Thursday, March 29, 2012

Obama's Covert War

The UK-based Center for Investigative Journalism has just posted an outstanding and deeply disturbing piece on the escalation of Barack Obama's not-so-secret war in Yemen.  And it is not limited to those odious drone strikes. There was actually a naval assault on a port city earlier this month, but we are not being told if it was from our own United States Navy. One can only assume it was, since Yemen reportedly only maintains a small fleet of patrol boats. Of course, the US probably had no trouble doing some quick paint and flag-changing jobs to cover themselves and implausibly deny they had anything to do with it.   

The CIJ  estimates that between 50 and 100 civilians have been killed in the various recent attacks, and that Obama has taken a very hands-on approach to his lethal little war. The Bureau also obtained a copy of a report listing the names of all the victims of the 2009 cluster bomb attack that killed 14 militants and 44 civilians -- including a year-old baby and several pregnant women. The American government has steadfastly denied responsibility, despite photographic evidence to the contrary and email confirmation from WikiLeaks. 

One of the CIJ's main sources for its exposés has been Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye, now jailed on trumped up charges of being an al Qaeda sympathizer. Shaye, who has led media outlets to physical evidence of US-manufactured military hardware strewn around human "collateral damage",
had been set to be released from custody after a national outcry. But then Obama himself butted in and essentially ordered his Yemeni puppet government to keep the reporter chained and muzzled. You can watch a video on this travesty, featuring another great investigative reporter (Jeremy Scahill) here, and read Glenn Greenwald's equally invaluable reporting on the matter here.

This is the kind of stuff that should bother otherwise smart Obama supporters and journalists, but it rarely ever does. This is a country in the thrall of the kind of authoritarianism that has a unique photogenic appeal all its own. Obama has teflon on his teflon. Reagan would be envious.

Simply Irresistible

Composite of Drone Victims, Yemen, 2009 (Al Jazeera)


Denis Neville said...

Obama has surpassed Bush in lawlessness. He can depend on the warmongering corporate media to help demonize his targets for removal.

But most Democrats cannot imagine that Obama represents a danger to them. They cannot see that, when Obama claims without justification his right to bomb and kill at will, he is an international terrorist and criminal. We as a nation appear completely desensitized to the fact that these acts are being committed in our name.

Obama exhibits a complete disconnect between the crimes of murdering Yemini, Afghan and Pakistani children via airstrikes, drone strikes, night raids, and war in general, when he commented that “Trayvon Martin would look like my son.”

“All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.” - George Orwell, Animal Farm

James F Traynor said...

We have become a disaster as a nation. Obama and his like are but symptoms.

4Runner said...

War by proxy by our war-like prexy...

Jay - Ottawa said...

It’s important that journalists like Scahill, Greenwald, Goodman and Garcia, as well as press organizations like the CIJ, not let the rest of us forget about reporters like Halder Shaye, rotting away in a dungeon because he let us know what was really going on.

Halder Shaye is a whistleblower of sorts, and don’t we know by now how the administration deals with whistleblowers, whether at home or abroad. But remember, this administration represents the lesser of two evils.

Shamming, deceitful, duplicitous – what other descriptors will historians employ again and again in years to come when describing this government? Those historians will, at very least, have to grant that Obama was, in all likelihood, the lesser of two evils.

Torture, open-ended imprisonment, secret wars, anywhere drone strikes and massive surveillance are beginning to stink like a toilet backing up and overflowing, as serious to the democracy as they are appalling to contemplate. This sordid business conducted at the very top is more serious than Nixon’s Watergate, for which shenanigans and lies Nixon had to leave office.

And yet is there any big newspaper in the land that has assigned a "Woodstein" team of reporters to stick with this case and follow up on its endless parade of dirty business, for the sake of the democracy, for the sake of its own journalistic integrity?

I’m old enough to have witnessed the moment, as it unfolded on TV, when Senator Joseph McCarthy was brought up short by Joseph Welch: “Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator; you've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” At which point applause broke out in the Senate hearing room. How I would love to applaud a modern day Welch.

Is there no setting, in public or in private, where a decent, modern day Welch might step forward to confront this commander-in-chief about his assassinations, his lack of decency?

Do I exaggerate? Visit the CIJ website and count the dead with them. How many more innocents must die or be maimed beside his intended targets before anyone can dare say he has crossed the line? How many innocents must spend years, maybe the rest of their lives, in jails based on his wink, call, nod -- no more?

This president once promised us a restoration of our ideals in an open government. Promised, after the sad years of Bush, to restore this nation to its place among the league of fair countries. Promised us no more Bush policies at home or abroad. Promised many other things, as well. Consider how few promises he has kept. And how many he has broken, boldly, time and again joining forces with those who oppress others without shame.

Still, we should thank Obama. He keeps us safe. Realists know it takes terror to crush terror. The Geneva Convention, the Constitution, the International Criminal Court -- they don't fit the puzzles of the 21st Century. Obama, we have been told, is the lesser of the evils available to us. We must back him and his deep chess today and vote him back into office next November to finish his game. As the lesser of two evils.

James F Traynor said...

