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In a Fit of Anti-Trump Pique, Liberals Shamelessly Embrace 'Deep State' Criminals

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Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes 11 seconds

In their blind hatred for Trump, liberals have sunk to an all-time low by unabashedly cheering a war criminal.

On Friday August 24th, HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher had former CIA director John Brennan on as an interview guest. Brennan has been in the news lately because he accused Trump of treason, or more precisely, "nothing short of treason", due to the President's weak-kneed, post summit news conference with Vladimir Putin.

In retaliation for Brennan's remarks Trump revoked his security clearance which has caused an uproar from establishment intelligence toadies and in a case of strange bedfellows, the allegedly liberal anti-Trump movement which has dubbed itself the #Resistance.

On the episode of Real Time, the usually acerbic Maher, or as I am fond of calling him due to his petulant demeanor and intellectual dwarfism, Little Bill, immodestly degraded himself by nearly fellating John Brennan before the former CIA chief ever got on stage by gushing that he was a “true American patriot”.

The nadir for the #Resistance occurred shortly thereafter as Brennan rumbled on stage and was greeted by the eruption of a raucous standing ovation by the liberal audience, with Little Bill calling it a "well-deserved standing ovation". Only in the bizarre universe where a silver-spooned, multi-bankrupted, reality television star is president does a former CIA director who has committed crimes and war crimes such as implementing and covering up Bush's rendition and torture regime, spying on the U.S. Senate and masterminding Obama's deadly drone program, get a delirious ovation from those on the left.

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As Little Bill sat across from Brennan his sycophancy swelled further when, like a pimply faced teenage boy on his first date, he rapturously declared, "I don't say this very often, but it is an honor to meet you and have you here." If this interview were taking place in the back seat of Little Bill’s parent’s station wagon the windows would've have been completely fogged by this point.

The interview was one rambling study in conformation bias, as Brennan bemoaned not having a security clearance for the first time in 38 years, and Maher stomped his feet and wailed "everyone with a brain is on your side!" Neither man was self-aware enough to realize the brazen level of entitlement that oozes from their belief that a security clearance for a former government official is a right, not a privilege.

Brennan then blamed Kentucky Senator Rand Paul for starting the whole mess and Maher breathlessly screeched, "Rand Paul is dead to me!" In the throes of his Brennan crush, Little Bill all but promised to fight Rand in the parking lot after school to defend the former CIA director's honor.

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Brennan then waxed poetic about how "national security is one of the most sacred and solemn professions in this government". I wonder which part of his national security work Brennan finds so sacred...was it the torture? The extraordinary rendition? The kill lists? The murdering by drone strike of innocent people, American citizen's included? The spying on the Senate in order to scuttle any impartial investigation into the torture program? The teaming with fascists in Ukraine to overthrow a democratically elected government? Or teaming with terrorists in an attempt to overthrow Assad in Syria?

Little Bill, no doubt hoping to get lucky on his dream date, did not ask any of those questions or raise any of these topics, he just pursed his lips and shook his head as he proclaimed his horror that Trump dared to call Brennan, the man who "defended our country after 9-11", a "low life".

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Maher's on screen love affair with Brennan is in keeping with his erotic profile, as his history shows he is most certainly aroused by high-ranking intelligence agency criminals. Maher has had similarly fawning, to the point of bootlicking, interviews with former head of the NSA and CIA, General Michael Hayden. Little Bill's modus operandi is to never speak ill of such mendacious intelligence officials as Hayden, Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, all of whom have lied to the American public and committed numerous crimes and moral atrocities such as their culpability in the rendition, torture and surveillance programs, but he instead chooses to speak only in the most overly reverential tones about their bravery and patriotic work keeping America safe.

I find it very curious that both Little Bill and his fellow liberal HBO comedy comrade John Oliver of Last Week Tonight, are so enamored with the intelligence agencies. Oliver too is an unrepentant establishment shill and brownnoser who has routinely ignored intelligence agency misbehavior and parroted the pro-intel line at every opportunity, a perfect example being his softball interview of former NSA chief General Keith Alexander and his aggressive take down of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

What is even more disheartening than two insipid cable television comedians being so obviously in the pocket of the intelligence agencies, is the total lack of intellectual and moral integrity on the part of the liberals in their audience.

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The buffoons in Maher's studio audience who gave Brennan a Pavlovian standing ovation on Real Time are probably the same fools who have donated money to the GoFundMe campaigns for fired FBI officials Andrew McCabe and Peter Strzok to the tune of more than a million dollars between them. Do these liberals not know who the FBI is and what they do? The FBI are the ones who wiretapped Martin Luther King Jr. and tried to blackmail him into killing himself. The FBI also infiltrated environmental, anti-war and civil rights movements in a concerted attempt to destroy them. According to Human Rights Watch, the FBI has gone above and beyond in subverting civil rights and due process in post-9/11 America by being "directly involved" in high profile terror plots in the U.S. where Muslims were entrapped and imprisoned for phony plots proposed or led by FBI agents or informants.

The liberal adoration of FBI flunkies and intelligence big wigs like Brennan, Clapper, Hayden and even the media anointed saint, former Director of the FBI and current Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who rounded up Muslims in the wake of 9/11, botched the anthrax investigation and lied about WMD’s in Iraq to the American public, is repugnant and will ultimately be counter productive if not downright self-defeating to any progressive movement.

I understand the liberal anger with the demagogue Trump, what I do not understand is why the left is so intent on embracing the most deplorable of war criminals and police state apparatchiks who have routinely flouted the constitution and flaunted their power, in order to try and bring down Trump, who progressives claim has flouted the constitution and flaunted his power.

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Towards the end of the interview Brennan received a cacophony of cheers when he described Trump to Little Bill as a man who is "dishonest, unethical, doesn't have principles...or integrity", but Brennan's description of Trump is a case of the former CIA official doth protest too much, methinks. When seen in the light of Brennan's own dishonesty regarding torture, his unethical spying on the Senate and his overall lack of principles and integrity throughout his career, this statement reeks of shameless hypocrisy. Brennan's condemnation of Trump would equally fit Brennan or any of his other media darling intelligence agency cohorts, along with the liberal lemmings who send them money, give them standing ovations and take their word for gospel.

In closing Brennan postulated that things will "get worse before they get better" and reminded viewers that this country "fought hard for the freedoms and liberties we have right now". I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment, which is why the #Resistance must jettison from their ranks all criminals like Brennan, Clapper and Hayden who have dedicated their careers to usurping the "hard fought freedoms and liberties we have right now".

The pied pipers in the media, including court jesters like Little Bill Maher and John Oliver, are leading liberals down a road to perdition by holding insidious intelligence officials and agencies up as paragons of nobility and truth. Brennan, Clapper, Hayden and their ilk are professional liars whose main priority is not to uphold and defend the constitution but rather to uphold and defend the corrupt establishment and the military industrial complex. 

In 2016 liberals lost the election, but since that time, as evidenced by their deification of Brennan and his intel cohorts, they have proceeded to lose not only their minds, but their souls as well. In the face of the Trump demon, liberals have conjoined themselves to truly despicable people who have perpetrated great evil at home and across the globe. In the long run, the #Resistance is going to learn the hard way that with friends like Brennan, Clapper and Hayden, who needs enemies?

A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT RT.COM

©2018

John Oliver - Shameless Establishment Shill

FOR THE PREVIOUS JOHN OLIVER ARTICLES CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW

1. COURT JESTER AS PROPAGANDA TOOL - 2. THE DRUMPF AFFAIR AND LITTLE BILL MAHER'S POWER FETISH - 3. WAXING BRAZILIAN AND WANING CREDIBILITY -4. OUT TRUMPING TRUMP ON THE GREAT WALL OF TRUMP - 5. THINGS SAID AND UNSAID.

Estimated Reading Time : 5 minutes 02 seconds

This Sunday, February 12, 2017, season 4 of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight premieres. If the first three seasons are any indication, viewers can expect no deviation from the official party line by the establishment’s favorite comedy accomplice.

