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Posted by DownWithTyranny on November 27th, 2014

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!


In announcing Secretary Hagel’s departure Monday, President Obama said only good things about him, but people who work for the president had already made sure that the secretary looks like a bumbling, stumbling fool.

by Ken

Somebody, or I guess I should say somebodies, in the White House, the Pentagon, and the media went to a lot of trouble to portray now-lame-duck Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as a bumbling nitwit, so out of his depth, if not stumblingly incompetent, that even President Obama, who doesn’t hardly fire anybody, had to give him the ax.

I got to watch a little of the president’s formal announcement of Secretary Hagel’s departure, and while the president said nothing but nice and appreciative things about the secretary’s service, the message was already out. And the poor guy was forced to stand there at his executioner’s side in front of the cameras for what felt like hours — and if it felt like that to me, merely watching, I can only imagine how it felt to him.

That somebody, or somebodies, should be ashamed. It’s only now, after the public humiliation, that we’re getting actual reportage, which tells us that in fact Secretary Hagel did the job he was hired to do, in spite of considerable and relentless interference from persons-still-unknown in or connected to the White House, but that the nature of the job changed dramatically even as the already-impossible complexity of the problems grew even more complex and more impossible.

HAGEL HAD TO GO BECAUSE, IN SHORT –

(a) He did and was doing the job he was hired to do, and the some in terms of protecting the people in his charge from attacks from without (from Congress and elsewhere), but that that job is now obsolete, and –

(b) Nobody has a clue what the new job is, and this is being fought pretty aggressively by those unseen forces who have been making the secretary’s job (and life) impossible these last two years. The best guess is that some of the new marching orders are the direct opposite of what he has always been told. Really what the administration seems to be looking for is a wizard with a magic wand. (One who can win confirmation from a Republican-controlled Senate, of course.)

(c) A guy who came into the job convinced, in apparent agreement with the man who hired him, that what the DoD needed was a guy in charge who does not have a personal vision and agenda he’s determined to ram down everybody’s throat — that guy is now being berated and ridiculed for not being, say, Donald Rumsfeld.

(d) Throughout his brief tenure at DoD the secretary has been under siege from (unnamed) administration micromanagers who have been making it anywhere from difficult to impossible for him to do his job, whatever the hell that job is. This is, interestingly, interference that enraged his predecessor, Robert Gates, as we’ll see in a moment. I wonder whether his administration critics who are deriding him for his weakness mean that he should have screaming bloody murder at them?

At this point, let’s look at just a few excerpts from a report yesterday by the Washington Post’s Gref Jaffe and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, “White House seeks a stronger hand at Pentagon to manage crises.”

On Hagel’s job description:

President Obama tapped Chuck Hagel as defense secretary because he wanted someone who would quietly implement the administration’s policy, avoid controversy and promote no big, sweeping ideas.

Hagel was forced to resign Monday for being exactly that defense secretary.

Hagel didn’t make big mistakes. Nor had he lost the confidence of the uniformed military. But he often seemed lost or overly deferential to his generals in top-level White House strategy meetings, especially those focused on the battle against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, senior administration officials said.

“I could never tell what his opinion was on anything,” said a senior administration official involved in national security policy. “He’d never speak. . . . The key comment, the insightful approach — that never came out of him.”

Instead, Hagel worked behind the scenes to lessen the impact of budget cuts on the military’s ability to fight future wars and on the families of those in uniform. . . .

“He didn’t want to be a larger-than-life secretary”

In recent months, though, as the White House groped toward a policy to confront the Islamic State, Obama decided that he needed a defense secretary who was more at ease in the White House Situation Room than with grunts in the field.

“Hagel tried to play a behind-the-scenes role on tough issues — the [budget cuts], sexual assault, ending two wars,” said Vikram Singh, a former top Pentagon official and a vice president at the Center for American Progress. “He didn’t want to be a larger-than-life secretary.”

His departure isn’t likely to lead to big changes in Iraq and Syria, where the president recently doubled the number of U.S. military advisers, or in Afghanistan, where Obama seems committed to ending the war. Nor is it likely to lead to warmer relations with Congress, as happened when Donald H. Rumsfeld was fired as defense secretary by President George W. Bush in 2006 and replaced by Robert M. Gates, who was widely hailed as his polar opposite.

“No one is going to be hailed to be the anti-Hagel,” said Douglas Ollivant, a retired Army officer and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. “No one hates Hagel.”

On White House micromanagement:

“There is teeth-gnashing over micromanagement,” a senior defense official said. “Relations have not been great.”

Under Obama, the National Security Council has delved into the nitty-gritty of shaping war policy in the Middle East and Afghanistan, sometimes subjecting senior officials to hours of meetings to reach incremental decisions.

Earlier this year, the decision on how many U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan in 2015 was the subject of 14 meetings of NSC deputies, four gatherings involving Cabinet secretaries and other NSC “principals,” and two NSC sessions with the president, according to a former senior administration official.

