The Petraeus scandal widens

Meet another possible participant in the Petraeus affair…one whose strange behavior came to light in the course of the FBI’s investigation into some other strange behavior:

US general John Allen, chief of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, is being investigated for sending “inappropriate” e-mails to Jill Kelley, the same woman who received threatening messages from Paula Broadwell, the alleged mistress of ex-CIA chief David Petraeus, according to sources at the Pentagon.

This revelation comes a few hours after FBI agents searched Broadwell’s home. Petraeus had to step down due to his extramarital affair. Now the Petraeus scandal has touched the man who was to be chief of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, who was found in the course of the investigation to have exchanged numerous e-mails with Jill Kelley, described as a family friend of Petraeus.

General John Allen, 58, was assigned to the supreme command of the allied forces in Afghanistan starting next spring. Allen was to appear at a Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, but the White House has suspended his nomination.

The investigation has been confirmed by the US Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, who announced early Tuesday morning on board a flight to Perth, Australia, that he ordered the investigation of the US’s troops in Afghanistan, and that the inspector general of the Pentagon was going through some 20,000 to 30,000 pages of documents, many of them e-mails, according to the New York Times.

Panetta read a communication to the journalists who were also travelling with him to the Australia-US summit, stating that he had been informed by the FBI on Sunday of the investigations surrounding the general and his relations with the woman said to be a victim of cyber-stalking by General Petraeus’s biographer-mistress.

Asked by reporters whether the FBI had decided upon a criminal investigation, the defence secretary said that “that will be up to the FBI to decide”, although he didn’t rule out a possible connection to the Petraeus scandal.

Panetta said that the general, who, like Jill Kelley, is married, denied having behaved inappropriately, and added that he “deserves due process”, also emphasizing his successful leadership in the Afghan war.

Meanwhile, at 9:00 p.m. on Monday, a group of FBI agents entered the home of Paula Broadwell in Charlotte, North Carolina. They inspected the home over the course of two hours, then left the premises without recording any of what had transpired during the search.

The scandal blew open when the FBI began to investigate some menacing e-mails allegedly sent by Broadwell to Jill Kelley, a Washington socialite and family friend of Petraeus.

Kelley and her husband, Scott, sent out a press release stating that they have been friends of the Petraeus family for the past five years, and asking that their privacy be respected. Sources of CNN described Kelley as an “innocent victim”. After the scandal broke, Petraeus was forced on Friday to go before the media to acknowledge that he had had a love affair with Broadwell, a 40-year old “journalist” who had written his biography, and to tender his resignation.

Translation mine.

Suddenly, we have a pretty good idea of why Jill Kelley lawyered up with a very high-powered attorney yesterday. I guess this answers Gawker’s question! If Jill Kelley has been carrying on with a general — not Petraeus, but another commander in the Afghan war, this one much more recent, and tapped to head the entire NATO mission come next spring — it would explain a lot. There is a lot more at stake here than just some titillating extramarital hanky-panky; we are now looking at more than one possible very high-level national security breach. At the very least, this means two generals will be under investigation, and an exhaustive search of their e-mail correspondence, both personal and professional, is in order. Might as well inspect them all, say I…and do a radical rethink of why the CIA and the US military have so much power to begin with, while you’re at it. All this military hagiography is surely NOT good for the country.

Now, the only thing I still wonder is who was the FBI agent who sent shirtless pics of himself to the glamorous Mrs. Kelley, who looks like she could be a cousin of the Kardashians (albeit a much more tastefully dressed one.) Josh Marshall says he makes Petraeus look like the sanest of the bunch, and I’m inclined to agree. Hey, who’s to say we can’t enjoy the theatricality of this whole spy circus a bit? There’s gonna be plenty of serious shit surrounding the Benghazi débâcle before long. Might as well enjoy the comic relief while we can get it, kiddies…

PS: The plot thickens. Perhaps we should call our new soap opera As the Pentagon Turns? Also, oops!

PPS: And more thickening! NPR reports that Paula Broadwell is NOT the actual author of All (Up) In (My Vagina), the hagiography of Fmr. Gen. Petraeus. That honor goes to a WaHoPo columnist, Vernon Loeb. Which begs the question: Just exactly what WAS she doing the whole time she was with the general? Clearly not just compiling research files, ha ha.

PPPS: And back to Jill Kelley. Think I should wank-list her for not understanding what “honorary” means?

A few random thoughts on a former general

I have a terrible confession to make: When the news of the Petraeus sex scandal broke this past week, my first reaction was to chuckle. Not in the usual “ha ha, another cheatypants got caught, serves him right” sense (although there was no small amount of Schadenfreude there, either); it was more out of a sardonic sense of irresistible metaphor. It was all about an irony that had been hiding, as all such ironies do, in very plain sight.

And yes, I have to admit, the embarrassment of it all tickled me, too. Aren’t intelligence agents constantly being warned about the dangers of seduction, when they’re not being instructed to use it to gain information they can’t get any other way? How delicious, then, to see the head of the world’s most feared and hated spy agency caught in the same trap his covert agents have set repeatedly, all over the world. And how hilariously ironic that the same terrorist traps the FBI keeps setting in vain, under the auspices of the so-called Patriot Act, ended up catching not some obscure cell with nefarious world-takeover plans, but a four-star general who’d at one point led the war against precisely such insurgencies. Or so we’re told by our lovely presstitutes.

