A few months back, in “From State Secrets to War to Wiretaps: Two Sides of the Same Coin”, former FBI language specialist and also the founder / director of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, Sibel Edmonds reflected upon the first leg of the Obama administration. It was not a settling pensivity.
She first noted the perpetual “rationalizing…defense …[and] illogical excuses [of] ‘He’s been in office for only 20 days, give the man a break!’ and ‘He’s had only 50 days in office, give him a chance!’ and currently, ‘be reasonable – how much can a man do in 120 days?!’” before asking if we mightn’t call it all a “swindling of the voters”. Her real gripe was the State Secrets Privilege statute because, appropriately enough, she was historically “the first recipient of this ‘privilege’ during the now gone [Bush] Administration”. Her use of “privilege” was, of course, a properly snide irony, and she was now targetting the slim black man who promised an end to Washington DC secrecy (“When I am president we won’t work in secret to avoid honoring our laws and Constitution” – candidate Obama, 2007). She also was irate that Obama was allowing his admin to use the act (statute, whatever) in three important judicial cases: “Al Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Obama, Mohammed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, and Jewel v. NSA”. More than a little outraged, she noted that “[i]n the Al Haramain case, Obama’s Justice Department has threatened to have the FBI or federal marshals break into a judge’s office and remove evidence already turned over in the case”, an explicit example of the old we have the might; thus, we have the right Mr. Obama pledged to exterminate in America’s legal affairs.
Reflecting upon that, Edmonds brought to her readers’ attention the fact that the “new Administration has pledged to defend the Telecommunications Industry by giving them immunity against any lawsuit that may involve their participation in the illegal NSA wiretapping program” conducted during the Bush administration, even though, not all that long ago, then-Senator Obama’s aides claimed “Senator Obama unequivocally opposes giving retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies” and would not be among those voting to end the filibuster that was invoked at the time. Um, “[b]ut then Senator Obama made his 180 degree flip, and voted to end the filibuster”. That was merely a presage of the new Justice Department “astoundingly granting the Executive Branch an unlimited immunity for any kind of ‘illegal’ government surveillance” whatsoever, one of many “willful acts fully reviewed, decided upon, and then implemented by the new president and his Justice Department”.
She moved on to speak to the fact that “he and his administration unapologetically maintain the same Bush Administration position on extraordinary rendition, torture, and related secrecy to cover up” the abominations Oabam once professed to be vehemently against, which led to her and others’ shock when Obama chose to maintain and even “tweak” the earlier Miltary Commissions Acts of the Bush cabal.
Edmonds had a companion in outrage elsewhere.
Paul Craig Roberts wrote “Who Will Stand Up to America and Israel?: Doublespeak on North Korea” in CounterPunch (http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts05272009.html), wherein he called down President Obama’s admonition to all and sundry to stand up to North Korea regarding nuclear testing. Roberts wryly noted that “North Korea is a small place. China alone could snuff it out in a few minutes”, yet Obama was pontificating from a point of not-so-veiled fear. The new president and his administration were, Roberts declared, trying to add Kim Il Jong to the ever shifting Rumsfeld list of the “700 most dangerous terrorists on the face of the earth”, a compendium since denounced by Rumsfeld himself yet still a wish list purveyed by the “military/security complex that rules America, together with the Israel Lobby and the financial banksters” who “keep the taxpayers’ money flowing into [their] coffers”.
This charade was to the side, and Roberts echoed many when he asked “who is going to stand up to the American and Israeli governments?” The answer was easy enough: “Not Obama, and not the right-wing brownshirts that today rule Israel”, Richard Greene and his Zionisti love for Netanyahu notwithstanding. Roberts was concerned that Obama was fantasizing that:
“it takes the entire world to stand up to N. Korea…the same America that bombed Serbia, including Chinese diplomatic offices and civilian passenger trains, and pried Kosovo loose from Serbia and gave it to a gang of Muslin [sic] drug lords, lending them NATO troops to protect their operation…the same America that is responsible for approximately one million dead Iraqis, leaving orphans and widows everywhere and making refugees out of one-firth [sic] of the Iraqi population…the same America that blocked the rest of the world from condemning Israel for its murderous attack on Lebanese civilians in 2006 and on Gazans most recently, the same America that has covered up for Israel’s theft of Palestine over the past 60 years, a theft that has produced four million Palestinian refugees driven by Israeli violence and terror from their homes and villages…the same America that is conducting military exercises in former constituent parts of Russia and ringing Russia with missile bases…the same America that has bombed Afghanistan into rubble with massive civilian casualties…the same America that has started a horrific new war in Pakistan, a war that in its first few days has produced one million refugees?”
