan, was the man in charge of JSOC from 2003 to 2008. (Yes that's the same General McChrystal that has been so adamant about the need to increase the number of US troops in Afghanistan by up to 80,000.)

You can read more about McChrystal's term as commander of JSOC here. If your in favor of torture and death squads, then you will be a huge fan of the JSOC. The whole Abu Ghraib thing keeps coming up.
McChrystal's Zarqawi unit, Task Force 6-26, became well-known for its interrogation methods, particularly at Camp Nama, where it was accused of abusing detainees. After the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal became public in April 2004, 34 members of the task force were disciplined.
But apparently the disciplining never went up as far as Gen. McChrystal. In fact he got promoted on May 1, 2004 from a one star general to a two star general. And not long after that, on February 16, 2006, he got promoted to a three star general. So the whole Abu Ghraib "scandal" didn't seem to have any bad effects on McChrystal's career - in fact it seems to have earned him his promotions.

His final promotion (this one under the Obama administration) was to a full four star general which occurred on June 15, 2009 as a result of his assignment to take command of US forces in Afghanistan.

McChrystal also appears to be tightly connected through JSOC to the policy of drone attacks in Pakistan. Scahill talks about the connection between JSOC and the drone attacks in his article.
The military intelligence source also confirmed that Blackwater continues to work for the CIA on its drone bombing program in Pakistan, as previously reported in the New York Times, but added that Blackwater is working on JSOC's drone bombings as well. "It's Blackwater running the program for both CIA and JSOC," said the source. When civilians are killed, "people go, 'Oh, it's the CIA doing crazy shit again unchecked.' Well, at least 50 percent of the time, that's JSOC [hitting] somebody they've identified through HUMINT [human intelligence] or they've culled the intelligence themselves or it's been shared with them and they take that person out and that's how it works."
Scahill is saying that there are two separate (but no doubt related) targeted assassination drone programs - one run by the CIA and the other by the JSOC - and that one of the common links is Blackwater. But again, I can't do justice to all the information in Jeremy's article. I just wanted to provide some useful background.

I do want to highlight what appears to be a similarity between the logo of JSOC and that of Xe/Blackwater which is the X pattern. Notice the X pattern in the JSOC logo formed by the crossed swords. I'm guessing that these swords are intended to represent a gladius - a type of relatively short sword used by the Roman Legions. Isn't it appropriate that the American Empire uses symbols from the Roman Empire? The bad news is that the Romans never conquered Afghanistan, and even Alexander the Great was unable to win a decisive victory there. On the other hand Alexander did fall in love with a local beauty - Roxane.

It shouldn't be that surprising that there would be similarities in the logos of the two organizations given that Blackwater was founded by a Navy SEAL - Erik Prince. Remember that the Navy SEALs are one component of the JSOC. And one of the sources of recruitment for Blackwater is former Special Forces operative.

Finally I would like to point out that Scahill's revelations about Blackwater in Pakistan may have significant repercussions on the local politics there. For one thing the Taliban have been claiming that some of the bombings that have been going on in Pakistan are the work of Blackwater.
Attacks that have continued across Pakistani towns and cities are being blamed on Tehreek e-Taliban, Pakistan's Taliban.

However, the group has issued its first video statement denying involvement in targeting civilians and has blamed external forces for at least two recent blasts.

Azam Tariq, a spokesman of the Tehreek e-Taliban, posted the video statement on YouTube on Monday.

The message refers to a bombing at the Islamic University in Islamabad, which the spokesman said was orchestrated to prepare the ground for a military operation in South Waziristan, a stronghold for Pakistan's Taliban fighters.

He also said his group had no role in the bomb blast in a Peshawar market that killed at least 100 people as well as an attack in Charsada, a town located in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province.

Tariq said Taliban attacks never aimed to target civilians, but that the explosions were linked to Blackwater activities in the country.
If Scahill is correct in his assertion that Blackwater and the JSOC are waging a secret war in Pakistan, then these claims by the Taliban need to be fully investigated.

The other story related to this is the promise of a Pakistani Minister to resign if it is found that Blackwater has been operating in Pakistan.
Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik has made it clear he will resign from his slot if US security company Blackwater is found in Pakistan, saying there is no Blackwater in Pakistan and we will not hide anything from the public.

Talking to the media on Saturday, he said the DynCorp is working in Pakistan for assistance and transit to Afghanistan-based allied forces since 2003 but it is not working for Blackwater.
So there is a lot riding on the Scahill story of a Blackwater presence in Pakistan. This is not a story that can be ignored, and you can be sure that Jeremy Scahill will be out publicizing this story in the days to come. It will be interesting to see the response not only from the US Defense Department and Blackwater, but from the Pakistani government and the Taliban as well.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Another bioweapon unleashed on an unsuspecting public?

