Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Outed - A new Hero in the fight against the anti-Christ

U.S. Intelligence Analyst Arrested in Wikileaks Video Probe

Federal officials have arrested an Army intelligence analyst who boasted of giving classified U.S. combat video and hundreds of thousands of classified State Department records to whistleblower site Wikileaks, Wired.com has learned.

SPC Bradley Manning, 22, of Potomac, Maryland, was stationed at Forward Operating Base Hammer, 40 miles east of Baghdad, where he was arrested nearly two weeks ago by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division. A family member says he’s being held in custody in Kuwait, and has not been formally charged.

Manning was turned in late last month by a former computer hacker with whom he spoke online. In the course of their chats, Manning took credit for leaking a headline-making video of a helicopter attack that Wikileaks posted online in April. The video showed a deadly 2007 U.S. helicopter air strike in Baghdad that claimed the lives of several innocent civilians.

He said he also leaked three other items to Wikileaks: a separate video showing the notorious 2009 Garani air strike in Afghanistan that Wikileaks has previously acknowledged is in its possession; a classified Army document evaluating Wikileaks as a security threat, which the site posted in March; and a previously unreported breach consisting of 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables that Manning described as exposing “almost criminal political back dealings.”

“Hillary Clinton, and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public,” Manning wrote.

Read More http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/06/leak/#ixzz0qFmPtgxf

Thursday, June 03, 2010

My love of good writers is giving me an overdose

ANOTHER champion of freedom with a aptitude for expressing it.

Call (stupid) and Response (wonderful)

To the editor ...

Odd it is how Israel is always the bad guy. I saw the video the Israelis released, and they were without question attacked by a mob with clubs, chairs, and knives. (Nobody was sleeping, as claimed by pro-Islamic media.) Does Mr. Strakon not think it is right for them to search all ships coming in, considering the thousands of rockets that were lobbed into Israel from Gaza after Israel gave Gaza back to them?

You people who are always against Israel never posit the solution you'd like to see them submit to. I'd like to know specifically what Mr. Strakon would like to see them do, and if he really believes it would actually work considering the Islamics are committed not to peace but the death and destruction of Israel. You people amaze me, there is blind madness in thee.

Frank Schlernitzauer
June 1, 2010

Nicholas Strakon replies

I thank Mr. Schlernitzauer for his comments, except for the incivility in his closing.

As for the substance of what he writes, I begin by addressing the proposition that it was the commandos who were "attacked" aboard the vessel. That is the single most bizarre notion that's being advanced by supporters of Israel in connection with the pirate raid. Imagine a band of thugs complaining to the police that when they invaded a dwelling, the householder "attacked" them and that, when they killed him, they were only defending themselves! As revolting moral inversions go, that one is hard to beat. Uttering it in serious company takes a lot of gall, also known in some quarters, I believe, as chutzpah.

The next time Somali pirates board a vessel and attempt to take it over, and crew members defend themselves, it will be interesting to see who cheers for whom. Maybe it would help the pirates, in the eyes of Israel loyalists, if they tricked themselves out in Israeli military costumes.

I must say, the claim that it was the ship's crew who initiated force is so odd that I wonder whether I've missed some crucial but underreported fact. Did the convoy open the hostilities by firing 20mm AA cannon at the helicopters, which just happened to be flying nearby?

Now to the first question Mr. Schlernitzauer poses. I think it is wrong for Israelis, or anyone, to initiate force against civilian shipping on the high seas.

Some background on Israel's blockade of Gaza, imposed in 2007, may enable us to see the aid convoys in context. CBS News says that with "small exceptions for international aid projects," the Israelis ban importation of "raw goods vital for trade and construction." And that's just for starters. Other banned items include instant coffee, margarine, fresh meat, vinegar, jam, honey, and spices. According to the CBS story, "A Palestinian industry report says the blockade has wiped out over 100,000 jobs in Gaza by banning raw materials and stifling trade."

From time to time, and unpredictably, Israel revises the list of what is banned. A BBC "guide" to the blockade reports that "building materials such as cement, concrete, and wood were nearly always refused entry until early 2010, when some glass, wood, cement, and aluminium were allowed in." However, according to TVNZ, of New Zealand, cement still falls under the interdict: "The convoys would be taking in 10,000 tonnes of supplies, including cement — a material Israel bans, citing fears Hamas could use it to construct bunkers — as well as water purification kits, pre-fabricated homes, and medical equipment."

Before I drown this discussion in detail, I had better get to my point, which is that whatever the state of the Israelis' highly mutable list on May 31, if the Israelis found banned items on board any of the ships, they no doubt "seized" them. And that's state-speak for "stolen." The Israelis claim that if only the ships had docked at the port the Israelis chose, the cargo could have been unloaded and shipped overland to Gaza. What they don't mention is that they would have stolen a good deal of it first, at gunpoint. In case Mr. Schlernitzauer is wondering, I think robbery is wrong, too.