John Oliver is a charlatan who appears to be a rebellious liberal comedian speaking truth to power, but is really a shameless shill for the ruling class in the U.S. Oliver specializes in telling his liberal audience and those in the establishment exactly what they want to hear. He never genuinely challenges or questions the U.S. power structure, making him an agent of the status quo, which is why the media love him so dearly.

In order to maintain most favored status among liberals, Oliver assails universally loathed entities like FIFA, the NCAA, tobacco or televangelists. Or he’ll investigate a wonky subject like infrastructure, voter ID laws or reforming the bail system. While Oliver gets quite a lot of attention for these stories, they only generate heat, not light. Nothing changes as a result, not even popular opinion since Oliver is only preaching to the converted in the liberal echo chamber.

When it comes to potentially controversial topics, like the rare times he looks at the U.S. political, military and media establishment, John Oliver gives his sycophant fans the soft sell. In the 89 Episodes of Last Week Tonight that have aired, they have shown 250 segments. In those segments, Oliver has scrutinized issues pertaining to the U.S. military and foreign policy just 11 times, that’s 4.4%. In contrast, the show has dedicated 14 or 5.6 % of their segments to Russia, Putin and Russia’s foreign policy. And those numbers do not include the innumerable one-liners at Russia’s expense scattered throughout various other segments, as Putin is Oliver’s favorite comedy whipping boy.

Even when Oliver looks into issues like drones, torture, Guantanamo Bay or NSA spying, he does so with the gentlest of tones and the kindest of language. For example, in regards to drones he called U.S. strikes, which killed civilians, “a little disturbing”. At end of the segment he concluded that now “might be the time to think about drones”. So his scathing assessment of the drone program was that it might now rise to the level of “thinking about”? And I guess “might” was the operative word in his statement since Oliver has never returned to the topic.

Contrast this delicate approach to the U.S. with his scorched earth campaign against Putin, where Oliver leads a cacophony of establishment media voices preaching a Russian hysteria. Oliver has assured his audience that the “brutal Russian dictator” shot down MH17, invaded Ukraine, committed war crimes in Syria, murdered Boris Nemtsov and would starve and freeze the population of Crimea once winter arrived. Oliver’s stance on Russia is just as vacuous, assumption-filled and fact-free as the rest of the mainstream media. A braver comedian would challenge the current prevailing presumptions, but courage is obviously not John Oliver’s strong suit.

Even when Oliver is mildly critical of the U.S., like he was in his torture and Guantanamo Bay pieces, he deflects those American failures by pointing to other nations that he feels are much, much worse, like Russia, North Korea, Iran, and Sudan. He also avoids using moral and ethical frameworks to argue against alleged U.S. failings, instead favoring arguments about “image”.

Oliver’s main thrust on torture was that it causes “serious harm to America’s image”. He had an entire segment titled “The CIA’s Public Image” which dealt with how the CIA handles its social media. Of all the things to talk about regarding the CIA, their social media prowess seems to be the most frivolous, which is probably why Oliver chose it. In Oliver’s interview with NSA chief Keith Alexander, an important part of the conversation was on the NSA’s image and how to change it for the better, not on its Orwellian surveillance programs.  When it comes to questioning the U.S. establishment, Oliver never dare wander into the heart of the matter, only stay on the surface and stick to appearances.

The discussion with Keith Alexander was also enlightening when contrasted with Oliver’s interview with Edward Snowden. Watching the Alexander and Snowden interviews side by side, it is easy to see where Oliver’s loyalties lie. Oliver uses the softest and most playful tone with Alexander, where he is extremely aggressive and nasty with Snowden.

The Snowden interview also reveals Oliver’s tactic of obfuscating uncomfortable issues. Oliver spends the first half of his Snowden segment making the story about how frightened he is to be in Russia. He is fearful because Snowden is late, the old KGB building is across the street and Russians are no doubt listening to his every word. You could come away from these bits thinking it is Russia that’s been eavesdropping on the world and not the U.S. But that was Oliver’s point with the Snowden interview and many other segments, to distract from U.S. crimes by imagining foreign ones.

The cherry on top of the Snowden episode was when John Oliver blamed Edward Snowden for the “major f***- up” of the New York Times publishing information that allegedly named a secret agent and a target.  In John Oliver’s world, the New York Times is sacrosanct and above blame, but that scoundrel Snowden makes for a convenient scapegoat.

Lies of omission are littered throughout Last Week Tonight episodes as well. When Oliver did a segment on Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia, he made the story about how rude the Saudi’s were to the president but gave no context at all. According to Oliver, the Saudi’s just randomly decided to hate Obama. Of course, the actual context is pretty important, Obama went to Saudi Arabia to calm the royal family over the 9-11 lawsuits and the congressional bills opening up the Saudi’s to liabilities for the attacks. Why Oliver would ignore this is beyond me.

When Oliver doesn’t ignore context is also revealing. In two segments on Ramzan Kadyrov, the Sunni strongman in Chechnya who had lost his cat, Oliver went to great lengths to give Kadyrov’s ties to Putin. He also spoke of Kadyrov’s Wikipedia page, which has a section about his human rights abuses, and spoke of it as if it were some sort of smoking gun. This is curious, as there was no mention of human rights abuses when another group of despotic Sunni Muslims, the Saudi’s, were the topic. And the Saudi’s don’t just have a section on their Wikipedia page about human rights abuses, they have a whole page dedicated to their human rights abuses! But Kadyrov is an enemy of the U.S. establishment and the Saudi’s are protected by it, so Oliver acted accordingly.

Oliver only uses context when it supports the official narrative, not when it undermines it. A case in point was his coverage of the protests in Brazil against the left-wing Workers Party government. Oliver made that story about left wing corruption in Brazil, and nothing more. A closer examination of those protests reveals that a major factor was class and race, with wealthy Whites protesting against the government and poor Black/Brown people protesting for it. Race and class would normally be things that someone like John Oliver, and his liberal audience, would focus on, he certainly would in relation to the Tea Party or Trump supporters here in the U.S. But in South America, the official U.S. narrative is left-wing, populist governments are “no bueno”, and so  Oliver, whether it be in regards to Dilma Rousseff in Brazil or Rafael Correa in Ecuador, propagates that position.

In contrast to his coverage of Brazil, watch this segment on turmoil in another left-wing South American country, Venezuela. In it, Oliver opens the segment with a news story that clearly defines the context of the protests, with the poor and working class on one side, and the military and police on the government side. Why clarify the struggle in Venezuela so distinctly but keep the Brazil situation murky at best? Because context in the Venezuela story supports the establishment media narrative that Oliver wants to sell, and it undermines it in the Brazil story.

And finally, the most remarkable proof of Oliver being an establishment shill occurred on the season three finale. Oliver actually pleaded with his audience to subscribe to the New York Times and the Washington Post in order to counter Trump and fake news. This was the first time John Oliver ever made me laugh out loud, as buying the Times and Post as an antidote to fake news is like treating obesity with a diet of pizza and ice cream.

It is too bad that Oliver’s insipidly predictable comedy and insidious support for all things establishment are so beloved by his minions. They obviously don’t know it yet, but John Oliver isn’t laughing with them, he’s laughing at them, all the way to the bank.

Previously published on Saturday February 11, 2017 at RT.

©2017

Through the Looking Glass : Truth and Lies in Week One of 2017

Estimated Reading Time : 8 Minutes 44 Seconds

Week one of 2017 is in the books and boy oh boy was it a doozy. This most bizarre week no doubt portends the strangeness of the year to come. We are only one week into this new year and we are already through the looking glass where up is down, left is right, lie is truth, good is bad and nothing seems to make any sense whatsoever. What am I talking about…well…let's recount the week and discover the ways our world has gone topsy turvy. 

The big news of the week was the "Russia Hacking" story. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified before congress and assured everyone that the Russian government in general, and Putin in particular, were indeed behind the hacking of the election against Hillary Clinton. DNI Clapper followed that up by releasing a "report" by the CIA, FBI and NSA that was meant to prove his case for Russian hacking. None of that is very weird, but what was weird was how many republicans were skeptical of the intelligence community claims and how many democrats unquestioningly embraced the intelligence community claims. 

