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Tag Archive: George W Bush


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Among the many scholars, diplomats, and political figures who warned of such consequences was a then-Illinois state senator named Barack Obama, who noted that a U.S. invasion of Iraq would “only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al-Qaeda” and other like-minded extremists.

The US and the Rise of ISIS   byStephen Zunes

 

Interesting that Obama be  credited with  such  foresight and yet be as responsible for said invasions and fanning of  flames  as his predecessor.  I do not see that he himself took his words to heart.  The  leanings towards Interventionist  Foreign Policy has  continued  under the  Obama administration.  It is obvious  that those who have  always believed in this  interventionist viewpoint would continue to do so.  Expecting them to change  is naive.  Unless of  course it is a  change  on the campaign trail, where  politicians will promise all kinds of   things that they  never  intend to  honor.  So I  fail to see how using Obama as an example  of the  voice of  reason could be  considered unbiased , let alone  honest.   When his  every move in the  middle east  has been quite the opposite.  All one need do is look to Yemen and the work that has been allowed, one could dare say  encouraged  by the  Obama administration.  The  Yemeni people are  being  killed with  cluster  bombs  used  by the  Saudi’s with the  US’ blessings.    The  poisoned gas  that was  used by the pro Assad  forces  which then turned out to be a fabrication  meant  to cover up the  fact that US  and  coalition backed anti-Assad  forces were  indeed the  ones  responsible  for the  poisoned gases that  had  been  unleashed  on the  civilian population of  Syria. 

It is ironic, then, that most of those who went ahead and supported the invasion of Iraq anyway are now trying to blame him for the rise of ISIS. These include Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, who was among the minority of Congressional Democrats to vote for war authorization. In an August 2014 interview in The Atlantic, she claimed that Obama’s refusal to get the United States more heavily involved in the Syrian civil war “left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.”

The US and the Rise of ISIS   byStephen Zunes

 

The  long  drawn out conflict in Syria  surgical strikes, bombings, supplies of  weaponry , ammunition and  death  peddling are at the  heart  of  US strategies there.  A sovereign people who’s legitimately  elected  President  has been  deemed  unworthy by forces that  have  neither  been asked  for their  opinion , nor have they the  authority to intervene, morally  or  otherwise.  How  can one  write  about the  criminal  Interventionist  Foreign Policy that  has  been a  staple of  the  US for the  last two decades blaming the  neo-cons , scholars, legislators and  politicians that have beat  the  drum  for the last  20 years  or so and  not refer to Obama in the  same light as  Bush? 

The Russians were invited  by  the  legitimate   government  of  Syria.  Their campaign has  brought to  light  the  kind  of  cruel  cat  and  mouse  game  the  Obama  administration  has  been  playing  with the Syrian  peoples  lives.  Dealing  death and  destruction while  doing  next  to  nothing  to  correct the problem  the US caused.  Yet  the  Russians  are viewed as evil and double dealing.  I suppose that  would  be  a  direct  correlation to the  first  article  listed  here.  The  US dealing  out  terror, perpetrating  terrorist acts dealing  horrific  pain and  loss to a civilian  population and calling it  democracy.  While  Russia has  made  great  strides is  winning  back all the  lost  territory from the  Islamic  State.  Only those  who choose to  lie to themselves can legitimately  look at the  events  that have  taken place in  Syria  during the  last   3 months  or  so and  believe   the  propaganda.  The US  now  deals in Terror  not  democracy abroad and anyone  who follows  suit calling it  an  honorable pursuit is  guilty  of Terror as well.

Still early in Obama’s first term, more than one commentator remarked that Obama hadn’t “changed much of substance from the late Bush practices.” And it gets worse for the Democrats who guard their reputation as liberals so well. Follow this condemnation: “Republicans are right about the fact that while it was Bush officials who led the way in implementing these radical and lawless policies, most of the country’s institutions — particularly the Democratic Party leadership and the media — acquiesced to it, endorsed it, and enabled it. And they still do.” (My emphasis) Further, “ ‘much of the other half of the country, the one that once opposed those policies – Democrats, Obama supporters — are now reciting the same lines, adopting the same mentality, because doing so is necessary to justify what Obama is doing,” namely spreading terror.

The US’ Language of Terror and a History of Preemptive Aggression

Democrat or Republican a War  Criminal is  still a War  Criminal and there is  no amount of  white washing (no racial pun intended, for all you race-baiters out there) that can extricate  Obama’s guilt and  responsibility from the  crimes  perpetrated  against  humanity  in the name  of  greed and power.

Desert Rose

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The US’ Language of Terror and a History of Preemptive Aggression

US President Barack Obama speaks about counter-terrorism and the United States fight against Isis during an address to the nation from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Sunday, December 7, 2015. (Reuters)

Following the recent horrific and brutal San Bernardino slaying, President Obama took to the Oval Office and reminded Americans, “our nation has been at war with terrorists since al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11.” He also reminded us “we have no evidence that the killers were directed by a terrorist organization overseas, or that they were part of a broader conspiracy here at home.” Nevertheless, his thesis held, we have no choice but to increase war efforts, even though the United States “cannot identify every would-be mass shooter, whether that individual is motivated by ISIL or some other hateful ideology.” We cannot do anything to totally prevent the problem of terror, therefore, we “will continue to hunt down terrorist plotters in any country where it is necessary,” whether a country agrees to it or not, according to recent and historic US foreign policy.

But what motivates the United States to take such seemingly irrational and “uncivilized” courses of violence? Profits it seems. Stoking the flames of war abroad will not only benefit terrorist efforts universally, that is, for all sides using terror, but it will also benefit the wealthy-corporate class. Executive Vice President of Boeing, for instance, Bruce Tanner, raves that “ ‘conflicts would lead to increased sales for their company.’ “ Indeed, “with the ISIS threat growing, there are more countries interested in buying Oshkosh-made M-ATV armored vehicles.” Accordingly, business is booming for Western-war profiteers. Which was further illustrated when the war “contractors also celebrated the fact that the defense sector was recently granted a $607 billion budget by the government.” Thus, there remains a distinct correlation between “terrorism” and Western profits; “Glenn Greenwald pointed out stock prices for weapons manufacturers sharply increased just after the terrorist attacks in Paris last month.”

