- Hyper-Hypocrisy of The West about ISIS
- The Neutered Fed Is Politically Trapped
- Five Benefits of Life Without NATO
- While the Nation Fragments Socially, the Financial Aristocracy Rules Unimpeded
- The Coming Crisis the Fed Can’t Fix: Credit Exhaustion
- Why Calling U.S. a ‘Democracy’ Is Both False & Dangerous to Do
- What Sort of “Democracy” Do We Have If Everyone’s Goal Is Maximizing Their Government Swag?
- How States/Empires Collapse in Four Easy Steps
- How Not to Go to War
- UVA Finally Pays a Living Wage
- Here’s The Problem: The Pie Is Shrinking
- Video: How to Tell High School Students About War and Peace
- West Point Tries to Defend the Idea of a Just War
- Talk Nation Radio: Omali Yeshitela on No to NATO — Yes to Peace
- Geostrategy After the Deadlock in U.S.-North-Korean Relations
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By John Whitehead, constitutional and human rights attorney, and founder of the Rutherford Institute.
“The Fourth Amendment was designed to stand between us and arbitrary governmental authority. For all practical purposes, that shield has been shattered, leaving our liberty and personal integrity subject to the whim of every cop on the beat, trooper on the highway and jail official.”—Herman Schwartz, The Nation
Our freedoms—especially the Fourth Amendment—are being choked out by a prevailing view among government bureaucrats that they have the right to search, seize, strip, scan, shoot, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.
Forced cavity searches, forced colonoscopies, forced blood draws, forced breath-alcohol tests, forced DNA extractions, forced eye scans, forced inclusion in biometric databases: these are just a few ways in which Americans are being forced to accept that we have no control over our bodies, our lives and our property, especially when it comes to interactions with the government.
Worse, on a daily basis, Americans are being made to relinquish the most intimate details of who we are—our biological makeup, our genetic blueprints, and our biometrics (facial characteristics and structure, fingerprints, iris scans, etc.)—in order to clear the nearly insurmountable hurdle that increasingly defines life in the United States: we are now guilty until proven innocent.
Such is life in America today that individuals are being threatened with arrest and carted off to jail for the least hint of noncompliance, homes are being raided by police under the slightest pretext, property is being seized on the slightest hint of suspicious activity, and roadside police stops have devolved into government-sanctioned exercises in humiliation and degradation with a complete disregard for privacy and human dignity.
Consider, for example, what happened to Utah nurse Alex Wubbels after a police detective demanded to take blood from a badly injured, unconscious patient without a warrant.
Wubbels refused, citing hospital policy that requires police to either have a warrant or permission from the patient in order to draw blood. The detective had neither. Irate, the detective threatened to have Wubbels arrested if she didn’t comply. Backed up by her supervisors, Wubbels respectfully stood her ground only to be roughly grabbed, shoved out of the hospital, handcuffed and forced into an unmarked car while hospital police looked on and failed to intervene (take a look at the police body camera footage, which has gone viral, and see for yourself).
Michael Chorosky didn’t have an advocate like Wubbels to stand guard over his Fourth Amendment rights. Chorosky was surrounded by police, strapped to a gurney and then had his blood forcibly drawn after refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test. “What country is this? What country is this?” cried Chorosky during the forced blood draw.
What country is this indeed?
Unfortunately, forced blood draws are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the indignities and abuses being heaped on Americans in the so-called name of “national security.”
Forced cavity searches, forced colonoscopies and forced roadside strip searches are also becoming par for the course in an age in which police are taught to have no respect for the citizenry’s bodily integrity whether or not a person has done anything wrong.
For example, 21-year-old Charnesia Corley was allegedly being pulled over by Texas police in 2015 for “rolling” through a stop sign. Claiming they smelled marijuana, police handcuffed Corley, placed her in the back of the police cruiser, and then searched her car for almost an hour. No drugs were found in the car.
As the Houston Chronicle reported:
Returning to his car where Corley was held, the deputy again said he smelled marijuana and called in a female deputy to conduct a cavity search. When the female deputy arrived, she told Corley to pull her pants down, but Corley protested because she was cuffed and had no underwear on. The deputy ordered Corley to bend over, pulled down her pants and began to search her. Then…Corley stood up and protested, so the deputy threw her to the ground and restrained her while another female was called in to assist. When backup arrived, each deputy held one of Corley’s legs apart to conduct the probe.
The cavity search lasted 11 minutes. This practice is referred to as “rape by cop.”
Although Corley was charged with resisting arrest and with possession of 0.2 grams of marijuana, those charges were subsequently dropped.