The consequence of those meetings was to pare back the military’s request by just 700 troops — from 10,500 to 9,800. . . .

White House officials regularly call commanders in Afghanistan to gauge their thinking on the progress of the war and their future troop needs. Those calls were a particular source of irritation to Gates, who said he tried to squelch them during the first two years of Obama’s presidency. In a speech this month at the Ronald Reagan presidential library, he recalled being shocked to discover that a direct telephone line to the White House had been installed in the Afghanistan headquarters of the elite Joint Special Operations Command.

“I had them tear it out while I was standing there,” Gates said. “And I told the commanders, ‘You get a call from the White House, you tell them to go to hell and call me.’ ”

NOW, OF COURSE, WE’RE MUCH BETTER OFF, RIGHT?

Yeah, right. The headline on that Post piece, “White House seeks a stronger hand at Pentagon to manage crises,” seems pretty ironic, since it seems pretty clear that to at least certain influential people in the administration, the last thing that’s wanted is “a stronger hand at the Pentagon,” except perhaps “a stronger hand” that will do exactly what they want exactly the way they want it. (As for handling uppity generals, the Obama White House sure has a great track record here, doesn’t it?)

Any potential SecDef nominee is going to know a whole lot more than you and I do about the recent history of the job, not to mention the ordeal to be faced in getting confirmation from a Senate controlled by crackpot Republicans, who know and understand less about our foreign-policy challenges than practically anybody on the planet.

The grim reality, at least as far as I can tell from people who really do seem to know something about the history and present of such intractable problem spots as Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan is that there are no good answers for the messes that have developed, and the answers we’ve tried so far have mostly made things worse, as people who know about those areas could have predicted, and often did.

And the White House is under siege from a horde of self-styled national-security experts whose answers are even worse than the Obama team’s.

To all the savagely cretinous Village National Insecurity “experts” perpetually lambasting the president for his incompetence and unconscionable failures, what he should really say is: “You fuckheads don’t have a fucking clue what you’re talking about. The one service you might possibly be able to render to your country, if in fact you give a damn about anything except your self-importance and your scummy careers, is to blow your diseased brains out.”

Then again, it isn’t at all clear that the president has anybody working for him who’s any better clued in. And the cackling chorus of National Insecurity “experts,” so distressingly inexpert in all matters save bullying and careerist self-aggrandizement, having tasted blood, and despite having only worse ideas than the administration’s, must feel themselves still further empowered. Great. Just great.

“THIS WON’T HELP THEM FIX THEIR TERRIBLE PROBLEMS”

I haven’t even mentioned Elizabeth Drew’s take as of noon yesterday in a new post on the New York Review of Books blog, “The Firing of Chuck Hagel,” which takes an extremely interesting look at Chuck Hagel, his past and present relationship with President Obama, the difficult leap from Congress to any cabinet job (and especially the humongous managerial responsibilities of the DoD), and especially the politics of the present administration mess. It’s an invaluable read for anyone who’s been wondering what the hell lay behind Hagel’s firing. I’m going to quote just the final paragraph.

We’ve seen past administrations in big trouble throw overboard an inconvenient major figure. Whether it was the right one has always been a question. So was the matter of how much difference the move actually made in improving the fortunes of the said administration. Most of the time a White House staff hasn’t been as eager as this one to make it clear, right away, that the officer didn’t resign but was pushed out. This is not a good sign. All the talk coming out of the White House that Hagel’s confirmation performance is still a problem and other complaints are mainly padding on a ruthless if necessary decision—necessary in the eyes of the president and his very closest aides. But this won’t help them fix their terrible problems in Iraq and Syria and—as is increasingly clear—Afghanistan. The senior adviser said to me Monday evening: “If Hagel had agreed with the White House he wouldn’t have been fired.”

Here’s how it looks to me. God, do all of these people suck. And out of the whole bunch, in and out of government, the one who sucks least is probably Chuck Hagel.

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Posted by DownWithTyranny on June 24th, 2014

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

And these lies and imbecilities come from a scumbag who should be living out the rest of his wretched existence in prison for his war crimes and crimes against humanity.

by Ken

It can’t be easy to be Dick Cheney. Even now, at his advanced age, in his precarious state of health, there are so many lies left to tell — and so little time to tell them in. And when you have a record as catastrophically dismal and overweeningly earth-destructive as his to obfuscate and explain away and cover up, that just makes it harder.

Still, you have to wonder what sort of human being is capable of this kind of “thinking”:

Possibly, of course, it’s just projection. He’s well aware that there are people in public life in the U.S. today who are evil at their very core and whose purpose for drawing breath is to turn the earth into the miasma of destruction, torment, and hate that they live in in their toxic heads. Unfortunately, perhaps because of his profound mental disabilities, he is unable to make the fundamental connection: Look! There in the mirror! There’s one of the human-hating Satanites.

