Revelations from the Torture Report – CIA Lies, Nazi Methods and the $81 Million No-Bid Torture Contract

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Courtesy of Michael Krieger @ Liberty Blitz Krieg:

After initially helping to devise the “enhanced interrogation” efforts, they were designated as the only two contractors allowed to oversee these interrogations at sites around the world. In 2005, they formed a company to receive contracts from the CIA. According to the Senate report, the base value of their contract in 2006 was in excess of $180 million.

By the time the CIA terminated their contract in 2009, the consulting firm founded by the two men had collected $81 million in taxpayer money. In May of that year, ProPublica reported, the firm abruptly gave up the lease on its Spokane, Washington, headquarters and disconnected the phone.

Still, according to the Senate report, the CIA will provide $5 million in indemnity costs to the firm to cover all legal expenses for potential criminal prosecution and investigations through 2021.

– From the Huffington Post article: Architects Of CIA Torture Program Raked In $81 Million, Report Reveals

One of the greatest propaganda successes of the consolidated and corporate owned mainstream media in the US. has been its ability to convince many naive Americans that people with fascist tendencies do not exist in our society, and it they do, they certainly don’t reside in the highest halls of power.

One of the key points I try to get across in my writing is that the sociopathic mindset knows no borders, and a society that ignorantly believes that its “leadership” consists of good people with a moral high ground is a society of sheep primed for slaughter. Not only do fascist types exist at the highest levels of the U.S. status quo, the smart ones will typically do everything they can to attain such positions. Why?

As I noted recently in the post, In Great Britain, Protecting Pedophile Politicians is a Matter of “National Security”:

I’ve long written about how the percentage of sociopaths within a group of humans becomes increasingly concentrated the higher you climb within the positions of power in a society, with it being most chronic amongst those who crave political power.

The reason for this is obvious. Those with the sickest minds, and who wish to act upon their destructive fantasies, understand that they can most easily get away with their deeds if they are protected by an aura of power and ostensible respectability. They believe that as a result of their status, no one would dare accuse them of horrific activities, and if it ever came to that, they could quash any investigation. Continue reading

The War on Terror is a Fraud: How the West has Fostered Radical Islam and Actively Keeps it Alive.

The War on Terror is expected to last another 20 years at least, another 20 years of military expenditure, debt, death and destruction and for what? Our safety? Spreading democracy? Or for furthering an agenda through ridiculous propaganda? A look at history courtesy of The peoples history shows a different narrative but you can make up your own mind.

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Introduction

Days after the July 7 2005 London terror attack, and less than a month before his death, the Right Honorable Robin Cook, former UK Foreign Secretary, wrote a scathing yet emotional review of the War on Terror in The Guardian.

Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Qaida, literally “the database”, was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians. Inexplicably, and with disastrous consequences, it never appears to have occurred to Washington that once Russia was out of the way, Bin Laden’s organisation would turn its attention to the west.
Compiled in this essay is a collection of information comprised of ~75 mainstream sources and documents that when pieced together validate Robin Cook’s claims with a broader scope of dismantling the ‘official narrative’ of the War on Terror.

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Operation Cyclone

“They [the CIA] told me these people were fanatical, and the more fierce they were the more fiercely they would fight the Soviets,” he said. “I warned them that we were creating a monster.”- Scholar Selig Harrison

The story begins with Operation Cyclone, which originated in 1978 around the time of the Saur Revolution, whereby the communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan gained control of the government. The CIA immediately began funding militant Islamic groups favored by the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI, to the tune of 7.5 billion. The money went to producing, training, and arming militant Islamic radicals. At the time, the Mujahideen was composed of many different, loosely organized groups encompassing a broad spectrum of ideologies, with widely diverse perspectives on religion, society and state . 7 major Afghan factions began receiving aid, three of them Islamic moderates and four of them Islamic fundamentalists, and in addition to native Afghans they were composed of many foreigners who traveled to fight the invasion, such as Osama bin Laden himself. To understand the scope of the funding, the CIA provided enough arms to equip a 240,000 man army, and Saudi Arabia matched them dollar for dollar. The majority of the funding was funneled through the ISI, who began setting up religious schools known as Madrassas in Pakistan cities and frontier areas, churning out tens of thousands of students who would join the Mujahideen.

