Saturday, March 08, 2014

From the Shadows: Brzezinski's Ukraine Move on the Grand Chess Board

Grand Puppetmaster Brzezinski: Directing War Strategies from the Shadows

by Mike Whitney

“From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States has relentlessly pursued a strategy of encircling Russia, just as it has with other perceived enemies like China and Iran. It has brought 12 countries in central Europe, all of them formerly allied with Moscow, into the NATO alliance. US military power is now directly on Russia’s borders…This crisis is in part the result of a zero-sum calculation that has shaped US policy toward Moscow since the Cold War: Any loss for Russia is an American victory, and anything positive that happens to, for, or in Russia is bad for the United States. This is an approach that intensifies confrontation, rather than soothing it.”  - Stephen Kinzer, “US a full partner in Ukraine debacle”, Boston Globe
“We have removed all of our heavy weapons from the European part of Russia and put them behind the Urals” and “reduced our Armed Forces by 300,000. We have taken several other steps required by the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces Treaty in Europe (ACAF). But what have we seen in response? Eastern Europe is receiving new weapons, two new military bases are being set up in Romania and in Bulgaria, and there are two new missile launch areas — a radar in Czech republic and missile systems in Poland. And we are asking ourselves the question: what is going on? Russia is disarming unilaterally. But if we disarm unilaterally then we would like to see our partners be willing to do the same thing in Europe. On the contrary, Europe is being pumped full of new weapons systems. And of course we cannot help but be concerned.”  - Russian President Vladimir Putin, Munich Conference on Security Policy, February 2007

The Obama administration’s rationale for supporting the fascist-led coup in Ukraine collapsed on Wednesday when a “hacked” phone call between EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet revealed that the snipers who fired on protestors in Maidan Square in Kiev were not aligned with President Viktor Yanukovych, but with the protest leaders themselves.

The significance of the discovery cannot be overstated since the Obama team has used the killing of protestors to justify its support for the new imposter government.

Now it appears that members of the new government may be implicated in the killing of innocent civilians. This new information could force Obama to withdraw his support for the coup plotters in Kiev, which would derail the administration’s plan to remove Russia from the Crimea and expand NATO into Ukraine.

Here’s a short recap of the details from an article in Russia Today:

“Estonian foreign ministry has confirmed the recording of his conversation with EU foreign policy chief is authentic. Urmas Paet said that snipers who shot at protesters and police in Kiev were hired by Maidan leaders.

During the conversation, Paet stressed that “there is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but it was somebody from the new coalition.”….

The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued a statement on its website, saying that the recording of the leaked telephone conversation between Paet and Ashton is “authentic.” (“Estonian Foreign Ministry confirms authenticity of leaked call on Kiev snipers“, Russia Today)

To its credit, the UK Guardian published an article reporting the basic facts, but there’s been no coverage by the New York Times, the Washington Post or any of the major TV News networks. America’s elite media are engaged in a coordinated news blackout to keep people from seeing that the Obama administration and their EU collaborators are supporting a group of far-right extremists who were directly involved in the killing of civilians in order to topple a democratically-elected government.

Here’s more from the same article:

“…there is a stronger and stronger understanding that behind snipers it was not Yanukovych, it was somebody from the new coalition,” Paet says…the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened.” (“Ukraine crisis: bugged call reveals conspiracy theory about Kiev snipers“, Guardian)

There won’t be an investigation because an investigation would reveal the truth, and the truth would undermine Obama’s plan to install a puppet regime in Kiev. The new government has already shown that it is more than willing to do Washington’s bidding, that is, to impose austerity measures on the working people of Ukraine, to pay off fatcat bondholders in Berlin and Brussels via more extortionist IMF loans, to extend NATO to Russia’s border in contravention of agreements made with Bush the Elder following the fall of the Berlin Wall, and to pursue the crackpot dreams of global hegemony laid out in “The Grand Chessboard” by New World Order fantasist Zbigniew Brzezinski.

These are the primary objectives of the present policy which could be upended by the allegations of foul play.

The smoking gun revelations of the hacked phone call came just hours before US officials indicated they were planning to increase their military footprint in Eastern Europe.

According to the World Socialist Web Site:

“Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Pentagon will boost joint training of NATO forces in Poland and step up NATO air patrols in the Baltics…US military officials said they were deploying six F-15 fighter jets and KC-135 transport planes. ….One guided-missile frigate, the USS Taylor, is still in a Black Sea port in Turkey after patrolling the region during the Sochi Olympics…

Turkish officials confirmed that they had given a US Navy warship permission to pass through the Bosphorus straits into the Black Sea, which borders Ukraine.” (“Amid Ukraine crisis, US launches military escalation in Eastern Europe”, World Socialist Web Site)

Also Russia Today reports that: “The guided missile destroyer, the USS Truxton, is heading to the Black Sea, for what the US military said is a “routine” deployment…The ship has a crew of about 300 and is part of an aircraft carrier strike group that left the US in mid-February.” (“US navy confirms missile destroyer USS Truxton approaching the Black Sea”, RT)

“Routine deployment”? So provoking a war with Russia is “routine”? Talk about understatement.

The military escalation occurs in an atmosphere of heightened tension between the two nuclear-armed powers and will certainly add to their mutual distrust. Hagel’s deployment is consistent with a plan for antagonizing Moscow that was proposed just days earlier in the Washington Post by the Obama administration’s ideological godfather, Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Here’s a bit of what Brzezinski had to say in the article titled “What is to be done? Putin’s aggression in Ukraine needs a response”:

“…the West should promptly recognize the current government of Ukraine as legitimate. Uncertainty regarding its legal status could tempt Putin to repeat his Crimean charade…

“…the West should convey.. that the Ukrainian army can count on immediate and direct Western aid so as to enhance its defensive capabilities. There should be no doubt left in Putin’s mind that an attack on Ukraine would precipitate a prolonged and costly engagement, and Ukrainians should not fear that they would be left in the lurch.

Meanwhile, NATO forces, consistent with the organization’s contingency planning, should be put on alert. High readiness for some immediate airlift to Europe of U.S. airborne units would be politically and militarily meaningful. If the West wants to avoid a conflict, there should be no ambiguity in the Kremlin as to what might be precipitated by further adventurist use of force in the middle of Europe.” (“What is to be done? Putin’s aggression in Ukraine needs a response”, Washington Post)

“Adventurist”? Dr. Strangelove is calling the Kremlin adventurist when his recommendations would put NATO, the US and Moscow on hairtrigger alert increasing the chances of an error in judgment that could lead to thermonuclear war. Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?

But listen to the tone of Brzezinski’s op-ed. In just a few short paragraphs, the author–who many respect as a restrained and brilliant global strategist–refers to Putin as a thug, a Mafia gangster, Mussolini, and Hitler. I imagine if he had another paragraph to work with, he would have added Beelzebub Satan to the list.

This isn’t politics; it’s hysterics. It’s incendiary, jingoistic mumbo-jumbo intended to rouse the public and fan the flames of nationalism. It’s the same kind of self-righteous raving that precipitated the invasion of Iraq.

And what is Brzezinski saying?

Is he saying that events in the Crimea are a threat to US national security? Is he saying that the US should now feel free to apply the Monroe Doctrine everywhere across the planet, sticking our big nose wherever the president sees fit?

The trouble in the Crimea has nothing to do with the United States. We have no dog in this fight. This is about military expansion into Eurasia, this is about pipeline corridors and oil fields, this is about dismantling the Russian Federation and positioning multinational corporations and Wall Street investment banks in Asia for the new century.

And, finally, this is an ego-driven crusade by an old man who wants to see his looneybin NWO global hegemony vision enacted before they cart him off on a marble slab. That’s what this is really about; the glorious new world disorder, the dystopian wetdream of thinktank patricians everywhere whose only purpose in life is to initiate wars that other-peoples-sons will have to fight.

Entering Ukraine into the corporate-western alliance is a critical part of Brzezinski’s masterplan. The basic strategy has been underway since the fall of the Berlin Wall when neoliberal carpetbaggers from the US assisted in the looting of the former Soviet state leaving Russia politically broken and economically destitute. Since then, US policy towards Russia has been overtly hostile, making every effort to encircle the oil-rich nation while positioning nuclear missile installations on its perimeter. Now Washington is using its fascist-backed coup in Ukraine to force Moscow to relinquish its grip on a region that is vital to its national security.