Got the flu? You might want to use some Vicks Sinex nasal spray to relieve your symptoms. Or maybe not.

It seems that some 120,000 bottles of the popular nasal spray are being recalled for contamination with a bacteria (Burkholderia cepacia) that causes pneumonia. This type of pneumonia is associated with people with Cystic Fibrosis and has a 35% mortality rate.

The manufacturer, Proctor and Gamble, says that: "The bacteria poses little medical risk to healthy individuals but that clearly is not acceptable." Of course if your healthy, then why would you use a nasal spray like this?

Maybe the pharmaceutical companies didn't feel like they were getting a high enough death count from the swine (H1N1) flu to cause sufficient panic to get governments to keep wasting billions of dollars in public funds on vaccines and anti-viral medicines. So they decided to up the death count by spreading pneumonia causing bacteria in nasal sprays.

You've got to admit that would be a really clever plan. What better way to target flu victims than with a nasal spray intended to alleviate their symptoms. And what better delivery system than a spray that the unknowing victim would breathe deeply into his already infected nasal cavities. From there the bacteria would have an easy time entering into the lungs where it could finish off its victim.

And especially since most flu victims don't die from the flu itself, but from bacterial infections which result in pneumonia. And this particular bacteria is resistant to most common antibiotics, so by the time the results came back from tests the victim might already be dead.

But our government and/or pharmaceutical companies would never conspire to do something like that - would they?

Rest assured because P&G has taken complete responsibility and is offering "replacement coupons". See, they really do care about you. And of course they quickly updated their product web page to reflect the recall.

No? Uh, yeah, well I'm sure their working on that. Of course any good consumer would know to go down to the bottom of the page where there is a link in really tiny font to the recall page.

See that! "You're taken care of." Isn't that nice. And from there your only a few clicks away from the companies recall announcement.
CINCINNATI, Nov. 19, 2009 - The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG) announced today it is voluntarily recalling three lots of its Vicks Sinex nasal spray in three countries: the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The company said it is taking this precautionary step after finding the bacteria B. cepacia in a small amount of product made at its plant in Gross Gerau, Germany. There have been no reports of illness. However, the bacteria could cause serious infections for individuals with a compromised immune system, or those with chronic lung conditions, such as cystic fibrosis. B. cepacia poses little medical risk to healthy individuals.

P&G detected this problem during routine quality control at the plant and promptly took action. The company's analysis to date shows this problem is limited to a single batch of raw material mixture involving three lots of product. These three lots were sold only in the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom.
So I guess its "routine" to not check a product for bacterial contamination until after its shipped and on the shelves of pharmacies worldwide. Uh-huh. That makes sense.

And the announcement fails to mention anything about the risk to people infected with the swine flu. That does seem a bit deliberate given the current "pandemic" and swine flu "emergency" declared by President Obama. I guess it just never occurred to P&G management that someone that is sick from swine flu might seek relief with its Vicks Sinex product. But I'm sure the ever vigilant mainstream media will be quick to bring this question up - or not.

If you ask me this looks like an exercise in damage control. I wonder how many meetings they went through where managers insisted that the product not be recalled to avoid a panic, while low level technicians kept insisting that there was a real danger to the public. The press release continues.
This lot number is listed on both the outer carton and the bottle. Consumers should simply discard the affected product as they would any OTC medicine.

P&G is removing the product in question from store shelves and has informed regulatory authorities in the affected countries. P&G said it found the bacteria B. cepacia in a small amount of product from U.S. lot 9239028831 and is conducting testing on the U.K. and German lots that have been produced from the same batch of raw material mixture.

Anyone who has these specific lots of this product can call P&G for a replacement coupon or refund at the following numbers...
Yes Mr. and Ms. Consumer you would really be helping us out here in destroying the evidence by just dumping it in the trash. We wouldn't want to have an actual investigation of the facts to turn up that the "small" amount of contaminated product actually turned out to be much more. How do they know it's just a "small" amount of product? And since when is 120,000 of anything considered "small"?

But remember at P&G "You're taken care of." That's really all you need to know.

Time's up for Tim Geithner

The way I see it at this point Timothy Geithner has two choices - either he can resign or be fired. Congress is gunning for him and eventually Obama will be forced to offer him up as a sacrifice. Of course his friends over at Goldman Sachs will do everything in their power to weather this storm. Bernanke, too, must be sweating knowing that he's next to be brought up before the congressional firing line. And Larry Summers has been hiding out of sight - maybe in one of Cheney's old bunkers.

Today Tim Geithner was asked point blank to resign by Representative Kevin Brady of (R-Texas).

Yesterday Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) called for Obama to axe Geithner. DeFazio is one of the good guys in Congress. He's clearly lost his patience with Geithner's machinations in favor of Wall Street and to the detriment of Main Street.

