American Journalist, Antiwar Activist, Media Critic and Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives
American Journalist, Antiwar Activist, Media Critic and Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives
I think, a disquiet that exists in Norway as in many other parts of the world, but perhaps most acutely in Norway, that there?s concern the Nobel Peace Prize has lost its way and that the organization with the formal name Norwegian Nobel Committee is without a moral compass.
The espionage law is about 95 years old. It?s absurd to use it against a whistle-blower, and it conveys a government attitude that the ?enemy? is first and foremost the people of the United States. That is a tacit approach that embraces secrecy as a way of continuing to perpetrate policies that can?t stand the light of day. So they?re kept hidden in the dark. A basic precept of democracy is consent of the governed, and it?s only meaningful if you have informed consent of the governed. And when you see what Bradley Manning has said not only in the courtroom, but also in his online chats, when he never had any thought they would go public, he had an acute sense that the public needs to know what is being done, that that?s an absolute prerequisite for a meaningful democratic process. Most people don?t want war, and so the manipulation of information and filtration of it and the twisting of it, all that is a prerequisite for a warfare state. Bradley Manning was aiding the enemy only if the enemy is truth. Bradley Manning was committing espionage only if the beneficiaries of the alleged espionage are understood to be the citizens of United States, and for that matter people of the world, who are so much at risk from aggressive military action.
If certain members of Congress resent being pushed by progressives to challenge the White House, they lack an appreciation for the crucial potential of grassroots social movements. On the other hand, those in Congress who ?get? progressive social change will appreciate our efforts to push them and their colleagues to stand progressive ground. When we?re mere supplicants to members of Congress, the doors that open on Capitol Hill won?t lead very much of anywhere. Superficial ?access? has scant impact. The kind of empowered access we need will come from mobilizing grassroots power. We need to show that we?ll back up members of Congress who are intrepid for our values -- and we can defeat others, including self-described ?progressives,? who aren?t. Building electoral muscle should be part of building a progressive movement. We?re in this for the long haul, but we?re not willing to mimic the verbiage or echo the silences from members of Congress who fail to challenge egregious realities of this administration?s policies. As Howard Zinn said, our role is to challenge, not fall in line.
The huge imbalance of digital power now afflicting the Internet is a crucial subset of what afflicts the entirety of economic relations and political power in the United States. We have a profound, far-reaching fight on our hands, at a crossroads leading toward democracy or corporate monopoly. The future of humanity is at stake.
In contrast, the letter from the 14 members of the House (eight Democrats, six Republicans) lays down a clear line of opposition to the rationales for stepping up the warfare. "If the intent is to leave behind a stable Afghanistan capable of governing itself, this military escalation may well be counterproductive," the letter says. And it warns that "any perceived military success in Afghanistan might create pressure to increase military activity in Pakistan. This could very well lead to dangerous destabilization in the region and would increase hostility toward the United States." More than 400 members of the House declined to sign the letter. In effect, they failed to join in a historic challenge to a prevailing assumption ? that the U.S. government must use massive violence for many more years to try to work Washington's will on Afghanistan. An old red-white-and-blue bumper sticker says: "These colors don't run." A newer one says: "These colors don't run? the world." Now, it's time for another twist: "These colors won't run? Afghanistan." But denial and evasion are in the political air.
The official storyline is that the U.S. went from humiliation, with the Soviet launch of Sputnik 50 years ago, to triumph, man on the moon in ?69, technological superlatives ever since. But there?s a shadowy side, a terribly damaging and destructive shadowy side, which many people in the United States and around the world have been subjected to, and that is the hijacking and the channeling of technological expertise and scientific research in billions of dollars for purposes of what Dwight Eisenhower called in ?61 the "military-industrial complex" and, in a less well-known phrase in his farewell address in ?61, a "scientific technological elite." That elite is sending 2,000-pound bombs into urban areas of Iraq. It is not only paying off outfits like Blackwater to, out of sight and often out of mind, slaughter Iraqi people in our names and with our tax dollars, but also pursuing missions that are very far from the official storyline. And so, you could say, just as Sputnik was said to have launched a trajectory of U.S. technological expertise, Silicon Valley and all the rest of it, we have the underside of what we could call a political culture of hoax that has counterpointed all of the rhetoric about democracy and scientific progress with what Martin Luther King called in 1967 a dynamic of "guided missiles and misguided men," of using our talents of our country, our resources, our scientific brilliance, for purposes of enriching a few and building a warfare state, which is part of us every moment.
Independent journalism is the antidote to the warfare state.