After all, the former general and CIA director wasn’t just boinking some boring little bottle-blonde secretary; the Other Woman was his chief hagiographer. She was a military veteran and West Point grad herself. Just like him, she was in the business of selling neoconservatism, bad ideologies, and wars that cost a fucking fortune in every conceivable sense. She did not keep a low profile, as Other Women are wont to do. She was constantly thrusting herself into the spotlight to sing his praises (and promote her magnum opus). She was the person who spit-shined his medals to a high gloss in a “biography” that seemed to be written, at times, from straight inside his pants. There was no pretense of objectivity, only a constant, unremitting effort to elevate David Petraeus to divinity. A divinity which, even then, we peaceniks and Dirty Fucking Hippies knew he did not deserve.

But the media brushed right past us. It ignored what the former intelligence professionals were saying, too, about the BushCo wars being unwinnable. They hopped right on the pro-war bandwagon. They praised the “brilliant” strategy and lost sight of the reality on the ground. Gosh oh golly gee wow, isn’t David Petraeus wonderful? Yeah, that Iraq surge went great. So great that Iraq is now permanently fucked. Petraeus made that.

And that’s not all he made. He damn near dragged the Obama administration into yet another unwinnable neo-con war, this one with Iran. And on the flimsiest and dumbest of pretexts, too:

One person familiar with the Obama administration’s thinking said President Obama was never close to Petraeus, who was viewed as a favorite of the neoconservatives and someone who had undercut a possible solution to Iran’s nuclear program in 2011 by pushing a bizarre claim that Iranian intelligence was behind an assassination plot aimed at the Saudi ambassador to Washington.

As that case initially evolved, the White House and Justice Department were skeptical that the plot traced back to the Iranian government, but Petraeus pushed the alleged connection which was then made public in a high-profile indictment. The charges further strained relations with Iran, making a possible military confrontation more likely.

At the time, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, a favored recipient of official CIA leaks, reported that “one big reason [top U.S. officials became convinced the plot was real] is that CIA and other intelligence agencies gathered information corroborating the informant’s juicy allegations and showing that the plot had support from the top leadership of the elite Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the covert action arm of the Iranian government.”

Ignatius added that, “it was this intelligence collected in Iran” that swung the balance. But Ignatius offered no examples of what that intelligence was. Nor did Ignatius show any skepticism regarding Petraeus’s well-known hostility toward Iran and how that might have influenced the CIA’s judgment.

As it turned out, the case was based primarily on statements from an Iranian-American car dealer Mansour Arbabsiar, who clumsily tried to hire drug dealers to murder Saudi Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir, though Arbabsiar was actually talking to a Drug Enforcement Agency informant. Arbabsiar pled guilty last month as his lawyers argued that their client suffers from a bipolar disorder. In other words, Petraeus and his CIA escalated an international crisis largely on the word of a person diagnosed by doctors of his own defense team as having a severe psychiatric disorder.

Despite the implausibility of the assassination story and the unreliability of the key source, the Washington press corps quickly accepted the Iranian assassination plot as real. That assessment reflected the continued influence of neoconservatives in Official Washington and Petraeus’s out-sized reputation among journalists.

The neocons, who directed much of President George W. Bush’s disastrous foreign policy and filled the ranks of Mitt Romney’s national security team, have favored a heightened confrontation with Iran in line with the hardline position of Israel’s Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In the post-election period, it is a top neocon goal to derail Obama’s efforts to work out a peaceful settlement of the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. The neocons favor “regime change.”

If ever there was a reason to be glad Mitt Romney lost the election, there it is. One more foreign policy disaster. Brought to you by the same PNAC/Likud faction that brought you the Afghan and Iraq catastrophes. Let’s not forget that Iran was always on the keeker; it was part of the “Axis of Evil”, remember?

Thankfully Barack Obama wasn’t dumb enough to fall for that flimsy tale. (You can see now why he was wise to end the Iraq invasion, too, can’t you? We’ll talk more about Afghanistan when he realizes it’s past time to shut that one down, too. Maybe now he’ll finally start firing all those BushCo leftovers on his team and start fresh with sane people. Hope ‘n’ change, people — get the fuck ON with it.)

Meanwhile, the same media imbeciles who were so busy promoting every highly-polished Petraeus turd that they couldn’t even look up for an instant, are in mourning. The same David Ignatius who took the Iranian lunatic’s lie and ran with it is now weeping tears of blood. Too bad he forgot something:

Ignatius adoringly adduces the following quote from Petraeus as proof of the ex-general’s acute vision: “As I see it, strategic leadership is fundamentally about big ideas, and, in particular, about four tasks connected with big ideas. First, of course, you have to get the big ideas right — you have to determine the right overarching concepts and intellectual underpinnings to accomplish your organization’s mission.

“Second, you have to communicate the big ideas effectively through the breadth and depth of the organization. Third, you have to oversee the implementation of the big ideas. And fourth, and finally, you have to capture lessons from the implementation of the big ideas, so that you can refine the overarching concepts and repeat the overall process.”

Got that? That’s probably right out of Petraeus’s PhD dissertation at Princeton, or from a how-to book that might be called “Management Rhetoric for Dummies.”

If only Petraeus and his colleague generals remembered the smaller – but far more relevant – ideas inculcated in all of us Army officers in Infantry School at Fort Benning in the early Sixties. This is what I recall from memory regarding what an infantry officer needed to do before launching an operation – big or small – division or squad size.

Corny (and gratuitous) as it may sound, we were taught that the absolute requirement was to do an “Estimate of the Situation” that included the following key factors: Enemy strength, numbers and weapons; Enemy disposition, where are they?; Terrain; Weather; and Lines of communication and supply (LOCS). In other words, we were trained to take into account those “little ideas,” like facts and feasibility that, if ignored, could turn the “big ideas” into a March of Folly that would get a lot of people killed for no good reason.

