Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Saturday, February 09, 2013

WE ARE MURDERING PEOPLE WITH NO EVIDENCE



RT talks to John Kiriakou - former CIA official who blew the whistle on the agency's torture practices. After 9/11 John Kiriakou served as chief of counter-terrorist operations in Pakistan. And now, years later, John Kiriakou is heading to prison. He was just sentenced to two and a half years in jail.

He concludes the interview saying, "I think the Obama administration is largely an extension of the Bush administration."

REPORTED FROM OUR HOUSE



In the middle of the snow storm we had a knock on the door and a young woman from Malaysia asked if she could use our back yard as a backdrop for her weather report that will be beamed back home.  Sure we said and even offered her a coat - but she appeared to be in a big hurry to do the spot and split.

She was kind enough to send me the link but I don't have any idea what she was saying.  The wind was blowing hard and I figure that is what she told them.


HOMER DON'T WANNA GO OUT

  • They are reporting almost 30 inches of snow across the state since yesterday.  We have more snow here than we can ever dream of shoveling.  The wind is blowing at 32 mph. I shoveled for 1/2 hour early this morning just to make it possible for Homer to get out the door to pee.....what a mess.  MB spent last night in Portland (45 minutes south of Bath) at a co-worker's house and had to walk to work at the homeless shelter today.  She said more than 200 homeless are crowded into Preble Street Resource Center at this point. Not sure she can make it home tonight either.
  • Did an interview on PressTV this morning about torture and also sent a letter to our local paper about our new Sen. Angus King's comments about drones being a "very smart artillery shell....a more humane weapon."  Asked that he apologize for that comment.

MOVE TO AMEND



In my latest episode of This Issue I interview Jerry Provencher of the Bath group Move to Amend. That is, "move to amend" our Constitution...to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights. Move to Amend rejects the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United and other related cases.

SENATE INTEL COMMITTEE: KABUKI OVERSIGHT



President Obama’s nominee to run the CIA, John Brennan, forcefully defended Obama’s counterterrorism policies, including the increased use of armed drones and the targeted killings of American citizens during his confirmation hearing Thursday.

"None of the central questions that should have been asked of John Brennan were asked in an effective way," says Jeremy Scahill, author of the forthcoming book, "Dirty Wars." "In the cases where people like Sen. Angus King or Sen. Ron Wyden would ask a real question, for instance, about whether or not the CIA has the right to kill U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, the questions were very good. Brennan would then offer up a non-answer. And then there’d be almost no follow-up." Scahill went on to say, "[Brennan] has served for more than four years as the assassination czar, and it basically looked like they were discussing purchasing a used car on Capitol Hill. I mean, it was total kabuki oversight. And that’s a devastating commentary on where things stand."

Friday, February 08, 2013

INSIDE THE OIL PIPELINE



Greg Palast: Koch brothers could save two billion dollars a year if they can replace Venezuelan heavy crude crude with Canadian tar sands - one of the dirtiest sources of carbon emissions on the planet

THE DRONE DEBATE IS EXPANDING

The Baton Rouge, Louisiana newspaper ran drone protest photo from Brennan hearing yesterday in Washington

