About Half See CIA Interrogation Methods as Justified

NOVANEWS

Democrats Divided over CIA’s Post-9/11 Interrogation Techniques

More Say CIA Interrogation Methods Were Justified than Unjustified

Following the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA interrogation practices in the period following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, 51% of the public says they think the CIA methods were justified, compared with just 29% who say they were not justified; 20% do not express an opinion.

The new national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Dec. 11-14 among 1,001 adults, finds that amid competing claims over the effectiveness of CIA interrogation methods, 56% believe they provided intelligence that helped prevent terrorist attacks, while just half as many (28%) say they did not provide this type of intelligence.

Partisan divides on these questions are wide. A large majority of Republicans (76%) say the interrogation methods used by the CIA after 9/11 were justified. Democrats are divided – 37% say the methods were justified, while 46% disagree. About twice as many liberal Democrats (65%) as conservative and moderate Democrats (32%) say the CIA’s interrogation techniques were not justified

.More Interest in Police Protests than CIA Report

Overall, the public expresses the most doubt not about the CIA methods and program itself, but about the Senate committee’s decision to release its report: as many call the decision to publicly release the findings the wrong decision (43%) as the right decision (42%).

While the report on the CIA’s interrogation methods captured much of Washington’s attention, it was not the public’s most closely followed story last week. Overall, 23% followed news about the release of the Senate report on CIA interrogations very closely; more (35%) paid very close attention to news about protests around the country in response to police-related violence.

Race, Gender and Age Differences in Views of CIA Methods

Were CIA Interrogation Methods Following 911 Justified

Opinions about the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation methods are divided by race, gender and age. Nearly six-in-ten whites (57%) say the methods were justified, while 26% say they were not justified. Blacks and Hispanics’ views are more divided: 42% of blacks say the methods were justified compared with 38% who say they were unjustified. Among Hispanics, 43% say the CIA’s methods were justified vs. 30% who think they were unjustified.

Young people also are divided over the CIA’s post-9/11 methods: 44% of those under 30 say they were justified while 36% disagree. Among those 50 and older, most (60%) think the methods were justified.

Men say the CIA’s interrogation methods were justified by a 57%-28% margin. Women are somewhat less supportive: 46% call the methods used by the CIA following the September 11th terrorist attacks justified, while 30% say they were unjustified.

Among the roughly quarter of adults (23%) who followed news about the release of the Senate committee’s report on CIA interrogation very closely, far more think the CIA’s methods were justified (59%) than unjustified (34%). Among those who f0llowed this news less closely, 49% say the CIAs tactics were justified, 27% unjustified, while 23% do not express an opinion.

Comparable shares of Republicans (27%), Democrats (23%) and independents (22%) tracked news about the release of the Senate report very closely.

Partisan divides on this question are wider than those seen across demographic groups. By an overwhelming 76%-12% margin, Republicans view the CIA interrogation methods as justified. Support among Democrats is nearly 40 points lower: just 37% call the interrogations justified, compared with 46% who say there were not justified. Somewhat more independents say the CIA actions were justified (49%) than not (30%).

Partisan Divide Over CIA’s Interrogation Methods

Partisan Differences Over CIA Methods, Release of Senate Committee Report

Differences between Republicans and Democrats over whether or not the CIA methods were justified extend to other questions about the program.

About three-quarters of Republicans (73%) say CIA interrogation methods provided intelligence that helped prevent terrorist attacks, compared with just 15% who say they did not do this. By contrast, Democrats are evenly split; 43% say the interrogations led to intelligence that helped prevent terror attacks, while 40% say that they did not.

And partisans take differing views on the Senate committee’s decision to publicly release the CIA report. Republicans call it the wrong decision by a 64%-26% margin, while Democrats say it was the right decision (56%-29%).

Democrats Internally Divided over CIA Interrogations

Liberal Democrats More Critical of CIA Interrogations Than Other Democrats

Liberal Democrats are much more skeptical about the CIA methods and program than are conservative and moderate Democrats.

Overall, 65% of liberal Democrats say they were not justified, while just 25% say that they were. The balance of opinion among conservative and moderate Democrats is much different: 48% say the CIA interrogations were justified compared with 32% who say they were not.

Similarly, fewer liberal Democrats (35%) than conservative and moderate Democrats (53%) believe the CIA interrogations provided intelligence that helped prevent terrorist attacks. And on the question of whether the Senate Intelligence Committee was right to publicly release their report, 71% of liberal Democrats call this the right decision, compared with about half of conservative and moderate Democrats (48%).

By contrast, within the Republican Party broad majorities of both conservative Republicans and moderate and liberal Republicans say the CIA interrogation methods were justified and provided intelligence that helped prevent terrorist attacks.

Posted in USA0 Comments

Venezuela’s Maduro Rejects Obama’s Signing of Sanctions

NOVANEWS
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro

Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro said that the Americas will never be a colony of the United states on Thursday, in response to U.S. President Barack Obama signing legislation to impose sanctions on Venezuelan government officials.

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro rejected on Thursday sanctions now signed by U.S president Barack Obama this afternoon. The legislation was passed by U.S. Congress last week, authorizing sanctions against Venezuelan officials.

“President Obama has taken a false step against our country, by signing the sanctions, despite the national and continental rejection of them. On the one hand, he recognizes the failure of the aggression against and blockade of Cuba … which with dignity, has resisted and won, and on the other hand he has started a stage of increased aggressions against (Venezuela),” said Maduro via Twitter.

Translation: “These are the contradictions of an empire that tries to impose its domination in whatever way it sees fit, underestimating the strength and awareness of our homeland”

Translation: That’s why, I reject these insolent measures taken by the imperialist elite of the United States against Venezuela. The homeland of Bolivar should be respected.

Translation: Imperialists of the north, anyway they can, will keep on failing. Our America will never again be a colony of anyone, we swear by it.

The U.S claims the sanctions are in retaliation for the so-called repressive or violent role of government officials earlier this year.

Some right-wing opposition supporters participated in blockades, burning over 100 public buses, stations, and buildings, shot at Chavista marchers, while also physically and verbally attacking people trying to get to school or hospitals between February and April this year. Fourty-three people were killed, the majority being civilians and members of the pro-government national guard.

The government arrested some of the people perpetrating violence, although most of those arrested have been released.

The U.S santions would deny visas and freeze assets of government officials.

​On Monday, Venezuelans marched against the sanctions. The country also celebrated 15 years of a constitution which gave them protagonistic participation in decision making, and broad rights.

”I want the response to U.S. actions to be as its always has been, the homeland of Liberator Simon Bolivar responds with dignity. This is why I call upon the women of this country to march on Monday, December 15, to march to protest imperialism, an anti-imperialist march from the people of Venezuela,” said Venezelan president Nicoals Maduro at a gathering Friday with the Mothers Food Processing Corporation in Caracas.

Maduro, along with various other Latin American nations, has denounced the U.S. sanctions.

Posted in Venezuela0 Comments

Paramount Blocks 2004 Movie

NOVANEWS

‘Team America’ From Being Shown In Theaters

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By: BRENDAN JAMES

Several movie theaters that were planning to show the 2004 comedy “Team America: World Police” because Sony Pictures had bailed on the release of another North Korea-themed movie, “The Interview,” said on Thursday that Paramount Pictures had cancelled their screenings of the puppet movie.

Sony Pictures cancelled the Dec. 25 release of “The Interview” on Wednesday after major theaters chains backed out, following threats from alleged North Korean hackers.

As a replacement, theaters such as the Texas Alamo Drafthouse decided to screen “Team America” instead, as it contained similar mockery of the North Korean regime.