Could it be that they stopped teaching these fundamentals as Petraeus went through West Point and Benning several years later? Did military history no longer include the futile efforts of imperial armies to avoid falling into the “graveyard of empires” in Afghanistan?

What about those LOCS? When you can’t get there from here, is it really a good idea to send troops and armaments the length of Pakistan and then over the Hindu Kush? And does anyone know how much that kind of adventure might end up costing?

To Army officers schooled in the basics, it was VERY hard to understand why the top Army leadership persuaded President Barack Obama to double down, twice, in reinforcing troops for a fool’s errand. And let’s face it, unless you posit that the generals and the neoconservative strategic “experts” at Brookings and AEI were clueless, the doubling down was not only dumb but unconscionable.

Small wonder all the talk about “long war” and Petraeus’s glib prediction that our grandchildren will still be fighting the kind of wars in which he impressed the likes of David Ignatius.

Ike Eisenhower wasn’t kidding when he talked about the Military-Industrial Complex. And Smedley Butler wasn’t talking out his hat either when he said that war was a racket. What Ray McGovern, the veteran intel pro who opposed these wars from the outset, understands that the media doesn’t, is that wars are not won or lost on the basis of who’s got the “big ideas” and “overarching concepts”. The people on the ground don’t give a shit for those. And the locals will only see foreign invaders and oppressors, NOT Big Ideas And Overarching Concepts. They’re not stupid; they know what a foreign uniform and gun mean. Their hearts and minds are not winnable with big talk; you might as well be tossing cluster bombs to their kids as candy from the tank turrets.

The salesmanlike bullshit of Petraeus ought to be apparent even to those of us who don’t have the privilege of a West Point officer-training course. If you’ve heard similar things from some civilian in a cheap suit and dismissed it accordingly (and I have, and I bet you have too), why buy it when it comes courtesy of some big-brass guy with a folksy-shucksy grin and a chestful of medals?

Oh yeah, that’s right: the only bright spot, if you can call it that, in the Bush Recession, was that there were plenty of job opportunities for young, poor, barely-educated cannon fodder. It’s the economy, stupid! At a time when well-paying manufacturing jobs are being cut and shipped overseas to where labor is so cheap that at times it amounts to outright slavery, what’s left at home? The so-called service economy. Which is also so poorly paid that it might as well be slavery. You can’t afford rent, much less a starter home, on a McJob paycheque. So when the handsome young guys in the spiffy uniforms approach you, ever so personably, at the mall, trying to interest you in the Army/Navy/Air Force/Marines, and tell you you can get your college education and better job opportunities that way, you start to think of entering a different kind of service opportunity, one that will glorify you some day as a Veteran. Assuming that you come out alive. Would you like fries with that?

So yeah, the snickering from my corner is full of a sense of vindication. What has the whole neo-con project been, if not a vast international fuckfest replete with lies, deception, doubletalk and crapaganda? One in which the media whores focused with lover-like intensity on the well-polished turds falling from the lips of “institute” hacks and four-star generals alike, while troops on the ground were killing and dying for, well, nothing?

Ah, maybe I shouldn’t say nothing. They killed and died, committed atrocities and fell victim to atrocities, for something, all right.

They did it all for bullshit.

Quotable: Tariq Ali on the “lone gunman” of Afghanistan

“It’s hardly a secret that most Afghans are opposed to the occupation of their country. Occupying soldiers are well aware of the fact. The ‘enemy’ is not hidden. It is the public. So wiping out women and children is part of the war. Helicopter gunships, bomber jets and drones are more effective killers than ‘lone’ gunmen. The situation in Afghanistan today is so dire that the occupying forces have no way of telling whether Afghans working with them are actually on their side or not. Some of the recent attacks on US and Nato soldiers have come from Afghans wearing police and military uniforms tailored by Nato. So everyone is now the enemy – even the puppet president Karzai, who knows his days are numbered though he, at least, has a few safe havens and numbered bank accounts waiting for him. For the US, the contradictions are implacable. The Afghans want them out and the war has become unwinnable.”

–Tariq Ali, “The Not So Lone Gunman”, LRB Blog

Short ‘n’ Stubby: Osamarama

Hey, everybody…Ms. Manx is meowing, and you know what that means: She’s found us some stuff! And sure enough, she’s found plenty about the death of Osama. Lead on, O Stump-Tailed One…

First off, the Manx is confused by all the different versions of the Osama death story circulating out there. Something’s been changed, she says–and sure enough, several things have. Memo to the White House (and all you hero-makers in the media): Your story would be a lot more credible if it didn’t keep mutating!

At Global Research, Paul Craig Roberts ably dissects the “fog of war” bullshit. Uruknet does likewise, noting that Osama was taken prisoner first, and then killed — according to the testimony of his wife, who contrary to the mutating official version, was not among the dead. The heroic narrative of the “double tap” that Osama got from the US Navy SEALs while holding a woman as a human shield is as much a fairy tale as Rapunzel or Sleeping Beauty, it seems.

In fact, more and more, it looks as if they were the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. The raid was so full of bungles that it’s a wonder they pulled any of it off. It appears that the first tweeter from Abbottabad to report the incident, Sohaib Athar, who talked of hearing a helicopter crash, was right. One of the “hero” team’s choppers did, indeed, go down, and its wreckage was abandoned at the scene.

Meanwhile, not only the narrative of the raid itself, but the legality of the whole operation, is under question. For all that he has been crudely likened to Adolf Hitler, Osama has not gotten the due process that the Nazi war criminals tried at Nürnberg got. He was taken prisoner, then shot and his body dumped in the sea. Team America, World Police — judge, jury and summary executioner? That’s illegal under international law, and the “war” cover is no excuse. Even a terrorist wanted for nearly two decades does not deserve to become the victim of a war crime, says the Manx. Otherwise, “we” are no better than “they”.

