Surveillance is the business model

 

In Surveillance Valley, Yasha Levine, challenges conventional wisdom and says that the Internet was actually founded by the US government as part of their counterinsurgency program in Vietnam. The US government wanted to build a connected computer system that could collect and share real time intelligence, observe the world in real time, and watch and analyze people and political movements–especially communist or socialist ones.

“The Internet was hardwired to be a surveillance tool from the start. No matter what we use the network for today–dating, directions, en-crypted chat, e-mail, or just reading the news–it has always had a dual-use nature rooted in intelligence gathering and war…The Internet is the most effective weapon the government has ever built.”

Not only does the US government use the Internet to spy on us but, as Levine discovered, powerful Internet corporations, like Google and Facebook, do too. In fact, their business model is surveillance.

This concept is foreign to most Americans. Since the 90’s when the Internet became widely available to American households the dominant narrative has been that of a liberating technology that decentralizes power, overthrows corrupt states and brings about freedom and democracy.

Levine makes an interesting point about knowledge of this pervasive surveillance. In the 60’s and 70’s political activists understood the dystopian potential of the Internet and saw both government and corporations using it for surveillance and control. Thanks to Silicon Valley PR, the narrative changed to become the story that’s widely accepted today. You know, the one about the nerdy computer engineer bravely standing up to government oppression through the power of the Internet.

“Personal computers and information networks were supposed to be the new frontier of freedom–a techno-utopia where authoritarian and repressive structures lost their power, and where the creation of a better world was still possible. And all that we, global netizens, had to do was get out of the way and let Internet companies innovate and the market work its magic. This narrative has been planted deep into our cultures collective subconscious and holds a powerful sway over the way we view the Internet today.”

Reading Surveillance Valley, gave me a sense of deja-vu. Where had I heard this sort of rah-rah, techno-triumphalism before? Then it came to me, Levine’s take on the Internet was remarkably similar to One Market Under God: Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism, and the End of Economic Democracy, by Thomas Frank.

Frank was examining neoliberalism’s market populism but it reads very similar to the techno-triumphalism that Levine recounts. Frank wrote how Americans were seduced and coerced during the 1990s into accepting the free market as the perfect way of arranging human affairs, with the Internet providing the hip new cover story why this time it really was different. With the end of the cold war, the first public enthusiasm for the Internet and the discovery that great profits could be made from youth culture, the corporations saw an opportunity to make themselves seem more heroic, more popular, more hip.

This brave new economy of the 1990’s promised to transform labor and create a workers paradise, with pleasant, engaging tasks and lots of free time. Instead, by 2018, neoliberalism and the Internet have created a workers purgatory, with repetitive, timed labor, and a part-time precariat, largely because the leading intellects of Silicon Valley have ensured that workers are so thoroughly atomized by the gig economy that organizing and solidarity have become almost unimaginable.

The Internet was predicated on surveillance and the business model of the network giants remains surveillance. Not just surveillance, but with most communications occurring on the Internet, censorship too. In America, corporate consolidation and financialization has allowed economic power to be transformed into political power. Therefore, in our corporate/state system of government, corporate censorship is government censorship.

It’s how we roll.

Going further, through corporate and social media on the Internet, the American people are extensively propagandized. Critical thinking is disappearing, replaced by fear, mindlessness and the manipulated passions of the herd.

Those of us who reject this propaganda are being attacked by the Internet gatekeepers who depict alternatives as fake news. When pundits and politicians talk about changing social media algorithms to combat fake news, you have to wonder if their real target isn’t us.

The Internet is an amazing technology that offers the Library of Congress at our fingertips and connects friends and acquaintances half-way around the world. But, as Levine warns, it also allows for government and corporate surveillance and control. And, no, privacy apps like Tor and Signal don’t offer any meaningful protection from this persuasive surveillance. In fact, not only were they designed by the military but the US spy agencies view these cryptography tools as a useful means to concentrate targets in one convenient location. Levine offers up a warning about trusting these privacy apps. “Activists protesting at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in 2016 told me that they were bewildered by the fact that police seemed to know and anticipate their every move despite their having used Signal to organize.”