The propaganda campaign that’s been wrought through political rhetoric and mass-corporatized media, which is the US’ political machine for the most wealthy amongst us, has done great work to keep the public in a constant state of fear and paranoia. Indeed, “more voters than ever think terrorists have the advantage over the United States and its allies.” Indeed, a striking “forty-six percent of 1,000 likely voters…thought terrorists were winning, while only 26% believed the United States and its allies” have “the upper hand.” Thus, whatever Washington’s doing, it’s clearly working, the public’ absolutely terrorized by the prospects of terror. Yet for some of the greatest hand wringers, those most “civilized people,” for them, Americas centuries old “terrorist” question remains a pesky and “sour subject.” How to deal with the “confident savages,” continues to perplex even the most hawkish of our leaders. Moreover, the threat of global anti-imperialism seems to be growing within as well as without the US. For example, “a disturbing number of young Americans” are “joining ISIS.” It seems, that Americans cannot escape even our own “savagery.” Whether it’s violence from a white-supremacist terrorist, like Dylan Roof or Timothy McVeigh, or one of the “confident savages” the world over, it’s clear, that the West, without question, is in the business of producing terror and terrorism, evidently.

Lets look at a portion of the record.

Still early in Obama’s first term, more than one commentator remarked that Obama hadn’t “changed much of substance from the late Bush practices.” And it gets worse for the Democrats who guard their reputation as liberals so well. Follow this condemnation: “Republicans are right about the fact that while it was Bush officials who led the way in implementing these radical and lawless policies, most of the country’s institutions — particularly the Democratic Party leadership and the media — acquiesced to it, endorsed it, and enabled it. And they still do.” (My emphasis) Further, “ ‘much of the other half of the country, the one that once opposed those policies – Democrats, Obama supporters — are now reciting the same lines, adopting the same mentality, because doing so is necessary to justify what Obama is doing,” namely spreading terror.

But how do our US maintainers of civilization ensure that “the masses of people” do not become inquisitive, or perhaps, dangerously, informed? Well one way is to continue the policies of secrecy and “public security,” which Bush II’s “thugs” did so well, as has been well documented by many intellectuals and scholars, Glenn Greenwald not an exception. Thus, he relay’s, that Obama’s programs were “inherited from Mr. Bush” II, “ they were “literally just Bush [II] redux.” In fact, “Mr. Obama’s Justice Department…’told an appeals court that the Bush administration was right to invoke “state secrets’ to shut down a lawsuit by former C.I.A. detainees who say a Boeing subsidiary helped fly them to places where they were tortured.’ ” It seems that secrecy would serve Obama’s Washington no less than it did his predecessors.

Another War on Terror

Twenty years before Bush II declared a “War on Terror,” says Chomsky, “the Reagan administration came into office announcing that a primary concern of US foreign policy would be a ‘war on terror.’ ” Apparently, back then, the threat to Washington policy was little different. Reagan administration moderate, George Shultz, said that the “terrorists” are “ ‘depraved opponents of civilization itself,’ “ who wish for “ ‘a return to barbarism in the modern age.’ ” But, as currently, the domestic problem had to be addressed as well, we had to exercise “the ‘cancer,’ “ which was “ ‘right here in our land mass.’ ” Obama thus echoes Reagan era ideology in his most recent address to the world when he said, we’re “confronted by a cancer that has no immediate cure.”

Others reacting to US war with terror, however, is not a new phenomenon. In fact, Woodrow Wilson was echoed by Reaganites when they proclaimed a war against the “barbarians” of the day in the Philippines saying that, in ‘our interest,” the USA “must march forward’ ” and n provocations are to be tolerated. Decades later, “the Reagan–Shultz doctrine held that the UN Charter entitles the US to resort to force in ‘self-defense against future attack.’ ” Bush I followed similar doctrine. His Washington argued its right to pre-emptive violence and terror as it “justified the invasion of Panama,” for instance, because the US must, through its own powers, must have the right to “defend our interests and our people.” (my emphasis) However, this approach to terror is nothing new for the USA, “the doctrine of preemptive strike has much earlier origins.” Looking back to another example, president Bill Clinton’s administration followed its duty to the imperialist hegemon. His “Strategic Command also advocated ‘preemptive response,’ with nuclear weapons if deemed appropriate.” Moreover, looking back forty years prior, “President Eisenhower and his staff discussed what he called the ‘campaign of hatred against us’ in the Arab world, ‘not by the governments but by the people.’ ” Chomsky reminds us, however soberly, that “they do not ‘hate us,’ but rather policies of the US government, something quite different,” indeed. By the time we reach BUSH II era policy on barbarism, Colin Powell’s State Department had declared Cuba a “terrorist state.”

Looking back again to the “terror” policies into the 60’s, President John F. Kennedy, “ordered his staff to subject Cubans to the ‘terrors of the earth.’ ” Obviously, he was addressing the “barbarians” of the day, the “terrorists” off the coast of Florida, who were, by virtue of existing in “successful defiance of the US,” being “a negation of our whole hemispheric policy of almost a century and a half,” who must therefor be subjected to the “terrors of the earth.” Thus, it was John F. Kennedy who, quite astutely, however unwittingly, named the real terrorists, us. We were ordered to deliver the terrors, not “them.”

Like much of the world today, evidently, the “uncivilized,” had refused to adhere to the “principle of subordination to US will.” Under JFK’s Washington, Cuba refused to affirm a subordinate place, and when “a US-backed South African invasion was coming close to conquering newly independent Angola, Cuba sent troops on its own initiative, scarcely even notifying Russia, and beat back the invaders” who’re being funded by US tax payers. Thus, what would follow for years was, as Chomsky notes, “some of the worst terrorist attacks against Cuba, with no slight US role.”

