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On COVID-19 and Curtis LeMay

By Robert S. Griffin • Unz Review • March 26, 2020

As I write this in late March of 2020, the world is under attack from a deadly strain of coronavirus called COVID-19. Thus far, there have been around 18,000 deaths world-wide, including 550 deaths in the United States where I live. My country has come to a halt: schools and businesses are shut down and people have been warned to stay in their houses or apartments hunkered down in the face of this menacing enemy. We’re in a war, that’s how it is being described in the media. The president has said he is like a war-time president.

Speaking of war, tonight, hunkered down as I usually am in this very late stage of life—I didn’t need to be directed to hide out on this leather couch I’m sitting on at the moment—I read a biography of an American World War II-era air force general by the name of Curtis LeMay (LeMay: The Life and Times of General Curtis LeMay by Warren Kozak, Regnery, 2009). As I was reading along, it hit me that COVID-19 has a long way to go before it’s in a league with General LeMay as a killing machine. Back in 1945, in less than three hours, LeMay got way, way more killing done than COVID-19 has been able to accomplish in three months.

And it’s more than just in the sheer number of deaths that LeMay comes out on top in the comparison.

COVID-19 has been bad at snuffing out the lives of children and people who aren’t already sick with something. With LeMay, young and old, sick and well, he put them all in their graves.

And LeMay wasn’t limited to primly killing people lying quietly in hospital beds with rubber tubes running into them as COVID-19 has been. He set them on fire, deprived them of air to breathe, and heated them up like pot roasts. Imagine that action!

More, COVID-19 seems only to be proficient at x-ing out human life in cold weather; no good in the summer. LeMay demonstrated in both Europe and Asia that he was a man for all seasons, as it were—he was as effective cancelling someone’s existence in July as January.

Plus, Curtis LeMay didn’t just kill people; he also totally leveled the areas they lived in. COVID-19 has accomplished nothing in this regard.

In addition, Curtis LeMay had style and pizzazz—he had a snappy uniform and chewed on a big cigar. COVID-19, tiny and round with little spikes, no snappy uniform, no big cigar, nothing, lacks presence entirely.

Even more, Curtis LeMay was miles ahead of COVID-19 in public relations. He did his killing and came off looking good and got fawned over and invited to dinner parties, while COVID-19 does its killing and comes off looking bad and is shunned and people are brewing up poison to slip into its margarita. No contest there either.

The one area where COVID-19 comes out ahead of LeMay is in the ability to make the stock market plunge. LeMay was lacking in that area, though in fairness to him, he wasn’t dedicated to getting that accomplished—total destruction and super high death counts were his only priorities.

Assuming you don’t know about him, General Curtis LeMay conceived and ordered an incendiary bombing raid—fire bombs, they set everything aflame—on the civilian population of Tokyo, Japan, March 9th, 1945. Here’s a description of how it went down drawn from the LeMay biography I just read:

Across Tokyo, residents looked up in amazement. They had never seen the “B-sans” [B29 bomber airplanes] so low, nor had they ever seen so many at once. German Catholic priest, Father Gustav Bitter, who was there, later wrote, “The fire falling from the sky reminded me of tinsel hung on a Christmas tree. The red and yellow flames reflected from below onto the silvery undersides of the planes in the upper darkness gave them the appearance of giant dragon flies with jeweled wings. I watched as if I were in a trance.”

With sudden fury, tranquility became horror as the incendiaries hit home. They created tornadoes of fire. They sucked away oxygen; people couldn’t breathe and suffocated. Masuko Harino, a factory worker, reported, “Intense heat came from the firestorm. My eyes seemed about to pop out. People’s clothes were on fire. They were writhing in torment.” A young woman described a school that had become a three-story oven: every human being inside it was cooked to death. Strewn everywhere, some in batches, the incinerated bodies were black; they looked like logs from a distance. There was a dreadful sameness about the dead, no telling men from women or adults from children. If they could walk, survivors wandered about like ghosts, silent. Those still alive were left to die in agony; there was no medicine, food, or drinking water for them.

The raid lasted two hours and forty minutes. Sixteen square miles of Tokyo, one of the most densely populated areas in the world, was transformed into a moonscape of twisted reddish-black iron, roasted sheet metal, and rubble. Not a single man-made structure still stood. An estimated 100,000 people died in Tokyo that night. More than a million were left homeless. The grisly retrieval of bodies took weeks. At least 70,000 people were buried in mass pits. A U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey concluded, “More persons lost their lives in Tokyo that night than in any equivalent period of time in the history of mankind.”

How did what Curtis LeMay pulled off that March night in 1945 go over? It went over really big. And LeMay himself went over really big. I read The New York Times every morning, and it’s been non-stop trashing COVID-19 for weeks, not one positive word, and there’s been all kinds of commiserating with the dead and dying. With LeMay, the Times jumped up and down like cheerleaders. Hurray for our hero! The paper pointed out that those people in Tokyo LeMay set on fire, asphyxiated, and baked had it coming—women, children, and infants, every last one of them–because “the people, factories, and small establishments all contributed to Japan’s war effort.” The Times celebrated LeMay’s admirable deed as the start of really good things: to wit, Japanese cities becoming “no more than holes in the ground.” Though the newspaper cautioned readers that the Japanese “have done their deadliest fighting from holes in the ground,” so we need to be diligent and thorough with the killing.

Following the bombing raid, New Yorker magazine had a glowing profile of LeMay. And he was on the cover of Time magazine and given an effusive write-up in its pages. Nothing like that for COVID-19. But then again, COVID-19 hasn’t done the bang-up job of extinguishing human life that LeMay did, and it’s not anihilating the people who most richly deserve to die like LeMay was so good at doing.

LeMay got a promotion to Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, and in 1968, ran for vice-president on a third-party ticket, garnering a hefty 13% of the vote. COVID-19 couldn’t come by a janitor’s job or get on the ballot for dogcatcher.