Here’s a brief excerpt from an interview with Stephen Cohen, professor of Russian studies and history emeritus at New York University on Monday on PBS Newshour. Cohen helps to clarify what is really going on viv a vis the US and Russia:

“What we’re watching today is the worst kind of history being made, the descent of a new Cold War divide between West and East in Europe, this time not in faraway Berlin, but right on Russia’s borders through Ukraine. That will be instability and the prospect of war for decades to come for our kids and our grandchildren. The official version is that Putin is to blame; he did this. But it simply isn’t true. This began 20 years ago when Clinton began the movement of NATO toward Russia, a movement that’s continued.

…the fundamental issue here is that, three or four years ago, Putin made absolutely clear he had two red lines…One was in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. (Putin would not allow NATO in Georgia) The other was in Ukraine. We crossed both. You got a war in Georgia in 2008, and you have got today in Ukraine because we, the United States and Europe, crossed Putin’s red line.” (PBS News Hour)

There’s no doubt who is to blame for the present conflict in Cohen’s mind. It’s Washington.

So, here we are, between a rock and a hard place: Putin cannot back down on an issue that’s crucial to national security, and Washington is more determined than ever to pull Ukraine into –what Henry Kissinger calls–”a cooperative international system.” (aka–global capitalist rule) That means there’s going to be a war.

On Thursday, Crimea MPs voted unanimously to hold a referendum on whether the region should become a part of Russia or not. The balloting will take place in 10 days although Obama has already said that he will not honor the results. Apparently, other countries need to get the green-light from Washington before they conduct their elections now. This is how ridiculous things have gotten.

In 2008, Brzezinski revealed the real motives behind US aggression in Central Asia in an article that appeared in the Huffington Post that dealt primarily with the dust up in Georgia. (where Putin deployed Russian troops to defend Russian speaking civilians in South Ossetia.) Here’s what Brzezinski had to say:

“The question the international community now confronts is how to respond to a Russia that engages in the blatant use of force with larger imperial designs in mind: to reintegrate the former Soviet space under the Kremlin’s control and to cut Western access to the Caspian Sea and Central Asia by gaining control over the Baku/Ceyhan pipeline that runs through Georgia.

In brief, the stakes are very significant. At stake is access to oil as that resource grows ever more scarce and expensive and how a major power conducts itself in our newly interdependent world, conduct that should be based on accommodation and consensus, not on brute force.

If Georgia is subverted, not only will the West be cut off from the Caspian Sea and Central Asia. We can logically anticipate that Putin, if not resisted, will use the same tactics toward the Ukraine. Putin has already made public threats against Ukraine.” (“Brzezinski: Russia’s invasion of Georgia is Reminiscent of Stalin’s attack on Finland”; Huffington Post)

Huh? It sounds a lot like Brzezinski thinks that oil should be his. Or maybe he thinks it belongs to the western oil giants; is that it?

So we’re not dealing with national security, sovereignty or spheres of influence here. What we’re really talking about is “access to oil.” Not only that, but Brzezinski is being quite blunt in his assertion that “the West” –as he calls it–has a legitimate claim to the resources on other people’s land. Where’d he come up with that one?

In another interview on, in 2008, Brzezinski sounded the same alarm with a slightly different twist. Here’s an excerpt from the article titled ”Russia tends to destabilize Georgia”:

“Brzezinski said the United States witnessed “cases of possible threats by Russia… motivated not by some territorial disputes….but caused by intention to take control over the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline”.

“If Georgia government is destabilized, western access to Baku, Caspian Sea and further will be limited”, said Brzezinski …. he stated that Russia will try to consolidate its monopoly on these markets and will use all existing political and economic levers, including “politically motivated cessation of energy supplies” in Europe and Baltic states.

“Russia actively tends to isolate the Central Asian region from direct access to world economy, especially to energy supplies”, considers the political scientist.” (“Zbigniew Brzezinski: ”Russia tends to destabilize Georgia”

Putin is not isolating anyone and he’s certainly not taking over anyone’s damned pipeline. He’s the president of Russia. He sells oil and makes money, that’s how the system works. It’s called capitalism. But the oil is theirs. The natural gas is theirs. The pipelines are theirs. Not ours. Get over it!

Don’t kid yourself, it’s all about oil. Oil and power. The United States imperial ambitions are thoroughly marinated in oil, access to oil, and control of oil. Without oil, there’s no empire, no dollar hegemony, no overbloated, bullyboy military throwing weaker countries against the wall and extorting tribute. Oil is the coin of the realm, the path to global domination.

Putin has audacity to think that the oil beneath Russian soil belongs to Russia. Washington wants to change his mind about that. And that’s why the situation in Ukraine is so dangerous, because the voracious thirst for oil is pushing us all towards another world war.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at

Supreme Silence: Obama's War on Whistleblowers

Silencing Whistleblowers Obama-Style: Supreme Court Edition?

by Peter Van Buren  - TomDispatch

The Obama administration has just opened a new front in its ongoing war on whistleblowers. It’s taking its case against one man, former Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Air Marshal Robert MacLean, all the way to the Supreme Court. So hold on, because we’re going back down the rabbit hole with the Most Transparent Administration ever.

Despite all the talk by Washington insiders about how whistleblowers like Edward Snowden should work through the system rather than bring their concerns directly into the public sphere, MacLean is living proof of the hell of trying to do so. Through the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice (DOJ) wants to use MacLean’s case to further limit what kinds of information can qualify for statutory whistleblowing protections. If the DOJ gets its way, only information that the government thinks is appropriate -- a contradiction in terms when it comes to whistleblowing -- could be revealed. Such a restriction would gut the legal protections of the Whistleblower Protection Act and have a chilling effect on future acts of conscience.

Having lost its case against MacLean in the lower courts, the DOJ is seeking to win in front of the Supreme Court. If heard by the Supremes -- and there’s no guarantee of that -- this would represent that body’s first federal whistleblower case of the post-9/11 era. And if it were to rule for the government, even more information about an out-of-control executive branch will disappear under the dark umbrella of “national security.”

On the other hand, should the court rule against the government, or simply turn down the case, whistleblowers like MacLean will secure a little more protection than they’ve had so far in the Obama years. Either way, an important message will be sent at a moment when revelations of government wrongdoing have moved from the status of obscure issue to front-page news.
Tomgram: Peter Van Buren, The Next Battleground in the War on Whistleblowers

Who can keep up? The revelations -- mainly thanks to the documents Edward Snowden took from the National Security Agency -- are never-ending. Just this week, we learned that GCHQ, the British intelligence agency whose activities are interwoven with the NSA’s, used a program called Optic Nerve to intercept and store “the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing” (including Americans). As the Guardian reported, "In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery -- including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications -- from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally." Yahoo is now outraged; the Internet Association, a trade group for the giants of the industry, has condemned the program; and three U.S. senators announced an investigation of possible NSA involvement.

At about the same time, Glenn Greenwald revealed that GCHQ was engaging in "extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction." These included "'false flag operations' (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting ‘negative information’ on various forums." Again, this was evidently happening with the knowledge, if not collusion, of the NSA.

Meanwhile, with Washington entering a self-proclaimed era of "reform" when it comes to spying on Americans, we just got a striking you-can’t-win-for-losing Catch-22 message from the front lines of the surveillance wars. Claiming that recent pending lawsuits make it necessary, the Obama administration has requested permission to hang on to phone metadata “on billions of U.S. phone calls indefinitely instead of destroying it after five years.” Hmmm... this may be the only example we have of the U.S. intelligence community fighting tooth and nail to stick to the letter of the law.

And mind you, that’s just dipping a toe in the positively oceanic global surveillance waters. It’s been nine months since the Snowden revelations began and who can keep it all straight? Nonetheless, it’s possible to put everything we know so far into a simple message about our American world-in-the-making: the surveillance part of the national security state has, in its own mind, no boundaries at all. As a result, there is no one, nor any part of communications life on this planet, that is out of bounds to our surveillers.

