No longer the stuff of disturbing futuristic fantasies, an arsenal of "crowd control munitions," including one that reportedly made its debut in the US, was deployed with a massive, overpowering police presence in Pittsburgh during last week's G-20 protests.
Nearly 200 arrests were made and civil liberties groups charged the many thousands of police (transported on Port Authority buses displaying "PITTSBURGH WELCOMES THE WORLD"), from as far away as Arizona and Florida with overreacting ... and they had plenty of weaponry with which to do it.
September 30, 2009
September 29, 2009
Our worst fears have come true. And our best wishes have been spat on by our leaders. Reform? Scratch health care off. Justice? Scratch criminal investigations and prosecuting torture off. Truth? Scratch transparency off. Obama's message to the American people, and to the whole world, can be summed up in four words; fuck your wish list.
The destruction of America's old form of government is near completion, and a new world government, created and controlled by the international moneyed elite, is slowly being introduced into the public consciousness. All that is left is one last major world war, the final in the trilogy of modern mass mayhem that began nearly a century ago. But these deadly elites will not succeed, in their ambition lies their downfall. These pathological and evil men know their ruin is coming, so they have decided to exit world history with a bang. I advise them to burn their own bodies once their plans for world domination fails, as Hitler had his assistants do after he committed suicide. Because if they do not turn themselves into ashes, I, and a million others, will piss on their graves until the cemetery turns into a sea of pee!
The American, Israeli, and Iranian oligarchic governments are all illegitimate. Each deserves to be replaced by their citizens with a true representative form of government. The policies of political Zionists, Islamic theocrats, and American imperialists, have proved fatal to every human being living on this planet, not just the people in their own land. Their insanity has been continual, and their destruction shows no signs of stopping. They are the enemies of justice, truth, and liberty, and with this coming war, all three governments will be repossessed by their people, and criminal charges will be brought against all the current executive leaders of the three countries, as well as high-level government officials, secret agents, and the banking and corporate elites, who shall all be named for their high crimes and treason. Any low or mid-level elected government official who does not speak out now against the official lies and against the wars will also be brought to a court of law. There will be no mercy for perpetrators of violence and deception anywhere, once justice begins her unavoidable work. I warn all media propagandists and all elected officials that they will be punished for repeating the propaganda of their states, but especially those of America and Israel since they are the aggressors in this war. I repeat, again, there will be no mercy for those who will cry that they were duped, and lied to by their leaders and bosses. Think for yourself is the first law of the universe, and those who fail in doing that will not be judged favorably by their victims.
When we say revolution we say it with love. Love for the first man and the last man. And don't get it backwards, it is not of the hippie variety. You will not see us high and rolling in the grass, having fantasies of a better world. Instead, you will see us gear up like the foot soldiers of Empire and Tyranny, because our love for justice, and humanity, demands discipline. It is not a flowery love that I speak of, but a masculine love. A love that prides order and justice equally, under the same system. A love that will shatter any illusions we may still have about humanity being evil. A love that is hated by the enemies of justice and free thought. You can not shape this undeniable love into a plastic heart, because it derives from every muscle in our being, from our heads and our eyes, down to the sole of our feet. It is a love that hates all that is mechanical, and artificial. A love that loves to wonder and create small things, taking nothing for granted, not itself, and not life. It overgives light but it does not surrender its power to the living alone, knowing that the dead are more appreciative. If it abandons itself to creatures of fright, it is only to teach them that they are weaker for leeching in night with their teeth of might. It sees a need for a fight, because this love is battle hardened, and will face up against the guardians of Babel's unraveling garden.
It is a love that does not tolerate stilled spirits, and declares its misgivings to the world's citizens and their governments without any reservations. It is a love with total self-respect, and does not dare tread upon the dreams of others. It invites the enlightened and dumb alike, and enlivens them both the same. It has lived in Erich Fromm, and Nietzsche too. It rubs shoulders with dancers, bumps J Dilla's beats, and basks in the glory of Arcade Fire. It loves oratory, if you ask for a story, it will give you poetry. Before me is this love, and I write with full knowledge that I will fight with it when the time is right.
We will express this love first in the streets, and then in the halls of our governments, which will for the first time in history reflect the passions for justice and truth that lives in the citizens. You cannot kill a love that is willed from the greatest depths of human suffering. We do not possess this love, it lives through us, and we are lucky for that gift.
The forces of decay will bow down before this love, because they will be unable to comprehend it. Their instincts will fail them. All of their training will be for nothing. They will come to see a flaw in their thought, and unlawful orders, which are one and the same.
If we do not act with this love, We the people, will be deserting justice, truth, and liberty in their most vital hours. So far, we have deserted. And I can't stand it. I am angry, most of all, at myself for not being involved with local chapters of We Are Change, and other positive organizations fighting for truth and justice. But that will change. It is not enough to warn, and to blog. I have to fight. We all have to fight. Averting the total destruction of what's left of our representative governments is the people's total responsibility. Over a century ago, muckraking journalist Lincoln Steffens spoke a truth about the American people that still has its punch for today. "We," Steffens said, "are pathetically proud of our democratic institutions and our republican form of government, of our grand Constitution and our just laws. We are a free and sovereign people, we govern ourselves and the government is ours. But that is the point. We are responsible, not our leaders, since we follow them. We let them divert our loyalty from the United States to some "party"; we let them boss the party and turn our municipal democracies into autocracies and our republican nation into a plutocracy." Steffens's judgments about the American people are truer in the first decade of this century than in the last. And the prescription he offered, that we stop following our leaders to national ruin, applies more urgently to us than previous generations. And it applies not just to America, but to all people living under the cruel thump of tyrants and cowards.
We also must accept another verdict that Steffens laid down very plainly in his journalistic expose of municipal government corruption at the turn of the century, The Shame of Cities; "The people are not innocent." They were not then, and they are not now. I don't care how high the level of the propaganda is. An unquestioning people deserve tyrants to lead them. Corruption lives in the people more so than in the politicians. Although we mistake it for something else, like ignorance, we are corrupted every time we don't speak up for justice and the truth of things. So, if we are serious about change and accountability, we are required by our conscience to first take a look in the mirror, renounce any excuses, and realize that the crimes we have tolerated for so long did not need to be tolerated. And then gear up for battle, as warriors, but without the paint.
In the coming months and years we will have to act with everything that lives in us. When World War Three is finally upon us, we must push back against the cruel injustices inflicted and supported by our various governments. Every government that instigates and engages in this war will fall one after the other, in a very short order. The people of each nation will inspire the bravery of the other, and their religious, political, and financial sovereignty will prevail. The issuance of money will be stripped from the central banks, and institutions such as the WTO, World Bank, and IMF will be disassembled or reconfigured along more democratic principles. You may think that this is the domino theory of revolution, but it is not, because we will push from the ground up we will be more successful than tyrants pushing down from above. Our strength, built up over years of alienation and humiliation, will serve us against the tyranny of death, lies, and more lies. No government can keep down a sustained and peaceful resistance for long. But the pressure must be put on. It is our fight to lose. And we have no one to blame but ourselves if we are not victorious in the end.
September 28, 2009
Life tests us everyday to be more convincing warriors of liberty and truth. One day gone is another missed opportunity to right the problems of the world. In our situation, every single day counts. In times of anxiety and dread such as ours it is the determination of a few brave individuals that helps guide justice to her proper place in society, which is simultaneously at the seat of our souls and the heart of our cities, and Luke Rudkowski is one of those brave individuals.
Starting a protest on any given day in the downtown corridors of our cities should be among our first rights as citizens of the world. Our divine creator wouldn't want it any other way. Too fight for what matters in the streets makes us alive. Rebelling against unjust circumstances is a healthy reaction in all of us, and Luke Rudkowski has done that by nurturing his well in-tuned instincts, and conscience. He took charge upon first hearing about the real criminal characters behind the attacks on 9/11. His persistence is inspiring to all the warriors in this very lonely and sometimes quiet battlefield.
The few men I admire bear an acute sensitivity in their actions and choice of words. From the distance, I see myself saying what Luke is saying behind the bullhorn. In him, the message of truth, liberty, and justice, is carried out without any hateful overtones or distasteful antics. Luke's noble efforts in Pittsburgh further revealed what a thoughtful and righteous man he is. His consideration for the masked police troopers as fellow human beings showed good sense, and a clear-headedness that should be emulated by all of us in this fight. True, some of these unthinking bastards go out of their way to instigate violence and crush any form of dissent, but some of them are also being put in a situation they don't want to be in. Their behavior resemble guard dogs who are trained to protect their owners' homes. A part of me feels they are responsible for the extremes they go to, but another part tells me that it is not their fault. I'm not trying to explain away their mindless actions, but I am trying to put it in perspective. Just as it isn't criminal to think, it isn't criminal to not to think. So we cannot blame them. It is their job to gear up and protect the lives of their masters, and in our demoralized world, that passes as a good enough excuse, however destructive those jobs may be.
I may be speaking blasphemy, after all, these are shock troops, but I know what I know. They are not Nazi officials, they did not sign up for this. Germans actively sought out the SS and joined them, whereas American police officers are brought under federal and corporate control through different, and more sinister means. Some are outright bribed with cash and cool weapons, most are brainwashed, and some are just plain old pleasure seekers. And I can't be too mad at the last bunch, because in a way, they're presence is heightening our lives and our history. For a while, the world was stale, but the attitude of indifference to inhumane suffering anywhere in the world is changing every day, and it wouldn't be wise of us to just expect that our rulers would come down and go into the woods. A fight is coming, and that is not a bad thing.
But the rational way of handling these careless troopers is not by starting the fight first, or pissing them off, but simply by getting out of their way, or even better, by ignoring them. We have to think on our feet and maneuver ourselves around them. Civil disobedience doesn't necessarily mean we must face off the fascist police in a literal fashion. Being creative is more than painting colors on your face, or wearing quirky clothing, it is essentially about thinking strategically and bypassing our oppressors. The trouble is that these bastards are not totally unthinking creatures, they can encircle a crowd the way a sheepdog is able to round up the sheep and lead them to the barn. When they have us cornered, the first thing to do is remain calm, stay together, and act as one body. We cannot let them disperse us and attack as individually. That is the way to physical and spiritual defeat.
Of course, it is very easy to say all of this now. I'm not so sure I'll be able to get a hold of myself during a confrontation with the oppressors' action toys. I might scream out a few insults at them. I am very stubborn and may not comply to any thing the masked fascists have to say, but I hope I can prepare myself mentally first, before I go out and finally grip the sword. Will my Apollonian nature hold tight, or will my Dionysian instincts take over? It remains to be seen. Until then, Luke Rudkowski will serve as my example, and I am proud to say so.
It slips through the jungle like a jaguar in the night. It climbs out of the caverns that lead to the air-vents that sustain the illuminati in their castles underground. It leaks into the glaciers like sleep, slipping from the mouth of Albert Gore. It walks through
Parisand waltzes through . It has a beer at the Oktoberfest and thinks about beer trucks filled with bombs. It wears a condom in Vegas and goes bareback in Vienna . It dreams and it wonders, as it greets the sun in Salt Lake City and we are riding alongside on the doppelganger express. It’s the future and its possibility. It’s that indefinable something that you can taste in Chinese food and it’s a warning and the witness cause… Santa knows if you’ve been good. Samarkand
. . . more from Les.
And hear him provide counsel to all the warriors, impatient and patient alike, on this broadcast.
September 27, 2009
Innocent American citizens are being subjected to the violence of wolves, who wield every single weapon of steel imaginable at their bloody fingertips. It is the most unfair fight in history. On one side of the ground is the flash of cameras, and on the other, the sound from the clash of hammers.
