127. “The Shadow Factory – The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America” by James Bamford
nuggets: 1. Harry Truman created the NSA without the approval and knowledged of Congress. (pg 13). 2. Michael Hayden planned bombing raids in Vietnam. (pg 30). 3. The 9/11 Commission ignored the fact that Michael Hayden ignored international communications to and from the US leading up to 9/11. (pg 31). 4. One of Osama bin Laden’s main goals was the destroy the White House. (pg 60). 5. The 9/11 terrorists chose Boeing over Airbus because of an Airbus safety feature that disallowed the plane to be crashed. (pg 61). 6:
“On October 15, at a local Arlington fish restaurant – Gaffney’s Restaurant, Oyster & Ale House – Sharkey outlined TIA [Total Information Awareness] to DARPA’s new director, Dr. Anthony Tether. By the time the oyster shells were empty, Tether wholeheartedly endorsed the idea and then suggested that Sharkey run the operation. Unwilling to give up his very lucrative defense contracting salary at SAIC, Sharkey instead thought of [John] Poindexter. A few days later, while the two were sailing on the Chesapeake aboard Poindexter’s forty-two-foot sloop Bluebird, Sharkey suggested to his friend that he talk with Tether about taking the job. Poindexter liked the idea and a meeting with Tether was set up. For the admiral, it would be a second chance to save the world – again in his own secret way. This time, instead of a covert arms-for-hostages deal he would build the information equivalent of an atomic bomb.
“Not a man of small ideas, Poindexter arrived at the meeting with Tether prepared with a presentation titled “A Manhattan Project for Counter-Terrorism.” He would become the Edward Teller of the information age. Like the old atomic-bomb development facility at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the facility that Poindexter envisioned would employ the best and the brightest minds in computer science, physics, and information technology. But instead of intending to explode trillions of electrons and protons in a million different directions, Poindexter wanted to do the opposite. He wanted to collect into one “ultra-large” data warehouse billions of seemingly inconsequential bits of data and from that establish who might hijack the next plane or blow up the next building or take down the next bridge. He believed that with the right combination of hardware, software, and brainpower, he would be able to tie the purchase of a Leatherman knife at Target with a Web search on American Airlines and a speeding ticket in Oklahoma and discover Nawaf al-Hazmi before he had a chance to board Flight 77. “How are we going to find terrorists and preempt them, except by following their trail?” asked Poindexter.
“In an atmosphere of hysteria, and with an administration unable to shovel dollars into conterterrorism projects fast enough, it was an easy sell. Tether said he would fund the project if Poindexter would run it. Poindexter readily agreed, and by January 2002, what would possibly become the largest data-surveillance system ever built was placed into the hands of a man once convicted of five felony counts of lying to Congress, destroying official documents, and obstructing congressional investigations. If Poindexter was a man of big ideas, he was also a man of big scandals, a factor that didn’t seem to bother Tether.
“During the Reagan administration, Poindexter was the highest-ranking official to be found guilty during the Iran-Contra affair. He was sentenced to prison by a federal judge who called him “the decision-making head” of a plot to deceive Congress. Later, an appeals court overturned the conviction on a technicality, holding that the testimony Poindexter gave to Congress about Iran-Contra was immunized, and therefore couldn’t be used against him at his trial.
“Dubbed the Information Awareness Office, Poindexter’s organization grew rapidly. With about $200 million in funding, Poindexter farmed out much of the research into how to build such a system to a wide range of corporations and universities that would do the heavy lifting. The companies were mostly large defense contractors such as Booz Allen Hamilton and Raytheon, and small boutique intelligence consultancies like Hick’s & Associates. The universities ranged from Cornell and Columbia in the east to the University of California at Berkeley in the west.” (pgs 101 & 102)
7. “At the groundbreaking ceremony on March 26, 2007, NSA director Keith Alexander showed up with Georgia Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss. Before scooping some dirt with a golden shovel, Chambliss told the group of electronic spies, “You’re doing the Lord’s work.” Someone then asked Alexander about the warrantless eavesdropping program. “We don’t want to spy on Americans, now, do we,” he said. “We want to spy on terrorists.” (pg 313)
128. Command And Control – Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion Of Safety” by Eric Schlosser
This book infuriated me. Eric is 100% establishment. The US never does anything criminal, in his eyes. The US is never aggressive. The Soviet Union – which won World War II for everyone at a cost of some 27 million dead – was inherently evil. He tosses out plenty of bits and pieces of nonsense that amounts to propaganda. North Korea attacked South Korea, full stop, and on and on. He evades the accusation of misrepresenting the facts only by virtue of the fact that he doesn’t get into subjects that he clearly would mislead us on if he were dealing with them at length. One exception is his chapter dealing with the Berlin crisis during JFK’s administration. He really blows it here, from my standpoint. From the establishment’s standpoint, there’s surely nothing wrong with his account. On the subject which Eric’s book does deal with, mainly, Eric’s reportage is eye-opening and no doubt solid. Then again, I’m not an expert on command and control of nuclear weapons and haven’t any way, short of diving into the subject and reading as much as Eric has on the subject, of evaluating it’s factuality.