David Eckert was forced to undergo an anal cavity search, three enemas, and a colonoscopy after allegedly failing to yield to a stop sign at a Wal-Mart parking lot. Cops justified the searches on the grounds that they suspected Eckert was carrying drugs because his “posture [was] erect” and “he kept his legs together.” No drugs were found.
During a routine traffic stop, Leila Tarantino was subjected to two roadside strip searches in plain view of passing traffic, while her two children—ages 1 and 4—waited inside her car. During the second strip search, presumably in an effort to ferret out drugs, a female officer “forcibly removed” a tampon from Tarantino. No contraband or anything illegal was found.
Thirty-eight-year-old Angel Dobbs and her 24-year-old niece, Ashley, were pulled over by a Texas state trooper on July 13, 2012, allegedly for flicking cigarette butts out of the car window. Insisting that he smelled marijuana, the trooper proceeded to interrogate them and search the car. Despite the fact that both women denied smoking or possessing any marijuana, the police officer then called in a female trooper, who carried out a roadside cavity search, sticking her fingers into the older woman’s anus and vagina, then performing the same procedure on the younger woman, wearing the same pair of gloves. No marijuana was found.
Sixty-nine-year-old Gerald Dickson was handcuffed and taken into custody (although not arrested or charged with any crime) after giving a ride to a neighbor’s son, whom police suspected of being a drug dealer. Despite Dickson’s insistence that the bulge under his shirt was the result of a botched hernia surgery, police ordered Dickson to “strip off his clothes, bend over and expose all of his private parts. No drugs or contraband were found.”
Meanwhile, four Milwaukee police officers were charged with carrying out rectal searches of suspects on the street and in police district stations over the course of several years. One of the officers was accused of conducting searches of men’s anal and scrotal areas, often inserting his fingers into their rectums and leaving some of his victims with bleeding rectums.
It’s gotten so bad that you don’t even have to be suspected of possessing drugs to be subjected to a strip search.
A North Carolina public school allegedly strip-searched a 10-year-old boy in search of a $20 bill lost by another student, despite the fact that the boy, J.C., twice told school officials he did not have the missing money. The assistant principal reportedly ordered the fifth grader to disrobe down to his underwear and subjected him to an aggressive strip-search that included rimming the edge of his underwear. The missing money was later found in the school cafeteria.
Suspecting that Georgia Tech alum Mary Clayton might have been attempting to smuggle a Chick-Fil-A sandwich into the football stadium, a Georgia Tech police officer allegedly subjected the season ticket-holder to a strip search that included a close examination of her underwear and bra. No contraband chicken was found.
What these incidents show is that while forced searches may span a broad spectrum of methods and scenarios, the common denominator remains the same: a complete disregard for the rights of the citizenry.
In fact, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Florence v. Burlison, any person who is arrested and processed at a jail house, regardless of the severity of his or her offense (i.e., they can be guilty of nothing more than a minor traffic offense), can be subjected to a strip search by police or jail officials without reasonable suspicion that the arrestee is carrying a weapon or contraband.
Examples of minor infractions which have resulted in strip searches include: individuals arrested for driving with a noisy muffler, driving with an inoperable headlight, failing to use a turn signal, riding a bicycle without an audible bell, making an improper left turn, and engaging in an antiwar demonstration (the individual searched was a nun, a Sister of Divine Providence for 50 years).
Police have also carried out strip searches for passing a bad check, dog leash violations, filing a false police report, failing to produce a driver’s license after making an illegal left turn, having outstanding parking tickets, and public intoxication. A failure to pay child support can also result in a strip search.
As technology advances, these searches are becoming more invasive on a cellular level, as well.
For instance, close to 600 motorists leaving Penn State University one Friday night were stopped by police and, without their knowledge or consent, subjected to a breathalyzer test using flashlights that can detect the presence of alcohol on a person’s breath. These passive alcohol sensors are being hailed as a new weapon in the fight against DUIs. (Those who refuse to knowingly submit to a breathalyzer test are being subjected to forced blood draws. Thirty states presently allow police to do forced blood draws on drivers as part of a nationwide “No Refusal” initiative funded by the federal government. Not even court rulings declaring such practices to be unconstitutional in the absence of a warrant have slowed down the process. Now police simply keep a magistrate on call to rubber stamp the procedure over the phone.)
The National Highway Safety Administration, the same government agency that funds the “No Refusal” DUI checkpoints and forcible blood draws, is also funding nationwide roadblocks aimed at getting drivers to “voluntarily” provide police with DNA derived from saliva and blood samples, reportedly to study inebriation patterns. In at least 28 states, there’s nothing voluntary about having one’s DNA collected by police in instances where you’ve been arrested, whether or not you’re actually convicted of a crime. All of this DNA data is being fed to the federal government.
