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Nederlog

January 17, 2015
Crisis: FBI plots, CIA whitewashed, Guantánamo, US Oligarchy, Breaking Planet Earth
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton
















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Sections
Introduction

1. Latest FBI Claim of Disrupted Terror Plot Deserves Much
     Scrutiny and Skepticism

2. John Brennan Exonerates Himself with Sham
     Investigation

3.
Guantánamo Diary exposes brutality of US rendition and
     torture

4.
Princeton Study Uses the ‘O’ Word to Describe American
     Politics

5. That Was Easy: In Just 60 Years, Neoliberal Capitalism
     Has Nearly Broken Planet Earth

 


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, January 17, 2015.

This is a crisis log.
There are 5 items with 5 dotted links. Item 1 is about how the FBI discovers "terror plots": by making them; item 2 is about the whitewashing of the CIA and its director, by the CIA and its director; item 3 is about a book a man held prisoner for 13 years now in Guantánamo wrote (he is still imprisoned, though no judicial complaint was ever formulated for him); item 4 may be described by saying Princeton University also agrees the USA now is an oligarchy; and item 5 is about a Swedish report that shows it took about 65 years to nearly break the planet's ecosystem.

1. Latest FBI Claim of Disrupted Terror Plot Deserves Much Scrutiny and Skepticism

The first item today is an article by Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman on The Intercept:
This is an article about an American twenty-year old who is supposed to have plotted "to attack Capitol Hill and kill government officials". It may very well be an FBI-plot - see below for reasons why - but you have to read Greenwald's and Fishman's piece to find out more about this case.

Instead, I will concentrate on another case, also quoted by Greenwald and Fishman, about a man convicted to 25 years imprisonment, whose judge wrote as follows, upholding the conviction (?!). The text is by the judge; the bolding is by Greenwald and Fishman:

As it turns out, the Government did absolutely everything that the defense predicted in its previous motion to dismiss the indictment. The Government indisputably “manufactured” the crimes of which defendants stand convicted. The Government invented all of the details of the scheme - many of them, such as the trip to Connecticut and the inclusion of Stewart AFB as a target, for specific legal purposes of which the defendants could not possibly have been aware (the former gave rise to federal jurisdiction and the latter mandated a twenty-five year minimum sentence). The Government selected the targets. The Government designed and built the phony ordnance that the defendants planted (or planned to plant) at Government-selected targets. The Government provided every item used in the plot: cameras, cell phones, cars, maps and even a gun. The Government did all the driving (as none of the defendants had a car or a driver’s license). The Government funded the entire project. And the Government, through its agent, offered the defendants large sums of money, contingent on their participation in the heinous scheme.
That is the FBI-pattern of accusations that Greenwald and Fishman are concerned about, and very rightly so. Also, I'd like to remark that it seems quite odd to me that a judge can write the above, and still convict the man prosecuted to 25 years of imprisonment.

Next, as to the FBI-pattern of accusations: It really is a systemic pattern, it seems. Here is a quotation from a journalist who wrote the following in 2012, again with bolding by Greenwald and Fishman:

Nearly every major post-9/11 terrorism-related prosecution has involved a sting operation, at the center of which is a government informant. In these cases, the informants — who work for money or are seeking leniency on criminal charges of their own — have crossed the line from merely observing potential criminal behavior to encouraging and assisting people to participate in plots that are largely scripted by the FBI itself. Under the FBI’s guiding hand, the informants provide the weapons, suggest the targets and even initiate the inflammatory political rhetoric that later elevates the charges to the level of terrorism.
So there - and note the first statement. This is not so much the law in action to protect people from terrorism, as a largely secret very well-paid governmental set-up to try to convict people of political crimes - that were mostly planned, scripted, organized and funded by the government. And the government does so because it has a huge interest in maintaining a climate of fear and hysteria, for these allow it to get away with almost anything.

Here is Greenwald and Fishman's last paragraph:

Something has to be done to justify all that terrorism spending. For all those law enforcement agents with little to do, why not sit around and manufacture plots to justify those expenditures, giving a boost to their pro-surveillance ideology to boot? Media outlets have a responsibility to investigate the FBI’s claims, not mindlessly repeat them while parading their alarmed faces and scary graphics.
I agree. But it will not happen, at least not in the main media.

2. John Brennan Exonerates Himself with Sham Investigation 

The next item is an article by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

The outrageous whitewash issued Wednesday by the CIA panel John Brennan hand-picked to lead the investigation into his agency’s spying on Senate staffers is being taken seriously by the elite Washington media, which is solemnly reporting that officials have been “cleared” of any “wrongdoing“.

But what the report really does is provide yet more evidence of Brennan’s extraordinary impunity.

The panel concluded that CIA officials acted reasonably by scouring Senate computer drives in early 2014 when faced with a “potential security breach”. (That “breach” had allowed Senate staffers investigating CIA torture to access, more than three years earlier, a handful of documents Brennan didn’t want them to see.)