nuggets: 1. “The Trinity test was scheduled for four in the morning on July 16, but forecasters predicted bad weather. Going ahead with the test could prove disastrous. In addition to the threat of lightening, high winds and rain could carry radioactive fallout as far as Amarillo, Texas, three hundred miles away. Postponing the test had other drawbacks: the device could be damaged by the rain, and President Harry S. Truman was in Potsdam, Germany, preparing to meet with Winston Churchill, the British prime minister, and Joseph Stalin, the general secretary of the Soviet Union’s Communist Party. Nazi Germany had recently been defeated, and Truman was about to demand an unconditional surrender from the Japanese. Having an atomic bomb would make it easier to issue that demand.” (pgs 42 & 43). 2. “The RAF Bomber Command, under the direction of Air Marshal Arthur “Bomber” Harris, unleashed a series of devastating nighttime raidson German cities. During Operation Gomorrah in July 1943, RAF bombs started a fire in Hamburg with hurricane-force winds. The first “firestorm” ever ignited by aerial bombardment, it killed about forty thousand civilians.” (pg 45). 3. “Without the common enemy of Nazi Germany, the alliance between the Soviet Union and the United States started to unravel.” (pg 80). 4. “The military’s demand for nuclear weapons was so great that Sandia could no longer handle the production. An “integrated contractor complex” was being formed, with manufacturing increasingly outsourced to plants throughout the United States. Polonium initiators would be made by the Monsanto Chemical Company, in Miamisburg, Ohio; explosive lenses by the Silas Mason Company in Burlington, Iowa; electrical components by the Bendix Aviation Corporation in Kansas City. Missouri; and so on… And the idea of placing atomic bombs under international control, the idea of outlawing them, the whole notion of world government and world peace, now seemed like an absurd fantasy.” (pg 100). 5. “The Polaris submarine seemed like the ideal weapon system for the Kennedy administration’s strategic goals. The sixteen missiles on each sub would serve as a powerful deterrent to the Soviets, greatly increasing the odds that the United States could offer some sort of nuclear response after a surprise attack. Safely hidden beneath the ocean, the submarines could also give the president more time to think or negotiate during a crisis. In 1958 the Navy had requested a dozen Polaris subs; facing intense pressure from Congress, Eisenhower later agreed to deploy 19. Kennedy decided to build 41. The 656 missiles of the Polaris fleet would be aimed solely at “countervalue” targets – at civilians who lived in major cities of the Soviet Union.” (pg 266). 6. “Bob Peurifoy has been bemused by the newfound passion for nuclear weapon safety and security among his former critics. He sees no need for more weapon tests, supports the test ban treaty, and thinks it would be highly irresponsible to add a new weapon like the RRW [Reliable Replacement Warhead] to the stockpile without having detonated it first. The plans to develop new warheads and bombs, Peurifoy says, are just “a money grab” by the Pentagon and the weapons laboratories. The yield-to-weight ration of America’s nuclear weapons became asymptomatic – approached their mathematical upper limit – around 1963. New designs won’t make detonations any more efficient.” (pg 470)
129. “Indigenous Nationhood – Empowering Grassroots Citizens” – by Pamela Palmater
nuggets: 1. “While today’s Canada may be described by its settlers and other non-Indigenous people as a post-colonial state, it is not post-colonial for Indigenous peoples.” (pg 2). 2. Pamela says that her “sovereignty is an inherent right.” (pg 4). 3. Tom Flanagan and other racists seek to score points by calling First Nations peoples “communists”! (pg 14). 4. “Official documents in the Department of National Defence characterized Mohawks as insurgents and terrorists. This is not only factually false and politically offensive, it also serves to spread fear and distrust amongst non-Indigenous society.” (pg 16). 5. Pam says that Idle No More was prophesied. (pg 80). 6. Pam notes that referring to the assimilation of First Nations peoples is too mild a description of what is taking place. Instead of ‘assimilation’, the word should be ‘elimination’. (pg 56). 7. Pam mentions the offensive name, namely Geronimo, given by Obama for the operation to murder Osama bin Laden. Notes Chomsky, on page 16, of “Who Rules The World,” “The casual choice of the name is reminiscent of the ease with which we name our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Black-hawk, Cheyenne.” (pg 109). 8. Pam dislikes the term “aboriginal.” (pg 146). 9. Pam feels that there’s no way to fix Bill C-51 [which has become Bill C-59 and is still awful]. (pg 155). 