Orwell’s Dystopian Future Is Almost Here: A Conversation With Glenn Greenwald


Orwell’s Dystopian Future Is Almost Here: A Conversation With Glenn Greenwald.

 

There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate, they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.

—“1984,” George Orwell

July 05, 2014 “ICH” – “Truthdig” – - – Investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, best known for his reporting on the U.S. surveillance state, told me that in the year since he first met whistle-blower Edward Snowden, he went back and re-read Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.”

In an interview on Uprising, Greenwald said that what surprised him the most about re-reading the ominous story was that “I had always remembered the ubiquity of the surveillance [in ‘1984’], which was we had a monitor in every single room of every home constantly watching every single person. So, a lot of people said, [our world is] not like ‘1984’ because not every single one of our emails is being read and or every one of our calls are being listened to because nobody could possibly be doing all that.” But, as Greenwald rightly pointed out, in Orwell’s world, “nobody actually knew whether they were being watched at all times. In fact they didn’t know if they were ever being watched.”

In essence said Greenwald, “The key to the social control was the possibility that they could be watched at any time.” Although we have no evidence that the Obama administration is engaging in any organized form of social control in our real world, the most dangerous possible outcome of the U.S. surveillance state is a dampening of dissent because of the mere possibility that the government is watching our every move.

In fact, Fourth of July celebrations in Boston this year will be the focus of intense high-tech surveillance, according to media reports. There is, of course, great irony in imposing “Big Brother” tactics on a day that is theoretically meant to symbolize freedom from colonialism and the hard won rights of personal freedoms. Meanwhile, President Obama’s own appointed watchdog panel has given a mostly unreserved thumbs up to the NSA’s programs. Can it get more Orwellian?

Greenwald knows personally how seriously governments take their right to spy on everyone and keep those programs secret. His own partner, David Miranda, was subjected to a detention and search at Heathrow Airport last year, on the premise of Britain’s “national security” interests, and by extension, the U.S.’ Greenwald’s source, Edward Snowden, faces a lifetime of exile and a possible life sentence for charges relating to the Espionage Act. That the intrepid, award-winning journalist is able to tour the nation freely to promote his book “No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State” is likely due to his deft handling of the news reports he has parceled out, garnering the maximum possible public exposure, and his vociferous defense of his and others’ constitutional rights.

In fact, Greenwald is a former constitutional law and civil rights litigator. During the interview, he rattled off to me the difference between a source and a journalist like it was second nature: “Sources are people in the government who have a specific legal obligation not to disclose things, whereas journalists have been recognized as having a First Amendment privilege.”

But the exercise of that privilege has brought with it criticism from both right-wing and mainstream analysts, including fellow journalists, who see Greenwald’s craft as tainted by too strong a bias. A lengthy exchange between Greenwald and former New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller in the paper’s op-ed section last year revealed the establishment conviction that good journalism can remain objective. Keller’s position that journalists should “keep their opinions to themselves unless they relocate (as I have done) to the pages clearly identified as the home of opinion” is reflective of a status quo that tends to identify anti-government opinions as bias while blindly accepting nationalistic tendencies as objective. Greenwald’s answer: “Ultimately, the only real metric of journalism that should matter is accuracy and reliability.”

Citing the history of what journalism used to mean, Greenwald told me, “For centuries … [we have had] crusading journalism with highly opinionated people using journalism as a tool to achieve certain social ends.” In fact, said Greenwald, it was “a way that citizens could hold people in power accountable through writing about them … and journalism has always been this kind of opinion-based, passion-driven activity.” After all, Upton Sinclair’s turn-of-the-century muckraking exposés of the seamy side of industries are among the best examples of American journalism.

Not surprisingly, many mainstream journalists who cover Greenwald, Snowden and the stories of NSA surveillance have betrayed their stated objectivity in embarrassingly obvious ways. The New York Times’ review of Greenwald’s new book referred to the author as a “self-righteous sourpuss,” and Snowden as someone with a “sweet, innocently conspiratorial worldview of a precocious teenager” who “appears to yearn for martyrdom.”

Psychological hit pieces against Greenwald and Snowden are common in the mainstream press, while members of Congress and Wall Street executives are rarely treated to the same level of psychoanalysis. For example, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who was caught telling a lie to Congress over the NSA’s surveillance program, has not received nearly the same level of widespread vitriol as Greenwald and Snowden have. To its credit, the New York Times editorial board did cite Clapper’s lie and referred to Snowden as a “whistle-blower” who “deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight.” But that stood out as an exception to the widespread denunciations of Greenwald and Snowden (see here, here and here for examples).

