Don't love attacks on liberty.
I thought, wrongly, I guess, that we had the right to assembly in this country.
A little document called the Constitution made me believe that was a right.
Barack Obama doesn't think so.
So he's got his FBI spying on people assembling.
Tom Hall (WSWS) reports:
FBI Director James Comey admitted in testimony last week before the House Judiciary Committee that the agency conducted surveillance flights over mass protests against police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland over the past year, at the request of local police departments. Comey’s remarks confirmed an earlier Associated Press report revealing the FBI’s extensive use of secret flyovers throughout the country.
The hearing itself, mislabeled as being dedicated to the “Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” was a further indication of the ability of government agencies like the FBI to carry out illegal mass surveillance against the American population with impunity. Comey contradicted himself at key points through his testimony, which the members of the Committee allowed to pass without comment.
He absurdly claimed in his testimony that the FBI’s flyovers are not used for “mass surveillance,” but only to track specific individuals targeted by an investigation, despite the obvious fact that low-flying, camera-equipped aircraft are ideally suited to follow large numbers of people simultaneously over a wide area. As the ACLU noted recently on its website, new technologies that are now commercially available to police departments nationwide can monitor an area of 25 square miles from low-circling aircraft.
Comey subsequently contradicted this claim when he effectively admitted that the FBI’s spy planes were deployed to Ferguson and Baltimore to spy on the protests as a whole and not specific individuals. “If there is tremendous turbulence in a community, it’s useful to everybody, civilians and law enforcement, to have a view of what’s going on,” Comey told the Committee. “Where are the fires in this community? Where are people gathering ? Where do people need help? And sometimes the best view of that is above rather than trying to look from a car on the street (emphasis added).”
Barack needs to answer for this.
But I won't hold my breath waiting for any of the capons of the modern day press to ask him about it.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Starting with news of even more war, Missy Ryan and Greg Jaffe (Washington Post) report,
The president’s most senior national security advisers have recommended measures that would move U.S. troops closer to the front lines in Iraq and Syria, officials said, a sign of mounting White House dissatisfaction with progress against the Islamic State and a renewed Pentagon push to expand military involvement in long-running conflicts overseas.
Kristina Wong (The Hill) adds:
U.S. military commanders have forwarded several options to the Defense Department in the last few weeks, the officials told The Hill, as part of a mounting push within the administration to more aggressively target the terrorist group.
RT speaks with Phyllis Bennis:
RT: Can the Pentagon still realistically maintain its 'no boots on the ground' stance given that an American soldier has been killed apparently in action?
Phyllis Bennis: I think the question of US boots on the ground has been true for over a year now. We’ve had at least 35,000 troops in Iraq that went back last year and I don’t think most people in this [US] country recognize the difference any more than they would in Russia if and when Russian troops or volunteers are sent to Syria; if somebody tries to claim they are not combat troops, nobody would believe that either. These are troops engaged in combat. They are advising, they are supporting, they are arming, they are training and they are fighting with forces on the ground. So, the notion that there are ‘no boots’ is simply not the case. We also know that besides 35,000 US troops on the ground in Iraq there are an unknown number of other Special Forces and CIA forces on the ground. Maybe they wear sneakers rather than boots. But there is no question that US forces have been fighting directly in Iraq for more than a year now.
I think Isaiah captured the absurdity better back on October 26, 2014 26th "Barack Prepares:"
In the comic above, a confused White House spokesperson Josh Earnest asks, "What's he doing?" Valerie Jarrett explains, "Ballet slippers on the ground are not boots on the ground."
Why today's talk?
Possibly because . . .
Thursday saw the combat death of 39-year-old Master Sgt Joshua L. Wheeler in Iraq.
And possibly because of the silence that greeted this death.
Press TV notes Noam Chomsky can talk about Iraq today:
Prominent American author and linguist Noam Chomsky has blasted the US foreign policy, calling Washington's 2003 invasion of Iraq “the worst crime of this century.”
“What right do we have to kill somebody in some other country who we don't like,” Chomsky told teleSUR on Monday.
Calling the US-led invasion of Iraq “the worst crime of this century,” the renowned scholar and intellectual said, “Suppose it had worked... it's still a major crime, why do we have the right to invade another country?”
But sadly not everyone can follow Noam's example.
Take two of our 'great' rags on the left: The Progressive and The Nation.
The Progressive ignored the death and its implication.
Remember, editor Ruth Conniff bragged on KPFA that she didn't know anyone who'd been touched by the war.
How very nice for her and the other racists in the gated community she lives in.
Then there's The Nation magazine.
Anyone remember their November 10, 2005 editorial?
It started on the cover and continued inside the rag.
They insisted they "wound only support candidates who made a speedy end to this [Iraq] war a major campaign issue."
Ignoring the combat death, ignoring the ongoing war, let's them pretend like they ever fulfilled that promise.
Just like they pretend the Iraq War ended.
And when outlets that are allegedly anti-war don't note the combat death -- or the broken promise from Barack of no US troops in combat -- there's no pressure, is there?
There's no outcry.
So there's no pressure on Barack not to increase the presence of US troops in Iraq.
Katrina vanden Heuvel bought her seat at the table, she never earned it and, goodness, does it show.
