Category Archives: CIA

To Rebel Against Necessity and More

Compassion has no place in the natural order of the world, which operates on the basis of necessity.  The laws of nesessity are as unexceptional as the laws of gravitation.  The human faculty of compassion opposes this order and is therefore best thought of as being in some way supernatural.  To forget oneself, however briefly, to identify with a stranger to the point of fully recognizing her or him, is to defy necessity, and in this defiance, even if small and quiet  and even if measuring only 60cm. x 50cm., there is a power that cannot be measured by the limits of the natural order.  It is not a means and it has no end.  The Ancients knew this.

– John Berger, “A Man with Tousled Hair,” from The Shape of a Pocket, 2001

Autumn is the dying season.  This morning when I came home from a walk, he was lying there on his back.  He was dead.

Yet an autumn day like today in the mountains is so beautiful that everything vibrates with life. The air chimes.  The clouds tango across the blue dance floor above.  The leaves sway to some celestial tune.  And the lake laps in synchronicity to singing hearts.

My heart was singing before I found him.  His blueness and his beauty startled me. I touched him in the hope that he would move, but he stayed still, on his back with his eyes open. A still life.  A life stilled.  Only one of millions of fallen birds, yet I felt an immense sadness at the sight of him, as if he were waiting there to tell me something.  I wanted so badly to resurrect him, for he seemed so alive in death. I felt myself returning to the blues I felt before my walk.

Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo these words:

I feel more and more that we must not judge God on the basis of this world; it’s a study that didn’t come off.  What can you do, in a study that has gone wrong, if you are fond of the artist?  You do not find much to criticize; you hold your tongue.  But you have a right to ask for something better.  It is only a master who can make such a muddle, and perhaps that is the best consolation we have out of it, since then we have a right to hope that we’ll see the same creative hand get even with itself.

This bluejay was a small creature, and many people hate his kind.  He’s a bully bird, they say.  In the celebrated novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, the hero, Atticus Finch says one shouldn’t kill a mockingbird but kill all the bluejay you can hit.

I am wondering who or what killed this beautiful bluejay at my feet, but I will never know.

I do know that “Operation Mockingbird” killed many minds and hearts, and resulted in untold numbers of deaths worldwide.  This CIA media propaganda program in which all the major media were doing the bidding of the CIA was allegedly dismantled after its discovery in the 1970s, but it no doubt operates today under a different name.  Perhaps its code name is Operation Bluejay, since the bluebird was already used for “Project Bluebird,” a predecessor to MKULtra, the CIA’s other massive mind control program.

The bird names migrate, but they seem to return under different nomenclature for people who are in the business of killing singers of songs of freedom.

They are the killers of Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

For before my walk, I had started to read an article, with declassified CIA and U.S. government documents, from The National Security Archives, about his death.  For on this date, October 9, in 1967, the Argentinian revolutionary Che, Fidel Castro’s right-hand man in the Cuban Revolution, was executed by the CIA-led Bolivian military, after having been captured in a firefight in the Bolivian mountains. Fascists killed the courageous Che as he fought to inspire the oppressed to rise up against U.S. imperialism.  They executed him in cold blood, consciously and proudly.  They posed with his dead body, like macho hunters who pose holding a bird they have just shot.

Writing in The Nation magazine three year ago, Peter Kornbluh, the director of the National Security Archive‘s Chile and Cuba Documentation Projects, described how he had met in Miami with Gustavo Villoldo, who had been the top Cuban-American CIA operative assigned to assist in tracking down and capturing Guevara,  the iconic revolutionary, in Bolivia. Villoldo told Kornbluh how he cut off the dead Che’s hands and pieces of his hair and beard before secretly burying his body, which was discovered and dug up in 1997, minus his hand bones.  Kornbluh writes:

At one point during the conversation, Villoldo opened the binder and pulled out a white envelope. Inside was a clump of brown hair. As the ultimate souvenir of this Cold War victory, Villoldo proudly stated, he had cut off strands of Che’s hair before disposing of his body. ‘I basically took it because the symbol of the revolution was this bearded, long-haired guy coming down the mountain,’ Villoldo later explained. ‘To me, I was cutting off the very symbol of the Cuban revolution.’

Maybe a hawk killed the bluejay, but if so, it didn’t gloat over its body.  It would have been operating under the laws of necessity, where as far as we know, compassion has no place. Not true for Che’s killers. Here they are posing for the camera, guns still aimed at the dead man, as if he still posed a great danger to them.  They were right, at least in the long term.

Ernesto Che Guevara is also lying on his back, eyes open. Seeing the bluejay in a similar pose an hour after seeing this photograph, which I had studied for many minutes, gave me a jolt. The bird’s blueness entered my soul. Blue blue blue – I felt I was sinking into a deep hole of sorrow and despair.  My sorrow for the bird was nothing compared to the deep rage and anguish I felt when once again I viewed the photo of Che surrounded by cowards, and I thought of all the victims from Bolivia to the Congo and all around the world who have suffered and died – and continue to do so – at the hands of all the ruthless forces he opposed.  I wanted so badly to resurrect him, for he seemed so alive in death.  And his CIA killers so dead by comparison.

Here was a man of immense courage who gave his life for his beliefs, who was the embodiment of the Cuban Revolution, who cared deeply to liberate the world’s oppressed from U.S.-led imperialism.  I kept thinking of another revolutionary on the run from fascist forces, Pietro Spina in Ignazio Silone’s great novel, Bread and Wine, who, disguised as a priest in Mussolini’s Italy, tells a frightened girl who is worried what will ensue if the government captures the rebel leader, who is actually the “priest” she is talking to.  “And if they catch him and kill him?” the girl asked.

Killing a man who says ‘No!’ is a risky business, the priest replied, because even a corpse can go on whispering “No! No! No!’ with a persistence and obstinacy that only certain corpses are capable of.  And how can you silence a corpse?

We know Che’s voice has not been silenced where victims of imperialism continue to suffer and be killed around the world.  But here in the United States, the image-makers have fashioned him into a celebrity whose message is lost, another casualty of mind control and the propagandists who control the corporate media.  The people he fought against.

Everyone has seen Che’s image somewhere. Posters of his visage adorn college dormitory rooms. You know, the man with the tousled hair and the beard. The  cool charismatic guy!  The handsome man who road a motorcycle, was articulate, and could write and speak eloquently. The Che on coffee mugs and tee-shirts everywhere.  All derived from one photograph taken by Cuban photographer Alberto Korda for the revolutionary newspaper Revoluciόn in Havana in 1960.  A photograph that never earned Korda a cent, but has been exploited by countless money vultures, including the artist Andy Warhol. Che wrote in Socialism and Man in Cuba:

A school of artistic inquiry is invented, which is said to be the definition of freedom; but this ‘inquiry’ has its limits, imperceptible until there is a clash, that is, until the real problems of man and his alienation arise. Meaningless anguish or vulgar amusement thus become convenient safety valves for human anxiety. The idea of using art as a weapon of protest is combated. Those who play by the rules of the game are showered with honours—such honours as a monkey might get for performing pirouettes. The condition is that one does not try to escape from the invisible cage.

Then as now, escaping from that invisible cage is our task, a cage that teaches us not to rebel against what is called “necessity,” but to exploit others every way we can. To profit from their suffering, which is the nature of imperialism. To close our eyes and make believe it is possible to live in an imperialistic country abroad and have a democracy at home. Sooner or later, this pipe dream will come crashing down. Perhaps that is happening now.

One does not have to agree with every thought Che expressed more than five decades ago. Or with all his tactics.  But if you read his words, you will see that the conditions for oppressed people throughout Latin American and around the world have not changed very much in all these decades. Of course, the propaganda has become far more sophisticated, and the temptation to play by the rules of the game and pirouette like caged monkeys is stronger than ever.  Now as then, the religion of consumption is a private devotion for the public, and it is not just things that people are consuming but illusory images of a good and decent life. But their pursuit “is a race among wolves; one can win only at the cost of others’ failure,” wrote Che.  Such a system is not necessary but is imposed and must be resisted.

For the little dead bird I encountered this morning, all I can offer is my compassion that opposes the order of necessity – my “supernatural” resistance.  So I buried the blue creature out of respect and reverence.

But war and imperialism are not natural, and so I cannot bury my conscience, but must try to find ways to resist such human cruelty.

I ask myself, says Don Benedetto, the elderly priest in Silone’s Bread and Wine, “what is to be done?”  He pauses and continues:

I am convinced that it would be a waste of time to show a people of intimidated slaves a different manner of speaking, a different manner of gesticulating; but perhaps it would be worth while to show them a different way of living.  No word and no gesture can be more persuasive than the life, and if necessary, the death of a man who strives to be free, loyal, just, sincere, disinterested: a man who shows what a man can be.

Che did that.  Now it’s up to us.

“At the risk of seeming ridiculous,” he wrote, “ let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.”

Is such love and sacrifice supernatural?

If so, let us fly to the heights.

The post To Rebel Against Necessity and More first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“Totalitarian” Anti-Communism: Loaded Language Straight Out of CIA, Neo-Con Playbook

ORIENTATION

Forms of language manipulation

As most of us know, verbal language is both a tool and a weapon. Verbal language allows our species to talk about the past and the future. It allows us to label mental and physical illnesses and provides us with diagnosis and prognosis. It allows us to communicate more precisely than we can with non-verbal language, whether about the world or our internal states. But language can also be used to control and manipulate. There are at least nine forms of language manipulation:

  • Loading the language with “virtue and vice” words which narrows thinking.
  • Euphemisms mask the emotional content of an experience by sanitizing the language. For example, the military specializes in this by calling prisoners of war “detainees” or murdered soldiers “collateral damage” .
  • “Weasel” words are commonly used in advertising and “slanting” is a regular staple in newsrooms.
  • Reification is common in economic analysis when we hear that “money talks” “money walks”, and “economies grow”.
  • Other forms of language manipulation are “equivocation,” “jargon”, “vagueness” and “ambiguity”.

Vice and Virtue Political Words

The subject of this article is the use of the word “totalitarian” as a loaded vice word.  It is used mostly in international political contexts by liberals and conservatives in Yankeedom to distinguish their political system from those of their perceived enemies. Totalitarianism has been used to describe Nazism and Communism, both separately or together.

“Totalitarian” is trotted out by neocons and the CIA when they are presenting to the public their views on Russia, China, North Korea or Venezuela. This continues despite the fact that the term has been criticized by social scientists in the 1960s and is 60 years out of date. In a 1948 article, Arthur Hill listed the following characteristics of totalitarianism:

  • Abolition of the right to freedom of speech, assembly and religious worship;
  • Elimination of all political parties other than the ruling party;
  • Subordination of all economic and social life to structural control of the single party bureaucracy;
  • Liquidation of free enterprise;
  • Destruction of all independent trade unions and creation of labor organizations servile to the totalitarian state;
  • Establishment of concentration camps and the use of slave labor;
  • Utter disregard for an independent judicial system;
  • Social demagogy around race and class;
  • Expansion of the military;
  • Reduction of parliamentary bodies to rubber stamp status;
  • Establishment of a system of nationwide espionage and secret police, censorship of the press and media;
  • Disregard for the rights of other nations and desregard of treaties; and,
  • Maintenance and encouragement of fifth columns abroad.

Another vice word is “dictatorship” which is regularly attributed to the heads of socialist governments, even when these socialist leaders have been elected by democratic processes. Both “totalitarian” and ‘dictatorship” are emotionally loaded “vice” words designed to narrow political thinking into an “either – or” choice between a vice word (dictatorship, totalitarian) and a virtue word “democracy”. A vice word is one in which it is impossible to think or act neutrally. So, no intelligent political person would say they are for totalitarian government or dictatorship.

On the other hand, these days everybody loves the word “democracy”. This has certainly not been the case historically. Democracy had been associated with “mob rule” and among conservatives, behind closed doors, it still is. Liberals were not much better. They were dragged kicking and screaming into using the word democracy at the end of the 19th century when working class white men got the vote. Nevertheless, the word democracy today is a virtue word. It is tantamount to committing political suicide by publicly stating you are against democracy. The CIA even names one of its international programs to overthrow socialist governments “National Endowment for Democracy”. In this article I will focus on the history of the use of the word “totalitarianism”. In my next article I will write about the history of the use of the words “dictatorship” and “democracy”.

Why should you care?

Using loaded language in politics supports narrowing the thinking process to heroes and villains, gods and devils, dictators or democrats. Working-class people do not initiate what these words mean, or in what contexts they are used. However, working class people circulate these words unconsciously when they talk about politics to others. Working-class people also internalize these words and this narrows the span of how they think about political processes. The purpose of this article and the next one is to challenge you to try purging from your vocabulary the words totalitarian dictatorship or democracy. Chances are very good that you are being played by the Yankee anti-communist campaign.

Overview of the history of the use of the word “totalitarian”

Most of this article will be based on a book Totalitarianism: The Inner History of the Cold War by Abbott Gleason (1995). He tells the story of the use of totalitarianism from its use in the 1930s to the 1980s. The early years of its use was limited to fascism. After Stalin’s pact with Hitler it was used to describe both fascism and communism. Then there was a hiatus in the use of the term totalitarian when the USSR became an ally. However, after World War II through the 1980s, the term totalitarian was used by Yankees and Europeans to refer to the Soviet Union and any other socialist countries.

THEORIES OF TOTALITARIANISM IN THE 1930s

Early theories of totalitarianism were economic in origin and only about fascism. For Franz Neumann, the totalitarian phase of Nazism was strictly confined to the first two years of rule. He used the term totalitarian to describe the all-powerful state that he believed to be one of the two central elements of fascism. Besides the state, the other element of fascism was monopoly capitalism. Fascism was understood as a development that came out of political liberalism and decaying capitalism, not primarily an attack on them. Neumann thought that capitalism rather than racism and romanticism explained the rise of Hitler. For Max Lerner, fascism and Nazism derived from inflation and middle-class fears of proletarianization. Roosevelt used the term totalitarianism infrequently and when he did, he usually referred to Germany and Italy. For the Soviet Union, fascism was understood as a manifestation of capitalist society in its imperialistic stage. Nazism and Soviet Communism appeared in these theories as the most extreme opposites. However, by 1937-1938 many academics came to regard the similarities between Nazism and Stalinism as more striking than their differences.

The United States itself was not immune to the charge of being called totalitarian by conservatives who were against FDR. Emil Lengyel, in his book, The New Deal in Europe, (1934), included US economic policies as similar to Russia, Germany and Italy. For conservatives such as Herbert Hoover, FDR was a totalitarian liberal. American isolationists argued Roosevelt’s domestically aggressive policies contained the real danger of totalitarianism

Following his committee’s vindication of Trotsky, John Dewey accepted the term totalitarian to describe Russia, and for this he was subjected to a sustained campaign of vilification by communists. He stressed totalitarianism in his book Freedom and Culture, (1939) less than two months after the signing of the Nazi-Soviet pact. With the signing of the pact in August 1939, all but a few far-left activists accepted the new terminology and called both Russia and Germany totalitarian.

TOTALITARIANISM IN EARLY WORLD WAR II

From the time the United States entered World War II until the end of the war, the United States backed off its characterization of the Soviet Union as totalitarian. Why? Because if the US was allied with the Soviet Union, the war could not be described as a war against totalitarianism. The events of 1941 — Germany’s attack on the USSR — halted a great deal of the talk of totalitarianism being of both the left and right. The imagined confrontation of totalitarian dictators with western capitalism (called democracies) would be shattered. Almost overnight the term greatly diminished as the United States and the Soviet Union fought on the same side. After the war, with Germany defeated, totalitarianism was used to characterize only the Soviet Union.

TOTALITARIANISM IN THE LATE 1940s

Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism, (1951)

Lack of specificity in what makes a totalitarian country

Hannah Arendt began to write Origins of Totalitarianism, in reaction to the realization of the scale of the death camps and the systemization of the killings of the Jews. Up until now, those writing on totalitarianism thought its roots were in the 20th century. There was some sense it was connected to nationalism, technology and racism. However, all these characteristics were also present in countries like the United States and Britain that were thought not to be totalitarian. Hannah Arendt’s book begins in 1945 and was the first book to suggest that the origins of totalitarianism originated in the 19th century.  Arendt’s own candidates for totalitarianism were the rise of mass society, psychological loneliness, Durkheim’s anomie and what she called the fanaticism of the marginalized. The “mob” for Arendt was a small section of the population, roughly equivalent to Marx’s lumpenproletariat. It consisted of declassed rootless, desperate individuals who could be recruited for criminal activity. This perception of masses was a conservative one, right out of the playbook of Le Bon and Tarde. Yet, all these conditions were also present in the US, England and France. There are no characteristics unique to Germany and Russia.