At AlterNet, Joshua Holland makes the case against heroic narratives and triumphalism, tying it in with the doubtful legality of the whole shebang. He also dares to ask the question that will bring a shitstorm of criticism down on his head: Did Osama win, after all, even by losing? After all, those who will be outraged at his death, and consider him a martyr, don’t need photos of his blown-up head to stoke their anger, or a graveside to turn into a shrine. They will claim him no matter what, and they will probably use his death as justification for other terrorist murders still to come. In which case, this “major” victory could become very, very Pyrrhic indeed.

And finally, Jon Stewart makes the case for releasing Osama’s death pix with his usual, inimitable truthful humor. Ms. Manx adds that there is one thing Jon neglected to mention…

…yep, those gory death-pix. Which DID eventually see the light of day, many years after JFK’s assassination. And some of which were found, oddly enough, to have been altered in several ways, as was the body of the slain president before it was photographed. Ms. Manx doesn’t know what, if anything, the death pix of Osama will show that may also contradict the much-mutated official version of the story, but she thinks, based on the lingering controversy surrounding JFK, that knowing the truth is better than being “protected”. And who can blame her?

Ding, dong, Osama bin Forgotten is dead.

Hooray. I guess I’d be more jubilant about the death of Osama bin Laden if only what this Pakistani interviewee says were not so damn true:

Zero transparency, the body conveniently disposed of at sea (to prevent martyr-worship at his grave, or so the official story goes), and of course, the annoying triumphalist “heroes” narrative dominating the media over here yet again. These are just a few of the things that are already starting to bug me. (I’m sure I’ll be able to think of more as they emerge.)

The Pakistani angle, however, is good to have, especially this part:

According to his Twitter stream @reallyvirtual, Sohaib Athar moved from Lahore, Pakistan to the resort town of Abbottabad to take a break from the rat race. It seems he didn’t move far enough. On Sunday, Athar found himself smack in the center of one of the year’s biggest news events.

[…]

A 33-year-old IT consultant, Athar was on Twitter when the sound of a helicopter flying overhead drove him to write a series of frustrated notes. Over the next few hours, he compiled rumors and observations about an event that would soon have the world riveted: Athar tweeted the secret operation that killed Osama bin Laden. “I am just a Tweeter, a guy awake at the time of the crash,” he wrote after the world noticed he had a front seat to history and inundated him with questions and messages.

So of course, I hied me over to his twit-stream, and found…

Start reading from the bottom and scroll up. That’s what he tweeted at the time of the attack on the compound where Osama was lodging. Here are some of his later ones:

Unidentified helicopter; probably not Taliban, because they don’t have any (good to know!). Not Pakistani military, either. CIA? Well, of course. Who else?

Then comes a slightly confusing (confused?) part:

Very interesting. He notes that it’s not a a drone; too noisy. The “purposeful” circling is also a dead giveaway: the ‘copter was homing in on its target. Later, he talks about a second one being shot down:

The link to the news story of the “crash” is here. Map of the “crash” site here. This may have been a cover story, to keep the lid on until Osama’s death could be confirmed. Still, it’s useful to help us see just how disinformation can be used, especially as an incident is just going down (no pun intended.)

And here, things really start to get interesting:

“Rumors”. I predict we won’t be hearing as much about that “second helicopter that went down” now…

…that the truth has at last leaked out. Some of it, anyway.

Meanwhile, it sounds like poor Sohaib Athar is overwhelmed by all the media attention he has inadvertently drawn to himself. Follow him on the tweeter if you like (I certainly will), but give the guy a break; he’s only a messenger by accident. Don’t pester him. If there’s anything new he can share with you, I’m sure he will.

BTW, I see by my ClustrMap that I have quite a few readers in Pakistan. I would really like to hear from you, whether there is any additional information you care to share (especially about that rumored second helicopter), or whether you just want to give your point of view (let’s face it, the major media over here probably won’t cover THAT angle!). Whatever you want to say, I’m all ears. Please feel free to drop a comment in the slot below, and welcome!

Short ‘n’ Stubby: If this is Tuesday, it must be Libya

…and if the Stumpy Cat is meowing, it must mean she has some news for us. And of course, being Ms. Manx, she ALWAYS comes through:

On the WSWS (always a good place to go for the real news), Patrick Martin reports a preponderance of evidence that the Libyan rebels have CIA ties. Shocking? Only to those who’ve had their heads stuck in a heap of oily sand since, oh, about 1946 or thereabouts.

And if you find that surprising, there’s the additional fact that recent defector Moussa Koussa, Gaddafi’s former foreign minister, has been in British intel’s pocket for lo these many moons. MI6, to be quite precise:

As head of Libya external intelligence, Mr Koussa was an MI6 asset for almost two decades. He was charged with conducting negotiations over Libya’s giving up its weapons of mass destruction in 2003.

Of course, says the Manx, the converse is also true: If you’re not surprised that the rebels have CIA ties, then this little item shouldn’t surprise you either. In fact, it probably explains a lot. Our stumpy friend points out that the rats are actually reluctant to leave a sinking ship unless there is someplace safe for them to swim to nearby.

Meanwhile, the good ol’ Dissociated Press is doing yeoman’s work for the CIA again, claiming that they’re just now scrambling to “help” the “freedom fighter” rebels, and that they’ve barely had time to get their boots on the ground. Where have we heard all that before? Oh yeah: Iran-Contra. But hey, even the AP can have a weaselly little moment of truth, for about one second every 12 hours:

The CIA’s precise role in Libya is not clear. Intelligence experts said the CIA would have sent officials to make contact with the opposition and assess the strength and needs of the rebel forces in the event Obama decided to arm them.