Given what we now know, it’s easy to ignore what we don’t know about how our government is acting in our name. That's why the figure of the whistleblower -- and the Obama administration’s urge to suppress whistleblowing of any sort -- remains so important. How are we ever to know anything about the workings of that secret state of ours if someone doesn’t tell us? As a result, TomDispatch remains dedicated to documenting the Obama administration’s ongoing war against those who have the urge to bring the secret workings of the national security state to our attention -- especially in cases like Robert MacLean's, where otherwise little notice is paid in the mainstream media. So today, we’re publishing a follow-up to our earlier story about MacLean, again by TomDispatch regular Peter Van Buren. Himself a State Department whistleblower, Van Buren takes another deep dive into the dark territory he has dubbed post-Constitutional America. Tom 

Silencing Whistleblowers Obama-Style: 

Supreme Court Edition?

by Peter Van Buren

The issues in the MacLean case -- who is entitled to whistleblower protection, what use can be made of retroactive classification to hide previously unclassified information, how many informal classification categories the government can create bureaucratically, and what role the Constitution and the Supreme Court have in all this -- are arcane and complex. But stay with me. Understanding the depths to which the government is willing to sink to punish one man who blew the whistle tells us the world about Washington these days and, as they say, the devil is in the details.

Robert MacLean, Whistleblower

MacLean’s case is simple -- and complicated.

Here’s the simple part: MacLean was an air marshal, flying armed aboard American aircraft as the last defense against a terror attack. In July 2003, all air marshals received a briefing about a possible hijacking plot. Soon after, the TSA, which oversees the marshals, sent an unencrypted, open-air text message to their cell phones cancelling several months of missions for cost-cutting reasons. Fearing that such cancellations in the midst of a hijacking alert might create a dangerous situation for the flying public, MacLean worked his way through the system. He first brought his concerns to his supervisor and then to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general. Each responded that nothing could be done.

After hitting a dead end, and hoping that public pressure might force the TSA to change its policy, MacLean talked anonymously to a reporter who broadcast a critical story. After 11 members of Congress pitched in, the TSA reversed itself. A year later, MacLean appeared on TV in disguise to criticize agency dress and boarding policies that he felt made it easier for passengers to recognize marshals who work undercover. (On your next flight keep an eye out for the young man in khakis with a fanny pack and a large watch, often wearing a baseball cap and eyeing boarders from a first class seat.) This time the TSA recognized MacLean’s voice and discovered that he had also released the unclassified 2003 text message. He was fired in April 2006.

When MacLean contested his dismissal through internal government channels, he discovered that, months after firing him, the TSA had retroactively classified the text message he had leaked. Leaking classified documents is more than cause enough to fire a federal worker, and that might have been the end of it. MacLean, however, was no typical cubicle-dwelling federal employee. An Air Force veteran, he asserted his status as a protected whistleblower and has spent the last seven years marching through the system trying to get his job back.

How Everything in Government Became Classified

The text message MacLean leaked was retroactively classified as “security sensitive information” (SSI), a designation that had been around for years but whose usage the TSA only codified via memo in November 2003. When it comes to made-up classifications, that agency’s set of them proved to be only one of 28 known versions that now exist within the government bureaucracy. In truth, no one is sure how many varieties of pseudo-classifications even exist under those multiple policies, or how many documents they cover as there are no established reporting requirements.

By law there are officially only three levels of governmental classification: confidential, secret, and top secret. Other indicators, such as NOFORN and ORCON, seen for instance on some of the NSA documents Edward Snowden released, are called “handling instructions,” although they, too, function as unofficial categories of classification. Each of the three levels of official classification has its own formal definition and criteria for use. It is theoretically possible to question the level of classification of a document. However much they may be ignored, there are standards for their declassification and various supervisors can also shift levels of classification as a final report, memo, or briefing takes shape. The system is designed, at least in theory and occasionally in practice, to have some modicum of accountability and reviewability.

The government’s post-9/11 desire to classify more and more information ran head on into the limits of classification as enacted by Congress. The response by various agencies was to invent a proliferation of designations like SSI that would sweep unclassified information under the umbrella of classification and confer on ever more unclassified information a (sort of) classified status. In the case of the TSA, the agency even admits on its own website that a document with an SSI stamp is unclassified, but prohibits its disclosure anyway.

Imagine the equivalent at home: you arbitrarily establish a classification called Spouse Sensitive Information that prohibits your partner from seeing the family bank statements. And if all this is starting to make no sense, then you can better understand the topsy-turvy world Robert MacLean found himself in.

MacLean Wins a Battle in Court

In 2013, after a long series of civil service and legal wrangles, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit handed down a decision confirming the government’s right to retroactively classify information. This may make some sense -- if you squint hard enough from a Washington perspective. Imagine a piece of innocuous information already released that later takes on national security significance. A retroactive classification can’t get the toothpaste back in the tube, but bureaucratically speaking it would at least prevent more toothpaste from being squeezed out. The same ruling, of course, could also be misused to ensnare someone like MacLean who shared unclassified information.

The court also decided that, retrospective classification or not, MacLean was indeed entitled to protection under the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989. That act generally limits its protections to “disclosures not specifically prohibited by law,” typically held to mean unclassified material. This, the court insisted, was the category MacLean fit into and so could not be fired. The court avoided the question of whether or not someone could be fired for disclosing retroactively classified information and focused on whether a made-up category like SSI was “classified” at all.

The court affirmed that laws passed by Congress creating formal classifications like "top secret" trump regulations made up by executive branch bureaucrats. In other words, as the Constitution intended, the legislative branch makes the laws and serves as a check and balance on the executive branch. Congress says what is classified and that say-so cannot be modified via an executive branch memo. One of MacLean’s lawyers hailed the court’s decision as restoring “enforceability for the Whistleblower Protection Act's public free speech rights. It ruled that only Congress has the authority to remove whistleblower rights. Agency-imposed restraints are not relevant for whistleblower protection rights.”

The ruling made it clear that the TSA had fired MacLean in retaliation for a legally protected act of whistleblowing. He should have been offered his job back the next day.

Not a Happy Ending But a Sad New Beginning

No such luck. Instead, on January 27, 2014, the Department of Justice petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the lower court’s decision. If it has its way, the next time a troublesome whistleblower emerges, the executive need only retroactively slap a non-reviewable pseudo-classification on whatever information has been revealed and fire the employee. The department is, then, asking the Supreme Court to grant the executive branch the practical power to decide whether or not a whistleblower is entitled to legal protection. The chilling effect is obvious.

In addition, the mere fact that the DOJ is seeking to bring the case via a petition is significant. Such petitions, called writs of certiorari, or certs, ask that the Supreme Court overturn a lower court's decision. Through the cert process, the court sets its own agenda. Some 10,000 certs are submitted in a typical year. Most lack merit and are quickly set aside without comment. Typically, fewer than 100 of those 10,000 are chosen to move forward for a possibly precedent-setting decision. However, only a tiny number of all the certs filed are initiated by the government; on average, just 15 in a Supreme Court term.

It’s undoubtedly a measure of the importance the Obama administration gives to preserving secrecy above all else that it has chosen to take such an aggressive stance against MacLean -- especially given the desperately low odds of success. It will be several months before we know whether the court will hear the case.

This Is War

MacLean is simply trying to get his old air marshal job back by proving he was wrongly fired for an act of whistleblowing. For the rest of us, however, this is about much more than where MacLean goes to work.

The Obama administration’s attacks on whistleblowers are well documented. It has charged more of them -- seven -- under the Espionage Act than all past presidencies combined. In addition, it recently pressured State Department whistleblower Stephen Kim into a guilty plea (in return for a lighter sentence) by threatening him with the full force of that act. His case was even more controversial because the FBI named Fox News’s James Rosen as a co-conspirator for receiving information from Kim as part of his job as a journalist. None of this is accidental, coincidental, or haphazard. It’s a pattern. And it’s meant to be. This is war.

MacLean’s case is one more battle in that war. By taking the extraordinary step of going to the Supreme Court, the executive branch wants, by fiat, to be able to turn an unclassified but embarrassing disclosure today into a prohibited act tomorrow, and then use that to get rid of an employee. They are, in essence, putting whistleblowers in the untenable position of having to predict the future. The intent is clearly to silence them before they speak on the theory that the easiest leak to stop is the one that never happens. A frightened, cowed workforce is likely to be one result; another -- falling into the category of unintended consequences -- might be to force more potential whistleblowers to take the Manning/Snowden path.