The chorus of boos for Geithner is growing. This comes in the aftermath of new revelations from SIGTARP Neil Barofsky regarding Tim's handling of the AIG bailout as President of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

My advise to Tim, watch your back. That knife in the dorsal area may come from someone that you least suspect. Think you've got friends watching out for you? Think again. They'll throw you to the lions to save their hides in a New York Wall Street minute.

Maybe this episode will blow over like previous criticisms of Geithner. Maybe Obama will "stand by his [Gold]man" like he has in the past. But Geithner is increasingly being maneuvered into a corner. And there are growing calls for him to be sacrificed to the populist lions.

Want some more advice Tim? Better to go quietly. If you attempt to take down some of your former friends with you, it could end up very badly for you. Yeah, watch your back and go quietly. That's always good advice to someone who is involved up to his neck in a criminal conspiracy that is about to be publicly exposed.

Related posts
[UPDATE - NOV 19 2:30 PM]

I was reviewing my previous posts on Tim Geithner. The list above is just a smattering. You can get a full list by using Google to search my blog for Geithner. I just want to highlight one post because it emphasizes the extent to which Geithner is involved in what I believe is a conspiracy to destroy the United States economically and to transfer power to China. This should be especially apparent now in the wake of President Obama's trip to China to ritually pass the baton of world leadership over to the Chinese government. I understand this sort of conspiratorial thinking is not everybody's cup of tea. But I think it is worth considering in light of the catastrophic events of the past year. I wrote this back in March 2009 as part of an article titled "The US Civil War in reverse - fight the new slavery!".
I highlighted that group [G30 members] because the Governor of the People's Bank of China, Zhou Xiaochuan, had become a member in 2005. It's very interesting that out of that group of 28 people, three have become key members of Obama's economic team.
  • Timothy Geitner is the new Treasury Secretary.
  • Lawrence Summers is the chairman of the National Economic Council.
  • Paul Volcker is the chair of the newly formed Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
Again, the test of a theory is in its ability to make accurate predictions. It's clear to me that the actions of Zhou Xiaochuan are coordinated with those of Tim Geithner. While they may pretend to be at odds, as in when Geithner seemed to threaten China with the label of "currency manipulator", they are actually engaging in a coordinated action. They had 3 years together as members of the G30 to come up with their plans. And don't try to look for any notes from the meetings because the G30 is a highly secretive organization which does not provide the public with insight into its private discussions.

The reason that the International Bankers appointed Geithner to be Obama's Treasury Secretary was not because of his great public speaking abilities - he has none. Or his ability to sell the new economic plan to the American public - he's a lousy salesman. The reason he was appointed is because he is an insider. He is someone who has proved he can be trusted to follow orders and not go off on his own. But just in case Geithner gets any wild ideas the International Bankers have insisted on placing in the position of Geithner's chief of staff another one of their own to keep an eye on him. I'm referring here to the controversial appointment of the Goldman Sachs ex-lobbyist Mark Patterson.

It's left to Obama himself to be the chief salesman and head cheerleader for the economic plan. Even Bernanke has been drafted to help in the cheerleading as seen in his 60 minutes performance. That's how bad Geithner is at handling the public spotlight. Again, he wasn't chosen for his sales ability. He was chosen for his proven allegiance to the International Bankers. He has been working for their cause as President of the New York Fed for years. He never challenged them or spilled the beans on their dubious investment schemes. He participated in planning the Paulson bailout, particularly with regards to the shady dealings involving AIG. He's part of the clan. His hands are dirty. If they go down, he knows that he'll go down with them. In a word, Geithner has been "initiated".

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Battle for East Jerusalem

As today's news confirms, there is a battle going on for Arab East Jerusalem. Today Israel has declared that it will build 900 new housing units in East Jerusalem despite the protests of the United States.
"We are dismayed at the Jerusalem Planning Committee's decision to move forward on the approval process for the expansion of Gilo in Jerusalem," [White House Press Secretary Robert] Gibbs said in the statement.

"The U.S. also objects to other Israeli practices in Jerusalem related to housing, including the continuing pattern of evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes," he said.
In June of this year Al Jazeera did a series on the crisis in East Jerusalem. Without international support the Palestinians will be forced out of Jerusalem.

Holy Land Grab - Part 1

Holy Land Grab - Part 2

UPDATE - Nov 17 11:30 PM

I found a State Department press briefing from today that goes extensively into the issue of the latest housing units authorized by Israel in Arab East Jerusalem.

Daily Press Briefing by Department Spokesman Ian Kelly
Nov. 17, 2009
Discussion of developments in East Jerusalem 7:30 - 17:10

Section of transcript dealing with East Jerusalem and related topics.