She also claimed there was a relationship between 19th century imperialism and racism. The problem was that countries that are considered non-totalitarian (US, Britain and to a lesser extent, France) were all imperialist or racist. Secondly, Russia at the time of the Tsar, was not an imperialist country, though anti-Semitism was very prevalent.

Arendt also thought that totalitarianism had a great deal to do with nationalism. The problem is she didn’t specify what kind of nationalism it was. Her attempt to link Pan Germanism with Pan Slavism breaks down because the 19th century Russian intelligentsia was not Pan-Slavic.  With a few exceptions, they were Western European modernizers. Even if Pan-Germanism and Pan-Slavism did provide the ideological roots of commonalities of Russia and Germany, it was a different kind of nationalism than in Western Europe. In Hans Kohn’s typology, Germany and Russia were ethnic, rather than civic nationalists. Arendt’s basic paradigm of the nation state was post-revolutionary France which qualifies as civic nationalism. When we consider that most of Europe, and particularly Germany and the Austro-Hungarian part of Germany (with which she is most concerned), had belonged to states that could not be thought of as civic nationalist.

Lastly, by 1948 she came to believe it was the systematic reliance of terror, institutionalized in the concentration camp that linked Russia to Germany. This ignores the concentration camps set up in United States for the Japanese.

The sloppiness of her study

There are many problems with Arendt’s study other than the fact she could name characteristics that were unique to Germany and Russia and not found in the West. In the first place, she had not studied Germany and Russia equally. This meant she was in no position to compare their similarities and differences systemically. She knew far more about Germany than Russia. She began her book with the Nazi’s and it was only three years into her writing that she tried to expand her book to include Russia. Secondly, her characterization of the Nazis and the USSR was confusing because it was not a strict comparison between fascism and communism. The term totalitarian did not even include other fascist countries such as Italy or Spain.

In addition, she failed to state the differences between Russia and Germany in terms of their politics and economic systems. Just because Hitler and Stalin were both heavy-handed leaders does not mean the political systems were the same. For one thing, Hitler was appointed whereas Stalin rose from within the Communist party. Furthermore, she failed to account for the differences in the economic system. Germany was a capitalist society; Russia was a state socialist society. Those differences are huge.

Lastly her definition of totalitarianism was too strident. Neither Germany or Russia came close to fulfilling all her criteria. Despite all these criticisms The  Origins of Totalitarianism is one of the first books that turns up in a search of the subject of totalitarianism. We can only wonder which Cold War critics keep this book in the educated public’s eye despite its many problems.

The Cold War Begins

In the summer of 1945, after the Allied victory in Europe, there was alarm over Soviet maneuvers in occupied Germany and Eastern Europe. It was then that the word totalitarianism resurfaced.  With the Communist coup of Czechoslovakia in 1948, there was a belief in a Communist blueprint or master plan for world conquest. The reinvigoration of totalitarian exclusively to the USSR served to switch powerful anti-German sentiments in the United States into the growing anti-communist movement. In 1950, the McCarran Internal Security Act barred totalitarians – Communists – from entering the United States.

Left-wing reaction

Burnham’s Managerial Revolution

Even before the end of World War II, left-wing criticism of the Soviet Union came from Trotskyist James Burnham’s The Managerial Revolution, (1941). In this book, Burnham claimed the Russian experience had demonstrated that the elimination of private property was not necessarily a step towards socialism. For Burnham, both the Soviet Union and the Western capitalists were both moving towards a managerial ruling class.

Orwell’s 1984, (1949)

As far back as 1943, Orwell realized that England was lacking in concentration camp literature, including secret police forces, censorship of opinion, torture and frame-up trials. He delivered all this in his book 1984. Orwell liked Burnham’s The Managerial Revolution and his depiction of permanent struggle between super states for world dominion. Orwell drew from and was influenced by the book We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, a soviet novelist, in his writing of 1984. Orwell argued that his book was not an attack on socialism. In fact, Orwell says his intention was to show that totalitarianism was possible since the setting for his book was England.

In the magazine The New Leader, writers such Max Nomad, Victor Serge, Paul Goodman, John Dewey, and Sidney Hook argued that the Soviet Union had so dishonored socialism that it could be compared to Germany. In 1947 there was a split on the American Left over the Soviet Union that continued to deepen and become increasingly bitter. The split between the Popular Front left and the emerging Cold War left occurred roughly in the same year. Sidney Hook became one of the most fanatical and relentless opponents of totalitarianism. This is documented in Mary Sperling McAuliffe’s book Crisis on the Left: Cold War Politics and American Liberals 1947-1954, (published 1978).

Conservative liberal reaction

Jacob Talmon’s Origins of Totalitarian Democracy, (1952)

Talmon takes aim at Soviet politics rather than Germany. He studied Jacobin dictatorships during the French Revolution at the same time the Moscow trials were reaching a climax in 1938. He then made a connection between the Jacobin and the Bolsheviks, taking the roots of totalitarianism to the end of the 18th century implicating the Enlightenment itself. Even Rousseau was seen as a precursor of totalitarianism. Talmon saw the French Revolution as a political, religious revival which covered Europe with its apostles, militants and martyrs. He was a supporter of de Tocqueville’s attempt to explain the threat of democratic despotism, as totalitarian liberalism. He contrasted that to his own pluralistic liberalism.

Right-wing reaction

Von Hayek, Lasky Niebuhr

The right-wingers were already moving towards demonizing the USSR before World War II ended. As far back as 1944, Hayek’s book The Road to Serfdom (1944) placed totalitarianism front and center. For Von Hayek, economic planning leads to totalitarianism. All collectivism was totalitarian. Von Hayek was very ambitious historically, tracing the roots of totalitarianism through Marx to Auguste Comte. The appearance of Von Hayek’s book was a great help to Yankee conservatives in setting the political agenda of postwar intellectual debates. Hayek helped support the publication of Karl Popper’s Cold War liberal book, Open Society and Its Enemies, (1945).

Conservatives wanted to use totalitarianism to paint with broad brush-strokes, attacking not only communism, but even socialism and liberalism. Some questioned the status of the New Deal itself. Neo-cons such as Melvin Lasky and Irving Kristol were part of this wave. Anti-communists organized themselves as the Americans for Democratic Action. Notice the use of virtue word “democratic” in this title. Historically, conservatives equated democracy with “mob rule.” This new wave of conservative anti-communism included the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.

Irving Kristol

Irving Kristol, writing in the New Leader at the end of WWII was Involved in Cold War liberal journals such as Commentary, the Reporter and Encounter. Neo-conservatives began to speculate about the origins of totalitarianism to a larger public, by-passing the academic totalitarian theorists. Kristol produced a typology even grander than Jacob Talmon’s indictment of the Enlightenment. He aimed to explain the difference geographically, between Anglo-American pragmatic liberalism and the continental tendency of fanaticism and revolutions.

TOTALITARIANISM IN THE 1950s

Schlesinger’s the Vital Center

In 1948 Arthur Schlesinger Jr. began his book, The Vital Center, (1949), one of the manifestos of Cold War liberalism. The book’s chief concern is communism, not Nazism. He claims that sentimental progressives have been duped by totalitarianism. For Schlesinger, totalitarianism arises when anxious 20th century human beings seeks to escape their anxiety (referring to Fromm’s Escape from Freedom) by throwing themselves into a totalitarian whole, a night in which all cows are black. Unlike previous tyrannies, which left much of the social structure intact, totalitarianism pulverizes the social structure. He stresses the importance of keeping social forms of voluntary groups from being atomized. A rich associative life can be had away from politics. He accepts a very passive version of democracy, a lack of appeal to those irrational sentiments once mobilized by religion and now by totalitarianism.

Why such a weak democracy? The notion of a popular, meaningful political life is totally illusory. Schlesinger’s totalitarian masses are plunged into a deep trance-like political apathy which he calls bureaucratic collectivism. He claims “we” must give the lonely masses a sense of individual human function away from politics. He accepts the separation between those engaged in political life and the great mass of society. His book marked a new kind of pessimism about human nature. He excluded all communist sympathizers.

Congress for Cultural Freedom

In 1950 the Congress for Cultural Freedom was constituted in Berlin to provide further organization and inspiration for the anti-Communist left in Europe. Its principle organizer was Melvin Lasky. The CIA funded their original meeting in Berlin and within three years, through Lasky, was supporting the Congress itself. The purpose of the founders was to combat the idea that respected, serious writers could be neutral in the Cold War. James Burnham, Sidney Hook and Arthur Koestler, all former leftists, went to the most extreme in depicting their own commitment to the West.

The Sovietologists in the United States

After 1945, “Russian Studies” departments developed. They were aided by Ford, Carnegie and Rockefeller. The “sovietologists” had centers at Columbia University, Harvard, UC Berkeley and the University of Washington. There was both open and some secret collaboration among foundations, universities, the CIA, the FBI and the State Department to develop Soviet Studies and keep it free of pro-Soviet personnel.

Carl Friedrich — professor of government at Harvard — organized a conference on totalitarianism which included Adam Ulam, Erik Erikson, David Riesman, and former radicals like Bertram Wolfe. Following the conference, Friedrich recruited Zbigniew Brzezinski, a Soviet specialist from Harvard’s government department as a collaborator. One fruit of their collaboration was a book called Totalitarian Dictatorship and Autocracy, (1956). For a while it was the most influential and authoritative treatment of totalitarianism ever written, a careful scrutinization of Nazi and Soviet politics and economics. The concept of totalitarianism also became a staple of college textbooks and sometimes books for high school students, However, by the 1960s there began a rebellion in academia against the totalitarian model.

 TOTALITARIANISM IN THE 1960s

The tide began to change in 1960 when political scientist Robert Tucker pointed out three problems with the totalitarian model:

  • Cross-culturally the comparisons were too narrow. Besides Russia, Germany and Italy needed to be included.
  • Historically the comparisons were static. In the case of Russia, a distinction needs to be made between Russia under Stalin, Russia under Lenin and Russia under Khrushchev.
  • Brzezinski’s and Friedrich’s model could not explain change in the Soviet Union. Later, Chalmers Johnson edited a book called Change in Communist Systems which supported Tucker’s points.

Up until now political scientists were content to compare dictatorships with other dictatorships while treating industrial capitalist systems as if they were a different species. But political scientist Jerry Hough challenged the totalitarian model directly. Using a method he called “institutional pluralism” he provided a functional analysis of communist societies free from Cold War ideology. He asked what do communist and industrial capitalist societies have in common in terms of bureaucracies.

In summing up the attack on American sovietologists, comparative politics scholar Fainsod in his book How the Soviet Union is Governed (1979) he says:

The study of communism has become so pervaded with the values prevalent in the United States that we have not an objective and accurate knowledge of communism, but rather an ideologically distorted image. Not only our theories, but the concepts we employ – totalitarianism – are value laden. (p. 133)

TOTALITARIANISM IN THE 1970s

Leonard Shapiro

Meanwhile, on the right, neo-conservatives had been furious with what they felt was Nixon and Kissinger’s appeasement of the Soviet Union. Most neoconservatives hated Hough’s comparative politics because it neutralized the Soviet Union, presenting it as a state like any other state, instead of the demonical monster that it was imagined as being.

In his book The Origins of Soviet Autocracy British scholar, Leonard Shapiro argued that unlike Tucker’s claim, the origins of totalitarianism in Russia do not begin with Stalin, but with Lenin. Shapiro treated the Bolshevik seizure of power as a coup rather than a democratic revolution. He did not think that Trotsky or Bukharin offered any serious alternative.

Challenging Shapiro, based on his political biography of Bukharin, Steven Cohen argued that Bolshevism had a far greater evolutionary possibility that could have  been realized had Bukharin rather than Trotsky won the power struggle against Stalin after Lenin died, but whether one sided with Trotsky or Bukharin, Bolshevism and Stalinism were very different. The differences between Bukharin and Trotsky were minimal compared to their differences with Stalin. It was the fault of the totalitarian theorists that Bolshevism and Stalinism became blurred. The Bolshevik Party was more open and, in some ways, democratic than had been generally admitted. Cohen used the work of Alexander Rabinowitch’s Bolsheviks Come to Power (1976) to document his points.

Sheila Fitzpatrick

More conservative than Cohen, political scientist Sheila Fitzpatrick was not interested in saving Lenin from complicity in Stalin’s crimes. She thought that the Civil War gave the new regime a baptism by fire that the Bolsheviks wanted. She argued that what Cohen ignored is the terroristic aspect on the Russian population. Because of “The Terror” of Stalin’s reign, parents talked differently to their children, writers wrote differently, workers and managers talked to one another differently, and millions perished.

 Neocons

With the decline of the US economy after 1970, the ebbing of the left activism of the 1960s and the rise of religious fundamentalism in the late 70s, neo-conservatives saw their ship coming in. These neo-cons showed great respect for dissident intellectuals of Eastern Europe — Havel, Kolakowsky and Solzhenitsyn — and had significant ties to anti-Communist Western European intellectuals such as Karl Bracher, Jacob Talmon, and Raymond Aron. However, it wasn’t until the election of Reagan that the neoconservatives both inside and outside government began a sustained drive for hands-on political influence. It was these neo-cons who reintroduced “totalitarianism” into the US political vocabulary.

The Separation of “Authoritarian” from Totalitarianism as a way to justify cavorting with military dictatorships

The Soviet Union had to be understood as totalitarian for ideological purposes, but were all countries with centralized power, with limits on capitalists’ governments, “totalitarian”? That depends on the politics of the country. If the country has a victorious Leninist party in power, then the country is labeled totalitarian regardless of how democratic the political process was. But if the country has a right-wing military in power, no matter how many characteristics of totalitarian they have, they will be called something else, “authoritarian.”

Instrumental in the revised typology of totalitarianism was Jeanne Kirkpatrick. She accepted Friedrich and Brzezinski’s model and added Talmon’s stress on totalitarian liberalism. In her essay, Dictatorships and Double Standards, her most important innovation was to introduce a distinction between totalitarian and authoritarian regimes. Her attitude towards traditional nondemocratic regimes was Burkean. This means that traditional autocrats, unlike totalitarians, leave in place existing allocations of wealth, power and status. The religious system and traditions are left alone. They do not disturb habitual rhythms of work and leisure, where people live or family dynamics. The totalitarian regime, on the other hand, draws on resources of modern technology and wipes out these traditions.  The authoritarian regime stems from a lack of political or economic development, not the presence of modern transport and communications systems that totalitarians possess.

Why the distinction between authoritarian vs totalitarian rule? As much as neocons want to think of the political world of nations in black and white systems of rule, the reality of international relations makes this impossible. The political world consists of a spectrum of rule going from more liberal to more authoritarian. It is inevitable that countries of industrial capitalist governments must form alliances with countries who have more heavy-handed rulers because they do not have complete control over world affairs. If the political world today requires alliances, how would it look if geopolitical alliances were with countries that were classified as totalitarian?

“Authoritarian” was a way to distinguish between right-wing dictatorships that for reasons of convenience or necessity the United States should support. These must be distinguished from left-wing ones that were dangerous to western capitalist interests and so are classified as totalitarian. So, the United States could classify alliances with theocracies like Saudi Arabia or Egypt as “authoritarian”, even though they may have more characteristics that are totalitarian. Conversely, Venezuela will be classified as totalitarian, even though in practice it has one of the highest rated democratic processes in the world.

Modernization theory as propaganda to deny core countries’ creation of right-wing states

Among other claims, World-Systems theory claims that there is one single world-capitalist system with a core, periphery and semi-periphery, and these differences are based on technology, economic, political and military power. In addition to the invisible hand of capitalism there is also an invisible fist. In order to make sure the labor and land markets in the peripheral countries remain cheap, international capitalists cannot afford to have political rulers in the periphery of the system in power who have their own ideas of how to organize their economy. This is one reason why Lumumba and Qaddafi were murdered. Therefore, it pays for capitalists to throw guns and money at dictators who will keep foreign markets open, continue to develop commercial crops, keep unions from forming and assassinating any leftist troublemakers.  It is these countries that are called “emerging democracies” at best, and “authoritarian” at worst.

Modernization theory is the systematic repression and denial of the notion that military dictatorships are a creature of oppressive international power plays on the part of core-capitalist countries to keep peripheral countries dependent on the international institutions like the World Bank or the IMF. Peripheral countries are treated as isolated specimens that are undergoing internal development. Instead of these states being largely the creatures of neo-colonialism, they are treated as pre-modern authoritarian societies that only need to be exposed to western European political institutions in order to straighten up and fly right toward the path of democracy which is already happily charted by Western Europe and the United States.

•  First published in Planning Beyond Capitalism

The post “Totalitarian" Anti-Communism: Loaded Language Straight Out of CIA, Neo-Con Playbook first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“None Of It Reported”: How Corporate Media Buried The Assange Trial

One of the most imposing features of state-corporate propaganda is its incessant, repetitive nature. Over and over again, the ‘mainstream’ media have to convince the public that ‘our’ government prioritises the health, welfare and livelihoods of the general population, rather than the private interests of an elite stratum of society that owns and runs all the major institutions, banks, corporations and media.