The case against MacLean also represents an attempt to broaden executive power in another way. At the moment, only Congress can “prohibit actions under the law,” something unique to it under the Constitution. In its case against MacLean, the Justice Department seeks to establish the right of the executive and its agencies to create their own pseudo-categories of classification that can be used to prohibit actions not otherwise prohibited by law. In other words, it wants to trump Congress. Regulation made by memo would then stand above the law in prosecuting -- or effectively persecuting -- whistleblowers. A person of conscience like MacLean could be run out of his job by a memo.

In seeking to claim more power over whistleblowers, the executive also seeks to overturn another principle of law that goes by the term ex post facto. Laws are implemented on a certain day and at a certain time. Long-held practice says that one cannot be punished later for an act that was legal when it happened. Indeed, ex post facto criminal laws are expressly forbidden by the Constitution. This prohibition was written in direct response to the injustices of British rule at a time when Parliamentary laws could indeed criminalize actions retrospectively. While some leeway exists today in the U.S. for ex post facto actions in civil cases and when it comes to sex crimes against children, the issue as it affects whistleblowers brushes heavily against the Constitution and, in a broader sense, against what is right and necessary in a democracy.

When a government is of, by, and for the people, when an educated citizenry (in Thomas Jefferson’s words) is essential to a democracy, it is imperative that we all know what the government does in our name. How else can we determine how to vote, who to support, or what to oppose? Whistleblowers play a crucial role in this process. When the government willfully seeks to conceal its actions, someone is required to step up and act with courage and selflessness.

That our current government has been willing to fight for more than seven years -- maybe all the way to the Supreme Court -- to weaken legal whistleblowing protections tells a tale of our times. That it seeks to silence whistleblowers at a moment when their disclosures are just beginning to reveal the scope of our unconstitutional national security state is cause for great concern. That the government demands whistleblowers work within the system and then seeks to modify that same system to thwart them goes beyond hypocrisy.

This is the very definition of post-Constitutional America where legality and illegality blur -- and always in the government’s favor; where the founding principles of our nation only apply when, as, and if the executive sees fit. The devil is indeed in the details.

Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement in Iraq in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. A TomDispatch regular, he writes about current events at his blog, We Meant Well. His next book, Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99Percent, will be available in April.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook and Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Ann Jones’s They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars -- The Untold Story.

Copyright 2014 Peter Van Buren

Gasping for Truth Amid the Media Smog

The Dark Ages Have Descended Anew: No Truth Need Apply

by Daniel Patrick Welch

The near total blackout of truth in the Western media makes this one of the most dangerous times in history, with coordinated “news” outlets acting collectively as a sort of Ministry of Government Lies.

To try to escape this stranglehold, it is necessary to reach outside the echo chamber of massaged and approved opinion in which we are basted day in and day out. It's not that difficult.

I am perhaps one of the most hapless technophobes I know--my ten year old students have every new gadget possible, and their parents have even more. Yet somehow they can't escape the echo chamber. I have absolutely no difficulty, with a few clicks and searches, tapping a vast range of contacts outside the bubble.

But, true to form, there are border collies and tut-tutters who can't help but try to usher us back on script. I have been lectured to "think about who I'm selling myself too..." and warned about "lending my credibility to oppressive regimes." I am so tired of bullshit like this.

We have to shout this truth from every rooftop as loudly as we possibly can--we have no choice. Those who think we have the luxury of choice are deluded.

Besides, I lend my support to the oppressive regime in Washington every day, with every tax dollar I pay, with every fake smile I cede to authority, every stone I do not throw... every time I go into a store with my wife and she gets followed by a detective and I get asked if I'm the manager--I could have half the store under my belt and it still would not change this reality, and speaking out--wherever and whenever I can--lessens this nauseating feeling and my smoldering rage just enough to keep getting up in the morning.

I am sick of condescending lectures from finger-wagging white leftists who take pride in their imaginary 'choices,' instead of speaking out *forcefully* and without compromise about the evil that is this neocon war machine.

What the US has done in Ukraine is beyond criminal, and it is being painted the other way around by every media outlet except those outside of the western bubble. *That* is what I'm 'thinking about.' When our families are the ones being followed, targeted, persecuted, jailed and killed for nothing at all or merely because the color of their skin makes them "threatening" to the established order, then I have no patience for the father-knows-best tone and the patronizing 'advice.'

I assume that my comrades and colleagues who have "lent their credibility" in this way are subject to similar opprobrium. Well, if it's a fifth column, then it's one I'm glad to be a part of. I have to offer my thanks to all who support my speaking out. It isn't an easy choice, and it has costs. If it's "selling," then it's a type of transaction I don't recognize.

Moreover, there is a bizarre trait, it seems especially on the left, of privileging source over content--or  truth. And it seems particularly poignant in the US and the 'west.' Are we lazy or so naïve to expect that we can flip a channel, click a button and get The Truth? It is often used as an attempt to bully one into staying quiet; and it further obviates the need for any further digging. Turns it all a bit too religious for my blood.

If the devil told you 2 + 2 = 4, then you are free to believe that it is, say, 5, 7...8... whatever. 

By contrast, I remember being in Africa and in Central America, where people would routinely pick up 3 or 4 newspapers on the way home. This one is the government organ, this one is the party opposition... In other words, the truth you find is not one shiny penny all laid out for you--anything that promises that should be suspect from the git go. This is especially dangerous with the western press being as polluted as it is, with myriad outlets masquerading as different 'sources' when they are all parroting the same line. For the life of me I can't imagine why this doesn't make people feel claustrophobic, like gasping for air...

And air hunger is a good analogy, leaving many of us with the feeling that we are drowning in a sea of lies. Every kernel of truth is like oxygen when it seems that the Dark Ages have descended anew, with Orwell begging from his grave for the freedom to say 2 + 2 = 4. It is a world turned upside down, a vertiginous snow globe where dark is light and yes is no.

A fascist junta that seized power by force and enacted a coup against an elected government is “legitimate,” and a plebescite is “a violation of international law.” Where are the clowns? They have been onstage for quite awhile, and it takes some courage to keep sending a signal through the noise.

It seems as if this demon spawn nightmare born of Kafka and Orwell combined will never end. I hope to keep doing so until I draw my last breath, and I am happy and proud to share the snorkel with anyone who needs fresh air.

(c) 2014 Daniel Patrick Welch. Reprint permission granted with credit and link to Writer, singer, linguist and activist Daniel Patrick Welch lives and writes in Salem, Massachusetts, with his wife, Julia Nambalirwa-Lugudde. Together they run The Greenhouse School.. Translations of articles are available in in up to 30 languages. Links to the website are appreciated.

From Kiev to Cairo: A Tale of Two Staged "Revolutions"

Ukraine vs. Egypt: Chaos in progress

By Dr. Ashraf Ezzat - Pyramidion

Though I’ve never been to Ukraine or Russia before but the minute I started following the news of the huge protests in Kiev, I felt like I was somehow connected /related in a strange way to this Ukrainian revolution.

This whole revolution thing sounded not so unfamiliar to me.

As days went by and as the violence and the smoke that came out of the heavily fortified Maidan/independence square got heavier I thought I was looking at a retrospective of the Egyptian revolution with all the violent clashes that took place in Tahrir Square during the winter of 2011-2012.

My Egyptian eyes were following the fluid situation in Kiev with a funny sense of uneasy prediction. I felt like I knew how things were going to unfold in that Ukrainian scene, simply because I had seen it happen before in my own country, Egypt.

Of course I know that because we had a recent revolution in Egypt doesn’t necessarily make it the blueprint for all revolutions to follow across the globe.

But the way things evolved inside Independence Square and the pattern of violence and chaos that ensued around Ukraine left me in no doubt.

An illustrated flyer that was handed out to Egyptian and Ukrainian protesters, 
it reads “Essential clothing and gears for violent protests”.

I mean even the pamphlets handed out to the Ukrainian protesters to instruct them on how to protect themselves from the tear gas beside other combat precautions were the same handed out to the Egyptian protesters in Tahrir square only the illustration language was different.