QUESTION: On the peace process, Israel has approved today the construction of 900 new housing units in East Jerusalem. How do you view this approval at this specific time?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think, Michel, you’ve heard us say many times that we believe that neither party should engage in any kind of actions that could unilaterally preempt or appear to preempt negotiations. And I think that we find the Jerusalem Planning Committee’s decision to move forward on the approval of the – approval process for the expansion of Gilo in Jerusalem as dismaying.

This is at a time when we’re working to re-launch negotiations, and we believe that these actions make it more difficult for our efforts to succeed. So we object to this, and we object to other Israeli practices in Jerusalem related to housing, including the continuing pattern of evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes.

And – just to repeat what we’ve said all along, our position on Jerusalem is clear. We believe that the – that Jerusalem is a permanent status issue that must be resolved through negotiations between the two parties.

QUESTION: Can you tell us, did this come up in Ambassador Mitchell’s meetings in London yesterday? Apparently, we were told that he met an advisor to Netanyahu, asked them to not permit these new buildings, and then that request was flatly turned down.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Andy, I just don’t want to get into the substance of these negotiations. They’re sensitive. I think you’ve seen the Israeli – some Israeli press reports that did report that this was raised in the meetings. This is – I mean, these kinds of unilateral actions are exactly the kind of actions that we think that both sides should refrain from at a time when we’re trying to start the negotiations again. But I don’t want to get into the substance of the discussions yesterday in London.

QUESTION: Would you steer us away from not believing the Israeli press reports?

MR. KELLY: I just don’t want to get into the substance. I’m not going to steer you one way or the other on it.

QUESTION: Where’s Senator Mitchell today?

QUESTION: How long is the U.S. going to continue to tolerate Israel’s violation of international law? I mean, soon it’s not even going to be possible – there’s not going to be any land left for the Palestinians to establish an independent state.

MR. KELLY: Well, again, this is a – we understand the Israeli point of view about Jerusalem. But we think that all sides right now, at this time when we’re expending such intense efforts to try and get the two sides to sit down, that we should refrain from these actions, like this decision to move forward on an approval process for more housing units in East Jerusalem.

QUESTION: But should U.S. inaction, or in response to Israel’s actions, then be interpreted as some sort of about-face in policy – the President turning his back on the promises he’s made to the Palestinians?

MR. KELLY: You’re – okay, you’re using language that I wouldn’t use. I mean, again, our focus is to get these negotiations started. We’re calling on both parties to refrain from actions, from – and from rhetoric that would impede this process. It’s a challenging time, and we just need to focus on what’s important here, and that’s --

QUESTION: Well, what actions (inaudible) the Palestinians taken recently that would impede progress?

MR. KELLY: Well, as I say, we would discourage all unilateral actions, and I think --

QUESTION: Fair enough. But the Palestinians --

MR. KELLY: We talked yesterday --

QUESTION: -- don’t appear to be taking any unilateral actions. It seems to be (inaudible).

MR. KELLY: Well, we did talk yesterday about the – and I want to make sure I get my language right here – about the – discouraging any kind of unilateral appeal for United Nations Security Council recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. That would fall in that category of unilateral actions.

QUESTION: Okay. So the Palestinian call for this, which was rejected by both the EU and yourself yesterday, you’re putting that on the same level as them building – as the Israelis building --

MR. KELLY: No, I’m not saying that. You just said that, Matt. I’m not saying that. I’m just saying that --

QUESTION: Well, you’re saying you’re calling on both sides to stop doing these things.

MR. KELLY: We are.

QUESTION: Yeah. But the rhetoric from the --

MR. KELLY: I’m not saying they’re equivalent.

QUESTION: -- Palestinians is not actually constructed in a --

MR. KELLY: I’m not saying they’re equivalent. I’m just saying that we – they – we have to treat these things as sensitive issues.

QUESTION: You said a little bit earlier that we understand the Israeli point of view on Jerusalem. Can you explain what you mean by that?

MR. KELLY: Well, you have to ask – I’m not going to stand up here and characterize the Israeli point of view on --

QUESTION: No. I’m just asking you, if you understand the Israeli point of view on Jerusalem, why are you saying that this is not a good thing?

MR. KELLY: I’m not saying we support the Israeli point of view. We understand it.

QUESTION: Right. And then, last one on this, you characterized this decision by the planning commission as dismaying.


QUESTION: You can’t come up with anything stronger than “dismaying”? I mean, this flies in the face of everything you’ve been talking about for months and months and months.

MR. KELLY: It’s dismaying.

QUESTION: Yeah, you can’t offer a condemnation of it or anything like that? (Laughter.) I mean, who is in charge of the language here.

MR. KELLY: I have said what I have said, Mr. Lee.


