Wednesday, April 27, 2011

America's Military-Spying Complex Knotted at the Top

The United States' warrior-spook culture got a giant boost from Obama administration announcements.  CIA Chief Leon Panetta will take over as Pentagon Chief, while General David Petraeus will head up the CIA.

This is an interesting move, given the CIA's historical role in starting wars.  Also interesting, White House officials leaked the changes, but officially refused to confirm them prior to President Obama's Thursday announcement.  It's a sign of intelligence.

Also, Obama will appoint Bush's Middle East tamperer Ryan Crocker as Ambassador of Afghanistan, once again proving Obama is Bush's man.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Homeland Security: Threat of Fireworks Discharge "Imminent"

The odds of dying from a fireworks discharge are 1 in 386,766.  That's twice the odds of dying of a terror attack in a foreign country, 1 in 650,000. That risk of terror attack is even lower in the U.S. 

Homeland Securities five level, colored terror threat system will be replaced by two threat levels, “elevated” and “imminent.”  If America's terror system is the model, citizens are in imminent danger of being struck by lightning, odds 1 in 84,079. 

For this citizens and their children are molested by airport security?  There's a common link to this madness, Frances Townsend and Michael Chertoff.  They personally profit from the inane system.

Update 5-3-11:  The shooting death of Osama bin Laden did not change America's terror status. However, the official account did.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Clinton's Cluster Stand

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came out against cluster bomb use.  Reuters reported:

Speaking at a Washington news conference with visiting Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal, Clinton said: "Colonel Gaddafi's troops continue their vicious attacks including the siege of Misrata.

"There are even reports that Gaddafi forces may have used cluster bombs against their own people."

It's about time. Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama remained silent on Israel's use of cluster bombs in Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008-09.  Can we get her to stick to her stance, by pushing U.S. participation in the worldwide ban on cluster bombs?

Key (cluster bomb) producing and stockpiling countries, including the United States, China, Israel, North Korea and Russia have not signed up for the international ban..

The U.S. tends to waffle, depending on who drops cluster munitions, in the case of ally Israel, and who builds them.  Manufacturers in 2007:

Companies making cluster bombs in America include AeroJet, Alliant Tech Systems, General Dynamics, L-3 Communications, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and Textron Defense Systems.
A protester once carried the sign:  "Hey Hillary, It Takes a Village to Resist Imperialism."  Can they show up at the Today show?

P.S. This author believes cluster munitions have no place in violent conflict, due to the high rate of unexploded ordinance.

Update 6-2-11:  Reports suggest the U.S. Navy dropped cluster bombs on Misratah. America is a huge producer of weapons.  Surely, whoever sold them knows the perpetrator and will share the answer in an open and transparent democracy.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Freedom to Have Domestic Drones

WaPo reported:

By 2013, the FAA expects to have formulated new rules that would allow police across the country to routinely fly lightweight, unarmed drones up to 400 feet above the ground - high enough for them to be largely invisible eyes in the sky.

Such technology could allow police to record the activities of the public below with high-resolution, infrared and thermal-imaging cameras.

Senator Chuck Schumer wants unmanned Air Force drones unleashed in upstate New York.  An Air Force representative said:

It is unlikely the drone ever will carry an armament load locally, but training missions will require crews to spot buildings and vehicles from afar. Department of Defense regulations prohibit the plane to be used for domestic surveillance, so any sighting of objects will be random.
Drones will be used for "disaster relief and homeland defense."  How long before the predicable mission creep or one off incident?

When a U.S. Navy UAV helicopter disregarded its directions and errantly flew toward the U.S. capital it may have confirmed the concerns of many pilots, but it immediately engaged military officials who had pressing decisions to make. The 2 August (2010) incident put a runaway MQ-8B Fire Scout over populated areas near busy airspace. The head of the U.S. Northern Command and NORAD, Admiral Sandy Winnefeld, was watching “very closely” as the aircraft “headed right for the heart of the national capital region.” Commanders considered their options. “Do you let it run out of gas and hopefully crash in a farmer’s field or do you actually take action to shoot it down?”
 As the one off already occurred, how long before creepy mission gets mission creep?  When will America conduct its first domestic summary execution?  What will the -A-ir Force payout to the victim's surviving relatives?