But on Thursday afternoon, several theaters, including the Drafthouse, announced that Paramount Pictures had pulled their “Team America” screenings.

Posted in North Korea, USAComments Off

Wake Up America: ‘CIA-created Frankenstein’ ”VIDEO”

NOVANEWS

US turns blind eye on terrorist?

Posada.jpg

Luis Posada CaMurder innocent people? No problem.

Lie to US immigration (Homeland Security)? You’re in jail.

83 year old Carriles has been a busy beaver:

Countless terrorist attacks on civilians in Cuba and other Latin American countries, Bay of Pigs veteran, Iran Contra figure, assassin of Chilean politician on the streets of Washington DC, maybe even involved the JFK assassination.

And the string that ties all these activities together: Long-time buddy of George Bush Sr.

“Posada has openly threathened that if he were to be deported to Venezuela, he would be forced to disclose information which could comprimise the United States.”

Apparently this gentleman hasn’t been paying attention to what happens to friends of George Bush Sr. who get too big for their britches (ex. Manuel Noriega and Barry Seal.) Carriles should count his blessings he’s getting the Noriega treatment.

 

Posted in USA0 Comments

Victory! The Cuban 5 are finally free!

NOVANEWS
Written by Other Sources

After 16 unjust years of imprisonment, on 17 December 2014, Ramón Labañino, Gerardo Hernández and Antonio Guerrero, the three remaining members of the Cuban 5, returned to Cuba following their release from US gaols. This is a defeat for the corrupt US justice system and massive victory for Cuba, particularly for anti-terrorist Gerardo Hernandez who was serving two life sentences plus 15 years.

The five Cuban heroes were arrested in 1998 and tried in Miami in 2001, in the midst of a hostile media storm whipped up by journalists in the pay of the US government. Denied a fair trial, they were found guilty of charges ranging from spying to conspiracy to commit murder and endangering the security of the United States. These men had been working to foil the persistent attempts by right-wing counter-revolutionary groups in the United States to commit acts of sabotage and terrorism against Socialist Cuba. These attacks included 78 bombings, 61 hijackings of planes and boats, biological attacks of dengue and swine fever, and 58 attacks from the sea, killing at least 3,478 people in total. The Cuban 5 were guilty of nothing more than peacefully trying to protect their country against terrorism. Their case Illustrates the hypocrisy of the US ‘War on Terror’.

Wednesday 17 December will be recognised for decades to come as a crucial date for Cuban history when, following years of campaigning, the Cuban 5 were finally free. Ramon, Gerardo and Antonio now join Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Hernandez, who served their full sentences and were released in 2011 and 2014 respectively.

In a live broadcast Raul Castro announced,‘As Fidel promised in June 2001, when he said, “They shall return!”, Gerardo, Ramon, and Antonio have arrived today to our homeland. The enormous joy of their families and of all our people, who have relentlessly fought for this goal, is shared by hundreds of solidarity committees and groups, governments, parliaments, organisations, institutions, and personalities, who for the last sixteen years have made tireless efforts demanding their release. We convey our deepest gratitude and commitment to all of them.’

Raul and US President Obama made simultaneous announcements, detailing 18 months of secret negotiations hosted by Canada and the Vatican, to review US-Cuban relations. In return for the three Cuban heroes, Raul announced the release of an unnamed US agent and the humanitarian release of US contractor Alan Gross, imprisoned in Cuba in 2009 on a $500,000 USAID mission to smuggle in secret communications equipment. In recent months investigations have revealed that Gross’ covert programme was just one of several commissioned by USAID around 2009 and 2010 in the attempt to generate an internal opposition in Cuba. Other programmes included the setting up of a Cuban twitter service called Zunzuneo, efforts to recruit foreign students and attempts to infiltrate the Cuban hip-hop scene. After millions of dollars invested all of the programmes failed and were abandoned. The prisoner swap and release of Gross are the first step in renewing diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba, a move articulated by leading newspaper The New York Times.

However as Raul identified, ‘This in no way means that the heart of the matter has been solved. The economic, commercial, and financial blockade, which causes enormous human and economic damages to our country, must cease. Though the blockade has been codified into law, the President of the United States has the executive authority to modify its implementation…While acknowledging our profound differences, particularly on issues related to national sovereignty, democracy, human rights and foreign policy, I reaffirm our willingness to dialogue on all these issues.’

Obama has also announced that the US will re-establish an embassy in Havana and begin the process of removing Cuba from the list of ‘States that sponsor terrorism’. He also committed to attending April’s ‘Summit of the Americas’ alongside Raul Castro following Cuba’s 53 year exclusion from the Organisation of American States.

Having campaigned against the unjust imprisonment of the 5 Cuban anti-terrorists since their imprisonment, the Revolutionary Communist Group and our campaign in solidarity with Cuba, ‘Rock Around the Blockade’, send our heartfelt congratulations and joy to the people of socialist Cuba who have withstood yet another attempt at undermining their long fight for national independence and anti-imperialist sovereignty. We will continue campaigning against the illegal US blockade and despicable Guantanamo Bay until these too are history. Cuban socialism, with its commitment to human development and internationalism is a beacon of hope for humanity.

As Fidel Castro identified, ‘The unyielding resistance of Cuban patriots is symbolized in our five heroes. They will never falter! They will never surrender!’
- Reflections of Fidel, 28 September 2011

Posted in South America0 Comments

Corporate murder: Ten thousand lives stolen ”VIDEO”

NOVANEWS

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem, Sr

No one accountable

 

Bhopal-Union Carbide 1 crop memorial.jpg

The story of the people of Bhopal

Has Union Carbide Ever Been Found Accountable For Bhopal?

Union Carbide murdered 10,000 people from Bhopal and chronically injured 150,000 more in December of 1984 with a toxic gas leak, and no one was held accountable for it.

Indian courts have warrants out for CEO at the time, Warren Anderson, who went into hiding after the incident. Anderson’s defense is that he is being arrested not for what he did, but for the fact that he was sitting as the CEO at the time.

If not he, then who?

Where is the conscience of a corporation?

 

Posted in India, USA0 Comments

Torture and the Violence of Organized Forgetting

NOVANEWS

A Form of Moral Paralysis

by HENRY GIROUX

With the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture, it becomes clear that in the aftermath of the loathsome terrorist attack of 9/11, the United States entered into a new and barbarous stage in its history, one in which acts of violence and moral depravity were not only embraced but celebrated. Certainly, this is not to suggest that the United States had not engaged in criminal and lawless acts historically or committed acts of brutality that would rightly be labeled acts of torture. That much about our history is clear and includes not only the support and participation in acts of indiscriminate violence and torture practiced through and with the right-wing Latin American dictatorships in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil in the 1970s but also through the wilful murder and torture of civilians in Vietnam, Iraq, and later at Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, and Afghanistan. The United States is no stranger to torture nor is it a free of complicity in aiding other countries notorious for their abuses of human rights. Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman reminded us by taking us as far back as 1979 that of the “35 countries using torture on an administrative basis in the late 1970s, 26 were clients of the United States.”[1]