After reading Surveillance Valley it appears obvious that to have any hope of wresting power from the unelected plutocrats we’re going to have to learn to organize off-line.

Paraphrasing Gil-Scott Herron’s classic protest songThe revolution will not be on social media.

 

 

 

 

 

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A dirty game

 

The sociopathic elite that make up the deep state are playing a very dirty game.

Russia-gate has gone from allegations that Donald Trump personally colluded with Vladimir Putin to deny Hillary Clinton the presidency to the latest indictment of internet trolls from St Petersburg accused of manipulating social media. The whole sorry spectacle has been a year long exercise in hyperbole and breathless media speculation that has not resulted in the impeachment of Trump but has instead brought the cold war roaring back.

Maybe, that was the whole idea?

On February 16 Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals for the crime of sowing “discord in the U.S. political system” and encouraging “U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate.”

In my opinion, the indictments were not designed reveal the truth or bring the accused to justice. They were written to shape public perceptions and to persuade the American people that Trump cheated in the elections and that Russia poses a serious threat to US national security.

The indictments are also a distraction from the allegations that members of the deep state, led by former CIA director John Brennan, surveilled the Trump campaign during the 2016 election by fraudulent means. For instance, the FBI’s counterintelligence probe into Trump’s alleged connections to Russia was launched on the basis of information gathered from a report that was paid for by the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign. The surveillance of a Trump campaign member (Carter Page) was approved by a FISA court on the basis of information from that same report.

I can already see the endgame, where Trump is absolved but the charges of Russian malfeasance linger. Going further, I believe that Trump has cut a deal with the deep state where he is cleared of charges and avoids impeachment in exchange for not pursuing the investigation into the deep state surveillance.

In the meantime, it’s obvious that the deep state has accomplished its goal of neutering Trump’s campaign promises of a non-interventionist foreign policy and detente with Russia.

As a bonus, these charges against Russia have transformed liberals into raving McCarthyites, calling for war. Indeed, inflating the threat of Russia has become de rigueur for liberals as well as conservatives and certainly for much of the corporate media. It’s been extremely disconcerting to watch liberals embrace a narrative put forth by the CIA and FBI, institutions that have spent their entire existence in a dirty war against the left. I guess in this day and age of disposable history and instant news updates on the smart device, liberals have forgotten about COINTELPRO and MK-ULTRA?

They’ve obviously forgotten the ability of the US government to marshall the American populace for war. As we’ve discussed previously, the ruling elite figured out to do this with the Creel Committee, led by the nephew of Sigmund Freud–Edward Bernays. This effort at war propaganda led to the nascent public relations and advertising industries, and new and improved war propaganda.

Liberals have also forgotten about all of the times that the US government has used false-flag events to whip the American people into a war frenzy.

Here are some examples of false-flag events designed to drive American support for war:

Operation Northwoods.

Gulf of Tonkin.

In the run up to the first gulf war a young woman who gave only her first name, Nayira, testified that she had been a volunteer at Kuwait’s al-Adan hospital, where she had seen Iraqi troops rip scores of babies out of incubators, leaving them “to die on the cold floor.” Between tears, she described the incident as “horrifying.”

Saddam’s WMD, aluminum tubes, and mushroom clouds.

CNN’s fake interview–On the fifth of April, 2017, CNN staged a fake, scripted interview featuring a seven year-old Syrian girl sounding out pro-regime change talking points syllable-by-syllable using concepts that she could not possibly understand. CNN host Alisyn Camerota was asking the child questions throughout the performance, which means that Camerota necessarily had the other half of the script.

Knowing all the times that they’ve lied, why, on God’s green earth would you believe them?

Thankfully, there are enough of us out there now who disbelieve every establishment utterance.