He then turned to Israel’s thoroughly theatrical gibbering fear of Iran, claiming a “responsibility to ‘eliminate’ the ‘nuclear threat’ ” there, a threat “US intelligence agencies are unanimous” in concluding is 100% illusory, as the “inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency report that there is no sign of a nuclear weapons program”. More, Roberts asked “Who is Iran bombing? How many refugees is Iran sending fleeing for their lives?” and then “Who is North Korea bombing?”. Yes, those countries may not be shimmering marvels of democracy, but…what about America and Israel, the first an empyrean oligarch republic, the second a theocracy waxing imperial as it can? No, said Roberts, they’re the “two great murderous, refugee-producing countries” who “have murdered and dislocated millions of people who were a threat to no one”.
Then he himself dropped the bomb: “No countries on earth rival the US and Israel for barbaric murderous violence”, a statement impossible to refute, now or previously, as our own accumulated outrages on every front threaten, in my estimation (and apparently no one else’s), to engulf, outstrip, and trivialize Nazi Germany’s, given all sectors of Bush’s innumerable criminal enterprises (at some point, we have to get beyond body counts as the sole semiotic valuator of criminality). Roberts, the former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, concluded by asking “Why aren’t people laughing their heads off?”
I can answer that: listen to Limbaugh, Weiner, Elder, Hannity, Coulter, and the hundreds of think-tank-paid Right-wing chattering class, and, hell, listen to and read far too much of the “Left” – Air America, Huffington Post, the Nation, AlterNet, the Center for American Progress, etc. But, really, do we need to? After all, yet another journalist, Patrick Martin, was more than ready to point out that the new President is as much an oligarch-hopeful as our reputedly first black president, Loose Pants Clinton.
From World Socialist Website, in “The Fundamental Social Division is Class, not Race or Gender” on 28 May 2009, Martin tackled the incredibly PsyOp’ed kabuki of, something he and I found “completely choreographed” and “an essential part of how America is governed”…at least since Edward Bernays, right? Right. From the Right. Obama was very mindfully “using biography as a substitute for policy”, an extremely contrived and highly useful contrivance – a, it couldn’t help but be noticed, soap opera of “public tear-jerking [l]ed by…Obama, who based his own campaign on the marketing of a compelling personal ‘narrative’ ”
Martin, however, wasn’t much comforted by a Peyton Place extravaganza which “obliterated…the most fundamental social category in American society: class”, and that’s what he addressed head-on, now switching to the Oprah Theater of the new Supreme Court hopeful: Sotomayor, who will not go to the Court “as the representative or advocate of Hispanics, women or the socially disadvantaged more generally, but as the representative of a definite social class at the top of American society – the financial aristocracy whose interests she and every other federal judge, and the entire capitalist state machine, loyally serve and defend”.
With incredulity, he noted, “[o]nly one ‘mainstream’ bourgeois publication focused on” that – of all venues, the Wall Street Journal, which “denounc[ed] the Sotomayor nomination in strident tones” in the op-ed columns, which Martin found bizarre because its own “news pages explored her record as a well-paid commercial litigator and federal judge, on issues of direct interest to big business, including contract law, employment and property rights”…
…and then he just left it there, not bothering to try to analyze the direct contradiction!
But then, class was his raison d’etre, not solving the ambiguities raised in his own penmanship, so Mr. Martin made an interesting observation about a very little known aspect of the alcoholic lunatic who once infested Congress: Senator Joseph McCarthy. In the 40s, the now-iconic man wasn’t just Witchfinder General of Communists but also “spearheaded a drive to effectively outlaw any public discussion of socialism, Marxism, or the class divisions in American society”, a foundation Martin then sketched out to run through the following decades, a processional that included a tokening of “[f]or the past 12 years…the post of US Secretary of State…occupied by, in succession, a white woman, a black man, a black woman, and a white woman”. “This exercise in ‘diversity’ has not” said Martin”…democratized American foreign policy or made it one iota more conciliatory to the interests of the oppressed, either internationally or within the United States”, naming Madeline Albright, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Hillary Clinton not as representatives of their respective races or genders but for “the most rapacious imperialist ruling class on the planet”, with “Barack Obama [being] the culmination of this process” overseeing “the greatest handover of resources to the billionaires and Wall Street speculators in history”, following on his predecessor’s heels with nary a breath wasted in reflection or caution. Mr. Obama, sayeth the scribe, “demonstrates that the class he serves, not the color of his skin or his social origins, is the decisive political factor”.
Indeed. But there’s even more.
NEXT: that “even more”.