Cuban SEALS for Florida?

Berlin — The debate continues: Was the killing of Osama bin Laden justified? Perhaps a rather useless debate since he is now most certainly dead. But despite their distance in time and space some flashbacks insist on recurring, right next to terrible images of those two planes and the two huge buildings collapsing in New York ten years ago. (No, make that three buildings!)

I for example still think about that Cuban plane which exploded on October 6th 1976 in the Caribbean, killing the 5 crew members and all 73 passengers, including the entire champion fencing team of Cuba, many of whom were still teenagers. All four men directly responsible for this horror had ties to the CIA which, it was later revealed, knew of the bombing in advance.

Then I must go back to an event fifteen years earlier, in April 1961, when an attack unit, armed, trained, financed and transported by the CIA, after destroying many Cuban airplanes on the ground, invaded the so-called Bay of Pigs in the south of that country. Perhaps as many as 4000 Cubans were killed while fighting off the attack.

Those mainly responsible for the Bay of Pigs invasion, then CIA-Director head Allen Dulles and two presidents who approved the action, Eisenhower and Kennedy, are no longer alive.
I learned as a kid that “sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”
Some of the victims of the bombing of a Cuban airliner, orchestrated by CIA terroristsSome of the victims of the bombing of a Cuban airliner, orchestrated by CIA terrorists

The Dude Abides For You and Me

I know when night has gone
That a new world’s born at dawn.

I’ll keep rolling along
Deep in my heart is a song
Here on the range I belong
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.

“Tumbling Tumbleweeds”
— Sons Of The Pioneers

 
_______________________
 
We live in frustrating times for anyone politically opposed to the relentless militarization and financialization of virtually every facet of life in America.

The idealism of the Sixties and Seventies was overwhelmed first by Reaganism, then by the tsunami of post-911 fear and, finally, by the momentum of two, now three, on-going foreign wars. We live in an enforced condition of permanent war and unfettered piracy.

The Left struggles doggedly to remain viable in this mess. It ranges from the Obama mode of accommodation with militarism and corporatism to, on the far left, a tired (and sometimes tiresome) protest movement that suffers from self-reinforced marginalization.

This is certainly an unfair reduction of the movement’s shortcomings, but my purpose is a provocative lead-in to a film that has matured into a hilarious homage to the Sixties antiwar movement.

The 1998 Coen Brothers cult movie The Big Lebowski was a sleeper that slowly grew on audiences and continues to grow in stature. For me it is the perfect movie antidote for our times. The movie is already famous for having generated a following akin to The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Star Trek. I’ve now seen it four times. In earlier viewings, I didn’t realize the subtext that so wonderfully speaks to the frustrations of leftist antiwar activists. When my fellow peace-activist wife and I watched it together the other night we were laughing so hard we were in tears.

The Cowboy, The Dude, Donny and Walter at the bowling alley.The Cowboy, The Dude, Donny and Walter at the bowling alley.
 

The film opens on a piece of tumbleweed rolling through scrub desert with the Sons Of The Pioneers singing “Tumbling Tumbleweeds.” The legendary cowboy voice of Sam Elliot tells us about the film’s protagonist, a man known as The Dude. By this time the tumbleweed has reached the top of a hill to reveal the vast lights of Los Angeles at night. We begin to get it: We’re at the end of the trail of Manifest Destiny. From here westward, it’s Vietnam and all the rest.

Bill Hicks and the Place of Corporate Comedy

I have three comedians on my iPod: Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Bill Hicks. All of them evolved as much into prophets as comedians, and all of them died younger than they should have from maladies that probably had something to do with the stress of being a live performer on the road in corporate America.

Hicks died the youngest, of pancreatic cancer at the age of 32 in 1994. Perhaps his pancreas had had enough of his drinking, which started later than usual at the age of 21 but got excessive quickly. Or maybe it was road food from all that driving to comedy clubs around the country. He looked puffy by his mid-20s. If Hicks came back from the dead, he could do a good routine about government agents slipping some carcinogen (white sugar?) into his food because his routines had come too close to the truth.

That was one of his best joke constructions, taking some dark conspiracy theory lurking in the collective unconscious and validating not so much the theory as the paranoia that got the imagination fired up in the first place. In a routine called “The Elite” on his album Rant in E-Minor, Hicks speculates on what happens to a new president. “When you win, you go in this smokey room with the 12 industrialist/capitalist scumfucks who got you [elected]…And this screen comes down—whrrrrrrr—and this big guy says, ‘Roll the film.’ It’s a shot of the Kennedy assassination from an angle you’ve never seen before. [Big laugh.] And it looks suspiciously off the grassy knoll. And the screen comes up and they go to the new president and say, ‘Any questions?’”

