“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, April 29, 2016

Fewer than three-in-ten Americans have expressed trust in the federal government in every major national poll conducted since July 2007 - Why should Iran ( or anyone else) trust Washington?

U.S. Torpedoing the Nuclear Deal Will Reaffirm Iran’s Distrust

Seyed Hossein Mousavian Head of Foreign Relations Committee of Iran’s National Security Council (1997-2005)

The nuclear deal reached between Iran and the P5+1 world powers last summer, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was predicated on a basic give-and-take. In exchange for Iran agreeing to intrusive international inspections and monitoring and limits on its enrichment and heavy water capacity for a confidence-building period, the P5+1 would respect Iran’s right to nuclear enrichment and remove all nuclear-related sanctions. Today, the future of this quid pro quo is under threat — and not from the Iranian side. 

The consequences of the JCPOA falling through would not only be on the size and scope of the Iranian nuclear program. For Iran, the JCPOA was a criterion for judging whether it could trust the West to cooperate on other issues. If the United States faithfully abides by its commitments under the deal, then the view of Iranian leaders towards broader negotiations would be positively affected. 

However, if the United States acts with ill intent and makes it difficult for Iran to receive the benefits it is due under the deal, then the belief of Iranian leaders that the United States is insincere and cannot be trusted will be reaffirmed. Years of diplomacy will be undone and a zero-sum mentality will once again take hold between the two countries — with disastrous consequences for the region. 

By the JCPOA’s “implementation day” on Jan. 16, Iran had followed through on all of its commitments; reducing its enriched uranium stockpile by 98 percent, capping its number of centrifuges enriching uranium to 6,000, modifying its heavy water reactor and implementing strict surveillance measures, among other obligations the International Atomic Energy Agency has verified and Iran has abided by. 

However, now that the JCPOA has been implemented, Iran has yet to derive the expected benefits from sanctions relief. As Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said: “They [the United States] write on paper that banks can cooperate with Iran, but in practice they promote Iranophobia so that no one trades with Iran. American officials say that sanctions are still in place so that foreign investors get scared and do not come.” 
If the U.S. acts with ill intent and makes it difficult for Iran to receive the benefits it is due under the deal, then the belief that America is insincere and cannot be trusted will be reaffirmed.
Indeed, fearful of existing non-nuclear sanctions and the prospect of new sanctions, international banks and corporations with U.S.-based operations have been fearfulof trading with or investing in Iran. Major European banks have in the past paid billions in fines due to supposed Iran sanctions violations. As a consequence, Iran has not been able to receive expected foreign investment or have international banks facilitate the business agreements it has signed since the JCPOA’s implementation. 

“The most important problem is that the United States is taking a back seat after eight years of scaring everybody off, imposing heavy penalties on people who wanted to do business with Iran,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in a recent interview with The New Yorker’s Robin Wright. “The United States needs to do way more. They have to send a message that doing business with Iran will not cost them.”

U.S. sanctions have also prevented Iran from repatriating its much-hyped frozen oil revenues, which have been held at banks abroad. For Iran to retrieve this money, much of which was denominated in U.S. dollars, requires the foreign banks to conduct dollar-clearing sanctions for Iran, which they are hesitant to do for fear of running afoul of U.S. sanctions. According to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iran has so far been able to repatriate only $3 billion of its $55 billion to $100 billion in frozen funds abroad.

Adding insult to injury, the U.S. Supreme Court also recently broke all precedent by ruling that families of American victims of a 1983 Beirut bombing can sue Iran for $2 billion worth of frozen Iranian assets. Iran’s centrist and pragmatic president, Hassan Rouhani, called the decision a “continuation of hostilities against Iran” and a “flagrant theft and a legal disgrace.” Iran’s Central Bank Chief Valiollah Seif alsoplaced blame on the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad administration for making investments in dollars, which were among the frozen assets the Supreme Court ruled on. 
iran nuclear deal
Secretary Kerry heads to Vienna for “implementation day” of the nuclear deal. (KEVIN LAMARQUE/AFP/Getty Images)

In January, the United States also adopted new visa regulations requiring Europeans who visit Iran to attain a visa before entering the United States, creating another barrier to European trade with Iran. All of these measures have not just spurred frustration in Iran, but also in Europe. 

“Europe is being taken hostage by American policy,”declared Marietje Schaake, the vice president of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with the United States. “We negotiated the nuclear deal together, but now the U.S. is obstructing its execution.”

With all of this said, there is still reason to hope that these hurdles will be overcome and Iran will reap the benefits it is due from sanctions relief. Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Zarif met twice last week to discuss how to resolve the problems with Iran receiving sanctions relief. Kerry said after his meeting with Zarif: “The United States is not standing in the way and will not stand in the way of business that is permitted with Iran since the (nuclear deal) took effect.”
He added: “We’ve lifted our nuclear-related sanctions as we committed to do and there are now opportunities for foreign banks to do business with Iran. Unfortunately, there seems to be some confusion among foreign banks and we want to try to clarify that as much as we can.”
If the deal collapses, not only would there be no chance for any compromise between Iran and the U.S on any other issue, but Iran would also lose its faith in the Security Council.
The Obama administration recognizing these problems and declaring it is willing to clarify what transactions foreign financial institutions can conduct with Iran is a hopeful sign. The JCPOA was the first major agreement between Iran and the United States, and also involved the rest of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. For it to be a step towards a more constructive relationship between Iran and the West, it is imperative that all sides faithfully implement their commitments. 