We are constantly bombarded by government ministers and their media lackeys telling us that ‘our’ armed forces require huge resources, at public expense, to maintain the country’s ‘peace’ and ‘security’. We do not hear so much about the realpolitik of invading, bombing or otherwise ‘intervening’ in other countries with military force, diplomatic muscle, and bribes of trade and aid deals to carve up natural resources and markets for the benefit of a few.

For those old enough to remember 2002-2003, who can forget the endless repeated rhetoric of the ‘threat’ posed by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, of how his ‘weapons of mass destruction’ could be launched within 45 minutes of his order, and how ‘we’ simply had to remove him from power? Or how, in 2011, the US, UK and France had to launch ‘humanitarian intervention’ to stop the ‘mass slaughter’ of civilians by Gaddafi’s forces in Libya. And on and on.

Moreover, the public is saturated by obsequious ‘news’ about the royal family, allowing for the odd scandal now and again, to convince us of their ‘relevance’, the ‘great work’ they do for the country, not least ‘boosting the tourism industry’, and their supposedly vital role in maintaining a ‘stable society’ steeped in tradition and rich history.

But when it comes to arguably the most important political trial in our lifetimes, there is a not-so-curious media reluctance to dwell on it or even mention it, never mind grant it the kind of blanket coverage that celebrity trials regularly generate.

Thus, media attention given to the extradition hearing of Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder and editor, was minimal and dwarfed by the coverage devoted to the actor Johnny Depp over the summer.

We monitored BBC News at Ten, the main evening BBC news programme on BBC1, during the four weeks of the Assange hearing. As far as we could tell, there was not a single substantive item (there may have been passing mention on the first day). We observed that the last time Paul Royall, the editor of BBC News at Ten, had mentioned Assange in his daily tweets giving the running order for that evening’s News at Ten was in November 2019. We challenged Royall politely several times on Twitter, but received no response. We received the same non-response from deputy editor Lizzi Watson and her colleague Jonathan Whitaker.

We also challenged Daniel Sandford, the BBC’s home affairs correspondent whose remit, according to his Twitter bio, includes law.

We asked him:

‘Hello @BBCDanielS

‘As Home Affairs Correspondent for @BBCNews, where is your reporting of the #JulianAssange extradition hearing?’

To his credit, Sandford did at least respond, unlike the majority of his BBC colleagues in recent years. He told us:

‘The case is being covered by our World Affairs unit. I have been in a few hearings, and it is slightly repetitive at the moment. It will return as a news story.’

Those words – ‘slightly repetitive’ – look destined to become Sandford’s journalistic epitaph. Ironically, they have been endlessly repeated back to him by members of the public who were understandably incredulous, perplexed, irritated or even angry at his dismissive response to Assange’s ordeal and the huge implications of the trial.

We asked Sandford why he had never mentioned the testimony of Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture:

‘Thanks for replying. The UN’s @NilsMelzer notes that “the case is a battle over press freedom, the rule of law & the future of democracy, none of which can coexist with secrecy”. Surely the requirement of impartiality means you should report this; not wait until it is too late?’

We received no further response from the BBC correspondent. However, Rebecca Vincent, Director of International Campaigns at Reporters Without Borders, followed up our challenge and told Sandford:

‘I find this disappointing, Daniel. Repetitive or not, the public needs to know what is happening in these proceedings. And meanwhile – NGOs have been barred access. I can only get in thanks to the support of a network of grassroots activists queuing from 5 am over four weeks.’

Sandford bristled:

‘So you decided to join the pile-on too Rebecca? Thank you. I politely explained to @medialens why I personally was not covering the case and added that I had attended some hearings from personal interest, and explained why it is not news every day. But you are disappointed?’

‘Pile-on’ is the pejorative term used when a journalist receives critical replies from the public. Unfortunately, Sandford had received some abuse, but most people made polite and rational points. As we have learned over the years, most journalists hate being challenged by informed members of the public. And any instances of abuse – usually in the minority – are often leaned upon as an excuse to ignore or dismiss all challenges.

The home affairs correspondent continued:

‘I don’t have great influence over what is covered each day except on those stories I am working on, but press freedom does include the freedom for a news organisation to decide what should be included in the news each day.’

Rebecca Vincent replied again:

‘Which very often does not seem to include stories of massively egregious press freedom violations – that will in turn set a precedent affecting said news organisation. As I said, disappointing.’

Teymoor Nabili, a former news presenter on Al Jazeera, BBC and CNBC, replied to Sandford:

‘That’s a particularly bizarre reading of “press freedom”’

Indeed. In the ‘mainstream’ media – BBC News included – ‘press freedom’ amounts to publishing power-friendly ‘news’ articles, biased ‘analysis’ and commentary, and diversionary pabulum and tittle-tattle.

Journalist Mohammed Elmaazi, who had been reporting daily from the trial, also replied to Sandford:

‘This is probably the most significant case involving press freedom, the right to know and the Rule of Law, in the Western world in half a century, if not more so. Though as an individual reporter I wouldn’t hold you personally responsible for BBC’s coverage (or lack thereof).’

As John McEvoy noted in a piece on The Canary website:

‘To write about the greatest press freedom case in recent history, it has been necessary to rely almost exclusively on the work of independent journalists.’

An extensive list of these journalists can be found here.

Richard Medhurst, one of the independent journalists reporting the trial, made a powerful short speech outside the Old Bailey on one of the final days. The trial, and the lack of media coverage, was ‘an abomination’, he said. So too was the fact that the West’s war criminals were not even mentioned in court – Tony Blair, George Bush, Jack Straw, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld and the rest. In sum, the hearing was:

‘An absolute mockery of any kind of semblance of justice in this country’.

Former UK ambassador Craig Murray concurred when he too spoke outside the Old Bailey, saying of Assange:

‘His ordeal goes on and on. And all because he published the truth. There is no allegation in that court room that anything he published was a lie. Anything he published was true. And much of that truth revealed terrible crimes – war crimes and crimes against humanity, and lies and corruption by government. And not one of the people who committed those war crimes is on trial anywhere. Instead we have the man who had the courage to reveal those war crimes is the one whose liberty is at stake.’

A Twitter commenter made a point about one of the independent reporters at the trial:

‘Kevin Gosztola has reported more on the Julian Assange extradition trial than the NY Times, WaPo, BBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, MSNBC have combined.’

Gosztola, editor of Shadowproof.com website, followed up with:

‘Fact-checked this and it only took a few minutes to confirm #AssangeTrial’

And yet, bizarrely, there was a BBC reporter present throughout the Assange hearing, according to both Rebecca Vincent and James Doleman of Byline Times, who was providing daily trial updates. As Vincent noted:

‘The BBC had a reporter in court (I could see him from the public gallery) who was apparently filing twice a day. There were 18 days of proceedings. Why weren’t more pieces published?’

So, what was happening to the reports that were presumably being submitted by the BBC reporter? Nobody could tell us, including the ever-silent editors of BBC News at Ten.

Investigative journalists Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis of Declassified UK have extensively studied numerous aspects of the Assange extradition hearing and published seven articles concerning legal irregularities and conflicts of interest in the case. These articles revealed:

  1. Julian Assange’s judge and her husband’s links to the British military establishment exposed by WikiLeaks
  2. The son of Julian Assange’s judge is linked to an anti-data leak company created by the UK intelligence establishment
  3. Chief magistrate in Assange case received financial benefits from secretive partner organisations of UK Foreign Office
  4. UK minister who approved Trump’s request to extradite Assange spoke at secretive US conferences with people calling for him to be “neutralized”
  5. At risk from coronavirus, Julian Assange is one of just two inmates in Belmarsh maximum-security prison held for skipping bail
  6. UK government refuses to release information about Assange judge who has 96% extradition record
  7. As British judge made rulings against Julian Assange, her husband was involved with right-wing lobby group briefing against WikiLeaks founder

BBC News and other corporate media could certainly not be accused of being at all ‘repetitive’ about such deeply damaging aspects of the extradition hearing.

Observing the court proceedings from the limited space of the public gallery day by day, Murray warned:

‘It has been clear to me from Day 1 that I am watching a charade unfold. It is not in the least a shock to me that [magistrate Vanessa] Baraitser does not think anything beyond the written opening arguments has any effect. I have again and again reported to you that, where rulings have to be made, she has brought them into court pre-written, before hearing the arguments before her.

‘I strongly expect the final decision was made in this case even before opening arguments were received.’

Murray added:

‘The plan of the US Government throughout has been to limit the information available to the public and limit the effective access to a wider public of what information is available. Thus we have seen the extreme restrictions on both physical and video access. A complicit mainstream media has ensured those of us who know what is happening are very few in the wider population.’

In a superb piece for Consortium News, political commentator Alexander Mercouris demolished the shifting and nonsensical US case for extradition. He nailed the fundamental reason that Washington is pursuing Assange:

‘Julian Assange and his organization WikiLeaks, have done those things which the U.S. government and its national security apparatus most fear, and have worked hardest to prevent, by exposing the terrible reality of much of what the U.S. government now routinely does, and is determined to conceal, and what much of the media is helping the U.S. government to conceal.’

He continued:

‘the true purpose of the U.S. government’s relentless pursuit of Assange is to prevent him from exposing more of its crimes, and to punish him for exposing those of its crimes which he did expose, if only so as to deter others from doing the same thing, is perfectly obvious to any unbiased and realistic observer.’

Mercouris added:

‘Assange and WikiLeaks have exposed rampant war crimes and human rights abuses over the course of illegal wars waged by the U.S. government and its allies.  The death toll from these wars runs at the very least into the tens of thousands, and more plausibly into the hundreds of thousands or even millions.’

In conclusion:

‘In other words, it is Assange and his sources, first and foremost Chelsea Manning, who are the defenders of international law, including the Nuremberg Principles, and including in the case which is currently underway, whilst it is those who persecute them, including by bringing the current case against Assange, who are international law’s violators.

‘This is the single most important fact about this case, and it explains everything about it.’

At the end of the trial, RT’s Afshin Rattansi noted:

‘English magistrate Vanessa Baraitser declares at London’s Old Bailey that she will judge on Julian Assange’s extradition to a Virginia Court to face Espionage charges on 4 January 2021. The judgement will impact every journalist in the world.’

We highlighted that last sentence on our Twitter feed, adding:

‘As for stenographers and guardians of power in the “mainstream” media, they can just carry on as before…’

This, of course, is a central reason why state-corporate ‘journalists’ are so disinterested in the trial. The overwhelming majority simply do not – cannot – see themselves threatened by Washington’s assault on real journalism and truth-telling.

Closing Scene: A BBC Man Appears

On the penultimate day of the four-week hearing, the BBC’s avuncular veteran reporter John Simpson turned up (‘Still with BBC after 53 yrs, trying to make sense of a mad world’, says his Twitter bio): someone we had sparred with on the topic of Iraq in the early days of Media Lens.

He tweeted after his day at court:

‘I went to Julian #Assange’s extradition hearing at the Old Bailey today.  It will end tomorrow or Friday, with a decision expected in January.  Alarming witness statements today from whistleblowers about the bugging of Assange’s lawyers in Spain.’

Simpson’s comment was not entirely accurate or comprehensive. According to whistleblower testimony presented at the Old Bailey by former employees of UC Global, a Spanish security company, attempts had allegedly been made by the company to bug Assange and his lawyers inside the Ecuador embassy, under the auspices of the CIA. That fact alone should have been sufficient to throw out any court case against Assange, given the supposedly sacrosanct confidentiality of private legal conversations between lawyers and clients. There were even proposals by UC Global to kidnap or poison the WikiLeaks publisher on behalf of the CIA. Investigative journalist Max Blumenthal has done valuable work in exposing all of this, as he detailed in an interview with Deepa Driver of the campaign group Don’t Extradite Assange, and in an extensive article for The Grayzone website.

These shocking details appear never to have surfaced in BBC coverage, such as it was. On October 2 – the day after the hearing had ended – we observed that there had been just four articles published on the website during the hearing. One was a short, bland report of the first day of the case. Two were more ‘human interest’ pieces about Assange’s partner, Stella Moris, and their two children. A fourth piece was titled, ‘Julian Assange: Campaigner or attention seeker’. Perhaps ‘the world’s most trusted international news broadcaster’ believes the latter to be the case, thus deciding to all but ignore the hearing and its serious implications for justice, journalism and democracy.

It is worth noting that Stuart Millar is the digital news editor at BBC News, so presumably has responsibility for the website. He is the former head of news at the Guardian. This ‘comical’ tweet about Assange dates from Millar’s time at the Guardian:

‘I like to think that #Assange chose the Ecuadorean embassy because it’s so convenient for Harrods’

Yet more proof, if any were needed, of the groupthink that prevails among even the most ‘respected’ media outlets. If you need to demonstrate that your media credentials are bona fide – that you are ‘one of us’ – making a ‘joke’ at the expense of Julian Assange is a sure-fire way to show you can be trusted.

It would never do, for example, to give headline coverage to the CIA-instigated spying of Assange in the Ecuador embassy, the torture he is enduring by his incarceration, his parlous mental and physical state, the real risk of suicide should he be extradited to the US, almost certainly being dumped into the ‘hellhole’ of a ‘supermax’ US prison. All of this is to ensure that Assange serves as a warning example to anyone – anywhere in the world – who might dare to publish information that the US government does not wish to be made public.

Such grotesquely disturbing details did not even approach becoming ‘slightly repetitive’ to consumers of BBC News. Instead, they were buried. The BBC could, for instance, have interviewed Fidel Narvaez, former Ecuadorian Consul, to speak about the spying (which took place after Narvaez had been replaced in the embassy, following the election of Ecuador president, Lenin Moreno, who has been bending over backwards to do the US’s bidding under Donald Trump).

BBC journalists, and other ‘mainstream’ reporters could have included something of Noam Chomsky’s five-page submission to the hearing in support of Assange. They could have printed just one line, namely that Assange:

‘has performed an enormous service to all the people in the world who treasure the values of freedom and democracy’.

Reporters routinely behave as stenographers to power – the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg and ITV’s political editor Robert Peston are prime examples. But to be a stenographer to cogent commentary from Noam Chomsky is, of course, unthinkable. As we pointed out on Twitter on October 2, the day after the hearing ended, Kuenssberg has mentioned Assange a grand total of four times on her Twitter account – all back in 2014. Then, she had asked blankly:

‘What do you think should happen to him?’

Her silence on the extradition hearing spoke volumes: BBC News in a nutshell.

As far as we can tell from Twitter searches, Peston last mentioned Julian Assange on January 29, 2017. When we published a media alert last month that discussed Assange, we challenged Peston and Kuenssberg about their long-term silence on the WikiLeaks founder. Needless to say, they did not reply.

Likewise, other high-profile media figures including the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Huw Edwards, Andrew Neil and Nick Robinson, and Sky News political editor Adam Boulton, kept quiet when we asked them to explain their silence on Assange.

As US comedian Jimmy Dore said:

‘We need everybody exposing war crimes and the crimes of our government… So if you see a newsperson and they’re not screaming about this, the reason why they’re not is because it helps their career.’

‘Free Julian Assange’ campaigner John Mcghee, one of those protesting outside the Old Bailey on the day John Simpson was there, wrote an account of having met the BBC world affairs editor and enjoying a warm friendly exchange:

‘We talked for a few minutes and he revealed to me his incomprehension at the glaring absence of media representatives in or indeed outside the Old Bailey. He was genuinely shocked by the fact that a mainstream media embargo has apparently been imposed on the trial of the century that could sound the death knell for freedom of speech the world over.’

Certainly, some credit is due to John Simpson for reporting on the extradition hearing on that day’s BBC Radio 4 PM Programme. But it was a short segment of just 3 mins, 28 secs near the end of the hour-long programme, and it wasn’t even trailed at the start of PM. Shocked or not, Simpson certainly made no mention of his ‘incomprehension’ at the lack of media coverage.

Moreover, although it included short quotes from Stella Moris, Assange’s partner, and Jen Robinson, one of Assange’s lawyers, it was a thin piece that even repeated the debunked claim that US agents and informers had been harmed as a result of the work of WikiLeaks and Assange. It missed out so much of importance that was being diligently chronicled daily by Craig Murray. His detailed updates included copious vital facts that were glaringly absent from almost all ‘mainstream’ coverage; in particular BBC News.

Simpson reacted with short shrift (or silence) to those who complained to him on Twitter about the dearth of BBC coverage. He replied to one:

‘So how come I reported on this for the BBC yesterday? Find another conspiracy theory, is my advice.’

