Did someone say rant?....
posted by Keito
2013-11-07 20:42:00In the words of several Google Engineers in recent weeks, I too would like to voice a very big "Fuck you"... this time aimed squarely at the 3 smug bastards who sat before the Intelligence and Security Committee hearing earlier today.
I really, truly, honestly couldn't give a flying toss how sincere or sensible these UK intelligence front-men come across as on TV... they are all self-righteous assholes. The whole hearing was nothing more than a PR stunt (from their viewpoint), meant to try and sway the masses into thinking these 'reasonable' people can be trusted to carry out such despicable actions... all in the name of "National Security".
Terrorism is a poor excuse for the blanket surveillance of an entire nation.
I am not scared of terrorism, though with the behaviour of our nation, the threat will undoubtedly grow, and with it state oppression too... unless we change our behaviour, this is almost inevitable.
*It's the government oppression that scares me*... and quite rightly so. A once in a blue moon freak terrorist attack, while abhorrent, is something we can overcome. A state modelling itself on Big Brother is not so easily dealt with.
We might (just might) be able to gain control and stop the government oppression, but it won't be easy... after all, how do you control entities that are entirely secretive and free from almost all oversight or public scrutiny?
Anyway, back to the televised débâcle which aired earlier today... The sound-byte getting published by several 24hr mainstream media news networks sees John Sawers suggests that "more Britons were killed abroad in 2013, than the past seven years combined."... and this I don't doubt, but perhaps for altogether different reasons to what he may insinuate throughout his speech. (What's more, the domestic threats we face are absolutely minuscule). To stem terrorism these people need to consider an entirely different approach to "attack prevention"... You know, how's about we stop bombing other nations and killing indiscriminately for a start. The current method of wholesale snooping is not the correct way to combat terrorism, it will never work, nor will drone strikes or military interventions/occupations.
In the words of Michael Rivero, "Stopping terrorism is simple. Just quit screwing around with other people's countries and the terrorists will go home. But the government of the United States wants to go on screwing around with other people's countries, refuses to stop, indeed views it as Manifest Destiny for the United States Government to persist in screwing around with other people's countries, and views the inconvenience, increased tax burden, loss of civil liberties, and even deaths among the American people as just another cost of doing business."
Let's be very clear about one thing... The risk of terrorism grows - DUE TO THE WAR ON TERROR.
In other words, the War on Terror hasn't helped combat terrorism, it has fuelled it.
With that in mind it is most concerning that many folk fail to understand this increased threat of terrorism - as a direct result of the War on Terror - is exactly what the government has been attempting to achieve... this presents itself as a very convenient excuse to clamp down hard on freedoms; to implement draconian measures and plenary powers for the ruthless and power-hungry rulers in government. They are sweeping the freedoms from under our feet at an alarming rate, with little to no resistance from the populace. After all, the easiest way to gain public support for government wrong-doing is to wrap that wrong-doing up as some sort of beautiful measure, concocted to prevent either of the following:
* Child Pornography
...and, right on cue, we see stories depicting that the Snowden Leaks have helped terrorists AND paedophiles evade law enforcement - a perfect way to not only deflect any blame from themselves, but also discredit Snowden and sully his reputation.
I dare say we'll be seeing some triple-A movie blockbuster that depicts a whistleblower as some sort of evil kingpin overlord, in the non-too-distant future. Unfortunately, propaganda is not something that has been relegated to the history books.
The insinuation that Snowden's leaks have in some way endangered this nation, angers me no end. The danger we may face is entirely manufactured - by our own governments' failed foreign policies - something the bare-faced liars that took to the courts today failed to detail.
You want to know the risk you face from terrorism? Here's a simple to understand graph that lays it out for you
You want to know the risk we face from government? Read some history books and then open your eyes to the world we live in today.