Reagan’s Terror

Another staggering example of US’ monopoly on terrorizing the world over was illustrated in a 1987 UN resolution, which condemned “terrorism in the strongest terms,” and which called “on all nations to combat the plague,” which “passed 153–2,” the US and Israel, accordingly, the loan wolves, or hawks rather, voted against it. For how could the US, which funded and “recruited radical Islamists from many countries and organized them into a military and terrorist force that Reagan anointed ‘the moral equivalent of the founding fathers,’ ” vote against our own policy? We don’t and we didn’t. In fact, we’ve “ ‘supported every possible anti-democratic government in the Arab–Islamic world.’ ” However, long after Reagan’s rule, the war came home, and thus, Americans “were subjected, on home soil, to atrocities of the kind that are all too familiar elsewhere.”

What was it, then, that the US-Israel partnership took issue with? They simply couldn’t allow their subject states, or any “other” state, for that matter, “the right to self-determination, freedom, and independence, as derived from the Charter of the United Nations…particularly peoples under colonial and racist regimes and foreign occupation,” which for US-Israel, cannot be true, not for those who’s interests “must march forward,” for “the self-anointed ‘enlightened states’ will serve as global enforcers.”

Thus, for any thing, it’s clear, whether a state or non-state faction, if it contests US power and hegemony, which includes capitalist wont’s of “free trade,” neo-liberal policies and unimpeded access, surveillance, and control — whether, it be an individual, a group, or state — it shall, invariably, present an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” and therefor, constitutes terrorism, and thus, it follows, however illogically, that we must, “eradicate the plague” of anti-imperialist terror stemming from the “uncivilized” corners of the planet. Accordingly, we must “eradicate” “ ‘the evil scourge of terrorism.’ ”

But what has the propaganda and the non-transparency wrought for contemporary Washington? Well, for one, it’s brought the politically left and right of our country together forcing many to face our country’s internal contradictions. In other words, if relatively little’s changed in terms of war policy over the centuries, then many democrats, and republicans alike, have been forced to admit that while they stand fundamentally opposed on certain issues, the end result of global hegemony and effective internal population control remains intact, however deadly and oppressive the means may be. Indeed, “now that it’s not just an unpopular Republican President but also a highly charismatic and popular Democratic President advocating and defending these core Bush/Cheney policies, they do become the political consensus of the United States.”

Nevertheless, Obama reassured us this week that the US is “cooperating with Muslim-majority countries — and with our Muslim communities here at home.” Thus, to ensure the safety and “security” of Muslims everywhere, he’s “ordered the Departments of State and Homeland Security to review the visa (waiver) program,” which is certain to follow with more stringent controls on Muslims and many others who don’t fit the label “ordinary American.” Furthermore, Obama “will urge high-tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology,” what that means I shutter to think. He goes on, “we should put in place stronger screening for those who come to America without a visa.” And Congress “should go ahead and vote to authorize the continued use of military force” against the “thugs and killers,” who’re “part of a cult of death.” Nevertheless, he maintains, that “we are on the right side of history,” and may we “never forget what makes us exceptional.”

Thus, accordingly, if it’s US’ policy to fund and depend upon known terror-sponsoring states, such as, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, then it follows that the US policy would also be, to counter any movement or policy designed to limit Washington’s “enemies.” The inferences, should one be willing to follow them are, that the US, empirically, and through its own admissions, is perhaps, the greatest “threat to world peace,” as the world believes; however, and perhaps even more sobering, the United States of America is also the largest supporter of terrorism in the world. There’s little argument against that fact if one applies universal determinations to what constitutes “Terrorism.”

Thus, said Chomsky, rather soberly in 2003, “we basically have two choices. Either history is bunk, including current history, and we can march forward with confidence that the global enforcer will drive evil from the world much as the President’s speech writers declare, plagiarizing ancient epics and children’s tales. Or we can subject the doctrines of the proclaimed grand new era to scrutiny, drawing rational conclusions, perhaps gaining some sense of the emerging reality.”

What is it, then, that we must ask ourselves if we’re to honestly address the moral consequences of our actions? Why is it invariably the case that what others do is “terror,” but what we do is not? I’ll leave you with these final thoughts from Chomsky. “If an action is right for us, it is right for others; and if wrong for others, it is wrong for us. Those who reject that standard can be ignored in any discussion of appropriateness of action, of right or wrong.” Thus, just as he’d advised in 2003, “we can approach these questions with the rational standards we apply to others, or we can dismiss the historical and contemporary record on some grounds or other.”

It seems Washington’s choosing to continue the recreation of ancient myths and children’s tails. In response to the San Bernardino tragedy, Obama said that, “we will succeed in this mission…we are on the right side of history. We were founded upon a belief in human dignity…equal in the eyes of God and equal in the eyes of the law…let’s make sure we never forget what makes us exceptional…freedom is more powerful than fear…God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.” Lastly, as the United States draws on every aspect of American power,” and as “we march forward,” especially in repayment for our investors and profiteers, and to wittingly beholden the “barbarians” of the world, a sour subject indeed, although terrifying to say the least, we continue to sew the ancient tails, and they continue thusly, evidently.

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Russell Webster

Russell Webster is a student of philosophy, a freelance journalist, social critique, and activist who supports #BlackLivesMatter movement. Twitter: @russellwebster

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National Catholic Reporter

The US and the Rise of ISIS

Isis fighters parade in a commandeered Iraqi security forces armoured vehicle in Mosul. (Photograph: AP)

The rise of ISIS (also known as Daesh, ISIL, or the “Islamic State”) is a direct consequence of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. While there are a number of other contributing factors as well, that fateful decision is paramount.