As you know perfectly well, President Obama never said or so much as hinted at the time of the capture of bin Laden that the problem of terrorism was solved. That’s just your compulsive need to make up lies. What was true at the time of the capture of bin Laden was that it was something that, through either incompetence or lack of will, you worthless scumbags of the Bush Earth-Destruction Regime didn’t or couldn’t do. You know it, but something inside you just makes you lie your putrid guts out. It’s who and what you are.

The nonsense you spew is so childishly predictable. The demon Obama withdrew us from Iraq and is withdrawing us from without leaving forces behind and thereby creating “a big vacuum in the Middle East.” Let’s forget for a moment, Big Dick (and I do mean the Biggest Dick of Them All), the way you morons and sociopaths of the Bush Earth-Destruction Regime actually did leave Afghanistan behind for bin Laden and the Taliban — presumably so you could proceed to turn to the heroic task of turning Iraq into the shithole of your psychotic “dreams.”

You rattle off the list of groups filling that vacuum as if you know something about them, but of course as always you know nothing. Most of these are forces that you toxic scumbags of the Bush Earth-Destruction Regime did so much to make major players in the Middle East, even though you were warned by people who actually knew something about the Middle East that that would be the all but certain result.

But then, on a scale of zero to a kajillion, Big Dick knows diddly squat about Iraq or Afghanistan or any other frigging place on the planet. So it’s pointless to point out that he has zero clue as to how any problems in the Middle East might have been averted or even ameliorated. Because his specialty is creating problems that no amount of competence or good will could solve. He did everything in his considerable power to set forces in motion in the Middle East that would wind up, well, very much where they have wound up.

Then, of course, with such singularly scumbaggish lack of grace, he blames it all on somebody else.

Big Dick and his kind are creatures of such psychotic arrogance that they are probably literally incapable of receiving actual information and trying to figure out how it might be dealt with. Remember how he haunted the CIA rooting out all actual intelligence coming in from and about Iraq and forcing the analysts instead to rubber-stampe his lies and delusions?

Haven’t you done enough to turn the planet into living hell, Big Dick? Rot in hell.

I SUGGESTED THE OTHER DAY THAT IAN WELSH’S
POSTS OFFER A FRESH VIEW ON THE MIDDLE EAST

One that Big Dick might benefit from if he were actually interested in understanding what’s going on in the Middle East is “Military Effectiveness: ISIS, Taliban, Hezbollah,” which began:

I think it’s worth emphasizing that what we’ve seen over the past 30 years is a revolution in military affairs. New model militaries have arisen which are capable of fighting Western armies to a draw in irregular warfare, or even defeating them on the battlefield (Hezbollah v. Israel.) It’s not that guerrilla warfare wasn’t effective before (ask the Americans in Vietnam), it’s how stunningly cheap it has become and how brutally effective at area denial and attrition warfare.

As an example, Ian cited the transformative influence of IEDs.

With IEDs the cost for occupation soars, and entire areas of a country can be made no-go zones except for large groups of troops.

But just as bad is the cost-effectiveness. Western militaries are brutally costly. Islamic “militias” are cheap. The Taliban runs on blackmail and drugs, ISIS runs, to a large extent, on donations from rich Muslims along with some state support. These armies cost peanuts compared to the US or British or Israeli military. Nothing. And they are capable, at the least, of tying down Western militaries for years, bleeding them white and eventually winning. Hezbollah is capable of defeating, in battle, what was (before Hezbollah proved otherwise) widely considered one of the most effective militaries in the world.

“Americans keep thinking,” Ian wrote, “they can assassinate their way to victory. They can’t.”

In any actual effective organization, lower level people can fill the slot “above them, and the slot above that. A strong ideology, and strong doctrine means that leaders are replaceable. Western leaders don’t believe that because as a class they are narcissists, who think that leaders are something super-special. Almost no leaders are actually geniuses, for every Steve Jobs or Rommel, there are a hundred CEOS or Generals who are just effective drones. They don’t matter. Any reasonably bright person with a bit of experience could run their company or army corp just as well and almost certainly better. (Canadian troops were amongst the most effective in WWI in part because they weren’t professionals. So they did what worked.)

Western societies are hard to run precisely because we refuse to actually fix our problems. Temporizing, “managing” is hard. Fixing problems is a lot easier. I know, again, that most people don’t believe this, because they don’t remember ever living in a country that actually tried to fix problems, and have never worked for a company that wasn’t dysfunctional, but it is so true.

So the West uses assassination and highly expensive troops who don’t want to die and extensive surveillance. And the various Islamic militias, on budgets that aren’t even shoestring, survive and grow stronger. They are evolving: getting smarter all the time. They are Darwinian organizations: if you screw up, you die.

A military doctrine which is hundreds of times more expensive than its main competitor has problems. In general, in military affairs, effectiveness is more important than efficiency. But if your effectiveness doesn’t actually let you win, in the sense of making it so your enemies stop fighting, then efficiency will start to run against you.