Airline passengers, already subjected to virtual strip searches, are now being scrutinized even more closely, with the Customs and Border Protection agency tasking airport officials with monitoring the bowel movements of passengers suspected of ingesting drugs. They even have a special hi-tech toilet designed to filter through a person’s fecal waste.
Iris scans, an essential part of the U.S. military’s boots-on-the-ground approach to keeping track of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, are becoming a de facto method of building the government’s already mammoth biometrics database. Funded by the Dept. of Justice, along with other federal agencies, the iris scan technology is being incorporated into police precincts, jails, immigration checkpoints, airports and even schools. School officials—from elementary to college—have begun using iris scans in place of traditional ID cards. In some parts of the country, parents wanting to pick their kids up from school have to first submit to an iris scan.
As for those endless pictures everyone so cheerfully uploads to Facebook (which has the largest facial recognition database in the world) or anywhere else on the internet, they’re all being accessed by the police, filtered with facial recognition software, uploaded into the government’s mammoth biometrics database and cross-checked against its criminal files. With good reason, civil libertarians fear these databases could “someday be used for monitoring political rallies, sporting events or even busy downtown areas.”
While the Fourth Amendment was created to prevent government officials from searching an individual’s person or property without a warrant and probable cause—evidence that some kind of criminal activity was afoot—the founders could scarcely have imagined a world in which we needed protection against widespread government breaches of our privacy, including on a cellular level.
Yet that’s exactly what we are lacking and what we so desperately need.
Unfortunately, the indignities being heaped upon us by the architects and agents of the American police state—whether or not we’ve done anything wrong—are just a foretaste of what is to come.
As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the government doesn’t need to tie you to a gurney and forcibly take your blood or strip you naked by the side of the road in order to render you helpless. It has other methods—less subtle perhaps but equally humiliating, devastating and mind-altering—of stripping you of your independence, robbing you of your dignity, and undermining your rights.
With every court ruling that allows the government to operate above the rule of law, every piece of legislation that limits our freedoms, and every act of government wrongdoing that goes unpunished, we’re slowly being conditioned to a society in which we have little real control over our bodies or our lives.
By Robert Parry, the investigative reporter who many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. Originally published at Parry’s Consortium News (republished with permission).
The New York Times and other Western media have learned few lessons from the Iraq War, including how the combination of a demonized foreign leader and well-funded “activists” committed to flooding the process with fake data can lead to dangerously false conclusions that perpetuate war.
What we have seen in Syria over the past six years parallels what occurred in Iraq in the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion in 2002-03. In both cases, there was evidence that the “system” was being gamed – by the Iraqi National Congress (INC) in pushing for the Iraq War and by pro-rebel “activists” promoting “regime change” in Syria – but those warnings were ignored. Instead, the flood of propagandistic claims overwhelmed what little skepticism there was in the West.
Regarding Iraq, the INC generated a surge of “defectors” who claimed to know where Saddam Hussein was concealing his WMD stockpiles and where his nuclear program was hidden. In Syria, we have seen something similar with dubious claims about chemical weapons attacks.
The Iraqi “defectors,” of course, were lying, and a little-noticed congressional study revealed that the CIA had correctly debunked some of the fakers but – because of the pro-invasion political pressure from George W. Bush’s White House and the U.S. mainstream media’s contempt for Saddam Hussein – other bogus claims were accepted as true. The result was catastrophic.
But the telltale signs of an INC disinformation campaign were there before the war. For instance, by early February 2003, as the final invasion plans were underway, the parade of Iraqi “walk-ins” was continuing. U.S. intelligence agencies had progressed up to “Source Eighteen,” one fellow who came to epitomize what some CIA analysts suspected was systematic INC coaching of sources.
As the CIA planned a debriefing of Source Eighteen, another Iraqi exile passed on word to the agency that an INC representative had told Source Eighteen to “deliver the act of a lifetime.” CIA analysts weren’t sure what to make of that piece of news since Iraqi exiles frequently badmouthed each other but the value of the warning soon became clear.
U.S. intelligence officers debriefed Source Eighteen the next day and discovered that “Source Eighteen was supposed to have a nuclear engineering background, but was unable to discuss advanced mathematics or physics and described types of ‘nuclear’ reactors that do not exist,” according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the Iraq War’s intelligence failures.
“Source Eighteen used the bathroom frequently, particularly when he appeared to be flustered by a line of questioning, suddenly remembering a new piece of information upon his return. During one such incident, Source Eighteen appeared to be reviewing notes,” the report said.