In fact, the United States has a long record of inflicting torture on others, both at home and abroad, although it has never admitted to such acts. Instead, the official response has been to deny this history or do everything to hide such monstrous acts from public view through government censorship, appealing to the state secrecy principle, or deploying a language that buried narratives of extraordinary cruelty in harmless sounding euphemisms. For example, the benign sounding CIA “Phoenix Program” in South Vietnam resulted in the deaths of over 21,000 Vietnamese. As Carl Boggs argues, the acts of U.S. barbarism in Vietnam appeared both unrestrained and never ending, with routinized brutality such as throwing people out of planes labeled as “flying lessons” or “half a helicopter ride,”[2] while tying a field telephone wire around a man’s testicles and ringing it up was a practice called “the Bell Telephone Hour.”[3] Officially sanctioned torture was never discussed as a legitimate concern; but, as indicated by a few well-documented accounts, it seems to be as American as apple pie.[4]

But torture for the United States is not merely a foreign export, it is also part of a long history of domestic terrorism as was evident in the attempts on the part of the FBI, working under a secret program called COINTELPRO, designed to assassinate those considered domestic and foreign enemies.[5] COINTELPRO was about more than spying, it was a legally sanctioned machinery of violence and assassination.[6] In one of the most notorious cases, the FBI worked with the Chicago Police to set up the conditions for the assassination of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, two members of the Black Panther Party. Noam Chomsky has called COINTELPRO, which went on from the 50s to the 70s, when it was stopped, “the worst systematic and extended violation of basic civil rights by the federal government,” and “compares with Wilson’s Red Scare.”[7] What characterized these programs of foreign and domestic terrorism was that they were all shrouded in secrecy and allegedly were conducted in the name of democratic rights.

Torture also has a longstanding presence domestically, particularly as part of the brutalized practices that have shaped American chattel slavery through to its most recent “peculiar institution,” the rapidly expanding prison-industrial complex.[8] The racial disparities in American prisons and criminal justice system register the profound injustice of racial discrimination as well as a sordid expression of racist violence. As the novelist Ishmael Reed contends, this is a prison system “that is rotten to the core … where torture and rape are regular occurrences and where in some states the conditions are worse than at Gitmo. California prison hospitals are so bad that they have been declared unconstitutional and a form of torture.”[9] One of the more recently publicized cases of prison torture involved the arrest of a former Chicago police commander, Jon Burge. He was charged with routinely torturing as many as 200 inmates, mostly African Americans, during police interrogations in the 1970s and 1980s, “in order to force them to falsely confess to crimes they did not commit.”[10] One report claims that many of these men were beaten with telephone books and that “cattle prods were used to administer electric shocks to victims’ genitals. They were suffocated, beaten and burned, and had guns forced into their mouths. They faced mock executions with shotguns. … One tactic used was known as ‘the Vietnam treatment,’ presumably started by Burge, a Vietnam veteran.”[11] The filmmaker Deborah Davis has documented a number of incidents in the 1990s that amount to the unequivocal torture of prisoners and has argued that many of the sadistic practices she witnessed taking place in the American prison system were simply exported to Abu Ghraib.

After 9/11, the United States slipped into a moral coma as President Bush and Vice President Cheney worked tirelessly to ensure that the United States would not be constrained by international prohibitions against cruel and inhumane treatment, and they furthered that project not only by making torture, as Mark Danner argues, “a marker of political commitment” but also by constructing a vast secret and illegal apparatus of violence in which, under the cover of national security, alleged “terrorists” could be kidnapped, made to disappear into secret CIA “black sites,” become ghost detainees removed from any vestige of legality, or be secretly abducted and sent to other countries to be tortured. As Jane Mayer puts it,

the lawyers also authorized other previously illegal practices, including the secret capture and indefinite detention of suspects without charges. Simply by designating the suspects “enemy combatants,” the President could suspend the ancient writ of habeas corpus that guarantees a person the right to challenge his imprisonment in front of a fair and independent authority. Once in U.S. custody, the President’s lawyers said, these suspects could be held incommunicado, hidden from their families and international monitors such as the Red Cross, and subjected to unending abuse, so long as it didn’t meet the lawyer’s own definition of torture. And they could be held for the duration of the war against terrorism, a struggle in which victory had never been clearly defined. [12]

The maiming and breaking of bodies and the forms of unimaginable pain inflicted by the Bush administration on so-called “enemy combatants” was no longer seen in violation of either international human rights or a constitutional commitment to democratic ideals. The war on terror had now reduced governance in the United States to a legalized apparatus of terror that mimicked the very violence it was meant to combat. In the aftermath of 9/11, under the leadership of Bush and his close neoconservative band of merry criminal advisors, justice took a leave of absence and the “gloves came off.”   As Mark Danner states, “the United States transformed itself from a country that, officially at least, condemned torture to a country that practised it.”[13]But it did more. Under the Bush-Cheney reign of power, torture was embraced in unprecedented ways through a no holds-barred approach to the war on terror that suggested the administration’s need to exhibit a kind of ethical and psychic hardening-a hyper-masculine, emotional callousness that expressed itself in a warped militaristic mind-set fueled by a high testosterone quotient. State secrecy and war crimes now became the only tributes now paid to democracy.

As Frank Rich once argued and the Senate Intelligence report confirms, “[T]orture was a premeditated policy approved at our government’s highest levels … psychologists and physicians were enlisted as collaborators in inflicting pain; and … in the assessment of reliable sources like the FBI director Robert Mueller, it did not help disrupt any terrorist attacks.”[14] When the torture memos of 2002 and 2005 were eventually made public by the Obama administration, clearly implicating the Bush-Cheney regime in torture, they revealed that the United States had been turned into a globalized torture state.[15]Conservative columnist, Andrew Sullivan, went so far as to claim that “If you want to know how democracies die, read these memos.”[16] The memos, written by government lawyers John Yoo, Steven Bradbury, and Jay Bybee, allowed the CIA under the Bush administration to torture Al Qaeda detainees held at Guantánamo and other secret detention centers around the world. They also offered detailed instructions on how to implement ten techniques prohibited in the Army Field Manual, including facial slaps, “use of a plastic neck collar to slam suspects into a specially-built wall,”[17] sleep deprivation, cramped confinement in small boxes, use of insects in confined boxes, stress positions, and waterboarding. All of this and more are now documented in the Senate report. In fact, the report claims that current disclosures about the practice of torture used by the CIA were more brutal and less effective than previously reported.

Waterboarding, which has been condemned by democracies all over the world, consists of the individual being “bound securely to an inclined bench, which is approximately four feet by seven feet. The individual’s feet are generally elevated. A cloth is placed over the forehead and eyes. Water is then applied to the cloth in a controlled manner [and] produces the perception of ‘suffocation and incipient panic.’”[18] The highly detailed, amoral nature in which these abuses were first defined and endorsed by lawyers from the Office of Legal Council was not only chilling but also reminiscent of the harsh and ethically deprived instrumentalism used by those technicians of death in criminal states such as Nazi Germany. Andy Worthington suggests that there is more than a hint of brutalization and dehumanization in the language used by the OLC’s Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Steven G. Bradbury, who wrote a detailed memo recommending:

“nudity, dietary manipulation and sleep deprivation”—now revealed explicitly as not just keeping a prisoner awake, but hanging him, naked except for a diaper, by a chain attached to shackles around his wrists—[as,] essentially, techniques that produce insignificant and transient discomfort. We are, for example, breezily told that caloric intake “will always be set at or above 1,000 kcal/day,” and are encouraged to compare this enforced starvation with “several commercial weight-loss programs in the United States which involve similar or even greater reductions in calorific intake” … and when it comes to waterboarding, Bradbury clinically confirms that it can be used 12 times a day over five days in a period of a month—a total of 60 times for a technique that is so horrible that one application is supposed to have even the most hardened terrorist literally gagging to tell all.[19]