I have read the intelligence report, have you? Did you notice anything funny about the CIA report on Russian hacking into the election? Maybe I am crazy, but there is absolutely zero evidence in that report of Russian hacking or tampering in the election at all. Nothing. It is like the book reports I used to turn in in high school when I didn't read the book…which was always, because reading is for nerds. What would happen is that I wouldn't read the book and then I'd get the Cliff Notes, but I wouldn't even read those, just give them a half-assed skimming over the night before the report was due. Then I would just scratch a bunch of bullshit together in homeroom and hope to sneak by without anyone noticing I had no idea what I was talking about….sort of like what the Intelligence community just did with their hacking report. DNI Clapper turned in one hell of a whopper of a book report the other day and boy is he hoping no one actually reads it with a critical eye. What the Intelligence community did was make a bunch of assumptions, toss in some innuendo, and then played it off as some shocking new information of official Russian guilt and then let the media, and democrats, run with it. The media, of course, excitedly exclaimed that not only is this report proof that Russia hacked the election for Trump, but that Putin himself was the one who ran the whole operation…Dr. Evil style!! This entire episode is utter madness. Anyone who believes that evidence-free report needs to have their head examined. The intelligence community has been deceiving, propagandizing and fooling the populace for decades and yet the democrats cling to their every word because it means they didn't really lose the election!! 

Democrats jumped at the chance to take Clapper at his word without any evidence because it means they aren't as huge a train-wreck of a party as they fear they may be. See it wasn't their shitty candidate, or their shitty campaign, or their vacuous ideas, or their myopic political vision, no it was Putin and the mustache-twirling Russians fault that they lost. I warned democrats against embracing this Russia hacking story because it was too good to be true, and I stand by that. And if democrats would actually read the declassified report, they might not be so enamored with the intelligence community and their conclusions as to who is an enemy of the state. Let's go through the report quickly to see what I am talking about. 

First off, as I already stated, there is zero evidence presented. This report is simply a piece of paper that is meant to make "official" the leaks, which are nothing more than innuendo, that have been published across the media for weeks. The media are treating it like it is manna from heaven, but it is really regurgitated nonsense that contains nothing new. In addition to presenting zero evidence, the "sources" the document provides for their background information are embarrassingly absurd. The report uses an open source document from the internet to make their case that Russia had intent to hack the election. I am not kidding, go look at it.  The "Annex A" section (starting on Page 6, ironically enough) spends the majority of its time attacking the television channel RT (Russia Today) and blaming it for being such an effective propaganda tool for Putin to destroy American democracy. The majority of the report, in fact, is analysis of RT, which takes up 7 of the 25 pages of the report, in contrast to the actual meat of the report which takes up 5 pages.

RT is a lightning rod for the establishment as they often report on things the mainstream media would just as soon ignore. Anytime the mainstream media mention RT, they always describe it as "Kremlin controlled RT" or "Kremlin financed RT" or "Kremlin backed RT", which is pretty funny. I wonder why they don't describe the BBC as "Westminster financed or backed or controlled", or the US networks as "Washington financed, backed or controlled" or the cable channels as "Wall Street financed, backed or controlled"? Any time you hear a talking head describe RT as "Kremlin backed" immediately dismiss them as they are shoveling propaganda. Another sure fire sign of a propagandist is if they describe Putin as "former head of the KGB Putin". Yes, Putin was formerly the head of the KGB, but George HW Bush was formerly the head of the CIA, and yet no one describes him as "former head of the CIA George HW Bush", and they do not describe his son as "son of the former head of the CIA George HW Bush".  It is a simple propaganda ploy to trigger fear and distrust in the viewer and taint the story.

Getting back to the report…if democrats or liberals who are supporting it haven't read it yet,  they really should. The report gives a variety of examples of how RT attacked and undermined America's beloved democracy, the funny thing is though that many of those examples are from 2012, not 2016. Here are some of the more entertaining ones. The report states that in the lead up to the 2012 election RT introduced a new show, "Breaking the Set", hosted by Abby Martin, which "overwhelmingly focused on criticism of US and western governments". See you cannot criticize the US or western governments, that is an attack on America and democracy. Another way to look at it is that Abby Martin committed the crime of journalism. Shame on her! The hysterical part of this whole "Breaking the Set" thing being put in a report about Russian interference in the 2016 election is that "Breaking the Set" stopped airing two years before the 2016 election. Someone please buy James Clapper a calendar…and a TV Guide.

The next section of "Annex A" tells us that RT, in the lead up to the 2012 election, not the 2016 election, had the temerity to report on "alleged US election fraud and voting machine vulnerabilities". Can you believe the gall of a news agency reporting on the possibility of election fraud and voting machine vulnerabilities in the lead up to an election? RT is out of control!! You know who else reported on voting machine vulnerabilities, except unlike RT it wasn't in relation to the 2012 election, but the 2016 election? CBS and PBS just to name two. I wonder if they are Russian spies too? Probably…commie bastards!!

In the next part of Annex A, the report tells us that RT, in an effort to "highlight a lack of democracy in the United States" had "broadcast, hosted and advertised third party candidate debates". What monsters!! The lesson here is that when you are through the looking glass, more candidates, more debate and more democracy actually is an attack on democracy. According to the intel community, war is peace, slavery is freedom and ignorance is strength!!

Another section of Annex A will come as quite a shock to liberals and democrats…but in the lead up to the 2012, again, to be clear, this is not the 2016 election but the 2012 election, RT aired a documentary on Occupy Wall Street that the report described like this…"RT framed the movement (Occupy Wall Street) as a fight against the ruling class and described the current US political system as corrupt and dominated by corporations". Is there any rational and un-compromised human being on the planet who would describe the US political system any other way?

Some other parts of the Annex A section of the report say that RT "alleges widespread infringements of civil liberties, police brutality and drone use" in America. Another part says that RT is attacking the US by criticizing "alleged Wall street greed." Let that one sink in for a minute. I hope liberals and democrats are starting to understand how this report, and the intelligence community that prepared it, are not your friends, not by a long shot. Neither are they friends of Truth. 

And finally, the report claims that RT is attacking US democracy by "running anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts of public health." That is just outrageous!! How many liberals or democrats have seen Josh Fox's excellent documentary "Gasland"? Probably a lot of them. Well, they should realize that the intelligence community that they are so enamored with right now, thinks JOSH FOX IS JOSEF STALIN!! In essence, the intel community thinks Josh Fox will kill you and eat your children!! HBO is a tool of Putin!!

So, according to this report on election interference by the Russians in the 2016 election, the intelligence community writes a report that cites a russian news channel's reporting FROM 2012, that is basically in line with liberal or left leaning political positions. And democrats and the media are falling all over themselves to praise this report for its thoroughness and seriousness and attack anyone, even Glenn Greenwald, who questions in it the least. Rachel Maddow was nearly orgasmic when the report was released this week, and interestingly enough she said you should go read it, but she curiously told her viewers to only read the meat of it, which is 5 pages, and skip the "sources and methods" section, because that is longer and boring and confusing. Annex A is the sources and methods section where they only talk about RT. In other words, there are no sources, and there are no methods, there is only old speculation and assumptions. The Intel community, just like me in high school, didn't read the book or even skim the Cliff Notes, and yet the media are determined to make you not notice that. Do democrats and liberals not know this stuff? Have they not read the report? Maybe they should read it before embracing it. Dear liberals, please go read the report. Know what you are signing on to when you endorse this report. What you are signing onto to is the criminalization of your own beliefs and your own eventual demise.

It isn't only Rachel Maddow's coverage of the report and Clapper's testimony that has been both breathless and despicable.  On MSNBC the consistently deplorable Joy Ried, who is such a vacuous dimwit that she has quickly shot up that hapless network's ladder in record time, asked some bumpkin republican congressman from Nowheresville, USA whether he believed the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper or Julian Assange in regard to the Russian hacking allegations. It was an obvious "gotcha" type of moment that cable tv lives for…and watching this dope squirm was what was intended. There is just one problem with Ms. Reid's question and premise…and that is that any rational, sane human being would believe Julian Assange over DNI Clapper in a heartbeat, you know why? Because Julian Assange has never lied to them. Never. You may dislike what he has done, but he has never lied. Clapper? Clapper can't open his mouth without a swarm of lies flying out. Clapper lied to congress, which is a felony, just a few years ago in relation to the Snowden material. Has everyone lost their minds and memory all at once? Apparently the answer is yes. Assange has, at great personal expense, exposed US war crimes, Clapper, at great personal reward, has covered up his own and other war crimes. And I know it is in style at the moment to dismiss and demean Assange due to personal distaste for him, but those sex crimes charges against him reek of Intelligence community handy work.  If you think the US intel community wouldn't try and frame someone  by any means necessary, that they see as a mortal threat, you are incredibly naive.