There's yet more that I think is wrong. According to CBS, the Israelis ban steel and fertilizer from entering Gaza for fear of their being used to manufacture weapons. Well, steel and fertilizer don't shoot people; people shoot people. I oppose gun-control — more generally, weapons-control — and not just in this country.

Driving toward my correspondent's second question, involving what the Israeli state should do, I must comment in passing on the business about Israel's giving Gaza back to the Gazans, apparently in an act of gentle generosity. In fact, Gaza was never rightfully in Israel's gift; it was never rightfully in Israel's possession.

So what should the state of Israel do now? Why, it should immediately dissolve itself, of course. Those who feared the results of that would either have to prepare to defend themselves — and in light of the present confusion I emphasize defend — or leave. But not-so-fearful Jews and Muslims would at least have a chance to build a free society with a free economy, together or at arm's length.

If Israel vanished from the political map, leaving free territory in its place, that would be one down, 194 to go.

The problem is that almost all Palestinians — Jewish and Muslim alike — believe in the state. But the popularity of statism does not mean that statism may rightfully continue, any more than the popularity of chattel slavery meant that it might rightfully continue.

I understand that the Israeli state apparatus will not voluntarily dissolve itself. States sometimes collapse, but they rarely commit that kind of suicide. The question really is, What should individual Jews and Muslims do? Just what all people everywhere should do: come to understand, and cherish, and promote liberty, justice, and peace.

Now, one who stopped short of my anarchism but still valued liberty, justice, and peace would probably propose more-moderate actions, among which would be a reversion to Israel's original borders, a return of all land stolen from Muslim Palestinians, and an end to all vestiges of Jewish privilege in the country's laws and regulations. That might, I suppose, have to include a renaming from "Israel" to "Palestine."

And, oh, yes, before getting to all that, our moderate liberty-lover would expect the Israeli state to stop accepting the fortune in money that is periodically stolen from U.S. taxpayers.

Some commentators are saying that the pirate attack has accelerated the "delegitimizing" of the state of Israel. If so, that would be one good thing to emerge from the crime, along with — I hope — new complications in the neocon and Israeli push for war with Iran.

Widening my scope, I see something else odd in this matter, as it pertains to The Last Ditch. I'm speaking generally: I don't blame Mr. Schlernitzauer for it; he's not responsible for the larger picture; and a man is free to comment or refrain from commenting on whatever he wants. I posted "Blackbeard's freedom" to our "Stop and Think" section two days after posting an installment titled "Forever FUBAR." In that entry, I wrote, "Let's choke the [U.S.] imperial legions with hurt feelings, discrimination complaints, assault investigations, pregnant soldierettes, queer diseases, and romantic melodramas in the midst of battle...." And I wrote that "if we're lucky, one thing we can have is a weaker [U.S.] military, less able to drown the world in bloody atrocity and less able to hold us normal people hostage to that atrocity." And even in the "Blackbeard" entry presently under discussion, I take a couple of shots at the U.S. military along the way.

If I had written any of that during Woodrow Wilson's second term, I'd almost certainly be behind bars right now, assuming I hadn't been beaten to death by Wilson's unofficial muscle-heads. I dare say that if I'd written it twenty-some years later, I'd be scheduled for a chat with President-for-Life Roosevelt's FBI goons. Even now, one might expect that I'd receive one or two missives denouncing me as a traitor, seditionist, un-American scoundrel, and the like. But it doesn't happen. I've explicitly called for the defeat of U.S. forces in the Middle East on a number of occasions. Negative response: zero. The indignation meter doesn't so much as twitch.

But let me criticize the Israeli military, and Katie bar the door!

The B.S. "Social Contract"

Boy, I love good writers (like Mr. Higgs)

Consent of the Governed?

What gives some people the right to rule others? At least since John Locke’s time, the most common and seemingly compelling answer has been “the consent of the governed.” When the North American revolutionaries set out to justify their secession from the British Empire, they declared, among other things: “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.” This sounds good, especially if one doesn’t think about it very hard or very long, but the harder and longer one thinks about it, the more problematic it becomes.

One question after another comes to mind. Must every person consent? If not, how many must, and what options do those who do not consent have? What form must the consent take ― verbal, written, explicit, implicit? If implicit, how is it to be registered? Given that the composition of society is constantly changing, owing to births, deaths, and international migration, how often must the rulers confirm that they retain the consent of the governed? And so on and on. Political legitimacy, it would appear, presents a multitude of difficulties when we move from the realm of theoretical abstraction to that of practical realization.

I raise this question because in regard to the so-called social contract, I have often had occasion to protest that I haven’t even seen the contract, much less been asked to consent to it. A valid contract requires voluntary offer, acceptance, and consideration. I’ve never received an offer from my rulers, so I certainly have not accepted one; and rather than consideration, I have received nothing but contempt from the rulers, who, notwithstanding the absence of any agreement, have indubitably threatened me with grave harm in the event that I fail to comply with their edicts. What monumental effrontery these people exhibit! What gives them the right to rob me and push me around? It certainly is not my desire to be a sheep for them to shear or slaughter as they deem expedient for the attainment of their own ends.