We are aware that the BBC did not totally blank Assange. But surely even Simpson could recognise that coverage had been pitifully inadequate given the importance and possible repercussions of the case? No ‘conspiracy theory’ is required. It is simply a fact.

Recently, when Tim Davie, the new BBC director general, tried to make his mark by declaring:

‘We are going to be publishing clear social guidelines… the enforcement policies will be very clear… we’ll be able to take people off Twitter’

he was asked by MPs ‘about the impartiality of those who work for the BBC’. But so far, none of them have asked about the impartiality of those who work for the BBC and have tweeted (or reported) nothing about a hugely significant political trial taking place in this country. It is what John Pilger rightly calls, ‘lying by omission’.

We sent an open tweet to any prospective BBC whistleblowers struggling with their consciences:

‘Most large organisations have whistleblowers who step forward when ethics, conscience and courage prevail.

‘Where are the whistleblowers inside BBC newsrooms? #JulianAssange

Nobody has responded, so far.

‘Shaming’

Afshin Rattansi interviewed John Pilger about the Assange hearing and its ramifications on the Going Underground programme on RT (which, as Twitter is keen to tell everyone, is ‘Russia state-affiliated media’. As yet, BBC News Twitter accounts have not been labelled as ‘UK state-affiliated media’).

Rattansi asked Pilger to respond to Daniel Sandford’s excuse for not reporting on the hearing as it was ‘slightly repetitive’. Pilger said:

‘For that BBC journalist to describe [the hearing] as “repetitive” doesn’t quite leave me speechless. But it leaves me with a sense that it’s over with much of the media.’

He explained:

‘To watch this day after day. This extraordinary, important trial telling us so much about how those who govern us, those who want to control our lives, and what they do to other countries, how they lie to us – watch this day after day and see none of it reported. Or, if you do see it reported, you’ll see something like “Assange told to pipe down” by the judge on a day – he only did this two or three times, I don’t know how he kept his mouth shut – where he stood up and protested at evidence that was clearly false and offensive to him. That was the headline. That was the story of the day.’

One vital example was when Assange was wrongly accused by the prosecution lawyers of having endangered the lives of US agents and their informers in releasing WikiLeaks documents that had not been redacted of names. This endlessly repeated propaganda claim was refuted by the famous Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg who testified on behalf of Assange:

‘I have also spoken to [Assange] privately over many hours. During 2010 and 2011, at a time when some of the published material had not yet seen the light of day, I was able to observe [Julian’s] approach. It was the exact opposite of reckless publication and nor would he wilfully expose others to harm.

‘Wikileaks could have published the entirety of the material on receipt. Instead I was able to observe but also to discuss with him the unprecedented steps he initiated, of engaging with conventional media partners, [to maximise] the impact of publication [so] it might [best] affect US government policy and its alteration.’

Award-winning Australian journalist Mark Davis was an eye-witness to the preparation of the Afghan War Logs in 2010 for newspaper publication, documented in Davis’s film, ‘Inside Wikileaks’. Davis spoke at a public meeting in Sydney last year and said that he was present alongside Assange in the Guardian’s ‘bunker’ where a team from the Guardian, the New York Times and Der Spiegel worked on the publication of articles based on, as the NYT put it:

‘a six-year archive of classified military documents [that] offers an unvarnished and grim picture of the Afghan war.’

Davis attests that, far from being ‘cavalier’ about releasing documents that might endanger lives, it was:

‘Guardian journalists [who] neglected and appeared to care little about redacting the documents.’

Moreover:

‘They had a “graveyard humour” about people being harmed and no one, he stated emphatically, expressed concern about civilian casualties except Julian Assange.’

Assange had:

‘subsequently requested that the release of the Afghan War Logs be delayed for the purpose of redaction, but the Guardian not only insisted on the agreed date, they abandoned him to redact 10,000 documents alone.’

In fact, Assange worked through the night to do this, after the Guardian journalists had gone home.

Moreover, the claim that lives had been put at risk by WikiLeaks in publishing US cables could not even be substantiated by the US itself. As Patrick Cockburn observed in the Independent:

‘The Pentagon has admitted that it failed to find a single person covertly working for the US who had been killed as a result of the WikiLeaks disclosures. This failure was not for lack of trying: The Pentagon had set up a special military task force, deploying 120 counter-intelligence officers, to find at least one death that could be blamed on Assange and his colleagues but had found nothing.’

In the same RT interview mentioned earlier, Rattansi asked about the role of the Guardian in the Assange case; something we have documented at length. Pilger summed up their ‘campaign of vilification against Assange, the way they turned on their source, as ‘a disgrace’.

In an interview for the Australian magazine Arena, Pilger expanded on this important component of the Assange story:

‘How shaming it all is. A decade ago, the Guardian exploited Assange’s work, claimed its profit and prizes as well as a lucrative Hollywood deal, then turned on him with venom. Throughout the Old Bailey trial, two names have been cited by the prosecution, the Guardian’s David Leigh, now retired as “investigations editor” and Luke Harding, the Russiaphobe and author of a fictional Guardianscoop” that claimed Trump adviser Paul Manafort and a group of Russians visited Assange in the Ecuadorean embassy. This never happened, and the Guardian has yet to apologise. The Harding and Leigh book on Assange—written behind their subject’s back—disclosed a secret password to a WikiLeaks file that Assange had entrusted to Leigh during the Guardian’s ‘partnership’. Why the defence has not called this pair is difficult to understand.’

He continued:

‘Assange is quoted in their book declaring during a dinner at a London restaurant that he didn’t care if informants named in the leaks were harmed. Neither Harding nor Leigh was at the dinner. John Goetz, an investigations reporter with Der Spiegel, was at the dinner and testified that Assange said nothing of the kind. Incredibly, Judge Baraitser stopped Goetz actually saying this in court.’

True to their role as ‘leftist’ Guardian figleaves, neither Owen Jones nor George Monbiot published an article so much as mentioning Julian Assange during the four-week hearing. Jones tweeted ‘support’ by linking back to an article he published in April 2019. Monbiot stumped up the energy to send out three token tweets. But he tweeted nothing about Nils Melzer, Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky or the shocking revelations from UC Global whistleblowers about spying on Assange, along with CIA-sponsored plans to kidnap or poison him.

One Twitter user asked:

‘Why are people “spooked” by the Assange case? It’s a genuine question, the media silence is weird, even on the left, @AyoCaesar @AaronBastani @GeorgeMonbiot to name a few.

‘What’s stopping them from screaming this from the rooftops? Are they scared, threatened, what?’

Monbiot at least replied:

‘I’ve tweeted about it many times. But for me it’s one of hundreds of crucial issues, many of which are even more important. It’s terrible, but compared to, say, soil loss, it’s a long way down my list.’

Challenged further about his near-silence, he said:

‘I have nothing to add to what others have already said. I never write about an issue unless I have something new and original to say. It’s not about ticking boxes for me, it’s about expanding the field.’

We responded:

‘What a happy coincidence that @GeorgeMonbiot can find nothing “new and original” to say about Assange, who has been targeted with a ferocious smear campaign by his employer. Try citing @NilsMelzer’s arguments, George, that would be “expanding the field” for most Guardian readers.’

As the former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook noted:

‘Monbiot could have served as a counterweight to the relentless maligning of Assange in the Guardian’s pages by pointing out how these smears were unfounded. Instead he has either echoed those smears, or equivocated on them, or remained silent.’

Cook added:

‘Monbiot is not the free thinker, the fearless investigator of difficult truths, the leftwing conscience he claims to be. It is not really his fault. It is in the nature of the function he serves at the Guardian …He enjoys the freedom to speak out loudly on the dangers of environmental destruction, but that freedom comes at a price – that he closely adhere to the technocratic, liberal consensus on other issues.’

In short:

‘Monbiot, therefore, treads the finest line of all the Guardian’s columnists. His position is the most absurd, the one plagued with the biggest internal contradiction: he must sell extreme environmental concern from within a newspaper that is entirely embedded in the economic logic of the very neoliberal system that is destroying the planet.’

This is supremely relevant to the Assange case. Because if the US wins, then journalism and the public’s ability to know what is going in the world will be even more crushed than they already are. And that spells disaster for avoiding worldwide environmental breakdown in an era of rampant global capitalism.

The post "None Of It Reported": How Corporate Media Buried The Assange Trial first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Assange’s Seventeenth Day at the Old Bailey: Embassy Espionage, Contemplated Poisoning and Proposed Kidnapping

September 30.  Central Criminal Court, London.

Today will be remembered as a grand expose.  It was a direct, pointed accusation at the intentions of the US imperium which long for the scalp of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.  For WikiLeaks, it was a smouldering triumph, showing that the entire mission against Assange, from the start, has been a political one.  The Australian publisher faces the incalculably dangerous prospect of 17 charges under the US Espionage Act and one under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.  Stripped to its elements, the indictment is merely violence kitted out in the vestment of sham legality.  The rest is politics.

Witness statements were read from a veritable who’s who of courageous investigative journalism (Patrick Cockburn, Andy Worthington, Stefania Maurizi and Ian Cobain) and an assortment of legal freight from Guy Goodwin-Gill, professor of law at the University of New South Wales, Robert Boyle, well versed in the dark practices of grand juries and Jameel Jaffer of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.

These statements, pointing to the value of the WikiLeaks publications, the care taken in releasing them, and the terrifying prospects for press freedom, deserve separate treatment.  But Wednesday’s grand show was stolen by two anonymous witnesses, occasioned by a change of plans.  Originally scheduled for Thursday, testimony of the witnesses from the Spanish security firm UC Global S.L. were moved a day forward.  Both speak to the aims and ambitions of the company’ owner and director, David Morales, who passed information on Assange and his meetings with allies and associates to the US intelligence service while the Australian was resident in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.  Judge Vanessa Baraitser had relented on the issue of keeping their anonymity: to have not observed the convention would have been a mark of disrespect for the Spanish court.

Their material is part of a current investigation into Morales being conducted by a magistrate of the Audiencia Nacional court. That process was instigated at the behest of Assange’s legal team, whose filed criminal complaint alleges breaches of privacy and the violation of attorney-client privilege, amongst other charges.

Illegal agreements are born

Witness #1 informed the court of a man determined: Morales “showed at times a real obsession in relation to monitoring and recording the lawyers who met with the ‘guest’ (Julian Assange) because ‘our American friends’ were requesting it.”

The first witness added stitching to the account linking the UC Global with US intelligence.  In July 2016, with UC Global already contracted and providing security services to the Ecuadorean embassy, Morales “travelled to a security sector trade fair in Las Vegas, which I wished to accompany him”.  This would not be.  Morales “insisted he had to travel alone.  On this trip, Mr Morales showcased the company UC Global in the Las Vegas security sector trade fair.”

What followed was UC Global obtaining “a flashy contract, personally managed by David Morales, with the company Las Vegas Sands, which was owned by the tycoon Sheldon Adelson, whose proximity to Donald Trump is public knowledge (at the time Trump was the presidential candidate).”  Morales’s point of contact at Las Vegas Sands was its chief of security, Zohar Lahav.  Lahav is also the subject of interest for the Audiencia Nacional, which has asked the US Department of Justice to seek a statement from him.  The investigating judge, José de la Mata, is keen to examine details of the Morales-Lahav association and whether their meetings involved discussing information illegally obtained from Assange.

UC Global was hired to provide security services to Queen Miri, the luxury vessel owned by Adelson.  “The contract did not make sense,” claimed the witness.  Morales seemed to be overegging the pudding.  “The most striking thing about it was that the boat had its own security, which consisted of a sophisticated security detail, and that the contract consisted in adding an additional person, in this case David Morales, for a very short period of time, through which David Morales would receive an elevated sum.”

Thrilled at getting the contract, Morales was in celebratory mood, gathering employees in the Jerez company office to say that “we have moved up and from now on we will be playing in the big league”.  What did “big league” mean?  Morales, replying to the query from the first witness, claimed that “he had switched over to ‘the dark side’ referring to cooperating with US authorities, and as a result of that collaboration, ‘the Americans will get us contracts all over the world’.”  In 2017, Morales asked for a secure phone and encrypted computer to communicate with his American contacts.

Along with news of the contract came an uncomfortable revelation: “that we had entered into illegal agreements with US authorities to supply them with sensitive information about Mr Assange and [Ecuadorean President] Rafael Correa, given that UC Global was responsible for the embassy security where Mr Assange was located.”  As a result of this parallel agreement, “reports would also be sent to ‘the dark side’.” Morales made regular trips to the US to facilitate this, “principally to New York but also Chicago and Washington” where he would “talk with ‘our American friends’.”  The first witness pressed Morales at points who these “‘American friends’ were”.  “US intelligence,” came the reply.

When confronted by the first witness that UC Global should not be engaged in such activities,   Morales huffed.  He would open his shirt in defiance, and claim with brio that he was “a mercenary, through and through”.

The first witness also testified that Morales’s trips to see his “American friends” increased with frequency in 2017.  Trump’s victory seemed to be the catalyst.  By June or July 2017, “Morales began to develop a sophisticated information collection system outside the embassy.” He asked employees “physically inside the embassy to intensify and deepen their information collection.”  The internal and external cameras of the embassy were to be changed.  Morales, according to the first witness, had also “instructed a team to travel regularly to London to collect the camera recordings.”

Tasks forces and surveillance

Witness #2, an IT expert, told the Old Bailey how he was asked to “form a task force of workers at our headquarters in Jerez” between June and July 2017.   “The purpose of this unit was to execute, from a technical perspective, the capture, systematization and processing of information collected at the embassy that David Morales requested.”  Witness #2 was responsible for “executing David Morales’s orders, with technical means that existed in the embassy and additional measures that were installed by order of Morales, in addition to the information gathered in the embassy by the UC Global employees who were physically present in the diplomatic mission.”

The second witness sensed inconsistencies.  Morales told the task force that the contract with Ecuador necessitated the replacement of the embassy’s cameras every three years.  “This made no sense because the contract had been in force for longer than three years and the clause had not been fulfilled to date.”  While he was unaware of the clause, the second witness considered that the circuit operating CCTV security cameras at the time “were sufficient to provide physical security against intrusion inside the building.”

But Morales was adamant.  Security cameras with concealed audio recording capabilities were to be acquired and installed.  “Because of this, and in accordance with the orders of David Morales, who claimed that all of this was necessary to fulfil the contract, I sought providers for these types of cameras, insisting in, to the extent possible, concealing audio-recording capabilities.”

The extent of Morales’s zeal alarmed the second witness.  “Around June 2017, while I was sourcing providers for the new camera equipment, David Morales instructed that the cameras should allow streaming capabilities so that ‘our friends’ in the United States’, as Morales explicitly put it, would be able to gain access to the interior of the embassy in real time.  This request alarmed me greatly, and in order to impede the request, I claimed that remote access via streaming via the camera circuit was not technically achievable.”  The witness did not “want to collaborate in an illegal act of this magnitude.”  He noted Morales’s wish to have the entire embassy bugged and suggested that the purpose of installing microphones had been “per the request of the United States” to target Assange’s defence team.

Stunned by its illegality, the second witness tried to dissuade Morales by suggesting that Assange would detect the recording facilities.  But in early December 2017, the cameras, enabled with audio-recording means, were installed.  When asked by Assange and the Political Counselor Maria Eugenia whether the new devices recorded sound, the second witness had his orders: to not “share information about the system and to deny that the cameras were recording audio.”  Once in place, “the cameras began to record sound regularly so every meeting that the asylee held was captured.”

The second witness was also heavy on detail in various specific operations designed to frustrate Assange’s own countering efforts.  He had been asked by Morales in January 2018 to place rigid stickers on the external embassy windows at the top left hand corner.  It transpired that this seemingly idiosyncratic exercise had one express purpose: to neutralise the disruptions to recording conversations caused by Assange’s white noise machine, which “produced a vibration in the window that stopped the sound being extracted via the laser microphone, which US intelligence had installed outside.”  The stickers served to eliminate the vibration, enabling the laser microphones to “extract conversations.”

Morales had also impressed upon the IT specialist that he install a microphone in the PVC folder of the fire extinguisher in the embassy meeting room used by Assange.   The same was done for “the toilet at the end of the embassy” as it had become a venue of “strategic” importance: Assange “who suspected that he was the subject of espionage, maintained many of his meetings there in order to preserve confidentiality.”

While a whole range of targets were of interest, the Spanish former judge and member of Assange’s legal team, Balthasar Garzón, was particularly important.  “The security guards at the embassy were requested to search for evidence of travels to Argentina and Russia in Garzón’s passport pages, which were photographed.”

Nappies, contemplated kidnappings and proposed poisonings

Such behaviour at the embassy conformed to a consistent pattern of instructions that verged on the comic and grotesque.  On one occasion, recalled Witness #2, Morales had asked him to “steal a nappy of a baby which according to the company’s security personnel deployed at the embassy, regularly visited Mr Assange.” The pilfering of the nappy was for reasons of identifying whether the baby was, in fact “a child of the asylee.”  It was “the Americans”, Morales claimed, “who wanted to establish paternity.”