Hicks did believe the Warren Commission was a lie, but you can have any theory you want about the Kennedy assassination and get the joke there. He’s describing a fictional situation, and in literal reality, it doesn’t happen like that. Long before anyone is elected president, they are vetted for obedience. Nobody has to tell politicians to obey, or what the consequences of disobeying would be. New presidents want to obey, and that’s why they got the nomination. What Hicks is getting at is not so much conspiracy but the deeper truth that inspires so many grassroots conspiracy theories. It really is a tiny number of industrialist/capitalist scumfucks who control everything. They will tell any lie and commit any crime to keep their power. Hicks not only understood that, he could make phenomenal jokes about it.

I saw the recent documentary about Hicks, American: The Bill Hicks Story. As a coming of age story about a teenager who figures out that he’s funny, becomes fascinated by the mechanics of humor, and is performing in nightclubs before he can drive, it’s compelling and even triumphant. Growing up talented in the Deep South always has its element of heroism. The story is not so much about finding himself, which he did by his late teens, but finding a place to display what he found of himself. That was a struggle until the end.
Bill HicksBill Hicks

Numbers Racket: Why the Democratic Party is a Corporate Lickspittle and Cannot Be the People’s Party

A new Gallup Poll conducted for USA Today earlier this week reports that a majority of Americans (52%) say that they would prefer a third party instead of the two parties, Republican and Democrat, that have dominated American politics for nearly two centuries.

The poll shows that one third of Democrats say there’s a need for a new political party, while 52% of Republicans say the same thing. Meanwhile, 68% of independents say they have no use for either Democrats or Republicans and would prefer another option (no surprise there–that’s why they are not registered with either of the two major parties).

Of course, the Third Party envisioned by these various groups is hardly the same. Most of the dissatisfied Democrats are almost certainly in the party’s left wing, and are people who would prefer a more left-leaning, socialist party. Most of the reluctant Republicans are probably either libertarians who can’t stomach the Republican Party’s corporatist stance and its fondness for police state tactics and invasion of personal freedoms, or else they are the rabid right that prefers the kooky conspiracy-driven politics of the Becks, Limbaughs, Bachmans and Palins. As for the independents, there are certainly leftists, rightists, isolationists, globalists, libertarians and kooks among them enough to populate ten new parties.

That’s one reason why we still have just two parties winning all the elections. Some of these dissatisfied citizens just hold their noses and vote for the party that is less likely to make them projectile vomit in the voting booth. Others, unable to vote for either major party’s candidates without soiling the equipment, just don’t vote. And then there are a few stalwarts who insist on doing their civic duty, march in and vote for the Constitution Party or the Libertarians or the Greens or the Socialist Workers, or they write in Mickey Mouse. The rest just don’t vote, which is why the US has one of the lowest participation rates in elections of nearly any of the world’s nominal democracies.

Obama's Terror War Misses Domestic Targets

In the wake of the Obama Administration’s ballyhooed elimination of Osama bin Laden, thousands of government workers across the United States wonder when their president will provide them the ‘comfort of closure’ through his attacking a terrorism they confront daily.

This terrorism ravishing government employees working in entities from mega-federal agencies to small municipalities fits the classic dictionary definition of terrorism: using force or threats to demoralize, intimidate and subjugate.

This terrorism is a tyranny predating the birth of al Qaeda: institutional racism and its related deprivations like vicious retaliation against anyone objecting to unlawful institutional inequities.
Interestingly, a raging battlefield in the institutional racism wars is the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Civil Rights, where numerous organizations have blasted that office’s director for his failures to enforce civil rights.

Additionally, that director, Rafael DeLeon, allegedly engages in improper behavior inclusive of sexist and racist remarks according to critics, including the National Whistleblowers Center and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), asserts DeLeon himself is the subject of numerous discrimination complaints.

The Washington Post’s influential Federal Diary columnist Joe Davidson published an article in late April stating that “if” the EPA’s Civil Rights Office “were a chunk of ground, it would be declared a disaster area.”

The Bin Laden Back Story: Destroying the Monster We Created

Back in the 1980s, before the Cold War gave way to the War on Terror, American money and supplies helped Osama Bin Laden create Al Qaeda and build it into one of the world’s most successful terrorist organizations. And without the close alliances between Al Qaeda and our “allies” Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the attack on the World Trade Towers could not have been carried out. What follows are the bare bones of what we know of this world as it existed in the days before September 11, 2001. (Some of the early material in this account first appeared in my book The Five Unanswered Questions About 9/11.)