Jason Bermas: In what was possibly the most surreal, horrific, and unimaginable thing I have ever witnessed in my life, 1200 Riot Police and Military Personal rabidly attacked a group of well under 300 American citizens, many of them just students that were unaware there was even a protest going on. They then expanded their perimeter and shut large areas of Oakland down. This is how my last experience at the G20 in Pittsburgh went down, out of control authorities mercilessly attacking an unarmed crowd with batons, tear gas, pepper spray, sound weapons, and rubber bullets. Around 10pm on Friday night, long after the vast majority of dignitaries and protesters had left, it became evident that the outrageous show of force by the Military and Police was not enough to stave off their thirst for blood.The US Government has made it painfully clear to every American: do not resist us. And the mindless drones, dressed in black storm trooper attire, carried out their orders willingly, even getting a kick out of it. I'm sure the thrill they felt when they approached the defenseless protesters, almost in lockstep, will not go away anytime soon. In fact, they will only intensify their efforts the next time around, if conscience Americans ever decide to bravely resist their tyrants again. Next time, I might even hop the border and join them in their good fight, or maybe I'll be lucky, and the storm troopers will visit my town.
All the fatal warnings made by brave and intelligent Americans about the grave path their country is on came true in Pittsburgh. But history is still being written, and for it to be fully completed, all the historical actors have to take their place in this epic drama. In Pittsburgh the defenders of the bleeding empire are beginning to play their part, and what an introduction they made!
But tyranny is not in America's destiny, so the country will be turned around in the end. "To take a direction," said Ortega y Gasset, "is not the same thing as to have gone all the way to our destination."
These are unpredictable times, the people's awakening to political corruption at the core of world politics is putting all of us at the edge of history. The course of this century will be decided within the next few years. The tyrants and cowards will try to persuade us to stay still and not make any sudden moves, but this is exactly the time when moving our bodies will change history. It is not our fate to sit still behind our curtains and watch our dreams for a better world get buried outside. Liberty is under our feet, and each step forward is a small victory. A new world government, already corrupted by big banks and corporations, is still unborn, and will forever be unborn. The inhumanity of the present system has penetrated into the national consciousness, making it harder for the tyrants to carry it on quietly. Americans, a resilient people, are not silent and static anymore. Although they are not yet united in the fight for liberty and justice, it is their destiny to meet their tyrants as one will and one voice. All the sticks for the bonfire of liberty are being gathered separately, by small bands here and there, but the divine moment will come when everybody will put their hands over the flame at once, and claim the light of liberty in their country, as they have before in previous periods of political crises. It is only natural and necessary that there shall be a fight first. And fun, too.
September 26, 2009
In his new documentary exposé of the ongoing financial crisis, Capitalism: A Love Story, film director Michael Moore concludes that capitalism is evil. Moore made the film to open discussion but how can a statement as stupefying as that open any thoughtful discussion? I hope his analysis does not count as America's offering of a pumped up, dumbed-down version of Karl Marx to world history.
Unlike Marx, Michael Moore is not a revolutionary, or even proactive, but he is a dedicated and concerned citizen, with a tripod and a camera. And I respect that because I believe he is a patriot at heart. Although I agree with his statements that any decent society is based on democratic decision making and a good deal of ethics, I think his explanation for how the financial crisis happened is entirely simplistic, and even downright stupid. His critique of America's political economy does not nearly go far enough because he is on the wrong trail, and telling the story from a confused point of view. His criticism of Wall St., in short, completely misses the mark.
Moore, along with many liberals, still sticks to the myth that the free market created this crisis, and that the deregulation frenzy that preceded the crisis is the main reason why we are where we are. These critics, who are unable to flex their minds, don't bother to take a look at the Federal Reserve and its role in the economic crisis. Moore criticizes voodoo economists Larry Summers and Tim Geithner, but he still unquestionably accepts their participation in the Obama administration, believing in good faith that they will fix the mess that they helped create. He thinks they are like children who will clean up after themselves, and the dramatic irony in that nonsensical logic is alone worth another Oscar nomination.
Besides his humor, Moore's commentary on politics and economics is incredibly painful to watch. He naively assumes that America's hijacked economy falls under the normal operating procedure of capitalism, but what actually exists in America is a highly subverted form of capitalism. Despite his intellectual deficiencies and child-like faith in the current President, I still must praise Michael Moore for being even half-aware and half-active. In our depoliticized culture it is a high accomplishment to speak anything political and be heard, let alone consistently for twenty years, which Moore has done.
To tell the truth, I am not completely sold on the libertarian idea that regulation should be avoided at all costs. But installing new regulations is not imperative to a sound economic system. The laws on the books were not followed, and that is the main problem. I think some areas of economic life needs to be regulated and some areas should be left alone, but before all of that is decided, power needs to be placed back in the appropriate hands, which is the people. As German philosopher Theodor Adorno said, it all depends on "who regulates whom." In our lost world, private banks and corporations control the regulatory powers of the State and use it for their own further enrichment. To view them as capitalists is the gravest mistake the Left can make at this point in history.
Moreover, commentators who attribute the collapse of the American banking system last fall to capitalism's internal logic ignore the fact that capitalism has not existed in America for many, many years. Modern leftists argue that socialism wasn't truly practiced by the former Soviet system, and they are right, so why do they make the mistake in believing the United States propaganda that its economic system is capitalistic? They claim that those who put aside free enterprise as the culprit for the crisis are apologists for the status quo. But they fail to correctly identify the economic model of the status quo. Since the 1930's America's economic model has taken on the worst aspects of capitalism and communism, or what is known as economic fascism. Fascism, the marriage between the Corporation and the State, was ordained in hell, otherwise known as World War II, and was never meant to be a brief engagement. Defeating Hitler's Army was the first act for America's fascist regime, but the story didn't end with Hiroshima.
Before going any more forward, a clear definition of economic fascism is needed. Historian Thomas DiLorenzo sums up the whole affair of economic fascism pretty clearly, writing: "The whole idea behind collectivism in general and fascism in particular is to make citizens subservient to the state and to place power over resource allocation in the hands of a small elite." It doesn't matter who made the initial political proposal, because both sectors of power have lived happily ever after. In the past sixty years, a perfect world for the elite has been created, and a lost world for the stuttering people, whose loyalty to party politics can be compared with a child's loyalty to his favorite wrestler. The made for TV politicians appear to persuade the public that the election system still retains a democratic character, all the while the electoral process has been circumvented by what professor Bertram Gross called "faceless oligarchs." In his excellent and illuminating book, "Friendly Fascism," Gross writes:
The more that people are encouraged to "throw the rascals out," the more their attention is diverted from other rascals that are not up for election: the leaders of macrobusiness, the ultra-rich, and the industrial-military-police-communications-health-welfare complex. Protests channeled completely into electoral processes tend to be narrowed down, filtered, sterilized, and simplified so that they challenge neither empire nor oligarchy. (1).
An anti-Establishment coalition, called for by Gross, has yet to emerge, but there are inklings that the alienated majority can come together at last, rehabilitate the Constitution, and change the current regime in power. As it is now, national villains still occupy the minds of most citizens, whose engagement with the world of ideas consists very little of reading history, philosophy or classical literature, areas of knowledge that can help readjust a person's conception of reality and give them an intellectual maturity, which is badly needed before any revolutionary middle can be fully realized.
The reality of life currently presented by the facade that is called News, which has come to stand for "Never Entertain the Wrong Story," can be accurately visualized as a matrix of lies and propaganda. There isn't a better metaphor than the Matrix to help explain to brainwashed people what is real and what is fake in politics, and because it is a popular cultural reference rather than another example of academic jargon, people immediately identify with their own previous situation and adjust to the new version of events. Nightly News, and every other kind, has kept the public from seeing the bigger picture, only providing them with little tidbits of information, which is not enough for people to make a thoughtful decision about political matters. This type of intellectual neglect leaves them stranded in their homes, without understanding the real story at the end of the night.
I don't consider myself a storyteller, but simply a young man with confused thoughts and a blog, however, from reading history and present day commentary about the state of our troubled world, I can say confidently what I think the real story is today. In sum, the entire push for Fascism by the ruling elite was their political revenge against the victories achieved by the lower and middle classes in the nineteenth and twentieth century, which were largely aided by technological and scientific advancements, and some social justice legislation. The fact that the Earth has undergone severe changes is giving these oligarchs a cause to fight for; the Environment. And they regard the peasants of the world as undeserving trespassers.
Most Americans have missed the story of Fascism in America because the seminal events that brought this new structure of power into being happened without any interruption in their daily lives. In Nazi Germany, Hitler's arrival signaled a fascist turn, and the same was true for Mussolini in Italy and Franco in Spain, but America's grand architects have been far less visible. In fact, the financial elite's very existence is questioned to this day, after so much pillaging of the American public's wealth. Cultural historian Paul Fussell describes the invisibility of 'top-out-of-sights' in the American class landscape, comparing them with the bottom poor, who are invisible for other reasons. In his book "Class: A Guide Through the American Status System" Fussell highlights the similarities between the underclass and the ultra elite in America:
Just as the tops are hidden away on their islands or behind the peek-a-boo walls of their distant estates, the bottoms are equally invisible, when not put away in institutions or claustrated in monasteries, lamaseries, or communes, then hiding from creditors, deceived bail-bondsmen, and gulled merchants intent on repossessing cars and furniture. (2).
Fussell tackles the customs and appearances of class differences, avoiding analysis of the economic warfare in American politics. Any mention of class war and you're immediately tagged with a Marxist or communist label, but as intellectuals we must overcome this historical hurdle and call a spade a spade, regardless of our class orientation. To be frank, I don't view myself as part of any class, but I consider that way of looking at myself as a poetic delusion, because both of my parents have each worked two jobs for most of their lives, and we live from paycheck to paycheck, like millions of other people.
Cultural critic Benjamin DeMott, author of Whitewash as public service: How The 9/11 Commission Report defrauds the nation, wrote in his book The Imperial Middle that we need to clear up the long-sustained myth that America is a classless society, and address inequality with purpose. Demott says:
Commitment to the legend of the average American as unfettered chooser makes it impossible for the state to take adequate account of the complex actualities of a class society. More than once in recent times the resulting state-administered class injustice has been not less than appalling in its human cost." (3).
Two current examples that reveal state-administered class injustice are the poverty draft for the Wars overseas, and the effects of the financial crisis. According to Barbara Ehrenreich and Dedrick Muhammad, the Bank mortgage swindle is bankrupting the Black middle class. In their article, they write:
Black unemployment is now at 14.7%, compared to 8.7% for whites. In New York City, black unemployment has been rising four times as fast as that of whites. Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, estimates that 40% of African Americans will have experienced unemployment or underemployment by 2010, and this will increase child poverty from one-third of African-American children to slightly over half.
The decline of the Black middle class is part of the overall collapse of the American middle class. Elizabeth Warren, who serves on the Congressional Oversight Panel for the bailouts, warns in her presentation "The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class"( available on youtube) that American society is going from a three-tier society to a largely two-tier society, consisting of the very rich and the very poor, who will find it harder to get out of debt. Although I fault the Fascist State's economic and foreign policy for this development, the American people have not been totally wholesome either. Edward Harrison of the website Credit Writedowns sums up the illusions ordinary Americans held in the country's recurring booms and busts in the last thirty years:
People traded in their savings for cool technological gadgets, and consumer products, and believed they too were part of the rich streak that the country's elite was on. Of course, Americans are victims more than anything, but a country that doesn't save is not a country, it is a prison. Still, the rise in health care costs is a bigger reason for why people are poorer rather than consumerism. And poorer Americans are victims of the State's endless push for security inside the borders and war fighting outside. Meanwhile, the private prisons, grown out of an exaggerated fear, sucks up labor in the jobless economy, and turns citizens, mostly black and brown, into slaves. I wish this was plain old fashioned rhetoric, but it is not.
Even though the gulf between rich and poor was widening and the rich were getting richer, we thought we too were getting richer as well. We thought that we too were profiting from all of this “productivity.” In the 1980s, we came out of a steep double dip recession and stagflation and we won the cold war. This inflated our sense of well-being. In the 1990s, there was the tech bubble to inflate our assets. In this decade, there was the housing bubble. So, we thought we were getting rich too. We didn’t mind that the ruling class was benefiting disproportionately as long as we too appeared to be benefiting.