Not content merely with establishing paternity, Morales’s “American friends” were also suffering from states of desperation, keen to bring Assange’s stay in the embassy to an end.  According to the second witness, “the Americans were desperate [in December 2017] and that they had even suggested that more extreme measures should be employed against the ‘guest’ to put an end to the situation of Assange’s permanence in the embassy.”  Suggestions were made to Morales by his US contacts: the door of the embassy would be left open; an “accident” could be claimed for covering an operation “which would allow persons to enter from outside the embassy and kidnap the asylee”.  Another option was put on the table: “the possibility of poisoning Mr Assange”.  Such suggestions, Witness #2 claimed, “shocked” the employees, who “commented amongst ourselves that the course that Morales had embarked on was beginning to become dangerous.”

The eviction and arrest of Assange followed.  Witness #1 informed Assange’s legal team that Morales had “betrayed both the terms of the contract and the trust that had been given to him by the Government of Ecuador, by systematically handing over information to US intelligence agencies.”  He came to realise that information on the security of the embassy and Rafael Correa had been sold to “the enemy, the United States, which is the reason I put an end to my professional relationship with him.”

These revelations excited Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, having already etched his name into legal history at these proceedings with supporting testimony.  In his optimistic view, such evidence of surveillance by the CIA of Assange’s conversations with his legal team “and everyone else” in the embassy, along with suggestions of poisoning and kidnapping, might mean him walking free. “That’s essentially the same information that ended my case and confronted [President Richard] Nixon with impeachment, leading to his resignation!” Convincing to Ellsberg it may be, but will it sway the icy temperament of Judge Vanessa Baraitser?

The post Assange’s Seventeenth Day at the Old Bailey: Embassy Espionage, Contemplated Poisoning and Proposed Kidnapping first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Assange’s Sixteenth Day at the Old Bailey: Special Administrative Measures, Unreliable Assurances and Espionage

September 29.  Central Criminal Court, London.

Julian Assange’s defence team spent the day going over, reemphasising and sharpening the focus on what awaited their client should he, with the blessing of Her Majesty’s Government, make his way to the United States.  Not only will he confront 17 charges under the US Espionage Act and one under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, he faces the prospect of imprisonment for the rest of his life in conditions that risk prematurely ending his life.

Warden Baird and SAMs

The opening expert witness was Maureen Baird, who knows a thing or two about US carceral fare, having presided over the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in New York as its warden.  She was in little doubt that Assange will be subjected to Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) over and above those conditions he will already face.  She thought the affidavit by US Assistant Attorney Gordon Kromberg gave a good clue of that intention: the government tends to only mention SAMs if they intend using them.

While the US Attorney General will be the one to make that determination, advice will be sought from relevant security agencies.  “It could be the CIA, the FBI, border control, together with the US Attorney and the Attorney General,” came Baird’s reply to defence barrister Edward Fitzgerald QC.  Were the CIA to be involved, they would be consulted “with the office of enforcement operations at the DOJ [Department of Justice].”  With the CIA’s view carrying hefty weight, Fitzgerald tantalisingly floated a proposition to be revisited later in the day: that US intelligence was behind targeting Assange while he was a political asylee of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

Baird’s description of inmates placed under SAMs was grim and similar to the testimony of Yancey Ellis delivered the day before: “solitary confinement, technically, for 24-hours a day”.  No communication with other inmates.  “The only form of human interaction they encountered was when correctional officers opened the viewing slot during their inspection rounds of the unit, when institution staff walked through the unit during their required weekly rounds, or when meals were delivered through the secure meal slot in the door.”

Inmates were allowed 30 minutes on the phone per month (one call of 30 minutes duration, or two of 15 minutes), with all calls scheduled two weeks in advance and monitored by the FBI.  Mail, heavily screened, could take months to be delivered. (In this, Baird rejected the optimistic description by Kromberg that the mail service was “free-flowing” in such facilities.)

As with other witnesses already called, including Joel Sickler of the Justice Advocacy Group, she agreed that SAMs were singularly “devastating,” “desolate and degrading”.  Such measures could lead to “severe depression in isolation, anxiety, paranoia, weight loss detrimental to physical health and detrimental to mental health.”  She thought them brutal and archaic, a relic of cruelty.  “I am uncertain how the [US Bureau of Prisons] has been able to continue with these types of isolation units, given all the studies, reports and findings of the horrific physical and psychological effects they have on inmates.”

Challenging SAMs was also an adventurous, generally futile hope.  “Mr Kromberg suggested that when an inmate has a twice a year review he can challenge SAMs with a case manager, but as a case manager myself,” Baird explained to the court, “I saw nothing is going to happen.”  Case managers lacked “authority to make any changes to SAMs.”  As was further explained, the Bureau of Prisons “exercises no control/jurisdiction over SAMs imposed by the Attorney General.  Wardens are bound to abide by the SAMs imposed on an inmate.”  During her time as Warden at MCC New York, Baird had “never seen an inmate have his SAMs removed, only extended.”

The former warden was also certain that Assange, if convicted, would be destined for the ADX Florence supermax facility in Colorado.  If placed under SAMs, he would be kept in a segregating housing unit at the ADX.  “As someone who spent the majority of her adult life working for the BOP and as a former Designator, who decided where inmates would serve their sentences, absent a medical requirement, or a protected Witness Security Case, I am not familiar with any alternative long-term options aside from the ADX, for offenders under SAMs.”

As for the sparkling portrayal of the ADX in Colorado given by Kromberg’s affidavits, including the presence of social and therapeutic activities for inmates, Baird could only express bemusement.  “For anyone to suggest that an inmate assigned under SAMs would be able to participate in group counselling is baffling to me.  The main premise of assigning SAMs is to restrict a person’s communication and the only way to accomplish this is through isolation.”

Medical treatment was also a scrappy, unreliable affair for SAMs prisoners. You would have to be at death’s door before being transferred to a medical facility.  As for those at risk of self-harm, Baird accepted that the BOP had a robust suicide program, which was hardly a guarantee against the determined.  “When you have suicidal ideation, the reliance on inmate self-reporting is pretty strong.  When an inmate fails to report that, it is not noticed and the inmate commits suicide.”

In cross-examination, prosecutor Clair Dobbin played an unaccustomed role: the bleeding heart, concerned with prisoner welfare.  Why had Baird not done more to ease the plight of SAMs prisoners during her time as warden?  Baird replied that leading by example was her method, not that she could compel other staff to do the same.  “It was not uncommon for staff not to engage with inmates.”  While she had not taken the issue of treatment of SAMs prisoners up with a judge or the BOP, she rejected Dobbin’s assertions that she lacked concern for them.  Baird’s reasoning was that of an instrument of state violence self-justified. “It did cause me concern, but I had to convince myself it was okay.  I honestly did not believe I could do anything. It was [handled] at a higher level.”

Dobbin then suggested that SAMs inmates could alter their conditions by participating in a three phase program.  They could meet in groups of four in an area outside their cell on reaching the third level.  Baird refuted the suggestion: Phase one and two did give extra privileges to the prisoners, but they remained in isolation.  It had nothing to do with the actual removal of SAMs.  Permitting inmates to reach the third level would defeat “the whole purpose of SAMs.”

The prosecution then drew upon a statement from prosecution witness Alison Leukefeld, an employee of the US Bureau of Prisons claiming, in line with Kromberg’s affidavits, that SAMs prisoners would have chances to engage in group therapy. Baird was dismissive in reply: “I think she does not have much experience with SAMs inmates and is not out in the field.”

Lindsay Lewis, Abu Hamza and false assurances

The calling of US attorney Lindsay Lewis was important in her link to Abu Hamza al-Masri (Mostafa Kamel Mostafa), an Egyptian radical cleric and former imam of London’s Finsbury Park mosque extradited to the United States in 2012 after an eight-year legal battle.  He was accused of a suit of offences ranging from attempting to establish a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon to supporting terrorists in Afghanistan and kidnapping 16 tourists in Yemen in 1998.  Hamza also faced the SAMs regime, kept in solitary confinement for eight years and imprisoned at the ADX Florence since 2015.  He has not been allowed family visits since 2012.

As Lewis outlined in her witness statement, SAMs have limited Hamza’s “contacts not just with the outside world, but also with his family, other inmates and even his attorneys.”  With a Kafkaesque twist, such restrictions went so far as to hamper her own means of describing his true conditions to the court.

An example of the harsh absurdities of these administrative measures was also given: Hamza was said to have breached them when he “improperly tried to convey, in a letter to one of his sons, his love to his one year old grandson”. The grandson had not been on the list of approved contacts.

Hamza’s case is gruesomely remarkable for its false assumptions.  According to Lewis, assurances were given to the United Kingdom by US authorities that future prison facilities would be tailored to his fragile medical state.  Were he to spend time at ADX Florence, it would only be for a short time.  District Judge Timothy Workman of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, in ruling for Hamza’s extradition in 2007, noted that a lengthy, indefinite period of detention at ADX Florence would result in “inhuman degrading treatment” in violation of Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture.  He also considered ADX Florence to have conditions “offensive to my sense of propriety of dealing with prisoners”.

Nothing of the sort, claimed prosecutor Dobbin in her cross-examination of Lewis, who read a declaration by a warden that Hamza would face a medical examination and go to a medical facility if he was incapable of managing his activities of daily living (ADL).  Of unflagging faith in the virtues of those she represents and the US justice system, Dobbin claimed that, “There was no way they could have found he could have managed his activities of daily living either pre-trial or post-trial.”

Such credulity was impressive.  The UK authorities had assumed that it was “impossible” for a double amputee, one functional eye and suffering diabetes to pass a medical exam on his fitness for detention at ADX Florence.  “I am satisfied,” Judge Workman declared at the time, “that the defendant [Hamza] would not be detained in these conditions [at ADX] indefinitely, and his undoubted ill-health and physical disabilities would be considered, and at worst, he would only be accommodated in these conditions for a relatively short period of time.”  Lewis observed that Hamza, having had both forearms amputated, was a fairly obvious qualification against being sent to the ADX.  “I don’t believe the US government has followed through on him receiving a full medical examination.”

Dobbin, ever the believer, wondered if Lewis was simply too trusting of Hamza.  “He is a double amputee,” came the reply.  “He does not have daily nursing care four times a day as he had in the UK.  He is placed in a handicapped cell that does not have proper shower and toilet facilities.”

In 2018, one of Hamza’s lawyers issued a statement asserting “that the conditions of his confinement violate the expectations of the European Convention on Human Rights and the promises that were made by the US government to the [British and European] courts as part of the extradition process.”  By comparison, the conditions at Belmarsh, a facility Assange is well acquainted with, were notably better.  Horror comes in degrees.

Anonymous witnesses, espionage and the CIA

In anticipation of Thursday’s proceedings, the court also considered whether it should grant anonymity to two witnesses from the UC Global S.L. security firm, the Spanish company charged with providing security at Ecuador’s London embassy.  Their testimony, scheduled to be read that day, is intended to draw the political line between UC Global, their espionage activities targeting Assange in the London Ecuadorean Embassy, and the CIA.  UC Global’s director David Morales, is alleged in reports to have travelled to Las Vegas in 2017, where he secured a contract with Las Vegas Sands of the casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, a notable financier of US President Donald Trump.  It is claimed that Morales handed over audio and video recordings of meetings Assange had with his lawyers and associates while in the embassy.

Having already testified in a Spanish court case against Morales under protection, and fearing for their safety should their names be disclosed at the Old Bailey, Judge Vanessa Baraitser relented.  We also await how the prosecution will deal with their potentially juicy testimony.  James Lewis QC has yet to receive instructions from the DOJ on whether to mount a challenge, given the less than impervious “Chinese Wall” that supposedly exists between agencies such as the DOJ and the CIA.  That comforting fiction is designed to prevent politicisation.  It is one that this trial has already done a good deal to expose and scuttle.

The post Assange’s Sixteenth Day at the Old Bailey: Special Administrative Measures, Unreliable Assurances and Espionage first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Fourth Circle

Gustave Dore — Dante’s fourth circle of hell “the hoarders and wasters”

In 1973, the world economy was brought almost to a halt by a supposed shortage of oil. The ostensible trigger for this alleged shortage was the so-called Yom Kippur War in which the armed forces of the Anglo-American Empire’s settler-colonial offshore enterprise in Palestine, also known as the State of Israel, repelled the forces of Egypt and Syria, which had moved to reoccupy the territory stolen from them by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. One response to the Anglo-American Empire’s support of its client state against those states Israel wished to conquer was an oil embargo proclaimed by OPEC, with the largest producer — the autocratic Anglo-American protectorate Saudi Arabia at the lead.

Portrayed in the mainstream Western media as a sign of Arab economic strength — also as anti-Semitism in some quarters — the embargo led to massive economic disruption in all the countries that had to import oil, mainly Europe and its former colonies. This embargo created the impression of a global oil shortage — which although there was none, could not be overcome without violating the power of the oil cartel. While the OPEC embargo formally restricted the sale of crude oil to Israel’s sponsors, there was no real oil shortage since oil supplies to Europe and the US have always been in the hands of the majors (now super-majors), then known as the “seven sisters”.1  OPEC’s announcement of an embargo at the well had no impact on the enormous upstream reserves held by the mainly American majors. However, it did provide the pretext for massive price increases at the pump — presented as shortage-induced.2

Unnoticed except in the aftermath and ignored generally in popular debate or historical literature was the far more insidious deal made secretly while everyone from Bonn to Boston and Lyon to Los Angeles was queuing for petrol or the dole. In 1971 Richard Nixon had announced that the US dollar would no longer be redeemable for gold — at any price. This decision had been largely induced by the enormous debt incurred funding the US war against Vietnam. In the course of this fateful decision, secret negotiations were undertaken with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which led to an agreement that Saudi Arabia and OPEC would not sell oil in any currency except US dollars. The oil crisis pushed the price of oil to such heights that many countries in Europe and especially the newly independent countries, soon exhausted their foreign exchange reserves and were compelled to borrow US dollars to pay for oil imports. The result was a boom for the US regime; e.g., oil and banking — not its ordinary citizens — as the demand for US currency led to an inflow of foreign exchange and an overall improvement in its current accounts. Meanwhile the US Treasury could literally print dollars to buy oil — when the time was right.

Even today this story is told in a way to cast aspersions on the Arab states — although all the major oil-producing Arab states involved were and are entirely dependent upon the Anglo-American Empire and its military force for their very survival. It is a false parable used to exaggerate the innocence or helplessness of the settler-colonial state “surrounded” by “ragheads” instead of “redskins” who have all the oil, while poor Israel only has atomic bombs and the biggest foreign aid subsidy per capita of any country the US funds.

Why do I take the trouble here to recount history, which is or ought to be well known — at least to the historically literate?

It is worth recalling here that the Seven Sisters, as they were then called, are actually fewer now due to mergers. The upstream oil industry is still dominated by the Standard Oil companies (yes, Rockefeller; i.e., ExxonMobil) and their allies as well as the Rothschild-Nobel companies. Together they assure that oil prices and distribution are closely controlled — if not absolutely– and that the commerce in oil is billed in the leading currency of the Empire, the US dollar.

The Anglo-American Empire, amazingly similar in composition to the dream of Cecil Rhodes and his personal banker Lord Rothschild3, relies not only on oil and the financial transactions connected with it. There are two other major businesses that support the value of lead currencies, like the USD, GBP or even the EUR. They are war — and hence both legal and illegal arms sales — and drugs, both licit and illicit. All three “markets” are entirely controlled by cartels and state regulation. Moreover, they provide windfall profits because they are all addictive and toxic. That means the traders get money and the buyers get garbage.

Stemming from the 19th century Opium Wars, Great Britain became the biggest dope pusher in the world. The opium trade made the British East India Company shareholders and those who traded with and for it wealthy beyond compare.4  While the US American schoolchild may learn about the Boston Tea Party, in which a few ruffians dumped British East India Tea into the harbour as a protest against taxation like the Townshend Acts 5, they won’t learn that proud New England families not only funded the Ivy League colleges with slave trading but with the income from opium business.

It is essential to recall that every crime is simply the unauthorised version of an activity otherwise deemed legal. The difference between marriage with dowry and prostitution is simply the statute book. The difference between war and murder is the sovereign authorisation. Seagram (Bronfman) produced whiskey in Canada that was legal and sold it more profitably in the US during Prohibition where it was illegal. The leading pharmaceutical companies are the brothers of the heroin, cocaine and synthetics pushers. And between all these folks who are all just merchants, there is the State — the armed bureaucracy that regulates these businesses in accordance with the most powerful to permit each side of these businesses to extract the maximum profit — yes, from us.