The weapons given to these fighters were not just AK-47s and other simple arms. They were high tech, such as Stinger Anti-Aircraft missiles, with the intention of demoralizing Soviet commanders and soldiers.

All of this began before the Soviets invaded Russia. A full 6 months, according to Zbigniew Brzezinski, who recalled his involvement to a French news magazine in 1998: “We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would… That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Soviets into the Afghan trap. The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border I wrote to President Carter, ‘We now have the opportunity of giving the Soviet Union its Vietnam War.'”

(Some memos from Brzezinski to Carter reflecting on the Afghanistan Invasion, for those who enjoy primary documents)

Osama bin Laden- From Mujahideen to Al Qaeda

Bin Laden’s group in the Mujahideen was called Maktab al-Khidamat, abbreviated as MAK. It is frequently claimed that the CIA directly funded this group, though top CIA officers say that this is not the case. It has been confirmed, at least, that the MAK did receive funding from the ISI, the CIA’s primary conduit for conducting their covert war against Russia.

CIA Station Chief in Afghanistan Milt Bearden has stated that he was well aware of Bin Laden in the Mujahideen, and welcomed his efforts in funding, though he never met with him personally. Bin Laden also brought in construction equipment from his fathers company Saudi Binladen Group, considered the largest construction firm in the world, to build training camps, in collaboration with the ISI and CIA.

In 1986, Osama used his construction assets to build a CIA financed tunnel complex to serve as a major arms depot, training facility and medical depo for the Mujahideen in the Peshwar mountains near Pakistan, that would be later used by Al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda was formed sometime between 1987-88, with the radical elements of MAK joining after the latter group split.

The Taliban

The origins of the Taliban can be traced back to the Mujahideen. The Taliban is actively involved with al-Qaeda as well, a widely reported fact confirmed by such documents as this 1998 State Department cable claiming that “Taliban Leader Mullah Omar lashed out at the US, asserting that the Taliban will continue providing a safe haven for Bin Laden.”

There is plenty of evidence that Pakistan’s ISI currently actively funds the Taliban and other terrorist cells, while barring the US military from operating in the tribal areas. This is hugely significant because since 9/11, the United States has given Pakistan over $15 billion, much of which goes to the ISI and military.

Vice President Joe Biden said himself in 2003 that the ISI was either turning a blind eye or cooperating with the Taliban. The linked New York Times article further states that some members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee contend “contend that the intelligence service may have provided money, weapons and broadcast equipment to Taliban fighters now in Pakistan to transmit anti-Karzai, anti-American messages into Afghanistan.”

BBC has reported on a secret NATO report which notes: “Pakistan’s manipulation of the Taliban senior leadership continues unabatedly”.

A report published by the London School of Economics gave 9 in depth interviews with Taliban insurgent commanders. They suggest that the ISI has members on the Taliban leadership council, though they expressed fear of assassination if they went into to much depth on this topic.

A 2009 New York Times article noted that the ISI was giving the Taliban money, military supplies, and strategic guidance, citing US officials. This occurred during the same time that Obama was beginning his troop surge and within months of a $7.5 billion US aid package to Pakistan, with the military and ISI being the primary recipients according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Thus US funding was not only putting troops in harms way, but also actively contributing to the proliferation of the danger they faced.

US and UK Let Bin Laden run Amok

A 2001 Washington Post article states that in 1996, the government of Sudan offered to keep tabs on Osama, or if that did not suffice, arrest him and hand him over to either the United States or Saudi custody.

“The Sudanese security services, he said, would happily keep close watch on bin Laden for the United States. But if that would not suffice, the government was prepared to place him in custody and hand him over, though to whom was ambiguous. In one formulation, Erwa said Sudan would consider any legitimate proffer of criminal charges against the accused terrorist.” Their negotiations concluded as such: “”We said he will go to Afghanistan, and they [US officials!] said, ‘Let him.'”