The aggressive wars overseas also serve a domestic purpose, which is to funnel the remaining unemployed to the military sector. Military recruits target neighborhoods where job unemployment and the high school dropout rate are both high, and make promises of future opportunities to hopeless young people. But they skip over the fact that less than 20% of soldiers who complete four years of military duty ever receive funding for education, or that the job training offered in the military does not provide the required skills to become successful in the workforce. Unless you decide to become a youth-bashing fascist policeman. The Fascist State is constantly in need of more drones so there is always an opening in that line of work. "Tyrants," said Murray Rothbard, "live in constant and perpetual fear of the well-deserved hatred they know is borne them by every one of their subjects."
Modern totalitarianism feeds on fabricated military threats from abroad and a large pool of labor at home. The fascist's revenge would not have been possible without the military. In fact, the military and security personnel are one of the principal characters in this revenge story. Professor of economics, Ismael Hossein-Zadeh, writes in his book The Political Economy of U.S Militarism:
The militarism abroad is matched by the police build-up at home, and this political reality made its way to Pittsburgh very violently at the recent G20 conference. The onslaught of military hardware showcased for the first time in Pittsburgh was paid for by the American people, and sponsored by Congress and the White House. This tyranny is not a new development under the Obama era, but the culmination of six decades. Each administration piled on more debt than the administration that came before, and the invisible government behind the presidential masks orchestrated a military state to aggressively maintain order in the event of a revolution. According to economist Robert Higgs, author of the article "The Living Reality of Military-Economic Fascism," the Fascist subversion of the American government started long before 1949. "The MICC[military-industrial-congressional complex]," writes Higgs, "is deeply entrenched in the US political economy, which itself has been moving steadily closer to complete economic fascism for more than a century." To be clear, Fascism does not just benefit the extreme elite, but an entire class of professional thieves.
Tobegin with, the war atmosphere and heightened patriotism make it easier for the ruling class to redistribute national resources in favor of capital, or against labor. For example, the atmosphere of war and national security state that the neoconservative militarists in and around the Bush administration have created has made it easier for opponents of social spending to give drastic tax cuts to the wealthy while, at the same time, cutting on the meager but critically needed benefits of the poor and working classes. (4).
Higgs, again, says: "military-economic fascism, by empowering and enriching wealthy, intelligent, and influential members of the public, removes them from the ranks of potential opponents and resisters of the state and thereby helps to perpetuate the state's existence and its intrinsic class exploitation of people outside the state." The unclassified characters who appear in the background of this revenge story are the slaves, most of whom believe they are intrinsically free human beings, and the unwilling slaves who make up an army but are without generals to lead them. And it is unfortunate because Americans are not a cowardly people; they were once liberty's most dedicated warriors. Indeed, America's lower classes have not always been this frozen and quiet, the country's labor history is the most violent of any country in the world.
In the past sixty years, however, our political world has become very rigid. Any sort of political spontaneity, with the exception of Ron Paul's presidential campaign in 2008 and George McGovern's run in 1972, has been missing in the people. German philosopher and sociologist Theodor Adorno captured the sense of powerlessness in people in modern totalitarian states in his essay on the ideas of the historian Oswald Spengler. Adorno writes, "Spengler's prophecy for the smaller states is beginning to be fulfilled in men themselves, even in the citizens of the largest and most powerful states. Thus, history seems to have been extinguished. All events are things that happen to men, not things they bring about themselves, " (5). Adorno's analysis was right on the mark, but the ongoing political awakening is beginning to change things, hopefully, for the better. Despite my hopes, however, I know we are still limited in our fight against tyranny, because of the massive propaganda crusades organized through the corporate media and the government. In the so called green revolution in Iran, the discontent of the Iranian people was converted into political capital for the former prime minister Mousavi, whose affiliation with Western intelligence agencies is suspect. Likewise, the hijacked tea party movement in America is transforming unsuspecting conservatives once more into political pawns, and turning their post-bailout rage into controlled political energy for the corporate titans.
In both cases, the essential thing to know is not so much who is telling the story, although that is important, but how the story is being told in the public arena. With the advent of twitter and cell phones, the first man to hit the button literally tells the story, and whoever does, can manipulate future events pretty shockingly. We live in a historical epoch in which political lies can get inside the public mind with exceptional ease, and the advancements of propaganda techniques allow for lies to even time travel and change the past version of events. (Okay, I may have exaggerated a bit in that last part, but it is not far-fetched to suggest that modern states use history as a political weapon.)
Political manipulation of events is, of course, not a unique phenomenon in history, but in our lost world, lies have become so successful that people call any alternative version of events a conspiracy theory. The Soros and Rockefellers of the world are cast aside as generous statesmen who fund various charities and organizations without a political agenda. These characters are mere drop-ins in the story; they are guest stars who have no political weight on the set. But the exact opposite is true. In fact, these characters essentially own the set. To poison-fed intellectuals, however, the shadowy Bilderberg Group doesn’t have any social or political influence. No, not at all, how could they? And the idea that they may have a class interest and protect it rigorously in their field of work is not even broached.
That political and economic events are orchestrated, or at least shaped, by a ruling, fascist elite, should not be a bitter bill to swallow for anyone, since throughout history there has existed a struggle between the very, very wealthy and the rest of society. "Events," as Adorno writes, "are the private affairs of the oligarchs and their assassins," (6). So to regard the developments in our day as new revelations is not entirely right, but it is true that the unveiling of modern politics has pushed the world into uncharted territory. Although this is a good sign, ignorance is still very rampant in every corner of the organized political spectrum. Conservatives, along with their liberal counterparts, have surrendered their political spontaneity without knowing it, each to their separate propaganda channels on the radio and television, and unfaithful party machines.
The neutered Left's messiah fully supports the Too Big to Jail program, which bails out banks whose history of insider trading and manipulation of markets is rarely brought up. Obama's administration has proposed to bail out Wall St. at every turn. This is the same one way street that has robbed the country blind. The heist was literally done at gun point. Former CEO of Goldman Sachs Henry Paulson managed to get Congress to hand over any power they thought they still had. Today, after stealing billions of dollars from the American people, Goldman Sachs is paying just $14 million in taxes.
For all his Messiah persona, Obama is not messianic about anything that matters to the majority of the people. His fist bumps with the insiders of Washington and Wall St. will forever taint his post-Washington career. But we should not be surprised if he falls as rapidly as he climbed. He is meant to be the disappointed one rather than the appointed one. Although his administration will use Bush as a scapegoat, as Bush used Bin Laden, to avoid any overt criticism for his economic and foreign policy, his downfall will be his own doing, because he has personally endorsed the bailout of the private thieves and the militarism of the war corporations and the Pentagon.
Obama is the model-home of presidents, he's very presentable and proper, but he's not the real thing, and inside is where all the dirt is. And he is not the most powerful man in the free world, rather, he is the front man for the sideshow. His appearance at the model UN the other day is supposed to raise his profile as the model citizen of the world, but rather than accomplishing that, it cemented more clearly what world government is really about; political dress-up to cover the hypocrisy and pillage. Obama, like any other model, has designers behind him who tell him what to do and what to say. His empty suit fits him perfectly. His empty promises to end the wars and institute a just health care system were even more cynical and depraved than Bush's promises to curtail the military overseas and cut down the size of the federal government. In the last eight months Obama has extended olive trees to the Republicans because he comes from the same political tree. If he was for real reform, he would have broken a few Republican twigs by now.
Inside the Federal Reserve's whirlpool of fraud and deception, economic and moral laws are makeshift notions, secrecy is a virtue, and political baggage is checked at the door. Outside, it is viewed as the epicenter of corruption, and the main cause for the economic crisis.
All roads lead to the Fed. It is the holy church of paper money and profit. And it is the checkpoint to end all checkpoints in the road to economic recovery. It is also the running thread in this story of revenge. The American nation was bought off at the Fed checkout line. This Frankenstein creature belongs in the realm of fiction rather than reality, and so on first hearing about it, its activities are not believed to be real. The magnitude of the corruption surrounding the Fed is beyond belief. People become paralyzed after being told that a large portion of their tax dollars go to unelected bankers, who have amassed enough wealth to buy up entire governments. Such wickedness is unimaginable. The horror! The terror!
The Fed's destructive monetary policies are indefensible. It is a huge weight on the productivity of the economy, and due to the secret nature of its influence, the American people are forced to carry a burden that is not acknowledged by society. Regular slaves know their heavy workload is for their master but uncommon slaves are worked to death without truly knowing who the work is for, they mistakenly believe it is for their children but their children are burdened with even more unjustified debt. It may seem like a cruel and unjust punishment, but that is the cost of ignorance.
A sound mind, after researching the origins and history of the Federal Reserve Bank, comes to the conclusion that America's economic system is not based on a free market, but a controlled market. A possessed market. A market owned by the greediest characters of mankind. So, contrary to popular misconceptions, the private Federal Reserve Bank was not designed by venture capitalists but by fascist vultures, to be the ultimate money machine, used to seize the American people's wealth, fund unceasing wars overseas, and pay off treasonous whores at home to keep the country under siege.
I don't know how this story will end, or even if this story is the right one. I am never sure of myself, but one thing I am sure about is that we cannot stand by and watch the poor of the world play the character that dies at the end of this revenge story.
If the ruling elite go ahead with their plans for eugenics and depopulation of the planet, then class war will morph into class genocide. The lower classes of the world, and by this I mean any segment of the population that does not belong to the ruling elite or those who work for them as assassins and administrators, are being nailed down to the side road of history. In the future I hope to guide them with a clear copy of a Hitchhiker's Guide to Liberty, and not these hazy, unaccomplished thoughts.
What is required in the face of such titanic terrors is a new heroic age, an age in which a person's life is not measured by how long it is lived but to what end it aims for; greatness. Will we determine or undermine our future? Sooner, or later, we must find our voice, interject into world history and peacefully play our independent parts. If not, then doom is certain.
2. Fussell, P. Class: A Guide Through the American Status System. (New York: Summit Books), p. 30.
3. Demott, B. The Imperial Middle: Why Americans Can't Think Straight About Class. (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.), p. 174.
4. Hossein-zadeh, I. The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), p. 240.
5. Adorno, T. Prisms. (London: Neville Spearman), p. 59.
6. Adorno, T. Prisms. (London: Neville Spearman), p. 59.
Republican Congressional leaders are continuing their witch-hunt against ACORN, the grassroots community group dedicated to helping poor and working class people. This campaign now unfortunately has gained bi-partisan legislative support in the form of the Defund ACORN Act of 2009 which has now passed the House and Senate. As Ryan Grim at Huffington Post has pointed out, the legislation “could plausibly defund the entire military-industrial complex:”
September 25, 2009
September 24, 2009
September 22, 2009
By Sibel Edmonds and Philip Giraldi
American Conservative Magazine
Sibel Edmonds has a story to tell. She went to work as a Turkish and Farsi translator for the FBI five days after 9/11. Part of her job was to translate and transcribe recordings of conversations between suspected Turkish intelligence agents and their American contacts. She was fired from the FBI in April 2002 after she raised concerns that one of the translators in her section was a member of a Turkish organization that was under investigation for bribing senior government officials and members of Congress, drug trafficking, illegal weapons sales, money laundering, and nuclear proliferation. She appealed her termination, but was more alarmed that no effort was being made to address the corruption that she had been monitoring.
A Department of Justice inspector general’s report called Edmonds’s allegations “credible,” “serious,” and “warrant[ing] a thorough and careful review by the FBI.” Ranking Senate Judiciary Committee members Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have backed her publicly. “60 Minutes” launched an investigation of her claims and found them believable. No one has ever disproved any of Edmonds’s revelations, which she says can be verified by FBI investigative files.
John Ashcroft’s Justice Department confirmed Edmonds’s veracity in a backhanded way by twice invoking the dubious State Secrets Privilege so she could not tell what she knows. The ACLU has called her “the most gagged person in the history of the United States of America."
From her interview in Fortune Magazine:
"The last time we left Afghanistan, and we abandoned Pakistan," she said, "that territory became the very territory on which Al Qaeda trained and attacked us on September 11th. So our national security interests are very much tied up in not letting Afghanistan fail again and become a safe haven for terrorists.
"It's that simple," she declared, "if you want another terrorist attack in the U.S., abandon Afghanistan."