The New York Times claimed in an editorial “that to read the…four memos on prisoner interrogation written by George W. Bush’s Justice Department is to take a journey into depravity.”[20] The editorial was particularly incensed over a passage written by Jay Bybee, who was an Assistant Attorney General in the Bush administration at the time. As the Times then pointed out, Bybee “wrote admiringly about a contraption for waterboarding that would lurch a prisoner upright if he stopped breathing while water was poured over his face. He praised the Central Intelligence Agency for having doctors ready to perform an emergency tracheotomy if necessary.”[21] Bybee’s memo is particularly disturbing, even repugnant, in its disregard for human rights, human dignity, and democratic values, not only describing how the mechanics of waterboarding should be implemented but also providing detailed analysis for introducing insects into confined boxes that held suspected terrorist prisoners. In light of mounting criticism, Bybee both defended his support of such severe interrogation tactics and further argued that “the

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memorandums represented ‘a good faith analysis of the law’ that properly defined the thin line between harsh treatment and torture.”[22] Indeed, it seems that Bybee should have looked carefully at the following judgment pronounced by the American court in Nuremberg to the lawyers and jurists who rewrote the law for the Nazi regime: “You destroyed law and justice in Germany utilizing the empty forms of the legal process.”[23] As brutal as the revelations revealed in the memos proved to be, the Senate report on torture goes even further documenting the millions of dollars spent on black sites, the amateurish qualifications of people to even conduct interrogations, the complicity of unqualified psychologists who milked the government for $81 million to develop torture techniques, and the endless lies produced by both the CIA and the Bush-Cheney administration regarding everything from the use of secret prisons established all over the world to the false claims that the use of torture was responsible for providing information that led to the finding and killing of Osama Bin Laden by members of the NAVY SEALs.[24] The report also stated that far more people were waterboarded than was first disclosed and that the sessions amounted to extreme acts of cruelty. Some members of the CIA choked up over the cruel nature of the interrogations and send memos to Langley calling their legality into question, but were told by higher officials to continue with the practice. In fact, the interrogations were considered so inhumane and cruel by some CIA officers that they threatened to transfer to other departments if the brutal interrogations continued.

The United States was condemned all over the world for its support of torture and that condemnation, hopefully, will take place once again in light of the report. Fortunately, President Obama when he came to office outlawed the most egregious acts practiced by the professional torturers of the Bush-Cheney regime. Yet undercurrents of authoritarianism die hard in the circles of unaccountable power. The Senate report makes clear that the CIA engaged in lies, distortions, and horrendous violations of human rights, including waterboarding and other sordid practices. The report also reveals that the CIA used monstrous methods such as forced rectal feeding, dragging hooded detainees “up and down a long corridor while being slapped and punched” and threatening to kill or rape family members of the prisoners.

In spite of the appalling evidence presented by the report, members s of the old Bush crowd, including former Vice-President Cheney, former CIA directors, George J. Tenet and Michael V. Hayden, and an endless number of prominent Republican Party politicians are still defending their use of torture or, as they euphemistically contend, “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The psychopathic undercurrent and the authoritarian impulse of such reactions finds its most instructive expression in former Bush communications chief Nicolle Wallace who while appearing on the “Morning Joe” show screeched in response to the revelations of the Senate Intelligence report “I don’t care what we did.” As Elias Isquith, a writer for Salon, contends, as “grotesque as that was, though, the really scary part was [the implication that] waterboarding, sleep deprivation, stress positions and sexual assault is part of what makes ‘America ‘great.’”[25] Wallace’s comments are more than morally repugnant. Wallace embodies the stance of so many other war criminals who were either indifferent to the massive suffering and deaths they caused or actually took pride in their actions. They are the bureaucrats whose thoughtlessness and moral depravity Hannah Arendt identified as the rear guard of totalitarianism.

Illegal legalities, moral depravity, and mad violence are now wrapped in the vocabulary of Orwellian doublethink. For instance, the rhetorical gymnastics used by the torture squad are designed to make the American public believe that if you refer to torture by some seemingly innocuous name then the pain and suffering it causes will suddenly disappear. The latter represents not just the discourse of magical thinking but a refusal to recognize that “If cruelty is the worst thing that humans do to each other, torture [is] the most extreme expression of human cruelty.”[26] These apostles of torture are politicians who thrive in some sick zone of political and social abandonment, and who unapologetically further acts of barbarism, fear, willful lies, and moral depravity. They are the new totalitarians who hate democracy, embrace a punishing state, and believe that politics is mostly an extension of war. They are the thoughtless gangsters reminiscent of the monsters who made fascism possible at another time in history. For them, torture is an instrument of fear; one sordid strategy and element in a war on terror that attempts to expand governmental power and put into play a vast (il)legal and repressive apparatus that expands the field of violence and the technologies, knowledge, and institutions central to fighting the all-encompassing war on terror. Americans now live under a government in which the doctrine of permanent warfare is legitimated through a state of emergency deeply rooted in a mass psychology of violence and culture of cruelty that are essential to transforming a government of laws into a regime of lawlessness.

Once the authoritarian side of political governance takes hold, it is hard to eradicate. Power is addictive, especially when it is reckless and offers personal rewards from those who have capital, benefit from human misery, and are more than willing to reward politicians who follow the corporate script. Witness the support by a number of Republicans who still support the practice of torture and deny the legitimacy of the Senate report. Ignoring that torture is an element of power that is built on what can be rightly termed a willed amorality, they attack the Senate report not for its content but because they believe its release will anger the alleged enemies of the United States, as if that hasn’t already been done through a range of savage military practices or diplomatic acts. Or they argue that the Senate report is simply an attempt to embarrass the Bush-Cheney administration.
Civility has not been the strong point of a party that is overtly racist, hates immigrants, shuts down the government, and caters to every whim of the financial elite. Moreover, we don’t alienate our enemies, we create them by threatening to bomb them, encircle them with nuclear weapons, demonizing Muslims, torturing them, and killing them through indiscriminate drone strikes that mostly kill civilians. Principles are not being defended in these arguments only the kind of raw, naked power that has come to mark authoritarian regimes. It gets worse. The defenders of the globalized torture state are not simply confused or morally damaged; they are wedded to a finance state and the corporate machinery of social, cultural, and political violence that will provide them with lucrative jobs once they finish the bidding of defense contractors and other elements of the finance and warfare state.

To his credit, Arizona Senator John McCain, himself a victim of torture during the Vietnam War, broke with the moral dinosaurs in his party and in defending the release of the Senate report, insisted that the CIA’s use of torture during the Bush-Cheney years “stained our national honor, did much harm, and little practical good.” Most of his colleagues disagree and are now arguing that in spite of the evidence, torture produced actionable intelligence and helped to save lives, a claim the Senate report strongly negates. Once again, empirical utility trumps the levers of justice and the principles of human rights as moral considerations give way to a kind of ghastly death-embracing dance with a debased instrumental rationality.

Not only has the United States lost its moral compass, it has degenerated into a state of political darkness reminiscent of older dictatorships that maimed human bodies and inflicted unspeakable acts of violence on the innocent, while embracing a mad war-like utility and pragmatism in order to remove themselves from any sense of justice, compassion, and reason. This is the formative culture not simply of a society that is ethically lost, but one that produces a society that willingly becomes complicitous with the savage ethos and beliefs of an updated totalitarianism. The Senate report has brought one of the darkest sides of humanity to light and it has sparked a predictable outrage and public condemnation. Thus far, little has been said about either the conditions that made this journey into the dark side possible, or what moral, political, and educational absences had to occur in the collective psyche of both the American public and government that not only sanctioned torture but allowed it to happen? What made it so easy for the barbarians not only to implement acts of torture but to openly defend such practices as a sanctioned government policy?