Clearly, I was watching the Ukrainian version of the Tahrir Square revolution. Is it a coincidence? Is it only my imagination? … I don’t think so.

Every day I followed the Ukrainian news with a silly grin on my face for I knew, beforehand, what the headlines were going to be.

I knew that whoever called for the protests are groups of so called political activists, very active on the internet social media sites.

Srdja Popovic

Of course those activists have strong links to western NGOs and so called freedom organizations. And also some of the leaders of those activists have been trained in Europe on how to launch mass protests.

Also Egyptian activists who sparked the first mass protests on January 25 2011, like April 6th movement, have been trained by Srđa Popović, a Serbian activist who’s been cooperating with US intelligence companies in clandestine missions .

Popovic is the leader of the student movement Otpor that helped topple Serbian president Slobodan Milošević. He is also the director of Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) which is very active in Eastern European countries including Ukraine.

They are even trained on how to exploit all kinds of media to spread their disingenuous message internationally – like this interesting video of a Ukrainian beauty fighting for freedom and struggling for western democracy from inside Independence Square.

The woman’s call for world solidarity, that went viral on YouTube, is carefully edited to portray the Ukrainians as if they were resisting another Nazi occupation where in fact they were being deluded by the phony glare of US/EU dream.

Ukrainian protesters dreamed of Europe’s freedom and prosperity when Europe had actually nothing for them except bailout and long term chain of indebtedness.

I knew that all it took for the rallies to swell was controlled violence.

It only takes a couple of dramatic photos and some video footage of protesters being attacked and brutalized by police forces to be posted on the internet. And that’s it; you have a revolution on the go.

But what this whole thing needed to turn into another Tahrir Square, with Mubarak/ Yanukovych kicked out of power was a nice score of protesters gunned down by what should look as police snipers.

According to the Arab Spring’s manual; Rallies turn into a revolution only when someone amongst the protesters gets killed.

So I knew that the protests wouldn’t stay peaceful for long; I knew that the Maidan would be targeted by professional snipers, and that the protesters would respond with raids of Molotov cocktail.

Day after day the violent protests in Kiev began to blow way out of proportion. It was hard to believe that this thing first erupted over signing some trade deal.

As Putin put it “the Maidan protests was turning into an orgy of ultranationalists, far right radicals and neo-Nazis wearing Swastika arm bands”

Likewise, Egyptian protests have been hijacked by Radical Salafists, Afghanistan Jihadists and of course MB (mother ship of all Islamist terrorist groups worldwide)

And ironically, in both the Egyptian and Ukrainian case, the US/EU have supported the radicals and militants. Western democracy works in a really mysterious way.

Kalashnikov-wielding protesters from Ukraine’s 
radical nationalist opposition group, Right Sector.

By the way, real protesters and genuine freedom fighters never join rallies and sit-ins carrying bottles of Molotov cocktail.

Gandhi or Guevara was never caught attacking or setting police stations alight.

Whenever you spot firearms, Molotov cocktail bottles, or Kalashnikov guns and daggers, as in the case of Kiev’s protesters then we are watching not a peaceful march of democracy, as the American administration likes to call it, but a remotely guided rebellion and so called creative chaos – courtesy of Arab’s beloved, Mrs. Condoleezza Rice.

The thin red line

You see, there is a line any freedom protesters shouldn’t cross or even get confused about. That line is the thin red one that separates the regime from the state.

You have, as a political activist the right to criticize, denounce and even call for the fall of any regime but you must do that while keeping away from demolishing the pillars of the state you belong to and live in.

Taking down the regime is one thing, but demolishing the foundations of any sovereign state is a totally different story.

MB militias burned down Police stations all around Egypt 
a few days after the protests kicked off at Tahrir Square

Anti-regime protests are signs of vibrant democracy, but demolishing the power of the police and military forces, and terrorizing the Judiciary system and media institutions are grave symptoms of a nation sabotaged by 4th generation warfare.

People often wonder why Egyptians pulled out a second revolution against Mohamed Morsi, the puppet of the International terrorist web of Muslim Brotherhood (MB)

Well, after the MB had risen to power they simply and swiftly embarked on demolishing the pillars of the Egyptian state and flagrantly replaced it with MB figures and alternative institutions.

MB got away with hijacking the Egyptian revolution but they were stupid enough to cross that thin red line.

Actually the revolutions that swept across the Arab World throughout the last three years targeted not dictatorships but had one goal in focus, demolishing and liquefying the major Arab countries – with the help of elements of extremism and fragmentation, namely Jihadists, Salafis, Takfiris and of course MB

Unfortunately this is exactly where Ukraine is steadfastly headed – with the stupid help of the far right and the new Nazis.

So I knew that hundreds in Kiev would be severely wounded and many killed … and most regrettably in vain.

I knew that organized gangs of ultra-nationalist militants, like gangs of MB militants in Egypt did, would be ordered to move all around Ukraine and target police headquarters, especially the anti-Riot security units and special forces (Berkut).

I knew that the Ukrainian police wouldn’t be able to hold back for long and that they would eventually fall and disappear leaving the city of Kiev and all of Ukraine defenseless. And that is exactly what happened in Egypt before.

Watch this video of violent Ukrainian protesters storming into a municipal building and brutally attacking police forces.

I knew that after the security vacuum, the Ukrainian president would pack up in a hurry and flee the country with his closest aides.

After weeks of escalating protests and violence Ukraine lay naked and vulnerable, in the coldest days of a bitter winter, before the world to see the game of creating chaos in the name of democracy at work … once again.

Russian spring

I knew that nobody in Ukraine or Russia had seen this coming, simply because this whole revolution business had been orchestrated from outside the two countries.

I knew that this whole thing was nothing but the Arab spring’s drones targeted upwards.

John McCain in Kiev’s independence square
 with far-right opposition leaders – December 2013

It was pre-planned not only because of years of preparatory work of the so called western NGOs in Ukraine, or the American support for the fragile opposition and the earlier and ominous visit and dinner with the beastly John MaCcain, but actually because Russia was getting out of line … once again.

Hadn’t been for the strong Putin and his intervention in the Middle East, Syria and Iraq would have been history by now.

If the devastation of the Arab Spring hadn’t been somewhat curtailed by Russia, or hadn’t the US/Zionist conspiracy been exposed by the audacious stance of the Egyptian military we would have been looking at a totally different Middle East now – The so called new Middle East.

I knew that this whole Ukrainian chaotic situation was not about freedom or democracy. It was not even about Ukraine in the first place. I knew that the Russian bear was the target of this “time for democracy in Ukraine – stunt”

I’m not trying to downplay the right of the Ukrainian or Egyptian peoples’ to protest and express their dissatisfaction over economic hardships and political corruption. But I think we should look closer into who’s steering those revolutions into chaos and disintegration. We should also stop for a while and ponder over the similar patterns of those recent uprisings.

I knew that the US & EU would endorse the protesters’ riot and violence whilst presumptuously demanding the Russians to keep out of it.

Vladimir Putin, will he stay in control?

US and EU is also expecting the Kremlin to show self-restraint and abide by international laws – the very same laws US trod over in Iraq and Afghanistan and Syria – otherwise they will consider kicking the Russian bear out of the G8 and maybe deny Mosco the right to Veto at their prestigious UN

But I think Self-restraint could sound obscenely ridiculous when asked of some international power whose very national security and borders are being under direct attack.

Besides any young politician around the world knows for a fact that Russia, given the current geopolitics of the Ukrainian crisis, absolutely can’t afford to give up or get out of Crimea.

So, I believe we are all going to witness a very exciting and dangerous spring.

… the Russian spring.

Workers: Fracking Industry's #1 Disposable Asset

Disposable Assets in the Fracking Industry

by Walter Brasch

The oil and gas industry, the nation’s chambers of commerce, and politicians who are dependent upon campaign contributions from the industry and the chambers, claim fracking is safe.

First, close your mind to the myriad scientific studies that show the health effects from fracking.

Close your mind to the well-documented evidence of the environmental impact.

Focus just upon the effects upon the workers.

The oil and gas industry has a fatality rate seven times higher than for all other workers, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control. (CDC). According to the CDC, the death rate in the oil and gas industry is 27.1; the U.S. collective death rate is 3.8.