And then there is the highest ranking democrat in the country, the loathsome Senator from New York, Chuck Schumer. Schumer went on Rachel Maddow's show last week and said that Trump better be careful because the intelligence community has "six ways to sunday to get back at you if you cross them." Think about that statement for a second. Democrats are holding up the intelligence community as the bastion of professionalism and patriotism and in the same breath are claiming the Intel community will circumvent the constitution and extra-judicially "get back" at their political enemies. If I said that same statement people would call me a conspiracy theorist and dismiss me out of hand. The ranking democrat in the country, Chuck Schumer, just said that the intelligence community will exact revenge on President Trump if he challenges them and no one bats an eye. Want to know two presidents who got on the wrong side of the intelligence community? Kennedy and Nixon. Remember how their presidency's ended? Kennedy's brains were splattered all over Jackie's nice pink suit in Dealey Plaza, and tricky Dick ignominiously gave us the "v" for victory sign and then flew off into historical oblivion after resigning. Both Kennedy's assassination and Nixon's impeachment had intelligence agency fingerprints all over them, and even some of the same intelligence operative fingerprints (I'm looking at you E. Howard Hunt). But of course thinking that, never mind saying it out loud, gets you labelled a "conspiracy theorist" and taken off the "serious person" list. But now we have the ranking Democrat directly saying it out loud on national television as a threat to the president-elect of the United States. I do not know how exactly this will play out, but I guarantee you that it will not end well. 

Speaking of repugnant Senators, John McCain and his common-law wife,  Senator Lindsay Graham aka The Southern Dandy, of course are banging the war drums claiming Russia's alleged hacking is an act of war. McCain and Graham are hawks who have never meet a war they didn't love. Democrats and liberals are empowering the war party by embracing this evidence-free report. You want a war with Russia, keep on taking the intel community at their word and I promise you will get one. It is what they want and they have convinced you that is what you want too.

Fake news has also been a major talking point of the media and even the intel community in the last week. As with the Russian hacking story, the fake news story is most bizarre. The mainstream media has claimed that fake news is what lead to Trump beating Clinton, as voters were misinformed as to the real facts and stories. The media have used a plethora of polls that say that Trump voters were terribly misinformed about the election, for instance overwhelming numbers of Trump voters believe he won the popular vote. As we know, this is not true, and so the media have used this point to say that fake news tainted the well so to speak. Of course, the media fail to mention their own part in misinforming the populace and how that is reflected in the media. For instance, there are polls that show how Clinton voters now believe that Russia actually hacked voting machines and changed votes in Trump's favor. This is untrue, even by the flimsy intel report standards, but the media would never blame themselves for this mis-information. 

In addition, the main generator of fake news, is the mainstream media. Just in the last few weeks the Washington Post has published the fakey-ist of fake news stories which much fanfare, but only after time and attention has passed have they sent out little noticed retractions. The WaPo stories were about the alleged fake news generated by Russian propaganda sources about the US election. The  PropOrNot Russian propaganda website lists made by an unnamed and unchecked source, which the Post published without questioning, is total nonsense. The other story was about Russian hacking as well, this time about how the Rooskies hacked into the Vermont power grid!! The story was absurd on its face but that didn't stop everyone from re-tweeting it and spreading it and shouting form the mountain tops about it. Of course, when the story turned out to be untrue, the Post didn't hype that fact, they sheepishly put a small disclaimer on top of it. The damage was done already…which is how fake news works. It is all about manufacturing consensus, consent and content…which is exactly why the Russia hacking the election story is fake news as well. The lack of evidence and proof don't matter to people because the story tells them what they want to hear, and the damage is done. Truth has no meaning in an empire of lies, and we are the ruling empire at the moment.

Speaking of truth, there has also been a great deal of talk about how with Donald Trump as president we now live in a post-truth world, where Truth or facts don't matter.  That may be true, but it isn't entirely Trump's doing…as the Washington Post keeps proving over and over again. Even the aforementioned Joy Reid, a vociferous attack dog against fake news and post-truth Trump, is guilty of spreading fake news and not correcting to fact. Ms. Reid, and the ludicrous "Russia" expert, the sleepy-eyed, charlatan Malcolm Nance, spread the lie pre-election that the DNC emails were proven to have been tampered with and altered. This is factually untrue, but Ms. Reid and Mr. Nance have never retracted those statements. Just like Trump, they have little regard for Truth.

The bottom line is this regarding the intel report, fake news and our post-truth world, if you take anything at face value you are a fool. Only a dupe or a dope, or both, would believe a word the intel community tells them. A brief look at recent and not-so recent history shows us that the American intelligence community are professional liars who will do anything and everything to obscure and destroy the Truth. Remember Clapper lying about surveillance? Remember the Iraq War? Remember the torture report and all the dirty tricks surrounding it? Remember the Gulf War? Remember Iran-Contra? Remember Nicaragua? El Salvador? Venezuela? Brazil? Argentina? Cuba? Iran and the Shah? Vietnam? Laos? Cambodia? I mean, c'mon, how dumb do you have to be to fall for the intel community bullshit again?

And in terms of Russia and Putin, it is most certainly possible that they hacked the election. I have no illusions about Putin being some saint, but regardless of that, what I demand in relation to any news or charges is evidence. I have yet to see compelling evidence that Russia shot down MH-17, or invaded Ukraine or committed war crimes in Syria or hacked the US election. That doesn't mean they definitely didn't do those things, only that I have not seen compelling evidence that they did. And until I see evidence I will not believe those claims, and neither should you. 

This past week is a wonderful launching pad for the chaos, disorder and madness to be unleashed in 2017. The media is abysmal, do not trust a word they say. The intel community are professional liars…never believe them…ever. Trump is incapable of telling any truth, ignore everything he utters. Trust nothing and no one. If someone makes a claim demand to actually SEE the evidence, not some report that is meant to appease people who will never read it and is void of any proof. Demand to see actual, tangible evidence, or consider it a lie.

And finally, if you are dismayed about the post-truth world we now inhabit, make it a practice to be loyal to the Truth above all else. Be loyal to the Truth above ideology, political party and even country. The Truth shall set you free, so stop being a slave to the lies and disinformation coming from "official sources". We are through the looking glass here people, we need to cast off wishful thinking and anchor ourselves to Truth or all will be lost. The road ahead is going to be very disorienting, I mean just last week Sarah Palin wrote an apology to Julian Assange and told people to go see Oliver Stone's Snowden… we are most definitely through the looking glass. Maybe if we can hold onto the Truth for dear life, we might just be able to make it through all of this madness.

©2017

Sicario : A Review and Reports From Down the Rabbit Hole of the Drug War

*** WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!!! CONSIDER THIS YOUR OFFICIAL SPOILER ALERT!!!***

MY RATING : SEE IT IN THE THEATRE!!

Sicario, written by Taylor Sheridan and directed by Denis Villeneuve, is a taut and tense drama that tells the story of FBI Special Weapons and Tactics Team Agent Kate Macer and her descent into the murky world of the international Drug War. The film stars Emily Blunt as Agent Macer, with supporting turns by Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin.

As Sicario opens, we see Blunt's Macer in full tactical gear riding with her team to raid a house. The cookie cutter house is in the Arizona suburbs, but it could be any house, in any suburban neighborhood, in any state in America. The house, like the film, looks like one thing on the surface, but the deeper you look into it, the more shocking, complicated and dangerous realities it reveals. That house, symbolic of the American dream, reveals the violence, the corruption, the peril and the cancer that is the American Drug War. Sicario teaches us that not only won't Macer leave that house the way she went in, but America won't leave the Drug War the same way it went in either.