Moreover, when we flesh out the idea of “consent of the governed” in realistic detail, the whole notion quickly becomes utterly preposterous. Just consider how it would work. A would-be ruler approaches you and offers a contract for your approval. Here, says he, is the deal.

I, the party of the first part (“the ruler”), promise:

(1) To stipulate how much of your money you will hand over to me, as well as how, when, and where the transfer will be made. You will have no effective say in the matter, aside from pleading for my mercy, and if you should fail to comply, my agents will punish you with fines, imprisonment, and (in the event of your persistent resistance) death.

(2) To make thousands upon thousands of rules for you to obey without question, again on pain of punishment by my agents. You will have no effective say in determining the content of these rules, which will be so numerous, complex, and in many cases beyond comprehension that no human being could conceivably know about more than a handful of them, much less their specific character, yet if you should fail to comply with any of them, I will feel free to punish you to the extent of a law made my me and my confederates.

(3) To provide for your use, on terms stipulated by me and my agents, so-called public goods and services. Although you may actually place some value on a few of these goods and services, most will have little or no value to you, and some you will find utterly abhorrent, and in no event will you as an individual have any effective say over the goods and services I provide, notwithstanding any economist’s cock-and-bull story to the effect that you “demand” all this stuff and value it at whatever amount of money I choose to expend for its provision.

(4) In the event of a dispute between us, judges beholden to me for their appointment and salaries will decide how to settle the dispute. You can expect to lose in these settlements, if your case is heard at all.

In exchange for the foregoing government “benefits,” you, the party of the second part (“the subject”), promise:

(5) To shut up, make no waves, obey all orders issued by the ruler and his agents, kowtow to them as if they were important, honorable people, and when they say “jump,” ask only “how high?”

Such a deal! Can we really imagine that any sane person would consent to it?

Yet the foregoing description of the true social contract into which individuals are said to have entered is much too abstract to capture the raw realities of being governed. In enumerating the actual details, no one has ever surpassed Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who wrote:

To be GOVERNED is to be kept in sight, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right, nor the wisdom, nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, enrolled, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolized, extorted, squeezed, mystified, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, despised, harassed, tracked, abused, clubbed, disarmed, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and, to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality. (P.-J. Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, trans. John Beverley Robinson. London: Freedom Press, 1923, p. 294)

Nowadays, of course, we would have to supplement Proudhon’s admirably precise account by noting that our being governed also entails our being electronically monitored, tracked by orbiting satellites, tased more or less at random, and invaded in our premises by SWAT teams of police, often under the pretext of their overriding our natural right to decide what substances we will ingest, inject, or inhale into what used to be known as “our own bodies.”

So, to return to the question of political legitimacy as determined by the consent of the governed, it appears upon sober reflection that the whole idea is as fanciful as the unicorn. No one in his right mind, save perhaps an incurable masochist, would voluntarily consent to be treated as governments actually treat their subjects.

Nevertheless, very few of us in this country at present are actively engaged in armed rebellion against our rulers. And it is precisely this absence of outright violent revolt that, strange to say, some commentators take as evidence of our consent to the outrageous manner in which the government treats us. Grudging, prudential acquiescence, however, is not the same thing as consent, especially when the people acquiesce, as I do, only in simmering, indignant resignation.

For the record, I can state in complete candor that I do not approve of the manner in which I am being treated by the liars, thieves, and murderers who style themselves the Government of the United States of America or by those who constitute the tyrannical pyramid of state, local, and hybrid governments with which this country is massively infested. My sincere wish is that all of these individuals would, for once in their despicable lives, do the honorable thing. In this regard, I suggest that they give serious consideration to seppuku. Whether they employ a sharp sword or a dull one, I care not, so long as they carry the act to a successful completion.

Addendum on “love it or leave it”: Whenever I write along the foregoing lines, I always receive messages from Neanderthals who, imagining that I “hate America,” demand that I get the hell out of this country and go back to wherever I came from. Such reactions evince not only bad manners, but a fundamental misunderstanding of my grievance.

I most emphatically do not hate America. I was not born in some foreign despotism, but in a domestic one known as Oklahoma, which I understand to be the very heart and soul of this country so far as culture and refinement are concerned. Moreover, for what it is worth, some of my ancestors had been living in North America for centuries before a handful of ragged, starving white men washed ashore on this continent, planted their flag, and claimed all the land they could see and a great deal they could not see on behalf of some sorry-ass European monarch. What chutzpah! I yield to no one in my affection for the Statue of Liberty, the Rocky Mountains, and the amber waves of grain, not to mention the celebrated jumping frog of Calaveras County. So when I am invited to get out of the country, I feel like someone living in a town taken over by the James Gang who has been told that if he doesn’t like being robbed and bullied by uninvited thugs, he should move to another town. To me, it seems much more fitting that the criminals get out.