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Marginally better than silence

Posts tagged Greenwald

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It is, to put it as generously as possibly, completely reckless for AP to present this primitive, error-strewn, thoroughly common graph as secret, powerful evidence of Iran’s work toward building a nuclear weapon. Yet from its inflammatory red headline (“AP EXCLUSIVE: GRAPH SUGGESTS IRAN WORKING ON BOMB”) to the end of the article, this is exactly what AP did. And it did so by mindlessly repeating the script handed to it by a country which AP acknowledged is seeking to warn the world about the dangers of Iran. This is worse than stenography journalism. It is AP allowing itself, eagerly and gratefully, to be used to put its stamp of credibility on a ridiculous though destructive hoax.
Glenn Greenwald on AP’s Nuclear Iran Fabrication

(Source: Guardian)

Filed under Iran Greenwald Lies media

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No responsible person should have formed a judgment one way or the other as to whether Assange is guilty of anything in Sweden. He has not even been charged, let alone tried or convicted, of sexual assault, and he is entitled to a presumption of innocence. The accusations made against him are serious ones, and deserve to be taken seriously and accorded a fair and legal resolution.

But the WikiLeaks founder, like everyone else, is fully entitled to invoke all of his legal rights, and it’s profoundly reckless and irresponsible to suggest, as some have, that he has done anything wrong by doing so. Seeking asylum on the grounds of claimed human rights violations is a longstanding and well-recognized right in international law. It is unseemly, at best, to insist that he forego his rights in order to herd him as quickly as possible to Sweden.
Assange’s Right to Asylum by Glenn Greenwald

Filed under Greenwald Assange Due Process

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So here we have this incredibly consequential policy adopted in total secrecy by the Obama administration, one that empowers the President to secretly target people, including American citizens, for instant, due-process-free death. They have placed the policy beyond the rule of law — by insisting that it’s too secret for courts to examine — and shielded it completely from democratic debate. The only time we are permitted even to hear about it is when the President, his aides and loyalists politically exploit the corpses they create by strutting around with chest-beating, tough-guy boasting about how Strong it shows Obama to be (because, really, what is more courageous, more embodying of the noble American warrior spirit, than killing people by remote-controlled video game while the killers are ensconced in secure bunkers in the U.S.?).
Greenwald on America’s Drone Sickness

Filed under drone drones greenwald rule of law

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News media distributes propaganda to prepare for war with Iran

Diane Sawyer of ABC News created and aired a ‘report’ filled with fabrications, uncritically repeated government accusations, and outright lies.

Sawyer begins by warning of “a kind of shadow war being waged by Iran around the world” — based on her blind acceptance of totally unproven Israeli accusations that Iran was behind three bombings yesterday in India, Georgia and Thailand, and without any mention of the constant attacks on Iran over the course of several years by the U.S. and Israel. After seeing video of ABC‘s Martha Raddatz riding on U.S. naval warships into the Strait of Hormuz, we are told by Sawyer — echoing the warnings just yesterday from Alan DershowitzEthan Bronner, and some NYPD official — that “Israeli and Jewish facilities, including those here in the U.S., are on heightened alert,” and then Brian Ross is brought in to warn that “the violence could spill over into the U.S.” as “Jewish places of worship in at least ten U.S. cities have been told that they could be targets.” This, you see, “follows what appears to be the increasingly violent series of attacks by Iran.”

The State Department spokesperson is then brought in “to tie the incidents to Iran”; we hear her warn that “we are concerned about use of international terrorism by Iran or anyone else against Israel or any innocents.” Richard Clarke is then hauled out to say that Iran is sending a signal to Israel that it can retaliate using “its terrorist network.” Needless to say, no contrary information or critical sources are included: no Iranians are heard from and there’s nobody to question any of these accusations. It’s just one-sided, unchallenged government claims masquerading as a news report.