Saturday Morning Rant #38365864251
posted by Keito
2013-11-07 20:28:33"Considered writing another letter to my MP this morning. Had the page open, then came to my senses and decided that it's just completely and utterly pointless. They don't listen and I'd be wasting my time.
For the first time in my adult life I've decided to join the majority of my friends... who simply don't vote. These non-voters always irked me somewhat before, but now I too have finally succumbed to such voting apathy. Brand made a convincing case, and as the saying goes "it only encourages them".
There is NO-ONE worth voting for, as far as I'm concerned they're all the same - when it comes to the really important issues and policies (not the little bullshit ones they have the country torn over, such as Benefits - which is a diversionary tactic used to shift the nations eyes from the countries real tax black holes).
My main concerns stem from recent revelations, be it the economic warfare of Wall Street, or the police state/Fascist spying exercises of the SS, *cough* sorry I mean the NSA/GCHQ (like a tragic comedy double act).
Each of the three main UK parties want to stifle free speech and limit personal privacies and freedoms. They all think that the behaviours of GCHQ is warranted. They all want to continue the War On Terror and the War on Drugs. They all protect Big Business (Bankers and other cronies, who are always on hand to offer mutual back-scratching benefits). They all can be bought by the highest bidders, to impose nationwide policies that benefit Corporations and inversely DO NOT benefit the voting populace.
I don't think I can even begin to get across, via the medium that is Facebook, just how angry I am at the current state of our political offerings. They can all go take a running jump. In fact, my preferred option would be to rally them all up and put them on some remote Japanese island - BATTLE ROYALE-style. A fight to the death between Obama, Cameron, Putin and all the other shit-heads in power would be something I could actually get behind. I'd vote for that.
The direction these arseholes are taking our nations in, really is something to be concerned about. The revolution is far, far, far too long overdue.
From time to time, you may see a flicker of hope, a speech that hits all the right notes, that strikes a chord... Milliband being a prime example of late. He gave a speech which had inspiring moments, with socialist rhetoric that appealed to the liberal left (myself included), but I haven't forgotten the tactics of other politicians which sounded like they were going to change the system too. From Blair to Obama... They all sing sweet lullabies to a certain demographic.... but when the election is over, and the win secured, they all turn out to be nothing but corrupt liars. The same old, same old.
I'd go so far as to say that in days gone by, the control we had over our leaders was far, far greater. When past-Presidents were caught doing illegal things, they paid dearly. Take Nixon, his actions earned him nationwide contempt and an impeachment to boot! Now though, it's as if (and not by happen-chance) these politicians learned from Nixon's (and others') mistakes. Not in so much as they learned not to carry out such wrongdoing.... no.... they learned that if they want to carry out such wrongdoing, they need to grant themselves "Executive Powers"... These plenary powers offer complete immunity, when caught in the act.
The President is now, for all intents, an Untouchable. Be it War Crimes in foreign lands or blanket surveillance of an entire homeland nation. Be it lies to Congress, the public and courts; Be it media manipulation and the silencing of dissent; Be it Renditions or Indefinite Detentions that contravene International Laws and basic Human Rights.
The world is broken; out of kilter.
The rich have convinced the middle class to blame the poor, for all the countries economic woes. All the while, the vast taxes in the kitty go towards the purchase of shamelessly expensive weaponry and standing armies that fight our Endless Wars.
One such war, The War on Terror, has achieved nothing, except of course a massive bill for the taxpayers... oh, and a massive invoice for the War Machine Corporations (aka the Military Industrial Complex... Lockheed, Boeing, etc), laughing all the way to the bank... oh, and last (but not least), it has actually increased the rate and chance - since 2001 - of there being a terrorist attack.... Who'd have thought that the indiscriminate killing of families by gung-ho hicks with guns, or remote controlled weaponised drones, would've led to a backlash by poor Muslims in distant lands?
With blood on their hands, and disdainful grins on their faces, the current G8 leaders have made a mockery of democracy. How long will this continue before action is taken?"