In August 1998, shortly after the Al Qaeda bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa, Osama Bin Laden was interviewed by Agence France Press.  In grandiose but concise terms, he described his own rise to power in the early 1980s, during the years of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. “To counter these atheist Russians, the Saudis chose me as their representative in Afghanistan,” he said. “I settled in Pakistan in the Afghan border region. There I received volunteers who came from the Saudi kingdom and from all over the Arab and Muslim countries. I set up my first camp where these volunteers were trained by Pakistani and American officers. The weapons were supplied by the Americans, the money by the Saudis. I discovered that it was not enough to fight in Afghanistan, but that we had to fight on all fronts, communist or western oppression.”

In spite of its self-serving message and self-aggrandizing tone, the basic facts of Bin Laden’s account are not inaccurate. The terrorist organization that would one day launch the most devastating attacks ever to take place on American soil owes its existence, in large part, to U.S. covert operations and U.S. allies. At its inception, Al Qaeda was trained and supported by Pakistani agents, funded by Saudi sympathizers, and supplied by the CIA.

Later, when Bin Laden turned his sights on the United States, the CIA’s former friend in Afghanistan became its enemy. But the strategic and financial support provided by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia continued, right up to the moment of the 9/11 attacks. Without these two countries—and especially their powerful intelligence services—the attacks could not have taken place. Attacks of this magnitude required money, and they required a friendly regime in Afghanistan to provide a training base; these were supplied courtesy of our “allies” in the region. Their support for Al Qaeda continued over nearly two decades, with little intervention from the United States beforehand, and few consequences after the fact.
Osama bin Laden in happier days, when he was on the US CIA payrollOsama bin Laden in happier days, when he was on the US CIA payroll

A Troubled Nation Feeds On bin Laden's Corpse

Supplying an army at a distance drains the public coffers and impoverishes the common people.
— Sun-Tzu, The Art of War

With the killing of Osama bin Laden by a 79-member JSOC hunter/killer team inside Pakistan, the nation has entered yet another of those moments when a news media that professes independence has become an unashamed cheerleader for militarism.

No one can deny the JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) Seal Team executed its killing mission with great competence and aplomb. They were also lucky that the bin Laden entourage had apparently become so confident of its safety that it was a bit lackadaisical.

Ever since the Desert One debacle in 1980 in Iran, US special operations commanders were determined that the system evolve into a sophisticated program with double and triple backup plans etc. Apparently a motto in the Seals is, you come out of an operation either as “a Zero or a Hero.” In this case, it’s “Hero” in spades.

Students revel in West Virginia and John Brennan tells a whopperStudents revel in West Virginia and John Brennan tells a whopper

The competence exhibited by the team is especially welcome in many quarters in the US following a decade noted for too many examples of huge and really bad decisions that were examples of what happens when you link incompetence with great power.

Just to name a few of the big ones: There was the decision to insert into Afghanistan an incredibly expensive army and the creation, there, of an entire government that involved a network of heavily corrupt loyalties that had to be sustained with payoffs and other blandishments. That decision has led to an incredibly wasteful logistical nightmare. Then there was the completely dishonorable decision to invade and occupy Iraq based on dishonestly misdirected 911 revenge politics. Recently, we have added Libya to the list of mission-creep wars; it has gone from a no-fly zone to a palace bombing that killed three of the leader’s grandkids. All this consumes gobs and gobs of tax dollars that could be used in neglected areas at home.

Just to round out the list of disastrous decisions, let’s not forget the elimination of financial regulation begun by President Reagan that led inexorably to the 2007-08 economic meltdown, which was followed by a huge tax-payer bailout of the very pirates who got the nation into the mess in the first place. In that bargain, homeowners were supposed to get help, but it somehow never arrived.

'Fog of War' My Ass: White House and CIA Caught in a Lie about Osama Bin Laden Assassination

In the end they couldn’t get away with it.

As I noted back on Monday in my first article on the Sunday Navy SEAL raid into Pakistan that killed Osama Bin Laden, President Obama himself spilled the beans in his initial midnight statement, when he said, “After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”

After that perhaps unintentionally honest account of an execution, the lies began, with White House chief counter-terrorism advisor (great title huh?) John O. Brennan fabulating that Bin Laden had “engaged in a firefight” with the SEALs who “entered the area of the house he was in,” and adding, “Whether or not he got off any rounds, I frankly don’t know.” Then there were the lies that Bin Laden had shamefully used his wife as a “human shield,” that he had been armed with an assault rifle, etc.

In the end, the truth came out. There had been no fire-fight at all with Bin Laden. The 79 (!) Navy SEALs who assaulted the compound (originally we were told “two dozen”) were confronted by a total of three men (perhaps only one of whom fired at them), with no reports that the women and children who comprised the rest of the residents of the compound offered any armed resistance at all (unless you count Bin Laden’s unarmed wife who allegedly “charged” the men entering the bedroom, and unless you count her actual arms as “arms”).

