More reasons to be pissed at the US Government

Posted on October 5, 2011

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I’m particularly frustrated by the corruption of US government agencies supposedly working for “security” or “Defense”.

First: Freedom isn’t free at the State Department – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.

As we sat in a small, grey, windowless room, resplendent with a two-way mirror, multiple ceiling-mounted cameras, and iron rungs on the table to which handcuffs could be attached, the two DS agents stated that the inclusion of that link amounted to disclosing classified material.

In other words, a link to a document posted by who-knows-who on a public website available at this moment to anyone in the world was the legal equivalent of me stealing a Top Secret report, hiding it under my coat, and passing it to a Chinese spy in a dark alley.

[…]

Why me? It’s not like the Bureau of Diplomatic Security has the staff or the interest to monitor the hundreds of blogs, thousands of posts, and millions of tweets by Foreign Service personnel. The answer undoubtedly is my new book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People.

Its unvarnished portrait of State’s efforts and the US at work in Iraq has clearly angered someone, even though one part of State signed off on the book under internal clearance procedures some 13 months ago. I spent a year in Iraq leading a State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) and sadly know exactly what I am talking about. DS monitoring my blog is like a small-town cop pulling over every African-American driver: Vindictive, selective prosecution. “Ya’ll be careful in these parts, ‘hear, ’cause we’re gonna set an example for your kind of people.”

and that kind of intimidation happens all the time.  in various guises.  all over the country.  Especially in the name of “national security”.

It was implied as well that even writing about the interrogation I underwent, as I am doing now, might morph into charges of “interfering with a government investigation”. They labelled routine documents in use in my interrogation as “Law Enforcement Sensitive” to penalise me should I post them online. Who knew such small things actually threatened the security of the United States? Are these words so dangerous, or is our nation so fragile that legitimate criticism becomes a firing offence?

Let’s think through this disclosure of classified info thing, even if State won’t. Every website on the internet includes links to other websites. It’s how the web works. If you include a link to say, a CNN article about Libya, you are not “disclosing” that information – it’s already there. You’re just saying: “Have a look at this.” It’s like pointing out a newspaper article of interest to a guy next to you on the bus. (Careful, though, if it’s an article from the New York Times or the Washington Post. It might quote stuff from WikiLeaks and then you could be endangering national security.)

this dude’s a badass.

The State Department and its Bureau of Diplomatic Security never took responsibility for their part in the loss of all those cables, never acknowledged their own mistakes or porous security measures. No one will ever be fired at State because of WikiLeaks – except, at some point, possibly me. Instead, State joined in the Federal mugging of Army Private Bradley Manning, the person alleged to have copied the cables onto a Lady Gaga CD while sitting in the Iraqi desert.

That all those cables were available electronically to everyone from the Secretary of State to a lowly Army private was the result of a clumsy post-9/11 decision at the highest levels of the State Department to quickly make up forinformation-sharing shortcomings.

the article then explores what those shortcomings are.  Pretty interesting stuff I’d never heard before (no wonder why). This guy doesn’t just shit on them by disclosing all of this information though, he does it with pizzazz:

The corollary to such a position evidently goes something like this: Since we won’t punish our own technical security people or the big shots who approved the whole flawed scheme in the first place, and the damned First Amendment doesn’t allow us to punish the New York Times, let’s just punish one of our own employees for looking at, creating links to, and discussing stuff on the web – and while he was at it, writing an accurate, first-hand, and critical account of the disastrous, if often farcical, American project in Iraq.

That’s what frustrated bullies do – they pick on the ones they think they can get away with beating up. The advantage of all this? It gets rid of a “troublemaker”, and the Bureau of Diplomatic Security people can claim that they are “doing something” about the WikiLeaks drip that continues even while they fiddle. Of course, it also chills free speech, sending a message to other employees about the price of speaking plainly.

[…]

The link to WikiLeaks is still on my blog. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security declined my written offer to remove it, certainly an indication that however much my punishment mattered to them, the actual link mattered little. I may lose my job in State’s attempt to turn us all into mini-Bradley Mannings and so make America safe.