The Clinton administration claimed that they lacked criminal charges to pin on Bin Laden, though this is a farce, as within a year ago previous they had named him as a co-conspirator in the World Trade Center bombing, among other terrorist activities. And the Clinton administration would commit egregious war crimes such as the bombing of the Sudanese Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory on much flimsier pretenses.

Interestingly, the pretext of the Al-Shifa bombing is that the factory had ties to Bin Laden, in the very country that had proposed to extradite him.

A 2002 article in The Guardian reveals that the first INTERPOL arrest warrant for Bin Laden came from Libya in 1998. It also uncovers that the MI6 paid large sums of money to an Al Qaeda cell in Libya in a failed attempt to assassinate Muammar Gaddafi. This is why US and UK intelligence agencies apparently buried the fact that Libya had issued the warrant for Bin Ladens arrest and downplayed the threat. 5 months after the arrest warrant was issued, Al Qaeda killed over 200 people in bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

United States Trained Jihadists

It has been widely reported that some Islamic fundamentalists were trained in the United States in the 1980’s, by way of Camp Peary, the CIA spy base in Virginia, being flown in from places such as Jordan, Egypt and even Africa.

One specifically interesting case is that of Egyptian Ali Muhammed. He was a part of the fundamentalist military unit that assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981. In 1984, he was hired by the CIA, though they claim that their relationship was short-lived. He would soon join the military and become a member of the Green Berets, and serve as a drill sergeant at Fort Bragg while providing clandestine training to jihadists such as Mahmud Abaouhalima, convicted perpetrator of the 1993 World Trade Center bombings.

He would take a short leave from his military duties and travel to Afghanistan in 1988 to assist the Mujahideen, returning just months later.

In the early 1990’s he would return to Afghanistan and began training jihadists with the skills he had learned at Fort Bragg. According to former FBI special agent Jack Cloonan, in an interview with PBS, his first training session included Osama bin Laden, as well as Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of Al Qaeda.

Former Directors of Counter-terrorism at the National Security Council have alleged that Muhammed took maps and training materials from Fort Bragg and used them to write the Al Qaeda terrorist training manual.

His superior at Fort Bragg, Lt. Col. Robert Anderson, has stated that “I think you or I would have a better chance of winning the Powerball lottery, than an Egyptian major in the unit that assassinated Sadat would have getting a visa, getting to California, getting into the Army and getting assigned to a Special Forces unit. That just doesn’t happen.”

Elsewhere he stated that “It was unthinkable that an ordinary American GI would go unpunished after fighting in a foreign war,” and that he assumed that Muhammed was sponsored by the CIA.

Al Qaeda, Mujahideen and America Fighting on the Same Side

In 2011, NATO, led by Barack Obama and the United States, initiated military action against Libya by enforcing a No Fly Zone and carried out numerous air strikes, including one against Libyan state TV which killed 3 journalists. Downplayed in Western media was the fact that the ‘rebels’ consisted of various factions of radical Islamists, many who had been fighting Gaddafi for decades and had their roots in the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, such as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, who’s goal is to implement an Islamic state. CNN has reported on widespread abuses against civilians from these groups after Gaddafi was ousted from power, including the use of landmines and other deadly equipment. Many of the rebels have admitted links to Al Qaeda, who has declared support for the rebels in Libya.

The Washington Post has reported that a former Al Qaeda member has estimated there to be 1000 ‘freelance jihadists’ that have traveled to Libya to support the rebels, many affiliated with al-Qaeda, and also that Libya has one of the highest domestic al-Qaeda populations in the Middle East, quoting a 2007 West Point study on the subject.

In 1999, the United States decided to support the Kosovo Liberation Army, allies of Al Qaeda. Bill Clinton framed the intervention in humanitarian terms though staggering atrocities were being committed on both sides. French News Agency AFP reported that members of the KLA had been trained by Bin Laden, and the Washington Times reported that the KLA bankrolled their operations with funds from the heroin trade in Afghanistan and had accepted money from Bin Laden himself.

The Mujahideen, many specifically members of Al Qaeda, were also instrumental in Bosnia during the NATO intervention in 1993. Their presence is still a factor of instability today.

It is of significance that all of these associations occurred after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, when Al Qaeda became significant in the American lexicon.