QUESTION: Would you say, though, that your own envoy has – does he have any leverage at this point, given the fact that the Israelis not only refuse, but blatantly have ignored his wishes on this?

MR. KELLY: Well, let’s take a step back and let’s also recognize that both sides agree on the goal, and that goal is a comprehensive peace. That goal is two states living side by side in peace and security and cooperation. So that is why we continue to be committed to this. That is why Special Envoy Mitchell meets with both sides at every opportunity, and why we are continuing to expend such efforts on this. So let’s remember that, that we do share a common goal.

QUESTION: Well, where’s Senator Mitchell today?

MR. KELLY: I believe Senator Mitchell is on his way back today.

QUESTION: Could you give us just a brief synopsis of the progress that Senator Mitchell has made in his months on the job?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think we have – we’ve gotten --

QUESTION: Yeah, maybe if the --

MR. KELLY: -- both sides to agree on this goal. We have gotten both sides --

QUESTION: Ian, they agreed on the goal years ago. I mean, that’s not --

MR. KELLY: Well, I think that we – this government --

QUESTION: You mean you got the Israel Government to say, yes, we’re willing to accept a Palestinian state? You got Netanyahu to say that, and that’s his big accomplishment?

MR. KELLY: That is an accomplishment.

QUESTION: But previous Israeli administration – previous Israeli governments had agreed to that already.

MR. KELLY: Okay, all right.

QUESTION: So in other words, the bottom line is that, in the list of accomplishments that Mitchell has come up with or established since he started, is zero.

MR. KELLY: I wouldn’t say zero.

QUESTION: Well, then what would you say it is?

MR. KELLY: Well, I would say that we’ve gotten both sides to commit to this goal. They have – we have – we’ve had a intensive round or rounds of negotiations, the President brought the two leaders together in New York. Look --

QUESTION: But wait, hold on. You haven’t had any intense --

MR. KELLY: Obviously --

QUESTION: There haven’t been any negotiations.

MR. KELLY: Obviously, we’re not even in the red zone yet, okay.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. KELLY: I mean, we’re not – but it’s – we are less than a year into this Administration, and I think we’ve accomplished more over the last year than the previous administration did in eight years.

QUESTION: Well, I – really, because the previous administration actually had them sitting down talking to each other. You guys can’t even get that far.

MR. KELLY: All right.

QUESTION: I’ll drop it.

MR. KELLY: Give us a chance. Thank you, Matt.

Yeah, in the back.

QUESTION: It seems Senator Mitchell is focusing in his meetings on the Israeli side. Is he – does he have any plans to talk with the Palestinians, or there is no need now for that?

MR. KELLY: Well, he, as I say, he had meetings yesterday with the Israelis. He’s coming back to the U.S. now. He always stands ready to talk to both sides. There are no plans at this moment to meet with the Palestinian side.

Abbas outed by his Israeli 'friends'

"With friends like these who needs enemies?" That is what Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must be thinking. But if the truth be told, Abbas is well deserving of the criticism he is receiving from his Israeli allies.

As Abbas tries to squirm and wriggle his way out of his current crisis, it becomes ever more apparent that the P.A. President has been caught up in his own web of deceit. In his obsession to destroy his rivals Hamas he teamed up with the Palestinian people's enemies.

This became glaringly obvious when Abbas attempted to squash the Goldstone Report at the United Nations. As Abbas' credibility plummeted, his backers in the US and Israel attempted to prop him back up. But as this only caused him to be the target of more contempt among his own people, he attempted to revive his image by striking out on his own.

He then engaged in a series of moves designed to portray him as being independent from his Zionist handlers. Israel however was not amused by this show of independence by its puppet. The always outspoken Israeli Foreign Minister Avidgor Lieberman took the lead in attacking Abbas.
"During Operation Cast Lead the PA pressed us to crush Hamas, and then, a month later, they filed complaints against us at the International Criminal Court at The Hague,"
In one fell swoop Lieberman exposed the complicity between Abbas' and the Israeli government, and denounced him as a hypocrite. In so doing he confirmed the rumors that Abbas had encouraged the Israeli attacks on Gaza and that the plan was for the P.A. to "ride into Gaza on the backs of Israeli tanks."

(Of course Israel and the US are not alone in backing the Vichy government of the Palestinian Authority. The EU and Egypt have also joined in on this betrayal of the Palestinian people.)

As world opinion turns against the Israeli occupiers following the blatant massacre of innocent civilians in Gaza, the Zionist's attacks on their detractors becomes ever more shrill. The latest to receive a public lashing by the International Jewish Lobby is Human Rights Watch.