Foreign Minister Zarif said in this regard recently: “As the Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] said last year, if the experience of the nuclear negotiations proves that the United States is changing its approach toward Iran — is basing its approach to Iran on mutual respect and interests — then there is a chance of change.”

If the JCPOA collapses, not only would there be no chance for any compromise between Iran and the United States on any other issue, but Iran would also lose its faith in the U.N. Security Council. Unfortunately, there are powerful forces in U.S. politics that seek to increase U.S.-Iran enmity and revert Iran and the United States back onto the path to war. These special interest groups are doing everything in their power to destroy the landmark diplomatic agreement and have strong sway over Congress, which is pushing for over a dozen new sanctions against Iran. The efforts of these groups, sadly, are done more at the behest of the Israeli and Saudi governments and done more for the purpose of obstructing President Obama’s foreign policy goals than enhancing global peace and security. 

Ambassador Seyed Hossein Mousavian is a research scholar at Princeton University and a former spokesman for Iran’s nuclear negotiators. His nuclear book, “The Iranian Nuclear Crisis: A Memoir,” was published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His latest book, “Iran and the United States: An Insider’s View on the Failed Past and the Road to Peace” was released in May 2014. Sina Toossi in an analyst focusing on the Middle East and Iran. He tweets 



Washington has been double ass fucking from the beginning


  1. So why do you remain a citizen who occupies the 1st American's lands?

    Why do you not move to Iran or Russia and claim your citizenship?

    1. :)


      I still stand with the Solutrean Hypothesis.

      My folks were the 1st Peoples.

      Then my folk got killed out by savages from the west, reddish fellows from Asia.

      One time later some of these savages ran the forest Sioux out of the forests in the south and south east, up towards Canada. They called themselves Cherokee, The Real People. They had red slaves, captured in battle. Later they had black slaves too.

      They were really just a bunch of Johnny Come Lately red assholes, is all.

      Course my kind came back and gave it back to 'em in kind. And tempered them down with booze too.

      And here we are today, with cars, air conditioners, TV's, cities and welfare for all....

    2. A case of Bud a day
      Keeps the red warriors to bay
      They sit and drink and fart and blow
      While others bring in the summer hay

    3. .

      I still stand with the Solutrean Hypothesis.

      My folks were the 1st Peoples.

      Then my folk got killed out by savages from the west, reddish fellows from Asia

      There were only a few of us that survived by drifting into the woods and hiding in the dark places...

      The sayings of Running Scared from the Book of Bigfoot.


  2. .

    Anyone who can't see we are sticking it to Iran on JCPOA implementation is batshit crazy.

    I guess turnabout is fair play though as we have been taking it in the ass from our so-called 'allies' for decades.


    1. Anyone who says that is batshit crazy.

      My wife is watching a special on TV about The Big Burn of '10.

      Wasn't man caused, odd weather pattern, big fucker jumped the Salmony, jumped the Joe, run on up to Kellogg and Wallace and the whore houses.

      Finally some rains come.

      If you have eyes for this stuff, as I do, one can still see some remainders.

      After the woods was gone and the brush grew good, the elk flourished and dad shot elk 13 years in a row.

      I was raised on elk meat, potatoes and peas.

      My Aunt was 11 when it burnt near all Idaho down.

      She remembered the smoke, out at the homestead place....


    3. .

      "I was raised on elk meat, potatoes and peas and I killed me a bar when I was only three."

      from The Song of the Running Scared [Old Swedish love sonnet]


    4. Yes, yes, I remember it well....

      but drop the 'I' and 'only' for rhythm's sake

      Killed me bars and ate the meat
      For surge of sexual heat

    5. .

      Killed me bars and ate the meat
      For surge of sexual heat

      But the Solutreaness fled before my ardor
      Damn beeitch wouldn't even stop to barter



    6. In fact they ate imported Reindeer Meat.

  3. Times have changed.

    I keep getting invitations for Mekong Delta Cruises from Scenic.

  4. April 29, 2016

    Spiritual IQ in a Secular Age

    By Betsy VanDenBerghe

    Beginning in the early 1970s, academic reviews began to acknowledge that religious belief is not antithetical to emotional wellbeing, challenging assumptions that had dominated the social sciences in previous decades. Later research moved beyond tepid acknowledgement when respected scientists, sociologists, and psychologists came to the consensus that church-goers and the devout tend to be less suicidal, more physically and mentally resilient, avoid at-risk behaviors, and have stronger protective relationships buffering them from the vicissitudes of life.

    Now, in an attempt to bridge research on spirituality with public awareness, Lisa Miller, professor and director of clinical psychology at Columbia University and director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute, travels the country telling parents they owe it to their kids to nurture their innate spiritual abilities. Religiously aware adolescents who feel connected to a higher power are 40 percent less likely to abuse substances, 60 percent less likely to battle depression, and 80 percent less likely to engage in at-risk sexual behaviors.

    Miller finds scientifically plausible the notion that human beings, particularly teenagers and young adults, are wired for transcendence and possess inborn spirituality that must be used—or lost. While growing up, she benefitted from her mother’s vocal prayers and her father’s quiet sharing of spiritual moments, like the time his deceased mother appeared to him in a dream and assured him she would always be his mother. Calling spiritual connection a buffer not only against substance abuse, but also against “cortical thinness” of the brain associated with Alzheimer’s and depression, Miller recommends that secular adults overcome their reluctance about religious practices so that their children avoid finding pseudo-transcendence through drugs, alcohol, and sex. But ambivalence runs deep, she finds, and doubtful parents, often wary of hypocrisy, tend to ignore children’s spiritual-awakening experiences and questions.