Don’t think that the authorities have not noticed. The new trend is towards censorship of dissenting voices. Not only that but there is still a tremendous amount of pressure being applied to progressives to join the Russia-gate narrative, as Bernie Sanders is finding out the hard way.

What’s so depressing is that just 15 years ago on March 20th the US invaded Iraq under false pretenses after a prolonged propaganda campaign. Today’s warnings of  Russian aggression is the 2003 equivalent of Saddam’s Weapons of Mass Destruction and like the WMD claim, it’s based on zero evidence.

Why, it’s almost as if the American people have been lobotomized.

Russia-gate is ultimately a distraction from the real work we need to do to save our Republic. Thanks to Citizens United, Russian influence is minuscule compared to the influence of our unelected billionaires. These billionaires have captured both political parties forestalling any attempt to change from endless war to programs and policies designed to reverse the savage inequality ripping apart the fabric of our society.

Update: A wee bit of humor in these dark times.

Were-glad-youre-home-the-russians-pooped-in-the-hallway-9821484

 

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Deep State–Über Alles

 

In light of the non-stop yammering about Russian meddling in our precious democracy, it’s time to revisit the concept of an American deep state.

Liberal commentators have heaped derision on the term–deep state, depicting it as Trump supporters protecting the president, but this analysis elides the historical relevance of the concept.

In my opinion, the American deep state exists as an unelected shadow government because it represents what Federalist Papers co-author John Jay articulated“The people that own the country ought to govern it.”

The American deep state thrives on an uninformed and confused populace. The average American is captive to corporate media news and never looks elsewhere for information. Any narrative that counters the official story is deliberately disappeared from view and the result is ignorance of the people and institutions that largely control our country.

The chief player in the American deep state is the CIA. To understand the CIA, it’s incumbent to understand the Phoenix Program (assassinations, death squads, torture, mass detentions, exploitation of information), which since the Vietnam War has been the CIA’s means of controlling populations.

Author Douglas Valentine was the first to document this development in his groundbreaking book–The Phoenix Program, where he gained the trust of CIA insiders to describe their pacification campaign, as first fully developed in Vietnam.

Valentine explains that the Phoenix Program was developed by the CIA in 1967 to combine “existing counterinsurgency programs in a concerted effort to neutralize the Vietcong infrastructure (VCI).” He explained further that “neutralize meant to kill, capture, or make to defect.” “Infrastructure” meant civilians suspected of supporting North Vietnamese and Vietcong soldiers. Central to the Phoenix Program was that its targets were civilians, making the operation a violation of the Geneva Conventions which guaranteed protection to civilians in time of war.

In his  latest book–The CIA As Organized Crime, Valentine connects the CIA’s Phoenix Program to Nazi counterinsurgency warfare during WWII. He says that the Phoenix Program bears an eerie resemblance to German Einsatzgruppen-style special forces and Gestapo-style secret police operations on the Eastern Front. “Both programs were extreme forms of repression operating under martial law principles where the slightest form of dissent was deemed to represent the work of the enemy.”

That the U.S. drew upon German counter-insurgency doctrine is well documented elsewhere. This is shown explicitly in a 2011 article published in the Journal of Military and Strategic Studies entitled–German Counterinsurgency Revisited, by Charles D. Melson.

I believe that the CIA based their Phoenix Program counterinsurgency programs after Nazi ones because of the historical period in which the CIA was created and its leading proponents. No individuals are more important to this effort than the two Dulles brothers–Allan and John Foster.

Going further, the Dulles’s, their elite circle of allies, and the actions they took during the 1930’s are the key to understanding the modern American deep state.

The election of FDR and the implementation of the New Deal was a shocking development to the ruling elite of America. This loss of power and prestige was so traumatic that many of them contemplated changes to our representative system of governance. Gazing at Europe for inspiration, Mussolini and Hitler, came in for special praise. And, support.

