Honoring the Oath … Who really DOES it?

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

We have far too many “officials” and appointees in unelected positions of power whose  personal views hardly support any democracy as we know it. In fact, many tied to our corporate Oligarchy outright oppose the democratic process. They see it as antithetical to their personal and class hegemony. How can THEY make the rules if all citizens get to participate in deciding our fate? No sooner do they get appointed or sworn in, than they totally disregard that Constitution they swore to defend and protect — merely that “piece of paper” (as president “W” famously referred to it) … upon which the nation was founded.

It’s amazing that so few seemingly sincere “patriots” don’t seem to SEE that …

Some among us have shown the desire to CHANGE that. Most notably, Bernie tried for a while not so long ago, and found a following … of millions.

Way too FEW in our military &/or executive have respected that oath so many like to cite. They use their “authority” as THEY re-define it, cleaning their feet on that “piece of paper” — the Constitution — they swore to defend. They twist words, and occupy authority they do not have. It is part of believing ultimately in physical force as some kind of “divine” justification. Cave men, short of wisdom and real morals.

• Take, for example: Henry Kissinger … a model of vision & integrity. Right? Admiring or recommending HIM … by itself … disqualifies the moral judgment of anyone wanting to be a leader of a democratic U.S. That has been true for decades.

— They constantly warn us against foreign threats & demand billions from us for our “defense”, while ignoring, protecting, or even aiding much more serious DOMESTIC threats … to our people, stability, economy, environment, well-being and to the democratic process itself.

— Sadly, that OATH itself has become but “piece of paper” as banksters & other unelected power-brokers rob us blind and usurp authority while buying up our laws, lawyers, media, and elections … with total impunity. No questioning, no warnings, no indictments. Only … rewards, … oh, they might pay an occasional fine perhaps. U.S. prisons are for dope smokers, the out-of-work, minority critics, and whistleblowers, not Constitution-trashers. This is not mere speculation … but rather simple, sad observation.

Syria: Once again, the attack is upon us, as well.

Friday, September 6th, 2013

Words are what have gotten Obama into a difficult dilemma according to an article by Prof. Adil Shamoo, Forget Red Lines: Obama Should Eat His Words on Syria (in Foreign Policy in Focus via CommonDreams ). He should never have toyed with the “RedLine” metaphor and created the challenge to his credibility. That’s wrong, I’m afraid. That analysis is too personal about Obama, and almost forgiving. This is much bigger than one man, and one narrow focus on an incident.

credibility-msg-kid-dunesThis ain’t about words, Prof. Shamoo. Not directly. Not the words being said. Though it DOES concern a considerable LACK of, and misuse of, words. Far too much remains unspoken, unknowable to an anxious world, and specifically to a nation expected to foot the bills and suffer the consequences of this latest iteration of World Moral Police Syndrome.

The U.S. desire and willingness to go and engage militarily in Syria has its own impetus which is simply not being stated. The wordly debate and Congressional charade is ONLY about FINDING the verbal justifications/excuses that will satisfy enough Americans’ anxieties to “get away with” moving forward — strong enough to mask the real intentions, whatever they may be (proximity to Iran, most likely). It smacks of the period of WMD’s and mushroom clouds which preceded the invasion of Iraq.

Face it. Rather than poorly chosen words, this is all about hypocrisy and lies, and masking the true faces and motivations of the decision-makers, and decision-making institutions. It’s all just behind the Blue Curtain. Our fate in the hands of a closed Mystery Inquisitorial Collective, shaping the destinies of peoples, and the destinations of resources. Any wonder why they are SO concerned with secrecy? The U.S. has quite a long history of using, storing, selling and delivering varieties of chemical weapons used in at least Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq. THAT’S the Hypocrisy and lies part missing from the sweet-sounding public words. Oh such false indignation in Kerry’s words. Has he no shame? As to WHO ELSE is behind this, and WHY (and I don’t mean the elected officials who may end up backing it, but rather the faceless ones who are twisting their arms or lining their pockets), THAT is the real reason they are putting whistleblowers in jails, while giving preemptive pardons to war criminals.

Death, pain and destruction in a foreign land, silence in your own. Here we go, making new friends again. Is this not enough to shame the moral patina from the pretenses coming out of the mouths of our so-called leaders. Why aren’t the churches admonishing the war-makers? Clearly, Death and Destruction is fine if done THEIR way, but telling the public about it or filming it and publishing details online can put one in jail.

Newspeak — words, not as meaningful concepts, but as flimsy shields to deflect unwanted criticism and complications from exposing often vicious plans.