September 21, 2009
I am an angry optimist and believe that America can be redeemed if her Citizens are willing to unite and take the mantle of Justice upon their back. I will do all I can to assist Americans in their quest for the Truth. By bringing Justice to those found guilty of Crimes Against Humanity, Crimes Against the Constitution, Crimes Against the Truth, and Crimes Against the Peace and General Welfare of Mankind, America will prove to the world, and to herself, that her dream of Liberty and Justice is for real. I, for one, will not accept any other reality.
"The idea that a state, any more than a corporation, commits crimes, is a fiction. Crimes always are committed only by persons . . . It is quite intolerable to let such a legalism become the basis of personal immunity." - Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson
The following is a transcript of the much anticipated exchange between former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, and Congressman Ron Paul, which took place before Bernanke's preliminary hearing in court. Bernanke is facing life imprisonment for committing Crimes Against Humanity, Crimes Against the Constitution, Crimes Against the Truth, and Crimes Against the Peace and General Welfare of Mankind. His defense, that the Federal Reserve Act permitted the Federal Reserve to act independently of the Congress, is gaining very little support. But Dr. Paul urged prudence and moderation in his final remarks to Congress and the newly established body, the Citizen Councils. Below is Democracy Now's coverage of this breaking world event.
Amy Goodman: Hello, and welcome to this special edition of Democracy Now! Today is the first day of the preliminary hearings of former and current high government officials, which will determine whether or not they will be brought to a public trial in the coming weeks, organized by the Citizen Councils. Soon, we will broadcast live from Congress, but first, we're joined by award-winning investigative journalist, and Democracy Now! Correspondent, Jeremy Scahill. He is the author of two best-selling books, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, and D.C Confidential: The Secret History of the Obama Administration. Jeremy is in congress covering this story for us.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Jeremy.
Jeremy Scahill: Hi Amy. Nice to be here.
Amy Goodman: Jeremy, can you briefly describe what the atmosphere is like inside the halls of Congress?
Jeremy Scahill: Well, Amy, the pulse here is electrifying. It has a circus atmosphere, there a lot of happy people. I have reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran before this, but the excitement here surpasses anything I've been involved with. I'm sure Glenn would agree, he and I talked a little bit earlier, and we both thought that the enthusiasm about these hearings are like nothing we ever imagined.
Juan Gonzalez: Jeremy, I understand you and the Citizen Press corps were briefed by Congress, and then by these Citizen Councils. They told us they were very determined not to get sidetracked by the media mayhem. Much of the talk in Washington has been about the upcoming Congressional elections, and because of the new arrangement in Washington, with states like California and Texas getting more seats, people are worried that the electoral campaign is going to interrupt these criminal hearings and prosecutions. Can you confirm this?
Jeremy Scahill: Yes, Juan, the temptation to do these hearings quickly is very much in the minds of prosecutors, but they are professional and they realize that a lot is riding on this. They are approaching these hearings and the subsequent trial as the sequel to the Nuremberg trials.
Amy Goodman: Jeremy, explain to us what is happening right now.
Jeremy Scahill: All of us are just waiting for former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to arrive. It was a little hectic at the beginning but now all the media watchdogs are taking their seats, including the traditional press corps and the citizen press corps. Also, most of the Congressmen who are not protesting outside are also beginning to sit down.
Amy Goodman: Jeremy, we're going to a break, and return with the footage you taped earlier today.
This is Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! Democracy Now.org, the War and Peace Report. We'll return in a minute.
Amy Goodman: That was Johnny Cash - When the Man Comes Around. And now we head to Congress, where we sent Jeremy Scahill this morning to take the pulse of Washington.
Sen. Rand Paul: Thank you very much. It is great to be here. I have here top-secret, fresh off the press news, the Democratic leadership has decided not to challenge me this fall.
Jeremy Scahill: Senator Rand Paul energized the min-convention outside the Congress today, cheered on by his enthusiastic supporters. He was one of the original senators to back the Citizen Council's call for criminal prosecutions of former high government officials, from the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.
Protestor: No one thought this would take place. For a long time, the people of this country had no idea what justice felt like. But we're finally getting a piece of it today, and it's exciting to be part of it.
Jeremy Scahill: What part of the country did you came from?
Protestor: I flew from Hawaii to be here, and it's amazing. I'm just sad that my son who served in the Iraq is not here with me.
Jeremy Scahill: The people inside the Congress were even more surprised that this day is here.
Member of Citizen Council: We're just happy that all the hard work has finally paid off. The last year has been a rollercoaster, we have been busy with the truth and reconciliation commission, and the subsequent fallout of that event. So, it's all very surreal, and still feels like it is out of a movie.
Member of Citizen Council: Many Americans support our action we are representative of the larger public, who recognize that this is a long procedure, and that the law takes time. This is not a 21st century McCarthyism, we have no intention of persecuting the defendants, we just want to see justice because of their involvement and complicity in Crimes against peace and mankind. If they are found innocent, then they should be forgiven, but if they're found guilty then they should be sent to Cuba, because I don't want these people living in my country.
Jeremy Scahill: With the exception of a few senators and congressmen, much of the lawmakers on Washington are behind these Citizen Councils, perhaps it's because of the elections coming up in November. I asked one of the organizers of the main Citizen Council what would happen if some of these former Bush and Obama officials didn't show up for their hearing.
Member of Citizen Council: We are going to hunt them down like they were the last pieces of Bin Laden. Maybe we should reassemble the CIA for this special occasion to do the job. (laughs).
Jeremy Scahill: How crucial was the dismantling of the CIA to making these proceedings a success? Do you think that Leon Panetta's defense was legitimate?
Member of Citizen Council: I can't see how their secret actions against the wishes of the people were legitimate. They claim they were acting in the best interest of the country, that they are patriots, but why is it patriotic to kill foreign democratic presidents, or shipping in drugs to America's most impoverished communities to fund their operations in Latin America. I mean, their excuse that the CIA was essential to the country's survival in the Cold War is flat out not true. No country, no people, should resort to monstrous means to ensure it's survival. I would rather die than break the law.
Jeremy Scahill: Although members of Citizen Councils have been criticized for their radicalism, the councils are not as monolithic as they've been portrayed.
Member of Citizen Council: I come from a Christian background, I voted for Bush and McCain, but this goes beyond parties. These hearings and the trials next month are fundamental to restoring the rule of law in this country. The fabric of the constitution was ripped apart, and uh, I'm still pissed off that I was lied to all my life by the government and the fictitious press. I'm 58 years old, and I was brought up to believe that America was good and fought for justice and liberty around the world. Today, we are making that promise happen, at home. Today is our nation’s reckoning day.
Jeremy Scahill: The leaders of the councils have told me that these preliminary hearings will go into the body of record, and that the evidence will be looked at seriously before any decision is made about filing charges against them. For the defendants, who have been kept in federal custody for the last few weeks, today is their chance to be heard by their countrymen.
For Democracy Now!, this is Jeremy Scahill, with Jacquie Soohen, in Washington.
Amy Goodman: Thank you Jeremy for your report. Before we leave you, can you explain the altercations between some of the members of the Citizen Councils and a congressman? We're getting reports via twitter that one of the members of the Citizen Councils has attacked Congressman Joe Wilson.
Jeremy Scahill: Amy, I think that was a little overblown. I was in the room when it happened, and congressman Wilson, who famously shouted You Lie! to former president Obama in his speech on health care reform, and who is supposed to stand in for the accused on the Congressional panel, was unhappy about the seating arrangement, and the speaking time given to some Congressmen. And Steve Cubick, who is one of the spokesperson for the most influential of the Citizen Councils, said "how much time do you need to finish talking out of your ass" (laughs) and Wilson got infuriated after rhearing this, and there was a little scuffle, but Alex Jones stepped in quickly and broke it up. He then said, "as long as it takes, especially for these republican assholes." It was a very funny moment, Amy, it relieved the tension. Van quickly added "you stole my line."
Amy Goodman: (Laughing) Did you get a chance to sit down with either Alex Jones or Van Jones?
Jeremy Scahill: Well, I haven't been able to reach Van yet, he's been mostly outside, but Alex did give a private conference to all the independent citizen journalists inside. I asked him about the suicide of Dick Cheney last week, by, uh, hitting himself over the head with a hardcover version of the King James Bible, and the impact that will have on these proceedings, and also, what would happen in the event of a military coup by Erik Prince's buddies. He said Cheney's death would have no immediate consequences on the proceedings of the law, but that special criminal inmates are going to be looked after more carefully now, so that they are present in their upcoming trials. He called Cheney's suicide the last cowardly act of a cowardly life, and that Cheney's fear to plead his case to his contemporaries proves he is guilty. He joked that Bush is less likely to commit suicide because he wouldn't be caught dead beside a book.
Amy Goodman: (laughs) And what about the fears of an extremist coup?
Jeremy Scahill: He said the majority of the public is behind these Citizen Councils, and that the remaining bandits of the Guilted Age have very little support. A citizen journalist, Matthew Blake, asked him if the Middle East Invasion Veterans will be put in place to protect the capital if such a scenario takes place, and Jones responded, "A protocol is being followed, many of the citizen militias will also participate to protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic." One citizen journalist mentioned that some of these former Blackwater guys may decide to go through with their rescue operation, and there was some dear air for a few seconds, then Jones yelled "bring it on, we're ready for it." Jones concluded his brief address by saying such fears will disappear as more troops come back from Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran to a more comfortable living, a new G.I bill, and a new green house. He regards these private military contractors as paid bullies who are not fighting for any dear cause, and that because the State Department is no longer subsidizing any of these military corporations, their influence will weaken within the next year.
Amy Goodman: Can you describe more specifically what this Blackwater's rescue operation is all about? There have been reports by some citizen journalists in Iraq that Blackwater is trying to hire Al Qaeda members to come over to America and besiege the capital. Can you explain any of these claims? Are they true?
Jeremy Scahill: Well, from what I know Amy, there have been discussions going around in some of these citizen militias that America needs to protect its airspace more forcefully, in case these private militaries bring over suspicious baggage, they say. Securing the skies still falls under the traditional US state military, and they have not yet addressed this concern. I've also talked to a few former Blackwater men, and they've told me that back in 04, 05, their senior commanders were handing over key information to Al Qaeda about the location of America's military supplies. Much of the corruption in the State Department, they said, stemmed from these private militaries and intelligence corporations sharing secret information with the other side. I was dumbfoundead, I thought I knew everything about Blackwater, but they had pictures of Al Qaeda members buying weapons from guards in Blackwater gear. So it is very plausible that these same senior commanders could be in touch with high ranking Al Qaeda members, and lure them away from the war zones in Iraq. The likelihood of the attempt to bring down the transitory government in Washington, though, is very small, but it hasn't crossed the minds of the military people I've talked to.
Juan Gonzalez: Jeremy, what is the security in Washington been like on the ground for a journalist in these last couple of days?
Jeremy Scahill: Well, it's been tight, but there are no armed guards. One of the new promises from the Citizen Councils was the disarming of the police, so that the protestors would be less intimidated to approach the Capital and voice their displeasure about these hearings. Alex Jones has said that every one's democratic rights will be top priority, even for the guys who want to see him and others dead.
Amy Goodman: Jeremy. do you have any idea when the hearings will begin?
Jeremy Scahill: I was told they are going to begin a little after 1 pm, Amy. The former Fed Chairman just arrived, who will have an exchange with Congressman Paul separately, before the official hearings start.
Amy Goodman: Thank you, Jeremy.
Jeremy Scahill: Thank you.
Amy Goodman: That was Jeremy Scahill, award-winning investigative journalist, and Democracy Now! correspondent. His writing can be found at RebelReports.com. When we come back, we'll we be joined by columnist Glenn Greenwald, who is also serving as one of the lawyers in the Citizen Councils.
Amy Goodman: K'naan - Wavin flag. And now, we're joined by Glenn Greenwald, constitutional law attorney, and political and legal columnist for Salon.com. He's the author of six best selling books. His latest are Not The Last Collapse: The Breakdown of Law, and Why It Could Happen Again, and Judgment at Washington, published yesterday. Glenn joins us via his cell phone webcam outside Capitol Hill.