  •  Lots of emails flying around this morning congratulating CodePink for yesterday's truth telling protest in DC.  One wrote:  The anti-Drones protests in Washington yesterday also made the front page of El Pais in Spain. They really got the message home.  The CIA is the biggest Security Risk going ... 
  • One interesting development is that libertarian elements within the Republican Party are increasingly speaking out against US drone policy.  Just this morning I received an email from one of these organizations and they are running a poll for their members on the drone issue asking: "Do you think Obama should be able to kill American Citizens thought to be affiliated with terrorists without clear evidence?"  They are using the poll to raise funds which indicates to me that they acknowledge their membership base is upset about out-of-control unconstitutional drone assassination policies.
  • I was able to watch a bit of the hearing yesterday and noticed our Maine Sen. Susan Collins (Republican) asking Brennan a couple of direct questions on drone policy.  We sent out an email encouraging Mainers to contact her as well as our new Sen. Angus King (Independent) who is also on the Senate Intelligence Committee.  King told MSNBC this morning that, "In the context of 1,000 years of war, drones are more civilized" but then covered his behind by saying, One man [Obama] cannot be "judge, jury and executioner." Collins and King are very likely to vote to approve Brennan but my perception is that Collins was asking some serious questions because she heard from alot of folks across our state.  And some of the folks who were contacting her were probably from the Republican party.
  • I know that counting on a positive working "alliance" with Republicans is wishful thinking - but it must be said that many Republicans still believe in Constitutional limits on federal power.  Nothing speaks stronger to the break down of our rights than drones killing American citizens without due process. 
  • Below is a segment of the drone discussion on MSNBC including a couple statements by our new Sen. King from Maine.  He calls drones a "very smart artillery shell....a more humane weapon."  
  • In the end the video below is a group of talking head functionaries from the corporate oligarchy but it reflects that global citizen pressure is forcing this discussion into the open and they are being made to defend the actions of a cancerous empire.  Keep the heat on them.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thursday, February 07, 2013

CIA DIRECTOR HEARING PROTEST



Watch CodePink's demonstration outside Hart Senate Building before John Brennan's hearing and at the hearing itself. Eight CodePink members were arrested for speaking out and Senator Feinstein ordered all "CodePink" associates be "evicted" from the hearing.

The Progressive reported about the hearing:

John Brennan tried to elude his questioners at his confirmation hearing as CIA director..... After a welcome disruption by members of CodePink who denounced him and got ejected from the hearing, Brennan said that there is a “misimpression” and a “misunderstanding” about “the care we take” and--he added obscenely--“the agony we go through” in deciding who to kill. (Compare his “agony” to the agony of the families of the innocent people he’s killed with his drones.)......Nor was Brennan reassuring on full disclosure, responding with classic doublespeak: “We need to optimize transparency and at the same time optimize secrecy.”

ELLSBERG CALLS FOR IMPEACHMENT



A lawsuit challenging a law that gives the government the power to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens was back in federal court this week. On Wednesday, a group of academics, journalists, and activists presented oral arguments in court against a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, authorizing the military to jail anyone it considers a terrorism suspect anywhere in the world without charge or trial.
In a landmark ruling last September, Judge Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York struck down the indefinite detention provision, saying it likely violates the First and Fifth Amendments of U.S. citizens.

Democracy Now interviews Daniel Ellsberg, a plaintiff in the case and perhaps the country's most famous whistleblower. Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, exposing the secret history of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

DROWNING DEMOCRACY - AN INTERNATIONAL AFFAIR


  • Today the US Senate will likely give their approval to Obama's pick of John Brennan to be head of the CIA.  The best way to describe him is as a "loyal operative" for the oligarchy.  He worked for George W. Bush and is well known for his strong defense of torture.  Now he works for the magician and defends drone attacks - including the killing of American citizens by drones without due process as the constitution requires.  Obama calls Brennan "uniquely qualified" for the CIA job. Drones are now being used in the US for surveillance and targeting will be the next step - likely sooner than we think.
  • South Korean media is reporting a story today that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) tried to manipulate popular opinion during last December‘s presidential election giving rise to charges that the NIS interfered in the election on an institutional level. Hankyoreh reports: On Feb. 5, six civic organizations, including MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society and the Progressive Network Center, issued a joint statement on the matter. “For NIS employees to write posts supporting the government and the ruling party and criticizing the opposition and civic groups, and to click ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ on articles posted by others, falls outside of the bounds of the normal work of the NIS. Thus far, the NIS has treated the right to collect information related to domestic security as grounds for getting involved with politics, but this right must be revoked once and for all,” the statement said. “We must also strip the NIS of the authority to plan and alter security work, which can influence police investigations, and gradually transfer this to the office of the National Security Council (NSC).”
  • This South Korea story is very bad news but not a surprise as it is a classic example of fascism which results from the wedding of corporate capital and government.  Most politicians are in the bag.  It's the same story in the US and in most other countries around the world today.  Our fight is the same.  We are all in this together now.
  • In the video below Chris Hedges speaks at the 2/6/13 news conference following oral arguments made at Federal Courthouse in New York City. Hedges v. Obama challenges key provisions of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that legalize indefinite detention of American citizens. Learn more at www.StopNDAA.org