That said, as I have written in previous articles6 , the question of history arises not from the need to find the “true past” but to answer questions in the present. It is the most urgent present question with which I have been preoccupied for the past six months. Why in a global system dominated by the religious ideology of Business and the absolute priority of “the economy” have we seen the leading authorities, autocratic and bureaucratic, suspend the “economy” and disregard Business because of a new, improved version of the seasonal influenza? There are rational and irrational explanations. That is because power may be understood rationally but those who hold and exercise it are often — if not always — clinically insane (it is just because they own the clinics and the doctors that no one can utter this diagnosis!).

Again I want to remind the impatient reader — who implicitly strains my patience by not reading or remembering anything longer than the last Facebook or Instagram post — that all meaningful organisational decisions are made in secret by those who have the most power in the organisation — whether it is the classroom in which you send your child to be bullied (or bully) or the workplace you freely attend to earn money to pay the bank for the privilege of living in whatever house they let you buy. If you work in a big enough company or institution your boss and the bank know what your credit future will be like before you do. But never mind this bit of mundane reality. The point is simply nothing of any importance is ever decided in public where you have anything to say about it.

Having gotten that embarrassing sentimentality out of the way, let us consider what has happened since March 2020.

Following events in China, the OPEC of the pharmaceutical cartel, aka the World Health Organisation (in an earlier article I also wrote that “witch-hunting” is also part of their job), performed some international bureaucratic gymnastics — like several years ago with the so-called “swine flu” — to declare a high grade pandemic phase alert.7

This decision was presented as some kind of service to public health — this euphemism is deliberately conflated with concern for the well-being of ordinary humans, but is nothing of the sort. To make this quite clear: most genuine public health issues arise from poor nutrition, vile working conditions, polluted air, water and food, and poverty.8  None of these “pathogens” is part of the WHO brief. The World Health Organisation was established solely to market Western medical products worldwide and at the most profitable rates possible. This means among other things by arranging that poor countries devote precious foreign exchange for the purchase of bulk pharmaceuticals of dubious value under the pretext of being able to treat their indigent populations for illnesses that are almost entirely due to poor nutrition, vile working conditions, polluted air, water and food, and poverty. Long before the Bush-Clinton clique promoted “humanitarian interventionism”, the WHO was poisoning the poor for humanitarian purposes (also known as eugenics).

N.B. anyone who has not grasped the consequences of the US regime’s ownership of the UN and its agencies should read the story of the UN in Korea and in the Congo for a start.9

But I am digressing if only slightly. OPEC has never included all the oil producing countries and it was only effective as a cartel because it had the deep, if covert, collaboration of the Anglo-American oil majors. Without the pumps — wholly controlled downstream by either Rockefeller or Rothschild/Nobel — Saudi oil would have been worthless. While we all imagine that oil is what drives our cars and heats our homes that is, in fact, a relatively minor and expendable part of the oil economy. Downstream the truly lucrative oil flows into petrochemicals; e.g., plastics, fertilizers, and guess what — pharmaceuticals! Indeed the oil business, which started with “snake oil”, has never left it. Petroleum, that stuff that sticks to duck feathers and suffocates fish is the same gooey slime that forms the basis of much of the medicine you take. Think about it a minute: Monsanto (now part of IG Farben legacy, Bayer AG10 started as a poison producer when the US Army panicked about a potential natural sugar shortage during the Great War and gave John Francis Queeny the inspiration to sell the US Government coal tar as a sweetener. Some readers may recall when saccharine was finally prohibited. However, it had been identified as a carcinogen already in the 1920s!

Pharmaceuticals — until the dawn of genetic manipulation, a largely petrochemical or opiate driven product stream — is an integral part of the triad that drives modern capitalism: drugs, oil and guns. The oil industry is tightly held; mainly by two dynastic groups. And surprise, surprise the drug industry is too — the successors to the Anglo-American opium trade dominate the licit pharmaceuticals side and the illicit opium-based and cocaine drug trade.11   Since these businesses cannot be regulated in boardrooms alone, more than occasional persuasion is needed. So guns are just as important. But the gun trade is a topic for another day.

So what happened in March, really? My previous observations and summaries have not yet been rebutted. Nonetheless, I do believe that beyond the obvious manifestations of the West’s confrontation with China, aside from the hyper-policing regime that is being created, there is a useful analogy which is perhaps more powerful than the US regime’s destruction of the New York World Trade Center buildings. That act of armed propaganda by other government agencies was certainly powerful in expanding the police and military power of the degenerate US Empire. However, like the US war against Vietnam it has been extremely expensive. All the president’s accountants and all the president’s lawyers have not been able to put Humpty Dumpty (at least not his bank account) together again.

So like those who tried to command Richard Nixon — and finally deposed him — the ruling class of the Anglo-American Empire is determined to eliminate another “Nixon” outsider (although Nixon always thought he really “belonged”) and restore order. Nixon, like the reigning POTUS, enjoyed wide popular support. However, he had lost the support of the Establishment (which has come to be called the “Deep State” so as to imply that there is no Establishment or to lend its overt members legitimacy while denying the means by which it actually exercises power). Nixon actually saved the Establishment but it did not want to be saved by an outsider. It did not want anyone outside its own exclusive circle. So a pretext was found — and he was dismissed. He knew that the alternative was a “Kennedy solution”.

The present POTUS has been trying to save the US regime from the antagonism of those it has abused both domestically and foreign. He has tried to harness the latent populism — what too many people confuse with “Left” — and channel it back into that revival tent in a way no Oreo Obama could have done — despite his Kennedy plagiarism.

But that is all really a sideshow for the financial disaster that the Reagan-Bush-Clinton dynasty (and its obscene scions in Britain and Germany) left the dying Anglo-American Empire. Nixon presided over the clever back channel negotiations to open China, bring Pepsi to the Soviet Union and save the USD by linking it to oil. Everything indicates that Trump has no clue of any of this — and no one is going to tell him either.

But the USD domination is under attack from all sides, by the weak and the strong. The Empire has been losing its wars but paying its bankers trillions and trillions for that privilege — beyond the capacity of anything the Empire can produce. Without a reinforced US dollar no one in the Empire can imagine the future.

So hark!  The sneeze heard around the world.

The WHO assumed the role OPEC played in 1973. It declared a global pandemic under the most spurious conditions with the full knowledge that this would not only permit a shutdown of the economy (for political and economic benefits I have detailed elsewhere) but to create something only logical — the Pharmadollar. To keep it poetic, we now have the three P’s of global monetary domination: pistol dollar, followed by the petrodollar and now the pharma-dollar.

An emerging and potentially infinite demand for pharmaceuticals — legal or illegal — safe or unsafe — will offer the Western pharmaceutical cartels untold and unlimited profits and because these are all countries working in the USD/EUR markets, together with the WHO, will be guaranteed potentially unlimited profit streams. So from the first circle of hell we descend into the fourth circle. Can we get any closer to damnation?

  1. Anthony Sampson, The Seven Sisters (1974.
  2. John M. Blair, The Control of Oil, 1976.
  3. To avoid confusion: Nathan Mayer Rothschild, 1st Baron Rothschild, 1840-1915.
  4. See John Newsinger, The Blood Never Dried, 2006, and Nick Robins, The Corporation that Changed the World, 2006.
  5. For readers not schooled in US mythology, the Townshend Acts (1767) were consumption taxes imposed on British North American colonies intended inter alia to defray the costs of defending the colonies with British troops. Every US school pupil learns that these were great injustices — because the colonials were not represented in the British parliament. What they do not learn is that the colonies were all run as business ventures for private profit and the use of British troops to protect private investment could not be seen as a charitable exercise by those who ran the British Empire from London. See Gerald Horne, The Counter-Revolution of 1776, (2014).
  6. The First Circle“, Dissident Voice, April 24, 2020 and others posted there since.
  7. See table:  WHO Pandemic Phase Descriptions and Main Actions by Phase; and video NewsBreak 81: Confirmed: COVID-19 Plandemic a Known, Live “Training & Simulation Exercise” under WHO.
  8. A popular misconception lies in the belief that the aim of Public Health as a discipline is human health. In fact, schools of public health; e.g., the first one funded by the Rockefeller fortune at Johns Hopkins University, now sponsored by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, were created to teach professionals how to protect the rich from the diseases of the poor. This was defined as a management objective, implemented either using business or military models of organisation. Many of the people involved in terrorising the population as representatives of health departments or public health agencies are not physicians but professional managers of healthcare facilities and products. However, since our society has been trained to believe economists and business executives like those of the Middle Ages believed priests, it is virtually impossible to break the power of the medical fetishes these managers hold. See E. Richard Brown, Rockefeller’s Medicine Men (1979).
  9. See Bruce Cumings extensive scholarship on the Korean War, especially his two volume Origins of the Korean War (1981) but also his shorter derivative work and/or watch the Thames TV documentary Korea: The Unknown WarFor the treacherous role of the UN in the Congo:  Ludo de Witte (2002).
  10. After Mr William “Bill” Gates III made substantial investments in the entity. IG Farben was the German international chemicals and pharmaceuticals cartel that was technically divested by order of the US Military Government in Germany for its participation in war crimes under the NSDAP regime. In a fashion not unlike the US divestment order dissolving the Standard Oil trust, IG Farben was “punished” as a holding entity (1952) but its constituent corporations were reconstituted with immunity because they had not existed separately under the National Socialist regime, Bayer, Hoechst, BASF, Agfa, Chemische Fabrik Griesheim-Elektron, and Chemische Fabrik vorm. Weiler Ter Meer.
  11. For a good overview of the US regime’s international drug market management system, see Douglas Valentine, The Strength of the Wolf (2004) and The Strength of the Pack (2009) and its integration into the national security (Phoenix) state, The CIA as Organised Crime (2016).  A declassified OSS (Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA) report summarises the use of opium by the Japanese as a weapon of war. When the US entered Southeast Asia after Japanese withdrawal, they adopted the Japanese business model, Opium: A Japanese Technique of Occupation (1945) prepared by Mrs Katherine Lyman.

The post The Fourth Circle first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Four Winds, 1,000 Pieces

Unlike their upstart competitor McKinsey, they don’t bother to homogenize their people. They never made their people wear fedoras; they put no premium on the trained-seal avidity McKinsey wants. They acculturate their people slowly, on sailing jaunts, or sprawling banquets, or card games, or benders in stodgy, opulent resorts.

Founded to capitalize on the Great War, they cranked the meat-grinder and went from strength to strength. They needed men of affairs, not visionary gurus, men of sound judgment (and men it was, back then. It was the time of Three Guineas. Women were apt to entertain fantastic notions.) Their ἀρετή was Aristotelian; they didn’t pack the firm with hundreds of superfluous philosopher kings purveying big ideas. You would hear none of that ‘we’re the best’ nonsense. The partnership went through private-public peekaboo before being tucked away by the top-flight private equity firm.

It’s an amorphous concern with blurry outlines. One stumbles on inexplicable persons. What do they do? They have no deadlines or quotidian annoyances, no turf. When they want a word with you, someone else will have it. They’re CIA NOCs.

When preferment buoys you up to a certain point, you get the talk about the birds and the bees. But if you pay attention, you will have sussed it out long before. Like the bookie who sits meekly in the Rotary Club, these NOCs are the tendrils of organized crime. Sinecures at this firm feather the nests of senior spooks put out to pasture. Yet a stint at the firm can make radicals of lesser functionaries – it has employed a number of the most spectacular leakers, spawning historic exposures. Like any mob, our thing will always have its capos and its rats.

Why name them? Meth heads coyly call Hell’s Angels the Red & White or 81. In the same sort of infamous obscurity these dapper made men boast of contracts kept from Congress, billeting spooks of Bond-James-Bond notoriety and earning epithets like consigliere of the Intelligence Community or shadow IC. Yet this old-line firm is by no means unique. Any Western enterprise of any use is shot through with CIA. You may work for them and never know it. As Douglas Valentine has shown, the CIA is best understood as organized crime. The UN Secretary General reported on ways in which criminal organizations develop a “symbiotic relationship” with the State (E/CN.15/1996/2.) Speaking frankly in a bilateral forum at the SECRET//NOFORN level, Spanish Prosecutor Jose Grinda said years of investigating organized crime taught him that unlike terrorists, who aim to supplant the state, organized crime seeks to complement state structures.

That’s certainly how it works here in the US of A. When Attorney General Robert Kennedy went after organized crime, he directly attacked CIA’s trusted henchmen and CIA’s raison d’être, and CIA killed him.

In 1991 Daniel Patrick Moynihan took a stab at the racket. The Stasi regime of the DDR had just fallen, almost all the Soviet police states had collapsed. Why not get rid of their mirror image, CIA’s kleptocracy, too? Moynihan’s bill, S. 236, died in committee. Moynihan, the canny trickster who gifted us the ICCPR, survived his exploit and died in bed.

The ensuing paroxysm of CIA torture, murder, and aggression roused the world. The UN High Commissioner for human rights named a special rapporteur to look into the CIA’s rampage. Finnish academic Martin Scheinin gauged the CIA regime against human rights. Scheinin surveyed the nations of the world, compiling the practices of nations whose secret services were less overtly psychopathic.

Only, as the mobsters say, Na ga happen. As muckraking publisher Penn Jones would say of CIA late in life, “They like what they got, and they ain’t never gonna give it back.” What they got is impunity. CIA has exempted itself from all law. In a nation infested by organized crime, incremental measures will not work.

Meanwhile the whole world had resolved to do what it takes to clean us up. That meant candid acknowledgement of CIA’s mission: transnational organized crime.

The effort got traction because the corruptible UN Secretariat was impelled by two of the UN organs least susceptible to US control: the General Assembly and ECOSOC. These two bodies shared the work out to regional groups and ministerial conferences for independent opinions. An international working group drafted the legal framework of the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and Protocols thereto. Take a look.  It’s a remarkable endeavor. The world has outlawed CIA.

CIA fought to defang the convention in the drafting stage. The Travaux Préparatoires record CIA’s last-ditch battle for impunity. It fell to government lawyer Elizabeth Verville to put CIA loopholes into the agreements.

To take the initiative, the US delegation drafted working papers at the outset. The US objected to any invocation of the UN’s bedrock self-determination principle — subversion of peoples’ self-determination is CIA’s core competence and principal line of business. The US working paper permitted non-cooperation for insufficiently “serious” crimes. Leery of such vagueness, other countries pressed for a list of serious crimes; but terrorism remained out of scope, relegated to the preamble. CIA’s tame terrorists, from ISIL to Elohim City to Al Qaeda, would have to be tackled elsewhere.

The US tried to insert a “focal point,” Allen Dulles’ famous turn of phrase, into the gunrunning provisions. The focal point would handle nuts and bolts separately from the national point of contact. Once the devil is inserted in the details, that could formalize CIA’s intelligence liaison function and preserve deniability for covert crime. The focal point would duplicate, or end-run, the functions of the UN Secretariat’s less controllable Coordinating Action on Small Arms. But the other treaty parties rallied and dropped the provision.

The US proposed to ensure national discretion over the description of offenses. That would protect the clever legal drafting that excuses so much CIA crime. The US tried and failed to insert weasel words into the anti-corruption pledge to preserve the US system of institutionalized graft by CIA cutouts like Tongsun Park or Sheldon Adelson or AIPAC.

The US proposed a political offense exception that dovetailed neatly with the political questions doctrine that lets CIA get away with all that murder. An idiosyncratic US legal notion considers the Security Council’s purview to be politics, not law, so this political exemption could be used to protect CIA’s covert aggression. The US could drag the UNSC into a matter as a pretext for withholding legal assistance and cooperation. The US tried that trick with Libya and the World Court shot them down. With more casuistry embedded in the laws, it might just work next time.

CIA moles on the US delegation proposed secrecy provisions to keep the public in the dark and traditional sweetheart deals for informants. They proposed a catchall authorization of “any other functions” right out of CIA’s original charter, and a clause permitting “any other applicable arrangement or practice.” In conjunction with a bit of secrecy, these carte blanche provisions could shield the Safari Club, Iran/Contra, or the pedophile kompromat enterprise of Zorro Ranch and Little Saint James.

The treaty parties pushed to align eccentric US language with relevant international law, correcting inconsistent use of “law enforcement authorities” that might let CIA horn in. The US tried and failed to formalize its arbitrary asset forfeiture powers worldwide.

The US drafted language allowing treaty parties to pick and choose protocols without signing the convention itself, as the US did in the case of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Other states blocked that, making the framework law of the convention a prerequisite for the specialized protocols.

The US tried to cut ship seizure provisions from the protocol on trafficking in migrants. A US suggestion would let treaty parties take unspecified “other measures” at their discretion but the other signatories, scenting the telltale whiff of a CIA loophole, deleted the clause. To preserve CIA’s prized covert control over transport registration, the US tried to short-circuit the section defining jurisdiction with a circular reference to jurisdiction, and pressed for a more “flexible formulation.”