Uh-huh, saith the Manx. Actually, the CIA’s role in Libya is quite clear to those who know what signs and symptoms to look for As is the CIA’s role in determining how much (or rather, how little) is said about their operations, and in what tone. Remember, Operation Mockingbird never ended; it merely “went volunteer”. This story tells just enough to make the reader think they’ve learned something, but actually, it’s the AP’s and WaHoPo’s contribution to the “fog of war” that serves the CIA’s real nefarious purposes only too well. If their hand is not up the armed insurrectionaries’ backs, then MI6’s certainly is. And again, Iran-Contra should serve to remind us just what a dead giveaway the words “freedom fighter” really are.

Speaking of war and fog, how do you like those grey clouds coming out of His Barackness’s mouth? He says no ground troops for Libya? Funny, his own NATO chief says just the opposite. Gee, who are we to believe? When in doubt, says the Manx, always believe the worst. The ground troops are probably in there already. Probably disguised as “diplomats”, too, like that CIA/Blackwater spook who went on a murderous rampage in Pakistan. Remember him?

And while we’re on the subject of murderous rampages, some Russian doctors have come forward saying that civilians are being killed–by the coalition that’s supposed to be “helping” to “liberate” them from that “murderous tyrant”, Gaddafi. Should we believe Teh Russkies? Ms. Manx says “Da.” It happened in Vietnam, it happened in Afghanistan, it happened in Iraq–what makes anyone think it wouldn’t happen in Libya? Fog of war, baby!

And while we’re on the subject of Russkies and Libya, did you know that the Russian military has found that Gaddafi’s forces have NOT been waging air strikes against the rebels on the ground? Meaning that the whole “no-fly zone” excuse is, pardonnez my franglais, a lot of merde de bull? C’est vrai! But then again, Teh Russkies don’t have a dog in this fight; they’ve got their own oil in the Black Sea region, which I’m sure the oil-hungry Europeans can’t possibly have designs on, and they’re also in a rather nice trading relationship with Venezuela, which has more oil than Libya, Iraq, or even Saudi Arabia. So, of course, their word can safely be discounted, right?

Meanwhile, down in another part of Latin America–Brazil, to be exact–it looks like His Barackness’s much-hyped grand tour of last week has failed to get a major intended ally on side. Dilma Rousseff, like her comrade Lula before her, refuses to isolate Iran, Venezuela OR Libya. Instead, she’s showing a surprising amount of fair-mindedness and even solidarity! Gasp! The lovely lady has backbone, who’d of thunk? Well, Ms. Manx would have…but then, like all cats, Ms. Manx can tell these things with surprisingly little effort. It’s only the stoopid hoomins who’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

Ignorance and prejudice and fear…

First up, a little mood music from the maestros:

And now, today’s dose of mother-fucking outrage:

The Big News Network website reports today (April 4, 2011) that extremist US pastor Terry Jones has announced he will lead an anti-Islam rally outside the largest US mosque in Dearborn, Michigan on April 22.

The anti-Islam minister supervised the burning of the Koran — Islam’s holy book — on his church grounds in Florida on March 20.

This event led to deadly protests in Afghanistan where a score of people were killed last week.

Jones has now defiantly vowed to lead the protest in Michigan, still claiming the Koran incites violence.

This comes on top of his brazen refusal to be accountable for the havoc his stupid words and stupider deeds have already wrought:

The notorious preacher who last month oversaw the burning of a copy of the Qur’an in his Florida church after a mock hearing said anyone blaming him for provoking the mob who killed UN workers was “only making a justification” for murder. Pastor Terry Jones insisted last night that his actions bore no responsibility for the murders in Mazar-e-Sharif.

“We find it very tragic any time that someone is murdered but we do not feel any responsibility for that,” he said. “It definitely does indicate that there is a very radical element of Islam. We’d like to see the president of the United States not only condemn these actions but to call on the UN for these people and Muslim-dominated countries to be held accountable.”

Okay, this is way beyond weekly wankapedia territory now. Since at last count sixteen people were killed and over a hundred injured as a result of what this fucking bastard has said and done, his call for “these people and Muslim-dominated countries to be held accountable” is the most blatant projection. He knows damn well that it could not have happened unless he did something to provoke it. When will Terry Fucking Jones be held accountable?

And speaking of provocations and not being held accountable, guess what? He’s got further antics planned. From the same Guardian piece:

He also said he may put the Prophet Muhammad on trial in his next “day of judgment”. “It is definitely a consideration to stage a trial on the life of Muhammad in the future,” he told the Sunday Telegraph.

Hey, what a brilliant idea you got there, Ter. What say we drop you off in Kandahar first, so you can do it in an atmosphere of something other than complete impunity? If you’re going to play God and pass judgment on their prophet (something which, I note in passing, Muslims have never done to Jesus OR Moses, because those men are prophets to them as well), the least you can do is take your shrivelled little gonads in hand and face the people you blindly condemn, right where they live. That way, they can at least take out their anger on its rightful source, instead of third parties.

Sadly, this charlatan will probably rake in further donations and support for his hatemongering. Amurricans love a good hate-preacher, when all’s said and murders are done…overseas, of course, where it never touches them at home. They can wash their hands of all responsibility for it, and even join the hate-monger in saying that it’s the other guys’ fault, because they hate us for standing in the way of their global caliphate, and that the war against Those People is therefore justified!