But the CIA also released a redacted version of the full report of an earlier investigation by the CIA’s somewhat more independent inspector general’s office. And between the two reports, it is now more clear than ever that Brennan was the prime mover behind a hugely inappropriate assault on the constitutional separation of powers, and continues to get away with it.

There is a lot more. It shows that the CIA controls and misleads the Senate, rather than that the Senate controls the CIA (as would be legal, but is no more the case, in fact at least).

3. Guantánamo Diary exposes brutality of US rendition and torture

The next item is an article by Spencer Ackerman and Ian Cobain on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The groundbreaking memoir of a current Guantánamo inmate that lays bare the harrowing details of the US rendition and torture programme from the perspective of one of its victims is to be published next week after a six-year battle for the manuscript to be declassified.

Guantánamo Diary, the first book written by a still imprisoned detainee, is being published in 20 countries and has been serialised by the Guardian amid renewed calls by civil liberty campaigners for its author’s release.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi describes a world tour of torture and humiliation that began in his native Mauritania more than 13 years ago and progressed through Jordan and Afghanistan before he was consigned to US detention in Guantánamo, Cuba, in August 2002 as prisoner number 760. US military officials told the Guardian this week that despite never being prosecuted and being cleared for release by a judge in 2010, he is unlikely to be released in the next year.

There is a lot more in the article.

4. Princeton Study Uses the ‘O’ Word to Describe American Politics

The next item is an article by Peter Z. Scheer on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

This won’t come as a total shock, but there’s some new hard data to back up what we already suspect anecdotally: Our democracy is really an oligarchy.

Looking at actual policy and polling, researchers at Princeton concluded that the wealthiest Americans tend to get what they want, or at least they did between 1981 and 2002 (the time frame on which the study focuses).

“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy,” write Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, “while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”

Another quote from the peer-reviewed study: “When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it.”

Well... firstly, I am not shocked at all, and indeed would be shocked (a little) by anyone who is both fairly intelligent and willing to deny that the present USA is an oligarchy (government by the few) or indeed a plutocracy (government by the rich, that always also is an oligarchy). Either seems apt, well fitting, and hardly open to rational objections.

Secondly, speaking for myself - and see the
crisis index - I do not really need "researchers at Princeton" to support the proposition, though it is nice they tried, and also I do certainly not think that other research can be dismissed as "anecdotally".

For example (shown before) the following does show the economical figures that make it hard not to speak of a plutocratic oligarchy - the blues are the 90% with lower incomnes and the red the 10% with a high income (and yes, this started with Reagan and Thatcher):



But OK - I agree with the conclusion.

5.  That Was Easy: In Just 60 Years, Neoliberal Capitalism Has Nearly Broken Planet Earth

The last item today is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Humanity's rapacious growth and accelerated energy needs over the last generation—particularly fed by an economic system that demands increasing levels of consumption and inputs of natural resources—are fast driving planetary systems towards their breaking point, according to a new pair of related studies.

Prepared by researchers at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, the first study looks specifically at how "four of nine planetary boundaries have now been crossed as a result of human activity." Published in the journal Nature on Thursday, the 18 researchers involved with compiling evidence for the report—titled 'Planetary Boundaries 2.0'—found that when it comes to climate change, species extinction and biodiversity loss, deforestation and other land-system changes, and altered biogeochemical cycles (such as changes to how key organic compounds like phosphorus and nitrogen are operating in the environment), the degradation that has already take place is driving the Earth System, as a whole, into a new state of imbalance.
There is considerably more in the article, and this does seem to be a serious study. But it very probably will not be heeded. This is not something I desire, but it seems a safe prediction given that I have read similar studies (though not with as much detail, is true) ever since 1972 - the year "The Limits to Growth" was published by the Club of Rome - that also were not heeded. Since then, there were many more reports, that also were not heeded. [1]

And there is this (about the Swedish report):
"When we first aggregated these datasets, we expected to see major changes but what surprised us was the timing. Almost all graphs show the same pattern. The most dramatic shifts have occurred since 1950. We can say that around 1950 was the start of the Great Acceleration," says Steffen. "After 1950 we can see that major Earth System changes became directly linked to changes largely related to the global economic system. This is a new phenomenon and indicates that humanity has a new responsibility at a global level for the planet."
I was born in 1950, and to show the main reason it started around then I print a chart that I found on Wikipedia's Population item:



In fact, the 7 billionth human being was born in 2011. In any case, if I live to be 75 (a mere 10 more years, for me) the world population during my own life got four times as much as it was when I was born, in 75 years.

And it goes on and on and on, the population growth.
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P.S. Jan 18, 2015
: I corrected a few typos.

Note


[1] I agree a few things were done, but nothing like was proposed by most of the reports known to me (which in my case goes back to 1972), and nothing effective was done to stop the growth in population, which is the main force driving the ecological disasters that are ongoing at present.

Incidentally, this is from
"Is Global Collapse Imminent?" (<- pdf) published in 2014: "This suggests, from a rational risk-based perspective, that we have squandered the past decades, and that preparing for a collapsing global system could be even more important than trying to avoid collapse." Yes, indeed (for no, with over 7 billion eager consumers I see no way of stopping the coming collapse.)

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