Not surprisingly, U.S. intelligence officers concluded that Source Eighteen was a fabricator. But the sludge of INC-connected disinformation kept oozing through the U.S. intelligence community, fouling the American intelligence product in part because there was little pressure from above demanding strict quality controls. Indeed, the opposite was true.
A more famous fake Iraqi defector earned the code name “Curve Ball” and provided German intelligence agencies details about Iraq’s alleged mobile facilities for producing agents for biological warfare.
Tyler Drumheller, then chief of the CIA’s European Division, said his office had issued repeated warnings about Curve Ball’s accounts. “Everyone in the chain of command knew exactly what was happening,” Drumheller said. [Los Angeles Times, April 2, 2005]
Despite those objections and the lack of direct U.S. contact with Curve Ball, he earned a rating as “credible” or “very credible,” and his information became a core element of the Bush administration’s case for invading Iraq. Drawings of Curve Ball’s imaginary bio-weapons labs were a central feature of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation to the U.N. on Feb. 5, 2003.
The Syrian Parallel
Regarding Syria, a similar mix of factors exists. The Obama administration’s advocacy for Syrian “regime change” and the hostility from many Western interest groups toward President Bashar al-Assad lowered the bar of skepticism enabling propaganda arms of Al Qaeda and its jihadist allies to have enormous success in selling dubious accusations about chemical attacks and other atrocities.
As with the CIA analysts who tripped up a few of the Iraqi liars, some United Nations investigators have seen evidence of the trickery. For instance, they learned from townspeople of Al-Tamanah about how the rebels and allied “activists” staged a chlorine gas attack on the night of April 29-30, 2014, and then sold the false story to a credulous Western media and, initially, to the U.N. investigative team.
“Seven witnesses stated that frequent alerts [about an imminent chlorine weapons attack by the government] had been issued, but in fact no incidents with chemicals took place,” the U.N. report stated. “While people sought safety after the warnings, their homes were looted and rumours spread that the events were being staged. … [T]hey [these witnesses] had come forward to contest the wide-spread false media reports.”
Accounts from other people, who did allege that there had been a government chemical attack on Al-Tamanah, provided suspect evidence, including data from questionable sources, according to the U.N. report.
The report said, “Three witnesses, who did not give any description of the incident on 29-30 April 2014, provided material of unknown source. One witness had second-hand knowledge of two of the five incidents in Al-Tamanah, but did not remember the exact dates. Later that witness provided a USB-stick with information of unknown origin, which was saved in separate folders according to the dates of all the five incidents mentioned by the FFM (the U.N.’s Fact-Finding Mission).
“Another witness provided the dates of all five incidents reading it from a piece of paper, but did not provide any testimony on the incident on 29-30 April 2014. The latter also provided a video titled ‘site where second barrel containing toxic chlorine gas was dropped tamanaa 30 April 14’”
Some other witnesses alleging a Syrian government attack offered curious claims about detecting the chlorine-infused “barrel bombs” based on how the device sounded in its descent.
The U.N. report said, “The eyewitness, who stated to have been on the roof, said to have heard a helicopter and the ‘very loud’ sound of a falling barrel. Some interviewees had referred to a distinct whistling sound of barrels that contain chlorine as they fall. The witness statement could not be corroborated with any further information.”
However, the claim itself is absurd since it is inconceivable that anyone could detect a chlorine canister inside a “barrel bomb” by “a distinct whistling sound.”
The larger point, however, is that the jihadist rebels in Al-Tamanah and their propaganda teams, including relief workers and activists, appear to have organized a coordinated effort at deception complete with a fake video supplied to U.N. investigators and Western media outlets.
For instance, the Telegraph in London reported that “Videos allegedly taken in Al-Tamanah … purport to show the impact sites of two chemical bombs. Activists said that one person had been killed and another 70 injured.”
The Telegraph also quoted supposed weapons expert Eliot Higgins, the founder of Bellingcat, as endorsing the report. “Witnesses have consistently reported the use of helicopters to drop the chemical barrel bombs used,” said Higgins. “As it stands, around a dozen chemical barrel bomb attacks have been alleged in that region in the last three weeks.”
To finish up pointing the finger of guilt at the government, the Telegraph added that “The regime is the only party in the civil war that possesses helicopters” – a claim that also has been in dispute since the rebels had captured government air assets and had received substantial military assistance from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States, Israel, Jordan and other countries.
The Al-Tamanah debunking received no mainstream media attention when the U.N. findings were issued in September 2016 because the U.N. report relied on rebel information to blame two other alleged chlorine attacks on the government and that got all the coverage. But the case should have raised red flags given the extent of the apparent deception.