The West is not unaware of this: drones are cheaper than planes, for example. Ground combat robots, which the army is working on hard, may be effectively cheaper than troops, as well as having the advantage of requiring fewer troops, meaning less danger to the elites and more likely to fire in the case of a revolution.

Finally, I note again, that I do not expect drones and the new ground combat robots (about 10 years out) to remain tools of the powerful for all that long. Competent technicians will be able to make home brew models fairly effectively and quickly.

Got that, Big Dick? Any of it? No, I didn’t think so.

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Posted by Just Foreign Policy on June 6th, 2014

From our partners at Just Foreign Policy

 If you want to understand why it’s the case that on the one hand the U.S. public and the majority of Congress turned against the war in Afghanistan a long time ago, and yet on the other hand, it’s been so hard to end the war, this week’s warmonger media storm against the diplomatic rescue of U.S. prisoner of war Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been very instructive.

It’s been known for years that a key step towards ending the war would be exchanging five Taliban prisoners of war at Guantanamo for the release of Sgt. Bergdahl.

There has never been any serious dispute of the case that this would be a key step towards ending the war. I challenge anyone to find a counter-example to my claim.

read more

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Posted by Just Foreign Policy on June 5th, 2014

From our partners at Just Foreign Policy

Tell us how your call to your Senator went using the form below.

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Posted by DownWithTyranny on June 4th, 2014

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

I just started reading Rick Pearlstein’s new book, The Invisible Bridge: That Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan. In the first chapter, he talks about who “America the Innocent” is “always searching for totems of a unity it can never quite achieve– even, or even especially, when its crises of disunity are most pressing: it is one of the structuring stories of our nation.” This leads to a look at the national orgy of self-congratulatory ecstasy and patriotic spectacle over “Operation Homecoming,” the release of the last American prisoners of war held in Vietnam.

One of the most quoted returning warriors was a colonel who noted all the signs reading “We Love You.” “In a deeper sense,” he said, “I think what people are saying is ‘We Love America.’” Another announced the greatest Vietnam miracle of all: that the POWs had won the Vietnam War. “I want you to remember that we walked out of Hanoi as winners. We are not coming home with our tails between our legs. We returned with honor.”

Pearlstein documents this kind of insipid glop for a few pages and then mentions that not all Americans were buying in. Long before an Australian neo-fascist ideologue and billionaire turned the New York Post into a crude scandal rag and an integral part of the Republican Party echo chamber, it was a respected liberal daily. Columnist Pete Hamill “pointed out that the vast majority of the prisoners were bomber pilots, and thus were ‘prisoners because they had committed unlawful acts’– killing civilians in an undeclared war.”

My natural instinct about the release of POW Bowe Bergdahl was to be happy for him and his family and to wonder if the U.S. had implanted tracking devices in the bodies of the 5 Taliban prisoners they had exchanged for him. I wondered if we’d ever find out. And then the Hate America Brigade at Fox News and the Republican Party went to work muddying the waters. Towards the end of the video above, from Maddow’s Monday show, there is the broader question Fox and the GOP don’t want to deal with: why can’t Obama just use the same powers he used to make the exchange to finally shut down the American gulag in Cuba? Fox News and Jason Chavitz may not want to deal with it, but Jason Leopold sure did.

Cori Crider, the strategic director for Reprieve, a U.K.-based human rights charity, said Monday that the transfer of the five inmates in exchange for P.O.W. Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. Army soldier, underscores that President Obama can move quickly to shutter Guantanamo if he has the political will to act.

“Many of these are being force-fed daily in a disgusting manner because they have been cleared so long they believe they will die in Gitmo,” Crider said. “Yet they could leave tomorrow with a stroke of Obama’s pen. Let’s hope this deal is a sign of more leadership from President Obama on letting the cleared men go home, too.”

When Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last December lawmakers gave Obama much more flexibility to transfer prisoners out of Guantanamo than they had in previous versions of the spending bill. The bill calls on the Secretary of Defense to notify Congress 30 days in advance of any transfer and outline the steps the administration has taken to ensure the detainee is not engaging in terrorist activities against the United States.

…It appears that Obama may have acted on the authority claimed from Congress in his signing statement when he turned over the five long-term detainees to the custody of Qatar.

…[White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin] Hayden also said the administration is “making progress on a number of additional promising opportunities” to hasten the closure of Guantanamo, consistent with a promise Obama made after he was sworn into office. She said 17 prisoners have been transferred since Obama gave a major counterterrorism speech in May 2013. While Hayden noted that Obama lifted the moratorium on the transfer of Yemeni detainees none have been repatriated. However, she said the administration is “now reviewing Yemeni detainees on a case-by-case basis.”

That said, don’t expect any parades for Bowe Bergdahl any time soon. Obama, in Warsaw Tuesday: “The United States has always had a pretty sacred rule, and that is: we don’t leave our men or women in uniform behind. Regardless of the circumstances, we still get an American soldier back if he’s held in captivity. Period. Full stop.” Are Republican politicians and the Fox Nation still part of that “we?” Not from what I’ve been able to see in the last few years since the American people had the temerity to elect (and reelect) a person of color to the White House, something the Republicans will never forgive them for.