Had Congress not authorized President George W. Bush the authority to illegally invade a country on the far side of the world that was no threat to us, and to fund the occupation and bloody counter-insurgency war that followed, the reign of terror ISIS has imposed upon large swathes of Syria and Iraq and the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, the Sinai, and elsewhere would never have happened.

Among the many scholars, diplomats, and political figures who warned of such consequences was a then-Illinois state senator named Barack Obama, who noted that a U.S. invasion of Iraq would “only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda” and other like-minded extremists.

It is ironic, then, that most of those who went ahead and supported the invasion of Iraq anyway are now trying to blame him for the rise of ISIS. These include Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, who was among the minority of Congressional Democrats to vote for war authorization. In an August 2014 interview in The Atlantic, she claimed that Obama’s refusal to get the United States more heavily involved in the Syrian civil war “left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.”

There are serious questions as to whether providing additional military support to some of the motley and disorganized local Syrian militias labeled “moderates” by Washington could have done much to prevent the takeover of parts of Syria by ISIS. It is a powerful organized force led by experienced veterans of the former Iraqi Army under Saddam Hussein and flush with advanced American weaponry captured from the new U.S.-organized army.

 

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Obama Has Decimated His Own Party Unlike Any Other Modern President

913 lost legislature seats. 11 lost governorships. And a partridge in a pear tree.

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 02: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the Rutgers University-Newark S.I. Newhouse Center for Law and Justice on November 2, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. Obama spoke on the difficulties formerly-incarcerated people face when re-entering society after serving time in prison and new initiatives to help support those going through the process. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama (Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Last week concluded the final election of President Obama’s tenure that didn’t involve replacing him. After seven years in office and as many elections, the Democratic Party has taken a beating worse than the Republican Party took under George W. Bush.

On nearly every level of government, Democrats have lost more seats under Mr. Obama than under any other two-term modern president dating back to Dwight Eisenhower. (This includes the dual presidencies of John F. Kennedy/Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon/Gerald Ford.)

Under Mr. Obama, Democrats have lost 13 net Senate seats, 69 House seats, 11 governorships, a whopping 913 state legislature seats and 30 state legislature chambers, according to analysis from the Washington Post.

That makes Mr. Obama the overseer of the biggest loss in Senate seats, House seats and state legislature seats of any of the past seven two-term presidencies, the second biggest loser of state legislature chambers (Mr. Nixon/Mr. Ford lost 31 to Mr. Obama’s 30) and fourth biggest loser of governorships (tied with Bill Clinton).

 

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Former U.S. president George W. Bush watches before the start of the MLB American between the Rangers and White Sox in Arlington, Texas

On Thursday, the man’s mother called police to report she had found a threatening note in the home she shares with her son and that a rifle was also missing.

NEW YORK – A New York man sitting in a car that had a loaded rifle, machete and a container of gasoline was charged on Friday with threatening to kill George W. Bush after professing a romantic interest in one of the twin daughters of the former president, prosecutors said.

Benjamin Smith, 44, of Pittsford in upstate New York was arrested in Manhattan by the U.S. Secret Service, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.

“Bush will get his,” Smith screamed as he was taken into custody, according to the complaint. Later, when asked about his marital status, he told agents he was divorced and “working on a relationship with Barbara Bush.”

At a preliminary hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Griswold told U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman the government believes Smith was referring to the former president’s daughter and not Bush’s mother, who shares the same name.

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Man arrested for threatening to kill Bush over daughter

by YAMICHE ALCINDOR

USA TODAY

Posted on February 1, 2014 at 5:25 PM

Updated today at 6:40 PM

A man with a loaded rifle, a machete and gasoline was arrested Friday after threatening to kill former president George W. Bush and expressing interest in a relationship with his daughter, according to multiple media reports.

Benjamin Smith, 44, was arrested by the Secret Service in New York City after telling agents he was divorced and “working on a relationship with Barbara Bush.” Reuters, quoting from a criminal complaint filed in federal court, reported Smith screamed “Bush will get his!” as he was taken into custody. Barbara Pierce Bush, 32, is the elder of the 43rd president’s twin girls.

George Ogilvie, a spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service, told USA TODAY that Smith was arrested under U.S. Code Title 18 Section 879, which prohibits threats against a former president. Ogilvie would not go into detail about the incident.

At a preliminary hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Griswold told U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman that the government believes Smith was referring to the former president’s oldest daughter and not Bush’s mother, who shares the same name, Reuters reported.

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ob4On the day before Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, the New Yorker unveiled an extended interview with Obama in which the flailing leader blamed his poor approval ratings on racism.

“There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black President,” Obama told the editor of the liberal magazine known for its cloyingly obscure cartoons and overwhelmingly white readership.

Obama began his first term with an approval rating of 68 percent; a figure unmatched since JFK. No Republican had enjoyed a starting approval rating above 60 percent in 60 years, indicating how much more willing Republicans were to give the other guy a fair shot than their Democratic counterparts. At 12 percent, his disapproval ratings were also much lower than those of Bill Clinton or George W. Bush.

If his current approval rating of 40 percent pro and 51 percent con can be put down to anything, it isn’t race. When Obama began his first term in office, he had the approval of 41 percent of Republicans. By the time the year was out, that number had fallen to 16 percent.

At the start of his first term, he had the approval of 62 percent of independent voters. Today he has the approval of less than half that number. Only his support from his own party has remained unchanged.

Any honest politician would put those numbers down to his actions, but Obama always takes refuge in race, telling Remnick, “There is a historic connection between some of the arguments that we have politically and the history of race in our country, and sometimes it’s hard to disentangle those issues.”

Few men knew that history better than the black Republican minister who stood on the steps of a memorial to the Republican president who ended the Democratic Party’s institution of slavery and, with a resonance that echoes across time, said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

The post-equality civil rights movement of the left has long since buried that dream, exchanging it for a nightmare of calculated racial inequalities where your race is what you will be judged by when you apply for college, apply for a job or face low approval ratings after your national health care scheme explodes into a broken $600 million website and millions of angry people who have lost their health insurance and are being forced to pay more money for fewer benefits.