In Orwell’s “1984,” traitors to the regime were “thought criminals” who were disgraced by their betrayal of Big Brother. After being singled out as such a criminal, Orwell’s protagonist, Winston, is instructed by his interrogator to believe he is “mentally deranged.” Although the novel is an extreme depiction of a fascist future, many of the tactics adopted by today’s so-called objective journalists to keep dissenters such as Greenwald and Snowden in line are consistent with Orwell’s dark fantasy. By discrediting those who speak out, it is possible to dismiss the substance of their criticisms. But, as Orwell famously wrote, “in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

Sonali Kolhatkar is the host and producer of KPFK Pacifica’s popular morning drive time program Uprising, based in Los Angeles, California. She is also the Co-Director of the Afghan Women’s Mission, a US-based non-profit solidarity organization that funds the social, political, and humanitarian projects of RAWA.

Aging Holocaust survivors search for loved ones at Café Europa


Ursprünglich veröffentlicht auf HumansinShadow.wordpress.com:

Aging Holocaust survivors search for loved ones at Café Europa

They gather in Boca Raton to talk about the past

Cafe Europa

Sally Feldman and Isidore Lederman, both Holocaust survivors originally from Poland, dance during Cafe Europa held at B’nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton. The event helps Holocaust survivors find lost family and friends. Susan Stocker, Sun Sentinel (Susan Stocker, Sun Sentinel / June 3, 2014)

Hundreds of aging Holocaust survivors looked into each other’s eyes on Tuesday, hoping for a familiar face.

Leon Green, 93, searched for fellow inmates from Ebensee, the concentration camp from which he was liberated in 1945.

Viorica Weisz, 85, sought friends from her birthplace, Gradia, Romania, which her…

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Put Ultraviolet Dye In London Water Cannons To Track Protesters, Police Bosses Urge


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Put Ultraviolet Dye In London Water Cannons To Track Protesters, Police Bosses Urge

SmartWater is normally used to track criminals who steal laptops.posted on June 26, 2014, at 12:53 p.m. http://www.buzzfeed.com/jonstone/put-ultraviolet-dye-in-london-water-cannons-to-track-protest

Stringer/Taiwan / Reuters

Police commissioners have urged the Met to put ultraviolet dye in its new water cannon in order to track people hit by the weapons, Boris Johnson’s policing boss has said.

Stephen Greenhalgh, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, told members of the London Assembly that police and crime commissioners from around the country had advocated the use of “SmartWater” in the crowd control weapon.

The substance would remain invisible until those hit by the water had an ultra-violet light shone on them, at which point it would glow fluorescent yellow and identify them as having been at a protest or other public order situation.

SmartWater…

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“Watching the World Destroy Itself”


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Watching the World Destroy Itself

By Robert C. Koehler http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38928.htm

June 26, 2014 “ICH” – The video opens with a few bars of adrenalin-pumping music. We see a topsy-turvy camera angle, sky, trees, darkness, then a staccato pop pop pop that blends rhythmically with the music, but of course it’s gunfire, lots of gunfire, followed by a few urgent words in Arabic, then English. “Down here! Down here!”

This chaotic excitement is Iraq, the evening’s International Hot Spot, brought to us by ABC. It’s the news, but it’s also reality TV and big league sports, rolled into an entertainment package of shocking cluelessness. OMG, ISIS is on the move. It’s winning. Stay tuned!

Iraq, Iraq. This is a disaster stamped “made in USA.” Worse than that. It’s a bleeding stump of a nation that we destroyed in our pursuit of empire, at the cost of multi-trillions of dollars, hundreds of…

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Detained Migrants, Asylum Seekers Describe Torture, Other Abuse in Detention


Ursprünglich veröffentlicht auf HumansinShadow.wordpress.com:

Libya: Whipped, Beaten, and Hung from Trees

Detained Migrants, Asylum Seekers Describe Torture, Other Abuse in Detention
June 22, 2014

Detainees in Libya’s al-Hamra migrant detention center, one of nineteen official detention centers where migrants and asylum seekers are held, near the town of Gharayan, crowd the entrance to the shipping container where many detained for months on April 15, 2014.