UPDATE: Wins For Bonnie Watson Coleman & Pat Murphy

Blue America celebrated a huge victory tonight for progressive champion Bonnie Watson Coleman in NJ-12. AP called her 4-way race a few hours after the polls closed. With 99% of precincts reporting, Bonnie had 15,121 votes (43%) to Linda Greenstein’s 9,974 (28%). Bonnie, who was also endorsed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, will be replacing Rush Holt in Congress if she beats Republican Alieta Eck in November. If you’d like to help make sure she does, please consider contributing to her campaign here.

In Iowa’s open first congressional district, Blue America-endorsed Pat Murphy lasso won. AP just called the race for him. Right now, with 98% of precincts counted, Pat has 37% in the 5-person race. His closest competitor, Monica Vernon was polling 24%. Pat needs to score 35% to avoid a nominating convention.

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Posted by Peace Action West on May 29th, 2014

From our partners at Peace Action West

Our longest war just got even longer. 

President Obama just announced that the US will have boots on the ground in Afghanistan for another 2 ½ years. When Congress voted to authorize the war way back in 2001, they surely didn’t know they were authorizing a 15-year occupation.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has a bill calling for a congressional vote on any US troop presence in Afghanistan after 2014. As the senator said in response to the president’s announcement,“Automatic renewal is fine for Netflix and gym memberships, but it is not the right approach when it comes to war.”

Tell your senators to cosponsor this bill to make our voices heard about staying in Afghanistan.

While it’s encouraging that the administration is reducing the number of troops in Afghanistan and setting a clear timeline for withdrawal, it’s not good enough. 9,800 troops is 9,800 too many, and we need our tax dollars here at home.

Our friends in the House tried to bring up a similar amendment last week, but the Republican leadership was too afraid to watch the antiwar sentiment play out on the floor and blocked a vote.We need to turn to the Senate now and make sure they fight for more oversight over the war.

Click here to tell your senators to cosponsor Sen. Merkley’s bill for a vote on Afghanistan.

Children who were in elementary school when this war began are now old enough to fight in it. It’s well past time to stop risking lives and wasting tax dollars in Afghanistan.

Thank you for speaking out.

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Posted by Just Foreign Policy on May 21st, 2014

From our partners at Just Foreign Policy

We have an opportunity this week to push for the repeal of the 2001 AUMF. The Schiff-Garamendi amendment (#21) to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would sunset the AUMF twelve months after the adoption of the bill.

Call your Representative TODAY at 1-855-686-6927 and say

I urge Rep. ____ to support the Schiff-Garamendi amendment #21 to the NDAA to repeal the 2001 authorization for the use of military force when the amendment comes to a vote on the House floor. The AUMF has been used as the legal justification for 13 years of war in Afghanistan, the prison at Guantanamo Bay, and an expanding drone war.

When you’re done, report your call below.

[Note: the text of the amendment is here:
http://amendments-rules.house.gov/amendments/SCHIFF_051_xml5191409432743...
the amendment will be considered as "Amendment #21" on the House floor. It was listed as amendment #262 when it was considered by the Rules Committee. That list is here:

http://rules.house.gov/bill/113/hr-4435]

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Posted by DownWithTyranny on April 22nd, 2014

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

Barbara Lee made history– captured on the video above– when she displayed the guts to stand up and say “NO” to Bush/Cheney’s rush to war against Afghanistan in the wake of the 9-11 attack that embarrassed them and exposed their incompetence. She was the only Member of Congress to do so. The war in Afghanistan has the distinction of being the longest-lasting war in American history. Usually forgotten by the media, it’s still in progress. Last week Rep. Lee penned an OpEd for USA Today, Bring All Our Troops Home:

After nearly 13 years of war in Afghanistan, it is past time for all of our troops to return. It is also time to heed one of the war’s most important lessons: Some problems cannot be solved at the point of a gun.

…We can and should play a supportive role along with others in the international community, but not by making the longest war in U.S. history even longer. Our troops have done more than enough; it is time for them to come home.

A future of hope and opportunity for Afghanistan begins with the full withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Today Rep. Lee announced that her Barbara Lee Progressive PAC’s top 8 priorities for congressional action starts with “Bringing an end to perpetual war, saving trillions of dollars and millions of lives.” And in conjunction with that announcement comes another– her first endorsement of a challenger for the 2014 cycle, fellow Californian and fellow peace advocate, Lee Rogers. “Lee,” she said, “is a doctor, a thinker, a progressive Democrat– and, he can win. He’s running in California’s 25th Congressional District (Simi Valley-Santa Clarita area). It’s an open seat. And, the Nate Silver number crunchers say that it’s a district where Democrats can win. So help us put a progressive like Lee Rogers in it. She send this message out to her own followers today:

Want to know just how much of an ally Lee Rogers will be in Congress? Consider his philosophical approach from his website:

“Congressional insiders and K Street power brokers sold the well-being of our country in exchange for special deals and political favors.