By the time the assault team members had reached Bin Laden’s third-floor boudoire, the entire compound had reportedly been secured, with every one of the residents either dead or bound up and cuffed, and most of the team was busy packing up computers, hard drives and other potential evidence to be stowed on the escape helicopters.

The cornered Bin Laden was, at that point, simply executed with two shots to the forehead.
SEAL Team VI, the ultimate American kill teamSEAL Team VI, the ultimate American kill team

Questions about the Obama Osama Drama

Lahore, Pakistan — I am incredulous!

I’ll say one thing: this US Special Forces operation deserves a standing ovation for immaculate execution. Except that some details do get confusing.  

Maybe I’m just slow, but truly, viewing the still pictures of the compound where Osama was shot to death that are being aired on local TV here, I am left spell-bound by many odd contradictions.

First, the wall that encircled the compound, which was blasted through to allow entry to the US attackers, showed a humble charpoy next to a water geyser and a few odd household items stacked right next to the opening. Not a hair out of place, so to speak. It was all a little too orderly for my lawyerly taste. Wouldn’t something have been damaged or knocked over at least?

Second, the room where the crucial “fire fight” took place causing deaths of Osama, his wife and some others (but no American), showed what were seemingly very humble lodgings. My own servant’s room is posh in comparison . There are no bullet holes, or marks of bullets ricocheting off the walls, and there’s no sign of damaged glass from the good-sized windows on one wall. The bed sheets on the two charpoys are so neat as to do a hotel maid proud. There’s just over 250 ml of blood on the floor between the two charpoys. It looks to me as though, rather than a fire fight, Osama & Co. were simply sitting ducks for a hunting party! Wait, that’s not all. The glass in the window is see-through. How odd! Anyone could have looked in and seen the world’s most wanted man once night fell, and remember, it’s an open area.

The downed helicopter, miraculously, disgorged its crew like magic. Presto! All unharmed by the crash! Yet oddly, the three neighbors of Osama who rushed to the scene to help, and who would have been witnesses to what actually happened, all have gone missing and never returned home.

And hey, where are the other dead bodies? There were some, no? And why the rush, rush, rush to dump Osama in the ocean? Why not share the evidence to put a stop of rumor mongers? At least show the corpus delicti to someone objective.
Osama's bedroom: no leaks in the waterbed after the shootoutOsama's bedroom: no leaks in the waterbed after the shootout

What were They Thinking? Suspicions will Inevitably Grow about the Extermination of Osama bin Laden

According to the brief announcement made by President Barack Obama last night, the operation in Pakistan by US Navy SEAL special forces was a well-planned hit job.

“They took care to avoid civilian casualties,” the president said of the top-secret night-time raid by helicopter on a highly secure compound near a military base in Abbottadad, a city only about an hour’s drive drive from, Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital city. He added, “After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”

Not for long though. After “double-tapping” bin Laden–that is a military term for shooting someone twice in the head to make certain that a person is truly dead–his body was taken out of Pakistan by the departing SEAL raiding party, and reportedly buried (dumped) at sea.

By Tuesday the White House was admitting that in fact, Osama bin Laden was unarmed when the US Navy commandos burst into his room. He allegedly “resisted” capture, but now we’re talking about a frail guy known to have been not particularly skilled militarily resisting capture by several guys who are maximally trained in hand-to-hand combat and who are also armed to the teeth. They shot his wife in the thigh when she allegedly “charged” them, obviously showing discretion, but they executed the unarmed bin Laden with a shot to the forehead.

According to the Washington Post, the US wanted to “prevent the creation of a shrine” to the late leader of Al Qaeda and alleged mastermind of the 9-11 attacks. “We don’t want a bunch of people going to the shrine forever,” the Post quoted one unidentified official as saying.

It seems pretty clear on the available information that they also didn’t want an imprisoned bin Laden, or a defendant bin Laden, either. They wanted a dead bin Laden, and they got it.

This is supposed to be “closure”?

Think about it a moment. The US had the living Osama bin Ladin in their hands, or at least trapped in a room last night! After almost 10 years, they had successfully cornered the guy who allegedly managed to mastermind the biggest, most disastrous attack on the US in the modern history of the country–perhaps of all time–a coordinated aerial assault on the financial and military hearts of the world’s most powerful country, carried out with nothing but box cutters–an attack which managed to neutralize the mightiest air defense system in the world! And instead of bundling him into an orange jump suit, putting a bag over his head and bringing him in for interrogation, like they’ve done to hundreds of other lesser captives in the so-called decade-long “War on Terror,” they “double-tapped” him on the spot? No stun grenade? No disabling gas? No shot to the legs or groin. It’s reported that they had already “secured” the rest of the grounds, so it’s not like the guy was going anywhere, even if he was a good sprinter.

What were they thinking?
Osama's secrets get another kind of water-boarding treatmentOsama's secrets get another kind of water-boarding treatment