But that’s all bullshit. There is no justifying this.

Terry Jones is a murderer. He has the blood of at least sixteen people on his hands. He ought to spend the rest of his life in a max-security federal penitentiary. Another cult leader, Charles Manson, went to prison not for killing anyone himself, but for ordering others to do it. There is thus a legal precedent here to try Terry Jones for murder. And yet there will probably be no such trial, thanks to the most grotesque possible interpretation of the First Amendment.

Meanwhile, on the flipside of said amendment, I note that no one has been able to demonstrate beyond doubt that any part of Bradley Manning’s contribution to Wikileaks, the Cablegate CD, has led to even one death in Afghanistan (or anywhere else, for that matter). Yet this brave young soldier is being driven slowly insane in the USMC brig in Quantico, with no trial in sight, and his freedom of speech is clearly not protected. Why?

They can’t call what he did espionage, because he wasn’t, by definition, spying on or for anyone else. He was an intelligence analyst who handed over copies of diplomatic cables to a news website. Since when is investigative journalism the Enemy? Since the US decided to keep official secrets without bothering to enshrine an Official Secrets Act in their laws, apparently. But since no such law exists, it could not have been broken, whether by Bradley Manning or Wikileaks!

They can’t claim he outed any agents or caused their deaths or those of civilians, because relevant names were redacted by Wikileaks’ editors, and nothing was published until well after the actions mentioned in the diplomatic cables had taken place. No troop movements were revealed in advance, and no agents or assets placed at risk. Unlike Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby, Bradley Manning outed no NOCs. He did not declare Valerie Plame “fair game”. He put nothing at risk except the US’s reputation, which is already down the shitter in most parts of the world anyway.

They can’t call what he did treason, because he made no effort to overthrow his own government, nor did he act on any other government’s behalf to help them do so. All he did was shine a light on what it was doing wrong. That’s not illegal. It is, at most, embarrassing and inconvenient to the government, like a rogue wind that keeps whipping off the Good Guy’s white Stetson and rolling it away in the dust while the guys in the black hats look on and laugh.

In short, they got nothin’. They won’t try him, because they can’t. Like Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, this whole sordid affair exists in a legal and moral vacuum. All they can do is torment Bradley Manning until he goes insane, to make an example of him: Never mess with our imperial official secrets, kiddies, or this can happen to you, too. Ain’t freedom grand? Woohoo, U-S-A.

The hypocrisies of this brand of “freedom” are never more evident than when an inflammatory preacher knowingly provokes murder and gets away with it, while a soldier who is very likely a hero to those who believe in real freedom of speech and information wastes away in a military prison, the victim of a federally mandated witch hunt.

Will Terry Jones ever suffer anything approaching the horrific consequences that Bradley Manning is facing now? And will anyone defend to the death Bradley Manning’s right to tell awful but potentially liberating truths, instead of Terry Jones’s privilege to utter murderous slanders and self-serving bullshit?

In a land where truth and justice really prevailed, the answers to those questions would be self-evident.

What’s wrong with these pictures?

Germany’s Der Spiegel captions this photo as follows: “This photo shows the corpse of farmer’s son Gul Mudin, killed January 15, 2010, with a member of the ‘Kill Team’ posing behind it. Der SPIEGEL has published three photos from the possessions of the accused, who are alleged to have killed innocent Afghans out of pure lust for murder.”

Here’s another of the photos in question:

This one is captioned: “This photo was taken the same day, this time it’s soldier Jeremy Morlock grinning into the camera.”

Now, bearing in mind that the dead man has a name, and the name is Gul Mudin, tell me if you can see what’s wrong with this Reuters report:

(Reuters) – Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine published photos on Monday of American soldiers posed over the bloodied corpse of an Afghan civilian whose slaying is being prosecuted by the U.S. military as premeditated murder.

Disclosure of the images, among dozens seized as evidence in the prosecutions but kept sealed from public view by the military, prompted the U.S. Army to issue an apology “for the distress these photos cause” and condemning actions depicted in them as “repugnant.”

One photo shows a soldier identified as Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock, 23, of Wasilla, Alaska, broadly smiling in sunglasses as he crouches beside the bloodied, prone body of a man whose head he is holding up for the camera by the hair.

A second soldier, Private First Class Andrew Holmes, 20, is seen in a separate photo kneeling over the same corpse, also raising the victim’s head by the hair.

As published by Der Spiegel and circulated elsewhere on the Internet, the face of the body has been deliberately blurred in the pictures to render it unidentifiable.

Lawyers for both soldiers confirmed to Reuters that their respective clients are the soldiers who appear in the images. Holmes’ attorney, Daniel Conway, said the body in both photos is that of the unarmed Afghan man both men are accused of slaying on January 15, 2010, with a grenade blast and rifle fire.

Morlock and Holmes are among five Stryker Brigade soldiers facing court-martial at Joint Base Lewis McChord near Tacoma, Washington, on charges of premeditated murder stemming from the deaths of three Afghan villagers whose killings were allegedly staged to look like legitimate combat casualties.

According to his lawyers, Morlock has agreed to plead guilty later this week to three counts of murder and other offenses and to testify against his co-defendants.

Under the plea deal, still subject to approval by a military judge, he would receive a 24-year prison sentence, as opposed to the life term he faced if convicted of all charges in a trial.

Holmes has reached no such deal. Defense lawyers insist Holmes is innocent and have sought, so far unsuccessfully, to force the military to unseal a number of photos that they say would help exonerate their client for the single murder with which he is charged.

The murder cases, which grew out of a probe into hashish use by American GIs, stand as the most serious prosecution of alleged atrocities by U.S. military in Afghanistan since the war there began in late 2001.