”All this must stop. It must stop NOW! No more deals, no more special favors, no more double talk and political speak. It’s time to level with the voters, tell them the truth and get to the job of fixing the problems and restoring the promise of America.”


This is the kind of fighting Democrat I need working beside progressives like Keith Ellison, Raul Grijalva, Alan Grayson and me in the House. I’m contributing to Lee. And, I hope you will too.

For his part, Dr. Rogers said he is proud of the backing his campaign is getting from the California powerhouse. “I’m honored to be endorsed by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, someone who is always on the right side of the moral issues of the day. As a doctor, I must use the highest standard of ethics when treating patients. I’ll make sure to bring those same ethics to Washington. I look forward to working with Congresswoman Lee to improve the lives of those in my district and our country.”

This week Blue America is encouraging progressives to contribute to Barbara Lee’s and Lee Rogers’ campaigns by offering one randomly selected donor who gives on this page (any amount) a rare, signed Beatles portrait by the band’s favorite photographer, Robert Freeman, who shot 5 album covers for them starting in 1963. The iconic image on the cover of With The Beatles, personally signed by Freeman, is the one we are giving away this week. The image is 32″ x 24″ and perfect for framing.

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Posted by DownWithTyranny on March 26th, 2014

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

Unless you read your NY Times in Pakistan, where the story was disappeared, you probably read about how the Pakistanis knew exactly where Osama bin-Laden was while they took billions of dollars in American aid and pretended to be looking for him. This wasn’t really a secret, just another manifestation of the expensive dysfunction that the U.S. spy agencies have always been. Right from the beginning. Failure, failure, failure– and billions and billions and unknowable billions of dollars wasted. The spy agencies aren’t worth shit– except for unconstitutional spying on American citizens.

Carlotta Gall, a Times correspondent who spent 12 years in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attack, excerpted parts of her upcoming book, The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014 for her Times Magazine piece on March 19, “What Pakistan Knew About Bin Laden.” She knew all along– as anyone remotely aware of history knew– that the authors of Afghanistan’s misery were located in Afghanistan, very much under the control of Pakistan’s notorious local version of the CIA, the ISI, and the extremist “religious” schools or madrassas. Furthermore, bolstering all the circumstantial evidence, a former ISI chief and retired general, Ziauddin Butt, told her that he thought Musharraf had arranged to hide Bin Laden in Abbottabad.

“The madrasas are a cover, a camouflage,” a Pashtun legislator from the area told me. Behind the curtain, hidden in the shadows, lurked the ISI.

The Pakistani government, under President Pervez Musharraf and his intelligence chief, Lt. Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, was maintaining and protecting the Taliban, both to control the many groups of militants now lodged in the country and to use them as a proxy force to gain leverage over and eventually dominate Afghanistan. The dynamic has played out in ways that can be hard to grasp from the outside, but the strategy that has evolved in Pakistan has been to make a show of cooperation with the American fight against terrorism while covertly abetting and even coordinating Taliban, Kashmiri and foreign Qaeda-linked militants. The linchpin in this two-pronged and at times apparently oppositional strategy is the ISI. It’s through that agency that Pakistan’s true relationship to militant extremism can be discerned– a fact that the United States was slow to appreciate, and later refused to face directly, for fear of setting off a greater confrontation with a powerful Muslim nation.

…The story they didn’t want out in the open was the government’s covert support for the militant groups that were propagating terrorism in Afghanistan and beyond… After years of nurturing jihadists to fight its proxy wars, Pakistan was now experiencing the repercussions. “We could not control them,” a former senior intelligence official told a colleague and me six months after the Red Mosque siege.

…Yet even as the militants were turning against their masters, Pakistan’s generals still sought to use them for their own purpose, most notoriously targeting Pakistan’s first female prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, who was preparing to fly home from nearly a decade in exile in the fall of 2007. Bhutto had forged a deal with Musharraf that would allow him to resign as army chief but run for another term as president, while clearing the way for her to serve as prime minister. Elections were scheduled for early 2008.

Bhutto had spoken out more than any other Pakistani politician about the dangers of militant extremism. She blamed foreign militants for annexing part of Pakistan’s territory and called for military operations into Waziristan. She declared suicide bombing un-Islamic and seemed to be challenging those who might target her. “I do not believe that any true Muslim will make an attack on me because Islam forbids attacks on women, and Muslims know that if they attack a woman, they will burn in hell,” she said on the eve of her return.

She also promised greater cooperation with Afghanistan and the United States in combating terrorism and even suggested in an interview that she would give Western officials access to the man behind Pakistan’s program of nuclear proliferation, A. Q. Khan.

President Karzai of Afghanistan warned Bhutto that his intelligence service had learned of threats against her life. Informers had told the Afghans of a meeting of army commanders– Musharraf and his 10 most-powerful generals– in which they discussed a militant plot to have Bhutto killed.