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Bloomberg

Obama Says Racial Animus Blunts Approval, New Yorker Reports

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

U.S. President Barack Obama’s second term has been marked by controversies including a… Read More

President Barack Obama said that racial tensions may have softened his popularity among white voters within the last two years, according to a story posted on the New Yorker magazine’s website today.

“There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black president,” Obama said in the article by David Remnick, appearing in the magazine’s Jan. 27 edition.

“Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black president,” Obama said in his most direct comments on how race has affected his political standing since he’s been in office.

Obama’s second term has been marked by controversies including a partial government shutdown in October, revelations that the National Security Agency has gathered personal mobile phone data and the troubled rollout of health-insurance expansion.

Obama’s approval rating among all voters is 39 percent and his disapproval rating is 53 percent, according to a Gallup Poll conducted Jan. 14-16. In the 2012 presidential election, Republican candidate Mitt Romney won 59 percent of the white vote, compared with Obama’s 39 percent, according to exit polling by a consortium of major news outlets. Obama won 43 percent of the white vote in 2008 against 55 percent for opponent John McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona.

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Obama: People don’t like me because I’m a Black President

TV Alberta·

Published on Jan 20, 2014

On Sunday, The New Yorker released an interview with President Barack Obama in which the president stated that his approval ratings had been suppressed due to racism. “There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black president,” Obama stated. “Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black president.”

Obama’s current approval rating is down to 39 percent according to Gallup; his approval rating in the black community remains extraordinarily high, although it is significantly lower now than it was when he was re-elected.

Obama’s overall approval ratings have tumbled coincident with the failed rollout of Obamacare, as well as his mishandling of the Syria and Iran crises. Obama’s supporters have often suggested that political difficulties he experiences are attributable to generalized racial anxiety.

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Race to blame for President Obama’s low approval rating

Last-Minute News 5 Last-Minute News 5

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President Obama Blames Racism for His Low Approval Ratings

Dued1960 Dued1960

Published on Jan 23, 2014

Tonight DLAKE 4 PREZ covers Obama’s recent statements: There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea .

MSNBC: Obama Poll Numbers At All Time Lows, Dragging Down 2014 Democrats – Obama Poll Numbers At All Time Lows, Drag.

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RT

 

Published on Nov 25, 2013

Is there a difference between George W. Bush and Barack Obama? If there is no difference, why is this the case? What is it about American politics that changes politicians once they are in high office? And, in light of the Obama presidency, will history now look more kindly upon Bush Jr.? CrossTalking with Daniel Faraci, Austin Petersen and Kimberly Amadeo.

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Consequences of U.S. decline

 

 

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I have long argued that U.S. decline as a hegemonic power began circa 1970 and that a slow decline became a precipitate one during the presidency of George W. Bush. I first started writing about this in 1980 or so.

At that time the reaction to this argument, from all political camps, was to reject it as absurd. In the 1990s, quite to the contrary, it was widely believed, again on all sides of the political spectrum, that the United States had reached the height of unipolar dominance.

However, after the burst bubble of 2008, opinion of politicians, pundits, and the general public began to change. Today, a large percentage of people (albeit not everyone) accepts the reality of at least some relative decline of U.S. power, prestige, and influence.

In the United States this is accepted quite reluctantly. Politicians and pundits rival each other in recommending how this decline can still be reversed. I believe it is irreversible.

The real question is what the consequences of this decline are. The first is the manifest reduction of U.S. ability to control the world situation, and in particular the loss of trust by the erstwhile closest allies of the United States in its behavior.

In the last month, because of the evidence released by Edward Snowden, it has become public knowledge that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has been directly spying on the top political leadership of Germany, France, Mexico, and Brazil among others (as well, of course, on countless citizens of these countries).

I am sure the United States engaged in similar activities in 1950. But in 1950, none of these countries would have dared to make a public scandal of their anger, and demand that the United States stop doing this. If they do it today, it is because today the United States needs them more than they need the United States.

These present leaders know that the United States has no choice but to promise, as President Obama just did, to cease these practices (even if the United States doesn’t mean it). And the leaders of these four countries all know that their internal position will be strengthened, not weakened, by publically tweaking the nose of the United States.

Insofar as the media discuss U.S. decline, most attention is placed on China as a potential successor hegemon. This too misses the point. China is undoubtedly a country growing in geopolitical strength. But accession to the role of the hegemonic power is a long, arduous process.

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By SPIEGEL Staff

Photo Gallery: Spies in the Embassy Photos
AP

According to SPIEGEL research, United States intelligence agencies have not only targeted Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone, but they have also used the American Embassy in Berlin as a listening station. The revelations now pose a serious threat to German-American relations.

 

It’s a prime site, a diplomat’s dream. Is there any better location for an embassy than Berlin’s Pariser Platz? It’s just a few paces from here to the Reichstag. When the American ambassador steps out the door, he looks directly onto the Brandenburg Gate.

 

 

ANZEIGE

When the United States moved into the massive embassy building in 2008, it threw a huge party. Over 4,500 guests were invited. Former President George H. W. Bush cut the red-white-and-blue ribbon. Chancellor Angela Merkel offered warm words for the occasion. Since then, when the US ambassador receives high-ranking visitors, they often take a stroll out to the roof terrace, which offers a breathtaking view of the Reichstag and Tiergarten park. Even the Chancellery can be glimpsed. This is the political heart of the republic, where billion-euro budgets are negotiated, laws are formulated and soldiers are sent to war. It’s an ideal location for diplomats — and for spies.