10. Manny Jules is a First Nations traitor. (pg 194). The worse than useless AFN (Assembly of First Nations) was once the National Indian Brotherhood. (pg 206). 11. Prime Minister Diefenbaker was no friend of First Nations peoples. (pg 210). 12. Pierre Trudeau shows his disrespect for First Nations peoples. (pg 211.) 13. Here’s a good illustration of the war-making Canadian State’s murderous attitude toward First Nations peoples: On January 24, 2012, there was a ‘historic’ “Crown-First Nations Gathering,” in which First Nations reps gave “Canada a wampum belt of peace, while Canada presented First Nations with a reproduction of a painting depicting the War of 1812. We extend our hand in peace and Canada asserts its dominance with a picture of war, death, and military domination. A war which was, at its most basic, a battle between foreigners over our territories which resulted in the loss of lives of many thousands of First Nations people living on both sides of the imaginary border between what is now Canada and the United States.” (pg 212)
130. “Who Owns The World” by Noam Chomsky
I have never read a book by Noam Chomsky before this one that I considered to be anything but very good and important. “Who Owns The Word?” can be thought of as a collection of Chomsky’s misses. No one is perfect. But something about this book really smells. Somehow all of Chomsky’s few failures made it into this book. How did the book come about? The book itself is a collection of material that had already been published, which in itself isn’t so bad. (The title for the book, in my view, is weak. “Who Cares?” would have been better.) But there’s also an abnormally high degree of repetition within the book itself. One wonders how much control Chomsky had in the making of this book. Obviously he had to sign off on it, but did he leave aspects of the project to another, or others, just a little bit too much? He is, afterall, quite elderly now and could be letting others assist him more than ever, which is fine, depending. I am more than a little disturbed at what his friendship with Amy Goodman, now, might mean.
Amy Goodman was once a progressive (I think), but with her show’s sudden alignment with Washington’s need to sell its Syrian regime change goal to the public, via the show’s pro White Helmets propaganda, she lost me, and much of her audience, overnight. As a ‘friend’, Chomsky could have pointed out to Goodman that she was on the wrong track in this instance – if he felt that way himself. He didn’t, to my knowledge, say boo about her White Helmets propaganda. Either he has sold his soul too or else he’s just not keeping up with events in the world. He may also have a bias against the internet (ironically, then, since he warned us long ago about the special interests who would steal it), and alternative media – which I never see him quote – that works against his being able to stay informed. That is to say, Is he actually getting his information from major, corporate-owned media? People like Noam have to know what the major media is shovelling out if they are going to expose both the US empire and its tools, including major media and other establishment sources. No one has done that as well as Noam Chomsky (sometimes in collaboration with others, like the late Edward Herman). But is Noam now showing signs of being bamboozled by the very media he has exposed for so many years? Is he no longer capable of sorting things out?
His fails in certain areas are big. Getting Syria wrong is not a small thing. (Assad did ‘not’ use barrel bombs on his people! Chomsky repeats that lie!) Joining with Washington in its quest to demonize the North Korean leadership is also a big fail. His failure to support the Nicaraguan people in their fight to remain independent of the US is unfathomable, given his previous defense of Nicaragua in that struggle. And there are other fails in “Who Owns The World?” Chomsky’s failure to say a whole lot in the book about Syria (or North Korea or Nicaragua) is unfortunate, considering the fact that, by now – some seven years during which the US has sought regime change in Syria – he would have had ample time, and smarts, to get at the full, main story. Therefore, he must be unwilling to see Syria here from the Syrian people’s (and progressives everywhere) standpoint. And that’s choice. One doesn’t have to go into detail about a subject in order to be right or wrong about it. When the subject is important, saying only a little about it, if it’s wrong, can have a big impact on readers – if you are someone with Noam Chomsky’s stature. As they say, a little change can make a big difference. What Chomsky gets right in the book is fine, important and welcome. But it doesn’t make the failures into successes.