Her grandfather stole from Lena Horne, no surprise she steals peace from the world. (Only one of many African-Americans who enriched the family.) She is the Peace Resister.
As Isaiah long ago noted
"From the kitchen of the Peace Resister"
The Peace Resister Katrina vanden Heuvel
Katty van-van ignores reality to protect her baby in the White House.
While she stays silent, the US Defense Dept announces:
Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber, fighter, ground attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 15 airstrikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the government of Iraq:
-- Near Beiji, one strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed four ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL mortar positions, an ISIL heavy machine gun, and an ISIL cave entrance.
-- Near Habbaniyah, two strikes suppressed two ISIL mortar positions.
-- Near Kisik, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Mosul, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Ramadi, five strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL weapon caches, an ISIL command and control node, an ISIL building, and denied ISIL access to terrain.
-- Near Sinjar, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed 18 ISIL fighting positions and two ISIL vehicles.
-- Near Sultan Abdallah, one strike suppressed an ISIL sniper position.
-- Near Tal Afar, one strike destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
In addition, Alsumaria notes 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad (a mother and her son). Xinhua adds a Baghdad suicide bomber took their own life and the lives of 2 other people (twelve more left injured), 1 woman and her husband were shot dead in Husseiniyah, and a Latifiyah roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier with two more left injured.
Meanwhile, protests took place throughout Iraq.
Alsumaria reports protests in Baghdad (outside the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and outside the Ministry of Finance) saw government workers objecting to their pay scale, and at the University of Basra the protesters were objecting to pay cuts for professors.
War Criminal Tony Blair is familiar with protests and objections and, today, he is back in the news.
Tina Nguyen (Vanity Fair) explains, "Ever since former British prime minister Tony Blair stepped down from office in 2007, he hasn’t received the love he may have hoped for, primarily due to that teensy matter of dragging Great Britain into the Iraq war and getting the nation stuck in that deadly quagmire along with the United States. In an attempt to make everything right, he apologized for his actions on Sunday during an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. Long story short, it didn’t work."
War Criminal Tony Blair plotted and planned the crime with others.
He still can't accept the fact that there is no comeback for him. Justin Wm. Moyer (Washington Post) notes that Blair's issuing a limited apology:
Former British prime minister Tony Blair made the comment in a interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.
“When people look at the rise of ISIS, many people point to the invasion of Iraq as the principal cause,” Zakaria said. “What do you say to that?”
“I think there are elements of truth in that,” Blair said, “but I think we’ve got to be extremely careful. Otherwise, we’ll misunderstand what’s going on in Iraq and Syria today.”
Again, it's a limited apology.
He insists "mistakes" were made.
Not in lying, he won't admit to that.
"I apologize for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong," he declared.
But he knew it was wrong and he manipulated the intel.
His 'apology' only continues his long string of lies.
He doesn't apologize for starting the illegal war.
But, after it started, "mistakes" were made.
He really seems to be testing the waters for whether or not he can break with Bully Boy Bush.
Breaking with Bush would allow him to, as the Iraq Inquiry did in public testimony, pin the blame on the US government for de-Ba'athification.
Blair's limited apology is an attempt to water down the outrage that still greets him.
What he's still refusing to grasp is that the illegal war will haunt him until his dying day.
There's no escaping it.
And his fake assery today only serves to anger people.
Peter Dominiczak (Telegraph of London) reports:
Families of soldiers killed in Iraq have told of their “revulsion” at Tony Blair’s failure to give a full apology for the war and warned that the Chilcot report will be “a cover-up”.
[. . .]
Reg Keys, whose son Lance Corporal Tom Keys was killed in Iraq in 2003, said that he felt “revulsion” when he heard Mr Blair’s comments.
“I feel revulsion,” Mr Keys said. “This man certainly got it wrong. 179 British service personnel dead, 3,500 wounded. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi men, women and children that lost their lives. The guy has got to hold his hands up [and say] I got it wrong and I apologise.”
Mr Keys added: ““I feel that he’s obviously pre-empting the Iraq inquiry’s findings. It’s finger-pointing. He’s blaming intelligence chiefs for giving him the wrong intelligence. He’s not apologising for toppling Saddam.
“What about apologising for the unnecessary loss of life? The reason we went to war was weapons of mass destruction, not to topple Saddam.”
At The Atlantic, Kathy Gilsinan takes on Tony's claim that taking out Saddam Hussein was a good thing and we'll note the final example she offers:
In human terms, the accounting is stark. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are estimated to have been killed in the violence unleashed in 2003, though the true number of deaths remains unknown. The continuing bloodshed in Iraq has contributed to the biggest refugee crisis since World War II, and the ascent of ISIS has exacerbated the outflow of refugees from Syria as well. “They are the forgotten casualties of the Iraq war. Fully one in six Iraqis (4.7 million people) fled or were forced from their homes following the U.S. led invasion in 2003, and most have not returned,” the International Rescue Committee writes. “Close to half are living in neighboring countries such as Jordan and Syria, while the remainder are uprooted within Iraq’s borders.” How would they answer the question of whether things are better now that Saddam’s gone?
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