And of course Judge Richard Goldstone has not been spared, even though he is a fellow Jew and a self-proclaimed Zionist. But he has broken the unwritten law that no Jew is allowed to publicly criticize another Jew. And as such he is being treated as a pariah by the worldwide Jewish community.

Surely he could not have expected anything less. Yet somehow he seems genuinely surprised by the personal nature of the attacks that have been hurled against him.

In fairness, not all Jews or Jewish organizations have joined in this attack. And some brave Jewish voices have even been raised in public support of Judge Richard Goldstone. But the unwritten code of solidarity is well known and understood, and certainly he is not receiving much sympathy for his perceived betrayal of his own people.

But let us never forget the true victims, who are the Palestinian people. Whose lives have been sacrificed for no reason. Who have been living in a perpetual punishment ever since the creation of the state of Israel. And if they dare to defend themselves, they are labeled "terrorists".

But who strikes with overwhelming force and who responds with whatever meager weapons are at their disposal in their defense? Who are the terrorists and who are the victims? How many more Palestinian lives must be sacrificed before Justice is carried out?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pakistan is Israel's booby prize


I was listening to Scott Horton's interview of Eric Margolis on Anti-War Radio and I was so struck by a quote from Margolis that I felt compelled to write this post. Here is the quote which appears at 14:20 in the interview.
"Most Pakistanis believe that Washington is trying to destroy Pakistan and tear it apart as a way of getting at its nuclear weapons. And of undermining an important Muslim state. And that this is being done primarily at the behest of Israel."
While Margolis goes on to say that he does not share this view. I for one think this is a highly plausible explanation for what is going on in Pakistan.

War on Islam

Attack Iran, Bomb Iran, Invade Iran.

This has been Israel's mantra for years. At the most recent AIPAC convention Iran was the number one topic on the agenda. What Israel and AIPAC have been given instead is a sort of Islamic booby prize - Pakistan.

Iran is Islamic and it is developing nukes; Pakistan is Islamic and it has nukes. Iran borders Afghanistan and Iraq; Pakistan borders Afghanistan and Iran.

While no American or Israeli bombs are exploding over Iranian territory, bombs aplenty are raining down on Pakistan. Muslims are dying and even fighting each other, and this is the ultimate goal of the neocon monsters embedded in the US government to do Israel's bidding - to divide and conquer Islam. It is the Balkanization of any Muslim country that is seen as a threat to Israel.

Hillary Clinton promised Israel a war with Iran. When she couldn't deliver, she opted for a war with Pakistan instead. Pakistan is Israel's consolation prize.

With the CIA already controlling a large part of the Pakistani military it was relatively easy to get Pakistan to launch an invasion on it's own people - plunging Pakistan into a bloody civil war. The perfectly predictable radicalization of conservative Muslim elements in Pakistan has resulted in a wave of bomb attacks against government targets. The total destabilization of the country of Pakistan has begun.

Happy Israel?

And the US is poised to seize control of Pakistan's nukes if it deems that they are at risk of falling into the hands of Israel's enemies.

Of course India is in on this as well. And China, which is sitting on the sidelines, will probably end up being one of the biggest beneficiary of this instability in Pakistan. And the biggest loser? The Pakistani people of course, but next in line are the American people.

The invisible war

"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

It is not just through nuclear weapons that America destroys worlds. The destruction can happen just as effectively through the spiritual world as through the physical world. An invisible spiritual nuclear war is being waged on the native civilizations of the planet.

Islam is the one part of the world that has not fallen under the direct control of the International Bankers. They have steadfastly refused to modernize and to become totally dependent on the financial infrastructure of the "civilized" world. They have refused to allow free access to the filthy rotten propaganda that streams continuously from Hollywood and the rest of the western media.

What is to be done? They are not seduced by the western Jezebel. The alternative is to unleash the military might of the west upon them. To physically destroy what could not be destroyed through propaganda. To crush their culture so that they will become enslaved and totally dependent on the outside western world.

Then like so many other denigrated cultures throughout the world, they will follow the predictable descent down the path of violence and drugs - the inevitable result of a culture crushed and cast aside by the imperial Juggernaut.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Chief Sitting Bull and the Ghost Dancers

I was thinking about LastStandistan - I mean Afghanistan. That's 'last stand' as in Custer's Last Stand at the Little Big Horn. I wonder what Chief Sitting Bull of the Lakota Indians would think of the US imperial invasion of Afghanistan. Yesterday's renegade Indians are todays Muslim terrorists. Why do they hate us?

Will the US Empire keep expanding until it covers the whole globe? And then what? The Moon? Mars?

Words of wisdom attributed to Chief Sitting Bull.
Is it wrong for me to love my own? Is it wicked for me because my skin is red? Because I am Sioux? Because I was born where my father lived? Because I would die for my people and my country?

The love of possessions is a disease in them.