With the release of the report, the supine American press finally has to acknowledge that the U.S. had joined with other totalitarian countries of the past in committing atrocities completely alien to any functioning democracy. America is no longer even a weak democracy. The lie is now more visible than ever. Nonetheless, the usual crowd of politicians, pundits, and mainstream media not only have little to say about the history of torture committed by the United States at home and abroad, but also about their own silence, if not complicity, in this dark side of American history. The possibility of a politically and morally charged critique has turned into a cowardly and evasive debate around questions such as: Does torture produce terrorist acts from taking place? Is waterboarding really an act of torture? Is torture justified in the face of extremist attacks on the United States? Is the CIA being scapegoated for actions promoted by the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld crowd? And so it goes. These are the wrong questions and reveal the toxic complicity the mainstream press has had all along with such anti-democratic practices. War crimes should not be debated; they should be condemned without qualification.

In an incredible act of bad faith, those responsible for state sanctioned acts of torture are now interviewed by the mainstream media and presented, if not portrayed, as reasonable men with honorable intentions. Rather than being condemned as agents of a totalitarian state and as war criminals who should be prosecuted, those who both gave the orders to torture and those who carried out such inhuman practices are treated as one side of a debate team, anxious to get the real story out in order to provide the other side of the narrative. There is more than a hint of moral depravity here; there is also what I have called elsewhere the violence of organized forgetting. Torture is not about the cowardly appeal to balance. The only reasonable approach any democracy can take towards torture is to condemn it.

For a society to treat torture as a reasonable practice worthy of informed debate reveals a cancer deeply embedded in the American social and political psyche, partly produced by the carcinogenic culture of the mainstream media, the spectacle of violence, and unchecked militarism of American society, and those commanding cultural apparatuses that believe that the only value that matters is rooted in acts of commerce and the accumulation of capital at any cost. Ideas matter, education matters, morality matters, and justice matters in a democracy. People who hold power in America should be held accountable for what the actions they take, especially when they violate all decent standards of human rights.

Maybe it is time to treat the Senate torture report as just one register of a series of crimes being committed under the regime of a savage neoliberalism. After all, an economic policy that views ethics as a liability, disdains the public good, and enshrines self-interest as the highest of virtues provides a petri dish not just for state sanctioned torture abroad but also for a range of lawless and cruel policies at home. Maybe it’s time to connect the dots between the government’s use of waterboarding and a history that includes the killing of Black Panther, Fred Hampton by the Chicago police, the illegal existence of COINTELPRO, the savage brutality of the Phoenix Program in Vietnam, the rise of the post-Orwellian surveillance state, the militarization of the local police, the transformation of underserved American cities into war zones, the creation of Obama’s kill list, the use of drones that indiscriminately execute people, and the recent killing of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of militarized police force that now acts with impunity.[27]

Is it not reasonable to argue that the lawlessness that creates the torture state and provides immunity for killer cops also provides protection for those in the government and CIA who put into play the tentacles of the globalized torture state? Is it too far-fetched to argue that Eric Garner’s utterance, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” is a reminder of the many foreign nationals under the control of the torture state who might have uttered the same words as they were being tortured? Connect these dots and there is more at play here than retreat into a facile high moralism that condemns torture as a “stain on our values.” Instead, what becomes evident is that torture has become symptomatic of something much larger than an errant plunge into immorality and lawlessness and begins to reveal a more systemic rush into what Robert Jay Lifton has described as “a death-saturated age”[28] in which matters of violence, survival, and trauma inescapably bear down on daily experience while pushing the United States into the dark recesses of a new authoritarianism. The Senate report reveals only one moment in an endless upsurge of lawlessness that has come to characterize the United States’ long, slow plunge into totalitarianism. Americans now inhabit a society where the delete button holds sway and the ethical imagination withers. And what are being erased are not only any vestige of a sense of commitment, but public and historical memory and the foundations of any viable notion of justice, equality, and accountability. That is the story that needs to be told.

There is another story to be told about another kind of torture, one that is more capacious and seemingly more abstract but just as deadly in its destruction of human life, justice, and democracy. This is a mode of torture that resembles the “mind virus” mentioned in the Senate report, one that induces fear, paralysis, and produces the toxic formative culture that characterizes the reign of neoliberalism.   Isolation, privatization, and the cold logic of instrumental rationality have created a new kind of social formation and social order in which it becomes difficult to form communal bonds, deep connections, a sense of intimacy, and long term commitments. Neoliberalism has created a society of monsters for whom pain and suffering are viewed as entertainment or deserving of scorn, warfare is a permanent state of existence, torture becomes a matter of expediency, and militarism is celebrated as the most powerful mediator of human relationships.

Under the reign of neoliberalism, politics has taken an exit from ethics and thus the issue of social costs is divorced from any form of intervention in the world. This is the ideological metrics of political zombies. The key word here is atomization and it is the curse of both neoliberal societies and democracy itself. A radical democracy demands a notion of educated hope capable of energizing a generation of young people and others who connect the torture state to the violence and criminality of an economic system that celebrates its own depravities. It demands a social movement unwilling to abide by technological fixes or cheap reforms. It demands a new politics for which the word revolution means going to the root of the problem and addressing it non-violently with dignity, civic courage, and the refusal to accept a future that mimics the present. Torture is not just a matter of policy, it is a deadening mindset, a point of identification, a form of moral paralysis, a war crime, an element of the spectacle of violence, and it must be challenged in all of its dreadful registers.

Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University. His most recent books are America’s Education Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013) and Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education (Haymarket Press, 2014). His web site is www.henryagiroux.com.

Notes. 

[1] Cited in Edward S. Herman, “Folks Out There Have a ‘Distaste of Western Civilization and Cultural Values’,” Center for Research on Globalization (September 15, 2001). Online at: ,http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/HER109A.html

[2]. Carl Boggs supplies an excellent commentary on the historical amnesia in the U.S. media surrounding the legacy of torture promoted by the United States. See Carl Boggs, “Torture: An American Legacy,”CounterPunch.org (June 17, 2009). Online at: http://www.counterpunch.org/boggs06172009.html.

[3]. Ibid.

[4]. There are many valuable sources that document this history. Some exemplary texts include: A.J. Langguth, Hidden Terrors: The Truth About U.S. Police Operations in Latin America (New York: Pantheon Books, 1979); Gordon Thomas, Journey Into Madness: The True Story of Secret CIA Mind Control and Medical Abuse (New York: Bantam, 1989); Danner, Torture and Truth; Jennifer K. Harbury, Truth, Torture, and the American Way: The History and Consequences of U.S. Involvement in Torture (Boston: Beacon Press, 2005); Alfred McCoy, A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006); and Rejali, Torture and Democracy. See also Jane Mayer, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals (New York: Doubleday, 2008); and Phillipe Sands, Torture Team (London: Penguin, 2009). On the torture of children, see Michael Haas, George W. Bush, War Criminal?: The Bush Administration’s Liability for 269 War Crimes (Westport: Praeger, 2009). Also, see Henry A. Giroux,Hearts of Darkness: Torturing Children in the War on Terror (Boulder: Paradigm, 2010).

[5] Amy Goodman, “From COINTELPRO to Snowden, the FBI Burglars Speak Out after 43 Years of Silence (Part 2),” Democracy Now! (January 8, 2014). Online:

http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2014/1/8/from_cointelpro_to_snowden_the_fbi

[6] For an excellent source, see Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall,The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars against Dissent in the United States (Boston: South End Press, 2001). Also see The People’s History of the CIA. Online: http://www.thepeopleshistory.net/2013/07/cointelpro-fbis-war-on-us-citizens.html.