Update 4-21-11   U.S. armed drones are headed to Libya.  Summary execution is a key element of Western freedom.

Update 5-7-11:   The U.S. performed a summary execution of terrorist Osama bin Laden.  MIT Professor Noam Chomsky weighed in on the act.  Chomsky failed to mention the various stories offered by the White House regarding the raid.  That seems to be another act, fictional drama for the masses.

Update  9-6-11:  NPR did a story on drone attacks in Pakistan.  "Started under the Bush administration, the strikes into Pakistan have increased fivefold under President Obama. Last year, there were 118."  Since 2004 there have been 270.  Obama loves summary execution

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Middle East Freedom to Protest

While the West wages war with Libya, let's check in on the state of freedom to protest in Middle East:

Egypt's ruling generals said on Saturday they were ready to use force to end protests in Tahrir Square after troops cracked down on demonstrators overnight and sparked violence that medical sources said killed two people. (Reuters)

Yemeni security forces fired on demonstrators in three cities yesterday, leaving many wounded (Bloomberg)

Massive protests calling for the ouster of Syria’s authoritarian president turned deadly again Friday, with witnesses and human rights workers reporting the deaths of as many as three dozen protesters across the country and the government saying for the first time that members of its security forces had also been killed. (WaPo)

 In Jordan, a man was in critical condition after setting himself on fire Thursday in front of the prime minister’s office, in the first such act of protest there, emulating the action of a Tunisian vendor late last year that triggered a chain reaction of protests across the region. (WaPo)

Heavy security prevented fresh protests after Friday prayers in Oman's city of Sohar, where protesters camped out for over a month before security forces moved them out last week.  Demonstrations in Oman have focused on demands for better wages, jobs and an end to corruption. Many protesters have demanded the state prosecute sacked ministers for corruption.  (Arab Times)

Bahrain’s crown prince said he was committed to reform but warned there would be “no leniency” for those who tried to divide the kingdom, where weeks of protests were quashed by a fierce security crackdown. (Arab Times)
The Council on Foreign Relations weighed in:
“We’re obviously in a period of unraveling of the old, and violence is a part of that,” said Robert Danin, senior fellow for Middle East/Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). “But it’s premature to conclude that this is the new normal.” 

CFR represents U.S. corporate interests, which historically used violence to open markets or get access to natural resources, frequently working with Middle East strongmen, the very subject of protests. 

ExxonMobil CEO Alex Dodds emphasized Qatar’s most commercially beneficial characteristics in providing a stable political and economic climate to encourage the US to invest so heavily. (The Peninsula)
The old used violence and oppression to remain in power, frequently with America's blessing.  But change brings opportunity.

The US government is sponsoring efforts to help activists in Arab and other countries gain access to technology that circumvents government firewalls, secures telephone text and voice messages, and prevents attacks on websites.
 The State Department said it has already funded efforts by private firms, mainly from the United States, to develop a dozen different technologies to circumvent government censorship firewalls.

How can we get the version that keeps the U.S. government from spying on citizens? Can whistleblowers get the download?  It might save their retirement benefits.

Update 4-19-11:  Syria and Yemen security forces fired on demonstrators, yet again.  Funerals ignite another round of protests, where government forces kill more people.

Update 5-27-11:  French President Nicholas Sarkozy said at the G-8 meeting.  Democratic governments "are the only legitimate representatives of the will of the people," he said. "To forget this is to take the risk of democratic chaos and hence anarchy."

Friday, April 8, 2011

Military Rule Enforces Egypt's Democracy 1.0

Aljazeera reported:
Hundreds of army soldiers and Central Security officers stormed Cairo's Tahrir Square in the early morning hours on Saturday, firing shots into the air and beating protesters with cattle prods and batons to disperse a crowd of thousands, witnesses said.

Tens of thousands of people had flooded into the square in one of the largest demonstrations since former President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on February 11. They spent the day calling for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which nows runs the country, to honour their demands, including prosecuting a number of former high-ranking regime officials and Mubarak himself.
Few leaders are held accountable for their nefarious deeds.  Protesters were lucky to get the first round of protests without major blowback from strongman Mubarek.  Hosni's henchmen are now in charge.  Egypt is stuck at Democracy 1.0.