These are not people steeped in, or particularly appreciative of, the finer points of irony. Still, would anyone claim that there isn’t irony in the way the State Department regularly crusades for the rights of bloggers abroad in the face of all kinds of government oppression, crediting their voices for the Arab Spring, while going after one of its own bloggers at home for saying nothing that wasn’t truthful?

Which brings me to my Second point: I’m so fucking sick and tired of the US government aiding the oppression of other peoples by their governments.  This time it’s Saudi Arabia:

On 10 March 2011, Saudi security analyst, Nawaf Obaid, wrote an article in Foreign Policy that proclaimed, “There Will Be No Uprising in Saudi Arabia”. The article sparked discussion – not only because Obaid has been accused of being an “indefatigable Washington gadfly” who works to provoke specific outcomes in US-Saudi relations – but because he boldly predicted such an outcome in the midst of unprecedented upheaval in the region: Saudi Arabia has yet to witness any substantial internal uprising.

[…]

Saudis and the Persians could be described as maintaining a love-hate relationship, and with a Saddam-free Iraq – Iran’s only border-challenger – Saudi Arabia inevitably became the only other regional power that could counterbalance a growing Iranian hegemony. The US’ promotion of Saudi Arabia as the sole hegemon in the region is one of strategic necessity, based on a more than 60-year relationship with the leading OPEC oil producer.

too bad nobody stopped the European hegemonic crusades to North America.  I’m sure the incredible parallels escape these people.

By July – in the midst of the Arab Spring – Riyadh presented Washington with something of a false choice: fund the Saudi security infrastructure to help quell Iranian influence (which could occur directly or by proxy like in Bahrain), or do nothing and allow Iranian hegemony to grow, placing American interests in the Arabian peninsula in jeopardy. Unsurprisingly, Washington reacted by committing to a new US-Saudi arms deal containing “warships with integrated air and AEGIS missile defense systems, as well as helicopters, patrol craft and shore infrastructure” and a program to “train a new Facilities Security Force (FSF) designed to protect sensitive Saudi oil installations . . . to reach 35,000 strong.”

Essentially, the FSF was created out of fear by the Saudi elite, who watched with alarm as Iran influenced the Bahraini revolt. And the Saudis knew the US could not ignore growing Iranian influence in Saudi Arabia. The creation of an FSF does two things: it develops yet another defense against a potential attack from Iran, but it also defends Saudi elites from the population, which could be influenced by Iran or others.

According to Dr Ehsan Ahrari, an independent defense consultant, former professor at the US Air War College, Joint Forces Staff College of the National Defense University, and the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Honolulu:

The United States cannot afford a regime change in Saudi Arabia, which is the most important of all Arab countries for the US. Thus, [the US] is training FSF forces; [Washington] will sell them huge military packages …to keep [American] defense industries running. Even CENTCOM and AFRICOM will be involved in this deal for proper coordination.

It’s overwhelming the way a very small group of individuals control global politics.  This is just one example.  It also shows that no matter what the US government says and does, it does not “support the rights of bloggers abroad”  as the last article suggested- that’s far too wide of a generalization.  It will support (or appear to support) things which do not threaten the status quo established by that small group of individuals. I mean really, after giving a speech on individuals’ rights to x,y, or z or democracy or justice – in terms of here or globally – do our “leaders” go home and laugh about it?

“First and foremost, the beneficiaries [of the US-Saudi deal] are Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain from their endeavors to avert regime change. The next is the US government and [its] defense contractors, who are most worried about the disappearing defense dollars inside the US political arena due to budget shortfalls,” Ahrari told ISN Insights.

when i read “defense contractors” my brain registers “war profiteers”.  Is that just me?

The US has continued to spend money on the Arabian Peninsula to assert its dominance in the region. In June 2011, the Associated Press reported that the creation of a secret CIA-controlled drone facility near Yemen was to be used “as a backstop, if al-Qaida or other anti-American rebel forces gain control.”

What will they do when perceived anti-american (read: amUURikan) rebel forces gain control in the US?  seriously, all of this bullshit and people are scratching their heads at the fact that people are protesting across the nation and don’t have a simple soundbite message.  With these two articles alone, where would we even begin to breakdown all the shit going on, the systems at play, and the comprehensive, holistic kind of strategic plan that would be needed to remedy the issues at hand.