[7] Chomsky quoted in Amy Goodman, “From COINTELPRO to Snowden, the FBI Burglars Speak Out after 43 Years of Silence (Part 2).” Online: http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2014/1/8/from_cointelpro_to_snowden_the_fbi

[8]. See, for example, Angela Y. Davis, Abolition Democracy: Beyond Empire, Prisons, and Torture (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2005); and Loic Wacquant, Punishing the Poor (Durham: Duke University Press, 2009).

[9]. Ishmael Reed, “How Henry Louis Gates Got Ordained as the Nation’s ‘Leading Black Intellectual,’” Black Agenda Report (July 27, 2009). Online at: http://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=content/how-henry-louis-gates-got-ordained-nations-leading-black-intellectual.

[10]. Pepe Lozano, “Chicago Torture Probe Draws Worldwide Attention,” Political Affairs Magazine (July 6, 2006). Online at: http://www.politicalaffairs.net/article/view/3770/1/196/. See also Susan Saulny, “Ex-Officer Linked to Brutality Is Arrested,” New York Times (October 22, 2008). Online at: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/22/us/22chicago.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss.

[11]. Lozano, ibid.

[12]. Mayer, The Dark Side, p. 8.

[13]. Mark Danner, “US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites,” New York Review of Books, Vol. 56, No. 6 (April 9, 2009), p. 77.

[14]. Frank Rich, “The Banality of Bush White House Evil,” New York Times (April 26, 2009), p. WK14.

[15]. The torture memos can be found at the American Civil Liberties Union website. Online at: http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/olc_memos.html.

[16]. Andrew Sullivan, “The Bigger Picture,” The Daily Dish (April 17, 2009). Online at: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/04/the-bigger-picture.html.

[17]. Ewen MacAskill, “Obama Releases Bush Torture Memos: Insects, Sleep Deprivation and Waterboarding among Approved Techniques by the Bush Administration,” The Guardian (April 16, 2009). Online at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/16/torture-memos-bush-administration.

[18]. Ibid.

[19]. Andy Worthington, “Five Terrible Truths About the CIA Torture Memos,” Future of Freedom Foundation (April 22, 2009). Online at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/04/22-6.

[20]. Editorial, “The Torturers’ Manifesto,” New York Times (April 19, 2009), p. WK9.

[21]. Ibid.

[22]. Bybee cited in Neil A. Lewis, “Official Defends Signing Interrogation Memos,” New York Times (April 29, 2009), p. A12.

[23]. Thomas C. Hilde, “Introduction,” in On Torture, ed. Thomas C. Hilde (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2008), p. 141.

[24] Mark Mazzetti, “Panel Faults C.I.A. Over Brutality and Deceit in Terrorism Interrogations,” New York Times (December 9, 2014). Online: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/10/world/senate-intelligence-committee-cia-torture-report.html.

[25] Error! Main Document Only.Elias Isquith, “‘I don’t care what we did’: What Nicolle Wallace’s rant reveals about America’s torture problem,” Salon (December 9, 2012). Online: http://www.salon.com/2014/12/09/i_dont_care_what_we_did_what_nicolle_wallaces_rant_reveals_about_americas_torture_problem/

[26] Thomas C. Hilde, “Introduction,” in On Torture, ed. Thomas C. Hilde (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2008), p. 1.

[27] See, for one example of this type of analysis, Error! Main Document Only.Chauncey DeVega, “The Culture of Cruelty is International: From Lynchings to Eric Garner and the CIA Torture Report,” We Are Respectable Negroes (December 10, 2014). Online: http://www.chaunceydevega.com/2014/12/the-culture-of-cruelty-is-international.html

[28] Robert Jay Lifton, Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987), p. 479

Posted in USA0 Comments

The Oil Coup: US-Saudi Subterfuge Send Stocks and Credit Reeling

NOVANEWS

by MIKE WHITNEY

“John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, allegedly struck a deal with King Abdullah in September under which the Saudis would sell crude at below the prevailing market price. That would help explain why the price has been falling at a time when, given the turmoil in Iraq and Syria caused by Islamic State, it would normally have been rising.” (Stakes are high as US plays the oil card against Iran and Russia, Larry Eliot, Guardian)

U.S. powerbrokers have put the country at risk of another financial crisis to intensify their economic war on Moscow and to move ahead with their plan to “pivot to Asia”.

Here’s what’s happening: Washington has persuaded the Saudis to flood the market with oil to push down prices, decimate Russia’s economy, and reduce Moscow’s resistance to further NATO encirclement and the spreading of US military bases across Central Asia. The US-Saudi scheme has slashed oil prices by nearly a half since they hit their peak in June. The sharp decline in prices has burst the bubble in high-yield debt which has increased the turbulence in the credit markets while pushing global equities into a tailspin. Even so, the roiled markets and spreading contagion have not deterred Washington from pursuing its reckless plan, a plan which uses Riyadh’s stooge-regime to prosecute Washington’s global resource war. Here’s a brief summary from an article by F. William Engdahl titled “The Secret Stupid Saudi-US Deal on Syria”:

“The details are emerging of a new secret and quite stupid Saudi-US deal on Syria and the so-called IS. It involves oil and gas control of the entire region and the weakening of Russia and Iran by Saudi Arabian flooding the world market with cheap oil. Details were concluded in the September meeting by US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Saudi King…

..the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has been flooding the market with deep discounted oil, triggering a price war within OPEC… The Saudis are targeting sales to Asia for the discounts and in particular, its major Asian customer, China where it is reportedly offering its crude for a mere $50 to $60 a barrel rather than the earlier price of around $100. That Saudi financial discounting operation in turn is by all appearance being coordinated with a US Treasury financial warfare operation, via its Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, in cooperation with a handful of inside players on Wall Street who control oil derivatives trading. The result is a market panic that is gaining momentum daily. China is quite happy to buy the cheap oil, but her close allies, Russia and Iran, are being hit severely…

According to Rashid Abanmy, President of the Riyadh-based Saudi Arabia Oil Policies and Strategic Expectations Center, the dramatic price collapse is being deliberately caused by the Saudis, OPEC’s largest producer. The public reason claimed is to gain new markets in a global market of weakening oil demand. The real reason, according to Abanmy, is to put pressure on Iran on her nuclear program, and on Russia to end her support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria….More than 50% of Russian state revenue comes from its export sales of oil and gas. The US-Saudi oil price manipulation is aimed at destabilizing several strong opponents of US globalist policies. Targets include Iran and Syria, both allies of Russia in opposing a US sole Superpower. The principal target, however, is Putin’s Russia, the single greatest threat today to that Superpower hegemony. (The Secret Stupid Saudi-US Deal on Syria, F. William Engdahl, BFP)

The US must achieve its objectives in Central Asia or forfeit its top-spot as the world’s only superpower. This is why US policymakers have embarked on such a risky venture. There’s simply no other way to sustain the status quo which allows the US to impose its own coercive dollar system on the world, a system in which the US exchanges paper currency produced-at-will by the Central Bank for valuable raw materials, manufactured products and hard labor. Washington is prepared to defend this extortionist petrodollar recycling system to the end, even if it means nuclear war.