One of the darkest secrets of the 1930’s, is the fact that US corporations and banks financed German reconstruction under the Nazis, especially their rapidly expanding armaments industries, in exchange for priceless industrial patents. This funding of German industry continued through World War II and involved some of the most powerful and well known US corporations, such as GM, Ford, and IBM. It also involved powerful US banks and investment houses, and influential Republicans, like George W.’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, and the Dulles brothers, Allan and John Foster.

Worried that the defeat of the Nazi’s would cause them to lose their investments, the directors of many of these companies plotted to protect their interests. Law firms like Sullivan and Cromwell specialized in helping to arrange these deals. Before and during the war, the Dulles brothers, Allen (who was a partner in that firm) and John, helped these companies hide their assets. As a result, many Nazi industrialist and their American collaborators maintained their wealth after the hostilites ceased.

Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg once stated that “The Dulles brothers were traitors.” Some historians believe that Allen Dulles became head of the newly formed CIA in large part to cover up his treasonous behavior and that of his clients. One of the most notorious manifestations of this agenda was an attempt to rescue and negotiate with Nazis – against Roosevelt’s wishes – during Operation Sunrise.

Allan and John Foster Dulles are dead but their evil legacy lives on.

With the ongoing revelations of Russia-gate, we should always be mindful of the role of the CIA in disseminating propaganda and disinformation that is complementary to the violent tactics of the Phoenix Program which has been adopted as the model for policing the American empire and maintaining the power of the deep state.

 

 

 

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Won’t end well

 

Lately, I’ve detected a certain sense of malaise among my fellow citizens.

In my opinion, it’s long been apparent that this won’t end well.

Take the stock market, the indicator that our elite reliably depict as proof of the superiority of American capitalism. Wall Street’s panicked reaction to signs of wage growth shows just how weak the economy is — and how much it caters to the wealthy.

In fact, the stock market, despite commentators cheerful pronouncements about universal ownership, is an elite wealth creation machine that has little to do with the real economy that you and I inhabit. Going further, Wall Street’s recent ascendancy was based largely on decisions made by our unelected Federal Reserve overlords. To fight the 2008 financial crisis, the Fed drove interest rates to record-low levels and injected vast sums of money into the financial system, a process called quantitative easing (QE).

Essentially what happened, is that in the aftermath of the Wall Street crash, the wealthy and corporations and banks they control were bailed out while the majority of Americans were left to slowly twist in the wind.

Expanding our view from the stock market, things look much worse.

Life expectancy in the US has fallen for the second year in a row. This is alarming because life expectancy has risen for much of the past century in developed countries, including the US. The decline in US health relative to other countries, however, is not new; it has been unfolding for decades. With the Reagan years came a war on labor, the busting of unions and the war on our meager welfare state. All of these neoliberal “reforms” were consolidated in the Clinton years, as the Democratic party was turned into the other business party.

With household incomes under pressure, people used credit cards and mortgages to fund the semblance of a middle-class standard of living. The financial crisis busted that model apart. Household incomes are still under pressure, but money has been far less easy for the middle and lower ranks than it has been for the upper. Slow growth and popular rage are the result.

The US is also alone among wealthy nations when it comes to extreme poverty. That we tolerate this state of affairs is shameful. After all, in a country that possesses the resources that the US does, it’s obvious that this is a political choice.

Then, there’s the other maladies afflicting the US.

Suicide is a perennial problem throughout the nation. The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows the 2016 national age-adjusted suicide rate reached the highest level seen in decades.”

Not just suicide but murder. The US leads the world by a large margin when it come to enraged citizens taking a gun and mowing down their neighbors.

All of these factors points to a day of reckoning that is rapidly approaching. Perhaps the prevalence of school shootings is acting as the proverbial canary in the coal mine?

Don’t think that the elite have not noticed the way things are moving. In my own line of work I interact with the 1% on a regular basis. I can tell you that even though they are doing better that ever, there is a sense of discreet terror. It’s obvious when they discuss all the ways that they’re trying to replicating their own advantages in the education of their little darlings.