If the seven townspeople were telling the truth, that would mean that the rebels and their allies issued fake attack warnings, produced propaganda videos to fool the West, and prepped “witnesses” with “evidence” to deceive investigators. Yet, no alarms went off about other rebel claims.
The Ghouta Incident
A more famous attack – with sarin gas on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on Aug. 21, 2013, killing hundreds – was also eagerly blamed on the Assad regime, as The New York Times, Human Rights Watch, Higgins’s Bellingcat and many other Western outlets jumped to that conclusion despite the unlikely circumstances. Assad had just welcomed U.N. investigators to Damascus to examine chemical attacks that he was blaming on the rebels.
Assad also was facing a “red line” threat from President Obama warning him of possible U.S. military intervention if the Syrian government deployed chemical weapons. Why Assad and his military would choose such a moment to launch a deadly sarin attack, killing mostly civilians, made little sense.
But this became another rush to judgment in the West that brought the Obama administration to the verge of launching a devastating air attack on the Syrian military that might have helped Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate and/or the Islamic State win the war.
Eventually, however, the case blaming Assad for the 2013 sarin attack collapsed. An analysis by genuine weapons experts – Theodore A. Postol, a professor of science, technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Richard M. Lloyd, an analyst at the military contractor Tesla Laboratories – found that the missile that delivered the sarin had a very short range placing its likely firing position in rebel territory.
Later, reporting by journalist Seymour Hersh implicated Turkish intelligence working with jihadist rebels as the likely source of the sarin.
We also learned in 2016 that a message from the U.S. intelligence community had warned Obama how weak the evidence against Assad was. There was no “slam-dunk” proof, said Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. And Obama cited his rejection of the Washington militaristic “playbook” to bomb Syria as one of his proudest moments as President.
With this background, there should have been extreme skepticism when jihadists and their allies made new claims about the Syrian government engaging in chemical weapons attacks, just like the CIA should have recognized that the Iraqi National Congress’s production of some obviously phony “walk-ins” justified doubts about all of them.
After the invasion of Iraq and the U.S. failure to find the promised WMD caches, INC leader Ahmed Chalabi congratulated his organization as “heroes in error” for its success in using falsehoods to help get the United States to invade.
But the West appears to have learned next to nothing from the Iraq deceptions – or arguably the lessons are being ignored out of a desire to continue the neoconservative “regime change” project for the Middle East.
Pressure to Confirm
U.N. investigators, who have been under intense pressure to confirm accusations against the Syrian government, continue to brush aside contrary evidence, such as testimony regarding the April 4 “sarin incident” at Khan Sheikhoun, that suggested a replay of the Al-Tamanah operation.
In a new U.N. report, testimony from two people, who were apparently considered reliable by investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, asserted that anti-government aircraft spotters issued no early-morning warning of a flight leaving the Syrian military airbase of Shayrat, contradicting claims from Al Qaeda’s allies inside Khan Sheikhoun who insisted that there had been such a warning.
If no warplanes left Shayrat airbase around dawn on April 4, then President Trump’s case for retaliating with 59 Tomahawk missiles launched against the base two days later would collapse. The U.S. strike reportedly killed several soldiers at the base and nine civilians, including four children, in nearby neighborhoods. It also risked inflicting death on Russians stationed at the base.
But the U.N. report accepts the version from the activists and rebels inside the Al Qaeda-controlled town and then goes on to endorse other rebel claims regarding alleged Syrian military chemical attacks on at least 20 other occasions.
The New York Times was mightily impressed with the U.N. report’s “unequivocal condemnation” of Assad’s regime and cited it as justification for Israeli warplanes bombing a Syrian military facility on Thursday. Rather than criticize Israel for attacking a neighboring country, the Times framed the action in a positive light as having “brought renewed attention to Syria’s chemical weapons.”
But the journalistic (and intelligence) point should have been that the West was fooled in Iraq by self-interested “activists” flooding the Times, the CIA and the world with fake information — so many bogus walk-ins that they overwhelmed whatever half-hearted process there was to weed out lies from truth. The Syrian “opposition” appears to have adopted a similar strategy in Syria with similar success.
Given the history, skepticism should be the rule in Syria, not credulity. Or, as President George W. Bush once said in a different context, “fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”
By Phil Giraldi, a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer with the CIA. Originally published at the Unz Review. Republished with permission of the author.