How Flooding the Market Adds to Instability

The destructive and destabilizing knock-on effects of this lunatic plan are visible everywhere. Plummeting oil prices are making it harder for energy companies to get the funding they need to roll over their debt or maintain current operations. Companies borrow based on the size of their reserves, but when prices tumble by nearly 50 percent–as they have in the last six months– the value of those reserves falls sharply which cuts off access to the market leaving CEO’s with the dismal prospect of either selling assets at firesale prices or facing default. If the problem could be contained within the sector, there’d be no reason for concern. But what worries Wall Street is that a surge in energy company failures could ripple through the financial system and wallop the banks. Despite six years of zero rates and monetary easing, the nation’s biggest banks are still perilously undercapitalized, which means that a wave of unexpected bankruptcies could be all it takes to collapse the weaker institutions and tip the system back into crisis. Here’s an excerpt from a post at Automatic Earth titled “Will Oil Kill the Zombies?”:

“If prices fall any further, it would seem that most of the entire shale edifice must of necessity crumble to the ground. And that will cause an absolute earthquake in the financial world, because someone supplied the loans the whole thing leans on. An enormous amount of investors have been chasing high yield, including many institutional investors, and they’re about to get burned something bad….. if oil keeps going the way it has lately, the Fed may instead have to think about bailing out the big Wall Street banks once again.” (Will Oil Kill the Zombies?, Raúl Ilargi Meijer, Automatic Earth)

The problem with falling oil prices is not just mounting deflation or droopy profits; it’s the fact that every part of the industry–exploration, development and production — is propped atop a mountain of red ink (junk bonds). When that debt can no longer be serviced or increased, then the primary lenders (counterparties and financial institutions) sustain heavy losses which domino through the entire system. Take a look at this from Marketwatch:

“There’s ‘no question’ that for energy companies with a riskier debt profile the high-yield debt market “is essentially shut down at this stage,” and there are signs that further pain could hit the sector, ” senior fixed-income strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, Dan Heckman told Marketwatch. “We are getting to the point that it is becoming very concerning.” (Marketwatch)

When energy companies lose access to the market and are unable to borrow at low rates, it’s only a matter of time before they trundle off to extinction.

On Friday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) renewed pressure on prices by lowering its estimate for global demand for oil in 2015. The announcement immediately sent stocks into a nosedive. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost 315 points by the end of the day, while, according to Bloomberg, more than “$1 trillion was erased from the value of global equities in the week”.

The world is awash in cheap petroleum which is wreaking havoc on domestic shale producers that need prices of roughly $70 per barrel to break-even. With West Texas Intermediate (WTI) presently headed south of 60 bucks–and no bottom in sight–these smaller producers are sure to get clobbered. Pension funds, private equity, banks, and other investors who gambled on these dodgy energy-related junk bonds are going to get their heads handed to them in the months ahead.

The troubles in the oil patch are mainly attributable to the Fed’s easy money policies. By dropping rates to zero and flooding the markets with liquidity, the Fed made it possible for every Tom, Dick and Harry to borrow in the bond market regardless of the quality of the debt. No one figured that the bottom would drop out leaving an entire sector high and dry. Everyone thought the all-powerful Fed could print its way out of any mess. After last week’s bloodbath, however, they’re not nearly as confident. Here’s how Bloomberg sums it up:

“The danger of stimulus-induced bubbles is starting to play out in the market for energy-company debt….Since early 2010, energy producers have raised $550 billion of new bonds and loans as the Federal Reserve held borrowing costs near zero, according to Deutsche Bank AG. With oil prices plunging, investors are questioning the ability of some issuers to meet their debt obligations…

The Fed’s decision to keep benchmark interest rates at record lows for six years has encouraged investors to funnel cash into speculative-grade securities to generate returns, raising concern that risks were being overlooked. A report from Moody’s Investors Service this week found that investor protections in corporate debt are at an all-time low, while average yields on junk bonds were recently lower than what investment-grade companies were paying before the credit crisis.” (Fed Bubble Bursts in $550 Billion of Energy Debt: Credit Markets, Bloomberg)

The Fed’s role in this debacle couldn’t be clearer. Investors piled into these dodgy debt-instruments because they thought Bernanke had their back and would intervene at the first sign of trouble. Now that the bubble has burst and the losses are piling up, the Fed is nowhere to be seen.

In the last week, falling oil prices have started to impact the credit markets where investors are ditching debt on anything that looks at all shaky. The signs of contagion are already apparent and likely to get worse. Investors fear that if they don’t hit the “sell” button now, they won’t be able to find a buyer later. In other words, liquidity is drying up fast which is accelerating the rate of decline. Naturally, this has affected US Treasuries which are still seen as “risk free”. As investors increasingly load up on USTs, long-term yields have been pounded into the ground like a tentpeg. As of Friday, the benchmark 10-year Treasury checked in at a miniscule 2.08 percent, the kind of reading one would expect in the middle of a Depression.

The Saudi-led insurgency has reversed the direction of the market, put global stocks into a nosedive and triggered a panic in the credit markets. And while the financial system edges closer to a full-blown crisis every day, policymakers in Washington have remained resolutely silent on the issue, never uttering as much as a peep of protest for a Saudi policy that can only be described as a deliberate act of financial terrorism.

Why is that? Why have Obama and Co. kept their mouths shut while oil prices have plunged, domestic industries have been demolished, and stocks have gone off a cliff? Could it be that they’re actually in cahoots with the Saudis and that it’s all a big game designed to annihilate enemies of the glorious New World Order?

It certainly looks that way.

Posted in Saudi Arabia, USA0 Comments

The US Feels the Heat on Palestine Vote at UN: The Statehood Bid

NOVANEWS

by JONATHAN COOK

Nazareth. 

The floodgates have begun to open across Europe on recognition of Palestinian statehood. On Friday the Portuguese parliament became the latest European legislature to call on its government to back statehood, joining Sweden, Britain, Ireland, France and Spain.

In coming days similar moves are expected in Denmark and from the European Parliament. The Swiss government will join the fray too this week, inviting states that have signed the Fourth Geneva Convention to an extraordinary meeting to discuss human rights violations in the occupied territories. Israel has threatened retaliation.

But while Europe is tentatively finding a voice in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, silence reigns across the Atlantic. The White House appears paralysed, afraid to appear out of sync with world opinion but more afraid still of upsetting Israel and its powerful allies in the US Congress.

Now there is an additional complicating factor. The Israeli public, due to elect a new Israeli government in three months’ time, increasingly regards the US role as toxic. A poll this month found that 52 per cent viewed President Barack Obama’s diplomatic policy as “bad”, and 37 per cent thought he had a negative attitude towards their country – more than double the figure two years ago.

US Secretary of State John Kerry alluded to the White House’s difficulties this month when he addressed the Saban Forum, an annual gathering of US policy elites to discuss the Middle East. He promised that Washington would not interfere in Israel’s elections.

According to the Israeli media, he was responding to pressure from Tzipi Livni, sacked this month from Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, triggering the forthcoming election, and opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog, of the centre-left Labor party.

The pair recently made a pact in an effort to oust Netanyahu. Their electoral success – improbable at the moment – offers the White House its best hope of an Israeli government that will at least pay lip service to a renewal of peace negotiations, which collapsed last April. They have warned, however, that any sign of backing from the Obama administration would be the kiss of death at the polls.

US officials would like to see Netanyahu gone, not least because he has been the biggest obstacle to reviving a peace process that for two decades successfully allayed international pressure to create a Palestinian state. But any visible strategy against Netanyahu is almost certain to backfire.

Washington’s difficulties are only underscored by the Palestinians’ threat to bring a draft resolution before the UN Security Council as soon as this week, demanding Israel’s withdrawal by late 2016 to the 1967 lines.