“Job gains in oil and gas construction have come with more fatalities, and that is unacceptable,” said John E. Perez, secretary of labor.

Not included in the data, because it doesn’t include the past three years, when the oil/gas industry significantly increased fracking in the Marcellus and other shales, is a 27-year-old worker who was cremated in a gas well explosion in late February in Greene County, Pa. One other worker was injured. Because of extensive heat and fire, emergency management officials couldn’t get closer than 1,500 feet of the wells. Pennsylvania’s Act 13, largely written by the oil and gas industry, allows only a 300 foot set-back from wells to homes. In Greene County, it took more than a week to cap three wells on the pad where the explosion occurred.

The gas drilling industry, for the most part, is non-union or dependent upon independent contractors who often provide little or no benefits to their workers. The billion dollar corporations like it that way. That means there are no worker safety committees and no workplace regulations monitored by workers. The workers have no bargaining or grievance rights; health and workplace benefits for workers who aren’t executives or professionals are often minimal or non-existent.

It may be months or years before most workers learn the extent of possible injury or diseases caused by industry neglect.

“Almost every one of the injuries and deaths you will happen upon, it will have something to do with cutting a corner, to save time, to save money,” attorney Tim Bailey told EnergyWire.

“Multiple pressures weigh on the people who work in this high-risk, high-reward industry, including the need to produce on schedule and keep the costs down,” reports Gayathri Vaidyanathan of EnergyWire.

Tom Bean, a former gas field worker from Williamsport, Pa., says he doesn’t know what he and his co-workers were exposed to. He does know it affected his health:

“You’d constantly have cracked hands, red hands, sore throat, sneezing. All kinds of stuff. Headaches. My biggest one was a nauseating dizzy headache . . . People were sick all the time . . . and then they’d get into trouble for calling off sick. You’re in muck and dirt and mud and oil and grease and diesel and chemicals. And you have no idea [what they are] . . . It can be anything. You have no idea, but they [Management] don’t care . . . It’s like, ‘Get the job done.’ . . . You’d be asked to work 15, 18 hour days and you could be so tired that you couldn’t keep your eyes open anymore, but it was ‘Keep working. Keep working. Keep working.’”

Workers are exposed to more than 1,000 chemicals, most of them known carcinogens. They are exposed to radioactive waste, brought up from more than a mile in the earth. They are exposed to the effects from inhaling silica sand; they are exposed to protective casings that fail, and to explosions that are a part of building and maintaining a fossil fuel system that has explosive methane as its primary ingredient.

In July, two storage tanks exploded in New Milton, W.Va., injuring five persons. One of the injured, Charlie Arbogast, a rigger and trucker, suffered third degree burns on his hands and face. “You come to the rigs, you do what you do and you don’t ask questions,” Diana Arbogast, his wife, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“In Pennsylvania, workers have reported contact with chemicals without appropriate protective equipment, inhalation of sand without masks, and repeated emergency visits for heat stroke, heat exhaustion, yet many of the medical encounters go unreported,” says Dr. Pouné Saberi, a public health physician and clinical assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

The oil/gas industry, the Chambers of Commerce, politicians, and some in the media, even against significant and substantial health and environmental evidence, erroneously claim there are economic benefits to fracking. Disregard the evidence that the 100-year claim for natural gas is exaggerated by 10 times, or that the number of jobs created by the boom in the Marcellus Shale is inflated by another 10 times. Focus on Greene County, Pa.

Apparently, included in the “economic boom” is a small pizza shop that was contracted by Chevron to provide large pizzas and sodas to about 100 families living near the gas well explosion that cost one man his life.

Workers, like pizza boxes, are just disposable items to the oil and gas industry.

Dr. Brasch is an award-winning journalist of more than four decades. His latest of 20 books is Fracking Pennsylvania, an in-depth documented exploration of the economic, health, and environmental effects of fracking, with an underlying theme of the connection between politicians and campaign funds provided by the oil/gas lobby.

Walter M. Brasch, Ph.D.
Latest Books: Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution
Fracking Pennsylvania: Flirting With Disaster

When It Gets Complicated: Ukraine from a Step Back


by William Blum - Anti-Empire Report

When it gets complicated and confusing, when you’re overwhelmed with too much information, changing daily; too many explanations, some contradictory … try putting it into some kind of context by stepping back and looking at the larger, long-term picture.

The United States strives for world domination, hegemony wherever possible, their main occupation for over a century, it’s what they do for a living. The United States, NATO and the European Union form The Holy Triumvirate. The Holy Triumvirate has subsidiaries, chiefly The International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization, International Criminal Court … all help to keep in line those governments lacking the Holy Triumvirate Seal Of Approval: the IMF, WB, and WTO impose market fundamentalism, while foreign leaders who act too independent are threatened with being handed over to the ICC for heavy punishment, as the United States imposes sanctions on governments and their leaders as only the King of Sanctions can, lacking any sense of hypocrisy or irony.

And who threatens United States domination? Who can challenge The Holy Triumvirate’s hegemony? Only Russia and China, if they were as imperialistic as the Western powers. (No, the Soviet Union wasn’t imperialistic; that was self-defense; Eastern Europe was a highway twice used by the West to invade; tens of millions of Russians killed or wounded.)

Since the end of the Cold War the United States has been surrounding Russia, building one base after another, ceaselessly looking for new ones, including in Ukraine; one missile site after another, with Moscow in range; NATO has grabbed one former Soviet Republic after another. The White House, and the unquestioning American mainstream media, have assured us that such operations have nothing to do with Russia. And Russia has been told the same, much to Moscow’s continuous skepticism. “Look,” said Russian president Vladimir Putin about NATO some years ago, “is this is a military organization? Yes, it’s military. … Is it moving towards our border? It’s moving towards our border. Why?” 1

The Holy Triumvirate would love to rip Ukraine from the Moscow bosom, evict the Russian Black Sea Fleet, and establish a US military and/or NATO presence on Russia’s border. (In case you were wondering what prompted the Russian military action.) Kiev’s membership in the EU would then not be far off; after which the country could embrace the joys of neo-conservatism, receiving the benefits of the standard privatization-deregulation-austerity package and join Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain as an impoverished orphan of the family; but no price is too great to pay to for being part of glorious Europe and the West!

The Ukrainian insurgents and their Western-power supporters didn’t care who their Ukrainian allies were in carrying out their coup against President Viktor Yanukovych last month … thugs who set policemen on fire head to toe … all manner of extreme right-wingers, including Chechnyan Islamic militants 2 … a deputy of the ultra-right Svoboda Party, part of the new government, who threatens to rebuild Ukraine’s nukes in three to six months. … 3 the snipers firing on the protestors who apparently were not what they appeared to be – A bugged phone conversation between Urmas Paet, the Estonian foreign minister, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, reveals Paet saying: “There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition.” 4 … neo-Nazi protestors in Kiev who have openly denounced Jews, hoisting a banner honoring Stepan Bandera, the infamous Ukrainian nationalist who collaborated with the German Nazis during World War II and whose militias participated in atrocities against Jews and Poles.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on February 24 that Ukrainian Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman advised “Kiev’s Jews to leave the city and even the country.” Edward Dolinsky, head of an umbrella organization of Ukrainian Jews, described the situation for Ukrainian Jews as “dire” and requested Israel’s help.

All in all a questionable gang of allies for a dubious cause; reminiscent of the Kosovo Liberation Army thugs Washington put into power for an earlier regime change, and has kept in power since 1999.

The now-famous recorded phone conversation between top US State Department official Victoria Nuland and the US ambassador to the Ukraine, wherein they discuss which Ukrainians would be to Washington’s liking in a new government, and which not, is an example of this regime-change mentality. Nuland’s choice, Arseniy Yatseniuk, emerged as interim prime minister.

The National Endowment for Democracy, an agency created by the Reagan administration in 1983 to promote political action and psychological warfare against states not in love with US foreign policy, is Washington’s foremost non-military tool for effecting regime change. The NED website lists 65 projects that it has supported financially in recent years in Ukraine. 5 The descriptions NED gives to the projects don’t reveal the fact that generally their programs impart the basic philosophy that working people and other citizens are best served under a system of free enterprise, class cooperation, collective bargaining, minimal government intervention in the economy, and opposition to socialism in any shape or form. A free-market economy is equated with democracy, reform, and growth; and the merits of foreign investment in their economy are emphasized.