Glenn, welcome to Democracy Now!
Glenn Greenwald: Good to be here, Amy.
Amy Goodman: Can you tell us how many people are outside the Congress?
Glenn Greenwald: There are almost five million people here, Amy. A lot of them have come from other countries to be part of this. Most of them are glued to the big led screens put up around every corner street last night, waiting for the hearings to begin.
Amy Goodman: And what is the mood like?
Gleen Greenwald: Well, it's very animated, but also very orderly. Everybody is energetic, and there have been very few disturbances. The officers I've talked to say that security is their number one priority, but they are also mindful of people's civil liberties. The surveillance is huge, they've planned for any criminal attack or suicide bombing, and there are teams of lawyers working with police officers to make sure everyone's democratic rights of free expression is allowed.
Amy Goodman: Explain the reaction outside to Dick Cheney's suicide last week. Jeremy reported that his suicide will not halt the prosecution's case.
Glenn Greenwald: Yeah, I mean the prosecution's case is still very strong, and is targeted strictly at the top individuals who wrote the secret memos, orchestrated the cover up, and committed the higest crimes. There are still many high government officials who have to defend their views and their actions. Hiding behind Cheney, as Nazi officials hid behind Hitler, will not work. The people I've spoken with have told me that Cheney robbed them from a sense of closure, and that he proved his guilt by not facing up to the charges brought against him. But it's not unique. Hermann Goering also committed suicide the night before he was to be executed. There are rumours going around that Rumsfeld might sip some cyanide.
Juan Gonzalez: Glenn Greenwald, talk about the people who make up the Citizen Councils and what they're role is in these hearings.
Glenn Greenwald: Well, Thomas Tamm, who chairs one of the councils, has told me that the Citizen Councils serve as an advisory role to Congress, and to the prosecution's lawyers. They have no executive power, they are only meant to provide oversight, and exercise due diligence. Many of the members of the council are government whistleblowers, ACLU lawyers, federal and state attorneys who got fired by the Republican administration under Bush, or experienced prosecutors with a background in human rights organizations. Some have served on the UN Human Rights Council, in the US Military, US intelligence services, and private companies. They are, in some ways, becoming the fifth estate, and if the hearings and trials are successful and they remain popular, they could become a permanent body in American politics. The biggest misconception some people have, which has been put forth by the old media, is that they are mostly ordinary citizens with no expertise of the law, who are acting like 21st century McCarthyists. Also, a few of these Citizen Councils have lawyers are from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran, who are here representing their respective countries.
Amy Goodman: And Glenn, you have an advisory position in one of these Councils. Describe what your role is.
Glenn Greenwald: Yes, I've lend my background and training in constitutional law to help in the prosecution's case. The main reason I was approached by the Citizen Councils was my expertise in the torture memos, and the torture programs. What I basically do is try to list the documentable evidence that be used in court, and advise on the intricacies of the law from a Constitutional perspective. Some people suggest new constitutional amendments be established, which would have to be ratified by over seventy percent of the Congress.
Amy Goodman: Is there any support behind adding any new amendments?
Glenn Greenwald: Well, according to the new Draken poll, over eighty percent of the American are behind adding new amendments that would essentially strip the Executive from making national security claims to withhold information, or establishing any secret agency outside of the law.
Amy Goodman: Glenn, explain for us the war crimes charges, and specifically, the charges brought against the authors of the Torture memos.
Glenn Greenwald: Sure. The main charge, Crimes Against Humanity, is made against the truly guilty parties, the high-level Bush and Obama officials in the White House, including President Bush, and Vice President Biden. The illegal torture program was systematic, and continual. There’s ample evidence to show that the OLC memos were designed to be legal cover to enable the President and other officials to do what they knew was illegal. So the mere fact that these memos exist and say that these techniques, these torture techniques, are legal does not in any way mean that what was done was in good faith. In fact, there’s evidence that demonstrates repeatedly that many of these decisions were made before these memos were issued and these memos were issued retroactively to provide legal cover—the very definition of bad faith. And these memos lay out tactics that not only redefine torture, to put it in a better light, but explicitly authorize the tactics that are very clearly war crimes.
Juan Gonzalez: Can you tell us the gist of the argument the prosecution is making against former government officials who were involved to a high degree in these illegal actions.
Glenn Greenwald: Well, the former Bush and Obama administration claimed they had sovereign immunity, that secret provisions in the PATRIOT Act protected government officials from being sued, and allowed them to conduct illegal eavesdropping of Americans. These provisions, which repealed the FISA and the Wiretap Act, provided immunity, and they could decide whether or not they want to disclose to the public the information they gathered. All this illegality was done under the cover of terrorism, and the pretense of national security, and this was so outrageous because it wasn't the Bush administration that claimed government officials are protected from any consequences, but the former Obama administration.
Juan Gonzalez: And what is the defendants' argument?
Glenn Greenwald: Well, the torture question posed by the old media and the political class was always around saving American lives. The evidence they always to point was the Mohammed Atta case, where they say he was broken by these torture techniques in March of 2003, but we now know that torture didn't produce valuable intelligence. And that claim is dishonorable because it points to its effectiveness, overlooking the fact that it is illegal and a war crime. Former US Attorney General Eric Holder famously backed down in the fall of 2009 from his original decision to ask a special prosecutor to investigate torture abuses by CIA operatives, because of the argument that secrecy is important for national security. Former directors and members of the CIA sent a letter to Holder in September 2009, signed by Michael Hayden, George Tenet, and others, making the claim that disclosure about CIA operations would severely risk the security of the nation.
The low level intelligence officers who used torture most extensively in the field, and lawyers from the Justice department have pleaded that the safety of the country was at stake, but we know that security fears were hyped by the Bush administration leading up to the 2004 elections, and for much of the time after. The claim that torture was essential for national security is simply not true. Virtually every single war criminal in history can recite good reasons for undertaking "excessive" measures. Other than psychopaths who do it exclusively for sadistic entertainment, every torturer can point to actual fears, or genuine threats, or legitimate grievances that led them to sanction violence and brutality. The crimes are inexcusable, under any circumstance.
Amy Goodman: Glenn, there has been a considerable amount of international scrutiny around these hearings. The main objective by the United Nations is that the Citizen Councils are claiming jurisdiction from the sovereignty of the International Criminal Court. Explain the controversy.
Glenn Greenwald: From what I understand, Amy, the Citizen Councils have decided to not include the offences against international law, and claim that the jurisdiction to exercise legal authority falls under America's military and criminal courts. The War Crimes Tribunal is, however, represented by judges from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran, and there are judicial watchdogs from Spain, Germany, and Brazil.
Amy Goodman: A number of influential American judges are voicing their concerns that the United Nations is not more involved. What kind of legal precedent will this set for international law?
Glenn Greenwald: This trial is being treated as a special case, because if the United Nations brings American presidents to the ICC, they will also have to decide about Vladimir Puttin in Russia, who has been charged by lawyers in Russia, as well as leaders of other states. So it is becoming a political decision for the United Nations.
Amy Goodman: Glenn, Explain what preliminary hearings are. How do they operate and why are they are important?
Glenn Greenwald: A preliminary hearing is a procedure in felony cases that puts pressure on the prosecution to establish probable cause to detain the individual. It has fewer formalities then a regular trial. It is sort of works like a safety mechanism, making sure the charges stick, so that only the truly guilty are brought to trial. If the charges are dismissed, then the detained individual can be set free.
Amy Goodman: Explain the criticism about these hearings and the trial. What are some of the key objections?
Glenn Greenwald: For months now, rumors have spread that this is going to become a political trial. A few Supreme Court judges, Justice Scalia, Justice Alito, and Justice Sotomayor, have warned that the Citizen Councils are not independent. Alex Jones has been criticized for being too involved, some view his presence as a dangerous influence.
Amy Goodman: Are any of these rumors true?
Glenn Greenwald: Well, first off, it is hard to orchestrate a political witch hunt because these Citizen Councils are hardly ever on the same page, and are chaired by over 100 individuals, unlike Senator McCarthy who used subpoenas on American citizens indiscriminately. Also, the presence of Congress, international watchdogs, plus the public interest, all contribute to a fair atmosphere. Usually, political trials are based on allegations and rumors, where the minds of the judges are already made up. In this case, the prosecution's evidence rests on declassified government documents, which is undisputable in a court of law, and the words that came out directly from the government officials. Similar to Nazi Germany, no one questions the atrocities committed by the American government. The initial crime of starting an aggressive war based on lies is provable, and so are the criminal offenses committed in the war zones. The public statements of Iraq Veterans Against the War about the rule of engagements not being followed attest to the level of illegality by the American government policy in the Middle East wars.
Juan Gonzalez: And what about non-government officials, like Erik Prince, and the other war profiteers?
Glenn Greenwald: Well, they fall under US Criminal law as well, and they can't be classified as strictly non-government officials, because of the ties between the intelligence services, the State Department, and private contractors. The most famous is of course the connection between the CIA and Blackwater. I think the bigger question is how well non-Americans will be tried, because these private contractors employed soldiers from all over the world. It is probably the first time where something like this has happened, so the United Nations, the Citizen Councils in America, and the home countries of the mercenaries, will have to settle this question in the weeks to come.
And on top of that, this trial will set new legal precedents, because the perpetrators of war crimes are not being tried by the State, but by outraged citizens who have established their own courts. From the legal aspect, this is an unparallel situation.
Amy Goodman: Glenn, explain very briefly the concept of the defense of superior orders.
Glenn Greenwald: Well, the grey area is the extent to which each government official and soldier participated in the war crimes, because the prosecution's case is not against the government or any private contractors, but against individuals. The question of the defense of superior orders was brought up in the Nuremberg trials. The defense is that soldiers and government employees must obey orders, and that it counts as severe punishment to try these individuals under the same laws simply because these orders cause them to commit illegal actions. But the point the Citizen Councils are attempting to make is that soldiers in the US military took an oath to protection the constitution, so the appeal of superior orders is not a supreme defense, there are various interpretations that apply for different individuals. One example is private contractors who didn't take an oath, and sometimes didn't even take orders. Also, soldiers of the US military often killed civilians from their own instincts, without consulting their superiors. You can look at the example provided by the Nuremberg trials. In article 8 of the Nuremberg Charter, it says that the fact that the defendant acted pursuant to orders of his government or of a superior shall not free him from responsibility, but may be considered in mitigation of punishment. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, who was the chief US prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, really pinned down the flaws in the argument when he said "those in lower ranks were protected against liability by the orders of their superiors. The superiors were protected because their orders were called acts of state."
Amy Goodman: The rest of that quote was, "Modern civilization puts unlimited weapons of destruction in the hands of men. It cannot tolerate so vast an area of legal irresponsibility."
Glenn Greenwald: Yeah. But we should also keep in mind that the life or death choice in war, the kill or be killed situation that war creates makes it hard to try convincingly the people on the ground. And so, the legal aspect is intermixed with questions of morality, human sympathy, and the idea of forgiveness. Ultimately, I think the blame falls on the policy makers, high officials, war profiteers and the top insiders, who are privileged to hide their motives behind the secrecy of the state.
Amy Goodman: Glenn Greenwald, we’re going to leave it there. Thanks so much for being with us.
Glenn Greenwald: Thanks, Amy.
Amy Goodman: We'll be right back with our special broadcast of Democracy Now!, live in Congress, for the first installment of the preliminary hearings.
Amy Goodman: That was All Along the Watchtower, by the late, great Bob Dylan. And now, we go live to Congress. Congressman Paul is addressing former Fed Chairman Bernanke, whose preliminary hearing is set for tomorrow.
Ron Paul: Good afternoon, Chairman Bernanke. I address you today with extreme displeasure, and a great deal of sadness. The political turmoil and suffering we have all witnessed in the past 50 months have been very painful to me personally, because I have dedicated my life and my time in Congress to stopping what occurred. My entire objective has been to End the Fed, not you personally, Mr. Chairman. It is not my wish or intention to make you look foolish, or immoral.