Given the current climate, the Palestinians are hopeful of winning the backing of European states, especially the three key ones in the Security Council – Britain, France and Germany – and thereby isolating the US. Arab foreign ministers met Kerry on Tuesday in an effort to persuade Washington not to exercise its veto.

The US, meanwhile, is desperately trying to postpone a vote, fearful that casting its veto might further discredit it in the eyes of the world while also suggesting to Israeli voters that Netanyahu has the White House in his pocket.

But indulging the Israeli right also has risks, bolstering it by default. That danger was driven home during another session of the Saban Forum, addressed by settler leader Naftali Bennett. He is currently riding high in the polls and will likely be the backbone of the next coalition government.

Bennett says clearly what Netanyahu only implies: that most of the West Bank should be annexed, with the Palestinians given demilitarised islands of territory that lack sovereignty. The model, called “autonomy”, is of the Palestinians ruling over a series of local councils.

The Washington audience was further shocked by Bennett’s disrespectful treatment of his interviewer, Martin Indyk, who served as Obama’s representative at the last round of peace talks. He accused Indyk of not living in the real world, dismissively calling him part of the “peace industry”.

Bennett’s goal, according to analysts, was to prove to Israeli voters that he is not afraid to stand up to the Americans.

Given its weakening hand – faced with an ever-more rightwing Israeli public and a more assertive European one – Washington is looking towards an unlikely saviour. The hawkish foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman used to be its bete noire, but he has been carefully recalibrating his image.

Unlike other candidates, he has been aggressively promoting a “peace plan”. The US has barely bothered examining its contents, which are only a little more generous than Bennett’s annexation option, and involve forcibly stripping hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Israel of their citizenship.

Lieberman, however, has usefully created the impression that he is a willing partner to a peace process. At the weekend he even suggested he might join a centre coalition with Livni and Herzog.

Lieberman is cleverly trying to occupy a middle ground with Israeli voters, demonstrating that he can placate the Americans, while offering a plan so unfair to the Palestinians that there is no danger voters will consider him part of the “peace industry”.

That may fit the electoral mood: a recent poll showed 63 per cent of Israelis favour peace negotiations, but 70 per cent think they are doomed to fail. The Israeli public, like Lieberman, understands that the Palestinians will never agree to the kind of subjugation they are being offered.

The Israeli election’s one certain outcome is that, whoever wins, the next coalition will, actively or passively, allow more of the same: a slow, creeping annexation of what is left of a possible Palestinian state, as the US and Europe bicker.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA0 Comments

The CIA’s Disgrace: Inside the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture

NOVANEWS
by MELVIN A. GOODMAN

The disgraceful and unconscionable role of the CIA in President George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror included the sadistic torture and abuse that predated and exceeded the so-called Torture Memoranda of the Department of Justice; the pathetic mismanagement by CIA directors and deputy directors that actually abetted the sadism; and the pathological lying that has accompanied the CIA’s campaign to marginalize the Senate report and the Senate intelligence committee’s chairwoman, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).  An editorial in yesterday’s Washington Post actually credited President Barack Obama with “fully” reining in the CIA with executive orders in 2009, but the ugly reality is that the president has not been willing to seek any accountability at the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Senate report and virtually all of its critics have referred to the “brutality” of CIA torture and abuse.  Sadly, the word brutality is simply a euphemism in this sad chapter in U.S. history; the actions of CIA officials and contractors were sadistic.  The only explanation for the destruction of the 92 torture tapes by Jose Rodriguez, the director of interrogations, who defied orders from the White House, was to prevent any knowledge of the sadism that incorporated every aspect of physical and mental cruelty.  Rodriguez claimed that he had to destroy the tapes to protect the identity of the torturers.  Well, even the torturers in Zero Dark Thirty were hooded; there has never been a time in modern history when torturers weren’t hooded.  Rodriguez obstructed justice, but he is free to write exculpatory books and editorials for theWashington Post.  (The only CIA officer who went public with information on torture and abuse is predictably in jail.)

Senior CIA officials at the highest level not only allowed the sadistic techniques to be applied, but they overruled clandestine operatives in the field at secret prisons in East Europe and Southeast Asia who wanted to call a halt to some of the encounters.  The torture report is replete with examples of CIA headquarters overruling CIA operatives who found certain prisoners both “compliant and cooperative.”  The fact that 85% of the interrogation group consisted of contractors points to the fact that many career operatives presumably refused to take part in the sadistic techniques.

The most egregious example was the case of al-Nashiri, who was waterboarded at least three times.  The interrogators found al-Nashiri compliant, but a senior official in the Counter-Terrorism Center ordered the reinstatement of the torture and abuse and even ordered the field operatives not to make “sweeping statements” in cable traffic regarding compliance.  It is obvious that CIA headquarters was witting of the need to cover-up as much as possible regarding the enhanced interrogation techniques.  Thus, as strong as the executive summary is, the full report that runs to 6,000 pages also may only be the tip of the iceberg.

Senior CIA officials did not address the fact that many interrogators were untrained and that an inexperienced officer was given command of one of the most notorious secret prisons where all detainees were tortured.  The report’s conclusion that the CIA detained 119 individuals is probably a conservative number, but even so nearly one-fourth of these detainees were wrongfully held and did not meet the detention standards in the 2001 Memorandum of Notification.  One of the detainees was described as “intellectually challenged” with his detention designed to get a member of his family to provide information.  Other detainees were former CIA sources or foreign liaison sources.  In one notable case, two individuals were tortured based on information fabricated by a CIA detainee subjected to torture.  Again, no senior official concerned himself with these issues.

Former CIA director George Tenet and General Counsel Scott Muller lied at the White House to Vice President Dick Cheney and Attorney General John Ashcroft about the extent of the torture and abuse, and even warned members of the National Security Council that “termination of this program will result in loss of life, possibly extensive.”  The CIA also provided inaccurate and incomplete information to the White House, and nearly 40 detainees were subject to enhanced interrogation techniques before President  Bush received an official briefing.  The CIA simply stonewalled the chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate

intelligence committee when they requested additional information on the program.  Former director Michael Hayden misrepresented the program on numerous occasions.  (Actually, there is a long history of the CIA bamboozling the Congress, which I will address in my next article.)

Thus, it should come as no surprise that former directors (Tenet, Hayden, and Porter Goss) and deputy directors (John McLaughlin and Steve Kappes) are still lying.  In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, they credited the CIA with reporting any allegations of abuse to the Inspector General and the Justice Department.  They contend that “nothing was held back” in briefings to the Congress.  They deny that the CIA went beyond interrogation techniques authorized by the Justice Department.  In yesterday’s Washington Post, McLaughlin, who gave President Bush the specious “slam dunk” briefing that made the case for invading Iraq, stated that the record shows the CIA went to “extraordinary lengths to assure” the program was “both legal and approved.”  The record demonstrates the opposite. The lying never stops.

President Obama has stated eloquently that the torture and abuse of the Global War on Terror was not representative of “our values,” but he has done virtually nothing to make sure that our values are not compromised once again.  He failed to “rein in” the CIA in 2009, which the Washington Post falsely credited him with doing, and he indicated upon taking office that he would not seek accountability, that he would “look forward and not backward.”  President Obama has made particularly poor choices in selecting CIA directors and the fact that the current one, John Brennan, has lied to the chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee and has tried to block congressional oversight has not attracted the president’s attention.

Indeed, when President Obama and former CIA director Leon Panetta left the CIA without an Inspector General in 2009-2010, he certainly signaled that there would be no oversight, no reform, no accountability.  As for the Senate’s report, there should be no surprises.

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