who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
1. Latest FBI Claim of
Disrupted Terror Plot Deserves Much
Scrutiny and Skepticism
2. John Brennan Exonerates
Himself with Sham
Diary exposes brutality of US rendition and
Study Uses the ‘O’ Word to Describe American
5. That Was Easy: In Just 60
Years, Neoliberal Capitalism
Has Nearly Broken Planet Earth
This is a Nederlog of
January 17, 2015.
This is a crisis log. There are
5 items with 5 dotted links. Item 1 is about how
the FBI discovers "terror plots": by making them; item 2
is about the whitewashing of the CIA and its director, by the CIA and
its director; item 3 is about a book a man held
prisoner for 13 years now in Guantánamo wrote (he is still imprisoned,
though no judicial complaint was ever formulated for him); item 4 may be described by saying Princeton University
also agrees the USA now is an oligarchy; and item 5
is about a Swedish report that shows it took about 65 years to nearly
break the planet's ecosystem.
FBI Claim of Disrupted Terror Plot Deserves Much Scrutiny and Skepticism
The first item today is an
article by Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman on The Intercept:
This is an article about an
American twenty-year old who is supposed to have plotted "to attack
Capitol Hill and kill government officials". It may very well be an
FBI-plot - see below for reasons why - but you have to read Greenwald's
and Fishman's piece to find out more about this case.
Instead, I will concentrate on another case, also quoted by Greenwald
and Fishman, about a man convicted to 25 years imprisonment, whose
judge wrote as follows, upholding the conviction (?!). The text is by
the judge; the bolding is by Greenwald and Fishman:
As it turns out,
the Government did absolutely everything that the defense predicted in
its previous motion to dismiss the indictment. The Government
indisputably “manufactured” the crimes of which defendants stand
convicted. The Government invented all of the details of the scheme - many
of them, such as the trip to Connecticut and the inclusion of Stewart
AFB as a target, for specific legal purposes of which the defendants
could not possibly have been aware (the former gave rise to federal
jurisdiction and the latter mandated a twenty-five year minimum
sentence). The Government selected the targets. The Government designed
and built the phony ordnance that the defendants planted (or planned to
plant) at Government-selected targets. The Government provided every
item used in the plot: cameras, cell phones, cars, maps and even a gun.
The Government did all the driving (as none of the defendants had a car
or a driver’s license). The
Government funded the entire project. And the Government, through its
agent, offered the defendants large sums of money, contingent on their
participation in the heinous scheme.
That is the FBI-pattern of
accusations that Greenwald and Fishman are concerned about, and very
rightly so. Also, I'd like to remark that it seems quite odd to
me that a judge can write the above, and still convict the man
prosecuted to 25 years of imprisonment.
Next, as to the FBI-pattern of accusations: It really is a
systemic pattern, it seems. Here is a quotation from a journalist who
wrote the following in 2012, again with bolding by Greenwald and
Nearly every major
post-9/11 terrorism-related prosecution has involved a sting operation,
at the center of which is a government informant. In these cases, the
informants — who work for money or are seeking leniency on criminal
charges of their own — have crossed the line from merely observing potential criminal
behavior to encouraging and assisting people to participate in plots
that are largely scripted by the FBI itself. Under the FBI’s guiding
hand, the informants provide the weapons, suggest the targets and even
initiate the inflammatory political rhetoric that later elevates the
charges to the level of terrorism.
So there - and note the
first statement. This is not so much the law in action to protect
people from terrorism, as a largely secret very well-paid governmental
set-up to try to convict people of political crimes - that were mostly
planned, scripted, organized and funded by the government. And the
government does so because it has a huge interest in
maintaining a climate of fear and hysteria, for these allow it to get
away with almost anything.
Here is Greenwald and Fishman's last paragraph:
Something has to
be done to justify all that terrorism spending. For all those law
enforcement agents with little to do, why not sit around and
manufacture plots to justify those expenditures, giving a boost to
their pro-surveillance ideology to boot? Media outlets have a
responsibility to investigate the FBI’s claims, not mindlessly repeat
them while parading their alarmed faces and scary graphics.
I agree. But it will not
happen, at least not in the main media.
2. John Brennan Exonerates Himself with Sham
The next item is an article by
Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
There is a lot more. It shows
that the CIA controls and misleads the Senate, rather than that the
Senate controls the CIA (as would be legal, but is no more the
case, in fact at least).
The outrageous whitewash
issued Wednesday by the CIA panel John Brennan hand-picked to lead the
investigation into his agency’s spying on Senate staffers is being
taken seriously by the elite Washington media, which is solemnly
reporting that officials have been “cleared”
of any “wrongdoing“.
But what the report
really does is provide yet more evidence of Brennan’s extraordinary
The panel concluded that
CIA officials acted reasonably by scouring Senate computer drives in
early 2014 when faced with a “potential security breach”. (That
“breach” had allowed Senate staffers investigating CIA torture to
access, more than three years earlier, a handful of documents Brennan
didn’t want them to see.)
But the CIA also released
a redacted version of the full report of an earlier investigation by
the CIA’s somewhat more independent inspector
general’s office. And between the two reports, it is now more clear
than ever that Brennan was the prime mover behind a hugely
inappropriate assault on the constitutional separation of powers, and
continues to get away with it.