On June 8th 1967 the United States Navy intelligence ship the U.S.S. Liberty was attacked in international waters by aircraft and vessels belonging to Israel. Thirty-four sailors, Marines and civilians were killed in the attack. The deliberate Israeli air and sea onslaught sought to sink the clearly identified intelligence gathering ship and kill all its crew. It was in truth the worst attack ever carried out on a U.S. Naval vessel in peace time. In addition to the death toll, 171 more of the crew were wounded in the two-hour assault, which was clearly intended to destroy the intelligence gathering vessel operating in international waters collecting information on the ongoing fighting between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The Israelis, whose planes had their Star of David markings covered up so Egypt could be blamed, attacked the ship repeatedly from the air and with torpedo boats from the sea. When one Israeli pilot hesitated, refusing to attack what was clearly an American ship, he was instructed to proceed anyway.
Most Americans are completely unaware that a United States naval vessel was once deliberately targeted and nearly sunk by America’s “greatest friend and ally” Israel. The attack was followed by a comprehensive cover-up that demonstrated clearly that at least one president of the United States even back nearly fifty years ago valued his relationship with the state of Israel above his loyalty to his own country.
The most disgusting part of the tale relates to how U.S. warplanes sent to the Liberty’s aid from an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean were called back by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara acting under orders from President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who declared that he would rather see the ship go to the bottom of the sea than embarrass his good friend Israel. Ironically, the first ship to reach the foundering Liberty and offer assistance was from the Soviet Union, an offer that was declined.
The incredible courage and determination of the surviving crew was the only thing that kept the Liberty from sinking. The ship’s commanding officer Captain William McGonagle was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic role in keeping the ship afloat, though President Lyndon Baines Johnson broke with tradition and refused to hold the medal ceremony in the White House, also declining to award it personally, delegating that task to the Secretary of the Navy in a closed to the public presentation made at the Washington Navy Yard. The additional medals given to other crew members in the aftermath of the attack made the U.S.S. Liberty the most decorated ship based on a single engagement with hostile forces in the history of the United States Navy.
The cover-up of the attack began immediately. The Liberty crew was sworn to secrecy over the incident, as were the Naval dockyard workers in Malta, and even the men of the U.S.S. Davis, which had assisted the badly damaged Liberty to port were ordered to be silent. A hastily convened and conducted court of inquiry ordered by Admiral John McCain interviewed only a few crewmen and did not seek to determine what had actually happened, instead, acting under orders from Washington, it moved quickly to declare the attack a case of mistaken identity. The inquiry’s senior legal counsel Captain Ward Boston, who subsequently declared the attack to be a “deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew,” also revealed that Admiral Isaac Kidd, who presided over the inquiry, had told him that “President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered him [Kidd] to conclude that the attack was a case of ‘mistaken identity’ despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.” The court’s findings were rewritten and sections relating to Israeli war crimes, to include the machine gunning of life rafts, were excised.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Senator John McCain of Arizona has used his position on the Senate Armed Services Committee to effectively block any reconvening of a board of inquiry to reexamine the evidence. The documents relating to the Liberty incident from the White House perspective of McNamara and Johnson, if they have not been destroyed, have never been released to the public in spite of the 50 years that have passed since the attack took place.
In retrospect, one might well have expected little better from the likes of Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara and either Admiral John McCain or his son, but the cover-up that has endured for fifty years involving the national media as well as politicians from both parties is perhaps even more disgraceful because it has established the principle that even when Israel targets and kills American military personnel it will never ever be held accountable. Such is the power of the Israel Lobby in the United States.
Even if one is not exactly surprised by the behavior of Washington’s own apparatchiks there has been one constituency that has been steadfast in its support of the U.S.S. Liberty and its surviving crew and that is America’s veterans. Or at least that has been true with one major exception, consisting of the largest veterans’ organization, the American Legion. The second largest veterans’ group the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) has long demanded a proper investigation into what happened to the Liberty as have also the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Disabled Veterans of America, and the Retired Officers Association, but the Legion has long been actually hostile to any attempts to establish accountability for the Liberty survivors.
The Legion’s history of opposition to any examination of what happened to the U.S.S. Liberty is interesting in that it demonstrates how one or two individuals can work insidiously within a large organization to prevent the endorsement of policies overwhelmingly favored by most of its members. The American Legion did, in fact, decry the Israeli attack on the Liberty shortly after it occurred. In August 1967, after the conclusion of the flawed Admiral John McCain directed inquiry, the American Legion adopted Resolution 508 declaring that the published report “fails to provide the American public with a satisfactory answer as to the reason for the attack.” It asserted that “The American Legion denounces and condemns Israel’s irresponsible attack” and demanded “a complete and thorough investigation of the incident.” Immediately after the passage of the resolution there were complaints and pressure coming from Jewish groups and individuals, which is why the resolution was unfortunately never acted upon at a time when it might have had some impact on a congress that was not yet completely Israeli occupied territory. The 1967 resolution was rescinded by the Legion’s National Executive Committee in 1984.