And, they’re taking steps to protect their wealth and privilege, working hand in hand with the US government to control the growing unrest. Indeed, many of the institutions and technologies that we take for granted in our high-tech world are dual use and can be turned upon us as a means of repression.

Take the internet, for example. Journalist Yasha Levine has written a bookSurveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet, where he traces the history of the internet to US counterinsurgency programs.

“My research reveals a third historical strand in the creation of the early Internet—a strand that has all but disappeared from the history books. Here, the impetus was rooted not so much in the need to survive a nuclear attack but in the dark military arts of counterinsurgency and America’s fight against the perceived global spread of communism. In the 1960s, America was a global power overseeing an increasingly volatile world: conflicts and regional insurgencies against U.S.-allied governments from South America to Southeast Asia and the Middle East. These were not traditional wars that involved big armies but guerrilla campaigns and local rebellions, frequently fought in regions where Americans had little previous experience. Who were these people? Why were they rebelling? What could be done to stop them? In military circles, it was believed that these questions were of vital importance to America’s pacification efforts, and some argued that the only effective way to answer them was to develop and leverage computer-aided information technology.

The Internet came out of this effort: an attempt to build computer systems that could collect and share intelligence, watch the world in real time, and study and analyze people and political movements with the ultimate goal of predicting and preventing social upheaval.”

It’s a dark take, but I think our plutocratic owners are going to try to abscond with their loot and leave us to rot, while doing everything they can to protect themselves and their property.

Let them eat cake.

 

 

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Double Down

 

The neocons are relentless. When one of their plans fails, they simply double down.

Take their signature invasion of Iraq to eliminate weapons of mass destruction. Of course, there were no weapons, but never mind. They got rid of Saddam and stood poised to remake Iraq into a free-market utopia. There was just one little problem. When Saddam was overthrown, and the Sunni/Bathist party he controlled turfed out of power, the winners were the Iraqi Shia and their sponsors, Iran.

Oops!

Compounding the problem was the fact that this had created a “Shia Crescent” ranging from Iran through Iraq to Syria onward to Lebanon, where the Shia militia–Hezbullah–had fought the Israeli Defense Force to a standstill in 2006.

This brings us to the elephant in the room–Israel. The neoconservatives are a small group of ideologues. Most are allied with Israel. Some are dual-citizens. Since the late 1970’s the neoconservatives have  created an ideology of American world hegemony, specifying that the chief goal of US foreign policy is to prevent the rise of any other power that could check US unilateralism. Since the neoconservatives control US foreign policy, this explains US hostility toward Russia and China, and the wars and regime-change operations aimed at governments in the Middle East regarded by Israel as obstacles to Israeli expansion. For two decades the US has been fighting wars for Israel in the Middle East. If all this sounds suspiciously like the Oded Yinon Plan, don’t worry your pretty little head, I’m sure it’s all a crazy coincidence.

The Israeli connection helps understand the recent neocon hostility towards Iran, Syria and Lebanon. Essentially, because the neocons failed to comprehend the political fallout of overthrowing Saddam; now Syria, Lebanon, then Iran must be attacked to eliminate the “Shia Crescent”. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh’s  groundbreaking 2007 article–The Redirection, explains how the neocons doubled down on a crazy scheme to work with Al Qaeda as way of striking Shia power across the Middle-East.

When the Arab Spring riots gave the neocons the pretext to foment regime change in Syria they seized the opportunity by funding, arming and training their Sunni terrorist proxies, in a genocidal civil war that still rages. Once dismissed as a baseless conspiracy theory, it is now a known and admitted fact that the US has been arming Al Qaeda terrorist factions in Syria to advance its ongoing regime change operations.

With the East Ghouta chemical weapons attack, blamed on Syrian President Bashar Assad, the neocons thought they had found the pretext to force President Obama to bomb Syria. However, when their planned bombing campaign was stymied in 2013 by Russia’s mediation and disposal of Syrian chemical weapons, the neocons doubled down and turned their sights to Ukraine, where they fomented a coup to punish Russia.