They claim this mother of ours, the Earth, for their own use, and fence their neighbors away from her, and deface her with their buildings and their refuse.

They want us to give up another chunk of our tribal land. This is not the first time or the last time.

When I was a boy, the Sioux owned the world. The sun rose and set on their land; they sent ten thousand men to battle. Where are the warriors today? Who slew them? Where are our lands? Who owns them?

You think I am a fool, but you are a greater fool than I am.

We did not give you our land; You stole it from us.

Many years ago now, I saw a movie called Koyaanisqatsi. I'll never forget that . The title of the film is from a Hopi word meaning "life of moral corruption and turmoil" or "life out of balance." Somehow this movie without words or dialogue reached me. It touched an inner place in my spirit. It raised my consciousness.

I wish I could say that it has changed my life. Perhaps in subtle ways, it has affected the decisions I have made in my life. But fundamentally, I still lead the same life of frivolous consumption that I would have otherwise. What choices do we have? What alternatives does our society offer?

To go hungry and beg in the streets? Not even that. While in some societies beggars are at least tolerated, here in the heart of the empire they are hustled off to prison. It's considered unseemly to have beggars on the streets of the richest and most powerful nation on the planet. Better to hide them away in 'homeless shelters' and prisons. Where they can be out of sight and out of mind. So that we can continue to delude ourselves into thinking that we live in the most just and compassionate society in the history of mankind.

Don't we give to charity? Isn't that enough? A sort of 'dollar diplomacy' for the average American household; a way to soothe the guilty soul of America.

Why just yesterday there was a statement from the UN rapporteur for right to adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, condemning the US for its lack of compassion towards its poor. And today there are more poor people than ever in the United States; more homeless as a result of evictions from people who have had to foreclose on homes that they could no longer afford after losing their jobs in the worst economic depression since the Great Depression of the 1930's.
A United Nations special investigator who was blocked from visiting the US by the Bush administration has accused the American government of pouring billions of dollars into rescuing banks and big business while treating as "invisible" a deepening homeless crisis.

Raquel Rolnik, the UN special rapporteur for the right to adequate housing, who has just completed a seven-city tour of America, said it was shameful that a country as wealthy as the US was not spending more money on lifting its citizens out of homelessness and substandard, overcrowded housing.

"The housing crisis is invisible for many in the US," she said. "I learned through this visit that real affordable housing and poverty is something that hasn't been dealt with as an issue. Even if we talk about the financial crisis and government stepping in in order to promote economic recovery, there is no such help for the homeless."

She added: "I think those who are suffering the most in this whole situation are the very poor, the low-income population. The burden is disproportionately on them and it's of course disproportionately on African-Americans, on Latinos and immigrant communities, and on Native Americans."

Rolnik toured Chicago, New York, Washington, Los Angeles and Wilkes-Barre, a Pennsylvania town where this year the first four sheriff sales – public auctions of seized property – in the county included 598 foreclosed properties. She also visited a Native American reservation.
Rolnik said that while she saw difficult conditions in all the places she visited, the worst was on the Native American reservation of Pine Ridge in South Dakota.

"You see total hopelessness, despair, very bad conditions. Nothing I have seen in other cities compared to the physical condition of the housing at Pine Ridge. Nothing compared to the overcrowding. They're not visible, they're isolated, they're far away. They're just lost," she said.
Can it be that America the Beautiful, the "home of the free and the brave", is being reduced to a nation of poverty and hopelessness -- except for those fortunate few Elite who frolic in their stolen riches.

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota - which Raquel Rolnik speaks about - is the site of Wounded Knee. To see the connection to Sitting Bull we need to traverse various pages on Wikipedia.
Lakota People

The Lakota signed a treaty in 1877 ceding the Black Hills to the United States, but a low-intensity war continued, culminating, fourteen years later, in the killing of Sitting Bull (December 15, 1890) at Standing Rock and the Massacre of Wounded Knee (December 29, 1890) at Pine Ridge.
Sitting Bull - Death and Burial

Sitting Bull returned to the Standing Rock Agency in South Dakota after 4 months in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. In 1890 James McLaughlin, the U.S. Indian Agent at Fort Yates on Standing Rock Agency, feared that the Lakota leader was about to flee the reservation with the Ghost Dancers, so he ordered the police to arrest Sitting Bull. On 14 December 1890, McLaughlin drafted a letter to Lt. Bullhead that included instructions and an outlined plan to capture the chief. The plan called for the attack to happen during dawn on December 15, and also advised the use of a light spring wagon to facilitate the chief's removal before his followers could rally. Lt. Bullhead decided, however, not to use the wagon. Instead, the police officers would force Sitting Bull to mount a horse as soon as the arrest was made.