On Oct. 18, 2007, Bhutto flew into Karachi. I was one of a crowd of journalists traveling with her. She wore religious amulets and offered prayers as she stepped onto Pakistani soil. Hours later, as she rode in an open-top bus through streets of chanting supporters, two huge bombs exploded, tearing police vans, bodyguards and party followers into shreds. Bhutto survived the blast, but some 150 people died, and 400 were injured.

Bhutto claimed that Musharraf had threatened her directly, and Karzai again urged her to take more precautions, asking his intelligence service to arrange an armored vehicle for her equipped with jammers to block the signals of cellphones, which are often used to detonate bombs. In the meantime, Bhutto pressed on with her campaign, insisting on greeting crowds of supporters from the open top of her vehicle.

In late December, a group of militants, including two teenage boys trained and primed to commit suicide bombings, arrived at the Haqqania madrasa in the northwestern town of Akora Khattak. The madrasa is a notorious establishment, housing 3,000 students in large, whitewashed residence blocks. Ninety-five percent of the Taliban fighting in Afghanistan have passed through its classrooms, a spokesman for the madrasa proudly told me. Its most famous graduate is Jalaluddin Haqqani, a veteran Afghan mujahedeen commander whose network has become the main instrument for ISI-directed attacks in Kabul and eastern Afghanistan.

The two young visitors who stopped for a night at the madrasa were escorted the next day to Rawalpindi, where Bhutto would be speaking at a rally on Dec. 27. As her motorcade left the rally, it slowed so she could greet supporters in the street. One of the two teenagers fired a pistol at her and then detonated his vest of explosives. Bhutto was standing in the roof opening of an armored S.U.V. She ducked into the vehicle at the sound of the gunfire, but the explosion threw the S.U.V. forward, slamming the edge of the roof hatch into the back of her head with lethal force. Bhutto slumped down into the vehicle, mortally wounded, and fell into the lap of her confidante and constant chaperone, Naheed Khan.

As Bhutto had long warned, a conglomeration of opponents wanted her dead and were all linked in some way. They were the same forces behind the insurgency in Afghanistan: Taliban and Pakistani militant groups and Al Qaeda, as well as the Pakistani military establishment, which included the top generals, Musharraf and Kayani. A United Nations Commission of Inquiry into the circumstances of Bhutto’s death found that each group had a motive and merited investigation.

Pakistani prosecutors later indicted Musharraf on charges of being part of a wider conspiracy to remove Bhutto from the political scene. There was “overwhelming circumstantial evidence” that he did not provide her with adequate security because he wanted to ensure her death in an inevitable assassination attempt, the chief state prosecutor in her murder trial, Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, told me. (Musharraf denied the accusations.) A hard-working, hard-charging man, Ali succeeded in having Musharraf arrested and was pushing to speed up the trial when he was shot to death on his way to work in May 2013.

Ali had no doubts that the mastermind of the plot to kill Bhutto was Al Qaeda. “It was because she was pro-American, because she was a strong leader and a nationalist,” he told me. A Pakistani security official who interviewed some of the suspects in the Bhutto case and other militants detained in Pakistan’s prisons came to the same conclusion. The decision to assassinate Bhutto was made at a meeting of the top council of Al Qaeda, the official said.

It took more than three years before the depth of Pakistan’s relationship with Al Qaeda was thrust into the open and the world learned where Bin Laden had been hiding, just a few hundred yards from Pakistan’s top military academy. In May 2011, I drove with a Pakistani colleague down a road in Abbottabad until we were stopped by the Pakistani military. We left our car and walked down a side street, past several walled houses and then along a dirt path until there it was: Osama bin Laden’s house, a three-story concrete building, mostly concealed behind concrete walls as high as 18 feet, topped with rusting strands of barbed wire. This was where Bin Laden hid for nearly six years, and where, 30 hours earlier, Navy SEAL commandos shot him dead in a top-floor bedroom.

…Soon after the Navy SEAL raid on Bin Laden’s house, a Pakistani official told me that the United States had direct evidence that the ISI chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, knew of Bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad. The information came from a senior United States official, and I guessed that the Americans had intercepted a phone call of Pasha’s or one about him in the days after the raid. “He knew of Osama’s whereabouts, yes,” the Pakistani official told me. The official was surprised to learn this and said the Americans were even more so. Pasha had been an energetic opponent of the Taliban and an open and cooperative counterpart for the Americans at the ISI. “Pasha was always their blue-eyed boy,” the official said. But in the weeks and months after the raid, Pasha and the ISI press office strenuously denied that they had any knowledge of Bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad.

Colleagues at The Times began questioning officials in Washington about which high-ranking officials in Pakistan might also have been aware of Bin Laden’s whereabouts, but everyone suddenly clammed up. It was as if a decision had been made to contain the damage to the relationship between the two governments. “There’s no smoking gun,” officials in the Obama administration began to say.