 
Detainees have described to us how male guards strip-searched women and girls and brutally attacked men and boys. The political situation in Libya may be tough, but the government has no excuse for torture and other deplorable violence by guards in these detention centers.
Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher

(Tripoli) – Guards in migrant detention centers under Libyan government control have tortured and otherwise abused migrants and asylum seekers, including with severe whippings, beatings, and electric shocks.

Human Rights Watch released preliminary findings…

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The Ghoulish Face of Empire


 

The Ghoulish Face of Empire

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_ghoulish_face_of_empire_20140623/ ALL RIGHTS THERE

Posted on Jun 22, 2014

By Chris Hedges

 

Anti-war protesters, wearing masks depicting former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, right, former U.S.  President George W. Bush, center, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, pose for photographers. AP/Lefteris Pitarakis

The black-clad fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, sweeping a collapsing army and terrified Iraqis before them as they advance toward Baghdad, reflect back to us the ghoulish face of American empire. They are the specters of the hundreds of thousands of people we murdered in our deluded quest to remake the Middle East. They are ghosts from the innumerable roadsides and villages where U.S. soldiers and Marines, jolted by explosions of improvised explosive devices, responded with indiscriminate fire. They are the risen remains of the dismembered Iraqis left behind by blasts of Hellfire and cruise missiles, howitzers, grenade launchers and drone strikes. They are the avengers of the gruesome torture and the sexual debasement that often came with being detained by American troops. They are the final answer to the collective humiliation of an occupied country, the logical outcome of Shock and Awe, the Frankenstein monster stitched together from the body parts we left scattered on the ground. They are what we get for the $4 trillion we wasted on the Iraq War.
The language of violence engenders violence. The language of hate engenders hate. “I and the public know what all schoolchildren learn,” W.H. Auden wrote. “Those to whom evil is done do evil in return.” It is as old as the Bible.

There is no fight left in us. The war is over. We destroyed Iraq as a unified country. It will never be put back together. We are reduced—in what must be an act of divine justice decreed by the gods, whom we have discovered to our dismay are Islamic—to pleading with Iran for military assistance to shield the corrupt and despised U.S. protectorate led by Nouri al-Maliki. We are not, as we thought when we entered Iraq, the omnipotent superpower able in a swift and brutal stroke to bend a people to our will. We are something else. Fools and murderers. Blinded by hubris. Faded relics of the Cold War. And now, in the final act of the play, we are crawling away. Our empire is dying.

We should have heeded, while we had a chance, the wails of mothers and fathers. We should have listened to the cries of the wounded. We should have wept over the bodies of Iraqi children lined up in neat rows in the morgues. We should have honored grief so we could honor life. But the dance of death is intoxicating. Once it begins you whirl in an ecstatic frenzy. Death’s embrace, which feels at first like sexual lust, tightens and tightens until you suffocate. Now the music has stopped. All we have left are loss and pain.
And where are the voices of sanity? Why are the cheerleaders of slaughter, who have been wrong about Iraq since before the invasion, still urging us toward ruin? Why are those who destabilized Iraq and the region in the worst strategic blunder in American history still given a hearing? Why do we listen to simpletons and morons?

They bang their fists. They yell. They throw tantrums. They demand that the world conform to their childish vision. It is as if they have learned nothing from the 11 years of useless slaughter. As if they can dominate that which they never had the power to dominate.

I sat in a restaurant Thursday in Boston’s Kenmore Square with military historian Andrew Bacevich. You won’t hear his voice much on the airwaves. He is an apostate. He speaks of the world as it is, not the self-delusional world our empire builders expect it to be. He knows war with a painful intimacy, not only as a Vietnam combat veteran and a retired Army colonel but also as the father of a U.S. Army officer killed in a 2007 suicide bombing in Iraq.

“In the 1990s there was a considerable effort made in the military, but also in the larger community of national security experts scratching their heads and [asking] what are the implications of all this technology,” he said. “They conceived of something called the Revolution in Military Affairs—RMA. If you believed in the Revolution of Military Affairs you knew that nothing could stop the United States military when it engaged in a conflict. Victory was, for all practical purposes, a certainty. People like Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, and I expect Dick Cheney also, bought this hook, line and sinker. You put yourself in their shoes in the wake of 9/11. An attack comes out of Afghanistan, a country frankly nobody cares about, and you conceive of this grand strategy of trying to transform the Islamic world. Where are we going to start? We are going to start by attacking a country [Iraq]—we had it under surveillance and sanctions for the past decade—where there is a bona fide bad guy to make a moral case and where we are confident we can make short work of this adversary, a further demonstration that the American military cannot be stopped. They utterly and totally miscalculated. Iraq is falling apart. And many of these people, either in government or outside of government, who were proponents of the war are now advocating for a resumption of the American war. Not one of them is willing to acknowledge the extent of that military miscalculation. Once you acknowledge it, then the whole project of militarizing U.S. policy towards the Greater Middle East collapses.”

