Friday, September 16, 2011

US Contractor Funds Still Going to Taliban, Pentagon Admits

US Contractor Funds Still Going to Taliban, Pentagon Admits from Follow this link to get to their summary and thus on to original sources.

 So, lets see. We are told we can't afford teachers or nurses. We can't afford health care for our elders. We can't afford a retirement for our children. But we can afford to fund the frackin Taliban?

In testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform National Security Subcommittee, top Pentagon official Brigadier General Stephen Townsend conceded that contractor funding is still ending up in the hands of the Taliban. The comments come a month after the military estimated that $360 million had ended up in the hands of the Taliban and other criminals in Afghanistan,

The joke is that the so called 'Super Committee' that's going to decide exactly how we get screwed to balance their budget won't look at things like 'lets stop funding the Taliban' as ways to cut the budget. Of course, the best solution towards getting the deficit under control would be to end this war and bring our troops and our money home.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Biased police training can only result in biased policing.

That graph is a part of official FBI training materials used for advanced training of FBI agents tasked with fighting terrorist threats to Americans.

Hmmm, where would Timothy McVeigh fall on that chart I wonder?

FBI Teaches Agents: ‘Mainstream’ Muslims Are ‘Violent, Radical’ from

“Seeing the materials FBI agents are being trained with certainly helps explain why we’ve seen so many inappropriate FBI surveillance operations broadly targeting the Muslim-American community, from infiltrating mosques with agents provocateur to racial- and ethnic-mapping programs,” Mike German, a former FBI agent now with the American Civil Liberties Union, tells Danger Room after being shown the documents. ”Biased police training can only result in biased policing.”

That's the hidden problem. The piece does a nice job of pointing out how having FBI agents taught with hateful, racist religious propaganda makes life a living hell for any Muslims who cross their paths. But, what about the real terror threats who don't get stopped while all the FBI agents are busy going to pot-lucks with Muslim families down at the local mosque? How does that catch the next Timothy McVeigh, or stop the next Eric Rudolph from trying to kill me when he set off a bomb in the midst of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics?

One of the problems we've created in our society is that the FBI now has an institutional need to find terrorists everywhere in America. They've set up special Joint Terror Task Forces in 106 American cities. Now, here's a question for you. If you are an FBI agent assigned to one of these JTTF's and you want to have a successful FBI career, which do you think is most likely to be a step in that direction. Do you report back to your bosses that a thorough investigation has revealed that while the area has its usual mix of crazies and criminals, there's no sign of Al-Qaida or a similar organization recruiting and organizing in whatever is the 81st or 92nd biggest American city? Or, do you find a way to make a big deal about some terrorist threat in your area? Do you find a way to entrap some fool into a terrorist arrest so you can report back to your FBI bosses that you've stopped a terrorist plot?

Osama Bin Laden sat in the same safe house in Abbottabad, Pakistan for four years, and we could never find him. Could it be that the reason for that was that we had our counter-terrorism agents scattered across 106 American cities desperately trying to make their careers proving that there's terrorism in Des Moines, IA or Topeka, KS? Did it occur to anyone that maybe having our counter-terrorism agents look for terrorists in some place like Pakistan might be a better use of the tax payers dollars?

Any bureaucratic organization, or sector of such an organization, tries to protect and grow their own budget. Every manager wants more dollars to spend and more people to supervise. Every manager will fight any cut backs to his portion of an organization. Thus, each of those 106 FBI Joint Terror Task Forces will attempt to justify their own existence and their own budget,and somehow even manage to plead that somehow we'd all be safer if Birmingham, AL had even more agents assigned to the local JTTF. Thus, the FBI now has a need to find terrorists everywhere.

Now we see the training materials to help the local anti-terror aqents achieve their true goal of protecting their jobs by finding terrorists everywhere. You just make every Muslim a terrorist. And, if you think its just limited to 'them', and thus that you are safe, then remember that his is the same FBI that has said in Colorado that says that anyone who 'attempts to pay cash' is someone who's a possible terrorist. Or that this is the same FBI that said in MO that everyone with a Ron Paul sticker on their car is a potential terrorist.

That's the really scary story in all of this. We have created a group of many government officials who want to justify their jobs and make their entire careers by proving that they can always find more and more and more terrorists in 106 cities all across America. If an FBI agent can't find or create terrorists in your home town, someone might decide that we don't need him there searching and thus either lay him off or to send him to some place like Abbottabad to search for terrorists over there. Its a pretty good guess that Mrs. FBI Agent won't be very happy if Mr. FBI Agent either loses his job or if the family has to move to Abbottabad because that's where it makes sense to search for terrorists. Nope. So, for domestic tranquility and for a happy career in the FBI, Mr. FBI Agent now has to prove that there are terrorists all over America. Have a nice day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The sad legacy of 9/11 is that the assholes, on each side, won.