After the raid on the house, Macer is approached to be a part of a mysterious special task force headed by Matt Garver (Josh Brolin) who wants to find those responsible for the horrors found in that suburban Arizona home. Macer rightly senses that she doesn't know the whole story of the mission or who, exactly, this unkempt, flip-flop wearing Garber guy works for, but she agrees to work with him anyway. She then follows Garber, and his partner Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro) down into the rabbit hole of the Drug War, where friend is foe and foe is friend, sometimes all at once.

Garber and Gillick lead Macer on a journey into the heart of darkness, with pit stops in Juarez, Tuscon and a honky-tonk bar. By the end of the journey, Macer will have been nearly choked to death, shot and betrayed by friend and enemy alike. Macer learns the hard way that nothing and no one is what they seem to be in the Drug War.

Along with Emily Blunt's very solid acting work, both Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro give quality performances. Del Toro is particularly captivating as the enigmatic Gillick. Del Toro gives Gillick an internally vibrant wound that makes the character pulsate with a subtly menacing righteousness and magnetism. Brolin is terrific as the morally and ethically vacuous CIA agent who doesn't care who wins the drug war, just that there is one.

To go along with the quality acting in Sicario, director Denis Villeneuve, cinematographer Roger Deakins and composer Johan Johansson all do magnificent work. Villenueve deftly creates a heightened and palpable tension throughout the film that is mesmerizing. Even as the first opening credits roll, a faint yet ominously unsettling deep tone from composer Johan Johansson can be heard rumbling just beneath the surface. It sets the tone for the underlying danger that permeates the entire movie, adroitly heightened by Johannson's work. The only other film of director Villeneuve's I have seen is Prisoners which I found to be very disappointing. With Sicario, Villeneuve has made a quantum leap in his filmmaking, showing a depth and level of craft that is striking. 

While Sicario is a drama and not an action film, it's exhilarating action sequences are exquisitely directed and shot.  Master cinematographer Roger Deakins work, is, as always, glorious, and well worth the price of admission alone. From the opening house raid sequence to the later raid of a drug tunnel, Deakins cinematography is sublime. His ability to propel and add depth to the narrative all while creating a masterpiece with every frame, is unparalleled.

What I liked the most about Sicario is that it shows us the reality that the "War on Drugs" has morphed into the "Drug War". This war has nothing to do with the saving of America's soul from the scourge of drug use, instead it has to do with America selling it's soul in order to wage continual war. Like the War on Terror, the Drug War is a war with no end game. Perpetual war is good for business, if your business is the military industrial complex. And if you add the prison/law enforcement industrial complex in with the military industrial complex, you have a lot of people making a lot of money making sure the drug war continues to be waged and is never won…or never declared lost.

A brief glance at the history of America's intelligence services shows us that they have consistently used illicit drugs in order to raise money and weapons for various covert operations. Be it the CIA's opium growing and smuggling business during the Vietnam War, or their cocaine trafficking into U.S. cities from Central America in the 1980's in order to support and supply the Contras and other groups in Central America, or their operations to return opium production to Afghanistan after the 2001 invasion. The key to these CIA drug operations succeeding is that drugs must be kept illegal, so that intelligence services can prosper from their sale and keep the profits off the books and away from prying eyes of oversight committees and journalists. If legalization of all illicit drugs were to happen, the CIA would find itself in quite a bind in terms of paying for all of it's nefarious activities. (I strongly encourage you to read the book, "Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press" by Alexander Cockburn, for more on this topic)

The U.S. likes to think of itself as the good guys, always with noble intentions. That is the narrative that is sold to us and that we willingly buy and struggle to question. Yet the Drug War is glaring proof that things are not always what we want them to be, or what they seem.

In the 1980's, the CIA was running cocaine from South and Central America into the inner cities of the U.S., which, oddly enough, was when the crack cocaine epidemic started. As Nancy Reagan was telling us to "Just Say No!", her husband Ronald's administration was enabling drug trafficking into the U.S. in order to illegally raise money and arms for the Contras in Nicaragua in their fight against the Sandinistas. Remember the Iran-Contra scandal…well this is the dark shadow of that scandal that no "serious" person wants to talk about. Journalist Gary Webb wrote about it, and that didn't end well for him at all. He was publicly and professionally crucified by the "establishment media" and ended up with two bullet holes in his head for his trouble. In perfect Hegelian dialectic problem-reaction-solution fashion, the CIA was funneling drugs into the heart of the U.S. in order to destroy those inner cities with drugs, weapons and violence, all the while empowering domestic law enforcement with expanded powers and dismantling the Bill of Rights in order to keep the frightened populace "safe" and their political power intact. Then they sent that money to the Contras and right wing groups in El Salvador and Honduras, where they paid for death squads, torture and assassinations, all in the name of fighting "communism" so as to re-open Central America to American business interests. (I highly recommend Gary Webb's book "Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras and the Crack Cocaine Explosion", along with Nick Shou's book "Kill the Messenger" which tells the tale of what happened to Gary Webb for writing about the CIA-Contra-Cocaine connection.)

Afghanistan is another perfect example of the U.S. being at cross purposes with itself in the War on Drugs. Most everyone thinks that the Taliban are a horrendous group of people, and that our war on them was righteous. But the closer you look at it, the less clear that becomes. For instance, the reason we invaded was because Bin Laden had been hiding in Afghanistan allegedly under Taliban protection. Before the invasion the Taliban asked the U.S. to show evidence of Bin Laden's guilt in regards to 9-11 and they would turn him over. For some reason, the U.S. refused, and invaded anyway. No one cared much because the Taliban were such loathsome people due to their horrific treatment of woman. 

A closer look at the situation in Afghanistan reveals some surprising things that complicate the narrative we as a country tell ourselves. For instance, during the reign of the Taliban, the opium business which had, with the help of the CIA during the Afghan-Soviet war, once been thriving in the Afghanistan, was shut down entirely. Under the Taliban, Afghanistan was a no-go zone for opium growing. But then something strange happened after the U.S. invasion and occupation, the opium business not only came back, it grew to previously unseen heights. Opium production in Afghanistan is now at all time highs (pardon the pun). That is certainly a strange turn of events considering the country that invaded, the U.S., is the main force behind the War on Drugs across the globe. 

The war against Afghanistan, once thought so morally clear and simple, becomes even more complicated when you take into account the practice of "bacha bazi", which literally means, "boy play", in which powerful Afghan men keep pre-pubescent boys as sex slaves. The Taliban outlawed bacha bazi, and executed anyone who practiced it. Since the U.S. invaded, bacha bazi has come roaring back, and U.S. service members have been told by their commanders to not intervene if they come across the practice. There are even stories of young boys being raped on U.S. bases by Afghan warlords, and U.S. soldiers hearing it happen but not being allowed to stop it, and being court martialed if they do intervene. When one hears these sorts of things, the question becomes, what the hell are we doing over there? What sort of twisted moral compass are we working with in that war? (Please read this disturbing NY Times piece on Bacha bazi and the U.S. ignoring it.)

Which brings us back to another war with a twisted moral compass, the Drug War. The Drug War, by every measure, has been an absolute and utter failure. Billions, if not trillions, of dollars have been wasted, and millions of lives lost, in a war that serves no purpose but to assure it's own continuance. Heroin, once the scourge of the inner city, is now epidemic in the once thought safe suburbs of America (please read Sam Quinones book "Dreamland" for more on this topic). America isn't losing it's soul in the Drug War, it has already lost it. We imprison the poor and addicted and enrich and empower the tyrannical impulse at the heart of every police officer, district attorney and politician. We as a populace don't just allow, but demand the dismantling of the rights and liberties this country was founded on. We demand a militarized police force and their "no knock" raids in the middle of the night, illegal searches and seizures, asset forfeiture and mandatory minimums, all in the name of the "War on Drugs" and our own self proclaimed moral purity. This is no "War on Drugs", drugs aren't at war with us, we are at war with ourselves. Until we can be honest about what the Drug War really is, and the powerful people really behind it, playing both sides of it and prospering from it, people will continue to be senselessly killed and die in it's name. And America will continue to sell it's soul and spiral down deeper and deeper into more circles of hell, one more heinous than the next.