LeMay got an elementary school named after him, and . . . oh, you get my point. LeMay had it all going, and my best guess is that no matter how good COVID-19 does in the future—including getting up to speed with killing little children—it’s never going to measure up to him.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

The Empire’s Cuban Colony 1898-1959

Tales of the American Empire

The Cuban struggle for independence in the 1890s was closely covered by the American press. Some newspapers agitated for American intervention and featured sensational stories of Spanish atrocities against the native Cuban population. Spain posed no threat to the United States, but Cuba had very profitable plantations coveted by American tycoons. On February 15, 1898, the US Navy warship USS Maine was visiting Havana harbor and was rocked by an explosion, killing 260 of the crew and sinking the ship. America’s ruling class used this incident and their money and media to pressure the US Congress to declare war on Spain to seize Cuba.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Yemen’s Al-Houthi offers to exchange Saudi pilots for Hamas prisoners

MEMO | March 27, 2020

The leader of Yemen’s Houthi movement, Sayyid Abdulmalik Al-Houthi, has made an offer to release Saudi captives in exchange for members of the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, being held in Saudi Arabia.

“We are fully prepared to release one of the captured pilots along with four Saudi officers and soldiers,” Al-Houthi said in a televised speech on Al-Masirah. “This will be in exchange for the release of those from Hamas arrested in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Last September, Saudi detained 81-year-old Dr Muhammad Saleh Al-Khodari, a prominent member of Hamas who has served as the movement’s officially-acknowledged representative in the Kingdom for 20 years. He was also the head of Hamas’s General Shura (Consultative) Council.

Earlier this month it was reported that the Saudis were preparing to prosecute Palestinians held in its prisons. Al-Khodari and his son, Hani, are among the detainees. Their arrests on “terrorism” charges are seen by some to be politically-motivated following Saudi Arabia’s increasing normalisation of relations with Israel under de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.

Last week the Head of the Hamas Political Bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, urged King Salman Bin Abdulaziz to release the Palestinian prisoners, citing health concerns given the spread of coronavirus Covid-19.

Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar welcomed the proposal by the Houthis: “The initiative of the leader of Ansar Allah has pleased the hearts of all Palestinian resistance fighters,” he was reported as saying by Al Mayadeen.

A statement by Hamas also expressed appreciation for the solidarity and support shown by the Houthis: “We greatly appreciate the spirit of brotherhood and sympathy with the Palestinian people and support for their steadfastness and resistance. We express our thanks for this interest and this self-initiative.”

Speaking on the fifth-anniversary of the US-backed, Saudi-led coalition’s war on Yemen yesterday, Al-Houthi said, “Unfortunately, the regimes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have presented [themselves] as worse than Israel.”

Al-Houthi also said that his movement is “ready for peace and stopping the war if the aggressor is serious about stopping the aggression and siege.” He vowed that the sixth year of the conflict will involve “advanced military capabilities” and will entail new surprises for the coalition. “The general evaluation and studies confirm that the economic losses of the Saudi regime are great and its ambitions have failed,” he added.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Recognizing and Resisting the Hasbara Pandemic

(AP Photo/Levinson Family)
By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich | American Herald Tribune | March 27, 2020

Steady media reports on the rising number of the novel Coronavirus infections and its human toll have contributed to a global psychology of fear where entire populations are succumbing their free will to those in positions of authority, elected and otherwise. But while we try to keep ourselves safe during this pandemic, a deadlier and more destructive virus creeping in the shadows for years is also reaching its peak. The virus is called hasbara or better understood as propaganda.

Lest you think it is not contagious or deadly, think Iraq. The Iraq war alone cost the American taxpayers trillions of Dollars but the Iraqi population bore the brunt of the pain and suffering from America’s sanctioned terror attack and invasion with over one million souls lost and counting. Just like COVID-19 which may be dismissed as a cold, the hasbara virus may be taken for the truth – and therein lies the threat. As we surrender our will to the officials so that we can survive this pandemic, the spinners have upped their hasbara in order to coax us into embracing their terrorism, their wars, and their genocide.

Abandon your will, if you must, but not your common sense. As someone who has studied propaganda for fifteen years, I have never seen it so prevalent and so dangerous at a time when we are distracted by a viral disease. Having allowed the hasbara virus to spread and go undetected for such a long time, we’ve lost all ability to recognize it. The spinners know this and are taking full advantage of it. Let me give you two examples from the last 24 hours alone.

First one is a heartwarming ‘news item’ – even benign.

How can the picture of this cute dog not touch you heart? More so when you read on that his owner is in quarantine in Mexico with the coronavirus. His chips cravings prompt him to tie a note to the dog, send him to the store with a $20 bill and instructions to the shopkeeper to give the dog a bag of “Cheetos”. Now didn’t that give you the warm fuzzies? The story is shared over and over and the ‘news reporter’ gets a kudos from his boss for writing this sweet story which would no doubt increase circulation. I loved it.

But then I had to ask myself why a man in Mexico would tie a 20 Dollar bill to his dog and not Pesos. That is a lot of Mexican Pesos, and no change was returned. I mean where would the poor dog keep the change, a lot of change, in Mexican Pesos.

I shared the story with many friends, some of whom included university professors. None noted the oddness of the Dollar bill. Even when I asked if they noted something strange about the story, they did not point to it until I told them. The story was heartwarming and the incident was something they all wanted to accept – a feel good story. Nothing else was noted. We want to believe a story that appeals to our sense of reality, our values, no matter how unrealistic.

On the opposite side is the news story about a former FBI agent Robert Levinson. Levinson disappeared in 2007 and the United States had accused Iran of holding him hostage. Iran has no information about him. Yesterday, out of nowhere, various hasbara outlets cited Levinson’s family releasing an statement citing that they recently received information from US officials that led them to conclude that “our wonderful husband and father died while in Iranian custody.”