Now, in 2013, Obama is arming rebels in Syria, beginning secretly with CIA arms airlifts in 2012, citing many of the same reasons for intervention that Clinton did in 1999, despite domestic and foreign ally opposition. Once again, many of the rebels have been associated with Al Qaeda and labeled terrorist organizations by the US.

The Role of Madrassas

Earlier I mentioned CIA funded Madrassas being a source of Islamic radicalism in the 1980’s. They have been an important factor in the radicalization of Islam ever since. As of 2008, there are ~750 madrassas in Pakistan that teach jihad and radicalism, about 10% of all madrassas in the country. Cables from Wikileaks revealed that the funding for these radical schools now comes from Saudi Arabia, the United States biggest ally in the region. The radical madrassa network exploits impoverished areas by recruiting children to what essentially amounts to indoctrination camps. In exchange, families receive upwards of $6,500 per son for their ‘sacrifice to Islam’, and during schooling contact with families is forbidden. After graduation, many are funneled into terrorist training camps in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the cables revealed.

You can read them here.

PBS Frontline did a story on a 16 year old who was recruited to a Pakistan Wahabbi Islam Madrassa from an impoverished area in East Africa. A few years later, he was instrumental in a terror plot, blowing up the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. The PBS site hosts a letter he wrote to his brother, in which he says he spent two years on a military base learning warfare, including the usage of Israeli arms.

Is the CIA stil involved? The House of Saud has given at least $1.474 billion dollars to the Bush family, and the United States sold Saudi Arabia 60 billions dollars worth of arms in 2010, the biggest arms sale in American history. Before he was president, George H.W. Bush was the Director of the CIA. As recently as June 25th, 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that Saudi Arabia is ‘one of our closest partners’. At the very least we can establish complicity.

Double Agents

The assassination of high-profile Pakistan tribal leader Qari Zainuddin was widely reported in the Western media. Only days before his assassination he had removed his support of the Taliban, claiming that their actions were un-Islamic. What the Western media neglected to report but was widely reported in Pakistan and other countries was Zainuddin had claimed that Baitullah Mehsud, the man who ordered his assassination, was an American agent.

The claim that American agents operate in the Taliban sounds far-fetched but there have been some eye-opening reports that confirm the possibility.

A 2004 article in the UK publication Times Online reported that a high ranking Al Qaeda member had been revealed to be a double agent working for MI5.

“Abu Qatada boasted to MI5 that he could prevent terrorist attacks and offered to expose dangerous extremists, while all along he was setting up a haven for his terror organisation in Britain.”

Abu Qatada has been imprisoned multiple times in Britain but has not been charged with any crimes. During his career he has issued fatwahs justifying the killing of converts from Islam, advocated the killing of Jews, praised attacks on America, and convicted of charges of terrorism in Jordan.

A 2002 article published by French news organization AFP states that Palestine security forces had arrested a group of Palestinians who had confessed to collaborating with Israel and posing as operatives of Al Qaeda.

He [Palestinian Authority Official] said the alleged collaborators sought to “discredit the Palestinian people, justify every Israeli crime and provide reasons to carry out a new (military) aggression in the Gaza Strip.”
The arrest came just two days after Ariel Sharon claimed that al-Qaeda militants were operating in Gaza and Lebanon. BBC has also reported on this story.

Bin Laden: Holes in the story of becoming enemies with the United States

The official story is that Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda found new enemies in the US after the Cold War when the United States began occupying military bases in Saudi Arabia.

In 1993, Scott Armstrong, at the time the top investigative reporter for the Washington Post, gave some tremendously revealing interviews with PBS Frontline. In an episode titled “The Arming of Saudi Arabia”, he stated that the United States and Saudi Arabia had jointly conspired to covertly build $200 billion worth of military installations between the years 1979 and 1992. Steve Coll, eminent Bin Laden biographer, states that the Binladen group received a multitude of these contracts, with the knowing intent to support to house US military personal during wars that may threaten Saudi territory.

As sourced earlier, this occurred during the same time that Osama bin Laden was actively using Binladen Group assets to build extensive infrastructure in Afghanistan. Surely he was aware of the construction of the military bases and who intended to occupy them, yet he did not have a problem then with the prospect.