Research by SPIEGEL reporters in Berlin and Washington, talks with intelligence officials and the evaluation of internal documents of the US’ National Security Agency and other information, most of which comes from the archive of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, lead to the conclusion that the US diplomatic mission in the German capital has not merely been promoting German-American friendship. On the contrary, it is a nest of espionage. From the roof of the embassy, a special unit of the CIA and NSA can apparently monitor a large part of cellphone communication in the government quarter. And there is evidence that agents based at Pariser Platz recently targeted the cellphone that Merkel uses the most.

 

The NSA spying scandal has thus reached a new level, becoming a serious threat to the trans-Atlantic partnership. The mere suspicion that one of Merkel’s cellphones was being monitored by the NSA has led in the past week to serious tensions between Berlin and Washington.

 

Hardly anything is as sensitive a subject to Merkel as the surveillance of her cellphone. It is her instrument of power. She uses it not only to lead her party, the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), but also to conduct a large portion of government business. Merkel uses the device so frequently that there was even debate earlier this year over whether her text-messaging activity should be archived as part of executive action.

 

‘That’s Just Not Done’

 

Merkel has often said — half in earnest, half in jest — that she operates under the assumption that her phone calls are being monitored. But she apparently had in mind countries like China and Russia, where data protection is not taken very seriously, and not Germany’s friends in Washington.

 

Last Wednesday Merkel placed a strongly worded phone call to US President Barack Obama. Sixty-two percent of Germans approve of her harsh reaction, according to a survey by polling institute YouGov. A quarter think it was too mild. In a gesture of displeasure usually reserved for rogue states, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle summoned the new US ambassador, John Emerson, for a meeting at the Foreign Ministry.

 

The NSA affair has shaken the certainties of German politics. Even Merkel’s CDU, long a loyal friend of Washington, is now openly questioning the trans-Atlantic free trade agreement. At the Chancellery it’s now being said that if the US government doesn’t take greater pains to clarify the situation, certain conclusions will be drawn and talks over the agreement could potentially be put on hold.

 

“Spying between friends, that’s just not done,” said Merkel on Thursday at a European Union summit in Brussels. “Now trust has to be rebuilt.” But until recently it sounded as if the government had faith in its ally’s intelligence agencies.

 

In mid-August Merkel’s chief of staff, Ronald Pofalla, offhandedly described the NSA scandal as over. German authorities offered none of their own findings — just a dry statement from the NSA leadership saying the agency adhered to all agreements between the countries.

 

Now it is not just Pofalla who stands disgraced, but Merkel as well. She looks like a head of government who only stands up to Obama when she herself is a target of the US intelligence services. The German website Der Postillon published a satirical version last Thursday of the statement given by Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert: “The chancellor considers it a slap in the face that she has most likely been monitored over the years just like some mangy resident of Germany.”

 

Merkel has nothing to fear domestically from the recent turn of affairs. The election is over, the conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats are already in official negotiations toward forming a new government. No one wants to poison the atmosphere with mutual accusation.

 

Nevertheless, Merkel must now answer the question of how much she is willing to tolerate from her American allies.

 

Read More Here

 

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Irish Times News

Obama under pressure over Merkel phone tap allegations

German magazine claims US has been spying on chancellor’s mobile phone since 2002

 Barack Obama  standing in front of a window with a view of the  Reichstag during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin in  2008. Photograph: Reuters.Barack Obama standing in front of a window with a view of the Reichstag during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin in 2008. Photograph: Reuters.

Mon, Oct 28, 2013, 01:00

The White House was under intense pressure yesterday to reveal the extent to which Barack Obama knew about US surveillance operations targeting the leaders of allied countries.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone was reportedly spied on since 2002 from a secret listening post inside the US embassy in Berlin that monitors all mobile phone, satellite and wireless internet traffic in the German capital.

Der Spiegel claims the surveillance took place via a special antennae dubbed “Einstein” and concealed in a windowless room on the roof of the embassy adjacent to the Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag.

 

The White House refused to comment on that report – or others that emerged in Germany, raising questions about how much Barack Obama knew about the spying operation.

Caitlin Hayden, the White House national security council spokeswoman, said: “We are not going to comment publicly on every specific alleged intelligence activity.”

‘Special Collection Service’
Drawing on information provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the magazine reports that US intelligence operates 80 such listening posts around the world, dubbed “Special Collection Service”.

The magazine said the posts are operated jointly by the NSA and CIA, the US foreign intelligence service, in 80 locations worldwide. Two stations operate in Germany – Berlin and Frankfurt – and, in total, some 19 operate in Europe including Paris, Prague and Madrid. The US embassy in Dublin is not listed as a listening post.

Eavesdropping
“The SCS teams work mostly undercover in shielded areas of American embassies and consulates where, officially, they are accredited as diplomats and enjoy the related privileges,” the magazine writes. “From the protection of the embassy they can eavesdrop and look. They just are not allowed to be caught.”

Read More Here

 

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File:Überwachungskameras Autohof in Thüringen an A9 03.06.2013 10-07-08.JPG

Security Cameras
Dirk Ingo Franke, via Wikimedia Commons

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The Washington Times

NAPOLITANO: A government of secrecy and fear

Every American who values the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, every American who enjoys the right to be different and the right to be left alone, and every American who believes that the government works for us and we don’t work for the government should thank Edward Snowden for his courageous and heroic revelations of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) gargantuan spying operations. Without Mr. Snowden’s revelations, we would be ignorant children to a paternalistic government and completely in the dark about what the government sees of us and knows about us. We would not know that it has stolen our freedoms.

When I saw Mr. Snowden’s initial revelation — a two-page order signed by a federal judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — I knew immediately that Mr. Snowden had a copy of a genuine top-secret document that even the judge who signed it did not have. The NSA reluctantly acknowledged that the document was genuine and claimed that all of its snooping on the 113 million Verizon customers covered by that order was lawful because it had been authorized by that federal judge. The NSA also claims that as a result of its spying, it has kept us safe.