Bacevich blames the concentration of power into the hands of the executive branch for the debacle. He said that since the Kennedy administration “the incoming president and his team, it does not matter which party, see the permanent government as a problem. If we [the new officials] are going to get done what we want to get done we have to find ways to marginalize the permanent government. This has led to the centralization of authority in the White House and means decisions are made by a very small number of people. The consultation becomes increasingly informal, to the point it is not even documented.”

“I do not think we even know when the decision to go to war with Iraq was actually made,” Bacevich said. “There is no documented meeting where [President George W.] Bush sat down with how many people—six, 10, 25—and said, ‘Let’s vote.’ The decision kind of emerged and therefore was implemented. Why would you operate that way? You would operate that way if you viewed the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the CIA and the State Department as, in a sense, the enemy.”

“The invasion of Iraq was intended to be a catalyst,” he said. “It was supposed to be the catalyst that would enable us … to change the region. It turned out to be the catalyst that resulted in destabilization. The big question of the moment is not what can we do or is there anything we can do to salvage Iraq. The question is to what degree have our actions resulted in this larger regional mayhem. And to the extent they have, isn’t it time to rethink fundamentally our expectations of what American power, and particularly American military power, can achieve?”

“We need to take a radically different course,” Bacevich said. “There is an analogy to be made with Great Britain in the wake of World War I. It was in World War I that Britain and France collaborated to dismantle the Ottoman Empire to create the new Middle East. While on the one hand there was an awareness that Britain was in decline, at the level where policy was made there was not a willingness to consider the implications of that fact. It took World War II to drive it home—that the [British] empire was doomed. I think that is where we are.”

Out of this decline, Bacevich said, is emerging a multipolar order. The United States will no longer be able to operate as an unchallenged superpower. But, he said, similar to the condition that existed as the British Empire took its last gasps, “there is very little willingness in Washington or in policy circles to take on board the implications multipolarity would call for in terms of adjusting our policy.”

The inability to adjust to our declining power means that the United States will continue to squander its resources, its money and its military.

“By squandering power we forfeit our influence because we look stupid and we bankrupt ourselves,” Bacevich said. “We will spend $4 trillion, not dollars spent in the moment but dollars we will have spent the last time the last Afghanistan veteran gets his last VA check. That money is gone forever. It is concealed because in the Bush administration’s confidence that victory would be easily won the government did not bother to mobilize the country or increase our taxes. We weaken ourselves economically. People complain about our crappy infrastructure. Give me $4 trillion and I probably could have fixed a couple of bridges. And we must never forget the human cost. Lives lost, lives damaged. And in these two wars [Afghanistan and Iraq] there does seem to be this increase in PTSD that we don’t know what to do about. It is a squandering of human capital.”

Bacevich said the “military mind-set” has so infected the discourse of the power elite that when there is a foreign policy problem the usual response is to discuss “three different courses of military action. … Should it be airstrikes with drones? Should it be airstrikes with manned aircraft? Special operations forces? Or some combination of all three? And that’s what you get.” The press, he said, is an “echo chamber and reinforces the notion that those are the [only] options.”

The disintegration of Iraq is irreversible. At best, the Kurds, the Shiites and the Sunnis will carve out antagonistic enclaves. At worst, there will be a protracted civil war. This is what we have bequeathed to Iraq. The spread of our military through the region has inflamed jihadists across the Arab world. The resulting conflicts will continue until we end our occupation of the Middle East. The callous slaughter we deliver is no different from the callous slaughter we receive. Our jihadists—George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, Thomas Friedman and Tommy Franks—who assured us that swift and overwhelming force in Iraq would transform the Middle East into an American outpost of progress, are no less demented than the jihadists approaching Baghdad. These two groups of killers mirror each other. This is what we have spawned. And this is what we deserve.

AP/Lefteris Pitarakis

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