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

EATING OUR PLANET



A good video about the consequences of our "modern" consumptive lifestyle.

The video is put together by a Green Party member in Maine.

He says it all.

NEWS ROUNDUP



  • My weekly radio show, with Peter Woodruff, on WBOR at Bowdoin College has been moved to Tuesday evenings from 6-8pm.  Each new semester they kick all the regular shows to new times to accommodate the students who get first crack at the calendar.  It makes no sense because the regulars are the ones that keep the station going when the college is out of session.  We are like wandering minstrels.
  • Inter Press Service reports: The research wing of the U.S. Congress is warning that three decades of “historically unprecedented” build-up in the number of prisoners incarcerated in the United States have led to a level of overcrowding that is now “taking a toll on the infrastructure” of the federal prison system.....the  United States has incarcerated far more people than any other country, today imprisoning some 716 people out of every 100,000.
  • Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) writes in Politico:  Forty percent of private-sector workers have no access to paid sick days, meaning that they cannot miss a day of work without risking a day’s pay or even risking their job. So these hardworking people must make an impossible choice between the job they need and their health and well-being. It’s a choice that no American should have to make — which is why, this year, I plan to reintroduce the Healthy Families Act, a bill that would allow workers to earn paid sick days that can be used to recover from a short-term illness, care for a sick family member, obtain preventive or diagnostic treatment or seek help if they have been victims of domestic violence.
  • The Guardian reports: The CIA is secretly using an airbase in Saudi Arabia to conduct its controversial drone assassination campaign in neighbouring Yemen....Disclosure of the Saudi co-operation comes the day before the architect of the drone programme, John Brennan, appears before the US Senate for a confirmation hearing to become the CIA director. The drone issue is sensitive in Saudi Arabia because of the unpopularity of US military bases, which were thought to have been largely removed after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
  • Juan Cole at Informed Comment writes: Yemen was hit by the highest number of airstrikes in one month since June 2012.... Eight strikes hit Yemen in January, the most in a month since June 2012 when US attacks on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) began to slow from their May peak. An anonymous US intelligence official told the Times that Saudi jets have been striking other targets in Yemen in support of US operations – an allegation promptly denied by the Saudis.... The United Nations also launched a major investigation into the legality and casualties of drone strikes by the United States, Britain and Israel. 
  • Renowned professor Peter Dale Scott on the new article Petraeus: The Plot Thickens"I recommend this article for what it tells us, not about Petraeus and his affair, but about Yemen and the conflict in Washington over drone killings between JSOC and CIA – perhaps the most serious turf war there since the FBI/CIA battles in the Joe McCarthy era."

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

OBAMA GOING BEYOND BUSH BUT LIBERALS STILL SUPPORT HIM



The Obama administration's internal legal justification for assassinating U.S. citizens without charge has been revealed for the first time. In a secret Justice Department memo, the administration claims it has legal authority to assassinate U.S. citizens overseas even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the United States.

Democracy Now is joined by Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "If you look at the memo, there is no geographic line," says Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "Now the Obama administration is making a greater claim of authority in some ways [than President Bush]. They are arguing the authority to kill American citizens has no geographic limit."

SELLING AMBASSADORSHIPS



As John Kerry begins his term as the new U.S. Secretary of State, it's been revealed that many of the ambassadors serving under him were major donors to the President's campaign. A new report says this year's competition among big-money backers to land the most sought-after diplomatic spots was especially tight.