Photos like those published by Der Spiegel have drawn comparisons with pictures of Iraqi prisoners taken by U.S. military personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2004.

In its statement, the U.S. Army said the photos depicted “actions repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army.”

“We apologize for the distress these photos cause,” said the statement, issued through the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, adding that actions shown in the photographs were now the subject of court-martial proceedings.

“The photos appear in stark contrast to the discipline, professionalism and respect that have characterized our soldiers’ performance during nearly 10 years of sustained operations (in Afghanistan).”

Geoffrey Nathan, one of Morlock’s civilian attorneys, said publication of the photos would have no impact on the outcome of his client’s case.

“The court will render its verdict based upon the pleadings and agreement among the litigants, and the photos are not in evidence,” he told Reuters in an e-mail.

That was the entire report. Notice anything missing?

That’s right: Gul Mudin is not named.

I’m sure that’s no coincidence. This farmer’s son, Gul Mudin, is not real to them. He’s not a person to Reuters, and by extension, to anyone reading the Reuters report. He’s just a corpse being held by the hair. A half-naked corpse being posed for trophy shots by a bunch of grinning human-hunters. The way the photos were taken, we are meant to see Gul Mudin as his murderers saw him: A thing, not a person.

This all has a bearing on the report, too, and whose viewpoint is reported, and how. Notice the wording:

Disclosure of the images, among dozens seized as evidence in the prosecutions but kept sealed from public view by the military, prompted the U.S. Army to issue an apology “for the distress these photos cause” and condemning actions depicted in them as “repugnant.”

Objection, Yer Honor!

It is not the act depicted in the pictures, but the publication of the pictures, that causes “distress”, in actual fact; it was the disclosure, not the murders, that was the real grounds for “distress”. Whose “distress”? That of the US Army, of course. After all, these images tarnish their image as Good Guys to the World. Because as “repugnant” as these actions are, they’re nothing new. They are as old as war itself; the US military was doing the same things in Vietnam, as the Winter Soldier hearings made painfully clear:

So don’t anyone be fooled by the army’s efforts to sweep these pictures under the rug. What happened in them is not anomalous; it is typical. The only thing repugnant here is that they actually came to light, and the public saw what the army tacitly condones and even encourages.

Remember the Abu Ghraib photos? They weren’t supposed to come out either. When they did, it was all dismissed as “bad apples”. But somewhere in the bowels of the Pentagon, someone selected those “apples”–precisely because they had those psychopathic “Kill Team” tendencies, which the US Army in fact considers to be not merely acceptable, but highly desirable. They don’t want humanitarians in the Army; humanitarians won’t fight or kill on command. They want nice, obedient boys who won’t question orders–or better still, sick puppies, hillbillies from Wasilla who think of guys like Gul Mudin as just wolves to be shot for sport. This is a sad truth you won’t hear from mainstream sources like Reuters.

The original Winter Soldier testimony was largely suppressed by the mainstream media for the same reason: it’s all about the good-guy, GI Joe image. Any other images would spoil the heroic narrative that we’ve been meant to swallow holus-bolus. Vietnam was supposed to be about Freedom and Democracy™, not senseless indiscriminate killing for the hell of it. Afghanistan, Iraq, and now, Libya–same thing. They always tell us the same lies, and always we believe…until the “repugnant” pictures come out to show us the real story, that is.

As for poor Gul Mudin, notice that not only is he not named, his family, his village, all those who were distressed by his loss are also left out of the story.

What’s wrong with these pictures? I think you know the answer to that one as well as I do.

Politically motivated? You don’t say…

Awhile back, I remarked on how interesting and odd the timing of those sexual assault charges against Julian Assange was. Today, once more, I am reminded of just how very interesting and odd that timing was, indeed:

Julian Assange’s Swedish lawyer says a newspaper report casts doubt on whether the sex abuse investigation against the WikiLeaks founder was carried out in an impartial manner.

Swedish tabloid Expressen reported Thursday that a police officer involved in the initial phase of the probe had personal and political links to one of the two women accusing Assange of sexual misconduct.

Expressen also said the officer, Irmeli Krans, described Assange as a “bubble ready to burst” on her personal Facebook page.

“If this information is correct, then one should carefully consider whether the nature of the investigation is such that he can be assured a fair trial,” Assange’s lawyer Bjoern Hurtig told The Associated Press.

…”whether the nature of the investigation is such that he can be assured a fair trial”.

That’s just it, isn’t it? The nature of the investigation is such that he can’t be assured anything of the sort. The timing of the charges tells me that already.

Meanwhile, there is also a conflict-of-interest issue tucked in here:

Expressen said Krans knew one of Assange’s accusers from their involvement in Sweden’s left-wing Social Democratic Party. Krans didn’t answer calls and an e-mail seeking comment Thursday.

Stockholm police spokesman Ulf Goranzon rejected any conflict of interest in the investigation. He said Krans didn’t interview her supposed friend, but the other woman, and wasn’t involved in the investigation after that.

As for the Facebook comments, Goranzon said “it is important for police officers to contemplate what they say and how they say it on social media.”

Nice dodge there, Mr. Goranzon.

The very fact that the investigator was friends with one of the accusers should have meant that she was not impartial enough to pursue this case, even if she only interviewed the other one (the one she presumably didn’t know).

And if the conflict-of-interest that comes of being too friendly with one of the accusers wasn’t enough to disqualify her, surely the vindictive, triumphalistic comment she wrote on Facebook would have to be. At least, in anything purporting to resemble a fair trial, it would…

But that’s just it. I do not believe for one instant that the trial of Julian Assange will be a fair one. I believe this entire proceeding to be politically motivated, and that securing justice for rape victims everywhere is the furthest thing from the actual political motive behind it. This has all the markings of a show trial, and behind all the sudden, touching and uncharacteristic concern for sexually assaulted women, there lies something much squirmier, something much more averse to the light of day.