The spinning is a repetition compulsion disorder. It?s part of the corporate media. If we?re going to counteract it, we need to support this program and many others around the country, websites, publications, radio outlets, all the different efforts that are necessary, because if we leave it to the punditocracy, they will go back to square one as they?re doing with Iran, this danger of an attack on Iran boilerplate with what we saw five years ago. We have to stop it.
International law is suddenly very popular in Washington. President Obama responded to Russian military intervention in the Crimea by accusing Russia of a ?breach of international law.? Secretary of State John Kerry followed up by declaring that Russia is ?in direct, overt violation of international law.? Unfortunately, during the last five years, no world leader has done more to undermine international law than Barack Obama. He treats it with rhetorical adulation and behavioral contempt, helping to further normalize a might-makes-right approach to global affairs that is the antithesis of international law.
The warfare state doesn?t come and go. It can?t be defeated on Election Day? and it has infiltrated our very being.
It?s a truly odious and destructive mix ? a government bent on perpetual war and a digital tech industry dominated by a few huge firms with an insatiable drive to maximize profits. Those companies have a lot to offer the government, and vice versa.
They should be fighting the effects of flood waters at home - helping people in the communities they know best - not battling Iraqi people who want them to go away.
A free and independent press is crucial for confronting such dire trends. But structural factors of corporate power continue to undermine the potential of journalism. The Washington Post is a grim case in point. Six months ago, Jeff Bezos ? the CEO and main stakeholder of Amazon ? bought the Post. But the newspaper?s ongoing CIA-related coverage does not inform readers that the CIA?s big contract with Amazon is adding to the personal wealth of the Post?s sole owner. This refusal to make such conflict-of-interest disclosures is much more than journalistic evasion for the sake of appearances. It?s a marker for more consolidation of corporate mega-media power with government power. The leverage from such convergence is becoming ever-less acknowledged or conspicuous as it becomes ever-more routine and dominant.
It?s now painfully clear that the president has put out a contract on the Fourth Amendment. And at the Capitol, the hierarchies of both parties are stuffing it into the trunks of their limousines, so each provision can be neatly fitted with cement shoes and delivered to the bottom of the Potomac.
To be silent about war agenda is consent.
A terrible formula has taken hold: warfare state + corporate digital power = surveillance state.
It's a big problem when there's not disclosure. I'm glad you opened this up. And I wouldn't want any viewers of this program to be left with the impression that somehow General Electric is an environmentally conscious company. On the contrary, they have a 30-year history of refusing and actually fighting against efforts to make them clean up the Hudson River, which GE fouled with terrible quantities of horrific PCBs, other rivers as well. People told they can't fish in the Hudson River. General Electric still lobbying to not have to clean up. General Electric, even today -- and this report is very timely -- General Electric is lobbying to get Congress to pass $18 billion in taxpayer-backed loan guarantees for a huge GE product which is General Electric components for nuclear power plants. So we should not be fooled in any way by efforts to greenwash General Electric or any other company.
War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.
A vision of the future that I have is not particularly optimistic. It is certainly not fatalistic. All of this is up for grabs. The momentum that we?re up against, in terms of the military-industrial complex and all the rest of it, can be counteracted. I believe ? not to be Hallmark card about this ? in the human spirit. The human spirit can?t be killed, but it can be sedated. And we need to be able to shake off that sedation. It means wake up, get past the psychic numbing, help each other to do that, and organize and organize.
It's kind of like going to a store and there's fifty brands of cigarettes, they're mostly owned by three different corporations. You do have the Internet, but Jupiter Media Matrix just did a new study finding that 47% of the minutes spent on the World Wide Web by people in the United States are on sites owned by three corporations.
We desperately need a substantive national debate on U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan. While the Obama administration says that the problems of the region cannot be solved by military means, the basic approach is reliance on heightened military means.
All three branches of the U.S. government are now largely under the control of forces with stunning contempt for basic legal processes required by the Bill of Rights. Mere words and mild reforms from members of Congress may mollify the gullible, but only a direct challenge to the Obama administration?s policies can rise to the level of the current historic imperative to restore civil liberties in the United States.
Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America?s Warfare State.
We have lived, we have been incubated by a warfare state for five, six decades. And the effects of that are terribly pernicious. Martin Luther King talked about the "spiritual death" ? his phrase, the "spiritual death" ? that accompanies a society which year after year spends more on military defense than on social uplift. That was 40 years ago. What are the effects then of that spiritual death? And so, we have a chance to counteract those sort of dangerous, horrible trends with such terrible results, but we need to activate ourselves to do that.
As the largest Web retailer in the world, Amazon has built its business model on the secure accumulation and analysis of massive personal data. The firm?s Amazon Web Services division gained the CIA contract amid fervent hopes that the collaboration will open up vast new vistas for the further melding of surveillance and warfare.