I reject the argument that the government is empowered to take our liberties — in this case, the right to privacy — by majority vote or by secret fiat as part of an involuntary collective bargain that it needs to monitor us in private to protect us in public. The government’s job is to keep us free and safe. If it keeps us safe but not free, it is not doing its job.

Since the revelations about Verizon, we have learned that the NSA has captured and stored in its Utah computers the emails, texts, telephone conversations, utility bills, bank statements, credit card statements and digital phone books of everyone in America for the past two-and-a-half years. It also has captured hundreds of millions of phone records in Brazil, France, Germany and Mexico — all U.S. allies — and it has shared much of the seized raw American data with intelligence agencies in Great Britain and Israel. Its agents have spied on their girlfriends and boyfriends literally thousands of times, and they have combed the collected raw data and selectively revealed some of it to law enforcement. All of this directly contradicts the Constitution.

If all of this is not enough to induce one to realize that the Orwellian future is here, thanks to the secret governments of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Mr. Snowden also revealed that the NSA can hack into anyone’s mobile phone, even when it is turned off, and use each phone as a listening device and as a GPS to track whoever possesses it.

When Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, was confronted with this litany of unlawful and unconstitutional behavior, he replied by claiming that his spies have saved the United States from 54 terrorist plots. He pleaded with lawmakers not to strip him of the power to spy or of the billions they have given him to spend on spying, lest another September 11 plot befall us.

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Judge Napolitano ~ NSA Most Outrageous, Extensive, Massive Violation of Constitution

RonPaulCC2012

 

Published on Jun 22, 2013

Ron Paul ‘Constitutionally Correct’ 2012.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ronpaulcc2012
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ron-Pa…
Website: http://www.ronpaulcc2012.com

 

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CrossTalk: Justice Deficit

RT RT

Published on Sep 30, 2013

United States Department of Justice requested that George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz be granted procedural immunity in a case alleging that they planned and waged the Iraq War in violation of international law. Does this imply they did breach the law? Why does Obama want to shield the ex-President from prosecution? And why aren’t Bush & Co. held accountable for the Iraq disaster? CrossTalking with Inder Comar and Ed Krayewski.

Watch all CrossTalk shows here:
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=… (Sep 2009 – Feb 2011)
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=… (Mar 2011 – Jul 2012)
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=… (Jul 2012 – current)

RT LIVE http://rt.com/on-air

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Why an Iraqi Single Mom Is Suing George W. Bush for War Crimes

Why an Iraqi single mom and a tech lawyer think they can prove the Iraq War was a “crime of aggression” under U.S. law.
Inder Comar and Sundus Shaker Saleh.

Sundus Shaker Saleh, pictured at right, with her lawyer, Inder Comar. Photo by Global Exchange.

George W. Bush keeps a low profile these days, making the rounds on the public speaking circuit, engaging in a bit of philanthropy here and there, occasionally sharing his dog paintings or offering an unsolicited opinion on the immigration debate or national security.

The case was filed on March 13, 2013, and the defendants have all been served notice to appear.

Given his role in the current media landscape, it may be easy to forget that just 10 years ago he led an invasion of a foreign country that many in the international community saw as criminal.

Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi single mother of three, has not forgotten. The violence and chaos that engulfed Iraq following the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 had tragic consequences for her family and ultimately forced her to flee her homeland for an uncertain future. She has left Iraq, but she is determined to make sure the world hears her story and that someone is held accountable.

Saleh is the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit targeting six key members of the Bush Administration: George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Paul Wolfowitz. In Saleh v. Bush, she alleges that the Iraq War was not conducted in self-defense, did not have the appropriate authorization by the United Nations, and therefore constituted a “crime of aggression” under international law—a designation first set down in the Nuremberg Trials after World War II. The aim of the suit is simple: to achieve justice for Iraqis, and to show that no one, not even the president of the United States, is above the law.

The case is being brought to trial by Inder Comar of Comar Law, a firm based in San Francisco. The majority of cases Comar takes involve providing legal support to private companies, primarily for the tech industry. He is measured and deliberate, perhaps not the long haired, vaguely out-of-touch wearer of hemp suits some might picture when imagining a human rights lawyer pushing for prosecution of U.S. government officials.

This summer, Saleh met with Comar at her home in Amman, Jordan, to discuss the upcoming trial.

Saleh related her story through a translator to Comar, who had traveled halfway around the world to hear her story firsthand. Saleh was a gracious host, according to Comar, pointing out the paintings she’d crafted and beaming over her children. She was warm, open, and quick to laugh. Her story, however, was rife with darkness.

Prior to the arrival of U.S. forces, Saleh said, Iraq was safe. People slept with their doors open at night. There were no militias, no checkpoints, no threats. All of that came to a halt following the U.S.-led invasion. Airstrikes damaged or destroyed vital infrastructure including highways, bridges, and wastewater treatment facilities. Diseases like typhus became commonplace. The swift collapse of a functioning government created an environment ripe for internecine warfare. Saleh’s twin brothers were both shot by militia members, and she no longer felt safe in her own home. So in 2005, Saleh fled Iraq. She was not alone. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, over 2 million people left the country, and over 2.7 million were internally displaced, including up to 40 percent of the Iraqi middle class.

To seek legal redress, Comar Law is invoking the Alien Tort Statute, a law passed in 1789 that permits a non-U.S. national the ability to sue in federal court for injuries “committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” The case was filed on March 13, 2013, with the U.S. District Court in Northern Calif., and the defendants have all been served notice to appear. Just like any other legal proceeding, there will be a great deal of back and forth before the hearing, which is scheduled to take place sometime in early 2014.

A tough case to make

Paul Stephan teaches law at the University of Virginia and has served as a consultant to the Department of State on matters of international law. In his opinion, Comar’s lawsuit against Bush administration officials is unlikely to succeed.

Many judges would view the ramifications of the invasion of Iraq not as a matter of law, but of politics.