Rape is a serious matter, and a traumatizing one, but you’d never know it to look at the way it’s being used here. Throughout history, rape has never been about the rights of women, only about the whims of men. The very origin of the word is in reference to property theft, not assault on a person. Women have always been regarded as property, and nothing has changed, even in this case, which is being seized upon by right-wing asshats as evidence that Sweden is “run by feminists”–a preposterous contention if ever there was one. Rape is not only a weapon of war; it’s also a casus belli. In the case of Julian Assange, it is a casus belli in the undeclared war against freedom of information.

And rape is clearly nothing more to these people than a pretext to get Julian Assange into custody, by whatever means possible. When they can legally extradite him (not to Sweden, but to the United States), just watch: They will drop the rape charges for the real ones, the ones the US is dying to press. Namely, those of espionage.

But even espionage, like rape, is nothing but a flimsy pretext in this case. Julian Assange did not spy for anyone, nor did he spy on anyone, nor was anyone’s life demonstrably endangered by the Cablegate documents he published. All he did was take some documents that were voluntarily given to him, and make these available to the general public via Wikileaks.

And the contents of these documents, classified or not, don’t even come as a surprise to those who have seen them–they only serve to confirm what we have all long suspected. And sometimes, to embarrass those who don’t deserve to enjoy a good reputation anyway. So what is the earthly point of keeping them a secret? Only to enable warmongers and imperialists, who have scant respect for human life in general, and female human life in particular.

The lives of Afghans and Iraqis, as well as secret agents and CIA assets, are not the real issue here, any more than is the question of whether two Swedish women were sexually assaulted by Julian Assange. They are all being used as pawns in a cynical ploy to stop the free flow of information, and nothing more.

And it will do them no justice if he is found guilty.

PS: You really must read the Expressen story. It’s all in English, and while the translation is imperfect, it’s explosive to say the least. Here’s a sampling:

When the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet recently let it’s [sic] readers chat with Assange the interrogator commented:

“What the heck is this??? Judgement zero!!!

The day before she wrote in a status update on her Facebook-page:

“Way to go, Claes Borgström!!!”

In another status update from late February the police interrogator wrote about “The overrated Assange bubble ready to burst”.

In their blogs, the police interrogator and the woman who reported Julian Assange have been open about their friendship. As recently as February 10 this year the woman commented a status update that the interrogator had on her facebook page. The woman still links from her homepage to the private blog of the police interrogator. The interrogator in turn links to her party friend and lawyer Thomas Bodström, who has a vested interest in the Assange case through his law firm.

Conflict of interest. Quod erat demonstrandum, baby. Go read it all!

LuCIA got some ‘splainin’ to do…

Oh LuCIA…Pakistan would like to know why you sent an agent on a murderous rampage in the streets of Lahore:

The American who shot dead two men in Lahore, triggering a diplomatic crisis between Pakistan and the US, is a CIA agent who was on assignment at the time.

Raymond Davis has been the subject of widespread speculation since he opened fire with a semi-automatic Glock pistol on the two men who had pulled up in front of his car at a red light on 25 January.

Pakistani authorities charged him with murder, but the Obama administration has insisted he is an “administrative and technical official” attached to its Lahore consulate and has diplomatic immunity.

Based on interviews in the US and Pakistan, the Guardian can confirm that the 36-year-old former special forces soldier is employed by the CIA. “It’s beyond a shadow of a doubt,” said a senior Pakistani intelligence official. The revelation may complicate American efforts to free Davis, who insists he was acting in self-defence against a pair of suspected robbers, who were both carrying guns.

Pakistani prosecutors accuse the spy of excessive force, saying he fired 10 shots and got out of his car to shoot one man twice in the back as he fled. The man’s body was found 30 feet from his motorbike.

“It went way beyond what we define as self-defence. It was not commensurate with the threat,” a senior police official involved in the case told the Guardian.

The Pakistani government is aware of Davis’s CIA status yet has kept quiet in the face of immense American pressure to free him under the Vienna convention. Last week President Barack Obama described Davis as “our diplomat” and dispatched his chief diplomatic troubleshooter, Senator John Kerry, to Islamabad. Kerry returned home empty-handed.

Many Pakistanis are outraged at the idea of an armed American rampaging through their second-largest city. Analysts have warned of Egyptian-style protests if Davis is released. The government, fearful of a backlash, says it needs until 14 March to decide whether Davis enjoys immunity.

Given that his cover is now blown, I doubt whether immunity would help him very much. It’s kind of hard to claim diplomatic status when you’re actually Special Forces, and harder still when you’ve shot dead two men in cold blood on the streets of a major city. And hardest of all when the Pakistani ISI’s own agents say “beyond a shadow of a doubt” that you’re a spook.

And how do you like that euphemism: “administrative and technical official”. Uh, you mean HITMAN, don’t you? I doubt very much that this dude’s job was rubber-stamping passports and visas. I doubt that was even his diplomatic cover.

But kudos to the Yanks for trying. It’s not the first time they’ve had to attempt “diplomatic” cover for their asses, either. Remember this little incident in Bolivia?

Oh LuCIA, you crazy redhead you…

PS: It gets crazier. He’s not a diplomat at all, he’s a Blackwater merc. Since when do THEY have diplomatic immunity/cover? Unless the entire corporation is a CIA front, the answer is since NEVER.