The US tried to confine arms trafficking regulation to transnational commerce and not privately owned guns. Iran, having seen what privateers’ guns can do in CIA’s Mideast entrepots, urged the world to keep an eye on cached guns too.

CIA slipped in their all-purpose loophole, national security, the magic words that ward off legislative oversight and courts here in the US. The US put its Canadian satellite up to it. CIA put it into the protocol on gunrunning, the vital essence of CIA coercion.

In its urbane and diplomatic way the treaty body erupted. CIA’s get-out-of-jail-free card was about to be imposed on the world. Every delegate from every country had been waiting for this ruse. The emollient language of the Travaux Préparatoires did not mitigate the stakes.

One delegation supported interpretation of the wording to include cases of covert travel or transfers for ‘national security’ purposes. Most of the delegations that spoke on this point indicated that language that would support such an interpretation would not be acceptable to them.

CIA’s gravest crimes were laid open for examination. The diplomats put their finger on CIA’s modus operandi, the agency’s trick of making military materiel fall off the truck and disappear. The ineffable reason for the Pentagon’s unauditable financial cesspool was laid bare in front of the whole world:

In view of the problem of diversion of firearms from military or security stockpiles to illicit traffic, some delegations expressed concern that not requiring marking and recording of military firearms would make them untraceable if they later fell into non-military possession as a result of loss in armed conflict, theft or other diversions.

CIA aggression by armed irregulars was now a crime. The working group explicitly restricted national security to consistency with the UN Charter. Now national security means human rights in the supreme law of the land. And human rights interpreted in good faith is the death of CIA. The version of the Protocol approved by the General Assembly reads this way:

This Protocol shall not apply to state-to-state transactions or to state transfers in cases where the application of the Protocol would prejudice the right of a State Party to take action in the interest of national security consistent with the Charter of the United Nations.

In an interpretive note, state-to-state transactions were restricted to states acting in a sovereign capacity. This ended deniability as a shield for CIA crime. If the US does not acknowledge the transfer, it is subject to international criminal law — not to the bribed and blackmailed hacks on the federal bench but to independent investigators from gimlet-eyed security services worldwide, collaborating in universal jurisdiction. In law sovereignty is responsibility: acceptance of the UN Charter, the International Bill of Human Rights, and the Rome Statute. The US would be committed to prosecute or extradite its state criminals. Multiple countries entered reservations to ensure that the scope of the treaty did not let CIA off the hook. It’s not over but the screws are tightening.

As its last line of defense, CIA did what chiseling it could at home. The US entered three reservations. First they cited federalism. That laid the ground for traditional US attempts to blame bad faith and duplicity on those darn states. Second, having failed to get its “flexible formulation,” the US repeated its ship and aircraft let-out from its fingers-crossed accession to the Optional Protocol on Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (OPSC.) Third, the US opted out of dispute resolution, a process in which either party can insist on negotiation, arbitration, or finally, adjudication by the World Court. US contempt for binding agreements has long been an important source of World Court case law. CIA hoped to keep its bad-example ill repute off the books.

You might not have noticed, but in 2011 transnational organized crime became a national emergency. The state’s arbitrary powers can now be used to expropriate internal enemies and deny the rights of trial. This state of emergency (in breach of ICCPR Article 4, supreme law of the land) degrades the rule of law, affording CIA what the UN Secretary General warned of: “‘systemic’ corruption designed to ensure the preservation of a congenial and low-risk home base or a comfortable environment in host countries.” And we see emergency powers being used in exactly this way, to preserve CIA impunity. Since the US, in illegal opposition to the object and purpose of the ICCPR, has explicitly derogated the most absolute rights including life and freedom from torture, CIA’s domestic charter continues to license traditional racketeering of all sorts up to and including Murder, Inc.

But in the wider world, CIA is a criminal enterprise. In law CIA’s gravest crimes compromise US sovereignty, authorizing the outside world to protect us. Now we can effect JFK’s great idea: CIA in a thousand pieces, scattered to the winds. Thirty years of tightly-drafted world standard law makes Moynihan’s bill perfectly straightforward. Let’s update the bill. The world will see to it.

*****

A BILL

To Foster Universal Comity, Knowledge and Control of Intervention Action. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

TITLE I — SHORT TITLE

SEC. 101. This Act may be cited as the `FUCK CIA Act’.

TITLE II–PROHIBITION ON FOREIGN INTERVENTION

SEC. 201.

(a) PROHIBITION-

(1) Where foreign intervention is prohibited by US obligations and commitments including, but not limited to, the instruments cited in Section 202, associated assistance to any foreign region, country, government, group, or individual is a federal criminal offense and an internationally wrongful act giving rise to state responsibility. No federal officer or employee may–

(A) receive, accept, hold, control, use, spend, disburse, distribute, or transfer any funds or property from any foreign government (including any instrumentality or agency thereof), foreign person, or United States person;

(B) use any United States funds or facilities to assist any transaction whereby a foreign government (including any instrumentality or agency thereof), foreign person or United States person provides any funds or property to any third party; or

(C) provide any United States assistance to any third party, if the purpose of any such act is the furthering or carrying out of the same activities, for which United States assistance is prohibited.

(2) As used within the meaning of paragraph (1), assistance provided for the purpose of furthering or carrying out prohibited activities includes assistance provided under any arrangement acquiescing to action by the recipient to further those activities.

(b) PENALTY- Any person who knowingly and willfully violates the provisions of subsection (a)(1) shall be imprisoned not more than ten years or fined in accordance with title 18, United States Code, or both.

(c) PRESIDENTIAL NOTIFICATION-

(1) Whenever–

(A) any officer or employee of the executive branch advocates, promotes, or encourages the provision of funds or property by any foreign government (including any instrumentality or agency thereof,) foreign person, or United States person for the purpose of furthering or carrying out prohibited activities with respect to such recipients; Then the President shall notify the Congress in a timely fashion that such advocacy, promotion, or encouragement has occurred.

(2) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as authorizing any action prohibited by subsection (a).

(d) APPLICABILITY- The provisions of this section shall not be superseded except by United Nations Security Council resolutions authorized under United Nations Charter Chapter 7, Article 41.

(e) CONSTRUCTION-

(1) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit–

(A) the ability of the President, the Vice President, or any officer or employee of the executive branch to make statements or otherwise express his views to any party on any subject;

(B) the ability of an officer or employee of the United States to express the publicly enunciated policies of the President; or

(C) the ability of an officer or employee of the United States to communicate with any foreign country, government, group, or individual, either directly or through a third party, with respect to a prohibition of United States assistance covered by subsection (a)(1), including the reasons for such prohibition.

(2) Nothing in this section shall be construed as waiving or otherwise derogating from any other provision of law imposing penalties, obligations, or responsibilities with respect to any of the acts described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of subsection (a)(1).

(f) DEFINITIONS- For purposes of this section–

(1) the term ‘person’ includes (A) any natural person, (B) any corporation, partnership, or other legal entity, and (C) any organization, association, or other group;

(2) the term `United States assistance’ means–

(A) assistance of any kind under the Foreign Assistance act of 1961;

(B) sales, credits, and guaranties under the Arms Export Control Act;

(C) export licenses issued under the Arms Export Control Act;

(D) officially directed or ultra vires action by an officer or employee of the United States.

(3) the term ‘US obligations and commitments’ means–

(A) customary international law;

(B) conventional international law ratified by the United States.

SEC. 202

OBLIGATIONS AND COMMITMENTS – US obligations and commitments expressly include without limitation:

Charter of the United Nations;

Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty;

Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations;

Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

Convention Against Torture;

United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and Protocols thereto.

TITLE III

50 U.S.C. § 401 et seq. is repealed. 50 U.S.C. § 402 et seq. is repealed. 50 U.S.C. § 403 et seq. is repealed.

*****

Moynihan’s bill, S. 236, might have been the last and greatest regime change of die Wende, the change that ended the Cold War. The epochal event that freed the Soviet bloc is also called die Abwicklung, meaning the dismantling of otiose states. One outmoded throwback survived it, to our great detriment. CIA is no agency, it is a regime, a parallel government granted arbitrary power by legally void decree. Let’s dismantle it.

The post Four Winds, 1,000 Pieces first appeared on Dissident Voice.

O, Homo Contractus, Where Art Thou?

“Deep State” derives from a John le Carré spy novel.  It is an expression bandied about rather frequently these days. It’s in danger of losing its meaning the more it becomes just another little buzzword from Hiveworld, busy bobbing among the festive fields of corn-cockle until exhaustion sets in.  There is a real, non-fictional Deep State, and it’s important that we come to understand what it is, before we are driven shallow by the incessant digital stim of the trite and trivial from the cybersphere of internet ‘updates.’

One of the more mature and sober descriptions of what the Deep State is, and what it does, came from former GOP congressional staffer Mike Lofgren in a discussion, back in 2014, “The Deep State: Hiding in Plain Sight,” with Bill Moyers.  Lofgren spent 28 years working on the Senate and House Budget committees.  He described the Deep State as “a hybrid of corporate America and the national security state.”  It is a place, says Moyers, “where elected and unelected figures collude to protect and serve powerful vested interests.”

“We’re having a situation where the Deep State is essentially out of control,” Lofgren tells Moyers. “It’s unconstrained. Since 9/11 we have built the equivalent of three Pentagons around the DC metropolitan area, holding defense contractors, intelligence contractors, and government civilians involved in the military-industrial complex [MIC].”  Ostensibly, they all work together to keep America safe under the emotional rubric of “Never Again.”

But there’s more.  The Deep State has literally declared the Internet a battlefield. There’s no democracy on a battlefield.  To help keep the Internet safe from perceived enemies, the MIC, or Deep State, has contracted with corporations, such as Amazon, Google and Facebook to police the cybersphere by gathering information on each and every human online and sharing it with the government.  Thus, the Deep State spends a lot of time searching for and stalking the alleged spies and traitors amongst us, while the corporations are given the green light to exploit and play with our deepest desires. In short, the Deep State is at war with privacy. We are the last frontier. (Think of your obesity as ‘economic expansion,’ and an act of ‘patriotism’. Ten hut!)

In “Anatomy of the Deep State,” a follow-up essay to the Moyers interview, Lofgren writes:

That the secret and unaccountable Deep State floats freely above the gridlock between both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue is the paradox of American government in the 21st century: drone strikes, data mining, secret prisons and Panopticon-like control on the one hand; and on the other, the ordinary, visible parliamentary institutions of self-government declining to the status of a banana republic amid the gradual collapse of public infrastructure.

I thought of Moyers and Lofgren’s discussion as I reconsidered “Homo Contractus,” perhaps the most important chapter of Edward Snowden’s recently released memoir, Permanent Record.  Snowden, the repentant whistleblowing Deep Stater, expands on and clarifies the inherent corruption and darkness of Deep State doings, and paints an inescapable picture of a dystopian nightmare underway.

Gone are the days of public service, of wanting to be a shiny, unhailed cog in the machinery of American Exceptionalism — flaws and all — such as Snowden’s father and grandfather had gladly been.  “I had hoped to serve my country,” writes Snowden. “but instead I went to work for it. This is not a trivial distinction.”

Moyers and Lofgren provide us with an abstract overview of the situation, but Snowden brings the nuts and bolts. To get around congressional hiring limits, Deep State agencies hire private contractors who are off the books — no real public accountability for deeds, and, in most cases, we don’t even know who they are.  Lofgren has estimated, “There are now 854,000 contract personnel [as of 2014] with top-secret clearances — a number greater than that of top-secret-cleared civilian employees of the government.”  They are virtually a whole sub-species of worker that Snowden refers to as “homo contractus.”  They run the surveillance state show — some of them looking for enemies of the state, and others on the look-out for enemies of Deep State doings. In the war zone, they call the shots without any input from the public.

Members of Congress go along with this arrangement, says Snowden,  because “[Deep State] directors and congresspeople are rewarded, after they retire from office, by being given high paying positions and consultancies with the very companies they’ve just enriched. From the vantage of the corporate boardroom, contracting functions as governmentally assisted corruption.”  Private companies wait for public servants to obtain top security clearances, then they poach them through Job Fairs, where public servants are offered huge salary increases doing the same job for a private company — and, as Lofgren’s statistic indicates, many are jumping the ship of state to go yachting with the corporates.

Take Snowden, he was hired at such a fair by a BAE sub-shell company called COMSO (Snowden never learned what the acronym stood for).  At the interview he negotiated his salary up, at the recruiter’s insistence, because a 3-5% kick-back to the recruiter, from the government, made it worthwhile. He went from $30K to $60K in the negotiation play. Says Snowden, “Bumping up salaries was in everyone’s interest—everyone’s, that is, except the taxpayer’s.” He was a contractor, but he was doing the same work as a public servant. Later in his career he was hired by Dell computers, then Booz Allen Hamilton, each time merely switching business cards, but working at CIA headquarters for the CIA, a homo contractus spook among the spooks. No public accountability.

Snowden says homo contractus brings with it a different kind of energy — something “sinister.”  Not governed by a sense of public service, a certain arrogance and elitism become the filters of their deeds.  The military-industrial complex is bound together in a negative agreement — homo contractus hiring is a skirting of the law, and a profit-making arrangement.  Contractors, says Snowden, often see their work as “inherently apolitical, because they’re based on data, whose prerogatives are regarded as preferable to the chaotic whims of the common citizen.” In other words, they know better than democracy.  Snowden adds, “That can be intoxicating, at least for a teetotaler like me. Also, all of a sudden you have not just the license but the obligation to lie, conceal, dissemble, and dissimulate.”

Out of this comes governmental policies that push and sustain the interests — not of the commonweal — but of the parallel government that exists between private players and the Deep State.  The net result is a revolving door between the ever-expanding Intelligence Community and private companies, each sharing in the spoils of the public purse.  So, we read of DARPA directors jumping to Google, and Google’s work with drones for the Pentagon. Amazon ends up devising  web services for the CIA, and Jeff Bezos’ other project, The Washington Post, becomes the conduit of choice for anonymous intelligence agency leaks.  We discover that Facebook sells the information of its users to private firms, and experiments with human emotions that may have relevance to intelligence agencies.

It can get even more sinister.  If the Deep State wants to go to war, without public approval, and for profit motives, it can use its technology to spy on individuals to uncover compromat, such as what the Bush administration ordered in 2003, just before the invasion of Iraq, when it tried to dig up dirt on UN Security Council members to strong-arm them into voting for war. When their deeds were leaked, the US went to war anyway — backed only by phony WMD claims.  Hundreds of thousands of casualties have ensued.

It may yet get even more sinister.  Many of the cybersecurity firms that operate today are manned by analysts and techies who are themselves products of homo contractus. Crowdstrike features ex-FBI agents. They were also “politically aligned” with the DNC, which is interesting, if for no other reason, than it was the FBI’s James Comey who did as much damage as anyone to Hillary’s campaign. It raises the question whether there were homo contractuses on duty during the events that unfolded. You just don’t know: Edward Snowden’s business card read “Dell,” but he worked for the CIA. Hmph.

More bewildering was the testimony that Kevin Mandia of Mandiant gave before a Congressional subcommittee on intelligence back in 2011.  It was double-take stuff:

The majority of threat intelligence is currently in the hands of the government. Indeed, more than 90% of the breaches MANDIANT responds to are first detected by the government, not the victim companies. That means that 9 in every 10 companies we assist had no idea they had been compromised until the government notified them.

Gobsmack time.  But it gets better. Mandia has reported in the past an incident where he slid a folder across the desk of a skeptical corporate executive (he was confident in his company’s security integrity) and the exec is described as being shocked to find in the folder deep secrets of the company.  Mandiant was hired.

Mandiant’s Kevin Mandia broke his cyberteeth at the Pentagon as an intelligence officer.  After fumbling around for a few years, including a stint at ManTech — a cybersecurity company full of ex-spooks — he and his Mandiant associates are said to have solved the puzzle of the New York Times and Washington Post breaches in 2014, which ended up in the indictment of a cadre of soldiers from China — America’s preferred enemy at the time.  From there, things blossygossled. Mandiant got famous overnight, one thing led to another, until Mandia found himself being bought out by cybersecurity company FireEye, a CIA-funded start-up, for a billion bucks. Mandia was made FireEye’s Chief Operating Officer.

Again this highlights the opacity that masks the Deep State doings when it employs homo contractus. We don’t know what they get up to, despite being on the public dollar, indirectly.  Mandiant, like CrowdStrike, was responsible for evaluating the server breach at the Democratic National Convention in 2016.  As Mandia has already acknowledged, he has in the past received insider information from the government, regarding breaches at corporations.  One wonders whether CrowdStrike or Mandiant, or any other cybersecurity contractor, received a tip-off regarding the DNC breach, and that’s why it was never forensically examined — although that didn’t stop an ‘opinion of cause’ being issued by three intelligence heads, leading to the MSM’s under-critical acceptance of Russian hacking.