The idea was that the NED would do somewhat overtly what the CIA had been doing covertly for decades, and thus, hopefully, eliminate the stigma associated with CIA covert activities. Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, declared in 1991: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” 6

NED, receives virtually all its financing from the US government ($5 billion in total since 1991 ), 7 but it likes to refer to itself as an NGO (Non-governmental organization) because this helps to maintain a certain credibility abroad that an official US government agency might not have. But NGO is the wrong category. NED is a GO. Its long-time intervention in Ukraine is as supra-legal as the Russian military deployment there. Journalist Robert Parry has observed:

For NED and American neocons, Yanukovych’s electoral legitimacy lasted only as long as he accepted European demands for new “trade agreements” and stern economic “reforms” required by the International Monetary Fund. When Yanukovych was negotiating those pacts, he won praise, but when he judged the price too high for Ukraine and opted for a more generous deal from Russia, he immediately became a target for “regime change.”

Thus, we have to ask, as Mr. Putin asked – “Why?” Why has NED been funding 65 projects in one foreign country? Why were Washington officials grooming a replacement for President Yanukovych, legally and democratically elected in 2010, who, in the face of protests, moved elections up so he could have been voted out of office – not thrown out by a mob? Yanukovych made repeated important concessions, including amnesty for those arrested and offering, on January 25, to make two of his adversaries prime minister and deputy prime minister; all to no avail; key elements of the protestors, and those behind them, wanted their putsch.

Carl Gershman, president of NED, wrote last September that “Ukraine is the biggest prize”. 8 The man knows whereof he speaks. He has presided over NED since its beginning, overseeing the Rose Revolution in Georgia (2003), the Orange Revolution in Ukraine (2004), the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon (2005), the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan (2005), the Green Revolution in Iran (2009), and now Ukraine once again. It’s as if the Cold War never ended.

The current unbridled animosity of the American media toward Putin also reflects an old practice. The United States is so accustomed to world leaders holding their tongue and not voicing criticism of Washington’s policies appropriate to the criminality of those policies, that when a Vladimir Putin comes along and expresses even a relatively mild condemnation he is labeled Public Enemy Number One and his words are accordingly ridiculed or ignored.

On March 2 US Secretary of State John Kerry condemned Russia’s “incredible act of aggression” in Ukraine (Crimea) and threatened economic sanctions. “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text.” 9

Iraq was in the 21st century. Senator John Kerry voted for it. Hypocrisy of this magnitude has to be respected.

POSTSCRIPT: Ukraine’s interim prime minister announced March 7 that he has invited the NATO Council to hold a meeting in Kiev over the recent developments in the country. “I invited the North Atlantic Council to visit Kiev and hold a meeting there,” Arseny Yatsenyuk said during a visit to Brussels, where he met with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and EU officials. “We believe that it will strengthen our cooperation.”

Love among nations

by Viktor Dedaj, Paris, France

Washington’s response, or lack of it, has confirmed the authenticity of a YouTube clip of a leaked telephone conversation between US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt that emerged February 6. In the call, posted by an anonymous Russian source, Nuland and Pyatt discuss installing a new, pro-US government that will incorporate the fascistic opposition which had been leading street protests against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Even though Washington’s campaign for regime-change had been coordinated with the European Union, in the phone conversation with Pyatt, Nuland attacks the EU for being insufficiently aggressive, saying at one point, “Fuck the EU.” The same source has provided us with the text of a subsequent conversation between the EU and the US.

EU: But you said you loved me!

US: (sigh) There you go again.

EU: I left everything behind for you. Democracy, market regulations, state-owned companies, social welfare, an independent foreign policy.

US: (lighting a cigarette): pffff… Nobody forced you.

EU: I could have been an international star, you know?

US: Yeah, yeah, blah, blah …

EU: The whole world had hope in me! Now it’s that slut, Latin America, who’s showing off with her crummy progressive policies.

US: Oh that one … She was a hotty. I must admit it was fun at the time. But it’s over (for the time being). Now, you’re my bitch.

EU: (sniffing): Seriously? You’re not joking?

US: You are, you’re my little bitch. Come here.

EU: Are you going to hit me?

US: What? Of course not! What’s wrong with you?

EU: Latin America … She says you’re arrogant, and violent. She says that you have no friends, only interests.

US: She’s crazy. Forget her. C’mon, come here my little bitch.

EU: Oh Sam … Sam …

A Question re: Syria

There have been numerous news stories about Syrian government bombing of its civilian areas, with reports of many dead, and photos and videos of heavily damaged buildings. The source of the stories I’ve come across, when it’s mentioned at all, is almost always some element of the “rebels”; i.e., those opposing the Syrian government.

In all these stories – Have you ever seen a photo or a video of a plane dropping bombs? Or of the bombs in the air? I’m not saying that the bombings have not taken place. I’m just wondering why there is no graphic evidence of them.

Dialogue with readers

Last month’s report evoked an unusually large number of critical responses, concerning two basic issues:

1) My questioning the widely-held belief that if John F. Kennedy had not been assassinated he would have ended US military involvement in Vietnam. Those who wrote to me are convinced that in a second term as president, without the need to worry about re-election, the genuine liberal and man of peace residing inside JFK would have been free to blossom, and he would quickly have put an end to a war that he supposedly abhorred.

I had written in the report: “It appears that we’ll never know with any kind of certainty what would have happened if JFK had not been assassinated, but I still go by his Cold War record in concluding that US foreign policy would have continued along its imperial, anti-communist path.”

As I read letter after letter challenging this assertion, the thought occurred to me: This is just what we heard for four years concerning Barack Obama – In his second term the genuine liberal and man of peace would emerge; the Nobel Peace Laureate would show why he deserved the prize. Well, do I need to go into the awful details of the man’s second term, from drone assassinations to relentless persecution of whistleblowers who question his foreign policy?

2) I suggested a possible solution to the international problem of suicide bombers: Go to the very source. Flood selected Islamic societies with this message: “There is no heavenly reward for dying a martyr. There are no 72 beautiful virgins waiting to reward you for giving your life for jihad. No virgins at all. No sex at all.”

I was informed by reader after reader that the whole thing about virgins is a myth. That may very well be the case, but as I pointed out to them, I was using the story metaphorically, to describe killing and dying for a religious cause, then counterposing US military men killing and dying for a “religious” cause called patriotism, nationalism or American exceptionalism. Both “causes”, Islamic and American, need to be unlearned. That was my point. There’s no excuse for setting off a powerful bomb in a crowded restaurant nor for dropping a powerful bomb in a residential area.

In the land where happiness is guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence

President Obama and many other political and media figures have once again made discussion about the minimum wage a heated subject. Time for me to repeat something I wrote in 2007:

“Think raising the minimum wage is a good idea?”

“Think again.”

That was the message of a full-page advertisement that appeared in major newspapers in January. It was accompanied by statements of approval from the usual eminent suspects:

“The reason I object to the minimum wage is I think it destroys jobs, and I think the evidence on that, in my judgment, is overwhelming.” Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman
“The high rate of unemployment among teenagers, and especially black teenagers, is both a scandal and a serious source of social unrest. Yet it is largely a result of minimum wage laws.” Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize-winning economist

Well, if raising the minimum wage can produce such negative consequences, then surely it is clear what we as an enlightened and humane people must do. We must lower the minimum wage. And thus enjoy less unemployment, less social unrest. Indeed, if we lower the minimum wage to zero, particularly for poor blacks … think of it! … No unemployment at all! Hardly any social unrest! In fact – dare I say it? – What if we did away with wages altogether?

“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” – John Kenneth Galbraith


  1. Guardian Weekly (London), June 27, 2001
  2. RT television (, Moscow/Washington, DC), March 1, 2014
  3. Deputy Mikhail Golovko, RT, March 1, 2014
  4. RT, March 5, 2014, “The EU’s Ukraine policy and moral bankruptcy”; the phone conversation is believed to have taken place February 26.
  5. NED 2012 Annual Report
  6. Washington Post, September 22, 1991
  7. Victoria Nuland, speaking at the National Press Club, Washington, DC, December 13, 2013
  8. Washington Post, September 26, 2013
  9. “Face the Nation”, CBS, March 2, 2014

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.
← Issue #125

Snowden, Schmoden: Is 1-2% Leak Enough to Worry the 1-2%?

