Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Today’s Tortured And Convoluted News.

Today’s Tortured And Convoluted News.

By Adam Serwer
Why is the media turning a far more skeptical eye toward Obama’s definition of “hostilities” than it ever did towards Bush’s definition of “torture?”
Michael Scherer draws the kind of comparison we’ve been seeing a lot of over the past few days in the wake of the administration’s implausible rationale for determining that Obama has the right to continue the Libya operation without authorization from Congress:
In 2002, Bush’s Justice Department lawyers came up with a novel definition of “torture,” over the objections of several military attorneys, that green-lighted the president’s plans for a harsh interrogation program. Obama’s in-house and State Department attorneys have come up with a novel definition of “hostilities,” over the objection of Pentagon and Justice Department attorneys that allows U.S. forces to continue bombing Libya without seeking Congressional approval, as required by the 1973 War Powers Act.

There are some issues with this comparison. The Bush administration’s redefinition of torture took place in secret and wasn’t revealed for years. Obama’s OLC has been far less politicized in the sense that it hasn’t been willing to ignore legal precedent in order to tell the president what he wants to hear.
But on the whole, it’s true that the Obama administration’s definition of “hostilities” is no less strained than Bush’s redefinition of torture.
Yet the press is turning a much more skeptical eye towards Obama’s dubious arguments than it ever did towards Bush’s arguments. Indeed, media outlets mostly acquiesced to Bush’s argument — recall the New York Times’ decision to deploy euphemisms for “torture” because Bush and his supporters had simply redefined the term. This is partly because the Obama administration never tried to bully the press into adopting its chosen terms the way the Bush administration did.
More to the point, though, is that President Obama faces what you might call a “hack deficit.” There simply aren’t many legal scholars on the left who are willing to give Obama a pass. Unlike right-wing legal writers, left-leaning ones are treating Obama and Bush equally. Bruce Ackerman, who called for the impeachment of torture memo author Jay Bybee, has now blasted the White House, claiming it “has shattered the traditional legal process the executive branch has developed to sustain the rule of law over the past 75 years.” His colleague Jack Balkin wrote: “If one is disturbed by Bush’s misuse of the process for vetting legal questions, one should be equally disturbed by Obama’s irregular procedures.” Liberal writers like Eugene Robinson and James Fallows have also rejected Obama’s attempt to redefine the term hostilities.
 Even in his own administration, State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh was the only one of Obama’s top legal advisers who backed his interpretation of the War Powers Act while the OLC, Pentagon Counsel Jeh Johnson, and Attorney General Eric Holder all disagreed.
Unlike with Bush, Obama doesn’t have a large stable of liberal legal scholars and commenters who are willing to pretend they don’t speak English in order to defend his policies. As a result, the mainstream media’s standards of objectivity, so easily manipulated by Bush’s defenders, reflect the deep skepticism the administration’s arguments have inspired on both sides. The press, while largely silent about Bush's redefinition of “torture,” is clobbering Obama’s redefinition of “hostilties.”

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Faces Impeachment Threat

Iranian president under increasing pressure from MPs after supporting foreign minister's controversial appointment of deputy

Ministers in Iran moved a step closer towards impeaching the president,Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, after a series of clashes with supporters of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Impeachment proceedings were launched against foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi for appointing a man close to Ahmadinejad's chief-of-staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, as his deputy.
Supporters of Khamenei, including the overwhelming majority of parliament, say Ahmadinejad is under the spell of Mashaei, who is accused of attempting to undermine clerical power and increase his own political influence.
A power struggle between Ahmadinejad and the establishment, especially the clerics, has come to light after the controversies surrounding Mashaei became public. Muhammad Sharif Malekzadeh, the deputy foreign minister in the middle of the row, was appointed last week but has already resigned.
Despite that, Iranian MPs went ahead with their motion to impeach Salehi, signed by 33 deputies, which was officially read out in the parliament.
"The motion to impeach [Salehi] has not been halted ... It is up to the members of the parliament to withdraw their impeachment request," the parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani, was quoted as saying by Iranian news agencies.
In a further setback for the president, who had gone to the parliament for the first time after weeks of exchanging verbal attacks with various lawmakers, especially Larijani, Ahmadinejad's nominee for the new post of minister of sport and youth was rejected.
Meanwhile, several MPs warned Ahmadinejad of his own possible impeachment if he insisted on supporting Mashaei and his allies, who are described as a "deviant current" within the inner circle of the president ,and are accused of everything from corruption to sorcery.
Speaking to the Khabaronline conservative news website, Ali Motahari, an influential MP, said the motion to impeach Ahmadinejad would be delivered within 10 days. "In a meeting with the parliamentary clerics, we decided to launch the motion [to impeach the president] in less than 10 days and avoid any delays," Motahari was quoted as saying.
Another lawmaker, Fazel Mousavi, said last week that Ahmadinejad "is only one yellow card away from impeachment" after the president reshuffled his cabinet and took over the oil ministry temporarily.
At the same time, Mojtaba Zolnour, the supreme leader's deputy representative in the powerful revolutionary guards said a majority of Iranian MPs would have been ready to impeach Ahmadinejad over his walkout from the presidential office earlier this year, had he not ended it voluntarily.
In April, Ahmadinejad abandoned his office for 11 days in protest at Khamenei's intervention in a cabinet appointment. According to Zolnour, Ahmadinejad returned to work only because he was threatened with impeachment.
"If the motion to impeach Ahmadinejad had been begun in the parliament [during his walkout], an overwhelming majority would have voted against him," Zolnour was quoted by Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency as saying.
Analysts believe Khamenei is avoiding direct confrontation with Ahmadinejad by pursuing his intentions through the parliament. Iran's Guardian Council, a body under Khamenei's control, vets all candidates, including all MPs, before any election.