JUSTIFYING KILLING


The United States can lawfully kill a U.S. citizen overseas if it determines the target is a “senior, operational leader” of al-Qaeda or an "associated group" and poses an imminent threat to the United States, according to a Justice Department document published late Monday by NBC News.

"This is a chilling document," said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. He called the document a “profoundly disturbing” summary of “a stunning overreach of executive authority — the claimed power to declare Americans a threat and kill them far from a recognized battlefield and without any judicial involvement before or after the fact.”
  
This issue is now rising to prominence as the national spotlight begins to shine on Obama's immoral and un-Constitutional drone program. On Thursday, John Brennan has his confirmation hearing where the Senate will go through the motions to decide if he should run the Central Intelligence Agency. Since he's the brains behind the drone war it will be interesting to watch how deeply the Senate probes and if they find the courage to defend the Constitution.

Brennan is currently Obama's chief counter-terrorism advisor. Obama wanted  to appoint Brennan as director of the CIA back in 2008. Brennan, however, pulled his name from consideration because of his controversial support for torture and extraordinary rendition to other countries where torture is commonplace and federal and international laws do not apply.

The Senate Intelligence Committee will conduct the hearings and the public is urged to send messages to their senators in opposition to Brennan's appointment.  The Intelligence Committee is composed of the following people:

Democrats Republicans
Dianne Feinstein,
California
Chairman
Saxby Chambliss,
Georgia
Vice Chairman
John D. Rockefeller IV,
West Virginia
Richard Burr,
North Carolina
Ron Wyden,
Oregon
James E. Risch,
Idaho
Barbara A. Mikulski,
Maryland
Daniel Coats,
Indiana
Mark Udall,
Colorado
Marco Rubio,
Florida
Mark Warner,
Virginia
Susan Collins,
Maine
Martin Heinrich,
New Mexico
bullet Tom Coburn,
Oklahoma
Angus King,
Maine


The Congressional Switchboard number is: (202) 224-3121

Monday, February 04, 2013

DRONES: GIGANTIC GROWTH INDUSTRY


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Morning Joe on MSNBC host Joe Scarborough talks about his concerns with drones.  Scarborough is a former right-wing congressman from northwest Florida. He asks "Where are the civil liberties lawyers?"  He raises a good point that the domestic opposition, during the Bush administration, to these offensive military developments have largely disappeared during the Obama years.

The rest of the video is mostly cheer leading for drones.

A SECOND RATE POWER

 

Just to illustrate how blind US "leaders" are to the reality the people of our nation face (or maybe they are quite happy with this) the information below should serve as a wake-up call for people who still think that the USA is #1!

USA Today reported on February 1 the following: 
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Friday the United States would become a "second-rate power" if Congress and the White House fail to reach a budget deal that would avoid an extra $500 billion in military budget cuts over the next 10 years.
Do we not yet see the deadly connection between US imperialism and the dissolution of social progress at home?  How much more obvious can it be?

  • 35th place in keeping our fellow citizens above the poverty line
  • 48th place in infant mortality – keeping babies alive until their first birthday – generally accepted as the best overall indicator of a nation’s health

Thanks to Veterans for Peace former president Mike Ferner for these stats.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

CANADA BUILDING MORE WARSHIPS



Tamara Lorincz, a Global Network board member from Halifax in Canada, is leading protests against Canada's huge increase in warship building while their government makes dramatic cuts in social spending and environmental programs.

Canada has approached the government of Singapore (and other nations) with a proposal to establish a Canadian military base there as a “logistics facility” that would support the US-NATO “Pivot to Asia”. Defence Minister Peter MacKay has admitted Canada’s “military tempo” is at the highest levels since the Korean War. Because the US is exhausted from the resistance to its occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as from the capitalist economic crisis, Canada has in MacKay’s words, “become a go-to” country to meet the global demands of Canadian and US corporate imperialism. The conservative Harper government will not reveal to its own citizens the content of these new basing agreements or exactly how many or which countries it is negotiating with.

The Canadian people are overwhelmingly opposed to their role in the occupation of Afghanistan and the growing militaristic position their nation is taking alongside NATO.

HISTORY: THE DARK FORCES

One of the most important books I have ever read tells the story about Operation Paperclip following WW II when the US smuggled 1,500 former Nazi's into the country to work in the military industrial complex - Hitlers former rocket team was used to create the US space program.  This story must be told and retold so we do not forget.

The Hunt for Zero Point
The Atlantic Monthly, September 5, 2002

Nick Cook, a respected military journalist, describes his foray into a hidden ''black world'' where powerful technologies of warfare are born.

To those who spend their time scanning reams of dry defense-spending documents, the black budget is a well-known bit of excitement. It is the discrepancy that's left when all the known weapons procurements, research programs, and technical developments are added up. It's also where groundbreaking technologies, such as stealth, are developed under code names like ''Black Light,'' ''Classic Wizard,'' and ''Link Plumeria.'' These technologies are kept secret during their gestation because to even hint at the ideas behind them would be to reveal too much. This year, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, the
U.S. military's black budget will rise to levels not seen since the 1980s, from $16.2 billion last year to $20.3 billion.

There is no way to know exactly what that money is being spent on, but Nick Cook has some ideas. For fifteen years Cook has been a defense and aerospace reporter for Jane's Defence Weekly, which some consider the bible of the international defense community. During his career Cook has often brushed up against the ''black world'' and has even delved into it, both in reporting for Jane's on advances like the B-2 bomber, and in working on a documentary, Billion Dollar Secret, that probed the U.S. military's classified (or black) weapons programs.

This last project was something of a prelude to Cook's new book, The Hunt for Zero Point: Inside the Classified World of Antigravity Technology, which documents his ten-year search for a mythical technology that all the brightest minds in aerospace were gushing about in the early 1950s. Strangely, just a few years later the aerospace world was suddenly silent on the subject. After about 1956, anyone who mentioned antigravity, or the once-imminent ''G-engines,'' was given a wide berth. It was an odd switch that left Cook with questions: Had there been anything to these rumors and reports? If not, why the hype? If so, what had happened? So he set out to look for answers, and what he found was surprising. Cook traced a long succession of both military and civilian scientists and engineers working to develop a branch of applied physics for which we still have no vocabulary, but which seems to involve manipulating the little-understood quantum-level ''zero-point field'' to achieve peculiar effects, like shielding objects from gravity. If this were developed and incorporated into flight vehicles, the implications could hardly be understated: antigravity would forever alter the world's economy, make global transport systems obsolete, and, of course, change the face of warfare. Some also felt that the zero-point field could be an enormous source of energy, if only people could learn how to tap it.

Against the advice of his colleagues and friends, and against his own better judgment and career interests, Cook felt he couldn't ignore the leads he uncovered, which drew him through the black labyrinth back to an unexpected place: Nazi territory around the end of World War II. That is where, Cook claims, some of these technologies were first developed and then acquired by American and Russian forces, who raced to pillage the underground facilities around Pilsen in the Czech Republic and around Breslau (now Wroclaw) in Poland. There an SS general named Hans Kammler operated the ''wonder weapons'' program, which the Nazis were convinced would propel them ahead of the Allies to win the war. At the war's end Kammler disappeared. Though he had been one of the main planners of the death camps, his name was never mentioned at the war-crimes trials in Nuremberg.

One conclusion Cook reaches in The Hunt for Zero Point is that some of the ''Foo Fighters'' that World War II pilots reported seeing over Axis territories may have been German prototypes of new flying machines that used antigravity technology. He also posits that somewhere in the black world, work has likely continued along these lines, and that much of the wackiness surrounding sightings of ''UFOs'' has been deliberately spun to ward off investigations of new technologies in development.

Since the book's publication in Britain, Cook has uncovered documents detailing Boeing's antigravity research program at the top-secret Phantom Works, where the company is striving to develop ''propellantless propulsion'' ahead of its competitors. Writing in Jane's Defence Weekly, Cook quoted the documents as saying that along with Boeing's own program, other ''classified activities in gravity modification may exist''—suggesting that antigravity may, in fact, have been more than a 1950's fantasy.

For his work at Jane's, Nick Cook has received the Royal Aeronautical Society's Aerospace Journalist of the Year Award four times, in the Defence, Business, Technology, and Propulsion categories. He also writes for The Financial Times, The London Times and often comments on defense and security for the BBC and CNN. I spoke to him at his home in London.

 
QUESTION : One of the most gripping parts of your book is the description of ''Operation Paperclip''—the dismantling and retrieval of all known German technology, science, and related expertise at the end of World War II. You write that this ''state within a state had been transported four thousand miles to the west''—to the United States. When learning about today's black world, why is it important to go back and study Operation Paperclip?

COOK : Two things. First of all, we know the size and scope of Operation Paperclip, which was huge. And we know that the U.S. operates a very deeply secret defense architecture for secret-weapons programs that we know as the black world. It is a highly compartmentalized system and one of the things that's intrigued me over the years is, How did they develop that? What model did they base it on?

It is remarkably similar to the system that was operated by the Germans—specifically the SS—for their top-secret weapons programs during the Second World War. Now, did someone, Hans Kammler or anyone else, provide that model lock, stock, and barrel to the U.S. government at the end of the war? I don't know the answer to that, but given the massive recruitment that went on under Paperclip, and given what we see in the black world, it might not be unreasonable to ask those questions.

QUESTION : You also write that the black world in America is a ''low-grade reflection'' of the system Kammler built to protect Nazi weapons research.

COOK : I'm not for a second saying that there is direct linkage there. What I do mean is that if you follow the trail of Nazi scientists and engineers who were recruited by America at the end of the Second World War, the unfortunate corollary is that by taking on the science, you take on—unwittingly—some of the ideology. The science comes over tainted with something else. And that something else you have to be very careful of. It carries unpleasant side effects with it, in that if you're not careful, you lose sight of what it is you're protecting. What you're ultimately trying to protect is U.S. national interest and U.S. security. But not at any cost. I think that's the point that many people make who've brushed up against the black world and found their human rights violated by it. Not many have, but certainly some have. Those people question whether that unswerving loyalty to protecting high technology was worth it. What do you lose along the way? You lose some democracy, perhaps.

QUESTION : For those who haven't read the book, can you say briefly who Hans Kammler is?

COOK : He was an SS general who, by the end of the Second World War, was in charge of all of the Nazis' secret-weapons programs. He was an extremely powerful man. He was up to his neck in the Holocaust as well, and amongst his earlier responsibilities he had been one of the main architects of the death camps. Now, at the end of the Second World War, he disappeared. And from what little documentary history he left behind, we know that he was thinking of trading his war crimes for technology, which he wanted to give to the Americans in order to buy himself immunity. But his crimes were so heinous that immunity for someone like Kammler wouldn't be enough. He'd actually have to buy disappearance. So Kammler disappeared, and no one knows where he went.

What is remarkable about Kammler is that so few people know his name. And yet at the end of the Second World War, he was one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany. He should have been tried in absentia at the Nuremberg war-crimes trials. But his name didn't even surface there, even though others who couldn't be found were tried in absentia.

PETROLEUM BROADCASTING SERVICE



Abby Martin takes a look at PBS' new documentary 'Rise of the Drones' supposedly showcasing an in depth look at drone technology, but in reality being a military propaganda piece sponsored in part by weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

SUNDAY SONG