    Miller’s mission fills an interesting niche in our increasingly secular age, which is often ambivalent about, and at times outright hostile, to religion. In this context, Miller’s work represents a Religion 101 course for those wanting to opt into spiritual life. She attempts to correct a skewed bell curve of spiritual IQ, driven down by a cultural discourse which can be pervasively clueless about the experiential nature of religious belief. Self-identified religious people are seen by many as clinging to outdated religious mores destined for extinction. And in the wings, a more radical anti-theist strain of New Atheism—represented by Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett—further polarize the dialogue with their mission to save naive children from superstitious indoctrination and pave the way for "enlightened" discourse.

    1. Miller’s approach, however, mirrors that of the true sages of spiritual belief. Pascal, C.S. Lewis, William James, and others understood that while conversion experiences involve the mind—as Francis Bacon wrote, “A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion.”—they also require a great deal of the heart, soul, and body. Connecting spiritual dots, recognizing divine prompts, and undergoing transcendent experiences take precedence over sheer empiricism, something secularists have a hard time understanding with their emphasis on proof, but all of which William James called essential to the Varieties of Religious Experience, in which, writes James, “There lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different” from our rational consciousness.

      Teaching those forms of spiritual consciousness benefits not just our children, Miller observes, but a family’s posterity at large. Spirituality passed from one generation to the next is 80 percent protective again depression, Miller claims. But when parents’ spirituality combines with that of grandparents, an even greater buffer exists. Offering “spiritual treasure” to our posterity, says Miller, can become their greatest inheritance.

      These calls to divine connection recall famous religious journeys that illustrate not only the high spiritual IQs of the pilgrims involved, but also the insight, nonconformity, and experiential phenomenon that mark spiritual paths. Augustine goes from philosophy to philosophy while enmeshed in debauchery, but begins listening to sermons and, while hearing a child sing “Pick it up and read it,” feels directed to the Book of Romans telling him that “Not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust” will he find true joy. C.S. Lewis emerges from atheism not just through metaphysical discussions with Tolkien, but through being surprised by the joy that starts infusing his existence as he moves closer to belief. Nobel Prize winning novelist Sigrid Unset risks the ridicule of the Scandinavian intelligentsia in embracing Christianity, but her experiential pilgrimage brings her to this conclusion: “If you desire to know the truth about anything, you always run the risk of finding it.”

      Gerda Weissman Klein’s journey particularly exemplifies Miller’s idea that spirituality affects generations—in this care her deeply religious Jewish family whose ancestral stories of faith gave her hope in the concentration camps of World War Two. Early on, when the Nazi threat loomed, Klein contemplated suicide until her father put his hand on the back of her neck and told her, “Whatever you are thinking now is wrong…Promise me that no matter what happens you will never do it.” Later driven to despair by starvation and work camp conditions that became unbearable, Klein felt an inescapable urge to throw herself in front of an oncoming train, but a strange sensation on the back of her neck reminded her of the promise. Her father’s spiritual insight also led him, on the hot summer day Klein left for the camps, to look up from his scriptures and tell her to wear the ski boots that later saved her life on a thousand-mile winter march that saw only two hundred slave girls survive out of four thousand.

    2. Perhaps Miller is right, though, to emphasize less dramatic examples of spiritual power for a culture increasingly wary of the miraculous and skeptical of the divine. She recommends that cautious parents open up to religious practices with simple family exercises that invite a sense of transcendence as well as create an awareness of angels, in flesh or spirit, who seem sent to help and enlighten us. The ultimate goal is to help teenagers and young adults recognize divine messages and follow the prompts throughout their lives. Reading about and hearing others’ faith journeys definitely aids and abets the spiritual learning curve—whether it be Anne Lamott sensing the presence of Jesus in a moment of despair, much as one senses the presence of a cat in a dark room, or, from my own faith tradition, alcoholic rock star Arthur “Killer” Kane undergoing a transcendent experience after reading the Book of Mormon that he compared to an LSD high without drugs—a high that ultimately led to sobriety.

      “Let them at least learn what this religion is which they are attacking before attacking it,” Pascal wrote in his Pensées, explaining that God proclaims himself the hidden God in the Bible to all but “those who genuinely seek him…with all their heart.” The challenge Miller and others face in the twenty-first century is to motivate seekers to involve their hearts as well as their minds, and to recognize what they ultimately find.

      Betsy VanDenBerghe is a writer based in Salt Lake City.

    3. .

      I quickly skimmed the article. It's late and I'll need to come back to it. However, I agree with some of the things it mentions regarding the positives of religion. However, it also reminded me of something I read the other day. It argued that...

      One, that the current Clash of Civilizations as it applies to the Western world involves a war among Islam, Christianity, and Secularism.

      Two, Christianity has been the only force large enough and dedicated enough to match the passion of Islam and hold it at bay for the past a 1,000 years, and...

      Three, the rise of liberalism and secularism 300 years ago starting in Europe has diminished Christianity as a force and been unable to replace it with a philosophy that can keep up the fervor over the centuries required to fight Islam all of which bodes ill for us going forward.

      Interesting article. I'll have to find it.

      I guess I agree with it somewhat. I have definitely seen the results of secularism and the liberal philosophy taken to its extreme first in Europe and now spreading to the US. It would take too long to list the examples. We talk about them here every day.


      While being non-religious or even irreligious in the hostile sense is considered cool by the sophisticate and even mandatory by the elitist, they ignore

  5. How Bob lost his Farmall and a Freezer Full of Reindeer Meat:

    1. 30 Stories of dirt should hold back the river, right?
      It lasted until the lake filled for the First Time!