In my opinion, this is the essential backstory to Russia-gate.

When Trump, on the campaign trail, promised to reset relations with Russia the neocons doubled down with allegations of Trump’s collusion with Putin to force Trump into continued hostilities with Russia. Essentially, Trump was violating traditional policy of relying on force to overcome all obstacles or what Obama nicknamed “The Washington Playbook”

While the neocons are the gang that can’t shoot straight in their overseas adventures, at home their control of the political space is unmatched. Neocon foreign policies are US ones. Trump continues the trend.

The neocon record for destruction is impressive. Not only have their policies destroyed Ukraine, and destroyed Syria, and, before that, destroyed Libya, and destroyed Iraq, and destroyed Afghanistan, but they are always on the lookout for more countries to destroy. If you wonder why America is increasingly unpopular throughout the world, these neocon driven foreign policies are a good place to start.

No matter. Being a neocon means never being sorry, or suffering from your catastrophic mistakes.

Since there is no accountability for their fuck-ups, they continue their reign of destruction. In fact, they still haven’t given up their plan of regime change in Syria. If two fake chemical weapon attacks don’t do the trick, try a third with the added secret-sauce allegation that these chemical weapons will be soon aimed at the US.A U.S. official says Syrian President Assad’s forces may be developing new types of chemical weapons, which could reach as far as the U.S.” 

Don’t laugh. Remember how the specter of Saddam’s chemical weapons crop dusters aimed at the American heartland helped drive the invasion of Iraq?

And, if the fake chemical weapons gambit fails, have your Al Qaeda terrorist proxies shoot down a Russian fighter with the MANPADS you supplied.

In the homeland, the neocons are doubling down on the Dr. Strangelove level crazy with the latest Nuclear Posture Review. It names Russia, along with China, North Korea and Iran, as potential threats and calls for an expansion of the US nuclear arsenal. It recommends the development of a range of new weapons that could be used in situations other than full-scale nuclear war, effectively undermining agreements to wind back nuclear arsenals. Indeed, the Trump administration has just announced that it is restructuring its nuclear weapons policy to take a more aggressive stance toward Russia than that which was held by the previous administration.

This plan to spend trillions of dollars on nuclear weapons is a direct threat to the American people. Not only will this plan greatly increase the likelihood of nuclear war but with all the challenges facing our country we need trillions of dollars of new nuclear weapons like we need a hole in our head.

The neocons have learned nothing from their past failures. They dream of restoring US power to what it once was and do not understand that this can no longer be done.

French diplomat Talleyrand had the best description of these types of people “They had learned nothing and forgotten nothing.”

 

 

 

 

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An adversarial way

 

Legendary investigative journalist Robert Parry has died.

Anyone who’s read this blog knows how much I valued Robert and his investigative website–Consortiumnews.com.

His death is a profound tragedy, and I’ve spent the week in a state of persistent melancholy.

Life does go on.

First order of business is addressing the outrageous attack launched by PropOrNot following Parry’s death.

Let me be blunt. The attackers are cowardly neocon propagandists, bent on fomenting war with Russia. These trolls attacked Parry because he challenged the Russia-Gate narrative they spent the last year and a half promulgating. Parry’s other crime was providing well researched documentation of the machinations of the neocons and their military/industrial/complex partners in their mad crusade to maintain the US corporate empire.

In fact, during the Obama administration, Parry provided the best account of the sheer hubris of the neocons, and especially their fury at Russian interference in Syria, where they hoped to overthrow Syrian ruler–Bashar Assad. “There is a “little-old-lady-who-swallowed-the-fly” quality to neocon thinking. When one of their schemes goes bad, they simply move to a bigger, more dangerous scheme.”