Edward Snowden, Tattletale

by Arthur Silber - Power of Narrative

Edward Snowden, Tattletale With regard to the following, I urge you to keep in mind several critical facts.

Given all the publicly available evidence, when reporting on the Snowden documents is completed, the general public will have seen only 1% to 2% of all the documents involved. I've analyzed in detail how deeply problematic this is. That's putting it mildly, and with excessive politeness. In fact, this highly selective publishing of leaks is insulting, disgusting, and profoundly offensive.

That earlier essay also discusses the hugely significant fact that Snowden himself, Greenwald, the Guardian and every other so-called "investigative journalist" taking part in this story have willingly and enthusiastically adopted the State's rationales for disclosure and, more importantly, non-disclosure. I've discussed this problem with regard to Greenwald in particular here.

The meaning and final results of this approach are as follows:

Consider the enormous value of the hugely restricted publication of the Snowden documents to the various States involved. Rusbridger, Greenwald, et al. all trumpet the great triumph represented by the "debate" publication has engendered -- the clamor of public voices demands "reform," so committees will be formed, investigations will be undertaken, and when the dust has settled, life for the States involved will go on almost exactly as before (remember: if the NSA were disbanded today, identical surveillance would continue via other agencies and institutions of power) -- and the States will be able to claim that the public knows the "truth," and their activities now have the full blessing of informed public consent.

In short, the methodology adopted by Snowden and the favored journalists is leading straight to complete and utter disaster.

It is also necessary to mention that many of the published documents are offered only with redactions, which are sometimes substantial. Not only that but, as a rule, no explanation is offered as to why particular information has been redacted. Similarly, we are offered only the most general of explanations, if that, for why roughly 98% of the documents will never see the light of day. This presents the general public -- for whose benefit all this heroic work is allegedly undertaken -- with an insurmountable problem of evaluation and understanding.

I explained the problem of selective information -- and in this case, the information the unwashed public is provided is highly selective -- in one of the first articles I wrote about this story, when the journalists' methods had already become clear: see the concluding section of "Fed Up with All the Bullshit," from June of last year. There is a host of questions we simply will never be able to answer. For example, is what we've been allowed to know the worst of what the NSA is doing? It's entirely possible there are far worse things going on. We don't know. It appears we will never know. (And this is not even to mention the activities of all those other agencies: the CIA, the FBI, etc., etc.) Moreover, because the information we are being provided is curated with such care, we don't even know what questions we ought to be asking.

The general reaction to the Snowden leaks and the journalists covering the story -- which is to laud them as "heroes" and to lavish them with every award under the sun -- seems to proceed from what is a third-grader's understanding of the issues involved. We've been told something that we hadn't known (despite the fact that the general outline of what we've been told had been clear to many of us for some time), and what we've been told is very bad. Therefore: woohoo! This is appalling and incredibly dumb.

Now, via Intercept This (a delightful and witty account which I recommend to you, along with Glenn Greenbacks), we can read Snowden's testimony to the European Parliament. I do not offer the following comments to attack Snowden personally. It seems that Snowden has taken great risks to reveal even what comparatively little has been revealed. (I say "seems" because, with every new development, my doubts grow stronger as to whether anything about this story is what it appears to be. I don't think we know anything close to the full truth about any aspect of it.) My concern is and has always been the methodology involved, and how that methodology plays directly into the interests of the States involved. The approach of Snowden and his favored journalists is an enormous boon to those States in countless ways.

Several of Snowden's remarks are highly objectionable ("I love my country, and I believe that spying serves a vital purpose and must continue"; some other doozies are highlighted by the Twitter accounts linked above), but two statements are hideous. First, we have this:

I will now respond to the submitted questions. Please bear in mind that I will not be disclosing new information about surveillance programs: I will be limiting my testimony to information regarding what responsible media organizations have entered into the public domain.
Once isn't enough, so Snowden repeats and briefly amplifies the same idea at the conclusion of his testimony:

As stated previously, there are many other undisclosed programs that would impact EU citizens' rights, but I will leave the public interest determinations as to which of these may be safely disclosed to responsible journalists in coordination with government stakeholders. I have not disclosed any information to anyone other than those responsible journalists.I emphasize that none of this represents a new approach by Snowden. He has consistently described his method in the same terms from the beginning.

Two points from that earlier discussion are worth repeating here. Snowden has always been at pains to assure everyone -- and most particularly, to assure the State -- that he doesn't want to threaten the State in any serious way. And even though his major concern is with mass surveillance, that, too, would be acceptable to him in general terms, provided it is sanctioned by "informed public consent," and even though he himself would choose differently.

But look again at those concluding remarks to the EU. "[T]here are many other undisclosed programs that would impact EU citizens' rights..." Many other undisclosed programs that affect tens of millions of people. Maybe they'll find out about them, maybe they won't. And Snowden himself won't make that decision. "Responsible journalists in coordination with government stakeholders" will decide. We've witnessed this game for nine months; we know how it's played. The "responsible journalists" and "government stakeholders" will allow us to see perhaps 2% of all the documents Snowden gathered up. With redactions, and without explanations of the redactions or explanations, even in general terms, of what we will never be told.

But honestly, it's more than slightly ridiculous to parse these statements further. Snowden's formulation, and the adoption of his methodology by the "responsible journalists" involved, mean only one thing: these are, ultimately, State-sanctioned leaks. This is State-sanctioned whistleblowing. Whatever dangers much wider, and much more rapid, disclosure might have carried have been entirely obliterated. What remains constitutes no threat of any remotely serious kind to the States implicated. Yes, there will be hearings, some "reforms," and life for the States will go almost exactly as before. Your life, on the other hand ... well, who gives a damn about your life. (One clarification is required. There are undoubtedly some details that will be published that the States would prefer to keep secret. Ideally, of course, the States would prefer to tell the public nothing at all. But the States must deal with the reality that Snowden took a lot of documents. Given that, the methodology followed by the "responsible journalists," and by Snowden himself, is everything the States could desire. Therefore, given the overall context once Snowden made off with the documents, what has been and will be published is State-sanctioned and State-approved in the sense I've described. And always keep in mind that the "responsible journalists" utilize the same rationales for disclosure and non-disclosure that the States do.)

This is not whistleblowing as it has been understood, when information that a State decidedly does not want disclosed is made public, and which then causes serious disruption to the State at a minimum. A tattletale is "a child who tells a parent, teacher, etc., about something bad or wrong that another child has done : a child who tattles on another child." Other definitions are in accord.

Be sure to appreciate the meaning of the highlighted phrase: a tattletale is someone who reports "something bad or wrong" to an authority. And that is precisely what Snowden has done. He has entrusted the documents to "responsible journalists," who have adopted the rationales and methods of the States themselves. Moreover, these "responsible journalists" work together with "government stakeholders" to determine which documents may be "safely disclosed" on the basis of factors that are explained in only the vaguest and most vacuous of terms. We haven't escaped the oppression and abuses of authority: we have only added to the authorities who decide what we will be allowed to know. Before, we were concerned with oppression by the State. Now we can look forward to oppression by the State and by those "responsible journalists" who have lucked into the story of a lifetime, which they then stripped of almost all meaning and impact.

So let us try to use words with precision. Henceforth: Edward Snowden, tattletale. As for these heroic, trail-blazing, State-coddling "responsible journalists" ... hmm. Patsies. Jerks. Contemptible fools and, hardly incidentally, themselves seekers of wealth and power.

I have one request, in the nature of truth in advertising. I want to see all future stories relying on the Snowden documents accompanied by a stamp in which appear the following words. We are provided similar guarantees in connection with food and drugs, for example, and I see no reason not to adapt the practice to "journalism," given what that term now appears to mean. Each such story should carry this ironclad assurance:

This story contains those facts, and only those facts, that we and the State have determined it is safe for you to know. We will never tell you anything else, and we will most certainly never tell you anything more.