Note that this entire story is based on pure fabrication — not just by accepting as Truth the Israeli and American accusation that Iran is behind these attacks, but far worse, continuously warning about Iranian attacks on synagogues and other targets inside the U.S. There is literally zero evidence that any of that is happening. The text on the website of ABC News displaying the Sawyer/Ross story expressly says: “Federal officials told ABC News that there is so far no specific intelligence of any threat to Israeli interests in the U.S.” (that didn’t make it into the TV broadcast). Yet here we have multiple media outlets — including ABC – issuing incredibly inflammatory “warnings” that Iran may launch Terrorist attacks on Jewish houses of worships and other targets on U.S. soil, all based on pure speculation and fabrication. To call that reckless is to understate the case: given Sawyer’s continuous 2002-like fear-mongering, it seems much more concerted than mere recklessness.

Did we learn nothing from Iraq? Now, we have to sit and let the conservative media tell lie after lie again in order to start another war. Absolutely despicable. 

Filed under greenwald war media

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Man arrested for YouTube video critical of US foreign policy

Over the past several years, the Justice Department has increasingly attempted to criminalize what is clearly protected political speech by prosecuting numerous individuals (Muslims, needless to say) for disseminating political views the government dislikes or considers threatening.  The latest episode emerged on Friday, when the FBI announced the arrest and indictment of Jubair Ahmad, a 24-year-old Pakistani legal resident living in Virginia, charged with “providing material support” to a designated Terrorist organization (Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT)).

What is the “material support” he allegedly gave?  He produced and uploaded a 5-minute video to YouTube featuring photographs of U.S. abuses in Abu Ghraib, video of armored trucks exploding after being hit by IEDs, prayer messages about “jihad” from LeT’s leader, and — according to the FBI’s Affidavit — “a number of terrorist logos.”  That, in turn, led the FBI agent who signed the affidavit to assert that ”based on [his] training and experience, it is evident that the video … is designed as propaganda to develop support for LeT and to recruit jihadists to LeT.”  The FBI also claims Ahmad spoke with the son of an LeT leader about the contents of the video and had attended an LeT camp when he was a teenager in Pakistan.  For the act of uploading that single YouTube video (and for denying that he did so when asked by the FBI agents who came to his home to interrogate him), he faces 23 years in prison.

Let’s be very clear about the key point: the Constitution — specifically the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment — prohibits the U.S. Government from punishing someone for the political views they express, even if those views include the advocacy of violence against the U.S. and its leaders.  One can dislike this legal fact.  One can wish it were different.  But it is the clear and unambiguous law, and has been since the Supreme Court’s unanimous 1969 decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio, which overturned the criminal conviction of a Ku Klux Klan leader who had publicly threatened violence against political officials in a speech.

The video doesn’t even appear to advocate violence. God, how terrifying- to think I could be imprisoned for voicing the ‘wrong’ opinion. I really do feel like this is a clear line toward fascism that we didn’t just cross, we leaped over.

Filed under US government free expression freedom of speech greenwald

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The Militarization of Police

The reason the U.S. has para-militarized its police forces is precisely to control this type of domestic unrest, and it’s simply impossible to imagine its not being deployed in full against a growing protest movement aimed at grossly and corruptly unequal resource distribution. As Madeleine Albrightsaid when arguing for U.S. military intervention in the Balkans: “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” That’s obviously how governors, big-city Mayors and Police Chiefs feel about the stockpiles of assault rifles, SWAT gear, hi-tech helicopters, and the coming-soon drone technology lavished on them in the wake of the post/9-11 Security State explosion, to say nothing of the enormous federal law enforcement apparatus that, more than anything else, resembles a standing army which is increasingly directed inward.

Most of this militarization has been justified by invoking Scary Foreign Threats — primarily the Terrorist — but its prime purpose is domestic. As civil libertarians endlessly point out, the primary reason to oppose new expansions of government power is because it always — always — vastly expands beyond its original realm. I remember quite vividly the war-zone-like police force deployed against protesters at the 2008 GOP Convention in Minneapolis, as well as the invocation of Terrorism statutes to arrest and punish them, with the active involvement of federal law enforcement. Along those lines, Alternet‘s Lynn Parramore asks all the key questions about the obviously coordinated law enforcement assault on peaceful protesters over the last week.

There is a reason that the Founders did not want a standing military. There is a reason that the Posse Comitatus act was passed after Reconstruction. Law enforcement should never be a war by the government against it’s people, but that’s exactly what it’s been turned into.

Filed under Greenwald military

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As a litigator who practiced for more than a decade in federal and state courts across the country, I’ve long been aware of the inequities that pervade the American justice system. The rich enjoy superior legal representation and therefore much better prospects for success in court than the poor. The powerful are treated with far more deference by judges than the powerless. The same cultural, socioeconomic, and demographic biases that plague society generally also infect the legal process. Few people who have had any interaction with the justice system would dispute this. Still, only when I began regularly writing about politics did I realize that the problem extends well beyond such inequities. The issue isn’t just that those with political influence and financial power have some advantages in our judicial system. It is much worse than that. Those with political and financial clout are routinely allowed to break the law with no legal repercussions whatsoever. Often they need not even exploit their access to superior lawyers because they don’t see the inside of a courtroom in the first place—not even when they get caught in the most egregious criminality. The criminal justice system is now almost exclusively reserved for ordinary Americans, who are routinely subjected to harsh punishments even for the pettiest of offenses.
Glenn Greenwald (via azspot)

(via bluntlyblue)

Filed under rule of law greenwald courts

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The Shameless Rebranding of The Arab Spring

The CIA’s spokesman at The Washington Post, columnist David Ignatius, recently announced that the glorifying term “Arab Spring” is no longer being used by senior intelligence officials to describe democratic revolutions in the Middle East.  It has been replaced by the more “neutral” term “Arab transition,” which, as Ignatius put it, “conveys the essential truth that nobody can predict just where this upheaval is heading.”  Note that what was until very recently celebrated in American media circles as a joyous, inspirational awakening of ”democratic birth and freedom” has now been downgraded to an “upheaval” whose outcome may be odious and threatening.

That’s not surprising.  As I’ve written about several times, public opinion in those nations is so strongly opposed to the policies the U.S. has long demanded — and is quite hostile (more so than ever) to the U.S. itself and especially Israel — that allowing any form of democracy would necessarily be adverse to American and Israeli interests in that region (at least as those two nations have long perceived of their “interests”).  That’s precisely why the U.S. worked so hard and expended so many resources for decades to ensure that brutal dictators ruled those nations and suppressed public opinion to the point of complete irrelevance (behavior which, predictably and understandably, exacerbated anti-American sentiments among the populace)…

[T]hat phrase — “authoritarian but dependably loyal” — captures the essence of (ongoing) American behavior in that region for decades: propping up the most heinous, tyrannical rulers who disregard and crush the views of their own people while remaining supremely “loyal” to foreign powers: the U.S. and Israel.  Consider this equally revealing passage from The Guardian:

Israel fears that the post-Mubarak regime will be more sympathetic to Hamas and could even revoke the 1979 peace treaty with Israel. “They feel the need to respond to the [Arab] street,” said an Israeli government official. “Instead of calming things down, they are being dragged.” The Egyptian statement was “a very dismal development”, he said.

"Arab street": the derogatory term long used to degrade public opinion in those nations as some wild animal that needs to be suppressed and silenced rather than heeded.  That’s why this Israeli official talks about "the need to respond" to Egyptian public opinion — also known as "democracy" — as though it’s some sort of bizarre, dangerous state of affairs: because nothing has been as important to the U.S. and Israel than ensuring the suppression of democracy in that region, ensuring that millions upon millions of people are consigned to brutal tyranny so that their interests are trampled upon in favor of "loyalty" to the interests of those two foreign nations. 

This is why American media coverage of the Arab Spring produced one of the most severe cases of cognitive dissonance one can recall.  The packaged morality narrative was that despots like Mubarak — and those in Tunisia, Bahrain and elsewhere — are unambiguous, cruel villains whom we’re all supposed to hate, while the democracy protesters are noble and to be cheered.  But whitewashed from that storyline was that it was the Freedom-loving United States that played such a vital role in empowering those despots and crushing the very democracy we are now supposed to cheer.  Throughout all the media hate sessions spewed toward the former Egyptian dictator — including as he’s tried for crimes against his own people — how often was it mentioned that Hillary Clinton, as recently as two years ago, was saying things such as: ”I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family" (or that John McCain, around the same time, was tweeting: “Late evening with Col. Qadhafi at his ‘ranch’ in Libya - interesting meeting with an interesting man.”)?  Almost never: because the central U.S. role played in that mass oppression was simply ignored once the oppression could no longer be sustained.

Our media approvingly allowed the notion of revolution to be expressed as a good thing, but as the revolutionaries move closer to enacting real change, we’re seeing the public discourse shift to allow continued subjugation and oppression by the United States and it’s allies against those same revolutionaries. We long propped up dictators and monarchs in the Arab world in order to shape their domestic policies- with our puppets out of the way and anti-American sentiment running high, we now see our political leaders searching for an excuse to deny democratic rights to the people who rose and fought for them.

Filed under greenwald Arab spring US foreign policy

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The US creates enemies with its foreign policy

Consider Anwar al-Awlaki: Glenn Greenwald has an excellent post describing what the establishment thought of Awlaki ten years ago:

In November, 2001, the very same Washington Post hosted one of those benign, non-controversial online chats about religion that it likes to organize; this one was intended to discuss “the meaning of Ramadan”. It was hosted by none other than … “Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki.”

More extraordinary than the fact that the Post hosted The New Osama bin Laden in such a banal role a mere ten years ago was what Imam Awlaki said during the Q-and-A exchange with readers.  He repudiated the 9/11 attackers.  He denounced the Taliban for putting women in burqas, explaining that the practice has no precedent in Islam and that “education is mandatory on every Muslim male and female.”  He chatted about the “inter-faith services held in our mosque and around the greater DC area and in all over the country” and proclaimed: “We definitely need more mutual understanding.” While explaining his opposition to the war in Afghanistan, he proudly invoked what he thought (mistakenly, as it turns out) was his right of free speech as an American:  “Even though this is a dissenting view nowadays[,] as an American I do have the right to have a contrary opinion.”  And he announced that “the greatest sin in Islam after associating other gods besides Allah is killing an innocent soul.”

So what happened? When exactly did Awlaki become “The Next bin Laden”? Al-Jazeera has an interview with him where he explains exactly what happened:

I have been seeing my brothers being killed in Palestine for more than 60 years, and others being killed in Iraq and in Afghanistan. And in my tribe too, US missiles have killed 17 women and 23 children, so do not ask me if al-Qaeda has killed or blown up a US civil jet after all this. The 300 Americans are nothing comparing to the thousands of Muslims who have been killed.

The “collateral damage” that we ignore creates the very entities that we’re fighting. Every time we drop a bomb on a child, that child’s mother, father, brothers, sisters, friends and extended family come to hate us just a little more. There is only so far you can push a person before they (justly or not) snap and resort to violence.

There was a point where I naively thought that this was by mistake, that Government officials couldn’t possibly understand the consequences of their policy. With the information that Al-Qaeda is on the verge of collapse, however, and the knowledge that the military spending is at least 5% of our GDP, the military industrial complex is a powerful political entity, and that George Bush, our former president is quoted as saying ”The best way to revitalize the economy is war, and the U.S. has grown stronger with war,” I am led to the conclusion that what we call “collateral damage” is just a tool to create more imaginary villains for us to spend money fighting.

Filed under Greenwald Awlaki military industrial complex terrorism