Money and the War on Terror

During the peak of World War II, military and defense spending reached a rate of over 40% of the United States Gross Domestic Product. Even after a massive demobilization, the military-industrial complex had grown to a behemoth, averaging over 7% of GDP throughout the Cold War. According to the Cato Institute, the United States spent a total of $6 trillion in just 4 decades during the Cold War, a staggering sum.

After the Soviet Union was defeated the Military Industrial Complex experienced a steady decline, accounting for just 3.7% of GDP in the year 2000. But after 9/11, the Complex found that they could turn their old friends into new enemies to fight, and their percentage of GDP has more than doubled in the last decade.

Congress has officially authorized more than 1.3 trillion dollars to fight the war on terror, and a Brown University study says this is just the tip of the iceberg: Even if the War on Terror were to begin de-escalating now, it would end up costing a total of 3.9 trillion between domestic spending, veterans costs, and interest.

Al Qaeda today

In 2003, Donald Rumsfeld wrote a memo to the Joint Chiefs of Staff where he stated that ““We need to stop populating Guantanamo Bay with low-level enemy combatants.” The memo was uncovered in 2011. Over 750 prisoners have gone through Guantanamo, most being released without charges. Of the ~160 prisoners in Guantanamo Bay today, half have been cleared for release.

Then-CIA Director Leon Panetta said in 2010 that there were less than 100 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

After trillions of dollars spent, hundreds of thousands of deaths, repeated domestic infringements, we are left with only a handful of proven Al Qaeda members, with a majority of prisoners simply being held without charges.

Does this make any sense to you?

The people of the world are being lied to by those with an incentive to maintain militarism and hegemony. The first step towards dismantling the beast that has been created is to become informed and then inform.

Washington gets explicit: its ‘war on terror’ is permanent

This article is written by Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian and clearly shows that the ‘War on Terror’ is not meant to end and actually perpetuates itself for the benefit of the plutocracy. It sounds like you need to put a tinfoil hat for this to be believable but replace the word conspiracy with corruption and its in our face and mocking us. Americans have been conditioned through events like The USS Cole attack, embassy bombings, 9/11, Sandy Hook, Cinema shooting, Boston marathon bombings and the dumbing down of media to give up more and more of their rights with the spin being to keep them safe.

The costs of this perpetual war are lumped onto the American public yet without question they accept it for themselves, their children and for generations down the line. The debt is seen as a non event, the printing presses (push of a computer button) and lack of forethought that the books will have to be balanced are going to lead to the demise of the dollar and the world, into another world war. I mentioned corruption but where does it hide? Congress are the mouthpiece for the corporates in America, banking, pharma, industrial prison and military complex, oil, minerals etc etc. This ruling elite are extracting everything out of the US economy and using the military and prison complex to further their objectives domestically and internationally. What do you think lobbying and political contributions are for? The illusion of fairplay and the contributions are the pay off.

Orwell writes in 1984:

War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength

It seems very apt given the circumstances of the article and where America is heading.

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Here’s the full article:

Last October, senior Obama officials anonymously unveiled to the Washington Post their newly minted “disposition matrix”, a complex computer system that will be used to determine how a terrorist suspect will be “disposed of”: indefinite detention, prosecution in a real court, assassination-by-CIA-drones, etc. Their rationale for why this was needed now, a full 12 years after the 9/11 attack:

Among senior Obama administration officials, there is a broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade. Given the way al-Qaida continues to metastasize, some officials said no clear end is in sight. . . . That timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism.”

On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on whether the statutory basis for this “war” – the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) – should be revised (meaning: expanded). This is how Wired’s Spencer Ackerman (soon to be the Guardian US’s national security editor) described the most significant exchange:

“Asked at a Senate hearing today how long the war on terrorism will last, Michael Sheehan, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, answered, ‘At least 10 to 20 years.’ . . . A spokeswoman, Army Col. Anne Edgecomb, clarified that Sheehan meant the conflict is likely to last 10 to 20 more years from today – atop the 12 years that the conflict has already lasted. Welcome to America’s Thirty Years War.”

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That the Obama administration is now repeatedly declaring that the “war on terror” will last at least another decade (or two) is vastly more significant than all three of this week’s big media controversies (Benghazi, IRS, and AP/DOJ) combined. The military historian Andrew Bacevich has spent years warning that US policy planners have adopted an explicit doctrine of “endless war”. Obama officials, despite repeatedly boasting that they have delivered permanently crippling blows to al-Qaida, are now, as clearly as the English language permits, openly declaring this to be so.

It is hard to resist the conclusion that this war has no purpose other than its own eternal perpetuation. This war is not a means to any end but rather is the end in itself. Not only is it the end itself, but it is also its own fuel: it is precisely this endless war – justified in the name of stopping the threat of terrorism – that is the single greatest cause of that threat.

In January, former Pentagon general counsel Jeh Johnson delivered a highly-touted speech suggesting that the war on terror will eventually end; he advocated that outcome, arguing:

‘War’ must be regarded as a finite, extraordinary and unnatural state of affairs. We must not accept the current conflict, and all that it entails, as the ‘new normal.'”

In response, I wrote that the “war on terror” cannot and will not end on its own for two reasons: (1) it is designed by its very terms to be permanent, incapable of ending, since the war itself ironically ensures that there will never come a time when people stop wanting to bring violence back to the US (the operational definition of “terrorism”), and (2) the nation’s most powerful political and economic factions reap a bonanza of benefits from its continuation. Whatever else is true, it is now beyond doubt that ending this war is the last thing on the mind of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner and those who work at the highest levels of his administration. Is there any way they can make that clearer beyond declaring that it will continue for “at least” another 10-20 years?

The genius of America’s endless war machine is that, learning from the unplesantness of the Vietnam war protests, it has rendered the costs of war largely invisible. That is accomplished by heaping all of the fighting burden on a tiny and mostly economically marginalized faction of the population, by using sterile, mechanized instruments to deliver the violence, and by suppressing any real discussion in establishment media circles of America’s innocent victims and the worldwide anti-American rage that generates.

Though rarely visible, the costs are nonetheless gargantuan. Just in financial terms, as Americans are told they must sacrifice Social Security and Medicare benefits and place their children in a crumbling educational system, the Pentagon remains the world’s largest employer and continues to militarily outspend the rest of the world by a significant margin. The mythology of the Reagan presidency is that he induced the collapse of the Soviet Union by luring it into unsustainable military spending and wars: should there come a point when we think about applying that lesson to ourselves?

Then there are the threats to Americans’ security. Having their government spend decades proudly touting itself as “A Nation at War” and bringing horrific violence to the world is certain to prompt more and more people to want to attack Americans, as the US government itself claims took place just recently in Boston (and as clearly took place multiple other times over the last several years).

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And then there’s the most intangible yet most significant cost: each year of endless war that passes further normalizes the endless rights erosions justified in its name. The second term of the Bush administration and first five years of the Obama presidency have been devoted to codifying and institutionalizing the vast and unchecked powers that are typically vested in leaders in the name of war. Those powers of secrecy, indefinite detention, mass surveillance, and due-process-free assassination are not going anywhere. They are now permanent fixtures not only in the US political system but, worse, in American political culture.

Each year that passes, millions of young Americans come of age having spent their entire lives, literally, with these powers and this climate fixed in place: to them, there is nothing radical or aberrational about any of it. The post-9/11 era is all they have been trained to know. That is how a state of permanent war not only devastates its foreign targets but also degrades the population of the nation that prosecutes it.

This war will end only once Americans realize the vast and multi-faceted costs they are bearing so that the nation’s political elites can be empowered and its oligarchs can further prosper. But Washington clearly has no fear that such realizations are imminent. They are moving in the other direction: aggressively planning how to further entrench and expand this war.

One might think that if there is to be a debate over the 12-year-old AUMF, it would be about repealing it. Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who heroically cast the only vote against it when it was originally enacted by presciently warning of how abused it would be, has been advocating its repeal for some time now in favor of using reasonable security measures to defend against such threats and standard law enforcement measures to punish them (which have proven far more effective than military solutions). But just as happened in 2001, neither she nor her warnings are deemed sufficiently Serious even to consider, let alone embrace.