When Sicario began my first thoughts were that Emily Blunt may have been miscast as the FBI SWAT team agent. Blunt is an exceedingly beautiful, almost waif-ish actress, especially compared to the monstrous Delta Force brutes she is working alongside. It even looks as if her weapon may be too heavy for her to carry in the opening sequence of the movie. As the film went on though, I came to the realization that Emily Blunt was a superb choice to play Macer. Not only is she a terrific actress, and her work in Sicario is as good as she has ever been, but she is a wonderful representation of the vital yet fragile legal structures that once made America the land of the free. In other words, Emily Blunt's Macer is a representation of the United States Constitution, or to put it in more flowery terms, Macer is Lady Liberty. What Macer is put through in Sicario is the test our rule of law and liberties have gone through in the drug war. And as del Toro's Gillick says to Macer at the end of the film, "now is a time for wolves", and Macer/Lady Liberty is just not big or strong enough to run with the big, bad, lawless wolves, otherwise known as the dogs of war. Gillick finishes by telling her she should "move to a small town somewhere, where the rule of law still exists", but as that quaint suburban Arizona house that ends up being a house of horrors proves, there is no escaping the dogs of war once they are unleashed, even in small town America.

In the first part of Sicario, there is a hauntingly effective sequence where the camera lingers in a close up on the face of a dead person in a see-through plastic bag. We can't make out whether the person is a man or woman, or how they were killed, only that they are dead and are now an anonymous statistic in the Drug War. A few moments later in the film, Macer washes the blood and mire from the Arizona house raid off in her shower, then stands post-shower in front of a steamed up mirror where her face is obscured by the condensation. It is ominously reminiscent of the anonymous Drug War victim we saw only a few shots before and foreshadows what is to come for Macer, Lady Liberty, and the rest of us, at the end of her, and our, Drug War journey.

Do yourself a favor and go see Sicario in the theatre, it is well worth your time and hard-earned money. It is not only a truly terrific film, but it will also give you a much needed glimpse into the reality just below the surface of the Drug War that our nation continues to wage. You may not like what you see in Sicario, being honest with ourselves is seldom easy. But just remember, honesty is the first step on the long journey toward sobriety, and out of our heart of darkness.

©2015

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Citizenfour : A Review and Random Thoughts

ESTIMATED READING TIME :  23 MINUTES

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act " - George Orwell

Citizenfour is the Academy Award winning documentary that chronicles whistleblower Edward Snowden's release of classified National Security Agency materials to journalist Glenn Greenwald and the ensuing NSA spying scandal. The film is directed by Laura Poitras and co-produced by Steven Soderbergh.

Edward Snowden, in case you don't know, was at the time of filming in 2013, a twenty nine year old U.S. citizen who worked as a system administrator for the National Security Agency under a sub-contract with the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. It was at his job at the NSA that he surreptitiously obtained thousands of classified documents that exposed massive government spying and data collection programs. Once Snowden had taken possession of these documents, he then anonymously contacted director Poitras, and later journalist Glenn Greenwald, then of The Guardian newspaper, and set up a rendezvous in Hong Kong where he revealed the classified documents and explained their meaning and significance. The first face to face meeting took place on June 3, 2013 in Snowden's Hong Kong hotel room and the meetings continued for the next week. These meetings were filmed and make up a significant portion of Citizenfour.

In trying to disseminate the information he had gathered, Snowden had originally tried to reach out to Greenwald, but when they could not find a secure way to communicate, he contacted documentarian Laura Poitras, using the codename "Citizenfour" to protect his identity, hence the title of the film. Snowden couldn't have chosen a better film maker to document his story. I had not seen any of Poitras' work prior to Citizenfour. After seeing the film and being blown away by the sublime skills of the filmmaker, I eagerly searched out her earlier work. Both My Country, My Country (2006), about the first Iraqi election post-Saddam and The Oath (2011), about a pair of terrorists and their divergent paths, are remarkable documentaries and make up the powerful first two-thirds of what Poitras describes as her "post 9-11 trilogy" which she completes with Citizenfour.

Poitras, unlike many documentarians of our time, is notable in that she disappears behind the camera and never interjects her presence into the unfolding story. Her filmmaking confidence is highlighted by her lack of a need to direct action or explain circumstances. Poitras' minimalist presence creates documentaries that make the viewer feel like they themselves are behind the camera and, oddly enough, are eavesdropping and prying into the lives of the film's subjects. Even in Citizenfour, where she IS a part of the story, she never makes herself an obvious part of it,  but rather treats herself as just another character in the unfolding drama.

Poitras masterfully creates an ominous sense of menace lurking throughout the story of Citizenfour. This foreboding sense of menace is palpable, as is the tension. The tension building was so effective that there were times in the film when Edward Snowden would walk over and stare out the window of his Hong Kong hotel room and I wanted to yell at him "get away from the god damn window!!" While Snowden's story naturally has tension and hidden menace within it, Poitras adroitly enhances them with her use of camera framing, color scheme and temperature, and Trent Reznor's moody and eerie soundtrack.

"Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny." - Thomas Jefferson

Citizenfour also excels at conveying to the viewer how colossal and invasive the surveillance and spying programs the government employs truly are. As Snowden tells us in the film, every piece of communication or information traveling over the internet or by phone is collected by the intelligence community of either the United States or the United Kingdom. Internet history, Skype, Facebook, emails, texts and a whole host of other information, are all collected, spied on and tracked. That information, including physical location through the use of cell towers, can be used to show where you have been, who you have been with, what you have done and what you have talked about. This surveillance is done in close collaboration with the technology and telecom companies. And to be clear, this is not just "meta-data" as it has been portrayed elsewhere in the media, but rather, this surveillance and data collection scoops up content as well as meta-data, and not just of foreigners but of United States citizens.

The spying programs, with names like Tempora, Prism, Special Source Operations, Boundless Informant, Stellar Wind and X-Keyscore, may seem benign or passive yet they are anything but. The scope and scale of the spying is so invasive, the intelligence gathered so vast and the government ability to misuse that information so gargantuan, that it is inconceivable to even think of ever reigning the behemoth of the surveillance state back in line. As Snowden says in the film, "This is about state power versus people's ability to oppose that power." And that is why the state will never willingly relinquish this near-omnipotent spying power. History teaches us that once a state takes a power, it never peacefully gives that power up. It will use it's ever expanding power to insure its continued existence and dominion over those who would dare dream to oppose it.  Governments and government power only expand, and never peacefully contract. This is the lesson that our founding fathers knew all too well, but it is one that our current society has forgotten in our distracted and disgraceful civic sloth.

Edward Snowden presciently says while in Hong Kong, that the media strategy against him will be to make him the story, in order to distract from the rampant government spying he has revealed. Snowden knows the playbook of the establishment and their lackeys in the media all too well.  And sure enough, when Glenn Greenwald's story breaks and Snowden shares his identity, the usual suspects in the establishment press and government come out in droves with old rusty knives drawn. By employing the tactic of focusing on his personality, the government and its lapdogs in the press hope to obfuscate and undermine the legitimacy of the information he has exposed. The establishment is all too eager to make this an emotional issue and not a rational one. They do this by trying to convince us that Snowden is simply a narcissist out for attention, or a troubled man with a checkered past, or a loser with a history of failure behind him and last but not least, a traitor, who hates and betrayed his country.

Many Americans bought into these foolish narratives hook, line and sinker, and still do. I doubt many of those opposed to Snowden would sit down and watch Citizenfour since the media has already told them what to think about the man and the situation, which is a terrible shame. The film is a powerful antidote to the venomous disinformation and distractions spewing forth from the government and establishment media. In the film, Snowden comes across as a person who loves his country very much, but doesn't trust his government. To me, that is the mark of a civic-minded, sane, reasonable, rational and logical person. Snowden seems to be an intelligent, fiercely principled and genuinely decent person, which is in stark contrast to the shills in the government and establishment press who attack him and question his motives and integrity (in my opinion, anyone working in government or establishment media questioning the integrity of ANYONE, no matter what they are accused of doing, is the height of comedy).