Iran denied having held him in custody and the news of his death was news to them. Why was this unbelievable? After all, I have no way of knowing who is lying, the US or Iran. Though one certainly may question the timing of this report.

But it was not just the timing that was odd. It was the orange prison uniform. Orange prison uniform is easy to process for Americans, and the West. Images of prisoners wearing orange jumpsuit in Guantanamo is embedded in our minds. More disturbing still are the images of prisoners captured by ISIS and wearing orange jump suits as they are being executed. I always wondered where did ISIS get all the orange jump suits their prisoner wore. But that is beside the point. In Iran, prisoners do not wear orange. The uniforms are different shades of blue depending on their status. Ordinary prisoners wear the striped while political prisoners the plain blue uniforms.

Photos courtesy of Iran-based journalist

Aside from the wrong color uniform, I was struck by Levinson’s appearance as portrayed in Western media. It was hard to process the tanned face which contrasted so sharply with his pale hands. It didn’t make sense. It is not clear to me as to why America would choose this moment to stage this death. I can only imagine that it is to present an image of a ruthless Iran in order to justify its terrorism by way of sanctions at a time when Iran, like the rest of the world, is fighting this pandemic. But even the lies will not hide the shameless stain of America’s cruel madness. Hence, we must resist and fight the propaganda.

For decades, we have been victims of propaganda to the point that we are no longer aware of it. In spite of it, we have not managed to build an immunity to the lies. Quite the opposite — we have become more vulnerable as our resistance erodes with every shot of hasbara. But we are not broken – not yet. It can only affect us if left undetected. Like COVID-19, the hasbara virus goes undetected until it’s tested for and discovered. We must therefore learn to test for, detect, and reject it. We can do this by refusing to abandon our critical thinking. Pleasant or not, we cannot allow our underlying bias guide us and use commonsense. Don’t let the hasbara virus infect you — it is deadlier than you can imagine.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Deception | | 2 Comments

Russian ships are in the Channel! Don’t let coronavirus pandemic stop establishment Russophobia

By Neil Clark | RT | March 26, 2020

Even during the Covid-19 crisis the Russian scare card is being played in the UK. While flights from virus hotspots continue to land unchecked, the British media is fussing about Russian ships’ ‘high activity’ in the Channel.

As if we Brits didn’t have enough to worry about. We’re in lockdown over coronavirus but now we also have to fear the evil Putin taking advantage of the situation and launching a full-scale naval invasion of the country. Well, that’s what you might be thinking if you’ve been watching today’s news.

Sky News Breaking informed its audience that Royal Navy ships have been shadowing seven Russian warships following “unusually high levels of activity” in the Channel and North Sea.

This raises fears, we’re told, that Putin may be seeking to exploit our current situation. “This really underlines concerns by senior officials about how this coronavirus pandemic across the world is a huge distraction for governments and could potentially be exploited by adversaries,” explained Sky’s foreign affairs editor Deborah Haynes.

The news was first announced in a Royal Navy tweet today as if it was fresh, but Haynes then tweeted to say that actually the “shadowing” ended a week ago.

So why weren’t we told about it all seven days ago? Arguably, people will be more alarmed at the news of “Russian warships in the Channel” when it comes out during a ‘lockdown’. How dreadful of Putin to think of invading us at such a time when we’re grounded in our own homes and running out of toilet paper! How utterly unsporting. I bet you the blighter has never played cricket!

But hang on a minute, Carruthers old bean. The Russian ships were actually in international waters. They had every right to be where they were. The Straits of Dover, the narrowest part of the Channel does, it’s true, lie wholly within the territorial waters of Britain and France, but there is a right of transit passage under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It is of course a great pity that ships passing the Straits no longer have to dip their flag and lower their topsails in salute to the English, but times move on.

The truth of the matter is that the Russians, whether or not seven ships is ‘usual’ or ‘unusual’, weren’t doing anything wrong. If they had suddenly changed direction and started heading up the Thames, then of course it would be different, but they didn’t. So what’s the fuss?
Also on rt.com Russiagate all over again: Secret EU report blames Russia for coronavirus ‘confusion, panic and fear’

Rather than get all Lance-Corporal Jones-style panicky about three Steregushchiy-class corvettes, two Ropucha-class landing ships and two Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates passing the south coast, and their crews coughing and sneezing on no one, we should, I think, be rather more concerned by the fact that flights from Covid-19 hotspots are still arriving unchecked at UK airports.

Where’s the outcry about that? Isn’t it crazy given the current situation that people can still come into Britain from places like Madrid, Rome and Tehran? According to Heathrow Airport’s website four flights landed from Madrid today. There’s been over 4,000 Covid-19 deaths so far in Spain and more than 56,000 confirmed cases. At the time of writing a flight is due in from Frankfurt. The number of German coronavirus cases stood yesterday at 37,323. At 14.10 GMT a flight landed from Tehran. The number of Iranian deaths from Coronavirus went up by 143 yesterday to 2,077.

Why are we being encouraged to be more concerned about Russian ships in international waters than we are about flights bringing potentially infected people into the UK? The whole thing is plain (or should that be ‘plane’) barmy.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | 1 Comment

The Truth About the United States’ “Continuity of Government” Plans & The Coronavirus Perfect Storm

By Whitney Webb | The Last American Vagabond | March 23, 2020

WASHINGTON DC — Last week, Newsweek published a report entitled “Inside The Military’s Top Secret Plans If Coronavirus Cripples the Government,” which offers vague descriptions of different military plans that could be put into effect if the civilian government were to be largely incapacitated, with a focus on the potential of the current novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to result in such a scenario.