At around 5:30 a.m. on December 15, 1890, a freezing drizzle fell as 39 police officers and 4 volunteers moved towards Sitting Bull's house. They surrounded the house, knocked and entered. Lt. Bullhead told Sitting Bull that he was under arrest and led him outside. At this time the camp was awake and they converged at the house of their chief. As Lt. Bullhead ordered Sitting Bull to mount the horse, he explained that the Indian affairs agent needed to see him and then he could come back to his house. However, Sitting Bull refused and the police used force on him. The Sioux in the village were enraged. A Sioux man known as Catch-the-Bear shouldered his rifle and shot Lt. Bullhead who, in return, fired his revolver into the chest of Sitting Bull. Another police officer, Red Tomahawk, shot Sitting Bull in the head and the chief dropped to the ground. A terrible close-quarters fight erupted and within minutes it was over. Six policemen were killed immediately and two more died shortly after the fight. Sitting Bull and seven of his supporters lay dead along with two horses. As the guns went off, a circus horse presented to Sitting Bull at the conclusion of his tour with Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Tour responded to its cue, sitting down on its haunches and offering a hoof to "shake hands."
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

Pine Ridge Reservation was originally part of the Great Sioux Reservation established in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 and originally encompassed approximately 60 million acres (240,000 km²) of parts of South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming. In 1876, the U.S. government violated the treaty of 1868 by opening up 7.7 million acres (31,000 km²) of the Black Hills to homesteaders and private interests. In 1889 the remaining area of Great Sioux Reservation was divided into seven separate reservations: Cheyenne River Agency, Crow Creek Agency, Lower Brule Agency, Rosebud Agency, Sisseton Agency, Yankton Agency and Pine Ridge Agency.

On December 29, 1890 at Wounded Knee, over 300 men, women and children were killed by the United States 7th Cavalry. The Native Americans were being transported to the Sioux reservation at Pine Ridge (see: Wounded Knee massacre).

Starting on February 27, 1973, the reservation was the site of the Wounded Knee Incident, a 71-day stand-off between entrenched American Indian Movement (AIM) activists and FBI agents and the National Guard. The AIM activists were led by Dennis Banks and Russell Means. During the firefight, two FBI agents were killed and a U.S. Marshal was paralyzed and two Oglala Lakotas were killed.
But who were these "Ghost Dancers" that originally prompted the Indian Agent to arrest Sitting Bull and which led to his cold blooded murder? I will let Ohiyesa (Dr. Charles Alexander Eastman) a Eastern Dakota (or Santee Sioux) who knew Sitting Bull tell the story.
At this crisis a strange thing happened. A half-breed Indian in Nevada promulgated the news that the Messiah had appeared to him upon a peak in the Rockies, dressed in rabbit skins, and bringing a message to the red race. The message was to the effect that since his first coming had been in vain, since the white people had doubted and reviled him, had nailed him to the cross, and trampled upon his doctrines, he had come again in pity to save the Indian. He declared that he would cause the earth to shake and to overthrow the cities of the whites and destroy them, that the buffalo would return, and the land belong to the red race forever! These events were to come to pass within two years; and meanwhile they were to prepare for his coming by the ceremonies and dances which he commanded.

This curious story spread like wildfire and met with eager acceptance among the suffering and discontented people. The teachings of Christian missionaries had prepared them to believe in a Messiah, and the prescribed ceremonial was much more in accord with their traditions than the conventional worship of the churches. Chiefs of many tribes sent delegations to the Indian prophet; Short Bull, Kicking Bear, and others went from among the Sioux, and on their return all inaugurated the dances at once. There was an attempt at first to keep the matter secret, but it soon became generally known and seriously disconcerted the Indian agents and others, who were quick to suspect a hostile conspiracy under all this religious enthusiasm. As a matter of fact, there was no thought of an uprising; the dancing was innocent enough, and pathetic enough their despairing hope in a pitiful Saviour who should overwhelm their oppressors and bring back their golden age.
America, America
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

Remember that? Whatever happened to brotherhood? Is there a stock symbol for that? How much did it gain or lose on Wall Street today? Are their credit default swaps hedging against a rise in brotherhood in America? How much has Goldman Sachs invested in that in the black markets that hide the truth from the eyes of the unsuspecting American public?

But now listen to Ray Charles' rendition of "America".

Maybe Ray Charles is correct in emphasizing one of the lesser known stanzas of the classic song America.

America, America
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine.

Maybe life is all about the gold; whether its yellow gold or black gold. Or gold as in money; or gold as in land. It sure is in the America of today. Maybe it always was.

Watch and listen to Koyaanisqatsi. Maybe it will change your life; even if it didn't change mine.

A closing thought from American philosopher and naturalist Henry David Thoreau from his book Walden Pond.
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."