For one, Stephan says, it’s difficult to sue a U.S. employee acting under the “scope of employment.” The Westfall Act of 1988 permits the United States as an entity to substitute itself in for individuals who were acting in their “scope of employment” for the case at issue.

The Westfall Act was enacted by Congress to supersede the Supreme Court’s decision in Westfall v. Erwin, a case involving a government employee, William Erwin, who was burned by exposure to toxic soda ash at an Army depot and then sued the depot supervisors. The Court’s ruling slightly modified the interpretation of law to open up government employees to greater legal liability for their actions. Congress immediately responded with the Westfall Act, which granted “absolute immunity” to government employees for any actions taken within the scope of their employment.

Precedent suggests that Stephan may be right. The district court of the District of Columbia dismissed a case by the ACLU of Northern California against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and nine other senior military leaders in 2007 on the grounds that these employees were acting within the scope of their employment and were therefore immune from liability under the Westfall Act.

The suit, Ali v. Rumsfeld, was brought on behalf of nine men subjected to torture and abuse under Rumsfeld’s command, with the ACLU arguing that the Constitution and international law prohibit torture and require commanding officers to report violations of the law. The ACLU further claimed that direct orders from Rumsfeld, as well as reports from detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, proved that Rumsfeld and the nine other defendants were well aware of and condoned the ongoing torture.

The second issue that Stephan points out is that the crimes in question didn’t take place in the United States. That makes it unlikely the courts will recognize the validity of the claim.

Thirdly, there’s the “political question.” Courts aren’t open to ruling on matters of a political nature, Stephan says. This doctrine of U.S. Constitutional law has its roots in the case of Marbury v. Madison, in which Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall drew a dividing line between matters over which the courts would have jurisdiction and matters best left to the legislative and executive branches of government. Many judges would view the ramifications of the invasion of Iraq not as a matter of law, but of politics.

“If the expectation is that a federal court will declare that the invasion, although duly authorized by Congress, violated international law and thus violates U.S. law, I would respond that we walked up and down that hill with respect to Vietnam,” Stephan said. “No federal court ever has recognized such a claim.”

Taking a deeper look

But Comar is optimistic that these hurdles can be overcome. The issue of whether or not Bush, Cheney, and the others will be found to have acted in an official capacity isn’t open and shut.

“Ms. Saleh alleges that these defendants entered into government in order to execute a pre-existing plan to overthrow the Hussein regime.”

According to Comar, part of the planning for the invasion happened within the United States, before these officials took office. Multiple letters and position papers emanating from the nonprofit think tank Project for a New American Century, or PNAC, indicate a long-term interest in regime change in Iraq. An open letter written in 1998 to then-president Clinton signed by Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld called for the removal of Saddam Hussein using military power. PNAC was also responsible for drafting and guiding the passage of the Iraqi Liberation Act in 1998, which authorized military support for opposition to Saddam Hussein.

Then, in 2000, Wolfowitz was a signatory to the 90-page report issued by PNAC titled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces, and Resources For a New Century,” which calls for, among other things, global domination through force of arms. The document tellingly hints at the larger geopolitical justification for war with Iraq, stating that “while the unresolved conflict in Iraq provides the immediate justification [for U.S. military presence], the need for a substantial American force presence in the [Persian] Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.”

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Those documents suggest that, in order to show that these officials were acting in capacity as government employees, the United States needs to prove that the sum of their actions took place entirely within office. Since the officials participated in these actions before they took office, Comar claims, they clearly cannot have been acting in their scope of employment.

Then there’s the political question, which Comar concedes is an often-nebulous doctrine with no clear limits. But that doesn’t mean that the crime of aggression necessarily qualifies as a political question.

Though low-ranking soldiers were prosecuted for torture in Iraq, none of the policy architects were ever held accountable.

“The legality of a war under international law was exactly the type of legal question that the Nuremberg court adjudicated,” Comar says. “We believe that aggression as a tort is actionable under the Alien Tort Statute. It is not a generic international law claim but a bedrock norm of international behavior in the same manner as slavery, genocide or torture, which are all claims that can be made under the Alien Tort Statute.”

Comar is confident that the courts will hear the case but is clear-headed about the prospects for conviction. He says that failure to achieve a multimillion-dollar settlement would not mean failure overall. A trial requires the gathering of evidence and provides a record for posterity.

Furthermore, Comar says, the judiciary is likely the last place people like Sundus Shaker Saleh can turn. It is highly unlikely that any president would ever investigate a past administration in the way sought by the suit, since the executive isn’t keen to open the gates for further scrutiny into its actions. Indeed, the Obama administration has expanded many Bush programs, including the use of drone strikes and domestic surveillance.

Since neither the legislative nor the executive branch have attempted to investigate whether the Bush Administration officials are guilty of war crimes, the last remaining branch through which to seek redress is the judiciary. Pursuing the issue here, Comar believes, will force the issue back into the public sphere.

“Our law recognizes that the actions of every person in this country—even a president—is subject to judicial review before an impartial judge,” Comar says. He continues:

This is a concept that extends back to the Magna Carta, when English barons put restraints on their king in order to protect their rights and privileges. In this case, Ms. Saleh alleges that these defendants entered into government in order to execute a pre-existing plan to overthrow the Hussein regime—a plan that has now led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and U.S. servicemen and women, untold misery for millions, and chaos that continues to plague that country to the present day. This is the very behavior that was outlawed and declared criminal by the Nuremberg Tribunal.

It is unusual in the United States for high government officials to face legal consequences for their actions. Though low-ranking soldiers were prosecuted for torture in Iraq, none of the policy architects were ever held accountable.

Regardless of the resolution of Saleh v. Bush, the case sets an important precedent toward rebuilding a system of laws that apply equally to everyone, even if their alleged crimes were committed in the Oval Office.


Corey Hill wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. He is the membership and outreach coordinator at Global Exchange. Follow Corey on Twitter at @Newschill.


YES! Magazine. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License

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