      What is "Occupation"Fri Apr 29, 11:16:00 PM EDT
      So why do you remain a citizen who occupies the 1st American's lands?

      Why do you not move to Iran or Russia and claim your citizenship?



  6. ”The sovereign is he who decides on the exception,” said conservative thinker Carl Schmitt in 1922, meaning that a nation’s leader can defy the law to serve the greater good. Though Schmitt’s service as Nazi Germany’s chief jurist and his unwavering support for Hitler from the night of the long knives to Kristallnacht and beyond damaged his reputation for decades, today his ideas have achieved unimagined influence. They have, in fact, shaped the neo-conservative view of presidential power that has become broadly bipartisan since 9/11. Indeed, Schmitt has influenced American politics directly through his intellectual protégé Leo Strauss who, as an émigré professor at the University of Chicago, trained Bush administration architects of the Iraq war Paul Wolfowitz and Abram Shulsky.


  7. {...}


    All that should be impressive enough for a discredited, long dead authoritarian thinker. But Schmitt’s dictum also became a philosophical foundation for the exercise of American global power in the quarter century that followed the end of the Cold War.

    Washington, more than any other power, created the modern international community of laws and treaties, yet it now reserves the right to defy those same laws with impunity. A sovereign ruler should, said Schmitt, discard laws in times of national emergency. So the United States, as the planet’s last superpower or, in Schmitt’s terms, its global sovereign, has in these years repeatedly ignored international law, following instead its own unwritten rules of the road for the exercise of world power.

    Just as Schmitt’s sovereign preferred to rule in a state of endless exception without a constitution for his Reich, so Washington is now well into the second decade of an endless War on Terror that seems the sum of its exceptions to international law: endless incarceration, extrajudicial killing, pervasive surveillance, drone strikes in defiance of national boundaries, torture on demand, and immunity for all of the above on the grounds of state secrecy.




    1. {...}

      This should be (but seldom is considered) a jarring, disconcerting path for a country that, more than any other, nurtured the idea of, and wrote the rules for, an international community of nations governed by the rule of law. At the First Hague Peace Conference in 1899, the U.S. delegate, Andrew Dickson White, the founder of Cornell University, pushed for the creation of a Permanent Court of Arbitration and persuaded Andrew Carnegie to build the monumental Peace Palace at The Hague as its home. At the Second Hague Conference in 1907, Secretary of State Elihu Root urged that future international conflicts be resolved by a court of professional jurists, an idea realized when the Permanent Court of International Justice was established in 1920.

      After World War II, the U.S. used its triumph to help create the United Nations, push for the adoption of its Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and ratify the Geneva Conventions for humanitarian treatment in war. If you throw in other American-backed initiatives like the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, and the World Bank, you pretty much have the entire infrastructure of what we now casually call “the international community.”

    2. {...}


      Not only did the U.S. play a crucial role in writing the new rules for that community, but it almost immediately began breaking them. After all, despite the rise of the other superpower, the Soviet Union, Washington was by then the world sovereign and so could decide which should be the exceptions to its own rules, particularly to the foundational principle for all this global governance: sovereignty.

      As it struggled to dominate the hundred new nations that started appearing right after the war, each one invested with an inviolable sovereignty, Washington needed a new means of projecting power beyond conventional diplomacy or military force. As a result, CIA covert operations became its way of intervening within a new world order where you couldn’t or at least shouldn’t intervene openly.

      All of the exceptions that really matter spring from America’s decision to join what former spy John Le Carré called that “squalid procession of vain fools, traitors... sadists, and drunkards,” and embrace espionage in a big way after World War II. Until the creation of the CIA in 1947, the United States had been an innocent abroad in the world of intelligence. When General John J. Pershing led two million American troops to Europe during World War I, the U.S. had the only army on either side of the battle lines without an intelligence service.


      Even though Washington built a substantial security apparatus during that war, it was quickly scaled back by Republican conservatives during the 1920s. For decades, the impulse to cut or constrain such secret agencies remained robustly bipartisan, as when President Harry Truman abolished the CIA’s predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), right after World War II or when President Jimmy Carter fired 800 CIA covert operatives after the Vietnam War.



      Yet by fits and starts, the covert domain inside the U.S. government has grown stealthily from the early twentieth century to this moment. It began with the formation of the FBI in 1908 and Military Intelligence in 1917. The Central Intelligence Agency followed after World War II along with most of the alphabet agencies that make up the present U.S. Intelligence Community, including the National Security Agency (NSA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and last but hardly least, in 2004, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Make no mistake: there is a clear correlation between state secrecy and the rule of law -- as one grows, the other surely shrinks.



      America’s irrevocable entry into this covert netherworld came when President Truman deployed his new CIA to contain Soviet subversion in Europe. This was a continent then thick with spies of every stripe: failed fascists, aspirant communists, and everything in between. Introduced to spycraft by its British “cousins,” the CIA soon mastered it in part by establishing sub rosa ties to networks of ex-Nazi spies, Italian fascist operatives, and dozens of continental secret services.

      As the world’s new sovereign, Washington used the CIA to enforce its chosen exceptions to the international rule of law, particularly to the core principle of sovereignty.

      During his two terms, President Dwight Eisenhower authorized 104 covert operations on four continents, focused largely on controlling the many new nations then emerging from centuries of colonialism. Eisenhower’s exceptions included blatant transgressions of national sovereignty such as turning northern Burma into an unwilling springboard for abortive invasions of China, arming regional revolts to partition Indonesia, and overthrowing elected governments in Guatemala and Iran.