Further, as if we need more worry, such a homo contractus arrangement with the Deep State, already undemocratic, appears to be metastasising overseas.  The CIA and NSA are helping repressive regimes, like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, build their own bespoke and state-of-the-art (naturally) surveillance regimes, and watch indifferently as these tyrants with too much dinosaur money use the technology to spy on “enemies,” including dissidents.  How un-American.

Already, there has been cause for alarm, as companies like DeepMatter, employing ship-jumping analysts from the NSA, go after American dissidents and journalists too.  The NSA and CIA are virtually beyond law in these countries.  What they couldn’t get away with in America, they can do with impunity in SA and the UAE. Even Google’s work with Dragonfly, a project designed to give China a search engine devoid of human rights queries, suggests we are now in the business of exporting panopticon products.

As Mike Lofgren told Bill Moyers a few years back now, the Deep State is “the red thread that runs through the history of the last three decades. It is how we had deregulation, financialization of the economy, the Wall Street bust, the erosion of our civil liberties and perpetual war.” We’ve been warned now for a few years by the likes of Moyers, Snowden and others.  None of them are conspiracy-theorists. Snowden certainly believes we have entered into dystopia territory.  Which would mean democracy is finished as a global solution to population management.

Only the self-proclaimed gods of digi-stim know what happens next.

Britain’s War on Truth and Dissent

A man is confined for seven years of his life to a diplomatic compound, fearing arrest for exposing some of the worst war crimes and financial misdoings of the past two decades, only to be stripped of his asylum status in a blatant mockery of international law before being locked away in a high security prison to await extradition and a possible life sentence. The press has obediently mounted a campaign to discredit the man, accusing him of every imaginable cardinal sin, and everyone who speaks out is accused of treachery.

To most of us, this sounds like a horror story from behind the Iron Curtain, some cartoonish portrayal of the Evil Empire whose citizens live a lie and where dissidents disappear without trace.

But this isn’t the Evil Empire, not according to Reagan at least. This is twenty-first century Britain, whose ancient democratic institutions lie at the heart of her national identity.

The man, needless to say, is Julian Assange who today pays the price for defying the institutional rot at the heart of Western governments; a rot we pretend does not exist.

Documents showing the medieval depravity that is Guantanamo Bay, details of a dirty multi-million dollar scheme to snatch up mining rights in the Central African Republic and, of course, Collateral Murder, the haunting video which shows Iraqi civilians being shot from an American helicopter while the pilots maniacally laugh at ‘these dead bastards’. Assange and Wikileaks revealed this and much more.

Those embarrassed by the revelations have chosen to defame him. They claim that Ecuador’s decision to revoke Assange’s asylum status had something to do with how he behaved in the embassy. They would have us believe that the British police spent £12.6 million to bring him to justice for – extremely dubious and now dismissed – allegations of rape in a country where sexual assault claims are routinely ignored by the authorities. They would accuse him of serving Russian interests, of being a spy and conspiring to hack into a government computer, even though Assange did nothing that would not have been done by any other investigative journalist.

His trial was inherently unfair from the outset with Assange deprived of vital legal documents and communications with his legal team apparently spied on by Spanish contractors for the CIA. The judge, Emma Arbuthnot, had a clear conflict of interest as her husband has previously been exposed by Wikileaks.

Since his incarceration at HM Prison Belmarsh he has reportedly lost 15 kilograms and shown signs of ‘full-fledged psychological torture’. His family fears that he will die in jail.

Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture who visited Assange at Belmarsh, went as far as saying, ‘In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law.’ Yet even esteemed jurists like Melzer have faced torrents of abuse and intimidation for merely stating the obvious: speaking the truth to power – that is Assange’s crime.

If the extradition goes ahead it will violate current provisions that exempt political prisoners from being extradited. It will also create fundamental legal obstacles to investigative journalism, silencing those who expose the most abhorrent acts of government cruelty and greed.

Two years ago, the British Government narcissistically took the high ground over the apparent involvement of the Russian state in the attempted poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. It bears restating that Skripal was an ex-GRU agent who turned to work for the MI6 and blew the cover of 300 former comrades-in-arms. He was no dissident and no hero. And he certainly did serve foreign interests.

The event triggered among the largest expulsions of foreign diplomats in history and became a symbol of Russian authoritarianism and intolerance of dissent. The Russian government denied involvement and responded by expelling Western diplomats.

Yet today Britain conducts a show trial designed to crush a man who exposed atrocities and corrupt financial dealings, and to set an example for others. It does not even need to resort to covert measures – the public and the press don’t care.

Assange will be locked away and silenced for the rest of his life, while our governments continue to sow chaos and suffering across the world in our name.

Key U.S. Ally Indicted for Organ Trade Murder Scheme

When President Clinton dropped 23,000 bombs on what was left of Yugoslavia in 1999 and NATO invaded and occupied the Yugoslav province of Kosovo, U.S. officials presented the war to the American public as a “humanitarian intervention” to protect Kosovo’s majority ethnic Albanian population from genocide at the hands of Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. That narrative has been unraveling piece by piece ever since.

In 2008 an international prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, accused U.S.-backed Prime Minister Hashim Thaci of Kosovo of using the U.S. bombing campaign as cover to murder hundreds of people to sell their internal organs on the international transplant market. Del Ponte’s charges seemed almost too ghoulish to be true. But on June 24th, Thaci, now President of Kosovo, and nine other former leaders of the CIA-backed Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA,) were finally indicted for these 20-year-old crimes by a special war crimes court at The Hague.

From 1996 on, the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies covertly worked with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to instigate and fuel violence and chaos in Kosovo. The CIA spurned mainstream Kosovar nationalist leaders in favor of gangsters and heroin smugglers like Thaci and his cronies, recruiting them as terrorists and death squads to assassinate Yugoslav police and anyone who opposed them, ethnic Serbs and Albanians alike.

As it has done in country after country since the 1950s, the CIA unleashed a dirty civil war that Western politicians and media dutifully blamed on Yugoslav authorities. But by early 1998, even U.S. envoy Robert Gelbard called the KLA a “terrorist group” and the UN Security Council condemned “acts of terrorism” by the KLA and “all external support for terrorist activity in Kosovo, including finance, arms and training.” Once the war was over and Kosovo was successfully occupied by U.S. and NATO forces, CIA sources openly touted the agency’s role in manufacturing the civil war to set the stage for NATO intervention.

By September 1998, the UN reported that 230,000 civilians had fled the civil war, mostly across the border to Albania, and the UN Security Council passed resolution 1199, calling for a ceasefire, an international monitoring mission, the return of refugees and a political resolution. A new U.S. envoy, Richard Holbrooke, convinced Yugoslav President Milosevic to agree to a unilateral ceasefire and the introduction of a 2,000 member “verification” mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). But the U.S. and NATO immediately started drawing up plans for a bombing campaign to “enforce” the UN resolution and Yugoslavia’s unilateral ceasefire.

Holbrooke persuaded the chair of the OSCE, Polish foreign minister Bronislaw Geremek, to appoint William Walker, the former U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador during its civil war, to lead the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM). The U.S. quickly hired 150 Dyncorp mercenaries to form the nucleus of Walker’s team, whose 1,380 members used GPS equipment to map Yugoslav military and civilian infrastructure for the planned NATO bombing campaign. Walker’s deputy, Gabriel Keller, France’s former Ambassador to Yugoslavia, accused Walker of sabotaging the KVM, and CIA sources later admitted that the KVM was a “CIA front” to coordinate with the KLA and spy on Yugoslavia.

The climactic incident of CIA-provoked violence that set the political stage for the NATO bombing and invasion was a firefight at a village called Racak, which the KLA had fortified as a base from which to ambush police patrols and dispatch death squads to kill local “collaborators.” In January 1999, Yugoslav police attacked the KLA base in Racak, leaving 43 men, a woman and a teenage boy dead.

After the firefight, Yugoslav police withdrew from the village, and the KLA reoccupied it and staged the scene to make the firefight look like a massacre of civilians. When William Walker and a KVM team visited Racak the next day, they accepted the KLA’s massacre story and broadcast it to the world, and it became a standard part of the narrative to justify the bombing of Yugoslavia and military occupation of Kosovo.

Autopsies by an international team of medical examiners found traces of gunpowder on the hands of nearly all the bodies, showing that they had fired weapons. They were nearly all killed by multiple gunshots as in a firefight, not by precise shots as in a summary execution, and only one victim was shot at close range. But the full autopsy results were only published much later, and the Finnish chief medical examiner accused Walker of pressuring her to alter them.

Two experienced French journalists and an AP camera crew at the scene challenged the KLA and Walker’s version of what happened in Racak. Christophe Chatelet’s article in Le Monde was headlined, “Were the dead in Racak really massacred in cold blood?” and veteran Yugoslavia correspondent Renaud Girard concluded his story in Le Figaro with another critical question, “Did the KLA seek to transform a military defeat into a political victory?”

NATO immediately threatened to bomb Yugoslavia, and France agreed to host high-level talks. But instead of inviting Kosovo’s mainstream nationalist leaders to the talks in Rambouillet, Secretary Albright flew in a delegation led by KLA commander Hashim Thaci, until then known to Yugoslav authorities only as a gangster and a terrorist.

Albright presented both sides with a draft agreement in two parts, civilian and military. The civilian part granted Kosovo unprecedented autonomy from Yugoslavia, and the Yugoslav delegation accepted that. But the military agreement would have forced Yugoslavia to accept a NATO military occupation, not just of Kosovo but with no geographical limits, in effect placing all of Yugoslavia under NATO occupation.

When Milosevich refused Albright’s terms for unconditional surrender, the U.S. and NATO claimed he had rejected peace, and war was the only answer, the “last resort“.  They did not return to the UN Security Council to try to legitimize their plan, knowing full well that Russia, China and other countries would reject it. When UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told Albright the British government was “having trouble with our lawyers” over NATO’s plan for an illegal war of aggression against Yugoslavia, she told him to “get new lawyers“.

In March 1999, the KVM teams were withdrawn and the bombing began. Pascal Neuffer, a Swiss KVM observer reported, “The situation on the ground on the eve of the bombing did not justify a military intervention. We could certainly have continued our work. And the explanations given in the press, saying the mission was compromised by Serb threats, did not correspond to what I saw. Let’s say rather that we were evacuated because NATO had decided to bomb.”

NATO killed thousands of civilians in Kosovo and the rest of Yugoslavia, as  it bombed 19 hospitals, 20 health centers, 69 schools, 25,000 homes, power stations, a national TV station, the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade and other diplomatic missions. After it invaded Kosovo, the U.S. military set up the 955-acre Camp Bondsteel, one of its largest bases in Europe, on its newest occupied territory. Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner, Alvaro Gil-Robles, visited Camp Bondsteel in 2002 and called it “a smaller version of Guantanamo,” exposing it as a secret CIA black site for illegal, unaccountable detention and torture.

But for the people of Kosovo, the ordeal was not over when the bombing stopped. Far more people had fled the bombing than the so-called “ethnic cleansing” the CIA had provoked to set the stage for it. A reported 900,000 refugees, nearly half the population, returned to a shattered, occupied province, now ruled by gangsters and foreign overlords.

Serbs and other minorities became second-class citizens, clinging precariously to homes and communities where many of their families had lived for centuries. More than 200,000 Serbs, Roma and other minorities fled, as the NATO occupation and KLA rule replaced the CIA’s manufactured illusion of ethnic cleansing with the real thing. Camp Bondsteel was the province’s largest employer, and U.S. military contractors also sent Kosovars to work in occupied Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2019, Kosovo’s per capita GDP was only $4,458, less than any country in Europe except Moldova and war-torn, post-coup Ukraine.

In 2007, a German military intelligence report described Kosovo as a “Mafia society” based on the “capture of the state” by criminals. The report named Hashim Thaci, then the leader of the Democratic Party, as an example of “the closest ties between leading political decision makers and the dominant criminal class.” In 2000, 80% of the heroin trade in Europe was controlled by Kosovar gangs, and the presence of thousands of U.S. and NATO troops fueled an explosion of prostitution and sex trafficking, also controlled by Kosovo’s new criminal ruling class.

In 2008, Thaci was elected Prime Minister, and Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia. (The final dissolution of Yugoslavia in 2006 had left Serbia and Montenegro as separate countries.) The U.S. and 14 allies immediately recognized Kosovo’s independence, and ninety-seven countries, about half the countries in the world, have now done so. But neither Serbia nor the UN have recognized it, leaving Kosovo in long-term diplomatic limbo.

When the court in the Hague unveiled the charges against Thaci on June 24th, he was on his way to Washington for a White House meeting with Trump and President Vucic of Serbia to try to resolve Kosovo’s diplomatic impasse. But when the charges were announced, Thaci’s plane made a U-turn over the Atlantic, he returned to Kosovo and the meeting was canceled.

The accusation of murder and organ trafficking against Thaci was first made in 2008 by Carla Del Ponte, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTFY), in a book she wrote after stepping down from that position. Del Ponte later explained that the ICTFY was prevented from charging Thaci and his co-defendants by the non-cooperation of NATO and the UN Mission in Kosovo. In an interview for the 2014 documentary, The Weight of Chains 2, she explained, “NATO and the KLA, as allies in the war, couldn’t act against each other.”

Human Rights Watch and the BBC followed up on Del Ponte’s allegations, and found evidence that Thaci and his cronies murdered up to 400 mostly Sebian prisoners during the NATO bombing in 1999. Survivors described prison camps in Albania where prisoners were tortured and killed, a yellow house where people’s organs were removed and an unmarked mass grave nearby.

Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty interviewed witnesses, gathered evidence and published a report, which the Council of Europe endorsed in January 2011, but the Kosovo parliament did not approve the plan for a special court in the Hague until 2015. The Kosovo Specialist Chambers and independent prosecutor’s office finally began work in 2017. Now the judges have six months to review the prosecutor’s charges and decide whether the trial should proceed.

A central part of the Western narrative on Yugoslavia was the demonization of President Milosevich of Yugoslavia, who resisted his country’s Western-backed dismemberment throughout the 1990s. Western leaders smeared Milosevich as a “New Hitler” and the “Butcher of the Balkans,” but he was still arguing his innocence when he died in a cell at The Hague in 2006.

Ten years later, at the trial of the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, the judges accepted the prosecution’s evidence that Milosevich strongly opposed Karadzic’s plan to carve out a Serb Republic in Bosnia. They convicted Karadzic of being fully responsible for the resulting civil war, in effect posthumously exonerating Milosevich of responsibility for the actions of the Bosnian Serbs, the most serious of the charges against him.

But the U.S.’s endless campaign to paint all its enemies as “violent dictators” and “New Hitlers” rolls on like a demonization machine on autopilot, against Putin, Xi, Maduro, Khamenei, the late Fidel Castro and any foreign leader who stands up to the imperial dictates of the U.S. government. These smear campaigns serve as pretexts for brutal sanctions and catastrophic wars against our international neighbors, but also as political weapons to attack and diminish any U.S. politician who stands up for peace, diplomacy and disarmament.

As the web of lies spun by Clinton and Albright has unraveled, and the truth behind their lies has spilled out piece by bloody piece, the war on Yugoslavia has emerged as a case study in how U.S. leaders mislead us into war. In many ways, Kosovo established the template that U.S. leaders have used to plunge our country and the world into endless war ever since. What U.S. leaders took away from their “success” in Kosovo was that legality, humanity and truth are no match for CIA-manufactured chaos and lies, and they doubled down on that strategy to plunge the U.S. and the world into endless war.

As it did in Kosovo, the CIA is still running wild, fabricating pretexts for new wars and unlimited military spending, based on sourceless accusations, covert operations and flawed, politicized intelligence. We have allowed American politicians to pat themselves on the back for being tough on “dictators” and “thugs,” letting them settle for the cheap shot instead of tackling the much harder job of reining in the real instigators of war and chaos: the U.S. military and the CIA.

But if the people of Kosovo can hold the CIA-backed gangsters who murdered their people, sold their body parts and hijacked their country accountable for their crimes, is it too much to hope that Americans can do the same and hold our leaders accountable for their far more widespread and systematic war crimes?

Iran recently indicted Donald Trump for the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, and asked Interpol to issue an international arrest warrant for him. Trump is probably not losing sleep over that, but the indictment of such a key U.S. ally as Thaci is a sign that the U.S.”accountabilty-free zone” of impunity for war crimes is finally starting to shrink, at least in the protection it provides to U.S. allies. Should Netanyahu, Bin Salman and Tony Blair be starting to look over their shoulders?