I am Bradley Manning
posted by Keito
Living Under Drones
posted by Keito
2012-09-30 12:58:59A new report from Stanford suggests that the ongoing terror campaign waged by the United States of America, in foreign lands far away, is having a massively detrimental effect. People living under constant fear of attack by drones. Resentment grows. Is there any wonder hatred for the US and their foreign policies exist? This is not combating terrorism... this is terrorism. This will never make the world safer. This will do nothing but make us more of a target. it will breed terrorists, who seek revenge. In the long-run, it will mean massive crackdowns by our own governments, in order to 'make us safer' when the threat of future attacks on home soil grows, as a consequence of the constant attacks made by us - a retaliation. Freedom and liberty will suffer, thanks to this wrong-doing.
'In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling “targeted killing” of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts.
This narrative is false.
Following nine months of intensive research—including two investigations in Pakistan, more than 130 interviews with victims, witnesses, and experts, and review of thousands of pages of documentation and media reporting—this report presents evidence of the damaging and counterproductive effects of current US drone strike policies. Based on extensive interviews with Pakistanis living in the regions directly affected, as well as humanitarian and medical workers, this report provides new and firsthand testimony about the negative impacts US policies are having on the civilians living under drones.
Real threats to US security and to Pakistani civilians exist in the Pakistani border areas now targeted by drones. It is crucial that the US be able to protect itself from terrorist threats, and that the great harm caused by terrorists to Pakistani civilians be addressed. However, in light of significant evidence of harmful impacts to Pakistani civilians and to US interests, current policies to address terrorism through targeted killings and drone strikes must be carefully re-evaluated.
It is essential that public debate about US policies take the negative effects of current policies into account.
First, while civilian casualties are rarely acknowledged by the US government, there is significant evidence that US drone strikes have injured and killed civilians. In public statements, the US states that there have been “no” or “single digit” civilian casualties.” It is difficult to obtain data on strike casualties because of US efforts to shield the drone program from democratic accountability, compounded by the obstacles to independent investigation of strikes in North Waziristan. The best currently available public aggregate data on drone strikes are provided by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), an independent journalist organization. TBIJ reports that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562-3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474-881 were civilians, including 176 children. TBIJ reports that these strikes also injured an additional 1,228-1,362 individuals. Where media accounts do report civilian casualties, rarely is any information provided about the victims or the communities they leave behind. This report includes the harrowing narratives of many survivors, witnesses, and family members who provided evidence of civilian injuries and deaths in drone strikes to our research team. It also presents detailed accounts of three separate strikes, for which there is evidence of civilian deaths and injuries, including a March 2011 strike on a meeting of tribal elders that killed some 40 individuals.
Second, US drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted-for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury. Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior. The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims. Some community members shy away from gathering in groups, including important tribal dispute-resolution bodies, out of fear that they may attract the attention of drone operators. Some parents choose to keep their children home, and children injured or traumatized by strikes have dropped out of school. Waziris told our researchers that the strikes have undermined cultural and religious practices related to burial, and made family members afraid to attend funerals. In addition, families who lost loved ones or their homes in drone strikes now struggle to support themselves.
Third, publicly available evidence that the strikes have made the US safer overall is ambiguous at best. The strikes have certainly killed alleged combatants and disrupted armed actor networks. However, serious concerns about the efficacy and counter-productive nature of drone strikes have been raised. The number of “high-level” targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low—estimated at just 2%. Furthermore, evidence suggests that US strikes have facilitated recruitment to violent non-state armed groups, and motivated further violent attacks. As the New York Times has reported, “drones have replaced Guantánamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants.” Drone strikes have also soured many Pakistanis on cooperation with the US and undermined US-Pakistani relations. One major study shows that 74% of Pakistanis now consider the US an enemy.