The concerns I have are for the well being my country, my grandchildren, and their productive future. We ended up where we are because of our prolonged indifference to what makes moral societies function properly, that is, following the law, maintaining a sound currency, averting aggressive wars, or any wars, and keeping our traditions alive, which made this country so prosperous and great. What we lost, I believe, was our intuitive and personal sense of justice, that the government should be held accountable at every turn to the Constitution, regardless of the threats against our common defense, or any fears that an elevated boogeyman may or may not attack us. That type of fear mongering is always unacceptable in a free society.
But, We the People, also lived beyond our means in our individual lives, we also bear some of the responsibility. While it is true that the media establishment worked to keep the people unaware and uninformed, the ultimate blame lies with us. We did not uphold our spiritual duty to privately educate ourselves, in the corners of libraries, and in our daily conversations. For a long period of time, the Truth about our circumstance was in plain sight for those willing to look. To keep freedom alive, it is required of us to look at the disquieting facts, without any reservations or fear. In the end, none of us can escape what we have done or condoned, not in the name of the law, or any other name. American educator and author, Edith Hamilton, remarked in her book, The Greek Way: "When an authority, no matter how traditionally sacrosanct, came into conflict with a fact, the Greeks preferred the fact. They had no inclination to protect 'sound doctrine taught of old.' A new force had come into the world with Greece, the idea of Truth to which personal bias and prejudice must yield." I used that quote, while still mindful that at our country's inception, it was the Romans, whom the Founding Fathers looked back to for an early guide in America's beginnings. Today, I advise that we go back even further then those brilliant men, back to Greek thought, and keep that Civilization in mind as we mature as a Republic and a People throughout the course of this century.
Before I begin my questioning, Mr. Chairman, I like to inform you that you are not on trial, and you are not under oath. You will be heard in your own defense. This is not a criminal prosecution, but a preliminary hearing that will go into the public record for further critical evaluation by the War Crimes Tribunal, to be convened in the middle of July and who will decide judicially your innocence or guilt. All I am interested in at this hour is the truth, and your views of the events that have transpired, Mr. Chairman. Think of this as a conversation and nothing more. As I've stated before, I have no personal vendetta against you or any other Fed Chairman. My remarks may sometimes seem hostile, but that's because these are emotional times.
Very quickly, I want to draw every American's attention to a quote by Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson. "The ultimate principle," he said, "is that you must put no man on trial under the form of judicial proceedings, if you are not willing to see him freed if not proven guilty." With that said, I want to start off by asking you, Mr Chairman, what is your job and how do you see yourself?
Ben Bernanke: I am an economist and policymaker, Congressman. I have plenty of experience in trying to foretell the future, because policy decisions inevitably involve projections of how alternative policy choices will influence the future course of the economy. The Federal Reserve, therefore, devotes substantial resources to economic forecasting.
Ron Paul: So you're saying you can predict the economic weather?
Ben Bernanke: Not perfectly, the Fed's economic models can give a forecast, but of course there are always variables to consider, such as a terrorist attack, that may disrupt the market and we have no capabilities of making that kind of exact prediction.
Ron Paul: It's interesting you should say that, because what you're saying is that you are like a meteorologist, but the weatherman can't make the weather, and what you seem to be doing is artificially changing the weather…
Ben Bernanke: I would have to disagree with that, Congressman, what I said was that the Fed, using various economic projections and data, can influence the economic path so that the market avoids any roadblocks to growth. Our job is mainly to clear the trees, and allow the course of the economy to take its place.
Ron Paul: But what you are saying, and this is the way I understand it, you can help clarify my thoughts for me, is that you see your role as fortune teller, that the economy can be managed according to a set of rules, the Fed's rules. In my experience as a medical doctor, you very rarily intervene forcefully into the patient's health, only in the case of an emergency do you risk that type of action. In the majority of the cases, you naturally allow the child to come out, because the human body is an intelligent organ and we practitioners provide our expertise and our knowledge, but the birth has to be spontaneous and natural. I can't imagine intervening every time I’m in a delivery room, not only is it unprofessional but I am risking the mother's life and the baby's life that way. One of the things I have a trouble with is….
Ben Bernanke: May I intervene here, Congressman?
Ron Paul: If you please.
Ben Bernanke: Let's say, as an illustration, that I had a sonogram of the new economy, and the old economy was still in labor, and based on statistical and modeling tools I can see tremendous difficulties and challenges in this new economy's life. Now, would not any good human being intervene right away and use his knowledge and his training to push that economy out a little earlier, if it meant its future deformities would be less severe?
Ron Paul: I can see how you came to your conclusion, and I sympathize with it, but what if that economic sonogram is not reliable in this case? Or in any case for that matter. If it is suspected that this new economy is going to be a big baby, then that puts even more pressure on the old economy and in that instance, we must encourage even more than in other times, the principle of non-intervention, and admit to ourselves our limits and recognize that a spontaneous birth is safer. In other words, to bring this back to economics, we must concede to the markets, and listen to the signals it is sending off. When consumers in the electronic market buy things, the prices go down, and is not that these prices are artificially low so everybody can buy a plasma screen, but because the demand is there, and the makers of that particular product observe that development and act accordingly.
But the government's approach is to deliberately hype up that market, let's say as a hypothetical that there is a television set that people like, and the consumers in this market have a disproportionate weight in the decision making of society. Now, because they are buying television and the politicians want influential people to have this new television so they can air their ads during election time and get those consumer votes, they'll encourage reducing the price in an artificial way. But the market doesn't work like that. You can't supernaturally shift the demands of people.
To touch on a different point, what I find most interesting about you, Mr. Chairman, is a statement you made in your address to the graduating class of 2009 at Boston College. I've read the transcript, and at one point, you describe your unpredictable journey as a young man, going your way through college, finding your profession, and finally coming to Washington. You say: "In planning our own individual lives, we all have a strong psychological need to believe that we can control, or at least anticipate, much of what will happen to us. But the social and physical environments in which we live, and indeed, we ourselves, are complex systems, if you will, subject to diverse and unforeseen influences." I completely agree with that statement, that there are many unforeseeable events in our lives. But what I find fascinating is that you don't seem to hold to the same lesson in your role as a Fed Chairman.
Did you use that young man's knowledge to guide you in your role as an economic forecaster? I'm trying to get to the point, uh, Mr. Chairman, what I really want to ask you is where do you get the authority? Is your job all that necessary? Can any single man or institution be given that much power, when the laws of nature and our daily experiences suggest against it? The task you have been given is impossible to fulfill, not even God would want to carry that mantle, to be honest. So how can you be so sure that what you are doing is correct? To me, and I say this with a little bit of hesitation, but to me, your certainty is almost to the point of suicide.
Ben Bernanke: (smiles) Well, I can't say I agree with that last statement, Congressman, but I agree on the previous point you made, we cannot be sure of anything, however, there is a need for macroeconomic stability. One has to try to balance the markets when they are in turbulence, as they were from early 2007, and I will not concede to the argument that doing nothing is better than doing something. Obviously, no one could have predicted the bailout collapse, but, umm..
Ron Paul: Mr. Chariman, I, and several other people, uh, Mr. Roubini, Mr. Schiff, Mr. Taleb, and of course, the great Austrian economists, predicted that this disaster would occur. The Fed socialized the losses, provided stimulus after stimulus to the big banks, manipulated the economic data, and resorted to inflation to fix a crisis cause by too much inflation, which eventually devalued the dollar completely.
Ben Bernanke: .As to our authority, umm, of course the Constitution permits us the right to coin money and regulate they money thereof..
Ron Paul: (loudly) Coins..
Ben Bernanke: (Continues from original point, with an amusing look on his face), and that has been delegated to the Federal Reserve Act, and everything we've done is directly based on that act. You can disagree with the act..the Congress could have repealed it..
Ron Paul: Oh I've disagreed with the Act for my entire time in Congress, Mr. Chairman. I noticed you smiled a bit when I said 'coins', because you know just as well as I know, that money that is not redeemable in gold is not money at all. So let's stop kidding around. And regarding the Federal Reserve Act, I don't know if you realize, but, do you know what year that was passed?
Ben Bernanke: I believe it was 1914.
Ron Paul: 1913. I'm puzzled that you don't know the founding of the institution you work for, but anyways, that’s beside the point. The more revealing thing is that the Act was passed in the dead of night on Christmas eve in 1913, when most congressmen were absent. And, of course, cell phones and tweeting were not available then so most of the lawmakers didn't receive any word, they were essentially kept in the dark about the progress and meaning of the Act. Many, in fact, never knew it was passed until they returned to session and by then the newspapers lauded the move by Congress as extremely popular so they had no incentive to remove the Act. But I find the fact that the Act was passed during the time of least scrutiny incredibly suspicious, Mr. Chairman. In our time, things are not too different; the trick is to make the bill as large as possible. Do you have anything to add about what I said, Mr. Chairman?
Ben Bernanke: About what, congressman?
Ron Paul: About the creation of the Fed. I thought that since you are so familiar with the principles of creation, you would be interested with the creation of the system that you operated in for over eight years.
Ben Bernanke: What do you want me to say congressman? I was born in 1953, and had little to do with the creation of the Fed. I was given this hand, I didn't make it, so uhh, I was simply following procedure and the law on the books. From my understanding, Congressman, for most of Fed's existence, the US economy has grown, consumer productivity reached historical heights in that time, and the wealth our country produced rebuilt half of Europe after WWII.
Ron Paul: Yes, but printing money can only take you so far. After WWII, when the dollar essentially became the world reserve currency, replacing gold, its value dropped tremendously. And of course after 2009, it was completely destroyed. But my question is, where do you get the authority to make dramatic economic decisions out of thin air? When the economic weather is thick, that is, when things are generally stable, and the markets are up, the Fed falsely advertises itself as an umbrella in a storm, but when the storm comes you come to the rescue of the storm makers, and not the people out in the rain. And even in sunny days you stand in the wind, trying to stimulate the economy, which shows that you're original guarantee, was false. And you are not here to save the day. Some claim you save those who've paid, but the taxpayers who put up all of the money in 2008 and 2009 were thrown to the woods, so it's truer to say that you save only those who have their way. I am just completely dumbfoundead, Mr. Chairman, how can still you justify the Fed's response?
Ben Bernanke: It was the American government policy to stabilize the banks, twist the numbers to keep from paying its debt and bringing back price fixing to rehabilitate the domestic markets, and all this was done in the effort of keeping the country from going bankrupt.
Ron Paul: I have trouble buying that, because even if the Fed had noble intentions, it still failed, so as an institution it's a failure. It didn't offer the required correction, the problem of debt wasn't addressed. It continued loose monetary policy instead of doing what I and other prominent economists suggest, which was to bascially liquate the debt.
But it's interesting that you should say that because I personally think you don't bear much of the responsibility since it is the entire system that I and others have had a problem with and not any particular person, but, to look at it from a different perspective, any system wouldn't be maintainable if not for minds like yours who are willing to provide their prestige and background, and the system you lend your hand to was predicated on a very destructive monetary philosophy. Actually, it's not even a philosophy, it's a junk science, backed by military might, and that is why it so irresponsible. But I am a little reluctant to say you are totally innocent, and weren't aware of the massive damage your policies were having on people. But I must submit my reservations to that higher law, and abstain from any over the top judgment, because responsibility as not a cut and dry thing. I can no more blame you then I can blame Greenspan, because you were both played the hand you were given, it's true. Granted, though, you share some of the guilt, especially since the system failed so dramatically, and didn't live up to any of its promises.
My personal feeling on this matter is that, I'd like you to be forgiven. Of course, that is up to the independent citizen tribunal to decide in the weeks to come, but I don't see why judgment day and forgiveness day cannot both fall on the same day. It would be miraculous, I know, given the destruction your house of paper has caused, and the angry backlash from the people. Anyways, I like to know what you have to say about this, and also to answer what Napoleon once said, about how politics is your destiny. From my perspective, to follow on what Napoleon said, you supported the course that has put this country in such a catastrophic situation, and it seems you were locked into that course the day you took that job, as was the former chairman, and you weren't able to retreat from your position, to come to the right side of history, so to speak, so I sometimes wonder if you deserve any sympathy.