"If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." - James Madison

Keith Alexander, "Maybe if I put my hook in front of my mouth I will stop lying."

Keith Alexander, "Maybe if I put my hook in front of my mouth I will stop lying."

The government claims that this vast amount of surveillance is necessary for national security and to stop terrorism. Snowden and Greenwald make a convincing case in the film  that the spying isn't just for national security but also for political, industrial and economic reasons.  For instance, the U.S. has spied on its allies, including but not limited to, officials and citizens from Germany, Brazil, France and Spain. It was even revealed that the NSA tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone for a full decade starting in 2002, even before she ever became Chancellor.

James Clapper, "My conscience is this big!"

James Clapper, "My conscience is this big!"

In regards to surveillance keeping us safe from terrorists, National Security Agency General Director Keith Alexander has claimed that 54 terror plots have been thwarted through these spying programs. Of course, a closer look at Alexander's claims proves them to be false, and at best, maybe one terror plot was discovered by this vast spying. Keith Alexander was lying with the 54 plots-stopped claim, but that shouldn't be a surprise, Keith Alexander is a liar, it's his job to lie. He has lied to congress and the American public, but he isn't alone, lying is par for the course for those in the government and the intelligence community when it comes to surveillance. So many intelligence agencies and officials lie about so many topics, one wonders why anyone besides their stenographers in the establishment press ever believes a word that comes out of their mouths. 

"There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice." - Charles de Montesquieu

CIA Director John Brennan, "I care about the rule of law… this much !"

CIA Director John Brennan, "I care about the rule of law…this much!"

Joining Alexander in lying to congress, which is a crime punishable with prison time by the way, is Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who lied to congress about surveillance. Will Alexander or Clapper be held to account for their criminal conduct? No, of course not. And neither will CIA director John Brennan, under whose leadership the Central Intelligence Agency spied upon the senate for having the temerity to actually investigate it. And neither will George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bush gang for ordering torture. And neither will Barrack Obama for ordering "extra-judicial killings" of American citizens. None of these people will be held to account because the law doesn't apply to people like them, only to people like us, proving America is no longer a nation of laws, just a nation with laws. When you hear those in power pontificate about "law and order"what they really mean is "ORDER and law". To those in power, laws are meant to not only keep other people in order, but to keep the order of things where they are the ones atop the hierarchy. In their minds, "Laws and punishment for thee, but not for me!!" 

David Petreaus, "A slap on the wrist? I'll drink to that!"

David Petreaus, "A slap on the wrist? I'll drink to that!"

One final example of the two-tiered justice system for the elites is the recent case of General David Petreaus. Petreaus, if you remember, was the four-star darling of the neo-cons, the hawks and the mainstream media for his "surge" in Iraq, although his popularity probably had more to do with his "surge" in media glad handing and public posturing than in any battlefield success. Petreaus was then appointed the Director of the CIA, and proceeded to have an affair with his biographer with whom he shared troves of highly classified notebooks. For sharing classified materials, including the identity of agents, for no other reason than foreplay, Petreaus got a slap on the wrist in the form of losing his job but getting no jail time. But Edward Snowden reveals a massive government conspiracy of criminal spying on innocent American citizens and we get government officials openly talking about assassinating him or executing him. And people question why Snowden won't return to the U.S.?

"Speak the truth but leave immediately after" - Slovenian Proverb

Another favorite distractionary tactic by the establishment is to imply Snowden is a spy or a coward for not returning to the U.S. to face the charges pending against him. President Obama, Hillary Clinton and others have said that Snowden should have just gone through the chain of command at the NSA with his concerns and he would have gotten whistleblower protections by doing so. This is false. First, because Snowden says he did bring his concerns to his superiors and was either ignored or told to keep quiet. And secondly, because Snowden was under a sub-contract, and not an employee of the federal government, meaning he was not eligible for whistleblower status.

The other issue regarding Snowden and getting a fair trial, is that due to the law used against him, he cannot defend himself by claiming the government was committing crimes. The law, the Espionage Act, was originally meant to be used against spies, but in recent years has been used to prosecute people who have withheld information or shared information with the media. In fact, Obama has used the Espionage Act more than twice as much as all the other presidents in history…combined. What makes this all the more despicable is that Obama has used the act against whistleblowers and not spies. So much for Obama's pre-election pledge to be more transparent. It is obvious that Snowden could not get a "fair trial" under the law used to charge him, he could only give the government the opportunity for a show trial.

And as for the "spying" allegations, there is no credible evidence whatsoever that Snowden has turned over any classified information to any foreign government, including the Russians and Chinese.

"Truth is treason in an empire of lies" - Ron Paul

On Saturday, July, 20, 2013, British intelligence officials stormed The Guardian newspaper in London and demanded that the hard drives which contained the Snowden material on them be destroyed. In an act of monumental cowardice, The Guardian submitted to the request and destroyed the hard drives in front of the impatient intelligence officials.  The Guardian explained the reasoning behind their acquiescence was because of a "threat of legal action by the government". Oh no, NOT THAT!! Why not let the legal process play out? Why not force the government to actually have to prove their case in court. Even if you lose the case and have to destroy the hard drives, you still maintain your adversarial relationship with government and, more importantly, the public's trust in your journalism.

The Guardian aren't the only ones the intelligence community has bullied. Glenn Greenwald's partner, David Miranda, was detained using an anti-terrorism law at Heathrow airport by British Intelligence for nine hours and was not allowed any legal representation. Even upon Miranda's release, British officials refused to return seized possessions, including his laptop, cellphone and USB sticks.

Citizenfour director, Laura Poitras, was repeatedly held by U.S. custom officials after her film My Country, My Country came out in 2006. During the filming and editing of Citizenfour she moved to Germany in order to escape the strong arm tactic of the intelligence community.

The treatment of Miranda, Greenwald and Poitras has paled in comparison to the whistleblowers who have stayed in America and faced trial.  For example, torture is a crime according to U.S. law, but the only person prosecuted in regards to torture is the whistleblower who confirmed it, John Kiriakou, who spent nearly two years in federal prison. Other whistleblowers have been arrested and charged too, like Thomas Drake and Bradley Manning (who was sentenced to 35 years in prison and later became Chelsea Manning) as two examples, while none of the crimes and war crimes they exposed were ever prosecuted. And just note that Kiriakou, Drake and Manning were all charged under the aforementioned Espionage Act.

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." - Edmund Burke

In the United States, "Good Citizens" allowing the police or intelligence agencies to spy upon them is anathema.  To be not only a good citizen, but a patriot, one MUST resist government intrusions. This isn't optional, it is required. According to the Declaration of Independence, it is their duty, "when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government"To use a more recent quote, from V for Vendetta, "People shouldn't fear their government, governments should fear their people". 

There are those who tremble at the sight of every jihadi video and threat, and run to government to protect them from the boogie man of the day, be it God-fanatic terrorists or back in the day, God-less communists. These people should understand one thing, government is not here to protect them, it is here to protect itself.

The reality behind this instinct to defer to authority is one that has been deeply ingrained in us as children. Children rely on authority, in the form of their parents, to keep them safe, fed and alive. That hard wiring of the brain during its development in infancy, is a difficult thing for people to overcome even once they have grow up. Stanley Milgram, a psychologist at Yale University, did some famous studies on the psychology of obedience in 1963. In a nutshell, Milgram's experiment tested whether regular people, when prompted by an authority figure, would give electric shocks to other people in the context of a test if they gave the wrong answer to a question. Milgram's basic conclusion states, "Ordinary people are likely to follow orders given by an authority figure, even to the extent of killing an innocent human being. Obedience to authority is ingrained in us all from the way we were brought up. People tend to obey orders from other people if they recognize their authority as morally right and/or legally based. This response to legitimate authority is learned in a variety of situations, for example in the family, school and workplace."

Milgram's work is in many ways relevant to this issue in that it shows people's strong, unconscious tendency towards obedience to authority. Milgram's experiments in obedience help us to understand the deep seeded psychological need some of us have to defer to authority and why some may reflexively defend government spying and decry Snowden for revealing it. 