The article’s author, William Arkin, largely frames these plans as new, though — buried deep within the article — he eventually mentions that such contingency plans can be traced back to the Eisenhower administration (though they were in place before) and have since been developed and updated by most subsequent administrations, largely through the issuance of executive orders. Arkin also points out that some of these “Continuity of Government”, or COG, plans include the “devolution” of leadership and Constitutional authority, which he notes “could circumvent the normal Constitutional provisions for government succession, and military commanders could be placed in control around America.”

Yet, there are key aspects of COG and its development that Arkin leaves out. For instance, in his timeline on how such plans have developed in the post-World War II era, he conveniently fails to mention any of the Reagan administration’s major changes to COG, including the Reagan-era Executive Order on which all current COG programs are based. Indeed, many of the “extra-Constitutional” aspects of COG that Arkin mentions began during the Reagan administration, when these plans were redrafted to largely exclude members of Congress, including the Speaker of the House, from succession plans and even moved to essentially eliminate Congress in the event of COG being implemented, with near total power instead being given to the executive branch and the military. It was also during this time that the “devolution” aspect of COG was hammered out, as it created three president-cabinet “teams” to be stationed in different parts of the country outside of the nation’s capital. Arkin’s decision to not mention how COG was a major focus of the Reagan administration is striking given that that administration poured hundreds of millions of dollars annually into COG planning and development and also conducted COG drills on a regular basis.

Furthermore, the Miami Herald revealed in 1987, that the COG programs of that era were deeply connected to what the Herald termed “a virtual parallel government outside the traditional cabinet departments and agencies” that began operating “almost from the day Reagan took office” and included many of Reagan’s closest advisers, including then-CIA Director William Casey. The Herald further claimed that this “parallel government” had been responsible for the Iran-Contra scandal (i.e. “involved in arming the Nicaraguan rebels”) as well as “the drafting of martial law plans for national emergencies,” i.e. COG, as well as “the monitoring of U.S. citizens considered potential security risks.”

Other key players in those Reagan-era COG developments, such as former Vice President Dick Cheney, former CIA Director James Woosley and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, are also left unmentioned in Arkin’s article. Not mentioning Cheney and Rumsfeld are particularly glaring omissions given that they were involved in the implementation of aspects of those COG plans that went live in the wake of the September 11 attacks, when both men were serving in key posts in the George W. Bush administration.

While Arkin’s omission of the role of the Reagan administration and leading neoconservatives in the development and use of COG is significant, arguably more significant is his failure to mention one of COG’s major components, one that has gone essentially unmentioned by well-known media outlets for well over a decade – Main Core.

The government’s database of “potential troublemakers”

Coronavirus

When Reagan issued Executive Order 12656, he created COG plans that could be implemented during “any national security emergency,” which the E.O. loosely defined as “any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological emergency, or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States.” E.O. 12656 also put the National Security Council (NSC) in charge of developing and administering COG policies. The NSC official placed in charge of this “secret” COG program was Oliver North, whose name would later become infamous for the key role he played in the Iran-Contra Scandal. During the Iran-Contra hearings in the late 1980s, then-Representative Jack Brooks (D-TX) attempted to ask the following question to North: “Colonel North, in your work at the NSC, were you not assigned at one time to work on plans for the continuity of government in the event of a major disaster?” Brooks, however was immediately cut off by Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), who stated ” I believe that question touches upon a highly sensitive and classified area, so may I request that you not touch upon that, sir.” Brooks protested, but North was ultimately not required to give an answer.

As the de facto leader of COG development and planning during the Reagan administration, North oversaw the creation of a controversial database that later became known simply as “Main Core.” The Main Core database, first built using the stolen PROMIS software (more information on PROMIS here and here), was essentially a list of American dissidents and “potential troublemakers.” A senior government official with a high-ranking security clearance and service in five presidential administrations described the database to journalist Chris Ketcham in 2008 as follows:

“A database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived ‘enemies of the state’ almost instantaneously.”

In 1993, Wired magazine stated that:

“Using PROMIS, sources point out, North could have drawn up lists of anyone ever arrested for a political protest, for example, or anyone who had ever refused to pay their taxes. Compared to PROMIS, Richard Nixon’s enemies list or Sen. Joe McCarthy’s blacklist look downright crude.”

Main Core is the aspect of COG that is most often ignored in reporting on these types of plans, with Arkin’s article being just a more recent example. While most of the rare mentions of COG in the mainstream touch on how those plans would result in the implementation of martial law and the suspension of the Constitution, they even more rarely — if ever — mention Main Core. Indeed, the last “mainstream” reports on Main Core were written over a decade ago — all in 2008 — by Chris Ketcham in Radar, by Scott Horton in Harpers and by Tim Shorrock in Salon.

Given that COG is now creeping back into mainstream reporting, revisiting Main Core is essential as the database still exists and has grown considerably since Oliver North first oversaw its creation in the early 1980s. In Ketcham’s 2008 article on the subject, he quotes then-senior government officials who said that, at the time, the number of “unfriendly” Americans on that database was approximately 8 million. Ketcham further notes that, in the event COG is implemented, these individuals could be subject to anything ranging from “heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and possibly even detention.”

Tim Shorrock, in his coverage of Main Core, noted that the database was seen in use at the White House following the September 11 attacks and there is strong evidence pointing to it having been used by the George W. Bush administration to guide its domestic surveillance activities in the post-9/11 era. A government official who had told a reporter about having seen the database operational at the White House following September 11th “turned white as a sheet” when the reporter mentioned the name “Main Core” specifically. Shorrock’s reporting also details how Main Core includes vast amounts of information on those “unfriendly” Americans, including the fruits of the vast domestic surveillance programs of the NSA and other U.S. federal agencies that continue today and are now set to be expanded due to the current coronavirus crisis.