      By the time Eisenhower left office in 1961, covert ops had acquired such a powerful mystique in Washington that President John F. Kennedy would authorize 163 of them in the three years that preceded his assassination.

      As a senior CIA official posted to the Near East in the early 1950s put it, the Agency then saw every Muslim leader who was not pro-American as “a target legally authorized by statute for CIA political action.” Applied on a global scale and not just to Muslims, this policy helped produce a distinct “reverse wave” in the global trend towards democracy from 1958 to 1975, as coups -- most of them U.S.-sanctioned -- allowed military men to seize power in more than three-dozen nations, representing a quarter of the world’s sovereign states.

      The White House’s “exceptions” also produced a deeply contradictory U.S. attitude toward torture from the early years of the Cold War onward. Publicly, Washington’s opposition to torture was manifest in its advocacy of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and the Geneva Conventions in 1949. Simultaneously and secretly, however, the CIA began developing ingenious new torture techniques in contravention of those same international conventions. After a decade of mind-control research, the CIA actually codified its new method of psychological torture in a secret instructional handbook, the "KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation" manual, which it then disseminated within the U.S. Intelligence Community and to allied security services worldwide.



      Much of the torture that became synonymous with the era of authoritarian rule in Asia and Latin America during the 1960s and 1970s seems to have originated in U.S. training programs that provided sophisticated techniques, up-to-date equipment, and moral legitimacy for the practice.

      From 1962 to 1974, the CIA worked through the Office of Public Safety (OPS), a division of the U.S. Agency for International Development that sent American police advisers to developing nations. Established by President Kennedy in 1962, in just six years OPS grew into a global anti-communist operation with over 400 U.S. police advisers. By 1971, it had trained more than a million policemen in 47 nations, including 85,000 in South Vietnam and 100,000 in Brazil.

      Concealed within this larger OPS effort, CIA interrogation training became synonymous with serious human rights abuses, particularly in Iran, the Philippines, South Vietnam, Brazil, and Uruguay.

      Amnesty International documented widespread torture, usually by local police, in 24 of the 49 nations that had hosted OPS police-training teams. In tracking torturers across the globe, Amnesty seemed to be following the trail of CIA training programs. Significantly, torture began to recede when America again turned resolutely against the practice at the end of the Cold War.



      The War on Terror

      Although the CIA’s authority for assassination, covert intervention, surveillance, and torture was curtailed at the close of the Cold War, the terror attacks of September 2001 sparked an unprecedented expansion in the scale of the intelligence community and a corresponding resurgence in executive exceptions.

      The War on Terror’s voracious appetite for information produced, in its first decade, what the Washington Post branded a veritable “fourth branch” of the U.S. federal government with 854,000 vetted security officials, 263 security organizations, over 3,000 private and public intelligence agencies, and 33 new security complexes -- all pumping out a total of 50,000 classified intelligence reports annually by 2010.


      By that time, one of the newest members of the Intelligence Community, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, already had 16,000 employees, a $5 billion budget, and a massive nearly $2 billion headquarters at FortBelvoir, Virginia, all aimed at coordinating the flood of surveillance data pouring in from drones, U-2 spy planes, Google Earth, and orbiting satellites.

      According to documents whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked to the Washington Post, the U.S. spent $500 billion on its intelligence agencies in the dozen years after the 9/11 attacks, including annual appropriations in 2012 of $11 billion for the National Security Agency (NSA) and $15 billion for the CIA. If we add the $790 billion expended on the Department of Homeland Security to that $500 billion for overseas intelligence, then Washington had spent nearly $1.3 trillion to build a secret state-within-the-state of absolutely unprecedented size and power.



      As this secret state swelled, the world’s sovereign decided that some extraordinary exceptions to civil liberties at home and sovereignty abroad were in order. The most glaring came with the CIA’s now-notorious renewed use of torture on suspected terrorists and its setting up of its own global network of private prisons, or “black sites,” beyond the reach of any court or legal authority.

      Along with piracy and slavery, the abolition of torture had long been a signature issue when it came to the international rule of law. So strong was this principle that the U.N. General Assembly voted unanimously in 1984 to adopt the Convention Against Torture. When it came to ratifying it, however, Washington dithered on the subject until the end of the Cold War when it finally resumed its advocacy of international justice, participating in the World Conference on Human Rights at Vienna in 1993 and, a year later, ratifying the U.N. Convention Against Torture.

      Even then, the sovereign decided to reserve some exceptions for his country alone. Only a year after President Bill Clinton signed the U.N. Convention, CIA agents started snatching terror suspects in the Balkans, some of them Egyptian nationals, and sending them to Cairo, where a torture-friendly autocracy could do whatever it wanted to them in its prisons. Former CIA director George Tenet later testified that, in the years before 9/11, the CIA shipped some 70 individuals to foreign countries without formal extradition -- a process dubbed “extraordinary rendition” that had been explicitly banned under Article 3 of the U.N. Convention.



    9. .

      And Donald Trump says we are not doing enough torture. He wants to take it to a new level.

      Don't have time to get into it now, but their have been reams of studies including those by the CIA and the military that state that not only is torture disgusting and reprehensible but that it doesn't work and can be counterproductive despite what Jack Bauer says...


    10. Seems to be getting quite a bit of pushback by the CIA and others.


    Right after his public address to a shaken nation on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush gave his staff wide-ranging secret orders to use torture, adding (in a vernacular version of Schmitt’s dictum),“I don’t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass.”

    In this spirit, the White House authorized the CIA to develop that global matrix of secret prisons, as well as an armada of planes for spiriting kidnapped terror suspects to them, and a network of allies who could help seize those suspects from sovereign states and levitate them into a supranational gulag of eight agency black sites from Thailand to Poland or into the crown jewel of the system, Guantánamo, thus eluding laws and treaties that remained grounded in territorially based concepts of sovereignty.

    Once the CIA closed the black sites in 2008-2009, its collaborators in this global gulag began to feel the force of law for their crimes against humanity. Under pressure from the Council of Europe, Poland started an ongoing criminal investigation in 2008 into its security officers who had facilitated the CIA’s secret prison in the country’s northeast. In September 2012, Italy’s supreme court confirmed the convictions of 22 CIA agents for the illegal rendition of Egyptian exile Abu Omar from Milan to Cairo, and ordered a trial for Italy’s military intelligence chief on charges that sentenced him to 10 years in prison. In 2012, Scotland Yard opened a criminal investigation into MI6 agents who rendered Libyan dissidents to Colonel Gaddafi’s prisons for torture, and two years later the Court of Appeal allowed some of those Libyans to file a civil suit against MI6 for kidnapping and torture.

    But not the CIA. Even after the Senate’s 2014 Torture Report documented the Agency’s abusive tortures in painstaking detail, there was no move for either criminal or civil sanctions against those who had ordered torture or those who had carried it out.

    In a strong editorial on December 21, 2014, the New York Times asked “whether the nation will stand by and allow the perpetrators of torture to have perpetual immunity.” The answer, of course, was yes. Immunity for hirelings is one of the sovereign’s most important exceptions.



    As President Bush finished his second term in 2008, an inquiry by the International Commission of Jurists found that the CIA’s mobilization of allied security agencies worldwide had done serious damage to the international rule of law. “The executive… should under no circumstance invoke a situation of crisis to deprive victims of human rights violations… of their… access to justice,” the Commission recommended after documenting the degradation of civil liberties in some 40 countries. “State secrecy and similar restrictions must not impede the right to an effective remedy for human rights violations.”

    The Bush years also brought Washington’s most blatant repudiation of the rule of law.

    Once the newly established International Criminal Court (ICC) convened at The Hague in 2002, the Bush White House “un-signed” or “de-signed” the U.N. agreement creating the court and then mounted a sustained diplomatic effort to immunize U.S. military operations from its writ. This was an extraordinary abdication for the nation that had breathed the concept of an international tribunal into being

    1. Probably would have had considerably better cost/results ratio by simply not immediately flying the bin Ladens et al home.


    The Sovereign’s Unbounded Domains

    While Presidents Eisenhower and Bush decided on exceptions that violated national boundaries and international treaties, President Obama is exercising his exceptional prerogatives in the unbounded domains of aerospace and cyberspace.

    Both are new, unregulated realms of military conflict beyond the rubric of international law and Washington believes it can use them as Archimedean levers for global dominion. Just as Britain once ruled from the seas and postwar America exercised its global reach via airpower, so Washington now sees aerospace and cyberspace as special realms for domination in the twenty-first century.

    Under Obama, drones have grown from a tactical Band-Aid in Afghanistan into a strategic weapon for the exercise of global power. From 2009 to 2015, the CIA and the U.S. Air Force deployed a drone armada of over 200 Predators and Reapers, launching 413 strikes in Pakistan alone, killing as many as 3,800 people. Every Tuesday inside the White House Situation Room, as the New York Timesreported in 2012, President Obama reviews a CIA drone “kill list” and stares at the faces of those who are targeted for possible assassination from the air. He then decides, without any legal procedure, who will live and who will die, even in the case of American citizens. Unlike other world leaders, this sovereign applies the ultimate exception across the Greater Middle East, parts of Africa, and elsewhere if he chooses.

    This lethal success is the cutting edge of a top-secret Pentagon project that will, by 2020, deploy a triple-canopy space “shield” from stratosphere to exosphere, patrolled by Global Hawk and X-37B drones armed with agile missiles.



    As Washington seeks to police a restless globe from sky and space, the world might well ask: How high is any nation’s sovereignty?

    After the successive failures of the Paris flight conference of 1910, the Hague Rules of Aerial Warfare of 1923, and Geneva’s Protocol I of 1977 to establish the extent of sovereign airspace or restrain aerial warfare, some puckish Pentagon lawyer might reply: only as high as you can enforce it.

    President Obama has also adopted the NSA’s vast surveillance system as a permanent weapon for the exercise of global power.
    At the broadest level, such surveillance complements Obama’s overall defense strategy, announced in 2012, of cutting conventional forces while preserving U.S. global power through a capacity for “a combined arms campaign across all domains: land, air, maritime, space, and cyberspace.” In addition, it should be no surprise that, having pioneered the war-making possibilities of cyberspace, the president did not hesitate to launch the first cyberwar in history against Iran.

    By the end of Obama’s first term, the NSA could sweep up billions of messages worldwide through its agile surveillance architecture. This included hundreds of access points for penetration of the Worldwide Web’s fiber optic cables; ancillary intercepts through special protocols and “backdoor” software flaws; supercomputers to crack the encryption of this digital torrent; and a massive data farm in Bluffdale, Utah, built at a cost of $2 billion to store yottabytes of purloined data.

    Even after angry Silicon Valley executives protested that the NSA’s “backdoor” software surveillance threatened their multi-trillion-dollar industry, Obama called the combination of Internet information and supercomputers “a powerful tool.” He insisted that, as “the world’s only superpower,” the United States “cannot unilaterally disarm our intelligence agencies.” In other words, the sovereign cannot sanction any exceptions to his panoply of exceptions.