Diary exposes brutality of US rendition and torture
next item is an article by Spencer Ackerman and Ian Cobain on The
This starts as follows:
There is a lot more in the
The groundbreaking memoir
of a current Guantánamo inmate that lays bare the harrowing details of
the US rendition and torture programme from the perspective of one of
its victims is to be published next week after a six-year battle for
the manuscript to be declassified.
Guantánamo Diary, the first book
written by a still imprisoned detainee, is being published in 20
countries and has been serialised by the Guardian amid renewed calls by
civil liberty campaigners for its author’s release.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi
describes a world tour of torture and humiliation that began in his
native Mauritania more than 13 years ago and progressed through Jordan
and Afghanistan before he was consigned to US detention in Guantánamo,
Cuba, in August 2002 as prisoner number 760. US military officials told the Guardian this
week that despite never being prosecuted and being cleared for release
by a judge in 2010, he is unlikely to be released in the next year.
Study Uses the ‘O’ Word to Describe American Politics
next item is an article by Peter Z. Scheer on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
Well... firstly, I am
not shocked at all, and indeed would be shocked (a little) by anyone
who is both fairly intelligent and willing to deny that
the present USA is an oligarchy (government by the few) or indeed a
plutocracy (government by the rich, that always also is an oligarchy).
Either seems apt, well fitting, and hardly open to rational objections.
This won’t come as a
total shock, but there’s some new hard data to back up what we already
suspect anecdotally: Our democracy is really an oligarchy.
Looking at actual policy
and polling, researchers at Princeton concluded that the wealthiest
Americans tend to get what they want, or at least they did between 1981
and 2002 (the time frame on which the study focuses).
“The central point that
emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups
representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on
U.S. government policy,” write Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page,
“while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or
no independent influence.”
Another quote from the
peer-reviewed study: “When a majority of citizens disagrees with
economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose.
Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US
political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour
policy change, they generally do not get it.”
Secondly, speaking for myself - and see the crisis index - I do not really need "researchers at Princeton" to support the proposition, though it is nice
they tried, and also I do certainly not think that other
research can be dismissed as "anecdotally".
For example (shown before) the following does
show the economical figures that make it hard not to
speak of a plutocratic oligarchy - the blues are the 90% with lower
incomnes and the red the 10% with a high income (and yes, this started
with Reagan and Thatcher):
But OK - I agree with the conclusion.
Easy: In Just 60 Years, Neoliberal Capitalism Has Nearly Broken Planet
The last item today is
article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
rapacious growth and accelerated energy needs over the last
generation—particularly fed by an economic system that demands
increasing levels of consumption and inputs of natural resources—are
fast driving planetary systems towards their breaking point, according
to a new pair of related studies.
There is considerably
more in the article, and this does seem to be a serious study. But it
very probably will not be heeded. This is not something I desire, but
it seems a safe prediction given that I have read similar studies
(though not with as much detail, is true) ever since 1972 - the
Limits to Growth" was published by the Club of Rome - that also
were not heeded. Since then, there were many more reports, that also
were not heeded. 
Prepared by researchers at
the Stockholm Resilience Centre, the first study looks specifically at
how "four of nine planetary boundaries have now been crossed as a
result of human activity." Published in the journal Nature on
Thursday, the 18 researchers involved with compiling evidence for the
Boundaries 2.0'—found that when it comes to climate
change, species extinction and biodiversity loss, deforestation and
other land-system changes, and altered biogeochemical cycles (such as
changes to how key organic compounds like phosphorus and nitrogen are
operating in the environment), the degradation that has already take
place is driving the Earth System, as a whole, into a new state of
And there is this (about the Swedish report):
"When we first
aggregated these datasets, we expected to see major changes but what
surprised us was the timing. Almost all graphs show the same pattern.
The most dramatic shifts have occurred since 1950. We can say that
around 1950 was the start of the Great Acceleration," says Steffen.
"After 1950 we can see that major Earth System changes became directly
linked to changes largely related to the global economic system. This
is a new phenomenon and indicates that humanity has a new
responsibility at a global level for the planet."
I was born in 1950, and to
show the main reason it started around then I print a chart that I
found on Wikipedia's Population
In fact, the 7 billionth human
being was born in 2011. In any case, if I live to be 75 (a mere 10 more
years, for me) the world population during my own life got four
times as much as it was when I was born, in 75 years.
And it goes on and on and on, the population growth.
P.S. Jan 18, 2015: I corrected a few typos.
 I agree a few things were done, but nothing
like was proposed by most of the reports known to me (which in my case
goes back to 1972), and nothing effective was done to stop the growth
in population, which is the main force driving the ecological disasters
that are ongoing at present.
Incidentally, this is from "Is
Global Collapse Imminent?" (<- pdf) published in 2014: "This suggests, from a rational risk-based
perspective, that we have squandered the past decades, and that
preparing for a collapsing global system could be even more important
than trying to avoid collapse." Yes, indeed (for no, with over 7
billion eager consumers I see no way of stopping the coming collapse.)