Fourth, current US targeted killings and drone strike practices undermine respect for the rule of law and international legal protections and may set dangerous precedents. This report casts doubt on the legality of strikes on individuals or groups not linked to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and who do not pose imminent threats to the US. The US government’s failure to ensure basic transparency and accountability in its targeted killing policies, to provide necessary details about its targeted killing program, or adequately to set out the legal factors involved in decisions to strike hinders necessary democratic debate about a key aspect of US foreign and national security policy. US practices may also facilitate recourse to lethal force around the globe by establishing dangerous precedents for other governments. As drone manufacturers and officials successfully reduce export control barriers, and as more countries develop lethal drone technologies, these risks increase.
In light of these concerns, this report recommends that the US conduct a fundamental re-evaluation of current targeted killing practices, taking into account all available evidence, the concerns of various stakeholders, and the short and long-term costs and benefits. A significant rethinking of current US targeted killing and drone strike policies is long overdue. US policy-makers, and the American public, cannot continue to ignore evidence of the civilian harm and counter-productive impacts of US targeted killings and drone strikes in Pakistan.
This report also supports and reiterates the calls consistently made by rights groups and others for legality, accountability, and transparency in US drone strike policies:
The US should fulfill its international obligations with respect to accountability and transparency, and ensure proper democratic debate about key policies. The US should:
Release the US Department of Justice memoranda outlining the legal basis for US targeted killing in Pakistan;
Make public critical information concerning US drone strike policies, including as previously and repeatedly requested by various groups and officials: the targeting criteria for so-called “signature” strikes; the mechanisms in place to ensure that targeting complies with international law; which laws are being applied; the nature of investigations into civilian death and injury; and mechanisms in place to track, analyze and publicly recognize civilian casualties;
Ensure independent investigations into drone strike deaths, consistent with the call made by Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism in August 2012;
In conjunction with robust investigations and, where appropriate, prosecutions, establish compensation programs for civilians harmed by US strikes in Pakistan.
The US should fulfill its international humanitarian and human rights law obligations with respect to the use of force, including by not using lethal force against individuals who are not members of armed groups with whom the US is in an armed conflict, or otherwise against individuals not posing an imminent threat to life. This includes not double-striking targets as first responders arrive.
Journalists and media outlets should cease the common practice of referring simply to “militant” deaths, without further explanation. All reporting of government accounts of “militant” deaths should include acknowledgment that the US government counts all adult males killed by strikes as “militants,” absent exonerating evidence. Media accounts relying on anonymous government sources should also highlight the fact of their single-source information and of the past record of false government reports.
 The US publicly describes its drone program in terms of its unprecedented ability to “distinguish … effectively between an al Qaeda terrorist and innocent civilians,” and touts its missile-armed drones as capable of conducting strikes with “astonishing” and “surgical” precision. See, e.g., John O. Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, The Efficacy and Ethics of U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy, Remarks at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Apr. 30, 2012), available at http://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/the-efficacy-and-ethics-us-counterterrorism-strategy.
 See Obama Administration Counterterrorism Strategy (C-Span television broadcast June 29, 2011), http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/AdministrationCo; see also Strategic Considerations, infra Chapter 5: Strategic Considerations; Contradictions Chart, infra Appendix C.
 Covert War on Terror, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/drones/ (last visited Sept. 12, 2012).
 Peter Bergen & Megan Braun, Drone is Obama’s Weapon of Choice, CNN (Sept. 6, 2012), http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/05/opinion/bergen-obama-drone/index.html.
 Jo Becker & Scott Shane, Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will, N.Y. Times (May 29, 2012), http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/29/world/obamas-leadership-in-war-on-al-qaeda.html?pagewanted=all.
 Pew Research Center, Pakistani Public Opinion Ever More Critical of U.S.: 74% Call America an Enemy (2012), available at http://www.pewglobal.org/files/2012/06/Pew-Global-Attitudes-Project-Pakistan-Report-FINAL-Wednesday-June-27-2012.pdf.
 See, e.g., Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Study on Targeted Killings, Human Rights Council, UN Doc. A/HRC/14/24/Add.6 (May 28, 2010) (by Philip Alston), available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14.24.Add6.pdf; US: Transfer CIA Drone Strikes to Military, Human Rights Watch (Apr. 20, 2012), http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/04/20/us-transfer-cia-drone-strikes-military; Letter from Amnesty International et al. to Barack Obama, President of the United States (May 31, 2012), available at http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/1242.
 Letter from Amnesty International et al., supra note 7.
 Terri Judd, UN ‘Should Hand Over Footage of Drone Strikes or Face UN Inquiry’, Independent (Aug. 20, 2012), http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/us-should-hand-over-footage-of-drone-strikes-or-face-un-inquiry-8061504.html.'
Why I Attempted to Arrest Tony Blair by Tom Grundy
posted by Keito
2012-09-04 21:29:12'In June, I attempted a citizen's arrest of Tony Blair for crimes against peace as he was about to present a speech at Hong Kong University about faith. It seems particularly dubious for the ex-British Prime Minister to address the subject of religion, as he has done so much to enrage the Muslim world and thus set back religious tolerance by decades.
My confrontation with Blair came during the deadliest week of violence in Iraq since the US pull-out, and a day after the International Criminal Court prosecutor asked judges to hand down their first sentence to a fellow war-criminal, Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga. All current ICC investigations and prosecutions are related to African nations, yet Mr Blair's status as an ex-Western leader does not exempt him from its founding Rome Statue, to which Britain is a signatory.
Some will find the comparison absurd but there is little moral difference when the products of their respective leaderships were mass human rights violations against civilian populations. Blair has requested that people “move on” from the Iraq War yet, with documented civilian deaths now totalling at least 107,013, leading QC Michael Mansfield has confirmed that there now appears to be enough evidence to trigger an ICC investigation. Legally, the type of weaponry deployed in the war (depleted uranium and cluster bombs) can be described as ‘indiscriminate’, thus making him liable for mass civilian causalities.
As I put to Blair personally, he is answerable to the sixth 1950 Nuremburg Principle which forbids ‘wars of aggression’ and gave rise to the Rome Statute – I also stated that he defied articles 31 and 51 of the UN charter. Leaked Downing Street memos from 2002 reveal his determination to follow the US into Iraq despite knowing his government would be violating the two aforementioned UN articles which would permit an invasion. In fact, the later discredited evidence of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction was irrelevant to Blair as he admitted during the 2009 Chilcot Inquiry that he would have attacked Iraq regardless as to whether such WMDs were discovered.
Blair responded to the charges I put to him by joking to his audience how he’s “used to” such protests and how “that’s democracy for you.” I do not know whether he believes the incident showcased freedom of speech or whether he was lamenting such political rights, but Britons will be familiar with the erosion of civil liberties he bought about in the UK. His Orwellian legacy leaves fewer effective options remaining in the activist’s toolbox. Neither the coalition nor the opposition harbour much political appetite for a domestic criminal investigation, I therefore encourage members of the public to heed journalist George Monbiot’s call to challenge Blair directly and pursue peaceful citizen’s arrests against him.
My own attempt turned out to be the least controversial thing I’d ever done – the public seemed unified across comment sections and social networks, from the left and right, that there is a strong case against him. However, he continues to travel freely around the world earning millions as head of a complex, opaque mix of political, business and philanthropic ventures. He commands huge sums from the financial industry and even accepted £13million to advise brutal Kazakh autocrat Nursultan Nazarbayev.
It was improbable that Hong Kong police would uphold local law and frogmarch the ex-PM to The Hague, but there has been some success in renewing awareness of the outstanding legal questions. One day, it is hoped the charges will stick and he may finally find himself in court. In the meantime, it is important that the pressure is maintained, that the media spotlight is constant and that Mr Blair rightly continues to feel the threat of prosecution wherever he goes.'