…America’s failure to fully understand and actively confront Pakistan on its support and export of terrorism is one of the primary reasons President Karzai has become so disillusioned with the United States. As American and NATO troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of this year, the Pakistani military and its Taliban proxy forces lie in wait, as much a threat as any that existed in 2001… Pakistani security officials, political analysts, journalists and legislators warned of the same thing. The Pakistani military was still set on dominating Afghanistan and was still determined to use the Taliban to exert influence now that the United States was pulling out.

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Posted by DownWithTyranny on February 20th, 2014

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

The great Barbara Lee (D-Oakland)

I met the Doors in 1967 when they were recording their first album in New York. They had a residency in a tiny, little known club under the 59th Street bridge, Ondine’s and I went… every night. I became friends with Morrison– we were the only two people around crazy enough to use DMT– and I invited the band to play at Stony Brook, where I was chairman of the Student Activities Board, after the summer break. I offered them $400, thinking a Doors concert would be a lovely way to welcome everyone back to campus. I met Tim Buckley and Jackson Browne, kids around my age, at a Velvets show on St. Marks place and I gave Tim the opening slot for The Doors show. In the interim “Light My Fire” was released and became a smash and some of the students thought I was brilliant. Not all though. The president of the sophomore class, thought I had wasted $400 in student fees. You can’t please everybody. He started a petition to impeach me. It failed. The people who voted to impeach probably weren’t happy that I brought the Dead, the Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Otis Redding, Big Brother, the Byrds, or any of that stuff to the campus. In retrospective, though, everyone loved the concert series at Stony Brook.


Today, a majority of Americans– finally– are ready to admit the war against Afghanistan was a mistake. “For the first time since the U.S. initially became involved in Afghanistan in 2001,” reported Gallup this morning, “Americans are as likely to say U.S. military involvement there was a mistake as to say it was not.” It took a lot longer for the majority of Americans to realize that than it did for them to realize that U.S. attacks on Korea, Vietnam and Iraq were mistakes– 13 years in Afghanistan, only 5 months in Korea, 2 years in ‘Nam, and a year in Iraq. Barbara Lee (D-CA), however, realized it before it even started. In fact, Barbara Lee was the only Member of Congress to realize it– or at least to act on that realization by voting NO. On September 14, 2001, just before midnight, the House voted to give Bush and Cheney the authorization to attack Afghanistan. It passed 420-1.

Barbara Lee is pretty well marginalized by our political elite today and the people who brought us the disastrous war are lionized and rewarded. Even among Democrats, who came to the realization sooner than others that attacking and destroying Afghanistan was a mistake, Lee hasn’t been honored or respected. When a corrupt shit-head, Joe Crowley– in fact, the single most corrupt Member of the House Democratic caucus– decided it was time for him to climb the House leadership ladder by running for vice chair of the caucus, a position that puts him on the road to the Speakership, he ran against Barbara Lee. His support– from fellow corruptionists, many of whom he had bribed– was so solid that Barbara withdrew before the vote.

Crowley, of course, had voted for the attack on Afghanistan. He was wrong; Lee was right. But he got the job. Things ended better for me. The Doors and Hendrix and The Dead and all those bands I booked at my school before they were “big,” got big. I wound up the president of what they called “a major label”– and was well-rewarded for being right then and right about punk rock in the late ’70s when other record company executives were laughing at it and behaving just like Joe Crowley. Is the Democratic Party doomed? Absolutely… just useless. How could anyone even think about voting for a Democrat– not just a bottom of the barrel Democrat like Wendy Greuel, but even the best the Democratic Party has to offer, like Ted Lieu– when there’s an independent alternative along the lines of Bernie Sanders. This is from an OpEd yesterday by Marianne Williamson, the independent progressive running for the CA-33 seat Henry Waxman is abandoning.

The fact that a few self-appointed arbiters of who-gets-to-run-and-who-gets-to-play – whether in the area of politics, education, economics or anything else – know they have it in the bag because they hang out with others in the same gang, and they own the system, and they control the media, and they go to the same dinner parties, does not mean that we cannot disenthrall ourselves of their mental filter. And that is all, I assure you, that keeps the lock in place. It is not their money, or even their connections, that makes them masters of our universe. It is the simple fact that we are not laughing at them, but are lining up for their approval instead.

So regardless of whether or not you agree with my political vision, plan to vote for me or support my candidacy, I hope you will join me in recognizing that something is fundamentally wrong when any group of people, including any political party, thinks it’s theirs to decide who will be taken seriously, who will have a shot at power, and who will be considered a viable candidate.

That is not their job. That is your job. And if you do agree with my politics and you do wish to see me in office, I hope you will write more of your friends to tell them about my candidacy than you might have; post my website more times on your social media than you might have; and give a couple more bucks to the campaign than you might have. We’re trying to penetrate a system here, and it is dense. It is energetic. And it is not amused by free thinkers.

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