In a report written last year on the involvement of U.S. and Israeli intelligence and their private sector allies in pushing for new, troubling pre-crime programs, I noted that Main Core is not only available to U.S. intelligence but also Israel’s intelligence apparatus and that Israeli intelligence was involved in the creation and expansion of Main Core. That report also detailed how Main Core was used by members of Reagan’s NSC to blackmail members of Congress, a practice that is likely to have continued under subsequent administrations. It also noted how Main Core today likely involves the same software now used by every U.S. intelligence agency and numerous other federal agencies that is marketed by Palantir, a company created and owned by Trump ally Peter Thiel. Palantir’s software boasts “predictive policing” capabilities and tracks a category of person using the label “subversive,” very much in keeping with the spirit of Main Core.

Main Core and Bill Barr’s Power Grab

Though Main Core was reportedly in use after September 11 to target “unfriendly” individuals for increased domestic surveillance, concern that COG plans in the age of coronavirus could take a more drastic turn and involve the detention of Americans included in that database now seems more plausible than ever. On Saturday, Politico reported that the Department of Justice has demanded new “emergency powers” during the current pandemic and these powers include being able to indefinitely detain Americans without trial. Politico also noted that the DOJ’s controversial new requests “span several stages of the legal process, from initial arrest to how cases are processed and investigated.” Per the DOJ’s requests, indefinite detention would emerge through a new ability whereby the Attorney General or a judge could pause court proceedings whenever courts are “fully or partially closed by virtue of any natural disaster, civil disobedience, or other emergency situation.”

What Politico did not include in its report is that current Attorney General William Barr has spent the past several months fine-tuning and implementing a “pre-crime” program. Officially known as the “National Disruption and Early Engagement Program” (DEEP), it aims to “identify, assess and engage” potentially violent individuals “before they strike.” Barr first announced this program last October in an official memorandum and therein stated that the program was to be implemented sometime over the course of 2020 and would involve “an efficient, effective and programmatic strategy to disrupt individuals who are mobilizing towards violence, by all lawful means.”

A training conference for that program took place this past December and involved members of the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation and “private sector partners.” One recent DOJ statement regarding an arrest made last year in Nevada, claimed that that specific case was part of the DOJ’s “National Disruption and Early Engagement Program,” suggesting that this program is already in use — at least in some parts of the country.

In his memorandum, Barr further notes that the program’s “early engagement tactics” were “born of the posture we adopted with respect to terrorist threats” following the September 11 attacks, essentially stating that this pre-crime program will utilize methods from the “War on Terror” domestically and on a massive scale.

Given the context of the current coronavirus crisis, the DOJ’s recent request for sweeping new powers and the role of Main Core in COG plans, one part of Barr’s pre-crime memorandum stands out. In the part of the document where Barr outlines what actions will be taken once an individual is deemed potentially violent or threatening, he writes that those individuals will be subject to detention, court-ordered mental health treatment and electronic monitoring, among other measures.

The possibility of pre-crime detention was also present in the DOJ’s recent request for new “emergency powers” in light of the coronavirus crisis, as it specifically asks that those new powers apply to “any statutes or rules of procedure otherwise affecting pre-arrest, post-arrest, pre-trial, trial, and post-trial procedures in criminal and juvenile proceedings and all civil process and proceedings.” Norman L. Reimer, executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, told Politico that the inclusion of the term “pre-arrest” likely means that “you could be arrested and never brought before a judge until they decide that the emergency or the civil disobedience is over. I find it absolutely terrifying.”

Thus, if DOJ is granted these new powers it has requested, the William Barr-led Department of Justice will not only be authorized to indefinitely detain Americans without trial, it will be able to detain them without any proof of those detainees having committed a crime or even having plans or the intent to commit a crime. Instead, the DOJ only needs to argue that the individual was “mobilizing towards violence,” an extremely vague phrase that could potentially be used against anyone who expresses discontent with the government or government policy.

Furthermore, with the FBI having recently flagged “conspiracy theorists” (and by extension those who distrust or question government narratives of both past and present) as a “domestic terror threat,” the DOJ could even make the case that failure to blindly trust government narratives presents a threat to the public order. Given that the Main Core database in its current form contains bulk surveillance gathered from social media, phone conversations/messaging apps and even financial information (i.e. purchasing history, etc.) on Americans deemed unfriendly “often for the slightest and most trivial reason,” this unprecedented power grab by the DOJ has an authoritarian and Orwellian potential to target legitimate dissent like never before.

With the specter of COG now snaking its way into mainstream discourse during the coronavirus crisis, it is essential that Americans stay vigilant, as these Orwellian and dystopian “solutions” to allegedly protect us from the current pandemic have been in place long before COVID-19 made its appearance on the world stage or landed on U.S. shores.

It is also essential to remember that COG, Main Core and the DOJ’s pre-crime program were all created and are currently controlled by extremely corrupt and fundamentally untrustworthy individuals who have not only been involved in, innumerable scandals, over the years, but have also installed and supported some of the most authoritarian, savage and horrific dictators the world has ever seen. To trust them with such unprecedented and dangerous powers in a period of national confusion and panic is tantamount to beckoning the horrors of those dictatorships — past and present — to come home to roost.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

The Deep State’s Demolition of Democracy

By James Bovard | FFF | March 26, 2020

“Thank God for the Deep State,” declared former acting CIA chief John McLaughlin while appearing on a panel at the National Press Club last October. In 2018, the New York Times asserted that Trump’s use of the term “Deep State” and similar rhetoric “fanned fears that he is eroding public trust in institutions, undermining the idea of objective truth and sowing widespread suspicions about the government and news media.”

But barely a year later, the Deep State had gone from a figment of paranoid right-wingers’ imagination to the great hope for the salvation of American democracy. Much of the media is now conferring the same exulted status on the Deep State that was previously bestowed on Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Almost immediately after its existence was no longer denied, the Deep State became the incarnation of virtue in Washington.