Here’s something in the book which I find interesting. Chomsky tosses out that Osama bin Laden was buried at sea. Now, I can’t imagine that he has not read Seymour Hersh’s book about Osama bin Laden. Chomsky calls Hersh a fantastic journalist, which is a true vote of approval, unlike, say, what a mere quoting of Hersh would mean. In which case, Why would Chomsky not at least comment on the controversy surrounding the subject of bin Laden’s supposed burial at sea that Hersh goes into? How can it be that Washington’s line is ‘automatically’ correct? Are you mystified? I am? And I’m disturbed by what this indicates.
“Though the target of the operation, unarmed and with no protection, could easily have been apprehended, he was simply murdered and his body dumped at sea without an autopsy – an action that was “just and necessary,” we read in the liberal press. There would be no trial, as there was in the case of Nazi war criminals…” -pg 16
“Within weeks of the raid, I had been told by two longtime consultants to Special Operations Command, who have access to current intelligence, that the funeral aboard the Carl Vinson didn’t take place. One consultant told me that bin Laden’s remains were photographed and identified after being flown back to Afghanistan. The consultant added: “At that point, the CIA took control of the body. The cover story was that it had been flown to the Carl Vinson.” The second consultant agreed that “the killing of bin Laden was political theatre designed to burnish Obama’s military credentials … The SEALs should have expected the political grandstanding. It’s irresistible to a politician. Bin Laden became a working asset.” Early this year, speaking again to the second consultant, I returned to the burial at sea,. The consultant laughed and said: “You mean, he didn’t make it to the water?”
“The retired official said there had been another complication: some members of the SEAL team had bragged to colleagues and others that they had torn bin Laden’s body to pieces with rifle fire. The remains, including his head, which had only a few bullet holes in it, were thrown into a body bag and, during the helicopter flight back to Jalalabad, some body parts were tossed out over the Hindu Kush mountains – or so the SEALS claimed. At the time, the retired official said, the SEALSs did not think their mission would be made public by Obama within a few hours: “If the president had gone ahead with the cover story, there would have been no need to have a funeral within hours of the killing. Once the cover story was blown, and the death was made public, the White House had a serious ‘Where’s the body?’ problem. The world knew US forces had killed bin Laden in Abbottabad. Panic city. What to do? We need a ‘functional body’ because we have to be able to say we identified bin Laden via a DNA analysis. It would be navy officers who came up with the ‘burial at sea’ idea. Perfect. No body. Honorable burial following sharia law. Burial is made public in great detail, but Freedom of Information documents confirming the burial are denied for reasons of ‘national security.’ It’s the classic unraveling of a poorly constructed cover story – it solves an immediate problem but, given the slightest inspection, there is no back-up support. There never was a plan, initially, to take the body to sea, and no burial of bin Laden at sea took place.” The retired official said that if the SEALs’ first accounts are to be believed, there wouldn’t have been much left of bin Laden to put into the sea in any case.” – pages 46-48 of “The Killing of Osama bin Laden,” by Seymour Hersh
Make of that what you will. ‘Some’ body part were thrown out of the helicopter? There weren’t many bullet holes in the head? Was that because the SEALs had decided that the head should be reasonably intact for identification purposes? None of those questions are answered by anyone. But clearly, there’s controversy here, which you’d never know from Chomsky’s meager Washington-aligned statements.
131. “Washington’s Long War On Syria” by Stephen Gowans
nuggets: 1. “Throughout the Western world, Washington’s opposition to Assad – who U.S. state officials portrayed as a brutal dictator – and its support for the armed opposition, were seen to be motivated by distaste for tyranny and love of democracy. But considerations of promoting democracy played no role in Washington’s decision to back the opposition to the Assad government… Washington’s allies on the ground in the fight against the Syrian government were Islamists, not democrats.” (pg 12). 2. “Like the Arab nationalists, the Muslim Brothers [Muslim Brotherhood} reacted to the intrusion into the Arab world of European colonialism. But unlike the Arab nationalists, whose program was based on mobilizing the Arab world on the basis of common language, the Muslim Brothers sought to unify a larger world, that of Islam, on the basis of Islamic, and not Arab, identity.” (pg 23). 3. “After the outbreak of the Islamist insurrection in 2011, Western leaders spoke often of their vision of a political transition in Syria toward a pluralistic, democratic state, obfuscating the reality that pluralism and an elected legislature had been parts of Syrian political life for decades.” (pg 45). 4. “Opening up Syrian society to unrestricted political opposition would imperil the Arab nationalist project… First they cancelled the long-standing abridgment of civil liberties that had been authorized by the emergency law… Second, the government proposed a new constitution which would strip the Ba’ath Party of its special status… By making these concessions, the Ba’athist government was delivering the multi-party democracy that Western state officials and media said (erroneously it turned out) protesters had clamored for… Despite all the preceding, the insurgency intensified, as outside powers – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey – poured money into it.” (pg 63). 5. “The sultan’s rule was harsh and arbitrary… Omanis rose up against their Sultans numerous times, and each time the country’s figurehead rulers relied upon British forces to quell the uprisings. By 1966, an Arab nationalist revolt broke out… The British response to the revolt was swift and brutal… British journalist Ian Cobain wrote that “In their determination to put down a popular rebellion against the cruelty and neglect of a despot who was propped up and financed by Britain, British-led forces poisoned wells, torched villages, destroyed crops and shot livestock. During the interrogation of rebels they developed their torture techniques… Areas populated by civilian were turned into free-fire zones.” (pages 82 & 83). 6. “One reason a violent uprising with a predominantly Islamist content led by armed Jihadists against a popular government could be presented as a popular upheaval against an unpopular government was that “the opposition movements during 2011 had well-developed PR operations,” according to Patrick Cockburn, funded largely by the U.S. government and its anti-democratic Arab monarch allies.” 7. “A multinational coalition funded, armed and coordinated the Islamist insurgency, with Washington in the lead. Here’s how it worked. Washington assumed a supervisory role. It coordinated the provision of arms, decided which weapons would be distributed and which groups would receive them. The Saudis foot the lion’s share of the bill, with the Qataris, Turks and Jordanians kicking in, as well. The United States also covered part of the cost of running the insurgency. Additionally, Washington, along with selected Western allies, provided training to Islamist fighters, at bases in Jordan and Qatar. Turkey allowed Islamists to flow freely over its border with Syria, and in the early days of the insurgency allowed the Free Syrian Army to operate from Turkish soil.” (pg 155)
132. “Patriots, Traitors And Empires” by Stephen Gowans
nuggets: 1. “Geographically attached to China, Korea was a tributary of the much larger country. It became the object of the First Sino-Japaese War – a conflict fought in the waning years of the nineteenth century between the dominant East Asian power and an emerging one, Japan, for influence in Korea. Japan emerged victorious, and soon after fought Russia, a Eurasian juggernaut, for control of Korea and the contiguous Chinese province of Manchuria, a war occasionally referred to as World War O. Japan emerged victorious from its contest with the Tsar’s empire, to the consternation of Europe, for a non-white race had defeated for the first time a great power, in a global international order that theretofore had been characterized by unalloyed white supremacy. (pg 16). 2. “The United States obtruded its military onto Korea three weeks after the Japanese surrender, having spilled not a single drop of blood for Korea’s liberation. In contrast, Soviet forces had fought their way into Korea a full month before US forces arrived. The Soviet push into Manchuria and contiguous Korea – and the spilled blood of Soviet soldiers in the campaign – was one of the principle causes of Japan’s surrender. The Japanese had hoped that the Soviets – neutral in the Pacific War until August 8, 1945 – would broker a peace. But when the Soviets declared war on Japan, and crossed the frontier into Japan’s empire, Tokyo knew its cause was hopeless. It surrendered one week later. The Korean state that would be established in the Soviet occupation zone, the DPRK, was founded by anti-Japanese guerillas who, like Soviet soldiers, had spilled their blood to liberate Korea. Korean guerillas had fought the Japanese and their Korean collaborators for years, both within Korea, and from contiguous Manchuria. For 13 long years, Kim Il-sung had been a principal figure in the guerilla struggle against Japanese imperialism. If anyone deserved to lead a newly independent Korea it was Kim, or Koreans like him, who had devoted their lives to achieving Korea’s freedom from foreign domination, and fought long, arduous battles against the country’s Japanese tormentors. In contrast, Washington installed Syngman Rhee as the head of its new Korean state, a man who had spent nearly four decades in the United States collecting degrees from Ivy League universities, including a Ph.D. from Princeton. When he was finally driven out of Seoul by exasperated Koreans, he returned to the bossom of his imperial master’s embrace, accepting comfortable retirement in Hawaii. The new South Korean government designated the DPRK not as a state, but as an anti-state organization, deemed to be illegally occupying territory north of the 38th parallel, a designation that remains to this day.” (pages 18 & 18). 3. “Unlike Park Chung-hee, the military dictator who would succeed him as president, Rhee cannot be characterized as a traitor tout court. Park helped the Empire of the Rising Sun keep his native Korea in chains. Rhee, unlike Park, was not a traitor, in the sense of collaborating with the Japanese. Collaborating with the new US occupation, however, was another matter. Rhee immigrated to the United States in 1940, before Japan made Korea into a protectorate. He was absent from Korea for the entire Japanese colonial period, returning only in October 1945, aboard a US military aircraft, spirited into the country to head a new pro-US anti-communist police state. Rhee opposed the Japanese colonization of Korea and fought against it, lobbying US politicians, including two presidents, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, to intercede on Korea’s behalf. This strategy, thought Kim Il-sung, was tantamount to appealing for help to an armed robber waiting outside your door while another robber plunders your house from within. The only effective solution to the problem of occupation, Kim concluded, was to take up arms to drive the robber out, and prevent the other robbers from entering, a strategy Kim would take up, while Rhee pounded the streets of Washington, seeking help from imperialist power (the United States) against another (Japan). Kim Il-sung’s communism made him attractive to many Koreans but persona non grata to the US government. Syngman Rhee’s anti-communism made him attractive to the US government but persona non grata to many Koreans. But Rhee had something that other Korean anti-communists lacked: a record free from pro Japanese collaborationist taint… Washington hoped that Rhee’s anti-Japanese credentials would make him acceptable to South Korean public opinion.” (pages 99 & 100)
133. “Empire Of Illusion” by Chris Hedges
nuggets: 1. “Functional illiteracy in North America is epidemic. There are 7 million illiterate Americans. Another 27 million are unable to read well enough to complete a job application, and 30 million can’t read a simple sentence. There are some 50 million who read at fourth- or fifth-grade level. Nearly a third of the nation’s population is illiterate of barely literate – a figure that is growing by more than 2 million a year. A third of high-school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives, and neither do 42 percent of college graduates. In 2007, 80 percent of the families in the United States did not buy or read a book. And it is not much better beyond our borders. Canada has an illiterate and semiliterate population estimated at 42 percent of the whole, a proportion that mirrors that of the United States… Hour after hour, day after day, week after week, we are bombarded with the cant and spectacle pumped out over the airwaves or over computer screens by highly-paid pundits, corporate advertisers, talk-show hosts, and gossip-fueled entertainment networks. And a culture dominated by images and slogans seduces those who are functionally literate but who make the choice not to read. There have been other historical periods with high rates of literacy and vast propaganda campaigns. But not since the Soviet and fascist dictatorships, and perhaps the brutal control of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, has the content of information been as skillfully and ruthlessly controlled and manipulated. Propaganda has become a substitute for ideas and ideology. Knowledge is confused with how we are made to feel. Commercial brands are mistaken for expressions of individuality. And in this precipitous decline of values and literacy, among those who cannot read and those who have given up reading, fertile ground for a new totalitarianism is being seeded.” (pages 44 & 45). 2. “In December 2006, the university announced plans to cut down more than forty huge oak trees on a 1.5-acre site on campus to build a training facility for athletes. A group of protesters built crude tree houses in the branches and took shifts manning them to thwart the plan. Berkeley municipal law prohibits removing any Coast Live Oak with a trunk larger than sex inches within city boundaries, but city boundaries do not include the university. The protest lasted for twenty-one months until September 2008, when the last protesters were coaxed down and the grove was demolished. “During the well-publicized, two-year tree sits, most students supported the university’s plans to build the sporting complex and railed against ‘the hippies,'” [Chris] Hebdon says. “One student, a war veteran, was treated as an imminent threat for tree-sitting with a sign that read ‘Democratize the U.C. Regents.’ Few students knew that the Regents, who oversee the whole university system, are appointed rather than elected and representative, even though this is required by law. Few really dug in and thought. My strongest memory is of a person selling rocks to throw at tree sitters. He had noticeable crowd support. When I see things like this, I think of how Berkeley, once known for conscientious objection, is training an inhumane, deeply frustrated, indifferent, game-driven people. The military has a strong presence on campus and is one of the few ways for students to pay their way without accruing large debt.”” (pg 95)
134. “Paramilitarism And The Assault On Democracy In Haiti” by Jeb Sprague
nuggets: 1. “Since the earthquake of 2010, taking advantage of the upheaval and social disarray it caused, calls have heightened among the ex-military and right-wing politicians within the country to reconstruct Haiti’s brutal army. In March of 2011, Michel Martelly, a popular musician connected to Haiti’s bourgeoisie and longtime opponent of Lavalas, was elected as president in a controversial vote… Rather than focus on the country’s poor, tragically harmed in the earthquake, or turning attention to the country’s rural heartland (which is in drastic need of attention), one of Martelly’s main goals has been to rebuild Haiti’s army. (pg 17). 2. “Haiti’s alleged isolation is also belied by the numerous foreign interventions into its affairs, especially by the United States. In 1862, Haiti was recognized as a sovereign nation by the administration of Abraham Lincoln, but as Noam Chomsky explains, the United States wanted to utilize Haitian ports in the war against the Confederacy, and was considering “Haiti as a place that might absorb blacks induced to leave the United States.”” (pg 23). 3. “With the end of the Second World War, as popular uprisings began to erupt througout the island, the Haitian military was considered by U.S. policy makers, as well as by local elites and international businesses operating in the country, to be a bulwark against the spread of communism – and, for that matter, against any redistributionist policies.” (pages 26 & 27). 4. “Although Jean-Bertrand Aristide was known across the country, he had few resources to run his campaign and constantly faced the threat of assassination. His campaign operated on a shoestring budget, while friends and a handful of volunteers from the popular movement served as his bodyguards. Aristide bravely denounced the historic role of the United States in founding, arming, and training Haiti’s military, which had been responsible for so much of the violence in Haitian history: “They [the United States] set up the Haitian Army, they trained it to work against the people… I say this in order to force Haitian soldiers of my time to face up to this truth; I say this so that in the midst of the Army itself, the men will recognize that they, the sons of the people, are being positioned against themselves, who are the issue of the people’s womb.”” (pages 52 & 53). 5. “Among the donor community, USAID first began to critize the young president. “Though the new minimum wage under the Aristide government would have still been less than one-eleventh of the average U.S. apparel wage (50 cent versus $5.85 an hour), USAID opposed this increase and orchestrated oppoisiton to it,” the U.S. National Labor Committee said in a report.” (pg 60). 6. “While members of the FRAPH melted back into the population with few ever reliquishing their weapons, some its leadership moved to safety in the Dominican Republic, and others hid out in Haiti’s countryside or fled abroad. Documentary filmaker Kevin Pina says that for the most part the paramilitaries “were kept in reserve, they [the United States and elites] let them keep their arms.” Canadian philosopher Peter Hallward says that in “1994-95 the CIA was careful to leave US options open, and took steps to preserve the valuable paramilitary structures it had built up… The US pointedly refused to take steps to disarm or otherwise compromise the power of their employees, and their insistence on a full amnesty for the coup leaders, coupled with the structural weakness of Haiti’s fledgling judicial system, allowed them to weather Aristide’s dissolution of the army and of the attaché network with a minimum of disruption.”” (pg 80). 7. “Last-chance attempts by the OAS to negotiate a compromise failed as the opposition continued with its strategy of not giving an inch, refusing to negotiate a deal, which kept the aid embargo on the government in place. It later emerged that Stanley Lucas, a top representative of the U.S. Internation Republican Institute (IRI), as well as a friend of Guy Phlippe, had advised the “civilian” opposition not to reach a negotiated settlement.” (pages 186 & 187). 8. “In constant communication with the foreign embassies that were providing them with funding and resources, the new opposition coalition made attempts to spread protests to other parts of the country. A major worry for elites was the hostile reaction that the opposition demonstrations, led by some of the country’s wealthiest business leaders, received from the local population. On one occasion, the opposition led a caravan into the heart of Cité Soleil, one of Haiti’s poorest urban slums and a stronghold of Lavalas, in what was clearly a provocative move meant to draw a response from the impoverished population. When police realized they would be unable to hold back conterdemonstrations and asked the opposition to hold off, they were criticized heavily. On other occasions, government and opposition backers engaged in melees (with injuries on both sides), such as the beatings and rock throwing that occurred at the National University on December 5, 2003. Groups such as the Soros Foundation heavily denounced the government backers, and such incidents gained widespread international attention. (pages 195 & 196)
135. “Surveillance Valley – The Secret Military History of the Internet” by Yasha Levine
This is an important book. It’s not perfect, but I highly recommend it. I think Yasha has the right politics (he’s decent in other words), but I’m not sure he’s that up to speed on macro politics. Yasha wrote for the fantastic media org, Pando Daily, which specializes in internet tech and the companies providing it. What makes me think that his knowledge revolves mainly around internet technology and Silicon Valley shenanigans, rather then being more general, is that the few times he touches on big events, like the swallowing down of Syria that is underway, he gets it wrong. It’s easy to know, if you’re paying attention to real news that comes from alternative media (and not just one or two sites) that Bashar al Assad did not launch a brutal crackdown on protesters, let alone barrel bomb his people, a ridiculous accusation that the establishment levels against Assad, which, sadly, Noam Chomsky parrots. Yasha also seems to know only establishment history of John F. Kennedy, as seen by his reference to the way JFK was progressive on the economy. JFK employed some Keynesian jujitsu, but in the service, not of the people, but rather, in the service of powerful special interests (even though they didn’t always appreciate the fact), as Bruce Miroff explains in “Pragmatic Illusions – The Presidential Politics of John F. Kennedy” (published in 1976). The following is from pages 167 & 168 of Bruce’s above book:
“…Kennedy did break some fresh ground in American political economy – he did so, in fact, in the face of business antipathy, congressional reluctance, and public indifference. And the substantial success of his innovative measures, which guided the most extended economic expansion in recent American history, produced a new consensus in American economic life.
Yet if Kennedy can, in this sense, be termed an economic progressive, in another, less obvious sense he must be considered an economic conservative. For his innovations were by no means intended to alter the existing structure of the American corporate economy. His policies posed no obstacle to the continued domination of the economy by giant ogilopolies whose wealth and power permitted them, contrary to the myth of competitive capitalism, to control output, prices, employment, and investment. Instead, Kennedy’s “New Economics” helped to stablize and rationalize the corporate economy, to underwrite its risk taking and guarantee its market. Contrary to the shortsighted perspective of a majority of businessmen, Kennedy’s economic policies instituted an era in which corporate profits and corporate power soared.”
I also found that Yasha’s narrative wasn’t tight in some important respects. When he gets into the subject of Tor – and it’s utterly fascinating – he explains that the US intelligence community wanted to create a parallel internet in which its spooks could communicate freely. If they created such a network and made it for themselves exclusively, then everyone would know that all the communications on that network, or internet, was by and for the intelligence community. Okay. But the public, non intelligence community would have to be allowed in to see those communications before it could make such observations. Right? I’m not saying that Levine’s wrong here. It may just be that he wasn’t clear. He does a fantastic job of showing how the government created Tor, the super browser that (supposedly) afforded users super privacy and which, Levine points out, just happened to enable the evil dark web (with it’s assassins for hire, child porn, child traficking and weapons sales). Levine explains that the Deep State then used willing (and, it seems, unwitting) high profile people (Jacob Appelbaum [who Julian Assange endorsed very publicly], Edward Snowden) to sell the idea of Tor the super browser and enabler (supposedly) of progressives and activists to that crowd, thus distancing Tor from the intelligence community in the minds of users. The Intelligence community could then enter the dark web and do its dirty work quietly for everyone else would be doing other things there. So far so good. But then Levine reveals that Tor was never safe from penetration, which became apparent after huge sweeps by law enforcement scooped up criminals, including the Silk Road’s Ross Ulbricht, aka Dread Pirate Roberts. So, Which was it?: The spooks wanted an impenetrable parallel internet that they could (also) use? Or they didn’t? Remember, The government built and (mainly) funded Tor. Maybe it’s just me. But I found Levine’s narrative to be confusing in this regard.
Regardless, the book is awesome. And while I might criticize it, I only wish I had the smarts to write a book like that.
I thought that mini review would be better than my usual offering of nuggets.