There followed more than thirty years of futility as Liberty survivors and veterans groups sought to reintroduce their demand for a proper inquiry as an active American Legion resolution, but the group’s National Executive exploited a number of stratagems to block every attempt to introduce a new resolution, including rejecting proposals in committee, changing convention rules and physically confronting and expelling those who objected. Indeed, the Legion’s executive did its best to drop the U.S.S. Liberty story down a memory hole. An article written by James Ennes, an officer wounded in the attack, was commissioned for publication in the Legion magazine but was pulled at the last minute because it was “too controversial.”
Efforts by the Legion’s Michigan Department in 2012 to introduce a new resolution resulted in some heated exchanges with senior Legion officials who clearly were the driving force on blocking any action relating to the Liberty. The Legion’s Judge Advocate General Phil Onderdonk confronted the Michigan delegate Ted Arens and angrily informed him that “Your resolution is going nowhere” before describing the Liberty survivors as “anti-Semites.” He also said that “The ship should never have been there. It was a spy ship.” Onderdonk was true to his word about the resolution going nowhere. He reportedly personally removed Arens’ name from the foreign affairs committee agenda to block him from either speaking or presenting his resolution.
Onderdonk’s name pops up regularly in the reminiscences of those who have been advocating for a new Liberty resolution. Indeed, he appears to have been the Legion point-man for dealing with the U.S.S. Liberty inquiries. He is a lawyer from Indiana who served as a “contracting officer” during the Vietnam War. Onderdonk was obviously badly informed regarding the facts in the case as the Liberty was in international waters and clearly marked as an American vessel. And if it was a spy ship, that spying was being done under orders from and to benefit the United States government. And, of course, the claim of anti-Semitism is as ever the last refuge of a scoundrel who has nothing better to say, particularly if one is allegedly representing a patriotic organization and is discussing a surprise attack by a foreign government in which 34 American sailors, Marines and civilians were killed.
I should also note that Onderdonk has been the Legion Judge Advocate General since 1983, shortly before the original Liberty resolution by the Legion was rescinded. If past interaction with Liberty survivors is anything to go by, it can be assumed that he will do everything in his power to block any recognition for the ship and its crew. He is, unfortunately, still the Legion Judge Advocate General and it is at least somewhat ironic that a Religious Liberty Award has been named in his honor and recently presented to Senator Ted Cruz.
Also in 2012, two Liberty survivors were turned away from the annual convention where they had expected to man a booth for the Liberty Veterans Association, which they had paid for. They were forcibly ejected from the convention hall and the Legion’s conference coordinator Dick Holmes turned on Arens and told him “I am sick of you bastards and am going to throw you out on your ass.” In 2013, Liberty survivors’ application for a booth was similarly rejected without any reason being offered. In the following year, the Legion reached out to the VFW and tried to convince it to ban the Liberty survivors from its own gatherings. The VFW rejected the appeal.
So the attempt of the U.S.S. Liberty survivors and their supporters to get the American Legion on board for an inquiry seemed doomed to fail – until this year, the 50th anniversary of the attack. A new resolution was adopted in March by Post 40 in Seattle Washington and was later passed unanimously at the State of Washington’s own American Legion convention, thus placing it on the agenda of the national convention. It was then endorsed by the Iowa delegation, which introduced it to the Foreign Relations subcommittee. Gunnery Sergeant Bryce Lockwood, who received a Silver Star for gallantry during the Israeli attack, worked the August 17-24 national convention in Reno and performed heroically for a second time on behalf of his shipmates, shepherding the draft resolution through in spite of resistance from the American Legion Executive and Foreign Relations subcommittee chair William Flanagan.
One of the participants in the process described how the critical vote came at the National Security Committee level, which was where previous draft resolutions had been derailed. The National Executive had recommended against the resolution and there was considerable opposition from the leadership on the Foreign Relations subcommittee, but the rank-and-file on Foreign Relations did not back down and were successful in a 27-11 vote. The Security Committee then passed it on an overwhelmingly favorable voice vote, with Gunny Lockwood working hard from the sidelines on both committees as well as on the convention floor. When the resolution finally was presented to the full membership it easily passed on another voice vote, revealing that there was strong support from the Legion membership.