A Decade After 9/11: We Are What We Loathe by Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges is always an important voice.

What was played out in the weeks after the attacks was the old, familiar battle between force and human imagination, between the crude instruments of violence and the capacity for empathy and understanding. Human imagination lost. Coldblooded reason, which does not speak the language of the imagination, won. We began to speak and think in the empty, mindless nationalist clich├ęs about terror that the state handed to us. We became what we abhorred. The deaths were used to justify pre-emptive war, invasion, Shock and Awe, prolonged occupation, targeted assassinations, torture, offshore penal colonies, gunning down families at checkpoints, massive aerial bombardments, drone attacks, missile strikes and the killing of dozens and soon hundreds and then thousands and later tens of thousands and finally hundreds of thousands of innocent people. We produced piles of corpses in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, and extended the reach of our killing machine to Yemen and Somalia. And by beatifying our dead, by cementing into the national psyche fear and the imperative of permanent war, and by stoking our collective humiliation, the state carried out crimes, atrocities and killings that dwarfed anything carried out against us on 9/11. The best that force can do is impose order. It can never elicit harmony. And force was justified, and is still justified, by the first dead. Ten years later these dead haunt us like Banquo’s ghost.

and ending with ...

We could have gone another route. We could have built on the profound sympathy and empathy that swept through the world following the attacks. The revulsion over the crimes that took place 10 years ago, including in the Muslim world, where I was working in the weeks and months after 9/11, was nearly universal. The attacks, if we had turned them over to intelligence agencies and diplomats, might have opened possibilities not of war and death but ultimately reconciliation and communication, of redressing the wrongs that we commit in the Middle East and that are committed by Israel with our blessing. It was a moment we squandered. Our brutality and triumphalism, the byproducts of nationalism and our infantile pride, revived the jihadist movement. We became the radical Islamist movement’s most effective recruiting tool. We descended to its barbarity. We became terrorists too. The sad legacy of 9/11 is that the assholes, on each side, won.

Want to know why I react so strongly to all the pro-9/11 propaganda of this last weekend? Its because behind the soldiers and the red, white and blue I know about and see the piles of corpses that we've piled up around the world. Its because to me all of this flag-waving celebration of 9-11 just looks like the assholes throwing a victory party.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

How Many Americans did the NFL and NASCAR kill this weekend?

How many Americans did the NFL and NASCAR kill this weekend? Now, I understand they didn't pull out a gun and start shooting the people in their stands. But, its also almost a certainty that some of the people in those stands or watching on TV will die within a year or two because of what NASCAR and the NFL did this weekend?

Both NASCAR and NFL are filled, even more than normal, with patriotic displays and salutes to the troops on 9-11 weekend. How many impressionable young boys and girls will see those displays and join the military? How many of those impressionable young people are going to die because of this? How many are going to be maimed for life, and go through the rest of their lives blind, or deaf, or missing limbs? How many are going to be scarred psychologically by going and being part of armies of occupation in foreign lands, and by the acts that are required of such armies? How many are going to come home struggling with PTSD? How many are going to become a part of the record number of suicides by military veterans?

In the American market society, anything that is on television is there to draw eyeballs to advertisements. The business of television is structured in that way. TV stations and networks make their money selling advertisements to people who want to watch whatever drama, comedy, game show or sporting event that is what's listed in the TV listings. The NFL and NASCAR are on TV so that the advertisers can broadcast their messages to the audience that wants to see the game or the race.

In this environment, one major set of advertisers are the recruiting arms of the US military. Huge amounts of money are spent on military recruiting ads broadcast during races or games, or on the primary sponsorship of certain race cars. The purpose of these ads is to recruit young people into the military.

We as a society have decided to ban tobacco ads from television. Because of this, the top NASCAR series changed its name from being the "Winston" cup. The reason we as a society made the decision to ban tobacco ads is because tobacco is a product that when used exactly as directed by the manufacturer, it leads to the ill-health and death of its customers.

Morally, aren't military recruitment ads in the same category? We know as a certainty that certain percentages of the young people of our society who join the military will end up dead, maimed, or psychologically scarred. This happens when these young people do exactly what they are told and trained to do by the military that they join. These are not accidental deaths and injuries that can not be foreseen, nor or they deaths and injuries that were caused only by the negligence of the person who saw the ad, believed the message and bought the product.

Military recruiting ads must be effective or else the military wouldn't spend the money on them. Somewhere, someone probably has some statistics that say how many young people they expect to recruit into the military for every dollar that buys every rating point on TV. And somewhere else, someone knows the stats on how many of the people who join the military come through the experience alive, uninjured, and without psychological scars. As a math and science sort of guy, to me this tells me someone could put these stats together and come up with numbers of how many people are going to die or be maimed or otherwise damaged by each military recruiting ad during a NASCAR or NFL event. Or to compute the number of how many people are going to die each time the Army NASCAR race car goes out on the track. Hopefully the number is better expressed in terms of laps run by the Army NASCAR per dead young American than as numbers of dead young Americans per lap run by the Army NASCAR, but the relationship certainly exists and is very and fatally real.

So, to me there's a deep moral question to businesses like NASCAR and the NFL that accept military recruiting dollars. Or to the TV networks that take the dollars to broadcast military ads during the broadcasts of these events. To me, these businesses are making at least some of their profits by harming the young people of this country.

And that's the other place where military recruiting advertising is very similar to tobacco advertising. Both sets of ads deliberately target the young people our country. Thus, they combine a product that does the most harm to the young with advertising that targets the people most vulnerable to such ads in our society. And, surely the core of any sane and moral civilization has to be in nurturing and protecting our young.

But, the NFL and NASCAR both go much further than the questionable morality of building their businesses on selling advertising for products that harm or kill the fans of their sports. Both have moved beyond the role of merely being the lure that attracts eyeballs to advertisements into the delivering their own messages to the fans of their sports. And both have decided to deliver messages that seemed designed to elect more pro-war politicians to office and to get more young people to join the military. The elaborate 9-11 ceremonies that marked both the NASCAR race and NFL games of this weekend were not purchased advertisements of some outside third party, but were the direct productions of the NFL and NASCAR. Now, its not NASCAR and the NFL selling space to outsiders telling people to go join the military and die, but now its NASCAR and the NFL directly sending out this message on their own. And the message they are sending out will almost certainly kill at least some of their fans. There are young teenagers alive today who saw these elaborate 9-11 ceremonies at these sporting events and who will be influenced into joining the military because of these messages. And some of those young teenagers will die.

Thus, the question in the headline. How many Americans did the NFL and NASCAR kill this weekend?

OBL killed 2,740 Americans

On Sept 11, the terrorists directed by Osama Bin Laden killed 2,976 people, of which 2,740 were Americans. Source, Google Answers.

The lies which led America into the Iraq War, such as the claims that Saddam was a threat to Americans because he had WMDs, have killed at least 4,474 Americans. Source,

Who's the bigger criminal?

Meanwhile, we have seen a major investigation about charges of lying to Congress .... against a baseball player about the vital national topic of who takes steroids to play ball games. The lying to Congress that led to the launch of the Iraq War has never been investigated and no one has ever faced charges.

Its estimate that in developed countries, on any single day
  • 7300 people died of AIDS/HIV
  • 7200 people died of lower respiratory infections
  • 6800 people died of Ischaemic heart disease
  • 4900 people died of Diarrhea
  • 3700 people died of Cerebrovascular disease
  • 3300 people died of childhood diseases
  • 3000 people died of Malaria
  • 2700 people died of Tuberculosis

Don't get me wrong, 9-11 was a tragedy. Many people died that day before their time. They died tragic deaths, faced with horrible choices like burning alive in the fires or jumping to their deaths. Don't get me wrong, 9-11 was a horrible act. But it does help to put things in perspective.

Of course, on 9-12, 0 people died from OBL's terror attacks on that day, while another 3000 or so people in developed countries alone died of Malaria. In our market driven society, there are bigger profits in making Viagra than anti-malarial drugs, so guess where the research dollars go? We went to war to avenge the 2700 deaths on one day, and we've spent hundreds of billions of dollars in that war and killed another 4400 Americans or more fighting those wars. But we won't declare war on Malaria, which killed another 3000 people on 9-12, and another 3000 people on 9-13, and another 3000 people on 9-14 ... In our market-driven society, that tells us there are greater profits in killing people in a war than in saving people from a killer disease.

And we wonder why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was crying out for us to change our society from the pulpit of Riverside Church.

It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin...we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

I didn't start this day thinking I'd search for MLK quotes. But, it does seem a fitting response to the bloodthirsty calls for war that still are the centerpiece of our 9-11 rememberences. It does seem a fitting response to a day that seems to want to celebrate an American assassination of OBL. I'm not saying OBL wasn't a killer. Maybe even he deserved to die, although I always shudder when the state claims the right to kill anyone.

But, is that the America we wanted? Did we want the America of endless wars around the world? Did we want the America that sends black-clad assassins out into the night? Did we want the America where everything that Dr. King found awful and evil is still true? Or, did we want a different and better America?

We put up statues to Dr. King, while creating an America that favors all that the good doctor found evil, and that ignores everything that the good doctor was trying to lead us towards in order to be a better place and a better country in a better world where people can lead better and more peaceful lives. My guess is that Dr. King wouldn't have been happy with just a statue. Not when the Jericho road is still at least as dangerous as it ever was.