Jon Stewart: 'Fox News edited me to seem like a woman having a nervous breakdown'

Jon Stewart wants everyone to know that his Fox News appearance was not the real deal.

The comedian lambasted the network, arguing his Sunday interview with host Chris Wallace was edited to make him look like "a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown."

"I suggest you look at the unedited version online where my emotional states don't seem to change so arbitrarily," he said on his "Daily Show" Monday night.

The Fox interview quickly became heated when Wallace began questioning Stewart about his "liberal" bias.

Stewart fired back at Fox News - claiming it has the "most consistently misinformed" audience.
Stewart said the network edited the moment at which Wallace "basically gives away the game" by describing Fox News as a "counterweight" to NBC News.

"I think that they have a liberal agenda and I think we are the other side of the story," Wallace added in the unedited version [seen in 14:58-18:07].
Stewart insisted throughout the interview that he is solely a comedian, not a political commentator, despite prodding from Wallace to admit the opposite.

"The embarrassment is that I'm given credibility in this world because of the disappointment that the public has in what the news media does," Stewart said.

Fox News personality Bret Baier entered the fray Monday.

"[Stewart] is a political force and there's no denying it," Baier said on the "Kilmeade and Friends" radio show. "He touches a lot of young people and he wants to be heard on politics but . . . when something goes wrong, he punts to 'I'm a comedian.'"

Fox News did not immediately return calls for comment.


It is often said that war spending can bring an economy out of recession. I call this the Right Wing Keynesian Thesis. I’m usually skeptical. Spending on defense does not satisfy consumer demand, even if it does mean that some more people are employed in the short term.
In 2011, we have a new test of the theory – the post 9/11 security state. We have ten years of astronomical spending on two wars, homeland security and a vastly expanded intelligence apparatus. This spending has occurred as the economy recovered in the early 2000s, boomed in the mid-2000s and then tanked in 2007.
Collectively, we have spent about two trillion on defense and anti-terrorism beyond what was projected in the 1990s. The wars have cost $1.2 T. Homeland Security has cost about $50b a year, so add another $.5T to the total over last ten years. I have no idea about the cost of expanded intelligence, but the CIA alone costs about$27B – back in 1997. I’m sure it’s a bit more now. So let’s be conservative and say that it costs $50b a year since 2001. It’s probably way more.

Basically, the US economy, in the last ten years, has been stimulated to the tune of $2T. That’s about $200B+ a year. In other words, every single year, the US government, though defense, security and intelligence, has added on an extra “stimulus package” about 1/3 the size of the Obama stimulus, which was around $700b.

All this extra money, massive and likely underestimated, seems to have done nothing to tamper the business cycle. Furthermore, there’s a lot of evidence that wages have stagnated. Given that, the Right Wing Keynesians get a failing grade.

Zdnet's Wikileaks Series: An Empirical Analysis Of The Whistleblowing Organization

By Zack Whittaker

This series explores in empirical detail the U.S. diplomatic cables release by Wikileaks — a self-styled media organisation — where over 250,000 classified communiques were published in the public domain.

To understand the nature of the work Wikileaks performs, this series, formed out of my undergraduate dissertation, analyses their organizational structure, capabilities and its technological advantages.
The consequences of Wikileaks’ work ultimately led to allegations made towards founder, Julian Assange, and his organization became a worldwide target for intelligence agencies, governments and journalists alike.
As the largest cache of classified intelligence leaked in United States’ history, the wide ranging ramifications of the release raised questions about governmental transparency, openness and trust.
Wikileaks is an organization – decentralized in structure and with no fixed headquarters or abode. The internal dialogue of the organization has been blended and distorted by the media, with claims of inner corruption and conflicts of power, arrogance and self-seeking hedonism by Assange.

Yet a more pragmatic and objective view of the goals and objectives of Wikileaks, shows it to be a not-for-profit organization acting in a capacity to bring news and information into the public domain. Similar in style to that of a broadcasting or media company, Wikileaks is famed for publishing leaked documents; some highly classified in nature.
The magnitude of the diplomatic cable release is said to have triggered the 2011 revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa; toppling regimes and bringing down dictatorships, making politicians and governments forcibly accountable for the first time in generations.