Instead, the Washington AUMF “debate” recognizes only two positions: (1) Congress should codify expanded powers for the administration to fight a wider war beyond what the 2001 AUMF provides (that’s the argument recently made by the supreme war-cheerleaders-from-a-safe-distance at the Washington Post editorial page and their favorite war-justifying think tank theorists, and the one being made by many Senators from both parties), or (2) the administration does not need any expanded authority because it is already free to wage a global war with very few limits under the warped “interpretation” of the AUMF which both the Bush and Obama DOJs have successfully persuaded courts to accept (that’s the Obama administration’s position). In other words, the shared premise is that the US government must continue to wage unlimited, permanent war, and the only debate is whether that should happen under a new law or the old one.

Just to convey a sense for how degraded is this Washington “debate”: Obama officials at yesterday’s Senate hearing repeatedly insisted that this “war” is already one without geographical limits and without any real conceptual constraints. The AUMF’s war power, they said, “stretches from Boston to the [tribal areas of Pakistan]” and can be used “anywhere around the world, including inside Syria, where the rebel Nusra Front recently allied itself with al-Qaida’s Iraq affiliate, or even what Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called ‘boots on the ground in Congo'”. The acting general counsel of the Pentagon said it even “authorized war against al-Qaida’s associated forces in Mali, Libya and Syria”. Newly elected independent Sen. Angus King of Maine said after listening to how the Obama administration interprets its war powers under the AUMF:

This is the most astounding and most astoundingly disturbing hearing that I’ve been to since I’ve been here. You guys have essentially rewritten the Constitution today.”

Former Bush DOJ official Jack Goldsmith, who testified at the hearing, summarized what was said after it was over: Obama officials argued that “they had domestic authority to use force in Mali, Syria, Libya, and Congo, against Islamist terrorist threats there”; that “they were actively considering emerging threats and stated that it was possible they would need to return to Congress for new authorities against those threats but did not at present need new authorities”; that “the conflict authorized by the AUMF was not nearly over”; and that “several members of the Committee were surprised by the breadth of DOD’s interpretation of the AUMF.” Conveying the dark irony of America’s war machine, seemingly lifted right out of the Cold War era film Dr. Strangelove, Goldsmith added:

Amazingly, there is a very large question even in the Armed Services Committee about who the United States is at war against and where, and how those determinations are made.”

Nobody really even knows with whom the US is at war, or where. Everyone just knows that it is vital that it continue in unlimited form indefinitely.

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In response to that, the only real movement in Congress is to think about how to enact a new law to expand the authorization even further. But it’s a worthless and illusory debate, affecting nothing other than the pretexts and symbols used to justify what will, in all cases, be a permanent and limitless war. The Washington AUMF debate is about nothing other than whether more fig leafs are needed to make it all pretty and legal.

The Obama administration already claims the power to wage endless and boundless war, in virtually total secrecy, and without a single meaningful check or constraint. No institution with any power disputes this. To the contrary, the only ones which exert real influence – Congress, the courts, the establishment media, the plutocratic class – clearly favor its continuation and only think about how further to enable it. That will continue unless and until Americans begin to realize just what a mammoth price they’re paying for this ongoing splurge of war spending and endless aggression.

Related matters

Although I’m no fan of mindless partisan hackery, one must acknowledge, if one is to be honest, that sometimes it produces high comedy of the type few other afflictions are capable of producing.

On a related note: when Attorney General Eric Holder spoke about the DOJ’s subpoeans for AP’s phone records – purportedly issued in order to find the source for AP’s story about a successfully thwarted terror attack from Yemen – he made this claim about the leak they were investigating: “if not the most serious, it is within the top two or three most serious leaks that I have ever seen.” But yesterday, the Washington Post reported that CIA officials gave the go-ahead to AP to report the story, based in part on the fact that the administration itself planned to make a formal announcement boasting of their success in thwarting the plot. Meanwhile, the invaluable Marcy Wheeler today makes a strong case that the Obama administration engaged in a fear-mongering campaign over this plot that they knew at the time was false – all for the purpose of justifying the president’s newly announced “signature drone strikes” in Yemen.