As a doctor, the first rule I am obliged to is do no harm, and it was very clear the Fed Reserve was doing harm by creating money endlessly, not liquating the debt, so on and so on. And that whole cyclone of debt financing created the hyperinflation that has left this country so incredibly miserable. We were spinning in a cyclone of debt and the Fed said, well, if we keep spinning ourselves we won't reach the bottom, but you can't spin your way out of debt, and when you do finally hit the bottom you are way too dizzy to think and react rationally. All central banks end up creating these cyclones of debt, and to get back to my original point, individuals are powerless in this type of system, so it was nothing you could do to reverse the madness of debt financing. It was clear all the way through that without the force of the military, the Federal Reserve couldn't acted so irresponsibly
Ben Bernanke: You're right about the no harm principle, but the economy was not in the most pristine condition when I got to the Fed. The harm was already there in the economy and we had to something to stop the bleeding.
Ron Paul: And what was that bleeding?
Ben Bernanke: The tremendous burden of debt and future obligations on the system, Congressman.
Ron Paul: But the Fed created that bleeding, it created that debt. It created the bubbles in the 90's, and the housing bubble in the last decade. You can't get rid of debt by creating more debt. Spending had to be cut, and that was the biggest problem.
Ben Bernanke: The spending balloon was in no way the Fed's fault, Congressman Paul. We at the Fed followed the guidelines set out by Congress and the White House. It was the Congress that failed to bring down both domestic and foreign spending.
Ron Paul: But you're not getting my point. You provided the alcohol to the party and then complained because you also got busted when the cops showed up. Without the Fed's ability to perpetually create money, our government could not have started wars that seemed to last forever. So your excuse, in my honest judgment, is unsound. That's like the black cat of debt calling the kettle broke.
Ben Bernanke: umm, I don't like to think of my role as having anything to do with politics, Congressman. I am an economist and a policy maker, as I've said, not a politician. And..
Ron Paul: But you make political decisions, do you not, Mr. Chairman? And your appointment and reappointment are based on a political decision. You are given incentives to use the Fed's power to administer capital, which is really the monopolistic power of usury, to various special interests, and to government policy favored by the elite. Believe me, if you had raised interest rates in 2007 when the first signs of the housing bubbles were visible, back before we reached the point of no return, you would not have been reappointed by any President, republican or democrat, believe me, you would've been shortchanged in no time. So I think that argument belongs in the ditch.
Ben Bernanke: I disagree with that, Mr. Paul. There are occasions when it is appropriate to raise interests rates, as Chairman Volcker did in the 1980's under the Reagan administration, but back in late 2009 inflation was still low, unemployment numbers weren't that drastic, and we did not want to make any quick decision to spike the federal funds rate, knowing for certain that would have caused even more disastrous consequences....
Ron Paul: (infuriated) Worse than hyperinflation and the destruction of the dollar? Worse than 35% unemployment?
Ben Bernanke: Well, the dollar was still strong in 2009, but we had to adjust to keep the banks from going down under. And at that time, if I remember correctly, when changing to a new currency was still a political problem at the time, I, uh..
Ron Paul: (in a harsh voice) Now, wait a minute, are you implying that the destruction of the dollar was Fed policy, to bring in a world currency?
Ben Bernanke: No. What I said was, the viability of the dollar was not our most important concern, and no one could have foreseen the tremendous fallout of the attack on Iran on the dollar, so, our main focus was on keeping the banks stable, maintaining the inflationary rates, and preparing for the future.
Ron Paul: I find it a little hard believing the fall of the dollar wasn't foreseeable, Mr. Chairman. You may have turned a blind eye to the dollar, but so many people, me in particular, warned you about the disaster looming and offered the prescription. My bill HR 1207 was shot down in late 2009, and we know what happened after that, so, and I know not your fault, I know. The dollar crisis was inevitable once it was taken off the gold standard by Roosevelt in 1933, and then later by Nixon in August of 7'1. So that argument of yours might hold in a court of law, but in the court of public opinion, it's a different matter. And it's funny you should mention former chairman Paul Volcker, because he criticized the direction the Fed took back in 2008, after it gave a loan of twenty-nine billion to Bear Sterns in April of that year. I have the quote here, he said: "The Federal Reserve has judged it necessary to take actions that extend to the very edge of its lawful and implied powers, transcending in the process certain long-embedded central banking principles and practices." So he understood that the unprecedented power given to the Fed to mediate the crisis was not necessary, even in those circumstances, and he was the former chairman!
Ben Bernanke: To be fair, Congressman, when Congress passed the bailout bail in 2008, we thought it would be a passing phase, but it became a way of life. And that is not the Fed's fault. We intervened to save the banks because it was necessary.
Ron Paul: Describe exactly, what were the options?
Ben Bernanke: Let the system fail, or provide capital to the banks.
Ron Paul: So, in your estimation, if the Fed allowed the system to fail, the American people would have suffered even more.
Ben Bernanke: Yes.
Ron Paul: But, the system failed anyway, and if it had failed sooner, people would have suffered a lot less.
Ben Bernanke: Well, we believed at the time that the Fed was indispensable to the economic structure of the country. Ever since the Great Depression, there was a need to intervene into the markets and maintain long term stability.
Ron Paul: But you failed in carrying out those almighty objectives. You were not on the ball. In September 2009 you declared the recession over, when it was clearly not the case. Unemployment numbers were above fifteen percent, the dollar's value was falling every day.
Ben Bernanke: Congressman, the Fed's success rate proves it was an invaluable institution. The Fed forecasted economic downturns..
Ron Paul: That It created.
Ben Bernanke: Not exactly, Congressman,
Ron Paul: Frankly, Mr. Chairman, you lie!
Ben Bernanke: That's not true, Congressman.
Ron Paul: Then what are you saying? That you didn't declare the recession over in 2009? Your defense is completely out of the water. How is not the Fed's fault?Are you reading off a script? Please explain your actions to me, so I can understand.
Ben Bernanke: Well, we weren't reading off a physical script. But don't you feel, Congressmen, that there is a spiritual script that we are all playing out?
Ron Paul: Well, I'm a Christian, and according to Christianity, Mr. Chairman, we choose what course we want to take in the end. But your words reminds me of an exchange I once had with former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan shortly after my reelection in 1996, and I presented him with a copy of an article he wrote in 1966, called Gold and Economic Freedom, where he espouses the virtues of a gold-based system, against the dangers of a paper money system. One of my favorite quotes from the piece is where he says, "In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation." And he was very proud of the piece, not expressing any regrets when he signed my copy. But surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, he changed his tune when I brought up the same article in the House Banking Committee. I guess contradictory statements just go with your profession, Mr. Chairman, or your script, as you suggested.
Ben Bernanke: Congressman, you asked me earlier what my job was, and one way you can view me, is as a dealer who has to work a hand he's be given by the House.
Ron Paul: But what role did you play? Remember, a casino is not a casino without its dealers, so to assume innocence because it was your job strikes me of the most murderous kind of immaturity.
Ben Bernanke: silent
Ben Bernanke: (in a somber voice) Congressman, there are things that can be said for public discussion, and things that are best left under the table.
Ron Paul: (chuckles a little) That explains it all, doesn't it? I mean, what else is there to say? The Fed needles its own thread.
(shakes head disapprovingly ) The problem is with any central authority that thinks it can decide what is best for the rest of society. Central banks are dead institutions. In our exchanges, Mr. Chairman, I sometimes felt like you were the Pope of the economy, and I was Bruno. The critics called me crazy because I said you can't create credit out of the sky, which is like me saying I can create a baby out of the womb. It is preposterous. I am simply the deliverer. I deliver the baby, and then my job is done. In the economy, only the market can correctly dictate how much credit there should be in the society. And there must be some type of standard, the supply of credit must be based on a physical substance with weight, which gold has historically been, and it has to be recognizable throughout the world. But before I conclude my remarks, do you have anything else to add, Mr. Chairman.
Ben Bernanke: No, Mr. Paul.
Ron Paul: Very well, then. I am not at liberty to discuss your innocence or guilt, but I can honestly say that you showed ill judgment. Your assessment of the origin of the crisis, and the Fed's manipulation which escalated the crisis to a much higher degree, were ethically and empirically wrong. The dilemma facing all of us is how do we attribute responsibility to certain individuals, in light of all that has happened in the past couple of years, and even, much farther back, back to the time when the Fed was established, and when the CIA was established. It is my view that we should act with compassion and strive for prudence and moderation in the times ahead. But we should not tolerate excuses.
In all of history powerful men have conspired to gain wealth and power, without reflecting on their injustice or cruelty towards their fellow men. The modern State, a leviathan of man's own making, must be denounced because its fruits are pure evil, whether in Nazi Germany or in our own time. The State's destructiveness lies in the citizen's refusal to take up the labor of civilization onto his individual Self. If Man is to move forward justly in this century, he must refuse the total machinery of the State, and keep the fruits of his own labor. The State, despite its intentions and the promises it makes, is always dangerous, regardless if it is in the hands of a powerful elite or crowd. That is why the Founders advised to limit the power and reach of the government. In our time, the rise of corporations would not have been possible if not for the power of government. One of biggest myth of our age has been that we live under a free market system. It is, rather, a corporatist system, where in the government is used for and by the special interests. It is my wish that we strip corporations the right of personhood. But even in the most perfect of situations, Justice does not flourish automatically; each individual must view and treat his neighbor as an original individual, and nothing besides. Without the Golden Rule, there can’t be a Golden Age.
Statists of all political stripes, claim that their leevers of power are endowed with special intellectual abilities with which to control the society and the market and that they magically know what the society needs. We should just trust them or their bad ideas. This is patently ridiculous. Modern markets are complex, subject to changes, innovations, and all types of cultural and social transformations. Trust is the most valuable resource we have, to place it in the hands of central bankers, religious tyrants, or any other, is the gravest of mistakes. It is regrettable that it took a crisis of a magnitude the world has never seen before to get us to understand the deeper truths about world, and ourselves. We do ourselves a great disservice by putting any authority above the truth, and it is my hope that we never make this error again.
Amy Goodman: That was Ron Paul addressing the nation and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke in the first of these historical preliminary hearings, involving former high government officials. This is Democracy Now! Democracy Now.org. We'll be back in a minute.
Amy Goodman: Disconnect the Transmitter - Arcade Fire, here on Democracy Now! Democracy Now.org, the War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman, with Juan Gonzalez, and here are some of today's headlines.
Juan Gonzalez: The nation's top military officer, a member of the Citizen Councils, advised Congress yesterday to rethink the need for the US Military. Admiral James Strickland made the comments in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Admiral James Strickland: Without a doubt, without security, freedom wouldn't exist. But I doubt if the American people are not the best protectors of their lives and fortunes. The last few years have changed the character of this nation. We are no longer fearful of veiled threats, and have rediscovered the values of citizen militias. Fifty years ago, this proposal would have been unimaginable to make, but today I can approach with you certainty that the US military is no longer needed to provide the defense of this country. There are many fine men and women in our Armed Services, whose courage and bravery have made them loyal patriots and our most valuable citizens, but possessing a State military after their misuse by powerful men behind the scenes seems incredibly stupid. If we have learned anything from these past years, it is that Men's minds are easily impassioned, and also very fragile, making the use of judgment an individual affair. Our US Military has brainwashed men to kill foreigners, or anyone who is not them. I see no value for our society to hold onto to such a killing machine.
Juan Gonzalez: The Admiral's remarks were highly lauded by Americans Veterans For Peace, calling them "the last nail into the coffins of war."
Amy Goodman: The trial of Chris Kramler, the man who murdered Glenn Beck at a protest in San Antonia last fall, came to a conclusion yesterday. Kramler, 38, was found guilty on all charges and will serve life in prison.
Juan Gonzalez: The construction of the Victims Tower at Ground Zero is near completion and set to open in the fall. The new building, dedicated to the lives lost on 9/11, has been funded by the taxpayers of New York and took two years to build. Luke Rudowski, the youngest mayor of New York City, says the Victims Towers was the idea of the family members who lost their loved ones in what is now known as the most famous state-sponsored terrorist attack in human history.