    Revelations from Edward Snowden’s cache of leaked documents in late 2013 indicate that the NSA has conducted surveillance of leaders in some 122 nations worldwide, 35 of them closely, including Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff, former Mexican president Felipe Calderón, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. After her forceful protest, Obama agreed to exempt Merkel’s phone from future NSA surveillance, but reserved the right, as he put it, to continue to “gather information about the intentions of governments… around the world.” The sovereign declined to say which world leaders might be exempted from his omniscient gaze.


    Can there be any question that, in the decades to come, Washington will continue to violate national sovereignty through old-style covert as well as open interventions, even as it insists on rejecting any international conventions that restrain its use of aerospace or cyberspace for unchecked force projection, anywhere, anytime? Extant laws or conventions that in any way check this power will be violated when the sovereign so decides. These are now the unwritten rules of the road for our planet. They represent the real American exceptionalism.

  12. Alfred McCoy is the J.R.W. Smail Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A TomDispatch regular, he is the author of Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State, which is the source for much of the material in this essay.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Ron Paul was right when he said that they don’t hate us for our freedoms but for our interference in the Middle East. We have become a society with a default normality of acceptance for violence, wars, and the assault on civil liberties.

    It is a system that has made the elites and top 0.1 % extraordinarily wealthy and has precariously diminished our security.

    The media has provided much of the supporting damage:

    ”When confronted with this level of ignorant nonsense in what is alleged to be a respectable publication, we experience the degradation of the Western political and media elite. To argue with nonsense is pointless.

    What we see here with Motyl is the purest expression of the blatant propagandistic lies that flow continually from the likes of Fox “News,” Sean Hannity, the neocon warmongers, the White House, and executive branch and congressional personnel beholden to the military/security complex. The lies are too much even for Henry Kissinger.

    As Stephen Lendman, who documents the ever growing anti-Russian propaganda, honestly states: “America’s war on the world rages. Humanity’s greatest challenge is stopping this monster before it destroys everyone.”

    Washington Has Resurrected The Threat Of Nuclear War

    1. So you can't answer why you squat, as an occupier on 1st nation peoples lands?

      Why do you not leave a nation you so openly hate, despise and detest and move to Russia, a place where you are amazed and delighted?

      Could it be that they would treat you like shit?

    2. Bernie Sanders the hypocritical moron honeymooned in the Soviet Union....the vast gulag out there didn't seem to occur to him, the morally brain dead punk....he thought the whole thing 'the cat's pajamas' as we say out this way for describing something excellent....

      Got to run...."don't have time to get into it now"

      Cheers !

  15. I find that entire series of your posts above simplistic in the extreme.

    I've noticed when Quirk doesn't want to really get into something, knowing how deep the waters are, he has adopted the tactic of saying:

    "Don't have time to get into it now"

    (he has used this three times this week, once just yesterday)

    As for me I don't care much what you think but you are disregarding human experience from time immemorial.....

    Starting no place in particular:

    Chronicles of Oklahoma

    Oklahoma Historical Society

    Chronicles of Oklahoma
    Volume 11, No. 4
    December, 1933

    By J. B. DAVIS

    since I'm down on Rufus these days for putting me a box....(is this an old subconscious recall of a Cherokee torture method ?)

    I could spend the rest of my life detailing man's inhumanity of man over the ages but got better things to do, and things to do today too.

    The world is much better off for the US of A.

    And it is a disgusting dangerous world out there.

    Don't get into Chinese history for instance....

    We helped put down the Nazis, were irreplaceable in the ending of the Soviet Union, (that gulag) ended the Japanese efforts of racial superiority.....

    No one is perfect but the world is a far better place because of us.

    And, the northern USA ended southern slavery too.

    The entire world has been The Wild West....

    Get a little better perspective is my plea....

    1. Cheers !

      "don't have time to get into it now"

    2. All this time I thought WE were the original, one and only, miserable human fucks.

  16. Strikes in Syria

    Attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted seven strikes in Syria:

    -- Near AL Hawl, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL vehicle.

    -- Near Manbij, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

    -- Near Mar’a, four strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units, destroyed an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL vehicle and damaged ISIL equipment.

    Strikes in Iraq

    Bomber, ground-attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 17 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Al Qaim, a strike struck an ISIL vehicle-bomb facility.

    -- Near Fallujah, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL vehicle bomb, an ISIL used bridge, and an ISIL tank.

    -- Near Habbaniyah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL mortar system.

    -- Near Hit, a strike destroyed an ISIL mortar system.

    -- Near Kirkuk, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed four ISIL vehicle bombs, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL supply cache, four ISIL weapons caches, four ISIL assembly areas, two ISIL tunnel systems, an ISIL front end loader, an ISIL excavator, four ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL-used bridges, an ISIL bed down location, and an ISIL tactical vehicle.

    -- Near Mosul, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL assembly areas, two ISIL bed down locations, two ISIL fighting positions, and an ISIL weapons cache.

    -- Near Qayyarah, three strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL rocket rails, five ISIL rockets, and an ISIL vehicle.

    -- Near Waleed, a strike produced inconclusive results.

    1. Three more bed down locations blasted to sandy smithereens, and another front end loader and an excavator out of bidness.

      A satisfying day's work.

    2. This is the best run military campaign of my lifetime.

  17. What this country needs is leaders of integrity. We need honest leaders, truthful people, creative people, and yes, compassionate people too. We need people who will say what they mean, and mean what they say. People focused in hope on the future. Visionary people who will say 'no' to doubt, confusion, indecision. Folks who will stand up to the vested interests, people who will see to it that the American People get a dollar's worth of value for each dollar of taxes paid. People with moral and ethical balance and commitment. People who will stand up for our place in the world. People who know the meaning of Memorial Day, The Fourth of July, and, yes, Thanksgiving too.