It allowed the media to dissect and to scrutinize the decisions made by our executives and shed light on a side to government never seen before.
Wikileaks, though has been operational since 2007, has recently had extreme media attention with the release of U.S. diplomatic cables, some, and released seemingly indiscriminately into the public domain. Since this release, extradition hearings have been underway in England to deport Assange to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault.

Yet before the explosion of media interest in 2010, Wikileaks was lesser known and fought for different motives. The transformation of the organization resulted through the varying level of information leaked to Wikileaks, from low level private industry whistle-blowing leaks to full transnational governmental releases.

The themes noted in this work explore empirically how the self-styled media organization operates and notes its organizational structure.
Also, this work will critically examine in empirical detail how ‘hactivist’ group Anonymous have defended Wikileaks in paramilitary style, and will uncover how the cables came to be in the public light.

Read in full:

Part 1: The diplomatic cables release and media reactions
Introducing the work of Wikileaks during the U.S. diplomatic cables release in 2010, and how this impacted the world of journalism.

Part 2: A brief history of Wikileaks, pre-2010
Going back to pre-2010 before the cables were released to discover the roots of the whistle blowing organization.

Part 3: How the organization functions and operates
Examining the operations of Wikileaks and how it functions, amid the vast media preoccupation with its values of secrecy.

Part 4: How ‘Anonymous’ subverted the most powerful governments
How does anonymity prevail on the web? Examining the connection between Wikileaks and online ‘hactivist’ group, Anonymous.

Part 5: How Wikileaks leaked the diplomatic cables
Detailing how U.S. Army officer Bradley Manning allegedly leaked the largest cache of secret data in U.S. history.

Part 6: How the diplomatic cables sparked the 2011 Arab Spring 
How the release of the diplomatic cables sparked revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East, and the wider effect on international relations.

Kerry Exposed on Syria
FrontPage Magazine

In April of 2007 then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made an unofficial state visit to Syria. Bedecked in a winning smile and modest Muslim headgear, Ms. Pelosi's glowing approval of the young dictator, and her refusal to mention even once the issue...See all stories on this topic »

Don’t Believe The Hype: Obama’s Af-Pak Troop Withdrawal Is A Propaganda Stunt

It is a positive development that the Obama Administration is withdrawing some troops from Afghanistan. However, Obama’s announcement of troop reductions is primarily a propaganda stunt. It is another perfect example of how the Obama Administration and the mainstream media manipulates public opinion and deceives the American public.

Headlines throughout the media are declaring: “Obama Announces Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan” and “Obama to announce return of 30,000 troops from Afghanistan by end of next year.” All of this is designed to give you the impression that Obama is going to end the war, and give his re-election campaign a boast as well. As CBS News reported:

“President Obama’s ‘surge’ of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan announced in late 2009 was meant to be temporary, and Wednesday night the president is expected to announce that they will return home by around the time voters head to the polls to determine whether he gets another term.”

However, what very few in the mainstream media will even make the effort to mention is something Wired concisely explained in this new report:

Never Mind The Drawdown: Taliban Talks, Not Troop Numbers, Are What Really Matter for Afghanistan

“Even if Obama decides to pull out all the 30,000 troops he ordered sent to Afghanistan in a December 2009 speech at West Point, that still won’t constitute the end of the reinforcements he ordered earlier same year. It’s easy to forget, but Obama sent 21,000 extra troops to Afghanistan as one of his first acts in office. Front-load the withdrawal of ‘West Point’ troops, and 68,000 U.S. troops will still remain. [Note: This does not take into account the dramatic increase in private mercenary deployments under the Obama Adminstration as well – see below.]

There the majority of them will stay until 2014, when the Afghans are supposed to take over combat duties. But those troops are largely illiterate. Many still walk off the job, and some have taken to killing their American sponsors. The general in charge of training them thinks they’ll need mentoring until 2017. Then there are negotiations with the Afghan government for long-term basing accords.

The military, as we’ve been reporting, wants a token withdrawal this year — maybe two brigades. Support troops, not the guys who pull triggers, would leave first. Afghanistan’s swarm of drones, surveillance aircraft and spy blimps would stay.”

So there you have it, “a token withdrawal.” Yet another propaganda ploy from the psychological operations department. What’s next? Is Obama going to get tough on those “fat cat bankers” again, now that they are raking in yet another round of record-breaking bonuses?

Don’t believe the hype people. The joke is always at our expense.

You can expect a few more “major announcements” on the imperial wars that the Obama Administration has raging throughout the world in coming months. Not only to dupe voters into re-electing Obama, but to also defuse the momentum building to the massive October 6th Afghanistan War ten-year anniversary protest in DC:

“On Thursday, October 6, 2011, the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan, we who oppose war in the United States will occupy Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC, and we won’t budge until U.S. troops and mercenaries are out of Afghanistan and the money now being used to keep them there is brought home to fund human needs. We know our overlords are adept at ignoring marches, demonstrations, and what few expressions of free speech we have left. This time, we won’t let them. We intend to shut down business as usual and force them to listen.” [read more]

To keep up on Obama’s deceptive propaganda, read our Obama Illusion news wire.

For some much needed background, here’s an extensive report I wrote on Obama’s Af-Pak War policies:…

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