Amy Goodman: The preliminary hearings of former high government officials have begun today in Washington D.C. The hearings, organized by Citizen Councils across America, are held in the Congress, and are being watched by the whole world. For more, we're joined by blogger and activist, Truth Excavator in our firehouse studio. His writing can be found in Harpers, The Nation, The American Conservative, AntiWar.Com, The Independent, Tom Dispatch, The Guardian, and other publications. His blog is called disquietreservations.blogspot.com.
Welcome to Democracy Now!
Truth Excavator: Thank you, Amy. Hearing you say that feels like Lady Liberty herself saying welcome to Ellis Island. But, uhh, before we begin, Amy, I would just like to say that the work you, Juan and the whole team at Democracy Now! Are doing, and have been doing, is heroic. Democracy Now! was liberty's shining flame all these years, and it is an honor to be here. Your whole staff's commitment to honest reporting was an inspiration for me. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your work, and your integrity.
Amy Goodman: Thank you. If you don't mind me asking, why do you call yourself Truth Excavator?
Truth Excavator: No, not at all. Why do I call myself Truth Ex? Well, everybody has a second self, an alter ego. Rap artist Eminem has Slim Shady, Dominick Wickliffe has Crooked I, Ali Newman goes by Brother Ali, and really the whole Hip Hop Culture has brought back the idea that a self is made, that our character must be realized, into the popular imagination. Also, the name just fits. And I admit it, it is purely egotistical. And yes, it's a little bit corny, and unoriginal, but its playful, nothing serious. I like to think that in our time everybody needs to be a Truth Excavator, we have to be, because so much knowledge has been buried, in the educational system, and by regular propaganda in our culture, through the media and by our politicians, and of course, the propaganda industry.
And the disinformation about both the present and the past was robbing us of a happy future. We have to be constantly digging for the truth if we want to be knowledgeable about the world's as well as Man's current situation. Hegel in his Philosophy of History said that when we contemplate history the first thing we see is nothing but ruins. And so, I view my task as trying to learn about these ruins, very alertly and empirically, but also not being afraid to use my intuitive instincts to discover and understand the truth that is buried in these ruins. I intend to dedicate my intellect and will to finding as much truth as possible, and my love for humanity is linked with my love for wisdom.
Amy Goodman: Truth Ex, tell us about the significance of the exchange between Congressman Paul and Ben Bernanke today.
Truth Excavator: Well, ending the fed has been Ron Paul's crusade for almost four decades, and because of his enormous influence in our country today, it is only fitting that he should deliver the introductory remarks in this landmark criminal case against the Federal Reserve. For a while, this thing played out like political handball, with Dr. Paul and Bernanke going back and forth, but that's what made it exciting. And I think it was necessary for Bernanke to answer his biggest critic before he faces the prosecution's case tomorrow. Also, it had a poetic sting to it, that I think everyone in the country immediately recognized.
Juan Gonzalez: You've said many times that Ron Paul is your hero, and that you want to build a statue for him beside the Jefferson memorial. Why the admiration? What is it about him that makes him different from other politicians?
Truth Excavator: Well, for one thing, he doesn't lie. That helps a lot. He took a stand within himself, he withdrew into what Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega Y Gasset called the "incorruptible consciousness," which is the most important task of any individual, but especially for the politician, whose character is tested every day. Ron Paul was vigilant throughout these dark years. Emerson's spirit lived in Ron Paul in our time, and his example will never be forgotten. He led an authentic life, he was true to his convictions, and he withstood all the negativity and pettiness in the political sphere. His learning, his character, his determination to see his countrymen, and humanity free makes him unlike anyone else on Capitol Hill, or in the world. My faith in humanity was restored when I saw the success of Ron Paul's campaign in 2007. I mean, I could go on and on. He is truly the greatest hero I will ever have. I feel extremely lucky that he came to prominence during my youth.
Amy Goodman: Truth Ex, this is the first trial this massive since the Nuremberg trials. If you can, explain to us what this means for the 21st century.
Truth Excavator: At the Nuremberg trials, the German population were very reluctant to see their leaders hanged or put in jail, Germans who testified against the Nazis, who were persecuted by them when they were in power, were called traitors by a considerable amount of the country. But Americans are looking at this trial differently, they recognize that the law was broken by our leaders, and the horrendous crimes they committed, both on American soil and on foreign soil, are unforgivable. There are a few influential figures who are calling this trial a mockery, and they are mostly on the far, far right who still don’t get it. But it is nothing of the sort, this is not a de facto proceeding. Putting war criminals and obstructors of justice in prison is necessary for humanity to be free in this century.
Our salvation is in stating the truth, and fighting for it, whatever the horror or the pain, even if it costs us our lives. I read somewhere when I was researching the Nuremberg trials that if we do not serve justice, our actions will trouble succeeding generations. So I salute the American people for doing the right thing, although it took them a long time, their determination to see this through until the end is inspiring for the rest of the world. America's example will set the flame of liberty on fire once again, and their courage will make the 2016 Olympics in Chicago that much more fulfilling.
Juan Gonzalez: In your opinion, what is the single greatest difference between the crimes committed under Nazi Germany, and the crimes committed by America in the past decades?
Truth Excavator: The defense of the high officials in the Nazi regime was that the crimes committed, the aggression against the Soviet Union, the attack on Norway, were all voiced by one man, rather than a conspiracy of men. In Nazi Germany, they had a dictator, whose name was the law. But America didn't have a figure like Hitler, so for high officials to claim innocence is not believable. There was more freedom of expression in America to speak out against the crimes being committed. Cheney didn't have a death grip on the country, all he had a grip on was his lips and his cane. Also, we should keep in mind that Germans loved their tyranny, they voted in Hitler. In America, Bush was never voted into office by the majority, and for the most part, American tyranny was feared, challenged, or not known about, it was not embraced. But the fact that the major media, and influential media figures conspired to hide the truth proves in a lot of ways that Americans were not more cowardly then Germans, as some have said. Americans were victims of a more cruel type of propaganda. It wasn't in your face, Cheney wasn't marching down Pennsylvania Avenue with American troops banging their feet on the concrete, but the fear of being socially isolated, of being called crazy, and watching your career go into ruins, or being stripped of your position was a great threat and scare. So it was a different kind of authoritarianism. The Big Lie was more subversive, the subject of the 9/11 cover up was social taboo, and the Myths about America being a free and democratic country were mesmerizing, even surpassing the propaganda feat of the Nazis and Soviets.
Amy Goodman: Joining us in our firehouse studio is Truth Excavator, this is Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! Democracy Now.org, the War and Peace Report. We'll be back in a minute.
Amy Goodman: That was Die by Iron and Wine, here on Democracy Now! Democracy Now.org, the War and Peace Report. Joining us is blogger and activist Truth Excavator.
Truth Ex, you wrote a piece on your blog back in the fall of 2009, foretelling the truth and reconciliation commissions, preliminary hearings, and the trial of American government officials and corporate insiders. Tell us, why did you write that piece in the way you did?
Truth Excavator: Well, Amy, that was around the time when Charlie Sheen wrote his letter to the President called "Twenty Minutes with the President," which appeared on Infowars.com, I remember being inspired by his faith that the truth will win out in the end, and his courage to share his opinion so convincingly with the rest of humanity. I was put back a little, because it was an act of pure bravery and intelligence. And so I tried my best imitation. But I find flaws in the piece all the time, there are grammar defects, spelling mistakes, missing links, and my thoughts were incomplete. I didn't have a wide array of knowledge about legal terms. I shouldn't have rushed it, and been more of a perfectionist. I could've made the vision clearer for the reader, by being more descriptive and clear.
But to tell the truth, I wrote it in three days, and my thoughts were hazy, and it wasn't fully thought through. I remember doing nothing but concentrating on writing that piece, I just want to get it off my chest, because I couldn't sleep. I had to instill a vision that humanity is better than it was at the time, that we all deserve better from our leaders, and better out of ourselves. We can't tolerate any systematic corruption in our political institutions. And we can't tolerate cowardly behavior from us. There will always be politicians who judge wrongly and do stupid things, criminal things, but they must be the exception. For far too long we accepted secrecy in our government, deception, fraud, lies, inhumanity, it was just unbearable, and life can't be lived under that type of injustice every single day. For me, the choices were to numb myself by entertainment, retreat to a cottage in the Swiss Alps, or do something about this world, anything, even if it didn't add up to much in the scheme of things. I had to feel that my intellect and will were being used to the benefit of my fellow human being, and what better place to start then putting war criminals, liars, and psychopaths, in prison.
Juan Gonzalez: Describe who you think the war criminals are, and touch on the topic of the now infamous 9/11 cover up.
Truth Excavator: I don't regard low infantry military men as war criminals, or sergeants, and other people in the ranks of the military, as war criminals. In my mind, it is people who made the war policies in the defense establishment, in the State Department, in the Bush Administration, who deserve most of the blame. And rightly so. Down the line, from people like Michael Chertoff to Michael Hayden, George Tenet, George Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice, the war profiteers, the most powerful people in the security and intelligence establishment, the bosses of the media companies who made it official policy to avoid certain facts and lie to the people. And it’s hard to say that all these people knew what they were doing, but it was a strange time, politicians were talking about a hundred year war, a generational war, and how warfare is changing in the 21st century.
And it is changing, but not in the way they expected. It is going the other away. They were dinosaurs of the past. They were the last gasp of evil in the 20th century. But I'm glad they lived, and did what they did, because without people like Cheney we, the lovers of humanity, couldn't realize our own potential and our own gifts. Without evil, there can't be good, that is basic, and is true in all ages, but it seems people always like to forget it. The horrible thing is we lost millions of humans in all these wars, in acts of state and non-state violence, so we must dedicate this golden century to those victims.
And on the 9/11 cover up, so many writers have now written about it, sociologists, psychologists, and scientists of human culture will continue to contribute their analysis and what it means to be a human in the rest of this century. I was reading Rene Girard's book Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World at the time I wrote the Trial of the Millennium piece, and in his chapter on the development of cultures and institutions, he draws from Jacques Derrida's work and Freud's book Moses and Monotheism, and describes the idea of effacements, the covering up of a murder, or any crime. And the point is that it is not hard to commit a crime like murder, but trying to remove any trace of it that is the tricky part.
And at the time, a lot of people were asking how could people in the government pull off such a crime? Well, the original deed wasn't that difficult to pull off, the trouble is covering up after the fact, and the cover up of 9/11 began on day one. And Girard uses the example of Macbeth trying to wash his bloody hands to get rid of the deed, but the deed doesn't go away. The US government was covered in blood for over nine years. And they couldn't wash the blood off. When Obama became president, he lost his appeal, because entering the White House at that point in time was akin to taking a dive in a pool of blood. And the blood smelled because it was there for longer than nine years, the blood from the criminal Vietnam War was still there, the blood from all the wrongful executions of innocent prisoners, the blood from the prison industrial complex, and so on. We have to go back to the first criminal deed, the founding murder before the founding of the nation, the genocide of the Natives, to explain the first spot of blood in that pool. And it is our duty to clean it, and we can do that by doing good works, and stopping any form of violence in our society, especially the violence committed by governments.
And for those nine years after 9/11 people felt what violence committed by the government does to the soul of man. For nine years we didn't see the true face of humanity, we saw a defaced humanity, a humanity besieged, a humanity uninspired and tired. And I remember this very clearly, as the World economy went into a depression, which was denied officially for at least two years, I came out of my own spiritual depression. For the first time in my life I knew what my purpose was, which is to increase my knowledge, and uplift humanity in any way I can.
Amy Goodman: Truth Ex, we only have thirty seconds.
Truth Excavator: I'm all out of water, that's all I have to say. Thanks for the giving me the opportunity to speak, Amy, I consider it as a gift.
Amy Goodman: Thank you for being with us, Truth Ex. Truth Excavator's blog is called Disquiet Reservations. I'm Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!, DemocracyNow.org, the War and Peace Report. Join us tomorrow for the second day of these historical preliminary hearings. We will be covering it live from Washington D.C with Democracy Now! correspondents Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald.