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February 15, 2012

Missing Hammer

By: John Caruso

Truer words were never spoken:

[T]he Obama administration ... has brought more prosecutions against current or former government officials for providing classified information to the media than every previous administration combined. [...] Mr. Corallo, who served under Mr. Bush’s attorney general John D. Ashcroft, said he was “sort of shocked” by the volume of leak prosecutions under President Obama. “We would have gotten hammered for it,” he said.

The lesson: if you're going to leak information, do it while a Republican is president.

CLARIFYING: Since 100% of the people I've asked have given this a reasonable interpretation that's not the one I intended: not because a Democrat is more likely to prosecute you, but because when you're prosecuted you'll have that many fewer people on your side.  As inspiring as the support for Bradley Manning has been, imagine what it would have looked like if he'd been thrown in prison and given the full torture-that-leaves-no-marks treatment by Bush instead of Obama.  The moral cretins who rationalize away their selective lionization by convincing themselves that Manning's no Daniel Ellsberg are right in one sense, anyway: Ellsberg had the good fortune to be persecuted by a Republican.

— John Caruso

Posted at February 15, 2012 11:57 PM

"a reasonable interpretation that's not the one I intended" (Of course not!)

"The moral cretins who rationalize away their selective lionization" Ahh, wait a second. . . could the author of this post be...JC!

I agree that most of us rationalizing, lionizing moral cretins back off some when a Dem is in office. But it's not just lionization at work--there's more to the story. For a thoughtful view of equally distressing issues from Andy Worthington, here's a link to a recent interview:

I've never seen that site before, that I recall, and I'm too busy these days, but Andy Worthington does not seem to ever compromise moral principles. He's not a stinkin' lionizer like me!

Posted by: N E at February 16, 2012 06:26 AM

You don't say.

Why Hawks Should Vote for Obama

...Obama can do hawkish things as a Democrat that a Republican could not (or at least not without facing lots of trouble on the home front). It's the flipside of the old "Nixon Goes to China" meme: Obama can do hawkish things without facing (much) criticism from the left, because he still retains their sympathy and because liberals and non-interventionists don't have a credible alternative (sorry, Ron Paul supporters). If someone like John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich or George W. Bush had spent the past few years escalating drone attacks, sending Special Forces into other countries to kill people without the local government's permission, prosecuting alleged leakers with great enthusiasm, and ratcheting up sanctions against Iran, without providing much information about exactly why and how we were doing all this, I suspect a lot of Democrats would have raised a stink about some of it. But not when it is the nice Mr. Obama that is doing these things.
Posted by: david mizner at February 16, 2012 09:36 AM

Precedent was set with The Patriot Act. (done deal by the two whiteguys) What could one POSSIBLY expect with the class of people WE ALWAYS elect to that august high office. Deadeye and his pet goat, Codpiece got those UNConstitutional powers and Obama is securing them for posterity. RepubliCRATS got to love 'em.
The Liberties ya got are the Liberties YOU take.

Third Party, Folks.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 16, 2012 10:19 AM

The ground zero of propaganda is where the NAZI propaganda minister got his best propaganda.

There is a solid reason most folks do not know where that is.

Posted by: Dredd at February 16, 2012 04:16 PM

NE, why are you assuming JC meant you in this case? I've seen liberals in comments sections at other blogs who've tried to make a distinction between Manning and Ellsberg. I know you've defended Obama more than most of us here like, but it didn't cross my mind to think that you were one of those "Manning isn't Ellsberg" types. I don't think you are.

It's just a truism at this point--much (not all) of the liberal opposition to Bush's civil rights record was partisan and not principled. And I can say something like this without having you in mind. (Whether JC had you in mind is for him to say,but the issue is a bit bigger than the arguments you guys have had.)

Posted by: Donald Johnson at February 16, 2012 04:40 PM

The most insideous part is that Obama is a core republican. Remember that Obama's personal hero is Ronald Reagan.

The screen has been shifted so far right that Nixon is now labeled a "flaming" liberal.

Posted by: Ronbo at February 16, 2012 05:51 PM

I was talking about people who lionize Daniel Ellsberg but attack and ridicule Bradley Manning (and pretend there's no contradiction there even in the face of Ellsberg saying things like "I was Bradley Manning"). So if NE thought that meant him he's either 1) unable to understand a simple point even with a one-paragraph clarification, or 2) a closet Manning hater. I'd agree that 2 seems unlikely even for him, but either way, par for the course.

david: Thanks for the link to Walt's article--it's good to see this kind of point making its way into the mainstream, thanks to things like this and much of Glenn Greenwald's recent output. It's been hilarious watching Greenwald go from hero to punching bag for many Democratic partisans for the unforgivable sin of applying the same standards to the Obama administration that he did to Bush's.

Posted by: John Caruso at February 16, 2012 06:32 PM

Ellsberg is quite correct, he is Manning. Manning did the RIGHT thing. Just as true, Obama is Bush though not so much of a village idiot, but just as corrupt. I must say I rather enjoy his speaches though. Soooo much better to listen to than OUR last Criminal-in-Chief. When Chuckles gave a SOTU I could feel my back teeth grind on every sentence.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 16, 2012 07:10 PM

I don't understand the obsession, but NE is never "too busy these days" to take a swipe at John.

Posted by: gfod at February 16, 2012 07:51 PM

Donald Johnson

I don't think JC was thinking of me and didn't mean to suggest that he was. I was just joking, and I suppose teasing, because I have been accusing of that lionizing moral cretin sin, among others. I generally think JC's writing suffers from that "nana-nanana/jane, you ignorant slut" style, but the substance isn't bad on that post. Or some others. All the righteousness just doesn't appeal to me.

Substantively, my problem is that people make choices from options, and our system is structured to present limited and generally bad options. JC's view is that moral cretins fall prey to "lesser evilism," but he just hangs a pejorative term on what people always do--pick the better of their choices that have a realistic chance of success. People aren't ever going to stop doing that just because moral purists call them names, so I think JC is howling into the wind there.

As for the system, it's gamed. Andy Worthington describes some of the problems in that interview in talking about Guantanamo, and I really admire Worthington. I really don't think it's that hard to understand the problems with the way everything is set up. Dem Presidents get neutralized by an opposition that always has too much power because of the rules, and the Dem base puts up with a lot of things they don't like because not doing so strengthens the ever crazier GOP opposition, which taken together drives the whole system farther Right all the time. It is a mess, I agree.

But "lionizing" isn't really the problem--the problem is much deeper. And to me, those who pretend that the problem is simply a lack of moral integrity in other people basically sound n not just self-righteous in an unattractive way, but sort of like idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Posted by: N E at February 16, 2012 08:07 PM


True enough, that does seem to be something I find time for pretty easily. Undoubtedly a vice.

Posted by: N E at February 16, 2012 08:11 PM

gfod: Yeah, NE's obsession with me is funny in a sad way (or maybe sad in a funny way). What's funnier is that not once have I seen him come within a light year of understanding what I'm saying or what I think--so he's basically obsessed with his own bafflement. I used to engage with him until I realized there was no point, and now I just do my best to skip his comments (how often I've wished ATR had an "ignore" button...).

Posted by: John Caruso at February 16, 2012 09:10 PM

In the immortal words of Mother Jones' Kevin Drum: "I mean that if he [Obama] and I were in a room and disagreed about some issue on which I had any doubt at all, I'd literally trust his judgment over my own. I think he's smarter than me, better informed, better able to understand the consequences of his actions, and more farsighted. I voted for him because I trust his judgment, and I still do."

Journalism at its best. That's speaking truth to power! So, take that, Caruso! If Obama wants Manning tortured, I trust that Manning deserves to be tortured. And if Bush wanted Manning tortured, well, fuck Bush!

Posted by: bobs at February 16, 2012 11:45 PM


Enough about me, what do you think about me?

(And I bet you really would like an ignore 'button'!)

Posted by: N E at February 17, 2012 05:34 AM


Having been born much more in the shadow of WWII than I realized at that time (because time's illusion is that one's own life is longer than the rest of history), I grew up thinking the Nazis were pure evil in contrast to our good, and I once would have been startled to think that someone like Goebbels could be influenced by an American marketing expert, just as I wouldn't have understood how Hitler admired Henry Ford, or how many Americans had once admired Hitler. American exceptionalism certainly keeps us from seeing ourselves clearly, and that infection has proved to be very resistant to treatment.

There seems to me to be an awful lot of awful going around, even more I think than was going around a few years ago, and compassion and solidarity and the great humanitarian virtues don't seem to be doing well in the public theater, though I do think there are still plenty of good people who increasingly stay away from that public theater: Once more, 'the best lack all conviction, the worst are full of passionate intensity.'

Just as before, this time eventually the center won't hold, and considering that our destructive ability to do evil is increasing far more quickly than our collective capacity to do good, Joseph Goebbels is probably going to be eclipsed in the coming decades in a big way. That's a pretty depressing thought for those of us who don't believe there's some sort of divine plan behind suffering, but that's where it looks to me like we're headed.

But hey, I guess maybe I'm just confused by some sort of hatred for Bradley Manning, whose courage I had thought I respected, though perhaps I just was confused because I'm a moral cretin or something like that. Or maybe I lack the real intelligence to see how if everyone just listened to JC, the world's problems would vanish. Whatever.

Life is a tale, told . . .

Posted by: N E at February 17, 2012 06:01 AM

"our system is structured to present limited and generally bad options"

Yet there are third, fourth, and fifth parties. There's Jill Stein (Green), Stewart Alexander (Socialist), Rocky Anderson (Justice), and no doubt others I haven't met yet.

Posted by: tom allen at February 17, 2012 08:58 AM

"t he just hangs a pejorative term on what people always do--pick the better of their choices that have a realistic chance of success. People aren't ever going to stop doing that just because moral purists call them names, so I think JC is howling into the wind there."

That's not what this particular post was about. Chomsky is a defender of "lesser of two evilism"--it's been interesting to me to see digby at Hullaballo citing Chomsky against those of her commenters who despise her support for Democrats. I'm glad she reads Chomsky and maybe it's a case where the Overton Window phenomenon moves people to the left. All the far left people who hate Democrats actually make Chomsky look like a moderate on this point, so when someone like digby cites him maybe they'll also pay attention to the other stuff he writes. I think it does work that way with digby.

But that's me going off on my own tangent. This particular post was about people who should know better who make a distinction between Ellsberg and Manning and there's no reason why a lesser of two evils voter has to think this way. Theyseem to do it to feel better about their hero and they can be pretty nasty about it. As for self-righteousness, what really surprised me was the intense self-righteousness of partisan Democrats, something I first noticed with the Nader-haters back in 2000 and since. It wasn't enough for them to argue that Nader's third party strategy was wrong--no, Nader had no serious points to make and if there were any problems they could only be solved by working with Democrats and if you disagreed you weren't just wrong, but must be a vile narcissistic idiot. I expected this from centrist Democrats, but was naively shocked to see it coming from people who were left-leaning. So, yeah, self-righteousness is a problem we can all have, but it arguably does the most harm in people who identify themselves as progressives who self-righteously defend whatever a Democratic President does. And no, I don't mean you, NE.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at February 17, 2012 10:37 AM

I think there are some similarities between Ellsberg and Manning; both sought self-promotion, but Ellsberg was better at marketing himself, & he benefited from a court decision on prior restraint as well that old devil, prosecutorial misconduct. In retrospect neither the Pentagon Papers nor the huge cache of classified documents that Manning disclosed really constituted serious damage to the United States (what SECRET means). The PP were classified almost at random, stamped SECRET on every page but with no paragraph portion marks that would have reflected some thought as to what was truly classified and what was not. Manning's message cache was a one-day wonder, by now totally forgotten and not even rising to the level of a blip on the national security horizon. Unfortunately, the prosecution is far more careful than it was in Ellsberg's day, and this poor deluded kid will do far more hard time than he deserves. I'd settle for the military equivalent of a slap on the wrist -- a dishonorable discharge & maybe six months or a year at most breaking rocks at Leavenworth. But I'm afraid the military, having screwed up SIPRNet security so badly (they had the network monitoring tools that would have nipped Manning in the bud, but did not implement them) are determined to have a pound of someone's flesh.

Posted by: Ralph Hitchens at February 17, 2012 10:54 AM

"Manning's message cache was a one-day wonder, by now totally forgotten and not even rising to the level of a blip on the national security horizon. "

Well, they were unsurprising in that they showed the US was frequently hypocritical on human rights--the Obama people put pressure on Spain to ease up on an investigation into Bush's crimes, the government of Yemen was asked to take responsibility for one of our air strikes that killed civilians, and so forth. I've forgotten some of it, not all of it.

To say that it was a one day wonder though, strikes me as right for the wrong reason. It wasn't a huge revelation because any sane person knows the US government does these things. But by that standard why bother reporting any government misdeed if it falls into a category of crime that we've come to expect?

Posted by: Donald Johnson at February 17, 2012 11:42 AM

In the immortal words of Mother Jones' Kevin Drum:

I think you mean undead words. And in fairness to Drum, he did say he was "appalled at the way we're treating Bradley Manning." But don't give him too much credit--his alternative was, "If he's guilty of a crime, then try him and sentence him." But who knows? Maybe he's always felt that way about Ellsberg too.

Posted by: John Caruso at February 17, 2012 12:05 PM

Yeah, John, hilarious is one word for it.

It's been hilarious watching Greenwald go from hero to punching bag for many Democratic partisans for the unforgivable sin of applying the same standards to the Obama administration that he did to Bush's.

I guess if there's a GOP president next year, Greenwald will be approved of again -- right after the partisans stop blaming him for Obama's loss.

Posted by: david mizner at February 17, 2012 12:05 PM

I disagree. Manning's cashe will be showing US items of importance for years to come. Its what WE do with it that lends it its value or not. If WE don't act upon that intellegence, ignore it, then WE are no different than the Bush Administration in the months before 911. The catastrophes WE WILL FACE are going to be as great or greater. (PERSONALLY I CONTEND that WE really are no better than the Bush Administration, but I may be premature)(concider the concept that Deadeye and his pet goat, Codpiece ARE the pinnacle of American Leadership on That Highway To Hell)(sad, real sad)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 17, 2012 12:11 PM

Actually I think Greenwald's heresy--which goes way beyond defending someone like Manning (whose persecution was making Obama look bad) to the ultimate sin of suggesting there may be an option beyond the Democrats--is unforgivable for many liberals at this point. What's funny is seeing how many of them never liked him, never found him convincing, etc...because we all remember how many liberals were slagging him back when he was criticizing the Bush administration, right?

The Greenwald phenomenon is actually pretty interesting, because had he started out during a Democratic administration he'd never have risen to the level of mainstream acceptance he did, and that prominence is giving him a much wider audience now for his intolerable ethical consistency. Personally I'm not bothered by the number of people who've turned on him as much as I'm impressed by how many haven't.

Posted by: John Caruso at February 17, 2012 12:30 PM

You're probably right.

It's worth mentioning that GG, relatively new to politics, is a work in progress. Although you're right, he's been principled esp. for a pundit these past several years, when he first came on the scene he was more or less a conventional liberal media critic (someone who by his own acknowledgement had backed the Iraq war) and as he grew more comfortable evolved into a critic of empire, Israel, American exceptionalism, etc, which is to say, he's something of an actual leftist, so yeah, there are many parties he'll never get invited to.

Of course, he doesn't want to go to those parties, which is why he's able to stay solid.

Posted by: david mizner at February 17, 2012 12:54 PM

Yes, that phase of Greenwald's lasted into the early days of the Obama administration--I called him out on it several times (for example). But I give him a lot of credit for abandoning it pretty quickly in the face of mounting counterevidence rather than following his partisan instincts.

Posted by: John Caruso at February 17, 2012 01:47 PM

It the same ole "Might Makes Right". Its ok if YOU're the one in power. Because if one is in power then its a scary thing to say "NO" to YOU. Repubs are instinctive about this and tend to be lockstep with power. Dems hunger for the power and when the get in power, will rationalize away ANY wrong out of fear of losing said power. THUS the CORRUPTION of power. Documents of agreement, such as the Constitution and The Geneva Convention are created to temper said CORRUPTION but over time are legalized into uselessness.
Its election time, Obama will give YOU contraception(ex.) because he NEEDS that vote but will STILL kill innocent Pakistanis because he DOESN'T need their vote. YOU won't complain much because YOU want to keep the Dems in power and don't want to relinquish that power to the Repubs as they will try to end contraception which affects YOU. Both, of course, continue to bomb wedding parties because, it ain't YOU and the dead are not worried about contraception.
Elect ANY one of the crowd running and the innocent WILL see YOUR drones over head, WILL feel YOUR bombs and bullets. Except maybe Ron Paul who will make EVERY attempt to end abortion and possibly legal contraception. Its the basic US or THEM choice. Social issues v. foreign policy. No matter who wins, they'll be rich and YOU won't. They'll feed the bankers, starve the poor, and ROB YOU.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 17, 2012 02:34 PM

Wow, looks like I subconsciously plagiarized Caruso, using exactly the same quote from Drum and the same immortal words, "immortal words," to characterize it. Maybe I am becoming senile. Or maybe I am acceding to a higher state of moral truth. Or maybe the two things are the same.

Posted by: bobs at February 17, 2012 03:34 PM

A further comment on Manning: he did all of us (in & out of the military) a service if he indeed was the guy who leaked the Apache gunship video clip -- "Collateral Murder" -- showing the incident in which two innocent Iraqi civilians were killed & several others (including children) were wounded. That should have prompted some serious reflection on our rules of engagement. I don't think it did, but it certainly should have.

Posted by: Ralph Hitchens at February 17, 2012 04:13 PM

Donald Johnson

I know the postn't wasn't about what I said, but at least my tweaking the dreaded JC got the ball rolling a little. The comments did seem to improve once I shut up. I should probably just ignore JC's dreadul rhetoric, but I was bored.

Ralph Hitchens

Neither Ellsberg nor Manning strike me as self promoters, and both took big risks. I don't know enough about Bradley Manning, perhaps because he's been buried alive, but Ellsberg was a moral purist deluded by the intense cold war propoganda of his time until he flipped and became just as morally righteous in the other direction. I think you could take a gun out and tell Ellsberg you were going to blow his brains out if he didn't recant his principles and he wouldn't flinch before telling you he wasn't going to do that. So characterizing him as you did makes me think you may be a yahoo or not too informed. (My apologies if you just don't know much about Ellsberg and were giving it that old college try.)

Ellsberg was lucky to get the protection of the civil war that was going on in the elite at the time when Nixon went after him. Only the "revisionist" history of Nixon's downfall makes much sense to me, just as only that explanation of Vietnam and China makes any real historical sense. To save himself politically, because otherwise he would never win reelection, Nixon had flipped on his hawk backers by turning to detente and the new China policy to bring about an end to the Vietnam War, but the hawks took him down for it. They were set back a bit by the weaking of the Presidency that followed, but basically they have steered the country the direction they wanted it to go ever since, so it's hard to say it was badly done.

Ellsberg was spared because he enemy's enemies let him be spared because his victory helped take down Nixon. Bradley Manning isn't likely to have any such luck.

Posted by: N E at February 17, 2012 07:59 PM

About Manning's message cache being a "one-day wonder", nothing could be further from the truth. This excerpt from the letter nominating him for a Nobel Peace Prize is a good summary of some of what he's accomplished (assuming he was the leaker, of course):

These revelations have fueled democratic uprising around the world, including a democratic revolution in Tunisia. According to journalists, his alleged actions helped motivate the democratic Arab Spring movements, shed light on secret corporate influence on our foreign policies, and most recently contributed to the Obama Administration agreeing to withdraw all U.S.troops from the occupation in Iraq. [...] The revelations – including video documentation of an incident in which American soldiers gunned down Reuters journalists in Iraq – have helped to fuel a worldwide discussion about America’s overseas engagements, civilian casualties of war, imperialistic manipulations, and rules of engagement.

Not to mention that the leaked documents have been a source for many major news stories (and likely all of the ones that are worth paying attention to) since the day they first appeared.

Manning's a hero, if the word has any meaning at all.

Posted by: John Caruso at February 17, 2012 08:24 PM

"Ellsberg had the good fortune to be persecuted by a Republican."

He must thank his lucy stars.

Posted by: cemmcs at February 17, 2012 10:40 PM

Concider that Manning can testify about his treatment under guard, most likely it includes torture. My guess is he won't be afforded the mercy of life in prison.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 18, 2012 12:35 AM

That bit about Bradley Manning leading to the ever lauded "Arab Spring" is pretty crafty. It probably gets people who care about Bradley Manning to think the Arab Spring is great, but you have to be pretty naive to think the people pushing the Arab Spring are doing anything but extending what they were doing during the last administration, though what they do is much better received for reasons identified by the author of the astute non-moral-cretin author of this post.

Posted by: N E at February 18, 2012 12:32 PM

Well NE, Manning DID influence the "Arab Spring" by educating those Folks on how WE were lying to them and the world, supporting their and other dictators and keeping them down. He did those Folks a damn big favor. He cut his own throat doing it but then U&I don't REALLY care about THAT, do WE? I understand that in O-bot world the TRUTH rubs US raw but a little chapped hide never killed anybody and the LIES sure as hell do. At least Qaddaffi got his just reward (like Bin Laden) and, hopefully, the others get a hot date with the hangman. Manning did THE WHOLE WORLD a favor(except himself)including Obama&the O-bots.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 18, 2012 01:43 PM
but you have to be pretty naive to think the people pushing the Arab Spring are doing anything but extending what they were doing during the last administration

Wait, WTF? Now the Arab Spring is the product of a cynical conspiracy to dump long-standing and favored US clients? You're right, replacing a reliable thug via the mechanism of spontaneous, mass-directed popular revolt is EXACTLY the kind of thing that the US government favors. I guess I was pretty naive to imagine otherwise.

Posted by: saurabh at February 18, 2012 03:17 PM

This is a good account of how the documents Manning sent to Wikileaks affected the Arab Spring. An excerpt:

Almost two weeks before the desperate young fruit-seller Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire on a street in Tunis and a full month before the uprising that ensued, touching off the “Arab Spring” that is still unfolding, the rationale for revolution appeared on the Internet, where it was devoured by millions of Tunisians. It was a WikiLeaks document pertaining to the unexampled greed and massive corruption of Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and all his money-hungry family. [...] Tunisia happens to have the highest percentage of Facebook users in the world—“Something like two million among ten million people have their own Facebook account,” Radwan Masmoudi, president for the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, told a British newspaper. [...] Al Jazeera, too, which enjoys tremendous popularity in Tunisia, had drummed the WikiLeaks revelations into the consciousness of disgusted citizens.

Obviously there's no single cause for events like this, but it's clear that the documents Manning risked his life and freedom to make public had an effect--which is why Amnesty International called Wikileaks a catalyst in the uprisings. And that's just one example of the concrete effects of these leaks; you can see many, many more here.

Posted by: John Caruso at February 18, 2012 04:11 PM

As long as I'm here, one of the "many, many more" that was particularly notable was confirmation that it was the U.S. that had launched missile strikes (with the missiles carrying cluster munitions) that killed dozens of people in Yemen, and then colluded with Yemen to cover it up:

A leaked diplomatic cable has corroborated images released earlier this year by Amnesty International showing that the US military carried out a missile strike in south Yemen in December 2009 that killed dozens of local residents.

In the secret cable from January 2010 published by the organization Wikileaks, Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh is reported as having assured US General David Petraeus that his government would “continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours”.

According to the cable, this prompted Yemeni Deputy Prime Minister Rashad al-‘Alimi “to joke that he had just ‘lied’ by telling Parliament that the bombs in Arhab, Abyan, and Shebwa were American-made but deployed by the ROYG [Republic of Yemen Government]” [...] A Yemeni parliamentary inquiry found that 41 local residents, including 14 women and 21 children, and 14 alleged al-Qa’ida members were killed in the attack. In the 4 January cable, General Petraeus is recorded as saying that the attack had caused the deaths of “only” three “civilians”.

Posted by: John Caruso at February 18, 2012 04:32 PM

Bouazizi---"Can you hear me now?"

A MAN without a voice speaks up to power. He said, "NO!"

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 18, 2012 05:03 PM

saurabh wrote: a "mechanism of spontaneous, mass-directed popular revolt"

Sure, that's exactly what the Arab Spring is, and nobody is trying to manipulate events at all. Right.

The fact that Bradley Manning is brave and morally true and that information released by him influenced or even precipitated part of the Arab Spring does NOT mean there aren't others using the Arab Spring to gain control of the region. They obviously are doing that. The
Arab Spring has been and will be used to justify interventions where wanted, but ignored otherwise in places like Saudi and the other Gulf monarchies. So it goes.

Folks who laugh at "lionizers" for overlooking sins that are just a continuation of past evil policies certainly can fall prey to the very same virus, though seduced by admiration of different people used to market the same policies to different crowds. There aren't thousands upon thousands of psychologists, marketing folks, PR folks, intel folks, and other specialists in manipulation in the military and intel world for no reason. Since that group decided they lost Vietnam in public opinion rather than on the battlefield, they've believed that the American people are the truly dangerous adversary. As for how they're doing, Qaddafi is gone and the West is gaining firmer control of the region, so it seems to be working out pretty well for the Evil Plans Department that Dick Cheney used to run. They aren't above the hypocrisy of throwing Bradley Manning in a dungeon and simultaneously using his moral courage to justify action against their enemies, so you better develop some cynicism.

Evil isn't always as obvious as you might like.

Over and out.

Posted by: N E at February 18, 2012 05:04 PM

FAILURE to control the Dick Cheneys of this country falls on OUR shoulders, NE. THAT'S why those dictators were in place to begin with, nurtured and LOVED with OUR TAX DOLLARS and guns. MAYBE WE ought to do something about that.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 18, 2012 06:10 PM

Yes, the Americans are using events in the Arab world to attempt to increase their power in the region. They always attempt to use every situation to increase their power. Yes, they made use of popular anger to push forward the removal of Qaddafi. How does that mean they are "pushing" the Arab Spring? Ben Ali and Mubarak were both US clients, the latter an incredibly important one. Both Israel and the US immediately started shitting themselves at the prospect that Egypt might actually fall into the hands of a democracy. And, yes, they immediately started working as hard as they could to control the situation, but that does not mean that it was not a real revolt, or that the motivations of the citizens involved should be discounted. State actors don't have infinite power; the propagandists in the Pentagon are not gods. The fact that they are working to pressure things in a certain direction does not mean that (a) things will go in those directions or (b) everyone involved is merely their puppet.

Posted by: saurabh at February 18, 2012 09:34 PM

Totally agreed, saurabh. People often think of these situations in black and white, but that's a major mistake (in more ways than one); the U.S. is tremendously powerful, particularly militarily, but it's not all-powerful. Nowhere is that more apparent than Egypt, where after the popular uprising began the U.S. first tried to keep Mubarak in power, then abandoned him and pushed to get expert torturer and Mubarak protege Omar Suleiman installed as president, and is now working with the Egyptian military regime to forestall any moves towards real democracy. All-powerful actors don't find themselves forced into third-level fallback positions. Where it'll end up is anyone's guess, but there's no doubt that the Egyptian resistance is genuine.

Posted by: John Caruso at February 18, 2012 10:10 PM

Like US those Folks in Egypt and infact everywhere on the planet have access to instant information over the net. Mubarak's and his people, JUST LIKE US, can't hide. Same, same with Assad, Ben Ali, and the rest. ITS THE MATH---99% out numbers 1% EVERY TIME, new math, old math or whatever. JUST LIKE Qaddaffi, and Bin Laden, there's a bullet with their name on it although I think Mubarak gets a rope. Slower, but still, dead is dead, good riddance. ALL IN ONE YEAR---power of the net.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 18, 2012 10:41 PM

"but there's no doubt that the Egyptian resistance is genuine."

Okay, since I don't know a damn thing about 'the Egyptian resistance,' I suppose that's possible, but I'm doubtful that the whole of that resistance is genuine, and certainly as saurabh pointed out pretty well, everybody tries to influence everything and both US and the Israel must be working to control events.

They're good at it too, but other folks do these things too so events are always quite a rat's next.

Posted by: N E at February 19, 2012 11:02 AM

One of the reasons I like Chomsky is that his basic attitude is, this stuff is not complicated. There is no need for conspiracies and secret documentation, because all of the stuff the ruling class says and believes can be read in Foreign Affairs and the New York Times. The Wikileaks cables were enlightening, but there wasn't much in there that was particularly surprising. It just confirmed stuff we already had good reason to suspect: when the US says those cluster bombs belonged to the Yemeni government, if it sounds like an obvious lie, it probably is; the major activity of the American diplomatic corps is selling weapons in the Middle East; etc. There's no reason to posit nude conspiracies by hidden actors, usually. Just look. What you see is probably what you get.

Posted by: saurabh at February 19, 2012 01:42 PM

The Wikileaks cables were enlightening, but there wasn't much in there that was particularly surprising.

To people like the ones reading this blog (i.e. those who reject American exceptionalism and follow these things closely anyway), maybe, but not to the public at large. In that case having the Wikileaks cables is invaluable not only because of the concrete evidence they provide but because it gives the mainstream media the foundation for stories which otherwise receive little or no attention--in the case of the cables, even stories that were many years old. And along those lines, the strategy Wikileaks adopted of partnering with media outlets and meting out the cables in small batches was a brilliant way of maximizing the attention to each of the major stories there.

And personally, though I wouldn't say I was surprised by anything in the cables there were things I hadn't heard before (or hadn't heard in such detail).

Posted by: John Caruso at February 19, 2012 02:23 PM

"what you see is probably what you get"

There are vast deception industries, both corporate and governmental and hybrids of the two, for a reason. If you think you get what you see, you're never going to understand the political world.

People do like those sorts of things Chomsky says, but those are his dimmest thoughts. Chomsky is brilliant and brave and has said much of tremendous value, but he isn't always brilliant. His point that no one need concern themselves with the power of conspiracies and organizations that exist to foster them seems lame to me--just really weak reasoning for him--but his point about how you can tell what's going on just by reading mainstream sources is pretty accurate. Bertrand Russell wrote a book called War Crimes in Vietnam back in the 60s in which he used only the NY TImes as a source and gave some rules for using it. That's all true enough.

I think Chomsky's analysis falters in failing to have any real concepts of factions or interest though, and the whole of the behavior of corporate and governmental "shadowy" conspiratorial forces is easily subsumed within his structural analysis with no conceptual problem at all. Chomsky just hasn't wanted to go there. He made a decision a long time ago not go to into that conspiracy stuff, and maybe that was the right decision, maybe not, but the idea that it's unimportant whether US Presidents like JFK have been assassinated by parts of the CIA or whether whether 911 was perpetrated partly or wholly as a US military/intel operation, well to say that's unimportant strikes me as idiotic. Of course those are important questions. The only real issue is whether they can be answered, and how hard it is. In general people don't feel like they can get to the bottom of questions like that, and that's a good reason not to try. Besides why it only gets a person a lot of crap. Besides which it accomplishes nothing. Just don't kid yourself thinking it's not important just so you can have the psychological security of feeling that you're getting what you see. If you think that, you're a dupe.

Posted by: N E at February 19, 2012 03:46 PM

Sure, I don't mean to say I didn't learn anything from the cables, but they don't reveal a hidden world that operates completely differently than it appears on the surface, as NE's vague spooky-talk seems to be implying.

Posted by: saurabh at February 19, 2012 04:12 PM


You could pick any decade in the last hundred years, and if I had time a couple of years ago I could probably have written a modestly specific summary of it that would have been full of information that would seem spooky to you. History is not what actually happened, and alternative history isn't necessarily either.

I don't think your general point about what has been released by Wikileaks is wrong. Everybody knows the basic story, and none of that information was anything close to the highest security levels, to my understanding. As I recall a very large number of people around the world had access to most or all of it. I'm sure it's embarrassing and inflammatory in many places, but not exactly shocking to those with eyes. Things that confirm to people what they already believe can be very damaging from a PR standpoint, and so people abroad get pissed at seeing how the world works and we behave, even if they aren't necessarily shocked.

Posted by: N E at February 19, 2012 09:05 PM

...a hidden world that operates completely differently than it appears on the surface, as NE's vague spooky-talk seems to be implying.

Oh ferchrissake. The nice thing about skipping his comments is that I'm not treated to his comic book world where the Evil Pentagon Shadow Government is behind everything, like 9/11, the JFK assassination, the so-called "killing" of so-called "Osama bin Laden", Bigfoot, the Arab Spring, Area 51, Summer of the Shark, etc etc. They're probably mind-controlling me to type this comment RIGHT THIS VERY MOMENT. But we're so lucky cuz Obama is trying to fight them for us from the inside! And anyone who doesn't believe it all is a deluded fool! Seriously, I wonder if he types his comments in crayon.

The problem is that I can't help but see an occasional sentence when I'm paging around a thread. It's like crossing a field where people walk their dogs; no matter how careful you are, you're going to step in a turd every now and then.

Posted by: John Caruso at February 19, 2012 09:14 PM

NE is sold solid on Obama, John Caruso. It wouldn't matter what evedence one could come up with, Barak can do no wrong. Its Rodger Maris/ Mickey Mantle hero worship. Sure there are conspiracies in the world, the rich conspire against the working class, drug cartel conspire to sell drugs and WE Americans conspire against the REST of the world for their shit, which therein lies Obama's conspiracy. NE wants to believe the conspiracy is AGAINST Obama. Not so, Obama IS ringleader of OUR conspiracy and THAT'S what NE can't wrap his head around.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 19, 2012 10:40 PM

Sure there are conspiracies in the world, the rich conspire against the working class, drug cartel conspire to sell drugs and WE Americans conspire against the REST of the world for their shit, which therein lies Obama's conspiracy.

That's dead on, Mike.

I'd add that yeah, of course there are plenty of CIA/Pentagon-managed covert actions and conspiracies going on around the world every day, from manipulations of societies and elections to assassinations to assisting with corporate espionage to operating with those very cartels you mention, and much more. We have the declassified record to back it all up (or the not-so-declassified record, thanks to heroes like Manning). But that doesn't mean you can just spin up any conspiracy you want out of thin air, or that anyone should take you seriously if you do.

Posted by: John Caruso at February 19, 2012 10:51 PM

JC--Don't worry,nobody is going to MIND control you anytime soon. Manipulating you must be pretty easy for the marketing folks running brand USA though, because frankly, I seem to be able to do it with just a keyboard all by myself. I think you should probably just go back to not engaging my crazy Bigfoot lovin' self--you'll be happier until you find a way to get that "ignore" button you'd like.

Mike Meyer--I think you were tired last night, because I don't know where this Obama stuff came from. Last I heard we were talking about whether Bradley Manning could be used by the same folks who threw him in his dungeon to weaken their enemies in the arab world, but whatever. If you all want to talk about Obama, knock yourselves out. For quite some time now he's reminded me mostly of that Beatles lyric--'got to be good-looking cuz he's so hard to see.'

Posted by: N E at February 20, 2012 06:38 AM

N E: Last I heard we were talking about whether Bradley Manning could be used by the same folks who threw him in his dungeon to weaken their enemies in the arab world, but whatever.

Ah, you see, that's where you go wrong. Or wronger. Whatever. Because the notable thing about the Wikileaks documents is that they have weakened the US and its friends, like Mubarak. They embarrassed the US, particularly in its efforts at maintaining dictatorships. They probably prevented Obama from being able to extend the US military presence in Iraq. Or do you want to claim that they enabled Obama to end the US military presence there, as he'd been secretly, eleven-dimensionally trying to do all along, in secret collaboration with his friend George W. Bush, who was responsible for the SOFA that Obama eventually had to follow?

Your claim that Chomsky's analysis ignores factions and interests is, as usual, false. If you've read him (which I doubt), you misrepresent him; as usual. It's ironic that you accuse him of not wanting to look into conspiracies, when in the MicFIC the standard line is that he's a conspiracy theorist. The reason why he doesn't go into your pet theories is that there is no good evidence for them. (You even admit that in your comment.) I've addressed that problem numerous times in exchanges with you here, and you merely change the subject, fall back on ad hominems and clumsy jokes, or lie. You're not a conspiracy theorist I can believe in.

Posted by: Duncan at February 20, 2012 11:46 AM

NE: Obama is an intergral part of the Manning discusion. The two sides of the SAME coin.
YOU ARE the primary victim of the Obama conspiracy. YOU and millions/billions of others in the world. He can NOT continue in this conspiracy without YOUR support along with the support of ALL the others. Caruso&Schwarz and others like them are counter productive to such said conspiracies. Due to my extreme RACISM (raised in Alabama)I end up being Obama's collaborator simply because he's black and I've come to see the inequality of it all and am DETERMINED to change that. MY opinion is that OUR culture raises US ALL and poisons US in much the same way. That his actions(or anyone else WE hire as president) WILL always be in line with OUR great American conspiracy against the rest of the world. I in no way condone OUR imperial conspiracy and do what I can but I STOP AT THE POINT WHERE THE BLACK GUY IS TREATED DIFFERENT THAN THE WHITE GUYS. NO punishment for Deadeye and his pet goat, Codpiece then NO punishment for Obama. No impeachment for Deadeye&Codpiece then no impeachment for Obama.
The OFFICE IS THE OFFICE, and Obama has the POWER to do UNFETTERED pretty much what he wants. If YOU choose to believe different then that's on YOU.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 20, 2012 01:11 PM

Mike Meyer

I'm having trouble following you. Sorry man, but I'm in a rush to get after Duncan, so peace.


Alas, I don't think I agree with anything you said. I've never ever heard anybody call Chomsky a conspiracy theorist, so I don't know what you've been reading. I haven't read him in a few years, and it started to get a little repetitive, but I do pay think he's sure a smart fella when he's not dismissing all that crazy shit that makes people like you and JC go bonkers in an especially robotic way. When you guys do that, I really get why Chomsky doesn't want any part of getting dragged into the whole thing, but a guy like Chomsky who quietly encourages and helps research into things like Operation Gladio isn't really as dumb as he would like you guys to think he is. WHich is to say, he's pretending for intelligent reasons to not get it, whereas on the other hand, you guys definitely don't need to pretend--you just don't get it.

Posted by: N E at February 20, 2012 05:00 PM

NE: What's not to follow? Manning whistle blows on war crimes on Obama's watch. Obama kicks him into the dungeon to be tortured. Simple.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 20, 2012 07:37 PM

N E, perhaps I am a yahoo, but I was around when Ellsberg had his 15 minutes of fame and still see him as a blower of his own horn, a bit too much for my taste. De gustibus...

Mike Meyer, it's too simple. Manning might like to think of himself as a whistle-blower but I didn't see that much substance in what he released -- except for the Collateral Murder video, as I've said. That release was surely doing us a service, if only the military would take it seriously.

But Obama had nothing to do with what's happened to Manning. He was in uniform, violated regulations, and is being charged under the UCMJ. No sensible President would dare involve himself in a UCMJ case; it just isn't done. Nixon was seriously scourged for simply sounding off about the accused in the My Lai prosecution.

Posted by: Ralph Hitchens at February 21, 2012 02:23 PM

Ralph Hitchens: The murder video was enough. The rest was ALL the extra value WE get for the same $19.95 plus shipping and handeling. Obama IS CoC of ALL the military.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 21, 2012 03:04 PM

No sensible President would dare involve himself in a UCMJ case; it just isn't done. Nixon was seriously scourged for simply sounding off about the accused in the My Lai prosecution.

Obama's no sensible president then, since he's already flatly declared that Manning broke the law (though he was of course only scourged by a few people for it, for the reasons outlined in the posting). He's not shy at all about involving himself to persecute whistleblowers--though it's true that he was unwilling to do anything to stop the despicable treatment Manning was receiving.

By the same token, Obama played the "one president at a time" card to justify offering no criticism of Israel's assault on Gaza prior to his inauguration, even as he was perfectly willing to say things like this: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing."

Things like this leave no doubt about his actual views on Manning or much else, for those who are willing to accept the evidence.

Posted by: John Caruso at February 21, 2012 03:53 PM