That our supposedly law-abiding officials who swore an oath to a Constitution they repeatedly ignore and dilute, feel neither the need for national consensus to do something that further destroys our domestic economy and breaks international treaties which we have signed into law, and, in fact, may violate the current national consensus, is a worrisome large-scale departure from the rule of law and democratic principles. Only wisdom and knowledge is required to find solutions, not ego-posturing and macho brinksmanship. This is as embarrassing as it is dangerous.

Severe distortion over “patriotism.”

Monday, December 26th, 2011

“Severe” is actually mild. Those that overuse the term, like to define it for the rest of us. It is past time for the 99% to re-appropriate our own vocabulary, and use it as we  see fit to describe a world of living beings, not just of things and territories.

I’d first like to make clear these thoughts on the Manning “case” that Prof. Cohn writes about:

What MORE could you do FOR your country than expose the lies and deceit meted out by usurping power brokers at the top.

ALL the talk about the Founding Fathers, freedom, the Constitution, Bill of Rights and so on which functioned as a socio-political “glue” and Narrative for over 2 centuries, is personified by the selfless acts of Bradley Manning, a man to be respected, admired, emulated — and FREED.

common_dreams-logo

Published on Sunday, December 25, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

Bradley Manning: A Hero, Not a Traitor

by Marjorie Cohn

The end of U.S. military involvement in Iraq coincided with Bradley Manning’s military hearing to determine whether he will face court-martial for exposing U.S. war crimes by leaking hundreds of thousands of pages of classified documents to Wikileaks. In fact, there is a connection between the leaks and U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq.

When he announced that the last U.S. troops would leave Iraq by year’s end, President Barack Obama declared the nine-year war a “success” and “an extraordinary achievement.” He failed to mention why he opposed the Iraq war from the beginning. He didn’t say that it was built on lies about mushroom clouds and non-existent ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. Obama didn’t cite the Bush administration’s “Plan for Post-Saddam Iraq,” drawn up months before 9/11, about which Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill reported that actual plans “were already being discussed to take over Iraq and occupy it – complete with disposition of oil fields, peacekeeping forces, and war crimes tribunals – carrying forward an unspoken doctrine of preemptive war.”

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also defended the war in Iraq, making the preposterous claim that, “As difficult as [the Iraq war] was,” including the loss of American and Iraqi lives, “I think the price has been worth it, to establish a stable government in a very important region of the world.”

The price that Panetta claims is worth it includes the deaths of nearly 4,500 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. It includes untold numbers wounded – with Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – and suicides, as well as nearly $1 trillion that could have prevented the economic disaster at home.

The price of the Iraq war also includes thousands of men who have been subjected to torture and abuse in places like Abu Ghraib prison. It includes the 2005 Haditha Massacre, in which U.S. Marines killed 24 unarmed civilians execution-style. It includes the Fallujah Massacre, in which U.S. forces killed 736 people, at least 60% of them women and children. It includes other war crimes committed by American troops in Qaim, Taal Al Jal, Mukaradeeb, Mahmudiya, Hamdaniyah, Samarra, Salahuddin, and Ishaqi.

The price of that war includes two men killed by the Army’s Lethal Warriors in Al Doura, Iraq, with no evidence that they were insurgents or posed a threat. One man’s brains were removed from his head and another man’s face was skinned after he was killed by Lethal Warriors. U.S. Army Ranger John Needham, who was awarded two purple hearts and three medals for heroism, wrote to military authorities in 2007 reporting war crimes that he witnessed being committed by his own command and fellow Lethal Warriors in Al Doura. His charges were supported by atrocity photos which have been released by Pulse TV and Maverick Media in the new video by Cindy Piester, “On the Dark Side in Al Doura – A Soldier in the Shadows.” [http://vimeo.com/33755968]. CBS reported obtaining an Army document from the Criminal Investigation Command suggestive of an investigation into these war crimes allegations. The Army’s conclusion was that the “offense of War Crimes did not occur.”

One of the things Manning is alleged to have leaked is the “Collateral Murder” video which depicts U.S. forces in an Apache helicopter killing 12 unarmed civilians, including two Reuters journalists, and wounding two children. People trying to rescue the wounded were also fired upon and killed. A U.S. tank drove over one body, cutting the man in half.

The actions of American soldiers shown in that video amount to war crimes under the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit targeting civilians, preventing the rescue of the wounded, and defacing dead bodies.

Obama proudly took credit for ending U.S. military involvement in Iraq. But he had tried for months to extend it beyond the December 31, 2011 deadline his predecessor negotiated with the Iraqi government. Negotiations between Obama and the Iraqi government broke down when Iraq refused to grant criminal and civil immunity to U.S. troops.