    1. Meanwhile, someone, somewhere, is actually doing some truly creative work -

      'Sorry for getting so late. I have been writing thesis project for the
      opportunity of getting the PhD degree I had told you about. The deadline is
      next week so I cut my self socially from everything for a while so I can
      focus better. I am sorry I should have informed you about this. Please do
      not worry I am doing fine. Just a little stressed due to hectic schedule. I
      will call you by next weekend and will tell you everything in detail. Also
      I will send you the thesis project so you can read and give me your
      feedback on it. Going back to work now.. talk to you soon'

  18. Meanwhile, the Corsicans have had a gut full -

    Fire ravages Muslim prayer hall in Corsica

    April 30, 2016

    A French police officer stands outside a Muslim prayer hall in Corsica's capital Ajaccio on April 30, 2016 after it was destroyed by a fire

    View photos

    A French police officer stands outside a Muslim prayer hall in Corsica's capital Ajaccio on April 30, 2016 after it was destroyed by a fire (AFP Photo/Yannick Graziani)

    Ajaccio (France) (AFP) - A Muslim prayer hall in the French island of Corsica was ravaged by fire on Saturday in what prosecutors said was probably a criminal attack.

    The blaze occurred just months after the island, popular with tourists for its turquoise waters and picturesque mountains, was rocked by anti-Arab riots over Christmas.

    French President Francois Hollande vowed a swift investigation into the blaze, and action if necessary.

    "If it is confirmed to be of criminal origin, those responsible must be rapidly identified and brought to justice," he said.

    "Any anti-religious act must not be tolerated," he added in a statement.

    The building, one of the largest prayer halls in the capital Ajaccio, suffered major damage in the fire, said Abdallah Zekri, the head of the National Observatory Against Islamophobia.

    He called on the authorities "to do everything to shed light on this incident in order to avoid an escalation of violence".

    "It has been calm since the end of the year, but unfortunately certain ill-intentioned people want to inflame the situation," he told AFP.

    Protests erupted on the Mediterranean island over Christmas after firefighters and police called to a low-income immigrant neighbourhood were ambushed and attacked.

    Demonstrators shouting slogans such as "This is our home!" and "Arabs get out", vandalised a prayer hall and set fire to books including copies of the Koran.

    Several anti-Muslim acts occurred in the weeks that followed, including an attack on a Muslim butcher's shop.....

    1. Since you didn't have time to write that, I didn't read it.

    2. :)

      Was going to drive down to Moscow today but laziness intervened and cancelled the trip and having nothing else to do I ran out of time and am now wasting time here and don't have time to even write.

  19. Rioters Will Hand The Election To Trump

    People don't like rioters waving the Mexican flag and giving the USA the double dirty finger at the same time.

    1. Some people do like it, but we can't interact with him here anymore.

      Illegals killing citizens is not a bad thing, talking about it is.

      Especially when you explain Obama's demand that the law be ignored is responsible for so much of the mayhem.

    2. "No Racists in the Whitehouse"


      La Raza

    3. It's damned hard to interact with folks when you've placed inside THE BOX.

    4. when you've been place inside THE BOX

      Sorry, was chuckling to myself....

      I need to do some research, but I'm pretty sure THE BOX was an old Cherokee torture device, perhaps with hungry ants inside.

    5. In this sad fallen world, only The Good, The True, and The Beautiful get placed inside .

    6. In this sad fallen world, only The Good, The True, and The Beautiful get placed inside THE BOX.

      Time for a nap.

      Cheers !

  20. .

    Damn. Finally. I was waiting for that guy to leave. I thought he was supposed to be in the box.


  21. .

    Protestors Storm the Green Zone in Baghdad and Demand an End to Corruption

    Hundreds of protesters stormed Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone Saturday, the first time the safe area had been penetrated by angry Iraqis.

    Supporters of influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr had been protesting the Iraqi government for months, staging sit-ins and demonstrations. But Saturday’s actions mark a steep escalation; the Green Zone is home to most Iraqi government buildings and foreign embassies.

    The breach of the Green Zone was preceded by comments from al-Sadr earlier Saturday, in which he accused Iraqi politicians of blocking reforms to stop waste and corruption. He didn’t call for supporters to escalate their demonstrations, but soon after he spoke, protesters stormed the compound’s walls and pulled a section of it down.

    Videos of the breach are below:

    The storming of the Green Zone is the culmination of weeks of political protests against the Iraqi government. Demonstrators entered the parliament building, where some broke into offices, while other protesters shouted “peacefully, peacefully” and tried to contain the chaos, according to AFP. Iraqi security forces were present, but did not try to stop the protesters.

    The riots follow a car bomb that exploded earlier Saturday at a market in Nahrawan, east of Baghdad. The Islamic State claimed credit for the attack, which left at least 24 people killed and as many as 38 wounded.

    It also comes as Iraqi government plans to liberate Mosul from the Islamic State have become bogged down in sectarian and ethnic rivalries.


  22. I'm going to rule soon.

    1. Your Kerry looks like a spooky jinn with his long horror coat and scarf.

    2. Staying power wins in the end.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. .

      Time and perception are distorted in the box.


    5. *See note in next thread

  23. Muqtada al-Sadr's supporters storm Iraq's parliament

    Authorities declare state of high alert after thousands break into Green Zone against backdrop of continued violence.