Parry had a run in with PropOrNot before he died. In late 2016, about 200 websites, including Consortiumnews.com, were identified as “Russian propaganda outlets” by the anonymous website PropOrNot. As an article at Consortiumnews explained at the time, the Washington Post, (which, we should always remember is owned by Jeff Bezos, who through his company Amazon, provides cloud computing services for the CIA), granted PropOrNot anonymity to smear journalists who don’t march in lockstep with the Washington Consensus.

Journalist George Ellison, researched the people and institutions behind PropOrNotUnpacking the Shadowy Outfit, and came to some startling conclusions. Read the article and examine the evidence yourself.

Anyway, enough with the trolls.

Let’s remember Robert Parry and his legacy. This amazing speech he gave back in 1993 encapsulates how he became such an adversarial journalist, and why it became impossible for him to remain in the corporate media.

Even though Parry’s is talking about the Reagan administration and their secretive, unlawful Central America policies, the same dynamic has applied in every presidential administration since. And, yes liberals, that includes Clinton and Obama.

“No one told me what to work on. And it struck me one day, as I was sitting around, that this administration had a thing about Central America. At the time there had been a number of atrocities that were occurring, and the four American churchwomen had been killed. And the explanations coming from this transition team were quite remarkable. If you remember, Jean Kirkpatrick suggested in one interview that these weren’t really nuns, they were more political activists, which always struck me as an amazing suggestion that it’s okay to kill political activists. Anyway, it seemed like a very important area to them, one that might end up driving much of what they did, at least in terms of foreign policy and national security issues.

So I began working on it. And that experience, in a way, shaped what I did for the rest of my time at the AP. And it was also striking to me that that experience was beyond anything I could have imagine, as an American citizen, watching. It was a case of wide- spread killing – political killing – of dissidents, torture, in the case of women often rape was involved; and this government was not just supporting it, not just providing the weapons and the military support, but trying to excuse it, rationalize it and essentially hide it.

Which is where I sort of came in and I think many people in the American press corps in Washington came in, and the press corp in Central America. At the time the press corps was still the Watergate press corp, if you will. We were fairly aggressive, we were not inclined to believe what we heard from the government, and sometimes we were probably obnoxious. But we were doing our jobs as I think, more or less, as they were supposed to be done. That is – to act, when necessary, in an adversarial way.

There was a pattern of deception from the very beginning. Even when there was something horrible happening in those countries. Even when hundreds, thousands of human beings were being taken out and killed, the role of the US. government became to hide it, to rationalize it, to pretend it wasn’t that serious, and to try to discredit anyone who said otherwise.

But the reality became the greatest threat, even at that stage, to what the new administration wanted to accomplish. So what we saw, even at that early stage, was the combat that was developing and the combat in terms of the domestic situation in Washington was how do you stop the press from telling that story. And much of what the Reagan administration developed were techniques to keep those kinds of stories out of the news media.”

Parry makes an important point about the self-censorship that shapes the corporate media.

“So the message was quite clearly made apparent to those of us working on this topic that when you tried to tell the American people what was happening, you put your career at risk, which may not seem like a lot to some people, but you know, reporters are like everybody else I guess – they have mortgages and families and so forth and they don’t really want to lose their jobs – I mean it’s not something they aspire to. And the idea of success is to keep one of these jobs and there are a lot of interesting perks that go with it, a certain amount of esteem, you know, as well as you get paid pretty well. Those jobs in Washington – you can often be making six figures at some of the major publications, so it’s not something you readily or easily throw away, from that working level.”

Parry was not a partisan reporter but I believe that he exemplified what our founders intended when they articulated the concept of a forth estate that would hold the other branches of government accountable. It was also quite apparent that he understood the risks of what he was doing, yet he kept at it.

“But what we began to see was something that was unusual I think even for Washington – certainly it was unusual in my experience – a very nasty, often ad hominem attack on the journalists who were not playing along.”

Parry was never sentimental about the challenges facing investigative journalism, but he was an optimist and he never stopped trying his best to tell the truth.