"Still, we should thank Obama. He keeps us safe. Realists know it takes terror to crush terror. The Geneva Convention, the Constitution, the International Criminal Court -- they don't fit the puzzles of the 21st Century. Obama, we have been told, is the lesser of the evils available to us. We must back him and his deep chess today and vote him back into office next November to finish his game. As the lesser of two evils."

How bloody, goddamn sad! McCarthy? I not only remember him, I experienced the results of his reign of terror. I'd like to dig him up and piss on the remains. I could tell you a few sad, personal stories but I won't. It's why I hate the Republican Party.

And people like Obama don't keep us safe, they endanger us by purporting to be something they're not. He's shredding the first and fourth amendments and not because of Obamacare.

Jesus! I'm pissed! I can't go on. Will plan doing some field work right now to get myself out of this murderous funk I'm in. Thank Obama? Good God!

Kat said...

Realists know it takes terror to crush terror. The Geneva Convention, the Constitution, the International Criminal Court -- they don't fit the puzzles of the 21st Century
Yes Jay, the "exceptional times" argument is very useful in the service of selling us the destruction of civil liberties, endless war, and austerity.
Thanks for the posts Karen. The other day I became really, really annoyed when there was a comment that said in essence quityerbitchin and fall in line.
I appreciate the fact that you take time to craft well written responses to news stories and op eds in the NYT. I think calling out the half truths is far more useful than volunteering for a candidate. And, I would also add that instead of volunteering for a candidate perhaps it is better to hold them accountable and contact them to let them know how you feel. Imagine if all the LOTEs did this instead of spending time making excuses for the sellouts.

Kat said...

@Karen-- continuing in the same vein, I looked for a response to Brooks column from you today. I was hoping there would be someone that would take aim at what Brooks characterizes as a "moderate"-- you know, the same old corporate friendly politician with a few liberal social views. It is too bad that his many readers take the bait.
Oh, but the guy is "tall, good looking, and polished". We know that can take you far.

Rose in Michigan said...

@Jay - Ottawa Not everyone thinks of Obama as TLOTE. Recently, the Black Agenda Report (on Karen's blogroll) published this article:

At the end of his presentation, Glen Ford exhorts us to fight back, but like Val's American acquaintances, I and my liberal friends are simply too demoralized to believe we can accomplish anything. We'll vote, because that's what responsible citizens do, but let's face it: if the Republicans can't win honestly, they'll simply steal the election, just as they did in 2000 and 2004.

Unless, of course, the corporatocracy reads Glen Ford and decides that they'll stick with the More Effective Evil. Either way, democracy in America is dead.

Karen Garcia said...

I only comment on Brooks occasionally any more. Ditto for Tom Friedman, who has written the same column about 3000 times.

Valerie said...

I have tried to write three comments but I am giving up. This is just such a horrible story to read and I can't find the words to convey my horror. How evil is our President? (And how evil is Romney? who we know would be doing the same thing.)

The MSM isn't covering the story - but even if they did, would Americans care? As Denis says, "We as a nation appear completely desensitized to the fact that these acts are being committed in our name."

I feel like someone in a fight getting hit - blow after blow in quick succession. I suppose that is all part of the desensitising plan.

I ,too, will vote, Rose, but I can't vote for this man who is so different from the man I thought I was voting for in 2008. I doubt my vote counts, but on the small chance it does, I will "throw it away" on a third party candidate, a write-in candidate, or leave the presidental box blank. I can't vote for evil - even if it is slightly lesser than the other brand of evil.

Great comment, Jay. You certainly speak for me.

Jay - Ottawa said...

@Rose @Bridget

“When the Right was on its ass, Obama stood up and spoke in their stead.”
-- Glen Ford at the Left Forum (3/21/2012)

Let me assure you, Glen Ford's speech and Bruce A. Dixon's essay of 9/21/2011, both found on the "Black Agenda Report," have a special tag among my bookmarks.

In the views of Dixon and Ford, a citizen acts irresponsibly by voting for a continuation of evil, whether in the guise of the bumbling (Romney) or the clever (Obama).

A citizen's hands are not tied by the act of rejecting Romney and Obama. To the best of my knowledge, ballots in all states will carry more options than the sorry ones offered up by the two major parties. I'll be looking for Rocky Anderson's Justice Party in my state. Someone else may be available in your state.

There are candidates before us who are not channeling destruction, hypocrisy and the designs of the 1%. When will Americans stop waiting for Third Party candidates to perform miracles in the sky? They're waiting upon us to pull off the miracle. 'Occupy' has already taken some initiative and pulled off a few minor miracles. More can happen with increased civic participation.

Autocrats and plutocrats have gained the upper hand in government, whether or not they carry the label of authoritarians. Re-establishing the US Constitution as the law of the land will not come easy in a day. Voting for TLOTE Obama in November will only put off the day when the Constitution prevails once more. In the meantime, chip away. It's only punk rot. Corruption will be further weakened by every voter who refuses to prop it up with another vote.

If undiluted evil continues to reign after January 20, 2013, why not continue resisting it?

The ancient Mayans may have calculated badly. The world will not end on election night. If you're all in this fight, there are many more rounds to come. What's the point of throwing in the towel now? There's no "time's up" for thinking clearly, for doing the right thing.

Recall how Glen Ford closed his speech on TLOTE Obama:

"Fight him this election year. Fight him every year that he’s here."