The Deep State commonly refers to officials who secretly wield power permanently in Washington, often in federal agencies with vast sway and little accountability. A New York Times article in October gushed that “over the last three weeks, the deep state has emerged from the shadows in the form of real live government officials, past and present … and provided evidence that largely backs up the still-anonymous whistle-blower” on Donald Trump’s phone call to the president of Ukraine. New York Times columnist James Stewart declared, “There is a Deep State, there is a bureaucracy in our country who has pledged to respect the Constitution, respect the rule of law…. They work for the American people.” New York Times editorial writer Michelle Cottle proclaimed, “The deep state is alive and well” and hailed it as “a collection of patriotic public servants.” They were echoing earlier declarations by Washington Post columnist Eugene Roberts and former top Justice Department official Preet Bharar: “God bless the ‘Deep State.’”

Former CIA Director John Brennan, appearing on the same panel as McLaughlin in October, declared, “The reason why Mr. Trump has this very contentious relationship with CIA and FBI and the deep state people is because they tell the truth.” Much of the media coverage of the Trump impeachment is following that dubious storyline.

“We lied, we cheated, we stole.”

Five years ago, John Brennan’s CIA ignited what should have been a constitutional crisis when it was caught illegally spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which was compiling a massive report on the CIA torture program. After 9/11, the CIA constructed an interrogation regime by “consulting Egyptian and Saudi intelligence officials and copying Soviet interrogation methods,” the New York Times reported in 2007. Secret Bush administration torture memos “set the C.I.A. loose to slam suspects’ heads into walls up to 30 times in a row, to deprive suspects of sleep for more than a week straight, to confine them to small dark boxes for hours at a time … and to suffocate them with water to induce the perception that they are drowning,” Georgetown University law professor David Cole noted. But the only official who went to prison was John Kirakou, a former CIA analyst who publicly admitted that the CIA was waterboarding.

Is the Deep State more trustworthy when it is killing than when it is torturing? Brennan declared in 2016 that “the president requires near-certainty of no collateral damage” before approving a drone strike. Confidential CIA documents revealed that the CIA had little or no idea whom it was killing most of the time with its drone attacks in Pakistan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, and other nations. Salon.com summarized an NBC News report: “Even while admitting that the identities of many killed by drones were not known, the CIA documents asserted that all those dead were enemy combatants. The logic is twisted: If we kill you, then you were an enemy combatant.” Lying about drone killings quickly became institutionalized throughout the Deep State. The New York Times reported in 2015, “Every independent investigation of the [drone] strikes has found far more civilian casualties than administration officials admit.”

The Deep State is practically designed to destroy privacy while enabling government officials to deny sweeping abuses. Former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden declared in 2014, “There’s definitely a deep state. Trust me, I’ve been there.” The NSA’s credibility was obliterated in 2013 when Snowden revealed the NSA can tap almost any cell phone in the world, access anyone’s email and web-browsing history, and crack the vast majority of computer encryption. But the NSA’s definition of “terrorist suspect” was ludicrously broad, including “someone searching the web for suspicious stuff.” Snowden also revealed that each day phone companies turned over tens of millions of phone records of average Americans to the feds. A few months before Snowden’s revelations, National Intelligence director James Clapper lied to Congress when he denied that the NSA collects “any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans.” The fact that Clapper was not charged with perjury did nothing to burnish the credibility of the Justice Department.

Impeachment proceedings have been spurred in large part by disputes over Donald Trump’s phone call to the president of Ukraine. The House Intelligence Committee heard testimony from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the Ukrainian-born officer who listened in to the call while serving on the National Security Council. Vindman was “deeply troubled by what he interpreted as an attempt by the president to subvert U.S. foreign policy,” the Washington Post reported. Which provision of the Constitution gives junior military officers sway over foreign policy? Because Vindman objected to Trump’s efforts to decrease tension with Russia, the Washington establishment quickly hailed him and thus encouraged other military officers and government officials to pull strings to subvert policies of which the media disapprove.

It is naive to expect the Deep State to provide an antidote to the sordidness of American politics. The Friends of the Deep State talk of certain federal agencies as if they exist far above the sordid details of political life — or even of human nature. Former CIA boss McLaughlin declared, “This is the institution within the U.S. government that … is institutionally committed to objectivity and to telling the truth. It’s whole job is to speak the truth — it is engraved in marble in the lobby.” But historically, atrium engravings have proven a weak surety for bureaucratic candor. In reality, the CIA and other Deep State agencies are notorious for suppressing convicting truths about themselves. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently described the CIA’s modus operandi when he was director: “We lied, we cheated, we stole. It’s like we had entire training courses.”

Power and truth

Promises that the chiefs of the CIA and other intelligence agencies will “speak truth to power” have become a Washington ritual in the years since the 9/11 attacks. No matter how brazenly political appointees lie, members of Congress assure the media and constituents that the next nominee will be as honest as George Washington. The “speak truth to power” bromide was recited after Trump nominated Gina Haspel as CIA chief. At her confirmation hearings, the public heard plenty about Haspel’s meeting with Mother Teresa but almost nothing about her key role in the CIA torture scandal — including the illegal destruction of recordings of torture sessions.

Another reason to distrust the Deep State is that its arch practitioners are honored regardless of their iniquities. Former CIA bosses McLaughlin and Brennan were speaking on a panel sponsored by the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security, named after the former chief of the National Security Agency and the CIA. As Trevor Timm noted in the Columbia Journalism Review in 2017, “Hayden has a long history of making misleading and outright false statements, and by the estimation of many lawyers, likely committed countless felonies during the Bush administration.” Hayden set up the illegal, unconstitutional wiretapping program after 9/11 that the New York Times exposed in late 2005. When the Senate Intelligence Committee released its report on CIA torture in 2014, it included a 36-page appendix filled with Hayden’s “testimony to Congress, next to the actual facts showing statement after statement he made was inaccurate, misleading, false, or outright lies,” Timm noted. Naming that Center after Hayden simply reflects the prevailing Deep State aggrandizement in the Greater Washington Metropolitan area.