“I guess the challenge of the moment becomes is how that gets changed. How do the American people really get back control of this – not just their government, but of their history – because it’s really their history that has been taken away from them. I think it will take a tremendous commitment by the American people to insist on both more honest journalism, more straightforward journalism, but also maybe even new journalism.”

We lost a real American hero.

God bless you Robert Parry.

 

 

 

 

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Predatory Society

 

I’ve been writing recently about US foreign policy and the lack of interest among Americans with the horrific results of these policies. If we’re honest, (and I sincerely believe that this is why the disinterest), US foreign policy is largely about invading other countries or deploying terrorist proxies to overthrow their governments, and turning them into shitholes.

Speaking of Trump’s boorish statement. What is worse, turning nations into shitholes or calling them that? Where were all those concerned Americans when war was unleashed upon Syria, Libya, Iraq? Where were the media?

In my opinion, Americans don’t give a shit about the victims of these foreign policies because they’ve been conditioned not to give a shit about other Americans.

In a depressing, yet not surprising, article, journalist Umair Haque, depicts our country facing a profound moral collapse, and our neighbors, who’ve been caught on the wrong side of fate, living genuinely traumatic and desperate lives.

“In America, there is the catastrophic collapse of social bonds. Extreme capitalism has blown apart American society so totally that people cannot even care for one another as much as they do in places like Pakistan and Nigeria. Social bonds, relationships themselves, have become unaffordable luxuries, more so than even in poor countries: this is yet another social pathology unique to American collapse.”

The reason the US faces such a collapse is neoliberalism. Neoliberalism has destroyed the social bond of American society and initiated a selfish morality, where savage competition is encouraged, everything is monetized, and nothing is stable or sacred. Going further, neoliberalism promotes sociopathic personalities by rewarding extreme greed and narcism.

Margaret Thatcher articulated the cruel ethos of neoliberalism when she stated that there is no society, only individuals.

She was wrong. We’re not just individuals, we’re social beings that require others to be fully human.

Tragically, our plutocratic owners and their technocratic managers have embraced Thatcher’s maxim.

Presently we’re experiencing the results of this vast open-air experiment.

In his article, Haque describes a series of strange and bizarre pathologies, unique to the US, that he says are caused by the effects of the despair, rage, and anxiety of living in a collapsing society.

“America has had 11 school shootings in the last 23 days. That’s one every other day, more or less. That statistic is alarming enough — but it is just a number. Perspective asks us for comparison. So let me put that another way. America has had 11 school shootings in the last 23 days, which is more than anywhere else in the world, even Afghanistan or Iraq. In fact, the phenomenon of regular school shootings appears to be a unique feature of American collapse — it just doesn’t happen in any other country — and that is what I mean by “social pathologies of collapse”: a new, bizarre, terrible disease striking society.”

Haque argues that we’re all complicit in the collapse of American society.

“A predatory society doesn’t just mean oligarchs ripping people off financially. In a truer way, it means people nodding and smiling and going about their everyday business as their neighbours, friends, and colleagues die early deaths in shallow graves. The predator in American society isn’t just its super-rich — but an invisible and insatiable force: the normalization of what in the rest of the world would be seen as shameful, historic, generational moral failures, if not crimes, becoming mere mundane everyday affairs not to be too worried by or troubled about.”

Most Americans don’t even notice anymore because neoliberal values have enjoyed such an insidious process of normalization over the last 40 years. If anything, commentators want to blame it all on Trump, but these attitudes proceed him. Like I’ve said before–Trump is not the cause of our sickness, just the logical conclusion of years of neoliberal economic policies and neoconservative foreign policies.

Haque offers a warning to others who succumb to the siren call of neoliberalism.

“Should the world follow the American model — extreme capitalism, no public investment, cruelty as a way of life, the perversion of everyday virtue — then these new social pathologies will follow, too. They are new diseases of the body social that have emerged from the diet of junk food — junk media, junk science, junk culture, junk punditry, junk economics, people treating one another and their society like junk — that America has fed upon for too long.”

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