It was after seeing evidence of war crimes such as those depicted in “Collateral Murder” and the “Iraq War Logs,” also allegedly leaked by Manning, that the Iraqis refused to immunize U.S. forces from prosecution for their future crimes. When I spoke with Tariq Aqrawi, Iraq’s ambassador to the United Nations, at a recent international human rights film festival in Vienna, he told me that if they granted immunity to Americans, they would have to do the same for other countries as well.

Manning faces more than 30 charges, including “aiding the enemy” and violations of the Espionage Act, which carry the death penalty. After a seven day hearing, during which the prosecution presented evidence that Manning leaked cables and documents, there was no evidence that leaked information imperiled national security or that Manning intended to aid the enemy with his actions.

On the contrary, in an online chat attributed to Manning, he wrote, “If you had free reign over classified networks… and you saw incredible things, awful things… things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC… what would you do?”

He went on to say, “God knows what happens now.  Hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms… I want people to see the truth… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.“

Manning has been held for 19 months in military custody. During the first nine months, he was kept in solitary confinement, which is considered torture as it can lead to hallucinations, catatonia and suicide. He was humiliated by being stripped naked and paraded before other inmates.

The U.S. government considers Manning one of America’s most dangerous traitors. Months ago, Obama spoke of Manning as if he had been proved guilty, saying, “he broke the law.” But Manning has not been tried, and is presumed innocent in the eyes of the law. If Manning had committed war crimes instead of exposing them, he would be a free man today. If he had murdered civilians and skinned them alive, he would not be facing the death penalty.

Besides helping to end the Iraq war, the leaked cables helped spark the Arab Spring. When people in Tunisia read cables revealing corruption by the ruling family there, they took to the streets.

If Manning did what he is accused of doing, he should not be tried as a criminal. He should be hailed as a national hero, much like Daniel Ellsberg, whose release of the Pentagon Papers helped to expose the government’s lies and end the Vietnam War.

Marjorie Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and past President of the National Lawyers Guild, is the deputy secretary general for external communications of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists. She is the author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and co-author of Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent (with Kathleen Gilberd). Her anthology, The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse, is now available. Her articles are archived at www.marjoriecohn.comArticle printed from www.CommonDreams.org

Source URL: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/25

Thanks for the Warning, Paul

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

On Friday, November 4, 2011, Paul Krugman published in the New York Times an article entitled, “Oligarchy, American Style” which pointed to the increasing concentration of wealth and power in the US. We definitely need more critical thought in our media. While Krugman is not the only “liberal” economist or columnist to recently come out swinging about the crisis in which the US, and frankly the world, finds itself, I was prompted to write this response, which might easily have been addressed to other commentators who are now increasingly concerned with the nation’s economic and political health and welfare, and disturbed by seeming inaction in Washington.


Well, it’s “awful nice” when someone with a reputation comes out and says the truth. Thank you, Paul.

In terms of the Reality of this situation, however, this seems to be a case of Too Little Too Late.

Why this late warning? The situation has become DIRE. It has been growing dire for … decades. What here was not calculable, predictable, visible long ago?

Why DIRE?

… because “Decision-Making” in America has become largely a question of Commerce and arm-twisting (when not neck-twisting — to the snapping point). People — many people — actually DIE due to this oligarchic little secret about who gets to decide nearlyeverything (food, water & air quality, medical treatment, what flows in our bloodstreams, who goes to jail, who can get into school, who gets a job or a house, should we go to war, etc.). Lobbyist-driven, rubber-stamping Congress Folk put on a spectacle, but who gets truly represented in this show? I don’t think it’s you or me.

So, what are we supposed to DO now if we want to save this “Democracy-Thingy” you say is now threatened?

During, lo, these decades of growing political encroachment on our lives and successive governments by the one-tenth-percent, exactly which of our political institutions even mentioned the danger to the Public, or suggested Resistance, or offered a Remedy? The Democratic Party — in which you and so many others seem to rely for “fairness” or something — not only did NOT point out to America that this derailment was taking place, but instead, chose to cover up the situation — PLUS they silenced or attacked anyone who dared bring up this uncomfortable topic of lost freedoms and usurped decision-making. To complicate this compromise, the “lesser-of-two-evils” party never saw a War-Machine Handout Benefit they didn’t just love, bless their patriotic souls. Trying, ever soooo hard, apparently, to keep America safe.

Anyone who commented on this sorry situation AS it was actually occurring over the decades, was ignored, called a kook or worse. Much worse. Witness Ralph Nader, Noam Chompsky, Howard Zinn, Cynthia McKinney, Dennis Kucinich and others. So, now that the house is ON fire, we get liberals suggesting maybe it’s time we switch to lighter clothing because the heat is getting a bit intense. Thanks.

So. WHAT Democracy is it, Mr. Krugman, that is in danger of being lost, hmmmm? Are we talking abut the same thing here? The one I know about, the one outlined in our Constitution, has been absent a LONG time…

The ‘Bailout’ & the Crisis of Democracy

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

I am no economist, but it seems to me that this “financial emergency” is fundamentally a CRISIS OF DEMOCRACY. There is nothing in this “bailout” scenario that has not been predicted and avoidable for decades. People with experience and offering sane and healthy analyses, who spoke and wrote of the dangers being incurred were ignored, ridiculed or scorned. Certainly not given airtime nor column space in major media to explain their concerns nor to connect the dots.

There is absolutely NO intention of this “government” — and the corporate lobbyists that fund and write the legislation for them, who influence and buy legislators, and who “regulate” their own ventures — to allow the People to have either:

1. first-hand, un”regulated” or uncensored knowledge of what actually goes on, or what/how/by whom decisions are made.

2. a free press that engages the public and discusses and questions situations as well as alternatives.

3. a free electoral system that requires a majority to win or allows such a simple notion as alternative views and political organization (i.e. other parties) with both the right and “permission” to speak freely and in the open, with actual access to the public’s airwaves.

Forget Public Funding of Elections.

The “Free Marketeers” who have so brazenly lied to us, lo these decades (centuries?), about how their ideology and intentions lead to freedom, admit no Free Market of Ideas, eliminating candidates from National Debates, allowing no television time for smaller candidacies (even though nations such as Brazil and Mexico somehow manage to do), preventing any real dialogue, exchange of ideas IN MUCH THE SAME WAY AS their Phony “Free Market” Rules and rigged games they play, that ALWAYS end up with us, the taxpayers, bailing out their failed “plans” (schemes?) AFTER the usually unpunished perpetrators have taken out and stashed away their private profits. It’s time to realize: this is a wholesale Criminal Enterprise masquerading as a government, while bad-mouthing (when not physically attacking) ANYTHING representing truly democratic or representative ideas from and by the governed.

No, our most common enemies of democracy are not conspiring to smash aircraft into our symbols of power. They have no need for that. They are circulating freely in the corridors of power in our Agencies, Capitol and White House. They sit behind microphones and in front of cameras that blanket the nation with innuendo, false images of humanity and science, disinformation, vitriol and hatred. They take what they want, prey on the weak, and plot to silence those who might object. They cover their actions and trails with “patriotic” emotional rhetoric spread by giant media networks with whom they share power. This is not democracy in ANY sense of the word. It is a Cosmetic Democracy at best.

Let us not forget, too, folks like Nancy Pelosi and her duplicitous and effectively traitorous gang of enablers who use the romantic and nostalgic falsehoods of a supposed Democratic Party “legacy” (that of supporting working people) to quietly shut up, shut down and neutralize the efforts of exactly those elements in our society (anti-war movement, veterans, women’s groups, labor, impeachment advocates, etc.) who actually WOULD stand up to defend our REAL democratic principles.

We must also question the sense of all those people of good will, still IN the Democratic Party (or so self-identifying), who have willingly allowed themselves to be used and fooled time and time again, accepting “lesser-of-two-evilism” as the Norm and Rule, having demanded NOTHING of the duplicitous neo-liberal usurped “leadership” of that political party, and having lowered both their expectations and their pants to that “leadership”, without getting a single meaningful concession in their favor that supports the American People or our Constitution.

This has gone on for decades now.

Those of you who have tolerated and even supported this should be ashamed and embarrassed. You have willingly allowed the oligarchy of this nation to use the artifice of a “second flavor” of Capital, the Democratic Party, to fool, use and abuse both you AND this nation, wasting your time and our democratic potentiality.

If you truly are progressive, it is time to take up the real and active defense of Democracy, insist on Impeachment (there is still time), restore the Constitution (there may be still time), and BAIL OUT of that phony Party to build a new one with its feet firmly planted in Democracy.

This may hurt some to realize, but…it is too late for the Democratic Party — they have already effectively betrayed the nation. They have stood by and watched (when not aiding and abetting) the worst elements of our society rape and pillage our nation and ravage others across the globe — and done nothing — other than shout down those who begged them to act on behalf of the people.

There IS NO legacy to save.

This whole supposed “government,” propped up by officials of both “Official Parties” is really an illegal occupation of Governmental Positions and Roles by people who hate government because when it works, it represents ordinary people. They work hard to see representative government destroyed and replaced by an oligarchic-corporate fiat in the guise of government, touting “freedom” and “democracy” as no more than brand names and slogans.