Another psychologist, Abraham Maslow, came up with the "hierarchy of needs" theory in 1943. This theory states that people are motivated by the impulse to fulfill an unmet fundamental need. In Maslow's theory, he created a hierarchy of five needs, and one of the most important foundational needs is "safety". According to Maslow, people are motivated to satisfy their need for "safety". This "need for safety", or more accurately stated in relation to our topic, this "need for a feeling of being safe", may be another one of the psychological reasons for people to be so obedient to authority when it comes to surveillance.

In previous posts I have written about social psychologist Jonathan Haidt's excellent book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, which may also shed some light on the "obedience to authority" issue as well. In the book, Haidt hypothesizes that people can be divided in their political thought due to differing moral priorities. A few examples of the moral priority categories Haidt describes are Authority, Liberty and Fairness. So according to Haidt's approach, some people may have Authority as a greater moral priority than Fairness or Liberty. If someone is hard wired that way, it is easier to understand why they would find Snowden contemptible because he challenged and usurped authority and undermined the hierarchy. And, of course, the opposite is true as well, if someone has Liberty or Fairness as higher on their moral priorities than they would be less inclined to see anything wrong with Snowden revealing incriminating evidence against those in authority. 

In addition to Milgram's, Maslow's and Haidt's work, our old friend cognitive dissonance rears its head once again when we look at the obvious contradictory thought involved in the war on terror and civil liberties. Cognitive dissonance, if you'll recall from previous posts, is defined as "psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously" . The contradiction, or "incongruous attitude", at the heart of the war on terror is that people in power tell us that we must give up some rights, liberties and freedoms in order to protect ourselves from terrorists...who want to take away our rights, liberties and freedoms. We are told "they" (the terrorists) hate us for our freedoms, and in order to counter their attack upon our freedoms, we must reduce those freedoms. On its face this idea is absurd, to preempt a tyranny we fear so much with our own self-imposed tyranny. In order for this illogical premise to survive even the most basic scrutiny of reason, one must either contort oneself with extraordinary dexterity in order to create a willful blindness to it, or be under the unconscious sway of both cognitive dissonance and the psychological need for security in the form of Maslow/Milgram's work we touched upon previously. As a culture, it seems we would rather follow our more primitive impulses, and embrace authority and self deception in the search for that feeling of being safe, rather than the more psychologically difficult yet more evolved task of looking at these issues with the rational mind rather than the emotional one.

"It takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen " - Homer Simpson

There are also those people who defend the NSA by saying "if you aren't doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about". This whistling past the graveyard is little more than a short cut to thinking. Spying isn't about what you may or may not be doing wrong. Spying is about control. Spying is about defanging, declawing and defeating any and all dissent and protest. Government tyranny sees no political ideology or party. Surveillance kicked into high gear under Bush and it has gotten even worse under Obama. According to the material Snowden released, The U.S. government has over 1.2 million people on its watch listI would be willing to bet that that government watch list includes a considerable number of people from "Occupy Wall Street" AND the "Tea Party". And if pro-spying citizens think they are safe by being "good government bullshitters"*, guess again. As history shows us, the playing field will shift, it always does, and they will eventually be on the wrong side of the goal posts.

An important thing to remember is that the intelligence community is not an elected branch of government. But they are very capable and more than willing to spy upon our elected representatives, who, of course, are outraged when it happened to them, but not so much when it happened to us. I am speaking about both my former congresswoman, Jane Harman, and my current senator Dianne Feinstein. Both of whom have spent their political careers as little more than shills for the intelligence community, but who were incensed when they learned they were on the receiving end of the surveillance they so supported when it was directed at regular citizens. In Harman's case (linked above), she showed tremendous political and moral flexibility by aiding and abetting not only the criminality of the U.S. intel community but also the Israeli intelligence community. 

"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." - Thomas Jefferson

The intelligence community now has the capability to bully and blackmail elected officials who try to exercise their Constitutional role of governmental oversight. How can a democracy flourish when there is an unelected, unaccountable, extremely powerful group (the intelligence community) running roughshod over the Constitution which is meant to keep them in check? Technology has outpaced the ability for oversight of the use of that technology. Corruption, the human impulse for power and self preservation in government officials, make a "just trust us" approach to government powers in general, and surveillance powers in particular, an obvious act of futility, if not outright insanity. 

With an overly muscular and aggressive intelligence community and a neutered congress with no interest in oversight and a subserviently compliant establishment press, we are left with government only as an act of theater. In the final analysis, we only have the appearance of a democratic republic but not the actual practice of one.

If, as a citizen, your instinctive response is to always and every time defer to authority and mindlessly "OBEY", then you are one of those fools who have given up liberty for security, and you deserve, and will get, neither.  One should never confuse their government for their country as so many often do. "A waving flag is a blindfold for the fool." - Me

"Truth is such a rare thing, it is delightful to tell it" - Emily Dickinson

Some call Edward Snowden a traitor, others a hero. Some call him a leaker, others a whistleblower. Regardless of what you call him, thanks to Edward Snowden, willful ignorance and blindness is no longer an option in regard to government surveillance. Our republic can survive another heinous terrorist attack, no matter how awful, but it cannot and will not survive the obliteration of the liberties and freedoms upon which it was built. Sadly, if the United States government continues to trample the most basic principles upon which it was founded, it does not deserve to survive, and it most assuredly will not. Snowden's decision to bring to light the crimes of the government was a last ditch effort to save the republic from itself.

In the United States of America we now have "First Amendment Zones" where protestors are 'allowed' to voice their dissent away from eyes and ears of their political representatives and fellow citizens. Government officials openly break the law by lying to congress and face no punishment. The Intelligence community spies on American citizens and other branches of government and no one is held to account. Civil liberties, which our Constitution tells us are granted by God, are now little more than a nuisance and punch line to those who have sworn to defend them. We have an executive who uses imperial powers in the form of extra-judicial killings of American citizens. Not only have we tortured and killed people in our charge, we openly celebrate the torture and the war criminals who committed it. 

Everything chronicled in the previous paragraph and in the film Citizenfour, from the spying to the lying to the lack of legal accountability, sounds like something that would happen in some backwoods banana republic or a despotic, tyrannical dictatorship. Which brings us to the only rational conclusion possible once we study all of the facts presented to us, and that is that those who still think the United States of America is a force for moral good in the world, a "shining city on a hill", have lost their mind or moral compass or, very likely, both.  One must disabuse oneself of the notion that the United States of America is anything other than, at best, an amoral imperial kleptocratic aristocracy/oligarchy or, at worst, a mentally deranged, immoral, evil empire. To think anything else in the face of the current reality is an act of extraordinary self delusion, albeit an unconsciously self preserving one in terms of psychological health. The hard, brutal truth is that America is not a "shining city on a hill" anymore, it is a plague spreading its imperial disease across the globe, suffocating freedom and liberty in its wake.

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever " - George Orwell

In conclusion, Citizenfour is an extraordinary documentary well worth your time. It would also be worth the effort to watch Laura Poitras' other films My Country, My Country and The Oath. As great a film as Citizenfour is, one can't help but feel overwhelmed by the stark and bleak reality of the dystopian world it reveals to us. The government spying leviathan will not return to its lair in the deep and its slumber any time soon. It is wide awake, voraciously hungry and here to stay. Americans, and the rest of the world, must try to navigate this perilous world under the surveillance beast's watchful eye. We will be at its cold, bureaucratic mercy for the foreseeable future. As George Orwell presciently said, "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever ". Thanks to our insidious intelligence community, and their chicken-shit apologists in the form of weak kneed politicians, access addicted establishment 'journalists' and a pliable electorate populated by feeble-minded dupes and dopes, we better get very used to the taste of boot leather. We are going to be having more than our fill of it in the years and decades to come.

© 2015

*Goodfellas

For further reading on the history of all things Edward Snowden and NSA spying. Please check out The Guardian, which has a full primer on the NSA spying including the actual files that are here and Glenn Greenwald's Guardian work here . Also check out Glenn Greenwald's new website The Intercept.

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