The Deep State has an appalling record of abusing the whistleblowers who are now being acclaimed. A draft Intelligence Community Inspector General report last year found that intelligence agencies refused to recognize retaliation against whistleblowers in 99 percent of cases. A 2017 report by Foreign Policy magazine concluded that “the intelligence community’s central watchdog is in danger of crumbling thanks to mismanagement, bureaucratic battles, clashes among big personalities, and sidelining of whistleblower outreach and training efforts.” After CIA Inspector General John Helgerson compiled a condemnatory report on the CIA’s post–9/11 interrogation program, CIA chief Michael Hayden launched a major investigation of Helgerson in 2007, provoking outrage on Capitol Hill. (The CIA managed to delay the release of Helgerson’s report for five years, thereby keeping both Congress and the American people in the dark regarding shocking abuses.)

The Trump–Deep State clash is a showdown between a presidency that is far too powerful versus federal agencies that have become fiefdoms that enjoy immunity for almost any and all abuses. Most of the partisans of the Deep State are not championing “government under the law.” Instead, this is a dispute over who will be permitted to break the law and dictate the policies to America and the world. Former CIA and NSA boss Hayden proudly proclaimed, “Espionage is not just compatible with American democracy, espionage is essential to American democracy.” And how can we know if the Deep State’s espionage is actually pro-democracy or subversive of democracy? If they told you, they would have to kill you. The Founding Fathers never intended for covert agencies to trumpet a right to correct voters’ verdicts.

Neither the White House nor the CIA, NSA, nor other Deep State agencies should enjoy immunity from the law or deserve blind trust from average Americans or the establishment media. A wayward president (especially a first-term president) can eventually be checked at the ballot box. But who or what can check the Deep State?

This article was originally published in the February 2020 edition of Future of Freedom.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , | 8 Comments

Corporate Socialism: The Government is Bailing Out Investors & Managers Not You

By Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Mark Spitznagel | Medium | March 26, 2020

The U.S. government is enacting measures to save the airlines, Boeing, and similarly affected corporations. While we clearly insist that these companies must be saved, there may be ethical, economic, and structural problems associated with the details of the execution. As a matter of fact, if you study the history of bailouts, there will be.

Saving Those on the Medusa

The bailouts of 2008–9 saved the banks (but mostly the bankers), thanks to the execution by then-treasury secretary Timothy Geithner who fought for bank executives against both Congress and some other members of the Obama administration. Bankers who lost more money than ever earned in the history of banking, received the largest bonus pool in the history of banking less than two years later, in 2010. And, suspiciously, only a few years later, Geithner received a highly paid position in the finance industry.

That was a blatant case of corporate socialism and a reward to an industry whose managers are stopped out by the taxpayer. The asymmetry (moral hazard) and what we call optionality for the bankers can be expressed as follows: heads and the bankers win, tails and the taxpayer loses. Furthermore, this does not count the policy of quantitative easing that went to inflate asset values and increased inequality by benefiting the super rich. Remember that bailouts come with printed money, which effectively deflate the wages of the middle class in relation to asset values such as ultra-luxury apartments in New York City.

The Generalized Bob Rubin Trade: Keep the profits, transfer losses to taxpayers. Named after Bob Rubin who pocketed 120 million dollars from Citi but claimed uncertainty and kept past bonuses. This encourages anyone to never be insured for such eventualities since the government will pick up the tab.

First, we must not conflate airlines as a physical company with the financial structure involved. Nor should we conflate the fate of the employees of the airlines with the unemployment of our fellow citizens, which can be directly compensated rather than indirectly via leftovers of corporate subsidies. We should learn from the Geithner episode that bailing out individuals based on their needs is not the same as bailing out corporations based on our need for them.

Saving an airline, therefore, should not equate to subsidizing their shareholders and highly compensated managers and promote additional moral hazard in society. For the very fact that we are saving airlines indicates their role as utility. And if as such they are necessary for society, then why do their managers have optionality? Are civil servants on a bonus scheme? The same argument must also be made, by extension, against indirectly bailing out the pools of capital, like hedge funds and endless investment strategies, that are so exposed to these assets; they have no honest risk mitigation strategy, other than a trained naïve reliance on bailouts or what’s called in the industry the “government put”.

Second, these corporations are lobbying for bailouts, which they will eventually get thanks to the pressure they can exert on the government via lobby units. But how about the small corner restaurant ? The independent tour guide ? The personal trainer? The massage professional? The barber? The hotdog vendor living from tourists near the Met Museum ? These groups cannot afford lobbyists and will be ignored.

Third, as we have been warning since 2006, companies need buffers to face uncertainty –not debt (an inverse buffer), but buffers. Mother nature gave us two kidneys when we only need about a portion of a single one. Why? Because of contingency. We do not need to predict specific adverse events to know that a buffer is a must. Which brings us to the buyback problem. Why should we spend taxpayer money to bailout companies who spent their cash (and often even borrowed to generate that cash) to buy their own stock (so the CEO gets optionality), instead of building a rainy day buffer? Such bailouts punish those who acted conservatively and harms them in the long run, favoring the fool and the rent-seeker.

Furthermore, some people claim that the pandemic is a “Black Swan”, hence something unexpected so not planning for it is excusable. The book they commonly cite is The Black Swan (by one of us). Had they read that book, they would have known that such a global pandemic is explicitly presented there as a white swan: something that would eventually take place with great certainty. Such acute pandemic is unavoidable, the result of the structure of the modern world; and its economic consequences would be compounded because of the increased connectivity and overoptimization. As a matter of fact, the government of Singapore, whom we advised in the past, was prepared for such an eventuality with a precise plan since as early as 2010.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Economics | | 1 Comment

US State Dept accuses China of putting conditions on Covid-19 aid, cites media when pressed on proof

RT | March 27, 2020

The US State Department has accused Beijing of attaching “strings” to aid given to countries battling Covid-19, but was unable to name specifics, only citing press reports, while also invoking a Chinese “coverup.”

Senior State Department official James Richardson – who runs the Office of Foreign Assistance Resources – levied the charges to reporters during a briefing on Thursday night. Calling on China to provide “no-strings-attached” assistance, Richardson suggested Beijing had placed conditions on its coronavirus aid. When asked to elaborate, however, the official punted, confessing he had no specific evidence and was merely relaying what he read in the media.

“On the strings attached, I mean, I’m not the intelligence folks, so I don’t know what exactly has been proven,” Richardson said. “I read the same articles that you do… And so I think – I don’t have any hard proof besides the articles that I’ve seen, but that certainly rings true.”

The official also made a passing reference to “the coverup that happened in Wuhan” – the Chinese city where Covid-19 was first observed. Though he was not pressed to provide further details, reports in US media have accused China of concealing information in the early stages of its outbreak. Most pointed to Li Wenliang, a Wuhan doctor who was reprimanded by Chinese authorities over “spreading rumors” about the virus in early December. Later, an investigation by the country’s anti-corruption agency determined that Li, who later died of the illness, did not seek to undermine public order. However, the report noted that the doctor failed to verify his data before sharing it, stating his information was “not consistent” with the situation on the ground at the time.

A State Department cable recently obtained by the Daily Beast contains language nearly identical to Richardson’s remarks, part of a department-wide effort to pin a “coverup” on Beijing. The cable also instructs officials to insist that China has a “special responsibility” to provide aid to other afflicted nations, a phrase repeated verbatim by Richardson during Thursday’s briefing.

Beijing has responded to allegations of a coverup, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Suang arguing last week that his country has provided “timely information” about the virus, noting that even US President Donald Trump – a frequent critic of China – had deemed the data “helpful.” Earlier this month, Chinese authorities also acknowledged that punishing Dr. Li was an error, issuing a “solemn apology” to the man’s family and noting that the police officers who threatened him with arrest had been disciplined.

As the US steps up attacks on China and its response to the pandemic, however, a number of other countries have turned to Beijing for aid. To date, the government – as well as Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, co-founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba – has distributed medical supplies to France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Iran, Iraq, the Philippines, and even the United States.

China has largely seen the worst of its own Covid-19 outbreak, reporting only one new case of the illness beyond those imported from abroad on Friday. The virus continues to accelerate elsewhere, however, with the US becoming the world’s largest epicenter on Thursday, while new infections also soar across Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere in Asia.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 1 Comment

Who’s behind the COVID-19 global pandemic

By Kevin Barrett | Press TV | March 27, 2020

The question of whether the chickens are coming home to roost was famously posed by Malcolm X. And that was shortly after the JFK assassination. Malcolm X was suggesting that the same forces that the US had deployed to attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro, among others, may have bounced back in a case of blowback and killed President Kennedy.

And of course, we know that there’s a certain amount of truth to that. Today we know that the same CIA assassination squads that were unsuccessfully attempting to kill Castro were in fact involved in killing President Kennedy. So Malcolm X’s words were quite precient. Now does that apply to today’s coronavirus situation in which the United States is now about to become the global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic according to the World Health Organization?

I think it does, because there is considerable circumstantial evidence that this COVID-19 pandemic was a biological weapon that was deployed against China and Iran and has bounced back against its creators. The experts in biological warfare all say that traditionally, strategists have been skeptical about biological warfare precisely because it has that tendency to bounce back and to create blowback.

Viruses mutate, even if you create an ethnic specific kind of virus, which may have been the case here. The United States has been caught red-handed nefariously collecting genetic material from the Chinese, from Russians and from Iranians. But the problem is that genetic specific weapons mutate. The virus is constantly seeking to find a better way to infect a broader group of people.

So it will typically go after people that may not have been the original targets, and that may be what happened here. The Chinese government is saying this. The Chinese government has all but officially accused the United States of deploying a biological weapon.

The Russian media accepts this as its standard mainstream narrative. This is what happened, according to Russian mainstream media. And in Iran, top leaders including the civil defense chief, and indeed the Supreme Leader himself, have broadly hinted at the same thing. We don’t know the details for sure, we’re not even sure that this hypothesis is correct, but we need to find out.

And at this point, we just don’t have enough information about the coronavirus and about the biological weapons programs. We know that the US has a terrible track record of using biological weapons against populations.

The US dropped more than 100,000 germ bombs on Pyongyang in North Korea during the Korean War, as explained in Dave Chaddock’s book — This Must Be the Place[: How the U.S. Waged Germ Warfare in the Korean War and Denied It Ever Since]. It used the Japanese germ warfare program that had done horrible things to China and Korea during World War Two, and it hired the very experts who had done that, and they became the basis for the US germ warfare program.

The US has also repeatedly attacked Cuba with biological weapons. It actually had a plan to incapacitate the entire Cuban population and kill at least 20% of the Cuban population as a prelude to a US invasion with the US soldiers, of course, protected by vaccines and masks as they went into Cuba. And that might very well have been actually approved; it would have been done if the President Kennedy hadn’t stopped it.

So we have bad historical precedents. We have all kinds of circumstantial evidence about the possibility of this being biological warfare, that blew back and got out of hand and is now affecting the very country that most likely was behind it. But we need to find out if that’s true.

We need a full scale international investigation. If we had had that kind of investigation after September 11, 2001 we will be living in a much better world today. Unfortunately, the same neoconservatives who were behind 9/11 very likely are also behind the coronavirus outbreak. It’s time to investigate, find out the truth, and prosecute the guilty.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments