Posts tagged glenn greenwald
Posts tagged glenn greenwald
[T]he Center for American Progress Action Fund’s Think Progress blog — which has several good and independent commentators who do excellent work — announced that it had compiled a list of “what you won’t hear at tonight’s GOP foreign policy debate: Obama’s successes.” It is very worth reviewing what this self-proclaimed progressive site now — under a Democratic President – considers to be a “foreign policy success,” beginning with this:
As I pointed out just yesterday, many Democrats not only passively acquiesce to Obama’s continuation of core Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies, but enthusiastically cheer it as proof that they, too, can be Tough and Strong (manly virtues demonstrated by how many human beings their leader kills from afar). So here you have Think Progress heaping praise on Obama for seizing what is literally the most radical power a President can seize: the power to target — in total secrecy and with no checks or due process — their fellow citizens for execution: specifically, assassination-by-CIA. Worse, to justify what Obama has done, TP spouts a blatant falsehood (that Awlaki was “a senior Al Qaeda leader”), even though actual Yemen experts have mocked that claim mercilessly and the administration itself refuses to reveal any evidence whatsoever about what it did or why. Revealingly, TP trumpets the claim that “Al Awlaki’s death brought a damaging blow to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)”; its link to justify that claim goes to the blog operated by the right-wing Heritage Foundation: that, quite understandably, is who TP must now cite as authoritative to justify Obama’s foreign policy conduct.
But what’s most notable here is how inaccurate TP’s prediction was: it turned out to be completely wrong that the Awlaki assassination was something “you won’t hear at tonight’s GOP foreign policy debate.” In fact, we heard a lot about it — from the GOP candidates who heaped as much praise on Obama as TP did for murdering this American citizen. Indeed, among the most vocal cheers of the night from the GOP South Carolina crowd — second only to its vocal swooning for the virtues of waterboarding — was when their right-wing candidates hailed Obama’s decision to kill Awlaki.
Read this. Glenn nailed it.
Start at 53:08
While listening to NPR’s embarrassingly sparse coverage about Anwar Al Awlaki (you know, between the book and movie reviews), I was reminded about this moment in Ms. Dina Temple-Raston’s history. It’s a stark reminder that journalism has turned from a profession where the truth is skeptically sought from multiple sources into a dictation service for the government. We’ve gone from Woodward and Bernstein to smug reporters condescendingly repeating statements from anonymous Pentagon officials while pretending that a national security reporter “doesn’t do national security for a living”. It’s not particularly uncommon for Ms. Temple-Raston to uncritically parrot accusations against Awlaki by anonymous government officials, but what really blows me away is how the possibility that they might be wrong or (god forbid) lying never even seems to cross her mind.
It was first reported in January of last year that the Obama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens whom the President had ordered assassinated without any due process, and one of those Americans was Anwar al-Awlaki. No effort was made to indict him for any crimes (despite a report last October that the Obama administration was “considering” indicting him). Despite substantial doubt among Yemen experts about whether he even has any operational role in Al Qaeda, no evidence (as opposed to unverified government accusations) was presented of his guilt. When Awlaki’s father sought a court order barring Obama from killing his son, the DOJ argued, among other things, that such decisions were “state secrets” and thus beyond the scrutiny of the courts. He was simply ordered killed by the President: his judge, jury and executioner. When Awlaki’s inclusion on President Obama’s hit list was confirmed, The New York Times noted that “it is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing.”
After several unsuccessful efforts to assassinate its own citizen, the U.S. succeeded today (and it wasthe U.S.). It almost certainly was able to find and kill Awlaki with the help of its long-time close friend President Saleh, who took a little time off from murdering his own citizens to help the U.S. murder its. The U.S. thus transformed someone who was, at best, a marginal figure into a martyr, and again showed its true face to the world. The government and media search for The Next bin Laden has undoubtedly already commenced.
What’s most striking about this is not that the U.S. Government has seized and exercised exactly the power the Fifth Amendment was designed to bar (“No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law”), and did so in a way that almost certainly violates core First Amendment protections (questions that will now never be decided in a court of law). What’s most amazing is that its citizens will not merely refrain from objecting, but will stand and cheer the U.S. Government’s new power to assassinate their fellow citizens, far from any battlefield, literally without a shred of due process from the U.S. Government. Many will celebrate the strong, decisive, Tough President’s ability to eradicate the life of Anwar al-Awlaki — including many who just so righteously condemned those Republican audience members as so terribly barbaric and crass for cheering Governor Perry’s execution of scores of serial murderers and rapists — criminals who were at least given a trial and appeals and the other trappings of due process before being killed.
We killed a man because we didn’t like the words he said, and no one seems to care.
We killed a man because we didn’t like the words he said, and no one seems to care.
When the war in Libya began, the U.S. government convinced a large number of war supporters that we were there to achieve the very limited goal of creating a no-fly zone in Benghazi to protect civilians from air attacks, while President Obama specifically vowed that “broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.” This no-fly zone was created in the first week, yet now, almost three months later, the war drags on without any end in sight, and NATO is no longer even hiding what has long been obvious: that its real goal is exactly the one Obama vowed would not be pursued — regime change through the use of military force. We’re in Libya to forcibly remove Gaddafi from power and replace him with a regime that we like better, i.e., one that is more accommodating to the interests of the West. That’s not even a debatable proposition at this point.
What I suppose is debatable, in the most generous sense of that term, is our motive in doing this. Why — at a time when American political leaders feel compelled to advocate politically radioactive budget cuts to reduce the deficit and when polls show Americans solidly and increasingly opposed to the war — would the U.S. Government continue to spend huge sums of money to fight this war? Why is President Obama willing to endure self-evidently valid accusations — even from his own Party — that he’s fighting an illegal war by brazenly flouting the requirements for Congressional approval? Why would Defense Secretary Gates risk fissures by so angrily and publicly chiding NATO allies for failing to build more Freedom Bombs to devote to the war? And why would we, to use the President’s phrase, “stand idly by” while numerous other regimes — including our close allies in Bahrain and Yemen and the one in Syria — engage in attacks on their own people at least as heinous as those threatened by Gaddafi, yet be so devoted to targeting the Libyan leader?
Whatever the answers to those mysteries, no responsible or Serious person, by definition, would suggest that any of this — from today’s Washington Post — has anything to do with it:
The relationship between Gaddafi and the U.S. oil industry as a whole was odd. In 2004, President George W. Bush unexpectedly lifted economic sanctions on Libya in return for its renunciation of nuclear weapons and terrorism. There was a burst of optimism among American oil executives eager to return to the Libyan oil fields they had been forced to abandon two decades earlier… .
Yet even before armed conflict drove the U.S. companies out of Libya this year, their relations with Gaddafi had soured. The Libyan leader demanded tough contract terms. He sought big bonus payments up front. Moreover, upset that he was not getting more U.S. government respect and recognition for his earlier concessions, he pressured the oil companies to influence U.S. policies… .
When Gaddafi made his deal with Bush in 2004, he had hoped that returning foreign oil companies would help boost Libya’s output … The U.S. government also encouraged American oil companies to go back to Libya… .
The companies needed little encouragement. Libya has some of the biggest and most proven oil reserves — 43.6 billion barrels — outside Saudi Arabia, and some of the best drilling prospects… . Throughout this time, oil prices kept rising, whetting the appetite for greater supplies of Libya’s unusually “sweet” and “light,” or high-quality, crude oil.
By the time Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited in 2008, U.S. joint ventures accounted for 510,000 of Libya’s 1.7 million barrels a day of production, a State Department cable said… .
But all was not well. By November 2007, a State Department cable noted “growing evidence of Libyan resource nationalism.” It noted that in his 2006 speech marking the founding of his regime, Gaddafi said: “Oil companies are controlled by foreigners who have made millions from them. Now, Libyans must take their place to profit from this money.” His son made similar remarks in 2007.
Oil companies had been forced to give their local subsidiaries Libyan names, the cable said… .
The entire article is worth reading, as it details how Gaddafi has progressively impeded the interests of U.S. and Western oil companies by demanding a greater share of profits and other concessions, to the point where some of those corporations were deciding that it may no longer be profitable or worthwhile to drill for oil there. But now, in a pure coincidence, there is hope on the horizon for these Western oil companies, thanks to the
warprofoundly humanitarian action being waged by the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner and his nation’s closest Western allies:
But Libya’s oil production has foundered, sagging to about 1.5 million barrels a day by early this year before unrest broke out. The big oil companies, several of which had drilled dry holes, felt that Libya was not making the best exploration prospects available. One major company privately said that it was on the verge of a discovery but that unrest cut short the project.
With the country torn by fighting, the big international oil companies are treading carefully, unwilling to throw their lot behind Gaddafi or the rebel coalition.
Yet when representatives of the rebel coalition in Benghazi spoke to the U.S.-Libya Business Council in Washington four weeks ago, representatives from ConocoPhillips and other oil firms attended, according to Richard Mintz, a public relations expert at the Harbour Group, which represents the Benghazi coalition. In another meeting in Washington, Ali Tarhouni, the lead economic policymaker in Benghazi, said oil contracts would be honored, Mintz said.
"Now you can figure out who’s going to win, and the name is not Gaddafi," Saleri said. ”Certain things about the mosaic are taking shape. The Western companies are positioning themselves.”
"Five years from now," he added, "Libyan production is going to be higher than right now and investments are going to come in.”
I have two points to make about all this:
(1) The reason — the only reason — we know about any of this is because WikiLeaks (and, allegedly, Bradley Manning) disclosed to the world the diplomatic cables which detail these conflicts. Virtually the entirety of thePost article — like most significant revelations over the last 12 months, especially in the Middle East and North Africa — are based exclusively on WikiLeaks disclosures. That’s why we know about Gaddafi’s increasingly strident demands for the “Libyanization” of his country’s resource exploitation. That’s how we know about most of the things we’ve learned about the world’s most powerful political and corporate factions over the last 12 months. Is there anything easier to understand than why U.S. Government officials are so eager to punish WikiLeaks and deter future transparency projects of this sort?
(2) Is there anyone — anywhere — who actually believes that these aren’t the driving considerations in why we’re waging this war in Libya? After almost three months of fighting and bombing — when we’re so far from the original justifications and commitments that they’re barely a distant memory — is there anyone who still believes that humanitarian concerns are what brought us and other Western powers to the war in Libya? Is there anything more obvious — as the world’s oil supplies rapidly diminish — than the fact that our prime objective is to remove Gaddafi and install a regime that is a far more reliable servant to Western oil interests, and thatprotecting civilians was the justifying pretext for this war, not the purpose? If (as is quite possible) the new regime turns out to be as oppressive as Gaddafi but far more subservient to Western corporations (like, say, our good Saudi friends), does anyone think we’re going to care in the slightest or (at most) do anything other than pay occasional lip service to protesting it? Does anyone think we’re going to care about The Libyan People if they’re being oppressed or brutalized by a reliably pro-Western successor to Gaddafi?
My favorite thing about Greenwald is how he makes a point that for many is obvious, and meticulously explains the details. Of course we didn’t go into Libya for purely humanitarian purposes: our passion for an oppressed people only lasts as long as they look like they can turn a profit.
Last night, the Kuwaiti deportation officers took Gulet, along with the ticket, to the airport and were prepared to send him back to the U.S. But when he attempted to board the plane, he was told that he was barred from doing so. According to Mohad, no reason was given, but it is presumably due to the U.S.’s placement of him on the no-fly list (which State Department officials, to The New York Times, previously confirmed they had done). As a result, Gulet — thinking he was finally headed home — instead was returned to his detention facility, where he remains, and his prospects for release are now very unclear.
What’s going on here is a pure travesty. As an American citizen, Gulet has the absolute right to return to and re-enter his country. But by secretly placing him on the no-fly list while he was halfway around the world — and providing no information about why he was so placed — the U.S. Government is denying him his right to return. Worse, they know that this action is not only preventing him from returning, but is keeping the 19-year-old in a state of absolute legal limbo, where’s he imprisoned by a country that admits it has no cause for holding him and does not want to hold him, yet which cannot release him. The U.S. government has the obligation to assist its citizens when they end up detained without cause; here, they are doing the opposite: they’re deliberately ensuring it continues.
If there’s any evidence that he has has done anything wrong, he should be charged, indicted, and brought back to the U.S. for trial. What the Obama administration is doing instead is accomplishing what they could not do if he were in the U.S.: holding him without a shred of due process, interrogating him without a lawyer present, and — if his credible claims are to believed — using beatings and torture to get the information it wants (or false information: Gulet told me he was very tempted to falsely confess to make the beatings stop). This abuse of the no-fly list is a common tactic used by the U.S. Government to circumvent all legal and constitutional constraints when it comes to its own citizens; this case just happens to be extra viscerally repellent.
The law is being used to protect the powerful and exploit the weak.
Bidding to restore the reputations of MI5 and MI6 and to rebuild damaged intelligence links with the United States, the British government said on Tuesday that it had agreed to pay compensation running into millions of dollars to 15 former detainees at Guantánamo Bay and one man still held there who have accused Britain’s intelligence agencies of colluding in their torture in the American-run detention system.
America outright refuses to admit any culpability in torturing innocent people:
The settlement represents the first time any Guantanamo Bay detainee, of 779 who have passed through or are still held at the military prison in Cuba, has received a financial settlement because of his incarceration. And the payments are all the more significant because they are being made by the closest military and security partner of the United States. The George W. Bush and Obama administrations, as well as the federal courts, have rejected the idea of compensation.
A White House spokesman said the administration would have no comment on the British decision.
Glenn Greenwald contrasts this to American policy:
It was clear from that start that, standing alone, Obama’s steadfast devotion to protecting and shielding all Bush crimes from any form of accountability — and his active blocking of all victims from obtaining compensation or any form of justice in a court of law — seriously mars his record, his legacy and his character. That other nations are providing exactly the accountability that Obama has desperately sought to prevent makes that even more apparent. The British are acting with less than pure motives here — they are particularly concerned that allowing these lawsuits to proceed will expose their intelligence agencies to judicial scrutiny — but the fact that their political and legal system (and Canada’s and Sweden’s and others’) does not permit a total whitewash of these crimes while ours eagerly does speaks volumes about comparative notions of justice and the rule of law — especially since, first and foremost, they are American crimes.