Resolution 40 begins by making the case for the Liberty in 11 “Whereas” paragraphs. It then states: “RESOLVED, By The American Legion in National Convention assembled in Reno, Nevada, August 22, 23, 24, 2017, that The American Legion calls upon the 115th United States Congress to publicly, impartially, and thoroughly investigate the attack on the USS Liberty and its aftermath and to commence its investigation before the end of 2017, the 50th anniversary year of the attack.”
Whether Congress can be induced to do the right thing by the Liberty remains to be seen, but the adoption of the resolution was a major victory brought about by a confluence of factors as well as a lot of hard work on the part of the Liberty survivors and their supporters. And certainly, it is no time to relax as the Israel Lobby never sleeps, never gives up. The resolution is posted on the American Legion website but one should assume that there will still be some pushback against actually doing anything about the resolution being exerted by senior officials within the American Legion bureaucracy. Israel meanwhile will certainly use all the resources that it has at hand, and they are considerable, to make sure that Congress never looks into the attack on the U.S.S. Liberty in any capacity.
We Americans who care for the Liberty and are concerned by the 50 years of lies, cover-up and general obfuscation regarding it can do our bit by calling or writing our members of Congress to remind them that all major veterans groups now are expecting action. We should also tell them that the investigation into what happened on that day is way past due. Sometimes even Senators and Representatives listen.
Dear Jamie Dimon: Predict the Crash that Takes Down Your Produces-Nothing, Parasitic Bank and We’ll Listen to your Bitcoin “Prediction”
Dear Jamie Dimon: quick quiz: which words/phrases are associated with you and your employer, J.P. Morgan? Looting, pillage, rapacious, exploitive, only saved from collapse by massive intervention by the Federal Reserve, the source of rising wealth inequality, crony capitalism, privatized profits-socialized losses, low interest rates = gift from savers to banks, bloviating overpaid C.E.O., propaganda favoring the financial elite, tool of the top .01%, destroyer of democracy, financial fraud goes unpunished, free money for financiers, debt-serfdom, produces nothing of value to society or the bottom 99.5%.
Jamie, if you answered “all of them,” you’re correct. The only reason you have a soapbox from which you can bloviate is the central bank (Federal Reserve) saved you and your neofeudal looting machine (bank) from well-deserved oblivion in 2008-09, and the unprecedented, co-ordinated campaign by global central banks to buy trillions of dollars of bonds and stocks.
This 8-year long central bank intervention has:
1) transferred billions in what were once interest payments earned by savers and pension funds to banks such as J.P. Morgan
2) boosted your sales by flooding the financial system with low-cost credit
3) lifted your stock far above its value in an unmanipulated market and thus
4) awarded you immense stock-option and bonus-based wealth for doing nothing but letting the central banks enrich J.P. Morgan and its peers.
In other words, your claim of “financial genius” is based solely on central bank intervention. J.P Morgan would have done very well in the past eight years if they’d replaced you with a crash-test dummy. In fact, the shareholders would have done much, much better if the crash-test dummy had a Post-It note on its chest reading “buy bitcoin.”
Compare the return for an investor who believed your shuck-and-jive claim to “financial genius” and “bought the dip” in J.P. Morgan stock (JPM) at $57 in early February 2016 and the investor who bought bitcoin (BTC) at $376 at the same time.
The buyer of JPM has certainly done well, earning a return of around 77% over the 19 months (JPM has risen from $57 to $91, a gain of $44, not counting dividends), but the buyer of bitcoin has earned a more than 10-fold increase, gaining $3,525 per bitcoin at the current price around $3,900. (A few weeks ago, the owner of BTC could have skimmed an additional $1,000 per coin.)
The buyer of 1,000 shares of JPM for $57,000 gained $44,000 plus dividends, yielding a total of around $93,000, while the buyer of $57,000 worth of bitcoin at $376 (roughly 150 BTC) gained $528,000 and has a total of $585,000.
The buyer of JPM could sell his shares, pay the capital gains tax and buy a modest mid-sized car with the gains. The buyer of bitcoin could sell his bitcoins, pay the capital gains tax and buy a very nice house or flat in all but the most over-valued markets with his gain, and buy a brand-new vehicle with whatever cash is left.
This is the begging-for-the-overthrow-of-a-corrupt-status-quo economy we have thanks to the Federal Reserve giving the J.P. Morgans and Jamie Dimons of the world the means to skim and scam the bottom 95%: an economy undermined by a vast and widening gulf between the Jamie Dimons (crony-capitalist toadies) and everyone else.
Dear Jamie: if you want us to listen to your incoherent ranting about bitcoin as “financial genius,” first predict the timing of the crash that takes down your parasitic bank. If you pull that off with amazing accuracy, then maybe we’ll pay attention to your “prediction” about bitcoin.
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